When we last left our heroes, they were marshaling their resolve outside of a set of doors set into a hillside in a valley to which they were led by a map they received from a warforged they didn’t trust.
The doors were not locked, but seemed to be stuck, whether by age or design, no one knew. The strength of our heroes prevailed and they pulled the doors open to reveal a two-tiered entry hall. Skeletons covered the floor, along with a couple of fresher bodies. In the distance, a wailing could be heard echoing in the halls. A faded painting of a man was hung on the far wall.
As they entered the hall, the skeletons came to life and swarmed them! Making short work of the bony abominations, they searched the two bodies. They found only supplies and pressed onward, choosing the nearest of the two doors leading deeper into the crypt.
The next room was dominated by a large pool of water fed by a fountain. The fountain was in the shape of a maiden holding the headless body of an armored man. A voice boomed from the darkness “Magic is the key.” Upon closer inspection, they saw the statue was not headless, rather the head had been broken off. Our heroes explored the room thoroughly, discovering hundreds of keys at the bottom of the pool. Mercutio determined that one of these keys was magical, and Rurin retrieved that key from the water.
It was here that I uttered the phrase “Piranha keys” giving rise to the speculation of what an insidious trap it would be to have a pool full of keys that, upon some trigger, all turned into piranhas that would eat the meddling PC. I’ll have to remember that for the future.
Two doors led out from the chamber, leading deeper into the dungeon. Both doors were locked and the magic key opened neither. They began to test all the others keys they found so far and found one that fit the rightmost of the two doors.
The hallway beyond the fountain room were lined with statues of the man depicted in the painting in the entry hall. Each statue was holding a longsword aloft, and the heroes quickly determined they were actual swords and not part of the statuary. After searching the first pair of statues and removing one of the swords, they could find no obvious mechanism, despite being convinced there was a trap they were missing. Vistra proceeded down the corridor ahead of the rest of the party and when he reached the third pair, the swords swung down. No one was seriously injured and they picked their way through the swords now blocking the corridor to the door at the far end of the hallway. It was unlocked.
Another two-tiered room lay before them, albeit different in layout from the entry hall. Another statue stood at the far end of the lower level of this room. The statue was that of the same man, but he held two wooden tower shields. The statue was near a door and stairs led up and out of the room to their left. When Vistra reached the lower level of the room, the statue came to life and attacked! In addition to bashing with its shields, it was able to use some sort of psychic attack to daze our heroes. Rurin noticed a keyhole on its back and they maneuvered to attempt to insert the magic key. Ultimately, it was not needed as they destroyed the statue before being able to insert the key.
Our heroes, being the thorough-minded people they are, inserted the key anyway.
The key did fit the door, however, and revealed a small storage room with a table. Upon the table were four magical items. None of them appeared to be an Everflame, so they stashed the items for future study and moved on.
Mercutio, Vistra, Rurin, and Theirastra followed the stairs which seemed to lead up and over an undiscovered area of the crypt before going back down into a squarish room where several fire beetles were swarming over a corpse. Mercutio made short work of the beetles with his magic and finding nothing of interest in the room, they followed a corridor south out of the room. That corridor led to another room with pillars surrounding a small fire pit. Noxious black smoke created a haze in the small, double-diamond-shaped room which they carefully explored.
Shadows came alive and attacked as they searched the room. The shadows assault them with dazing and weakening attacks. Our heroes faced their greatest challenge yet, but were not to be deterred and beat back the undead, destroying them. In the fire, they found a couple of charred bodies, one of which had a dagger untouched by the flames, a magic dagger. They also found another key.
What did the key open? And what secrets were yet to be revealed?
So much happened since I started converting this Pathfinder adventure to 4E that I totally forgot that I still needed to deal with the treasure. Of course, I can’t just drop in a wand of cure light wounds and a wand of magic missile in the appropriate place because of how they changed the way things work in 4E. I also keep forgetting about the passive perception checks to notices traps and the like. The more I run 4E, the less I like running it. I’m finding it too difficult to keep track of everything and some of the paradigm shifts in the way the game works are just frustrating because it’s not the way I’ve been doing it for decades. Game prep is easy as hell, thank to the electronic tools, but I just don’t like the feel of the game when it runs. At this point, I think I’ve given it a fair enough shake to determine it is my least favorite of the D&D editions (I’m a 2nd ed. guy, through and through, warts and all).
This makes this game my 7th in this 4E Eberron campaign and my 10th or 11th D&D 4E game I’ve run overall. I think that’s probably enough sessions to know. I will, however, stick with it until this campaign is finished. It does make me glad that I did not blindly buy everything for 4E as it came out. Of all my D&D stuff, 4E is the least represented in my collection. That being said, I can see how it appeals to some people and while I’ve found some landmines, I don’t feel it’s a badly designed system; it’s just not fitting in with my personal tastes. I will admit, however, it’s difficult to resist the urge to just figure a way to end the campaign early so I can switch to a different system that might fit my DMing style better.
And yes, I know that Pathfinder is not an easier game, per se, but I have often said that if I ever run Pathfinder, I will do so using Adventure Paths pretty much as written, so my game prep will mostly be limited to making sure I’m familiar with the material I’m going to use that evening (in theory). Whether or not that’s going to be easier for me, time will tell. I’ve also made no secret of the fact that I’m really interested in exploring both FATE and Savage Worlds as systems, and maybe even dabbling with the new HackMaster. In fact, I can see the Kingmaker Adventure Path to be a very good fit for HackMaster. I wonder how modular the revised Kingdom-Building rules will be in the forthcoming Ultimate Campaign from Paizo?