Sunday, April 19, 2009

B29 - B33 (The Kreeg Leadership)

This is one of the few times in my conversions where I will actually remove a monster from the original adventure's write-up. Encounters in 4th Edition play out much better when they involve a wide tactical area. In an indoor environment, this means creating encounters that span more than one room. This allows you to involve corners, doors, and other interesting features of the map that the players and monsters can take advantage of. To that end, the entire second story of the keep is now a single encounter, and in order to make it within the realm of the party's ability to handle, one ogre needs to be removed. I suggest the following encounter for a party of five adventurers:

  • Jaagrath Kreeg
  • Gragavan Kreeg (Ogre Warhulk)
  • Dorella Kreeg (Oni Mage)
  • Ogre Savage
Total: 4,550 xp (Level 14 Encounter)

Even with only four monsters participating, this may still turn out to be one of the most harrowing encounters the party sees in its adventuring career. It nears the upper bounds of what a fully-charged group of 5 PCs should be able to handle, except that this encounter takes place after the party has slain its way through a fortress full of ogres. Don't be concerned if the encounter takes longer than average - it's worth more than double an encounter of the party's expected level, so it ought to feel like an uphill struggle.

To that end, here are a couple ways of keeping this encounter frightening and heroic without overwhelming your party:

  • Make frequent use of Dorella's invisibility. She won't always have access to her powerful recharge-based abilities. Turning invisible uses up her standard action, and because she won't be making stealth checks the party will still have an idea of where she is standing if they want to try and contend with the -5 penalty to attack rolls.
  • When Jaagrath appears, have him demand that he be allowed to fight the PCs alone for two or three rounds. After this point, he laughs uproariously and invites the rest of the ogres to join in. Don't make his decision to involve the other ogres look cowardly. It should seem like he's had his fun, but has quickly tired of the sport and now just wants to crush the tiny PCs.
  • When Jaagrath is brought down, lower the DC for intimidating bloodied foes into surrender/fleeing by 10 (in other words, an Intimidate check opposed by the target's Will defense).
This latter rule can also be applied to any other ogres the PCs come across following Jaagrath's death, as long as they have proof of his passing (see the original adventure for more information).

You should be diligantly increasing the maneuvering space in tactical encounters, and it's especially important here (and, indeed, throughout the keep). Hallways in the keep as presented in the original adventure are 10 feet wide, which is exactly large enough for a single ogre to get in the way, turning the fight into a static swinging match. Corridors which are 20 feet in width are much better, allowing two ogres to stand and fight side-by-side. Note that this change very clearly favors the monsters. The party won't mind the 10-foot corridors so much, since they can put two melee characters abreast at the front, and are likely packing more ranged characters than there are ogres with strong ranged abilities.

Found amongst Jaagrath and Dorella (and the hidden compartment) are treasure parcels 1, 2 and 3 from level 9. At your option, you can include the Boots of the Mire (found below) here in the place of parcel 3. While normally I reserve converting magic items for those with particular plot significance, the boots are in line with the anticipated power level of the party and may see use in the near future. The map room contains treasure parcel 8 from level 9: the Lurkwood map worth 900 gold pieces, the Viperwall map worth 400 gold pieces, and the smuggler's map worth 100 gold pieces. If you don't want to make the party wait until they return to Magnimar to offload these maps, a well-connected trader passing through Turtleback Ferry might be willing to pick them up for the same price.

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