Converting D&D Encounters adventure Halaster’s Lost Apprentice to D’ Erte Ruins of Forge Helm mega-dungeon with kids.
This is an unusual combination of circumstance. I used the D&D Encounters adventure Halaster’s Lost Apprentice as the basis for an encounter-a-week game I wanted to play with my two youngest children. I changed the back-drop to occur in my campaign world, D’ Erte, rather than Forgotten Realms; I replaced Waterdeep with the frontier towns of Magmaburg and Minotaur Halls; I replaced Undermountain with the Ruins of Forge Helm, a mega-dungeon I am creating for D’ Erte, but I left the rest of it as close to the original as possible. [No Spoliers here] Halaster was an Eladrin arch-wizard who lived amongst the dwarves of majestic Forge Helm before its fall into ruin, and Fayne and Zereas were his estranged children, each seeking to reclaim what they can of their father’s fortunes.
But the characters knew none of this in the beginning. They are a brother-sister team of 2 drow who have recently left their homelands in the Underdark in order to seek the surface world. The brother is a telekinetic psion, and he is played by Jackson, my 13 year old son, and experienced D&D player, eager to try out the psionic classes of the PHB3. My daughter Audrey, soon to be 11, played a storm-sorceress, who worships the goddess of the Sea Melora. I explained that in Drow culture, the female is normally in charge, and so the two agreed that the Sorceress would take the lead. She picked neutral for her alignment, after learning about Drow culture, because she wanted “to keep all her options open.” Thus it was decided that the 2 drow left their homeland to look upon the sea, and to experience the summer storms of Melora.
Their adventures brought them first to the Minotaur Halls, a busy way-station between the Underdark and the surface. This fortified pioneer town also lies across the great trade route through the Dawnforge Mountains. From Minotaur Halls, one can choose the over-land route or the under-mountain route to cross The subterranean route also passes through the Ruined Halls of Forge Helm, though the access is barred by a contingent of deep deurger who in the past 5 years have built a stronghold to seal off access to their hated brother’s ancient halls, so access through Minotaur Halls is blocked for most. This makes Magmaburg a much better route into Forge helm, as there are 4 major entrances, and new entrances are sometimes found.
Upon arrival, the party detected a buzz in the air, getting their first clues that something was up in Forge Helm. They decided they wanted to investigate, and found a Scout and Guide Hall, run by a surly dwarf named Garson Petty. He introduced them to his newest hire, a taciturn dwarven rune-priestess named Shorty. For 50 gp, Garson agreed to send Shorty on with them to act as guide and guard, with the promise of a fair share of any future treasure they might find whilst adventuring. With the arrangements made, the party set off on the under-mountain route to Magmaburg. Along the way they met up with a troupe of dwarvish miners who told them of the rumours surrounding a newly discovered vault in Forge Helm. It led apparently tothe chambers of one of Halaster’s many apprentices.
Arriving in Magmaburg, they questioned some of the locals about the rumours they had heard, and were directed to the tavern, Scabfoot’s Eatery and Drinkery, where they overheard an Eladrin noblewoman discussing a job opportunity with an obvious thug. The party watched silently as she followed them out the back door, and rushed out upon hearing her scream for help. And so at long last initiative was rolled.
The thugs, a dwarf strong-man, a Halfling slinger, and a tiefling hedge wizard were waiting for the party across a 20 ft deep sewer chasm, a strange fixture in a pioneer town constructed almost entirely of wood, but there you have it. There was a small wooden bridge crossing the sewer and onto it Shorty rushed, charging the dwarf. She was soon knocked prone and fell off the bridge thanks to the dwarf. Then the psion went, and with an excellent perception roll he found the Halfling, and sent a mental attack his way which resulted in the Halfling falling into the sewer. He was slain by the fall, never having taken a single action.
The sorceress sent a lightning attack at the tiefling and the dwarf, then the tiefling struck back, immolating her with his hedge fire. The battle continued for another round, and on the 3rd, the dwarf was killed by the psion, his corpse also being pulled into the sewer. The sorceress, taking the brunt of the hedge wizard’s attacks, was knocked unconscious and burning, but Shorty the dwarf soon made it out of the sewer and was able to heal her. She stood up and sent a storm of energy that finally managed to slay the tiefling, and as the character did what characters do, that is, loot the corpses, Fayne woke up and with surprise said she knows when she has found the right party for her job. She invited them back into the pub to discuss the terms of their employment, and the session ended.
In case you were wondering, the ruby-eyed monkey in the accompanying photo is the sorceress’ familiar. The stage was built with the newest 3d Dungeon Tiles, Harrowing Halls, which have added great depth (and height) to my encounters.