Author Topic: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark  (Read 3032 times)

Offline Retrokinesis

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[3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Topic Start: February 13, 2012, 07:33:59 PM »
So I decided to try my hand at DMing for the first time and everyone wanted to do an Eberron campaign centered on the city of Sharn. Since we're starting at 1st level, we're going to start with the Forgotten Forge adventure from the back of the campaign setting and work on the whole "Cannith schema" adventure. Four players, 2 of which never played 3.5 before.

First character is a Lawful Neutral female human warblade from Karrnath. Daughter of a Karrnathi warlord and honors graduate of Rekkenmark Academy, the Last War ended before she could prove herself in combat. Now she's security adjunct at the Karrnathi embassy in Sharn. This player is pretty experienced, though not with the Tome of Battle classes. Focusing on Diamond Mind/Iron Heart and bastard swords.

Second character is a Neutral Evil male human sorcerer from Breland. He's the last member of a fallen noble house that sunk their fortune into forbidden power who seeks to regain it all. Also a hardcore Brelish patriot; his player's expressed an interest in having him join the King's Dark Lanterns. Most experienced player and a specialist in spellcasters.

Third character is a Neutral Good female elf urban ranger from Cyre. She lived through the last war and moved to Sharn to open a detective agency. Planning on going for Master Inquisitive and took urban ranger as a more detective-y class. Player is brand new.

And fourth character is a Neutral female swordsage (unarmed variant) from Breland. She's "basically Chie from Persona 4". No idea what the player's character plans are. Player is also brand new.

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #1: February 13, 2012, 08:02:08 PM »
First Session: Introductions, starting the Forgotten Forge adventure

Yes, it started in a tavern. The Drunken Dragon tavern, Clifftop District, Upper Dura specifically. One of the city's two dedicated adventuring districts. The PCs hadn't met each other yet. That is, until Provost Bonal Geldem of Morgrave University's Pre-Galifar Studies department stumbled in and started looking for adventurers to hire. Anyone who's played the Forgotten Forge already will notice I added this part as a way to get the PCs together; it usually starts as they stumble on Geldem's dead body.

The Provost was looking to hire some explorers for an expedition to the Depths, the ruins of the ancient cities Sharn is built on, far below even the industrial levels. After they agreed to sign on, the Provost left to meet with his employer. The PCs left a bit later to make the next meeting. As they walked through the rain they stumbled upon Bonal Geldem's body. The ranger immediately began searching him, although they were ambushed before she could finish.

Cutter, a warforged barbarian who serves the Lord of Blades (henceforth referred to as the LoBster for hilarity's sake) ambushed them by climbing up from under the bridge. This was a fairly easy fight; the warblade nearly dropped Cutter in one hit. They stood down when the City Watch arrived and passed the Diplomacy check, so Watch Sergeant Dolom bought their story and let them go.

Observations: Not much yet. The warblade did a hell of a lot of damage with that bastard sword, though. The ranger missed a good opportunity to use her Investigate feat at the crime scene, although I guess the obviously-guilty dead warforged was easy enough to figure out.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 02:40:13 AM by Retrokinesis »

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #2: February 15, 2012, 07:24:53 AM »
Second Session: Lady Elaydren, Goblins!, Party in the Sewers

After leaving the crime scene, a cloaked figure invited them to the Broken Anvil tavern to "know the truth". They went, obviously, and met Lady Elaydren d'Cannith, our plot-driving NPC for the evening. She gave them some gold and a magic journal and told them to go to the very depths of the tower and find a certain valve cluster, where the entrance to the forge they needed to find was.

In the Rat Market in the depths of the tower, they found a goblin merchant who claimed to know where the valve cluster was. He wanted 100 silver; they considered killing him for the hell of it, but passed a Diplomacy check and so got the location for 70 silver instead. Came out of the swordsage's pocket. The warblade passed a Spot check and noticed a shifter following them and warned the ranger.

Sewer level time! The goblin led them to the valve cluster, which led deep into the sewers. They were ambushed by 2 shifters and another one of the LoBster's minions; the poor sap's name was actually just "Warforged Rogue". Somewhat difficult fight, but a Color Spray from the sorcerer dropped one of the shifters immediately and the swordsage snapped his neck.

Obervations: I apparently need to do more to encourage roleplaying, because they're just not going for it that much. The ranger is apparently cursed; she's missed every single shot so far.

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #3: February 15, 2012, 07:42:08 AM »
Third Session: Our heroes open a door, are nearly devoured by beetles, get stumped by another door, and kill some stuff.

The first thing they had to do was open the door out of the sewers. It actually had a pretty nasty trap on it, but they figured out the trick and opened it without incident. They climbed down the stone shaft (sending the ranger first as a sacrifice) also without incident. Immediately afterwards, a beetle swarm dug out of the ground and tried to eat them. It hit them all for a measly 1 damage; they were saved when the ranger figured out light hurt them and the sorcerer cast, well, Light.

They wandered around (bypassing the Horrid Rat encounter) until they found the clearly-important single intact building. The swordsage unsuccessfully tried to force the door. When that failed the warblade and ranger used Aid Another and still failed. The ranger decided to try climbing the rough walls and failed, though the fall wasn't high enough to do damage. Then the sorcerer tried the same thing and rolled a natural 20. He climbed through a hole in the roof and unbarred the door.

Up next was a fight against 2 Iron Defenders. It was fairly easy, especially once the sorcerer dropped one of them with Color Spray (again). They looted the entire room, solved the (easy) puzzle, and got the schema/macguffin. Yet ANOTHER warforged minion jumped them (although this one at least had a name) and it was a tough fight due to his high AC and damage reduction. The ranger actually managed to hit him but his damage reduction negated the damage entirely.

They level-up around here, all continuing with their base classes except the ranger, who takes a rogue level for trapfinding. I have the Horrid Rats ambush them after the fight and the warblade nearly dies (5 health left). They make it out with no problems, get their reward from Lady Elaydren, and sell the loot.

Observations: Dat Color Spray...A bit more roleplaying here, good to see. The warblade is still awesome and the ranger still can't hit anything. They agreed to continue the adventure path, so I'll be running Shadows of the Last War next.

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #4: February 15, 2012, 07:45:43 AM »
I allowed the players to change their character now that they've had a chance to actually play them, so let's see what happened.

1. No more warblade. Swapped out for a druid. This player actually had to leave due to personal stuff, so we brought in a new one.
2. No more ranger. Player hasn't decided what to replace it with yet.
3. Sorcerer is now a wizard (specialist necromancer) with a slightly different backstory. I saw Uncanny Forethought on the character sheet...
4. Swordsage is unchanged.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 07:47:33 AM by Retrokinesis »

Offline Risada

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #5: February 15, 2012, 07:56:55 AM »
Just so you know... I'm following this.

Will comment more later...

Offline dipolartech

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #6: February 15, 2012, 09:08:18 AM »
I'm following along too, though I don't know how much i'll comment. Unless you want us to.

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #7: February 15, 2012, 10:49:22 AM »
Please, comment whenever :)! I'd be glad to hear any feedback/advice/suggestions you have.

Offline Billy

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #8: February 15, 2012, 01:44:14 PM »
I ran this adventure path, and let me tell you that whispers of the vampire`s blade is awesome! The party is gonna hate that damn bloodsucker!

About shadows of the last war, the dungeon is somewhat confusing, so prepare for it.

Offline dipolartech

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #9: February 15, 2012, 02:04:43 PM »
How horrid are the rats of the "Horrid Rat" encounter? Is it a CR 1 encounter?

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #10: February 15, 2012, 04:59:09 PM »
CR 2. They were actually pretty brutal, with 20 AC and acid bites. Also, they're literally rats with the "Horrid" template :P

Whitehearth in the next adventure LOOKS confusing purely from the map. I'm probably going to have to draw-up individual maps for each room.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 05:04:11 PM by Retrokinesis »

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #11: February 29, 2012, 05:14:31 PM »
Alright, now that we've sorted some things out this will be starting up again soon. With more character changes:

1. Wizard swapped out for an half-elf artificer.
2. Ranger's player gone, new player is a goblin rogue.
3. Swordsage unchanged.
4. Druid's player gone, replaced by a daelkyr half-blood binder.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2012, 06:57:05 PM by Retrokinesis »

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #12: March 11, 2012, 09:45:48 PM »
Fourth Session: Faces new and old, gelatinous cubes, and bar fights.

OK, first session with the new group. It began in the same tavern, with the artificer and the swordsage interviewing the rogue and the binder (Artificer: "Don't mention the gelatinous cube..."). They ended up hiring them and heading to the House Sivis message station to see if Lady Elaydren had left them any messages. They found the door ajar and the station ransacked; investigation revealed it was a group of kobolds led by a warforged. On their way out, a giant owl dropped off a letter from Elaydren telling them to come to the Broken Anvil immediately.

There, she gave them a Handy Haversack full of items and ducked under the table as the warforged and his minions attacked. The kobolds dropped like flies but the warforged was tough, nearly killing the swordsage and binder. The swordsage snapped his neck and the artificer harvested him for possible grafting. The haversack was full of stuff, including a letter from Elaydren telling the party to find a secret Cannith research base in the Mournland and take the next piece of the schema from it. To find the hidden base, they had to journey to Rose Quarry in the goblinoid nation of Darguun. They sold the warforged's +1 longsword (artificer used Mercantile Background) and decided to look for transportation.

Observations: The fight in the bar was LONG. That warforged's adamantine plating and damage reduction, combined with his magic longsword, really did a number on the frontline fighters. The artificer stayed in the back and shot arrows while the binder, rogue, and swordsage took turns flanking enemies. The rogue is an extremely tactical fighter, relying heavily on flanking and tumbling as well as directing the rest of the melee combatants.

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #13: March 12, 2012, 01:34:50 PM »
Fifth Session: Lightning Trains, Wagon Trains, and Bugbears

The players needed to find a way to get to Darguun, preferably ahead of the people who tried to kill them. They quickly figured out the best ways would be by airship, lightning rail, or galleon. Leery of airship pirates, as official Lyrandar airships didn't make the trip, they went with the lightning rail. The letter of credit from Elaydren covered first class tickets for everyone, so the three-day trip was luxurious but uneventful.

Arriving in Sterngate, the closest lightning rail station to Darguun, the players signed on as caravan guards with a merchant headed through the Marguul Pass. To their credit, they were smart enough to both be suspicious of the merchant and make sure the cargo wasn't valuable enough to be worth stealing. Unfortunately for them, they failed every spot check for seven days straight and everyone except the binder was surprised when three goblins and a bugbear attacked.

All four of the enemies hurled their javelins at the party in the surprise round, with only the artificer getting hit. The artificer stayed on the wagon and shot arrows at the bugbear while the rest of the party charged in to melee. The binder, currently bound to Dahlver-Nar, unleashed a Maddening Moan and dazed all the enemies except one goblin. The rest of the party made quick work of the goblins and the rogue finished the bugbear by leaping back and shooting a point blank critical arrow into him.

Observations: The artificer seems to be hitting things more. The binder's save DCs are a little low, but all the enemies had poor Will saves anyway. The swordsage never seems to remember her maneuvers, or actually HIT when she does use them. The rogue is deadly with all that tumbling and sneak attacking. Fight itself wasn't that hard, although the bugbear nearly dropped the binder with a max damage mace swing. All players showed great knowledge of Eberron geography and travel systems, finding the most efficient route fairly quickly.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2012, 08:59:33 PM by Retrokinesis »

Offline Dwarfi

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #14: March 17, 2012, 08:03:25 AM »
Wotc has some download and printable cards for the tob maneuvers available.
I think they are very handy to remember all the maneuvers. If you want, you could cut them out and use them like memory cards, turning them over when used or something like that.

LINK:
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20061225a

Looking forward for the next post.

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #15: March 20, 2012, 04:48:43 PM »
I'll be sure to pass those along, thanks!

Sixth Session: In which the PCs realize they are not heroes and break the adventure.

This session started off simply enough, with looting the bugbear (nothing good). The merchant paid them all for saving the caravan and the rest of the trip to Darguun continued without incident. They ended up in Rhukaan Draal, the capital of Darguun, a few days later and headed to the oh-so-lovely Bloody Market. The letter they had said the person who could help them was a human named Failin so they asked around the Market, getting nowhere until the binder rolled a 19 on an intimidate check against some poor goblin merchant.

The merchant pointed them towards the Clenched Fist Tavern where they found Failin sitting in a corner. He told them a little about Rose Quarry, mainly that it was formerly a House Cannith mining town and was right on the border of the Mournland, but ultimately agreed to take them there. Outside, they were ambushed by by a group of bugbears who were after Failin for cheating them. It was a fairly uneventful fight up until the end; the rogue pulled out his sap and knocked one of the bugbears out and the swordsage finished the other (who was running away) with an attack of opportunity. They used the unconscious bugbear as leverage against Failin, threatening to wake him up if he didn't agree to cut the fee for transportation. It's around this point where the PCs half-jokingly realized that even the best among them is neutral and one of them is actively evil (Rogue: "So the party consists of a psychopath, a sociopath, a kleptomaniac, and a farm girl?").

They also leveled up to 3 at this point. The swordsage took Shadow Blade, allowing her to add her Dexterity modifier to damage rolls. The binder took Expel Vestige, expelled Dahlver-Nar, and immediately bound Ahazu, a Dragon Magazine vestige, but made a bad pact and so became obsessed with stealing things. The artificer took Item Familiar, but didn't bind to any yet (as she doesn't HAVE any magic items) as well as gaining the ability to craft wondrous items from artificer levels. And the rogue took Open Minded for more skill points.

After renegotiating their deal with Failin, they hopped on his bound elemental and cart and made for Rose Quarry. The immediately noticed two things: that the town was almost completely destroyed and that someone else beat them there. They counted sixteen horses and various humanoid figures standing around a fire; what they didn't see was skeletons and even more soldiers, as well as a necromancer, in the tents. They heard a man chanting off a bit to the north, so the rogue and artificer went to scout.

Now, this is where they did something stupid: they attacked. This whole camp was an effective level 8 encounter, with the book giving multiple warnings about how direct combat would be suicide and they should sneak around. They ignored all my increasingly-less-subtle warnings and sketched a plan of attack. The artificer (after infusing her bow with Human Bane) and the rogue dropped the chanting man (a 2nd-level cleric of Vol) in one round, not even giving him time to scream. When the rest of the soldiers noticed he wasn't chanting anymore they sent a scouting party: three soldiers and two skeletons. The party dropped them easily enough but made enough noise that the rest of the camp had time to don their armor and and attack. This fight was six soldiers, two skeletons, and a 2nd-level necromancer. They didn't have a chance. The artificer's Human Bane bow dropped the necromancer in two shots. The binder banished one of the soldiers to the Void with Ahazu's power while the rogue tumbled around and flanked them. One of the soldiers attacked the swordsage and rolled a crit, but she used Fiery Riposte (an immediate action Counter) and exploded him instantly. The swordsage's fists and binder's morningstar smashed through the skeletons' damage reduction and the rogue became the first and only player I've ever seen to use a Full-Round Withdrawal, setting up yet more sneak attacks.

It was a long fight, and the soldiers got pretty lucky and rolled quite a few crits, but they ultimately fell to the party. Much experience and loot was had by all. We stopped there for the night while I scrambled to put the adventure back together.

Observations: Wow. That was a REALLY intense battle. Both sides were getting extreme rolls; lots of 1's and 20's. They put a lot of effort into scouting and planning before the fight even started, and dropping the cleric in two shots certainly didn't hurt their chances. They stayed far away enough that, in the dark of the night, the soldiers didn't really have a chance of detecting them. Even if it means more work for me, this is what I love about DMing: when the players do something totally unexpected and really get the feeling that the story is THEIRS.

Offline Ziltoid

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #16: March 24, 2012, 03:31:10 PM »
Looks like fun, gonna have to run this one by my group some time

And you got yourself another reader :)

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #17: March 28, 2012, 06:21:07 AM »
Seventh Session: Zombies, zombies, and MORE zombies, improvisations, and a giant enemy crab.

After their killing spree, the PCs took some time to look around. The first thing they noticed was they weren't alone: strange, glass-covered zombies were digging up a graveyard behind a reasonably-intact church. They prepared for another fight but the zombies completely ignored them. The artificer (correctly) figured that their creator forgot to give them instructions for intruders. They went inside the church and found a chalice encased under the glass. Back outside, they "borrowed" a pickaxe from one of the zombies (which kept right on mining without it) and dug up the chalice, which turned out to be a Sovereign Host relic none of them could use.

The next intact building was an old Cannith refinery and the zombies here DID have orders to attack. They weren't particularly difficult to kill but the noise brought another Emerald Claw soldier and the commander of the whole mission out. This fight was tough mainly because she kept using 5-point Combat Expertise which, combined with her shield, made it nearly impossible to actually hit her. The swordsage suggested they stabilize the dying commander and tie her up for interrogation later. Of course, none of them had even a single rank in heal so it took a lucky 19 from the artificer. They shackled the commander to a wall (this comes back to bite them later) and entered the next room.

Puzzle time! The floor of the next room was a giant map of Khorvaire surrounded by various statues (that look like giant chess pieces). It didn't take them long to check the back of the statues, where they found cryptic messages mentioning various locations including their goal of Whitehearth. They seemed to be stumped until the swordsage figured out the statues were telling them to walk on the map (apparently, she's studying coordinate planes that work the same way). Whitehearth, the secret Cannith research facility they were looking for, was revealed to be in a mine in southern Cyre, now firmly in the Mournland.

At this point, I had to wing it. Garrow, a changeling cleric of Vol pretending to be a vampire, was supposed to ambush them now and call the entire camp over, causing the PCs to flee. Of course, since they butchered the entire camp earlier, Garrow had no backup and I figured the PCs would probably try and kill him. So I improvised. Garrow is now an illusionist instead of a cleric, and used his spells to create the illusion of about twenty zombies rising out of the ground to eat the PCs. They got the hint and ran, getting picked up by Failin and his land cart outside. Little did they know Garrow wanted them to run and lead him to Whitehearth, and his vulture zombie was stalking them.

They made it to the Dead-Gray Mist of the Mournland without incident and, much to the chagrin of the rogue (who was sick of undead at this point), insisted on stopping at every remotely interesting site in the Mournland. First, they were ambushed by hideously-mutated wolf skeletons while stripping dead bodies of valuables. They found perhaps the most useless magic item in the module: an intelligent Valenar double scimitar that only likes elves and only works while mounted. The next site held something far worse, though: a mound of bodies and discarded weaponry rose up to from the ground, revealing a carcass crab hiding beneath it!

Observations: So, yeah, I had to tweak the module a bit to cover their totally-unexpected victory. I know Garrow shows up later and in another module, so I needed some way to show the PCs that fighting him was a bad idea. Saving the commander for interrogation was a good idea in theory; they had no way of knowing they'd have to leave in a hurry. I think I'll have her show up in the final encounter when Garrow ambushes them. The rogue was really starting to get sick of all the sneak attack-proof undead. The carcass crab is going to be an interesting fight; even if it is half the CR of a normal carcass crab, it still has a poison ranged attack and will be their first encounter with something much bigger than them.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 06:29:27 AM by Retrokinesis »

Offline Retrokinesis

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #18: March 31, 2012, 01:03:34 PM »
Eighth Session: Crab Battle, Totally Insignificant Zombie, and Crispy-Fried Goblin

Where was I? Oh yes, Carcass Crab. It started off by hurling a poison barb at the binder and missing. The artificer spent the entire time sitting on the cart and flinging arrows at it, to no avail. The swordsage had to use a mace they found earlier because the crab does damage to people to attack it unarmed.

It was a sadly-uneventful fight; the PCs had no difficulty until the crab managed to hit the swordsage with a 6-point power attack, leaving her at 2 HP from unconsciousness. The rogue and binder finished it off but everyone except the artificer was pretty seriously wounded. They tried to heal, completely forgetting that the Mournland prohibits ALL healing, including natural. Luckily, the artificer proved to be crazy prepared by having a CL 8 scroll of Rope Trick on hand. They used that to heal, as it's explicitly an extradimensional space and NOT the Mournland, and finished up with some potions they had.

Finally, they managed to reach the mine that concealed the entrance to Whitehearth. As they were determining their marching order, Garrow's vulture zombie (that none of them had noticed) swooped down to delay them. They killed it in one hit, of course, but didn't seem to realize that it meant they were being followed. They entered the mine, with the rogue and binder leading using their darkvision.

They came across a hatch on the ground (that they were supposed to unlock with the blue keycharm, but nobody remembered that...) and the rogue tried and failed to search for traps. Of course, there WAS one and the session ended with him getting hit with 3d6 electricity damage.

Observations: The CR 4 Carcass Crab, at half the CR of a non-nerfed version, really wasn't much of a threat at all. The vulture zombie even less so, although it was supposed to clue them in that Garrow was following them. I'm going to need to find some way to remind them about the blue keycharm in the bag, as there are a bunch more decoy hatches for the rogue to explode.


Offline Dwarfi

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Re: [3.5] Eberron: Eyes in the Dark
« Reply #19: May 31, 2012, 01:45:56 AM »
I like reading your journal posts. Are you playing straighth from the book or do you splash in a lot of personal stuff and changes?

If some encounters are not hard enough, just let the Monster HP slip a little further then they are supposed to until the group took at least some blows. ^^
Personally I love to haress my PCs with noncombat situations. Taxcollectors and stuff like that ^^