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KotS Session 3: Death to Ninaran – Part 1 June 2, 2010

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Keep on the Shadowfell, Narrative.


I am going to begin implementing a new format from here on out. Normal type indicates my thoughts, explanations, and interruptions as a DM and italicized type will indicate narrative recapping of the session. I am willing to change that around if it feels like too much italicized  reading–just let me know.

Where Did We Leave Off?

We pick up this week exactly where we had left off last time; Lord Padraig arrives at the PCs’ rooms to find that they have been attacked and robbed. He asks about what was taken and the PCs–Ronen in particular–tell him only that a tome of great value was stolen. Padraig apologizes profusely and stations guards outside of the rooms to stand watch during the night.


The next day the PCs wake up and decide to go in search of some info before the festivities begin. They go talk to Sister Linora about the stolen book, thinking that maybe she was behind the robbery. They quickly discover that she is innocent of that crime and frankly not dangerous. They decide to go talk to Valthrun the Prescient and ask him about the robbery; Sister Linora had mentioned that Valthrun was the only person that she had really talked to about the events in/at the Mausoleum. Valthrun is ecstatic to see the PCs again and immediately begins to fill them in on what he learned about the Shadow Key. It exists between the world in which the PCs live and the Shadowfell. It does not truly belong to either world and thus can act as a conduit between the two worlds. It is essentially a portal that would open a rift to the Shadowfell. The fact that it exists between the two worlds also means that it is difficult to locate. A special ritual would be needed (to which they all groaned aloud and said, “NO! The book!”–HA!) to find it, and the fact that Helvec was down in the Mausoleum means that the Shadow Key is likely there. Valthrun also said that one of the reagents they would need to perform the ritual is a Faded Acaelia–a rare flower. Valthrun recommends that the heroes go talk to Delphina Moongleam about where to find one.

The PCs head down to talk to Delphina. By this hour the townsfolk have gathered in the market square for the celebration so the heroes are met with warm smiles and enthusiastic hand shakes/pats on the back. They talk to Delphina who informs them that the flower can be found in a cave by a waterfall up by the old keep. She then draws them a map of how to get there, explaining that she’d take them up there herself but that she felt it was too dangerous these days–it just always feels like someone is watching her.

Fanfare for the Uncommon Man

Lord Padraig arrives to begin the celebration. He seats himself, his wife, and the heroes up on a makeshift stage in the market square, where a good view of the crowd will be afforded them. Halfway through his speech, Luna and Thotham notice a glint of metal from the crowd. They peer closer just in time to see a dart fly out of a small metal tube, directly at Thotham! Thotham also sees that the hooded figure has short, light-colored hair; it’s Ninaran! Thotham takes the dart to the neck and the night’s skill challenge begins.

The Skill Challenge was the Urban Chase one from the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG). I set it as level 2, complexity 2 (6 successes before 3 failures). The PCs rocked it. Not a single failure. This was both because the PCs rolled really well and because I believe the DCs were too easy. I will definitely be raising them a little  in the future. Truth be told, I am kind of glad that the Skill Challenge DCs were easy though, because this was this group’s first time through a skill challenge. It was nice to have it be something simple and understandable for them. It went quickly, it gave them a chance to be creative and have fun and in the end, they all said that they really enjoyed it. So… mission accomplished.

Thotham had summoned Tenser’s Floating Disc earlier just for the fun of it (Joe had never done a ritual before and thought he’d see what this one did). He decides to just use it as a hover disc for himself to sit upon and float around town. He had not dismissed it before the skill challenge started so at one point, he has it move out over the crowd, while Kat jumps onto it from the stage. She then does a nice acrobatic check for a success. Kat also has the final success and climbs on top of a roof for a better view in time to see Ninaran run into the temple.

A Test

The party sprints into the temple, just after hearing a loud scream from inside. They enter to find Sister Linora stabbed and dying on the floor. Thotham heals her, she rewards them with a potion of healing each, and she tells them to where Ninaran ran.

This part of the session was designed as a morality/alignment test of sorts. I wanted there to be consequences for choosing one action or another. In this case they had the choice to either heal Sister Linora or to leave her to die. By choosing to heal her they earned healing potions from her and will gain favor from the townspeople, maybe even her god, but Ninaran also had more time to prepare traps for their pursuit. Had they chosen not to heal her, then Ninaran would not have had as much time to prepare her traps for them so the encounter would have been easier, but they would not have gained favor with the townspeople. I didn’t really explain this to the PCs at the time, but later when I let Sierra know this type of out-of-game design on my part she seemed to really enjoy learning it. So I think I will share it with the group as well next session, because I want them to feel and know that their in-game choices are meaningful.

What Worked

The role-playing aspect of this game went really well I thought. I tried to not have it drag on for so long as in previous sessions. It was nice though because it felt like the players were sincerely interested in learning about the Shadow Key and in tracking down any leads on that stolen book. The role playing just felt more natural and organic and not forced in any way, because it was a means to an end. I think that is a good lesson for me: role playing should have a purpose or it feels unnecessary and is boring for my players.


I will get Part 2 up asap, because that is where the battle (and thus fun) really begins.



1. KotS Session 4: The Shadow Key « Learning How To DM - June 21, 2010

[…] down there. They come to the T-section where they had battled and killed Ninaran the night before (part 1 & part 2). Footprints are visible heading up the path to the North, while the path to the […]

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