Den of the Destroyer part II

Fortress Graystone

This is the dungeon part of the scenario. The dungeon being an ancient githzerai monastery overrun with a pack of gnolls. The chief gnoll is trying to open a rift to a place of power (aren’t they all), and only the heroes stand between him and regional domination. Apparently Sarshan didn’t know what the gnolls would find when they moved in, which surely makes him the least well informed idiot of the master villain world.

The monastery is designed in such a way as to show off the dualisic nature of the githzerai. Some rooms are regular, some are all twisty. That’s the whole law/chaos thing for you in an architectural nutshell. Feel free to dole out some lore to those PCs trained in dungeoneering. To be fair, the map layout is nice enough and the author tells us how the doors work. That is not something you can rely on in many published adventures, yet it’s something I often find myself having to narrate as a DM. There’s 6 location based encounters within the monastery proper, 1 on the approach and one event encounter that can happen when the DM sees fit. I guess that’s two longish sessions of play, maybe three leisurely ones.

To gain entrance to the monastery the party have to ascend huge stairs set into the side of the mountain. There are gnoll guards to defeat as well as a stonewalker spirit that animates within statues before attacking. This is a cute encounter. The stairs make movement a challenge, and the gnolls are a variant on the standard MM dogmen (most of the new monsters are detailed in the appendix so there’s some replay value at least). Best is the spirit. When it inhabits a statue it turns from a lurker into a brute. It’s got a petrifying touch which is one of the nastiest abilities in the whole game. When it hits 0 hp it flees into the next statue along, which could very well be a petrified PC. That’s full of dramatic possibility.

Into the dungeon itself and here’s where we have to talk about Thorn. He returns at some point to attack the party. You get to decide when.  He’s brought some animated pets with him, and together they form a level 11 encounter, so that’s considered tough for this adventure. The recommendation is to sic him on the PCs after a difficult encounter, or halfway through a rest. That seems like harsh advice but in my experience solos don’t do as well as WotC think they will, there’s still only one of them to a party of five. Hopefully you’ll get to use some of his neat attack options like pepperbombs and a gripping net.

 
Now, at some point, the combat needs to turn into a discussion if you want to be able to fill in Thorn’s story. He’s prepared to bargain for his life, but I imagine not many groups will allow him that option. I’d say it’s worth trying for it, just so you can say the following when the PCs ask how Thorn knows his way around the monastery so well: Thorn explored the monastery in his youth. Oh, right. Really? If that’s not enough, he has the somewhat vital (though hardly surprising) knowledge that it’s actually… da da daaaa!…. Sarshan behind the price on their heads. Should Thorn die, it’s handily written on a note to be found on his person. This is contrived rubbish at best, and an insult to players intelligence at worst. By all means have him stalk the party, that’s a neat idea and one that is alluded to in earlier skill challenges. Having him be responsible for reactivating the traps in the monastery and eluding a whole pack of demonic gnolls is stretching it a bit too far. Bah.

Next: Traps, arenas and rituals

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One response to “Den of the Destroyer part II

  1. Pingback: Review: Den of the Destroyer, the finale « Treehouse:

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