Old school Dragonlance campaign

Red box closer & transition to Dragonlance campgin setting

As we neared the end of the Red Box campaign, I decided that I liked DMing, but that it would be much more efficient, easier, and enjoyable for me if I was more familiar with the campaign setting. So naturally, as a long-time fan of Dragonlance since I was first introduced to the novels as a kid, I gravitated to that realm. But could I adapt the old school DL1-DLX campaigns to meet 4E? And could we use the same characters? Turns out I found some help online. Someone neamed Ivy actually converted DL1 to 4E, but the rest is up to me. I also decide to transition seamlessly from the Red Box campaign to the DL campaign, all in the DL continuity. So here’s the transition that resulted:

Malareth is killed and his chest discovered.
The large chest in the back corner of the wizard’s laboratory contains Malareth’s treasure: a sack of 200 gold pieces and a +1 magic staff. (any character can ID it – hand over card) Traevus’s box lies open on the central table. The inside is lined with black velvet that cradles a rolled up map.
The map shows the land of Abanasinia, with notes written on the back of it addressed to Malareth:
[Show map and note]
Malareth,

This map shows the lands of Abanasinia. You are to explore this land and identify any threats that our armies may face. I want to know if there is any chance the races and people of Abanasinia may ban together to fight us. What is the state of the elvesn kingdom What about the dwarves that are rumored to be in the south? As for the humans, I want you to recruit as many as possible, and infiltrate the seekers. I want a man on the seeker council in Haven to be our eyes and ears, and to help influence them if we need to. Before you teleport back to report, I want answers to these questions, and identification of any threat to us in the region.
You are to scout this area and establish a stronghold for the area. We will need you to raise an undead army assist us in our assault of the region.
You must also keep an eye out for a blue crystal staff. This symbol of the true gods must NOT be found. We must find and destroy this staff. If you hear of its location, spare no resource in recovering this. Our Queen of Darkness, the god Takhissis, will be most displeased if you fail. She will not tolerate any symbol of the gods of good. The races of Krynn must be kept in the dark as to the existence of the true gods. Their despair must continue.

May the dark queen watch over you,
Lord Verminard

Traevus
The companions seek out Traevus, and he gives you 30 gold, and explains that he was hoping to warn the seekers in Haven about this threat. He asks if you have seen the blue crystal staff or any other signs of the old gods, and tells you to keep the map, as you are obviously more capable than he. He urges you to warn people about this threat, and to find some sign of the true gods.

Heading to Solace
You have all had quite the adventure, and having bonded over this experience, you all head to the nearest town, Solace, to unwind and rest. Having spent a significant amount of time there, Black Rabbit suggest that you all head to Solace’s Inn of the Last Home.
Solace is a quaint sleepy village set on the forested eastern shore of Crystalmir Lake. The city is located on a major crossroads in a wide, fertile valley, located in the heart of Abanasinia. It may perhaps be the most unique town on he continent of Ansalon. With only a few exceptions, all the businesses and dwelling places of Solace are built among the branches of mighty vallenwood trees. Broad wooden staircases wind up the tree trunks to provide access to the buildings, and sturdy rope-and-plank bridges form a network overhead connecting important locations. The people of Solace are hale, hearty, and trustworthy folk who are generally open and polite to strangers, even in these strange times. In the shaded branches of the giant vallenwood trees, the townsfolk live in relative peace.
[Show Map of Solace]
The Inn of the Last Home, run by Otik Sandath, is a fine establishment renowned for its hospitality throughout the lands of Abanasinia. Most well known are Otik’s delicious and aromatic spiced fried potatoes. The inn is the largest building in Solace, about forty feet off the ground. It can be reached by a staircase that winds around the trunk of the vallenwood in which it is built. Readily visible from the main road, the Inn has two stories—-common room and kitchen on the main floor, sleeping rooms above. It is a lovely building with gabled roofs and stained glass windows. Stables are located beneath the Inn for the convenience of the guests.
You sit and unwind from your adventures; chatting about highlights such as finding bear (who gracefully departed back into the forests to the West) and rescuing him from the leg trap, just barely defeating the chess pieces, Kerplaaak’s stylish defeat of the chillborn zombie, and the successful teamwork you used to defeat Malareth and his undead creations. You also chatted about the funny and unfortunate incidents of Black Rabbit attempting to cross a stream during battle and almost drowning, Polaris’s failed early attempts at spellcasting, and the Bugbear’s failed suicide bomber attempt. There were also the bigger questions that came up during your adventures: such as the map and note that indicate that some foreign army is scouting out Abansinia for some sort of attack or invasion, or the fact that you met a necromancer—-an evil cleric—-whom you though didn’t exist anymore and who apparently worships one of the old dark gods, there was also Polaris’s vision at the teleportation circle of the dark flying fortress, and lastly, there was mention of the blue crystal staff, some symbol of the true gods that Verminard and Malareth were afraid of.
Being as tired as you all are, and wondering what it all means, you were unable to decide how to proceed.
Hours pass, then days, and finally 3 years pass by. You all have made a home in Solace; loving its large vallenwood trees, and small, peaceful nature. You have a good number of adventures together over the years, but nothing that amounted to the Malareth incident, nor anything that mentioned the old gods, or anything that substantiates the letter from Verminard.
You also make many new friends. Black Rabbit meets a dark haired human, a very capable swordswoman named Kitiara. He falls head over heels for her, and she accompanies you on many of your adventures. He continues to work on his thieving and outdoor skills over the years, loving his town in the trees.
Polaris decides to study for her test of high sorcery—-a right of passage for aspiring mages. She also reunites with her cousin Caramen, who also occasionally accompanies you on your adventures. He’s from the good side of the family; someone she didn’t know too well but has great trust for.
Despite his strange appearance, Kerplaaak also sticks around Solace, albeit with a hood over his face since dragonborne have never been seen around here, but figuring that you two needed someone to keep an eye on you. He often trains with Kitiara, improving his skills with the sword.
Everything has been going well for all of you; however, an autumn breeze is in the air, bringing in not only cool air, but new tales and rumors that instill a feeling of despair, adding some darkness to your bright time. People are, after all, calling this the age of despair for the lands of Krynn. Rumors of amassing armies in the lands north of the New Sea have emerged, with people turning to the seekers and their new gods for assistance. Unfortunately, their cries to the new gods go unanswered. The seeker movement initially started many years ago as an intellectual movement searching for the old or new gods, but quickly turned into a political movement that created new gods, leading to the current Seeker Theocracy that came to power in Abanasinia. Yet despite peoples pleas for help, poverty continues to get worse, and the nervousness about the amassing armies is spreading. At the end of these 3 years in Solace, you find your thoughts and conversations drifting back to Malareth’s map, the foreboding note, and the hope represented by the blue crystal staff. Your home is changing, as is all of Krynn, and with the increasing reports of armies to the north, you all decide that now is the time to act.
You all decide that these damn Seekers will be the end of Solace, if not Abanasinia, so you decide to split up and search for this Blue Crystal staff, or some other evidence of the True Gods, something besides the aged and powerless alters you found in Malareth’s dungeon. You agree to spend the next 2 years searching for such evidence, and investigate the rumors of armies to the north, and to meet again at the Inn of the Last Home and report your findings.
[Give them New Major Quest – Find evidence of the True Gods]

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Necromancer battle - end of red box

The party wakes up in a room previously explored. There are two ornate braziers, casting a faint red glow around this large chamber. Thickly scented smoke clouds the air before disappearing through small ventilation holes in the stone ceiling. There is a pool of water deep in one of the rooms. Another part of the room there is an iron ring that the black horse was attached to. The party had decided to camp in this room due to the twin small basins where the guard drake was located. The water in them is clean and pure, and helps to heal any wounds the party receives. Before continuing on their adventure, Polaris had the idea of visiting the room with the fire glyph carved on the floor, to give the party a higher resistance to fire. After everyone finished with the glyph, they worked their way to the east through a set of doors, to the room with the trap door under the rug. They then went to the north side of this room, where there were two double doors to the north and west.
Black Rabbit was tasked with investigating the doors, and felt an aura of coldness emanating from the door to the north, and only hearing some unknown language being spoken through the western doors. Kerplaaak the zombie slayer identified the language as draconic, being spoken by some lowly kobolds, so the party decided to proceed to the west. Polaris casts the mage fist spell, and a large ethereal looking fist appears before the door, and opens it with ease, revealing 2 kobolds, in a tiny room with a set of 4 runes on the floor, a single door to the west, and a set of double curtains to the north. One of the kobolds turns towards the party and asks, “why you here?” As the only one who knows draconic, kerplaaak decides to parlay with the kobolds.
“We are here to investigate a theft of some personal property of a merchant.”
“Who steal?”
“Goblins.”
“They are friends,” replies one of the kobolds, and proceeds to charge the heroes, but doesn’t make it two steps before a bolt from Black Rabbit’s crossbow hits him between the eyes, felling him in a blink of an eye. The other kobold sees this, and attempts to flee through the curtains to the north, but is stopped quickly by one swipe of the charging Kerplaaak’s falchion.
Polaris again casts mage fist, but this time she uses it to open the curtains to north. Two kobolds spot this, and the nearest runs towards the the mage, but Black Rabbit again puts an immediate stop to this with a well aimed bolt. Unfortunately, the other kobold was further away, and managed to sound the alarm for his comrades. 3 other Kobold minions enter the area from the west. A blast of cold air catches the companions attention from the East, and they see that the large, black double doors have been thrown open, and lumbering zombie shambles out of the room. Kerplaaak the zombie slayer immediately recognizes his racial enemy the zombie, and identifies this beast as a chillborn zombie, an undead creature able to harness the essence of winter to aid in its attacks.
Kerplaaak is anxious to attack this foul creature, but he and bear are occupied by the kobolds that just entered the room. Polaris and Black Rabbit go after the zombie. Or at least attempt to. WIth only her robe as protection, Polaris is stunned by the cold emanating from the zombie, and before she knows it, she is attacked. The zombie swipes at her with his hands, just barely connecting, but it’s enough for her body to go rigid from the severe cold. Fortunately, this is short lived, as the adrenaline pumping through her body is enough to coax her body into action. She shifts to the side as the bear abandons the lesser kobolds and rushes to Polaris’ side. Unfortunately, the bear, takes the brunt of the zombie’s next attack, and is immobilized in place by the severe cold.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Kerplaaak has killed all but one of the kobold minions. As he stares into the eyes of the last kobold, he opens his mouth, bares his teeth, and menacingly swings his sword around his head, frightening the kobold so badly that it curls up in the corner, muttering to itself in draconic, suckling on its thumb. Kerplaaak wants to interrogate his newly tamed prisoner, but he turns to eagerly take on the more threatening foe—-the chillborn zombie. What he sees is a frozen bear, a Polaris that is so stunned that she can’t get a coherent spell out, and zombie that is focusing on a terrified Black Rabbit, who just doesn’t know where to hit zombies to take them out. Even a bolt to the head won’t take out this beast. Kerplaaak charges forward with his falchion, knowing exactly where to hit zombies to take them out. Right as the zombie reached out to grab Black Rabbit, Kerplaaak swings his huge sword and lobs off one of the zombie’s arms, followed with a swift kick to the leg, grinning as he hears a snap as the zombie falls to now shattered knee. Proceeding exactly as Kerplaaak planned, he steps back, takes a powerful swing with his sword, and lobs the zombie’s head off, smiling broadly as it falls to the ground and splatters like an over-ripe watermelon.
All the companions feel much more experience after having such a battle. They have emerged stronger and more skilled. They take a moment to gather themselves and reflect on what they have learned, and then proceed to search the room for anything of use. Polaris explores the alters that are scattered about the room. Her knowledge of religion is limited, but she does glean a few things from them. She learns that one of the alters is to an old god of neutrality named Reorx, and remembers that this god tends to be portrayed as a paunchy squire to another god named Kiri-Jolith, but dwarves and gnomes hold Reorx as the highest of the gods. According to legend, Reorx forged the universe with his hammer, and also forged the Greystone of Gargath, and is thus the father of the gnomes, dwarves, and kender. Polaris starts to presume that this temple must then be an ancient dwarven temple, but then she identifies another shrine in the room as a shrine to yet another god of neutrality, Zivilyn, the world tree. Zivilyn is said by the elves to exist in all times and in all lands, and possesses all the wisdom of the planes of existence. He is the counterpart to Gilean, the god of knowledge. The other two shrines in the room go unidentified, as no one in the party knows enough about religion. Black Rabbit makes the comment that maybe this is some sort of ancient unitarian temple.
Meanwhile, Kerplaaak is off interrogating his kobold prisoner. The kobold reveals that his master is in the east room, and has something to do with dead things. Kerplaaak tells his prisoner to stay put, and gathers the rest of the party to proceed into room where the chillborn zombie came from. What they find is a shimmering magic circle painted on the ground. Using her knowledge of the arcane, Polaris identifies this as a teleportation circle, useful with a ritual of teleportation to transport creatures from one location to another. The circle appears to have been designed to have only one specific destination. Polaris attempts to trace the magical energy flowing through the sigils in the circle, with the hopes of gleaning some information about its destination. She feels a surge of adreneline as her mind connects with the destination, and her head is filled with a vision of a giant floating fortress, suspended in the air on a cone of jagged stone, as if it was forcefully ripped from the earth. Surrounding the fortress are hundreds of flying creatures, but as Polaris tries to push in closer, darkeness fills her senses, as does a foreboding fear. She withdraws her mind and is caught by Black Rabbit, as she briefly collapses in his arms.
The party proceeds towards the doors on the Eastern wall of the room with the teleporting circle, and are greeted by two goblin cutthroats and a bugbear. Easily dispatching the goblin cutthroats, the companions proceed to take on the bugbear. Despite its power, the bugbear knows when it is outnumbered, and flees in to a nearby room with a large urn full of hot coals. He is pursued by the companions, who back him up against this urn. Just as they thought they had him finished, the bugbear grabs the urn, and tips it over onto himself and the companions, immolating himself in the process. What he didn’t count on was that the companions had used the fire glyph discovered earlier to grant them resistance to fire.
They proceed to search the room for any treasure, searching in the numerous crates and boxes that are stacked in clusters in this large room. Polaris searches the bugbear’s body, finding a magic axe called a lifedrinker greataxe. She decides to keep this for herself. Finding little else of value, the party edges closer to the double doors leading to where the kobold prisoner says his master is located. Before proceeding, the party takes a 5 minute rest. While Kerplaaak is off maintaining his sword, Polaris attempts to off this prisoner, as she doesn’t think any creature of evil deserves to live. However, in her haste, she miscasts her spell, and alerts Kerplaaak, who rushes in and proceeds to get in an argument with Polaris about his sense of honor and her sense of “evil must die.” If it wasn’t for Polaris’ skills in diplomacy, the argument may have gotten much more heated than it was.
Wasting no more time, the companions open the double doors to the next room. A stench of death fills this room, along with an acrid chemical scent. Liquids of various colors bubble and steam in bottles and tubes scattered across three large tables. An enormous zombie, apparently the animated corpse of an ogre, looms in front of a bookcase in an alcove, and two skeletons animated by necromantic magic stand around the central table. Barely glancing up from whatever experiment is consuming his attention at the table, a gaunt human dressed in dark robes with a medallion around his neck must be the necromancer you seek, the mysterious rider who commanded the attack on Traevus’s wagon. “Dispose of them,” he growls, and his undead servants turn toward the companions. Black Rabbit perceives that the necromancer is bending over a small open box on the table in front of him—-a box that looks like the one Traevus has asked the companions to retrieve.
The necromancer casts death burst, giving aid to his undead creations, and turns his attention back to what he was doing. Kerplaaak rushes for the necromancer, Malareth, and breaths a stream of fire onto him and one of the skeletons. Unfortunately, the necromancer ducks behind the table, but he still manages to damage the skeleton as potions on the nearby table explode in flames. The skeleton focuses its attention on Kerplaaak, as the hulking ogre zombie squeezes past some nearby tables to engage Polaris and Black Rabbit, who are still standing in the doorway. They retreat out of reach of the zombie, who is fortunately limited in mobility due to its size. Now out of reach of the zombie, hey hammer away at it with everything at their disposal. Being flanked by the skeleton and zombie, kerplaaak focuses his attention on the greater threat—-the ogre zombie. Meanwhile, bear attempts to help kerplaaak by attacking the skeleton nearest him. Kerplaaak “the zombie slayer” is very skillful when it comes to battling zombies, but even he can’t avoid the attacks from this hulking beast. One hit sends Kerplaaak clear across the room, stunning him. Kerplaaak tells his companions that he doesn’t’ think he can take another hit like that, but still charges forward again after the creature. Black Rabbit and Polaris double their attacks, bolts striking the creature’s head, and clouds of daggers striking the creature from every direction, finally the companions unified efforts are paying off, as the hulking beast stumbles, giving Kerpaaak the chance he was looking for, as he vaults off a nearby chair, his falchion gripped downward with both hands, he brings it down on top of the foul creatures head, using his strength to twist and drive his falchion further into its body. Jumping off its body, the creature falls with a thud.
Unfortunately, the bear wasn’t having as much luck on his front. It was busy taking the brunt of the skeleton’s and necromancer’s attack, and is now immobilized by Malareth’s ray of immobilization. The bear collapses, unconscious, as the companions turn their attention towards their three remaining foes. One of the remaining skeletons charges for the companions surrounding the zombie’s corpse, but Black Rabbit shouts to the others to focus on the necromancer, as he will focus on this skeleton. Polaris is first to attack the necromancer, finally learning the best way to use her spells, and casts burning hands on the Malareth and the skeleton, followed by thunderwave. Kerplaaak attempts to charge forward, but is immobilized in place by Malareth. He takes the opportunity to use a healing surge to regain some hit points. With another clap of thunder, Polaris succeeds in taking out the skeleton, and moves forward to heal the bear with her waterskin filled with water from the healing pools. Unfortunately, the bear again takes the brunt of the necromancer’s attack and falls over unconscious. However, this has allowed Kerplaaak to free himself, and he proceeds to jump up on a nearby table. Running towards Malareth, he jumps off the table and attacks him. The necromancer takes a deep slash from his sword, but continues his assault on the companions, and manages to once again immobilize Kerplaaak. Black Rabbit’s crossbow bolts are having no effect on the skeleton, and he decides to focus his attention on the necromancer. After seeing Kerplaaak jump off the table, he takes careful aim on the distracted Malareth, letting loose a well placed bolt that find home right between the eyes of Malareth. As the lights leave the dark necromancer’s eyes, the skeleton attacking Black Rabbit collapses into a pile of bones.

.

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Red Box campaign

Last time
To re-cap past events… Polaris was attacked by goblins when hitching a ride on a merchant’s wagon. The merchant was shot in the shoulder, but Polaris cast a magic spell and scared off the attacking goblins. As the goblins ran away, a mysterious rider was spotted on horseback at the top of the hill. Unfortunately, the goblins made off with a valuable box owned by the merchant. Polaris decided to help the merchant out by hunting down the thieving goblins and retrieving his box. She attempted to climb a clif in pursuit of the goblins, but found it to be a difficult task for a wizard in robes. After a few tumbles, she finally made it to the top; right into the clutches of 4 goblin minions. She wasted no time in catching her breath—-she immediately cast burning hands. In her haste, she missed the goblins, but still hit them with a few flames—-enough to put them out of the fight.

Black Rabbit, who moments ago was investigating the merchant’s wagon and picked up a five-finger discount on some hand crossbows (he’s always wanted a pair) , was distracted by the sound of explosions up on the hill. Being curious, Black Rabbit went to investigate. What he found was a female wizard fighting off three goblins, with one dead at her feet, still smoldering from the last spell. For reasons only known to himself, he decided to join the fight against the goblins.

After a brief fight, the two strangers emerged victorious. They proceeded to enter the cave to explore the caverns, but decided that they needed to get some rest before pursuing the rest of the goblins. Besides, neither of them were quite sure about the other. They setup camp outside of the goblin caverns, and away from each other, and rested for the night, periodically hearing wolf howls, seemingly getting louder and louder.

Their dreams were filled with an ominous dream, where they were battling wolves and goblins at a crossroads. After killing one goblin, the rest simply overwhelmed them. First Black Rabbit died, followed shortly by Polaris.

They awoke with a startle, woken by the sound of a pained growl. Looking at each other, from afar, the pained and desperate growling continued from behind the trees.

They find a bear in a leg trap, trying desperately to get out. The bear is freed and becomes a follower.

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And we're off! Using the new Red Box release!

I don’t remember how we learned about it, but a friend and I learn about the D&D 4E starter red box and decided to buy it. I hadn’t played since I was a teenager (even then I only played maybe 2 sessions), and my friend played only a year or so ago somewhat regularly with a mutual friend. We pulled in two other friends who were new to D&D, and got started. As I was hosting, I decided to be DM, with the idea that we would shuffle around the role. First two sessions are long but fun as we learn (or re-learn) the ropes of 4E.

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