Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DeadOrcs Rolls Initiative on Skills

So despite spending all morning yesterday waiting for jury duty that never materialized and a trip out to the company's super-secret fortress of research and development, I managed to pop on to Twitter a few times to find it ablaze with talk of skills and how they work (or don't work) in 4e and other versions of Dungeons & Dragons.

Skills have been talked about a lot, but recent articles over at WotC's "Legends & Lore" column, and fellow 4Geeks4E host, Tracy Hurley's column over at her Sarah Darkmagic blog, have sparked considerable chatter about skills. Some of that chatter, in fact, led my wife & I to have a lengthy discussion about skills over dinner. I can tell you it's the first dinner conversation we ever had that focused exclusively on some element of the game. Safe to say, skills are the hot topic.

Skill, skills, skills.

When we look at 4e, there does seem to be a disconnect between how skills are presented, and how they work out in practice while actually playing the game. While the 4e skill system is pretty solid overall, there are a couple of issues that seem to crop up fairly often. The first is this bit about Religion skill. Boiled down, the problem is that Religion skill is based on Intelligence, while most of the character classes that would use this skill frequently, have high Wisdom scores instead. You end up with situations where a Wizard would have a better success rate with Religion than a Cleric would. While this might not be a problem for those that consider Religion a Knowledge type skill only, materials in both home brew and published adventures make use of Religion in a far more broader sense. Consider, for example, a situation in which a hero needs to manipulate Divine energy in some fashion. While this task would seem to fall obviously to the hero with a Divine energy source (say, a Cleric, for example), you have instead, the party's Wizard tackling the problem since his Religion score is actually higher. The Angry DM has a fairly decent solution to this issue over at his recently posted blog, so check that out. For my own campaigns, I would just re-key the skill to Wisdom. At the same time, I remove Religion from the Knowledge skills list, and it becomes instead, the Divine equivalent of the Arcana skill.

A far more sticky issue is the one Monte Cook brought up in the Legends & Lore article I mentioned earlier. While the article is really not to be taken as gospel, he posits that some kind of "ranking" system be used to describe a character's "level of Perception" if you will. While that might group the ranges of Perception chances into easy-to-grasp chunks, I think it's missing the point. If I dust off the ancient text, and put on my Grognard hat for a moment, I can show you that Perception in 4e used to be Search in 3e, and before that it was...well, that's just it. Before 3e you didn't use a die roll to determine the results of a search.

What's that? No die roll?

That's right. In older editions of the rules, searching was the result of the Player's (not Character's) intuition, combined with the descriptive abilities of the Dungeon Master. Both used common sense to determine what could and could not be seen or recognized in a given situation. Take the following over-simplified example:

A hero is running away from an Ogre. He runs past a corridor and asks the Dungeon Master if he can tell if there's an exit in that direction. In the current 4e rules, the DM might call for a Perception check. The DM knows that the hero is moving quickly so sets the difficulty to the Hard column and sets the DC to the level of the character. Even if the character doesn't have a high Perception score, he still can roll a 20 (5% chance) to tell what's down the corridor. Now, while I understand we're not playing a simulation game, common sense tells us that being chased by an Ogre is pretty horrible, and that you're probably concentrating more on not falling down (and becoming an Ogre Slim-Jim) than you are looking carefully at every passage you zip by. In an older version of the game, the DM might simply say, "You pass a corridor alright, but you're moving too fast, you can't tell if there's an exit."  While the DM can say that in 4e, as well, there's an expectation that if you roll high enough on a given Perception check, something will be revealed. That expectation needs to go away.

I would like to see adventures & the DMs that run them, move away from using Perception. Let's take it out of the skill list altogether. As a DM, you should be able to categorize the descriptive parts of your encounters by how much you reveal. Try this example:

Let's say the encounter takes place in a Wizard's laboratory. The room is about 40' by 40', has no visible exits (but contains a concealed one behind a tapestry), there are several tables with equipment on them (including 3 potion bottles), a shelf of old tomes (including a trapped book), a magic circle inscribed on the floor, a Wizard, 3 Stone Golems, and a large tapestry on each wall. Now consider how we can group these items together, so that describing them is based on the player's actions instead of the character's skill states:

The Brief Glance: This category is for when a hero is literally only getting a brief glance at a specific area, either by passing by it quickly, viewing the area in a limited way, or simply being too distracted to note further details.  For example: "Peering through a crack in the door, you see what looks like a workroom of some kind. It is lit, and there are creatures moving about the room."

The Once Over: This category is for when a hero can take a moment to view his entire surroundings. It's good for when the heroes have busted down the door and are just about to have to roll initiative. It's also effective when invisible characters are sneaking around and detailed investigation would risk discovery. For example: "Standing at the entrance to the room, you see what appears to be a Wizard's laboratory. There are tables full of equipment, a strange glowing circle drawn on the floor, and a large bookcase. A man in robes directs creatures that look like moving statues about the room. Old tapestries line the walls."

The Combat Assessment: This category is for heroes focused on any foes that might be in the room. It's basically a combat threat assessment. For example: "The Wizard speaks words in a strange tongue and the statues move towards you in a threatening manner".

The Detailed Investigation: This category is for heroes investigating specific areas of the room. These descriptions would be unique for the various features described above. Investigating the work tables reveals the potions (although they may not be labeled in an obvious manner). The book shelf would eventually reveal the trapped book. The magic circle would reveal (to a character trained in Arcana) that it was a summoning circle. The tapestries would eventually reveal that one of them is hiding a concealed passage. You get the point. The Detailed Investigation eventually reveals what the DM wants the players and their characters to know. Not once is a single Perception check rolled, as it's the Players that are guiding their character's actions.

I'll admit, this style of play takes a little more work on the part of both the Players and the Dungeon Master. However, it does get the Players involved in really interacting with the environment. Instead of just declaring, "I roll a Perception check to see what I can in the room.", the Player instead must direct his character to actively investigate his surroundings. As the Dungeon Master, listen for your Players to say things like, "I pick this item up." or "I try to move this item". If a specific action is called for (for example, lifting a heavy object, or figuring out what a specific rune might mean), then a skill check of some kind is of course, appropriate.

In full disclosure, I've not yet used this method in my 4e games. However, as I'm starting my own home brew campaign in a month or so, I'll be going over my notes and removing Perception from the equation. We'll see how it goes!

I'm sure there's more that can be done to tweak the skill system, but that will have to wait for another blog post. I welcome comments and want to hear what you have to say about skills. Let me know!

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dead Orcs Society Solo Adventures - Sovelis

Once again, from the Dead Orcs Campaign Files comes another solo adventures. Featured today is the solo adventure of the party's Wizard.

Sovelis (no relation) is an Evocation Wizard whose former master was Nimozaran, most recently from his tower in Fallcrest. Sovelis studied under Nimozaran for a number of years, and this adventure was one of Sovelis' last before leaving the tower and beginning his career. The adventure occurred quite by accident, and Sovelis hates talking about it. However, the adventure is notable, as it is where Sovelis acquired his faithful familiar, Bubo.

As a reminder, each adventure follows a simple (but easily adaptable) formula:

Encounter one uses minions and sets the hero on the path.

Encounter two utilizes a simple skill challenge.

Encounter three uses both minions and a level appropriate "boss" figure roughly equal to the hero's strength. The difficulty of this encounter is based on how well the hero does during the skill challenge just prior. If the hero fails the skill challenge, this challenge will likely include several minions as well as the "boss" figure.

Here's what the encounter looks like (encounter created in Masterplan 11.1). Please note that when writing adventures for myself, I often leave out the minor details of certain things so that I have room to ad-lib with the player. If the notes from the adventure below do not seem polished, this is why.

You'll also note that I while Masterplan assigns XP to the various encounters, I did not track this. These adventures were designed as flashbacks. Skip to the bottom to see the followup.

DeadOrcs_Solo_Sovelis

An adventure for 1 character of level 1.

By Randall Walker


A Wizard's Errand


It is really late. You're not sure why your old mentor, Nimozaran is wanting Parrow Mushrooms this late at night, but an apprentice's job is not to ask too many questions.

You've never been down to the dungeon level of the tower unaccompanied before. But it's just a simple request. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot actually. A lot can go wrong. This is what you remember thinking as you pressed the wrong stud on the secret wall, and the trap door opened underneath your feet. The fall bruised your ego more than your body, but now you're in a dark room on a cold floor somewhere in your Master's dungeon. You can hear an unnerving skittering sound echoing in the distance.

Late one evening, a servant awakens you asking you to report to your mentor, Nimozaran. The wise mage is in the midst of an experiment and asks you to retrieve some fresh Parrow Mushrooms from the dungeon of the tower.


Encounter75 XP
Level 1
Opponents3
Carrion Crawler Hatchlingx3

Illumination
:
Total darkness. Illumination will change based on the lighting provided by the hero.

Features of the Area
:

Stalagmites
 
The stalagmites are considered difficult terrain to the hero, while the carrion crawler hatchlings ignore this terrain.

Setup
:
The hero begins at the center of the cavern. The carrion crawler hatchlings begin at the only exit from the cave.

Tactics
:
The carrion crawler hatchlings are eating machines placed here years ago by Nimozaran to aid in "mess clean-up". They attack any living creature dropped into the cave. The creatures will attack until destroyed.

Items
:
There are no items of interest in the cave.

Carrion Crawler Hatchling 
Small aberrant beast
Level 1 Minion 
25 XP
HP 1Initiative +3
AC 15; Fort 12; Ref 14; Will 12Perception +4
Speed 6, climb 4tremorsense 5
Standard Actions
Tentacle Brush (necrotic) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
The small but potent tentacles of the Carrion Crawler Hatchling brush against you, painfully rotting your flesh.
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
4 necrotic damage and the target is slowed (save ends).
Rotting Grasp (Necrotic) ♦ At-Will
Seeing a still opponent, the Carrior Crawler Hatchling latches on, dissolving the prey with its tentacled grasp.
Range: Melee Touch
The target takes 4 ongoing necrotic damage each round until the Carrion Crawler Hatchling is removed or the prey is dead. While the Carrion Crawler Hatchling is attached to its target, it grants combat advantage.
Sustain: Minor
Skills Perception +4
Str: 10 (+0) 
Con: 13 (+1)
Dex: 16 (+3) 
Int: 1 (-5)
Wis: 12 (+1) 
Cha: 2 (-4)
Alignment Unaligned

Treasure Parcels
Scattered coins worth 25 GP
25 GP

Negotiate the Crystal Cavern

Glowing multicolored light pointing the way, you leave the cave of the carrion crawlers only to find yourself in another cavern. 

Filling the cavern are strange crystals. Brilliant sparks of energy dance between the crystals, and the smell of ozone fills the air. From across the cavern, you see a bulbous humanoid waving a satchel in the air. Over the sound of the sparking crystals you hear a warbling voice call out, "If that fool Nimozaran wants his mushrooms, you'll have to go through me, Bubo the Enlightened, first. The power of the shrooms is MINE!"

Having escaped the rotting tentacles of the carrion crawlers, you stumble into a cave filled with strange energetic crystals. You must make your way across the cave and climb the balcony to reach the strange foe you've suddenly acquired.

Negotiate the Crystal Cavern200 XP
Level 1 
Complexity 2 (requires 6 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills
Acrobatics (DC 19): Dodging the sparks isn't the easiest way to get around the crystals, but it's possible. You can use this abiity score any number of times to complete this skill challenge.
Success: Your clever dodging and weaving has allowed you to avoid the sparking crystals. You move your movement rate through the cave and gain 1 success.
Failure: Your attempt at clever movements has failed, and you have misstepped. You take 2 points of lightning damage and can only move 2 squares. Bubo spawns a minion and you gain 1 failure.

Arcana (DC 19): Using your mastery of the arcane sciences, you quiet nearby crystals in order to move past them. You can use this skill any number of times to complete the challenge.
Success: The sparks between the crystals quiet down and you are able to move your speed through the cavern. You gain 1 success.
Failure: Despite your efforts, sparks cause you 2 points of damage and you move only 2 squares. Bubo spawns a minion and you gain 1 Failure.

Other Skills
Endurance (DC 12): Summoning your reserves of energy, you decide to push your way past the sparking crystals, disregarding their arcing lightning. You may use this ability once during the skill challenge.
Success: You gains a +2 on the next Acrobatics or Arcana check made for this skill challenge.
Failure: None.

Insight (DC 12): You attempt to time your passage through the crystals, in order to avoid the sparks. You can use this ability only once during the skill challenge.
Success: You gain a +2 to the next Acrobatics check made during the skill challenge.
Failure: None.

Magic Missile (DC 8): You use your Magic Missile power to destroy a group of crystals. This ability can be used twice during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero blasts a section of crystals into oblivion moving past them at your normal movement rate. You gain 1 success and one of Bubo's spawned minions tumbles off the ledge and is impaled on the crystals below.
Failure: None.

Victory
If the hero succeeds in the skill challenge, you make it to the opposite wall of the cavern where a notches in the wall allow you to climb toward the ledge above. Bubo flees to an unseen location.
Defeat
You make it to the other edge of the cavern, but you are beaten and worn. Bubo has gained some additional allies (spawned from his own body) and together they flee to an unseen location.
Notes


Mushroom Madness

If Bubo spawned no minions, read the following: Bursting into the final chamber, you finally get a clear look at the creature calling himself, Bubo. He stands near the back of a cave filled with row upon row of mushrooms. There are many varieties, but the patches of parrow mushrooms have been picked bare. Wide eyed he shouts at you, "These mushrooms hold the key to my freedom! But since you don't seem to understand that, I will send Nimozaran your CORPSE! 

If Bubo spawned one or more minions, read the following: Bursting into the final chamber, you finally get a clear look at the creature calling himself, Bubo. He stands near the back of a cave with creatures that look similar to himself, only smaller. The cave you're in is filled with row upon row of mushrooms. There are many varieties, but the patches of parrow mushrooms have been picked bare. Wide eyed Bubo shouts at you, "These mushrooms hold the key to my freedom! But since you don't seem to understand that, I am forced to send you back to Nimozaran as a CORPSE! My children! Destroy him!

Racing to retrieve the mushrooms, you confront Bubo in order to stop his madness.

Encounter175 XP
Level 4
Opponents4
Bubo the Enlightened
Spawn of Bubox3


Illumination
:
Darkness, unless the hero brings their own light.

Features of the Area
:

Fungal Gardens
 
The cave is filled with rows of mushroom beds and other fungal gardens. These areas are treated as difficult terrain for the character, but do not block line of sight. 

Elevator Shaft 
At the far end of the cave, and carved out of the very cave wall, is a rectangular shaft containing a wooden platform. Pulling on the rope that runs through the middle of the platform, raises & lowers the platform. If the platform is raised as far as it can go, it leads to a secret door that gives egress back into the tower.

Setup
:
The hero begins at the entrance of the fungal garden cavern. 

Bubo starts anywhere within 1 square of the elevator shaft. Any of Bubo's Spawn start adjacent to Bubo.

Tactics
:
Bubo is really upset that Nimozaran is stealing his brethren and putting them to use as an ingredient in his spells. Having only reached sentience a little while ago, he is driven only by the desire to protect the mushrooms and carry away the most valuable ones. 

During combat, Bubo will send his Spawn to fight the hero before engaging in combat himself. Bubo does not know how to work the elevator platform, and considers it just another part of the cave. Both Bubo and his Spawn fight until they are killed or incapacitated.

Items Of Note
:
When Bubo is slain, he leaves behind a bright red mushroom. This mushroom becomes Bubo, the Familiar of Sovelis. Bubo the Familiar has dreams of his previous (and rather brief) life, but is loyal & faithful to Sovelis.

Bubo the Enlightened 
Medium natural humanoid (plant)
Level 1 Skirmisher 
100 XP
HP 28; Bloodied 14Initiative +2
AC 15; Fort 13; Ref 13; Will 13Perception +1
Speed 6darkvision
Resist 5 poison
Traits
Spore Cloud (Poison) ♦ Aura 1
Aura 1: Any creature that begins its turn within 1 square of Bubo, takes 5 poison damage.
Fungal Born
Bubo can move through any terrain composed primarily of fungi, as if the terrain were normal terrain.
Standard Actions
Deadly Puff Ball (plant, poison) ♦ At-Will
Pulling a strange growth from the top of his head, Bubo hurls a glob of strange plant-like material at you!
Range: Ranged 10
Attack: +6 vs AC
1d8+4 poison damage.
Rhizome Stick (plant, poison, weapon) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Bubo jabs at you with a sharp plant-like growth that extends from his body!
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
1d6+3 poison damage.
Skills Nature +6, Thievery +8
Str: 9 (-1) 
Con: 12 (+1)
Dex: 17 (+3) 
Int: 9 (-1)
Wis: 12 (+1) 
Cha: 10 (+0)
Alignment Evil
Languages Common

Spawn of Bubo 
Small natural humanoid (plant)
Level 1 Minion 
25 XP
HP 1Initiative +0
AC 15; Fort 13; Ref 13; Will 13Perception +1
Speed 6
Resist 5 poison
Traits
Fungal Born
A Spawn of Bubo can move through any terrain composed primarily of fungi, as if the terrain were normal terrain.
Standard Actions
Rhizome Jab (Poison) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee
Attack: +4 vs Fortitude
4 poison damage
Skills Stealth +8
Str: 7 (-2) 
Con: 7 (-2)
Dex: 17 (+3) 
Int: 5 (-3)
Wis: 12 (+1) 
Cha: 10 (+0)
Alignment Evil


Here is the stat-block for Sovelis' familiar, Bubo. This was built in the original monster builder. While it doesn't have the same formatting as familiars in official resources (Arcane Power, etc.), it has all the information required to run one.



 
The Feedback:

Like Alex, I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons with Trey for over 10 years. Trey is the math genius at the table, and his mind can crunch numbers faster than most people I know. He's great to have at the table, because if there's a calculation error, or problem with dividing the monetary aspects of treasure, he's all over it.  Trey is a reluctant role-player, but once he gets into a situation, he can play his character to the hilt. He can be a bit aloof & arrogant (although not in a douche-bag type way) so his characters are often Wizards or Sorcerers. He certainly enjoys wielding Phenomenal Cosmic Power


As we played through the adventure, I wanted to challenge Trey's assumptions about what to expect in any given encounter. The adventure brought him pretty close to death a couple of times, so I know I stretched the boundaries of what a solo adventure can manage as far as balanced play goes. Being a reluctant role-player, I spoke to him about using a quirk, but he's not entirely sure how to approach that. There's a chance that his quirks will be subtle, even to the point of being "the character that has no quirks". Of course, that in itself, becomes a kind of quirk. He's eager to try on Themes for size, and I know he'll enjoy the additional benefits. However, he's not especially open as to the details of his background. Hopefully, this adventure will help fill in some of those gaps.

Feel free to steal any or all the elements of the brief encounters listed above. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback regarding solo adventures, skill challenges, or anything else for that matter. In among other posts, you'll see the remaining adventures as my players schedule time with me to play.


Until next time...


Game excellently with one another.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dead Orcs Society Solo Adventures - Zurgas

Continuing my series on solo adventures, this week, we take a look at the solo adventure our groups Paladin went through.

Zurgas is a Tiefling Paladin of Pelor. He was originally being trained as an assassin, but after he witnessed the brutal slaying of a child, he had an epiphany and a nearly 180ยบ turn around in philosophy. Confessing his sins, Zurgas pleaded with the local church to allow him to train as a Paladin for Pelor. After some close scrutiny, they decided to put Zurgas through a series of tests to prove his worth. The adventure that follows was one of those tests.

As a reminder, each adventure follows a simple (but easily adaptable) formula:

Encounter one uses minions and sets the hero on the path.

Encounter two utilizes a simple skill challenge.

Encounter three uses both minions and a level appropriate "boss" figure roughly equal to the hero's strength. The difficulty of this encounter is based on how well the hero does during the skill challenge just prior. If the hero fails the skill challenge, this challenge will likely include several minions as well as the "boss" figure.

Here's what the encounter looks like (encounter created in Masterplan 11.1). Please note that when writing adventures for myself, I often leave out the minor details of certain things so that I have room to ad-lib with the player. If the notes from the adventure below do not seem polished, this is why.

You'll also note that I while Masterplan assigns XP to the various encounters, I did not track this. These adventures were designed as flashbacks. Skip to the bottom to see the followup.

DeadOrcs_Solo_Zurgas

An adventure for 1 character of level 1.

By Randall Walker


A Ghoulish Task


It seems like an ordinary day. The sun is out, there are a few clouds, and the bustling populace of Fallcrest can be heard below. Ahead of you, parishioners file into a run-down church, the looks on their faces sad and fearful. As the last one slips inside, a single scrap of paper slips from its grasp and lodges into a bush near the entrance. Now, as you stand just inside the gate of the "Church of The Everlasting Light", you have a feeling that you are being watched.



In an effort to prove his worth to Pelor, Zurgas must sanctify an abandoned church in Pelor's name. Even before he can get to the building proper, however, ghouls from the graveyard outside the church move to thwart him.


Encounter75 XP
Level 1
Opponents3
Ghouish Defilerx3



Illumination:
Moderately bright light (shaded daylight).

Features of the Area:

Gravestones 
The various gravestones within the cemetery provide partial cover to anyone ducking down behind them.

Setup
:
The hero begins at the gates of the cemetery surrounding the church. The ghoulish defilers begin at randomly selected gravestones.

Tactics
:
The ghoulish defilers are brutal in their determination to stop the hero from entering the church, hoping their bites will slow their enemy. The creatures will attack until destroyed.

Items
:

Scrap Of Paper
 
The hero will note a small scrap of paper that flutters from a parishioner's prayer book and lodges in a nearby bush. On the paper are printed the words, Orcus protect us. Orcus save us from the light to be embraced in your eternal darkness. 

Just below that is scrawled in barely legible common, Someone save us!

Ghoulish Defiler 
Medium natural humanoid (undead)
Level 1 Minion Soldier 
25 XP
HP 1Initiative +2
AC 15; Fort 14; Ref 16; Will 13Perception +0
Speed 8, climb 4
Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 necrotic; Vulnerable 5 radiant
Standard Actions
Ghoulish Bite ♦ At-Will
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
4 damage and the target is slowed (save ends).
Skills Stealth +11
Str: 14 (+2) 
Con: 15 (+2)
Dex: 19 (+4) 
Int: 10 (+0)
Wis: 11 (+0) 
Cha: 12 (+1)
Alignment Chaotic evil
Languages Common


Sanctify the Congregation


Slamming open the door, you hear a low murmuring - dark prayers to the demon Orcus. Amazingly, the priest at the head of the congregation looks up only briefly. Seeing you, he returns to his prayers, chanting louder this time.

Confronted with a congregation filled with recently converted Thralls of Orcus, Zurgas must use his holy ability to exercise members of the congregation.


Sanctify the Congregation200 XP
Level 1 
Complexity 2 (requires 6 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills
Heal (DC 12): Using a healing touch, the hero proves the power of his faith. The hero can use this skill any number of times to complete the challenge.
Success: The thrall is converted and sees the light of Pelor, his faith spreads to two adjacent thralls. The hero gains 1 success.
Failure: The thrall is not converted. The hero gains 1 failure and an armed parishioner appears at the pulpit next to the preacher.

Religion (DC 8): Using the power of his faith, the hero's words convert a thrall once again to a faithful of Pelor. The hero may use this ability once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts a thrall to a member of the faithful of Pelor. The hero gain 2 successes, and two adjacent parishioners convert as well.
Failure: The hero fails to convert a thrall and gains 1 failure. An armed parishioner appears next to the priest at the head of the congregation.

Other Skills
Any Radiant Power (DC 12): The hero uses any power with the Radiant keyword, but does no damage. This ability can be used once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts an thrall effected by the power instead of doing damage. The hero also gains 2 successes and removes 1 armed parishioner from the stage next to the priest.
Failure: Another armed parishioner is summoned to the side of the priest at the head of the congregation.

Diplomacy (DC 19): The hero attempts to convince a thrall to convert. The hero can use this ability only once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts a thrall into a faithful of Pelor. The hero gains 1 success.
Failure: The hero fails to convince the thrall to convert. The hero gains 1 failure and an armed parishioner appears next to the priest at the head of the congregation.

Endurance (DC 12): Tapping his reserves of faith, the hero pushes ahead with converting the congregation. The hero may use this ability once during the skill challenge.
Success: The hero gains a +2 on his next Heal or Religion check when converting a member of the congregation.
Failure: No effect.

Lay On Hands (DC 12): The hero uses a Lay On Hands power to prove his faith to a member of the congregation. This ability can only be used twice during this skill challenge.
Success: The hero converts a thrall, and two adjacent thralls. The hero also gains 2 successes.
Failure: No effect.

Victory
If the hero succeeds in the skill challenge, the thralls all begin to shake off their condition and begin praying loudly to Pelor, sanctifying the church. They begin to leave, shuffling out of the church, leaving only the priest and one or two armed parishioners.
Defeat
The few converted thralls flee, but the rest remain, spreading out in a circle. The priest and several armed parishioners move forward to attack. The church remains defiled.
Notes



Secrets Revealed

As the priest and his minions move to confront you, you realize something shocking. You KNOW this man!
In this final confrontation, Zurgas must face an old foe, in the guise of a priest of Orcus!

Encounter175 XP
Level 4
Opponents4
Bludgeon, Human Assassin/Priest
Armed Parishionerx3


Illumination
:
Moderate bright light (indoors at daylight).

Features of the Area
:

Pews
 
The long benches (or pews) are difficult terrain. Crawling over them is easy, but the movement is treated as moving over difficult terrain. Ducking down behind a pew grants partial cover. 

Parishioner
For this encounter, it's possible that some parishioners loyal to Orcus might be standing around watching the outcome of the fight. These parishioners do not attack, but can be moved through as difficult terrain. Standing behind a parishioner grants partial cover.

Setup
:
The hero begins somewhere on the floor of the sanctuary, based on the result of the skill challenge just prior to this encounter. 

Bludgeon and his faithful start at the edge of the stage at the far end of the sanctuary.

Tactics
:
A hero attempting to convert followers back to Pelor will attract a great deal of attention. Bludgeon will send his minions to attack. If that fails to thwart the hero, Bludgeon will use his ranged attack until the hero closes the distance. At that point, Bludgeon will use his mace in melee combat. Bludgeon fights to the death, for he knows the Assassin's guild will kill him if he is thwarted. 

Remaining unconverted followers, will drift out of the church, dejected. Many will be greeted by brethren in an attempt to continue the work the hero started.




Items Of Note:
Hidden behind the pulpit are Peloran Bands These armbands provide a boon to followers of Pelor that don them.

Bludgeon, Human Assassin/Priest 
Medium natural humanoid
Level 1 Controller
100 XP
HP 28; Bloodied 14Initiative -1
AC 15; Fort 14; Ref 13; Will 12Perception +0
Speed 6
Standard Actions
Mace Of Conversion (necrotic) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
1d8+4 necrotic damage.
Mace of Corruption (necrotic) ♦ At-Will
Range: Ranged 10
Attack: +4 vs Fortitude
1d6+3 necrotic damage and ongoing 1 necrotic damage (save ends).
Skills Acrobatics +6, Intimidate +5
Str: 16 (+3) 
Con: 12 (+1)
Dex: 12 (+1) 
Int: 10 (+0)
Wis: 10 (+0) 
Cha: 10 (+0)
Alignment Evil
Languages Common

Armed Parishoner 
Medium natural humanoid
Level 1 Minion 
25 XP
HP 1Initiative +0
AC 14; Fort 12; Ref 10; Will 10Perception +0
Speed 6
Standard Actions
Club (Weapon) ♦ At-Will (basic attack)
Range: Melee
Attack: +6 vs AC
4 damage.
Str: 14 (+2) 
Con: 12 (+1)
Dex: 10 (+0) 
Int: 9 (-1)
Wis: 10 (+0) 
Cha: 11 (+0)
Alignment Unaligned
Languages Common
Equipment club


Treasure Parcels
Peloran Bands
These bracers shed light in a 2 square radius, granting limited vulnerability to radiant damage to undead creatures.

In addition, the bands provide a daily power that allows the wearer to regain the use of one healing surge.


The Feedback:

I've been playing with Alex for over 10 years. He's a solid gamer, but even today is a little shy about how to work out the role-playing aspects of his characters. Given some direction, though, he can lock down on something and role-play the shit out of it. Yesterday, before the adventure, I got to sit down with Alex and discuss themes (remember, I'm introducing themes) and also asked him if his Paladin, Zurgas had any quirks. He wasn't sure, but he liked the idea. I love character development so it was hard not to just throw a bucket load of ideas at him. One thing we did know, was that a pivotal moment in his youth, he witnessed a fellow member of the local assassin's guild kill a child. From that point on, he has been very protective of children. I suggested a quirk that had to do with children. Maybe he likes to make toys or candy (he's an alchemist) for the children when he comes to visit. I'm not certain what he'll decide on yet, but he was digging the direction. The nice thing about these quirks is that they have no real mechanical game impact. Giving a toy to village orphan is not going to give him a +1 to anything. It's just a quirk that brings his character to life. 

As we played through the adventure, I challenged Alex on the different ways skills & powers can be used in order to further role-playing goals. When it was all over, I think I feel safe in saying that he has a new appreciation for his character. I look forward to seeing some really cool moments from Zurgas from here on.

SIDE NOTE:  I have updated the notes on the previous solo adventure for Akumahn.  You can find that HERE.

Feel free to steal any or all the elements of the brief encounters listed above. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback regarding solo adventures, skill challenges, or anything else for that matter. In among other posts, you'll see the remaining adventures as my players schedule time with me to play.

Until next time...

Game excellently with one another.