4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by Rabbit Burner » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:26 am

Very tidy build and enjoyable adventure.

The Role Reversal for encounters 1 and 3 is fabulous, we like that :)

We have a very similar Dragon skull (albeit without horns), got it at a Gift shop on holiday, thought it would make a great centre piece to a battleground or in this case adventure :)

Great Job fnord :)
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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by ZayrZas » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:01 pm

fnordfriendly wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:39 pm
The bridge should fit nicely over the river, plenty of room if you add the middle insert into the bridge.
Thanks! Looking forward to see your next build.

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by fnordfriendly » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:39 pm

ZayrZas wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:04 pm
Sounds like a lot of fun! I love Reavers and after seeing your river with the DF waterfall I couldn't resist and bought one set. I mean $20?
Do you my any chance know if the bridge from castles fits the river? It looks rather wide (~6"?) :D
The bridge should fit nicely over the river, plenty of room if you add the middle insert into the bridge.

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by ZayrZas » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:04 pm

Sounds like a lot of fun! I love Reavers and after seeing your river with the DF waterfall I couldn't resist and bought one set. I mean $20?
Do you my any chance know if the bridge from castles fits the river? It looks rather wide (~6"?) :D

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by AnimeSensei » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:45 pm

Very cool role reversal idea! I'm gonna steal it someday. 😎
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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by fnordfriendly » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:27 pm

Enough lava... back to the Toadwallow Caverns. Here's the full revealed map, without minis. In addition to presenting the cave layout, I'll provide analysis of what I think is a remarkable example of 4e encounter building.

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That's it - not too flashy, but it has one very interesting setpiece - a gargantuan dragon skull in the center of the cavern. To sum up the cavern's purpose and backstory, it's inhabited by chief Gloorpk's bullywug tribe. The Iron Circle bad guys have hired Gloorpk to harass the steading of Tor's Hold, so they're too busy to aid any resistance effort made by the other occupied villages of Harkenwold.

Enter the do-gooder adventurers, looking for work. A local druid suggests they can help to fight the Iron Circle by taking out the bullywugs of Toadwallow Cavern, thereby freeing up the fighters of Tor's Hold to aid in the resistance.

Toadwallow Cavern is a nice small dungeon romp. In the module, they've cleverly designed three unique encounters within the same space. For us Dwarven Forge enthusiasts, that means you get at least a night or two out of a single setup, and it's unlikely you'll have to build something else for that night's game. And the encounters are unique and memorable, each with their own challenges.

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The first encounter starts when the party shows up at the cave mouth. It's ten feet up, and the mouth is a waterfall. There are four beefy, non-minion bullywugs defending it, along with three stirges in a nearby pool. The short cliff plays an interesting part in the battle. The PCs have to climb it, while the bullywug sentries prepare to ambush them if they aren't stealthy enough. In our battle, the first one was not stealthy, and was rushed by all four bullywugs. The battle was brutal, and the controller-ranger managed to use the drop to level the playing field.

In this first encounter, the layout cleverly restricts the battle to just the cave mouth. There are more enemies within, who have a chance to prepare while they wait to see the outcome of the first battle. See how the sightlines are restricted to just the entry cavern, concealing the dragon skull beyond (purple lines). As long as the sentries contain their space (green semicircle), the party must deal with them before moving further in. The fact that the second encounter won't trigger until they move inside the cave gives them the option to take a short rest before moving on.

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The second encounter is against chief Gloorpk, a spellcaster and his toadie minions. A couple of gray oozes lurk in the pit, and will assist when the battle begins. Not only does the skull make for a nice memorable set piece, it is hollow, and can fit a medium creature inside. From under the skull, the creature has superior cover (+5 to all defenses), and can trace line of sight and effect from any part of the skull's space. Gloorpk starts inside - very hard to hit due to his already high defenses. The party is swarmed by minions while Gloorpk uses potent ranged magic from under the skull's protection.

It was great. The party had to decide whether to try lifting the skull to get him out (provoking op attacks in so doing), to destroy it (I gave it 400 hp, AC 1 and provided only cover at 200 hp), or to try pulling him out. It was a great opportunity for creative tactical play. They ended up sliding him out with an effect that required him to make a saving throw, and finished him off after that.

That's the end of the second encounter - the big bad is defeated! But there's one more encounter. While the PCs are searching the cave, they hear a loud croak from outside the cave. Gloorpk's lieutenant and a war party are returning with a captured halfling boy, and they see dead bullywug bodies outside the cave. The party now must defend the cave from the war party, for a cool role-reversal encounter. That's tomorrow night's game, so we'll see how it plays out. They have already dragged the dragon skull to the front of the cavern, and they'll have their ranger inside pelting the bullywugs as they advance.

I like that the second encounter seems like the last, with a surprise third encounter. It's also unavoidable, since they are pinned inside the cave. After defeating the war party, the PCs are faced with a new option - return to the quest-giver druid or return the halfling boy to his family in another area, sending the story in potentially different directions.

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by fnordfriendly » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:43 pm

AnimeSensei wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:44 pm
fnordfriendly wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:09 am
We went to Flagstaff for 7 days and played a few games...
I've driven in Flagstaff in the winter. I would stay inside and play games too! The roads were so bad!
It was really warm. We booked a house for the week hoping our kids could get some snow to play in. We got no snow, but we did go on a number of cool hikes. There's a cinder cone called Strawberry Crater, north of Sunset Crater. You have to take miles of 4WD roads to access it, so it's pretty isolated. The lava was very red-colored, I had to go solo because my family was too tired from all the other hikes we'd don that week... so I had the place to myself. :D

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by AnimeSensei » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:44 pm

fnordfriendly wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:09 am
We went to Flagstaff for 7 days and played a few games...
I've driven in Flagstaff in the winter. I would stay inside and play games too! The roads were so bad!
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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by fnordfriendly » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:09 am

Saxon1974 wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:58 am
Looking good fnord! Who's playing the pixie?

I agree there is something to be said for 4e, I think it gets a bad rap. It's especially well suited for tactical encounters using terrain.

When the next play report?
Hey, buddy! When we first moved to AZ, I DM'd Keep on the Shadowfell for my wife and my dad. He was asking when he gets to play again, so I threw together a game for us to play over winter vacation. We went to Flagstaff for 7 days and played a few games... I was hoping to test it out on my kids again, but they didn't bite. I guess I didn't incorporate enough Pokemon into the module!

Now we're continuing Reavers, since my dad wanted to keep going with it. He's playing the dwarf knight, and really enjoying that defender aura that I hated as a DM when Jeff used it in our Astaeo game. Jeff is the pixie in this game. It's just the four of us right now, you're welcome to join in if you're available. We're playing Monday or Tuesday nights at my place, not sure if every week or every other.
dice4hire wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:55 pm
True, 4E is all about niches, though most classes do dabble a bit in a second role. It is indeed a simple system to play especially for casters, who have a very very reduced ability to pull rabbits out of their hats spellwise like they do in other editions. I remember the literally thousand spells a wizard could access in 3E/3.5E. Wow, just wow!!! Rituals do not even come close to making up for that.

But DF has helped out 4E games immensely, as you can see the dangers that brute could push you into. Being able to say "What you see on the map is what is there" has helped our games immensely.
Just the distinction between a spell and a ritual was a cool mechanic in 4e, IMO. I liked the push, pull, slide rules a lot. I can't wait for the Dungeon of Doom module, I might have to convert it to 4e!

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Re: 4e Reavers of Harkenwold Toadwallow Cavern: Spoilers

Post by Saxon1974 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:58 am

Looking good fnord! Who's playing the pixie?

I agree there is something to be said for 4e, I think it gets a bad rap. It's especially well suited for tactical encounters using terrain.

When the next play report?

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