Wednesday, June 17, 2009

South Gate

Theoretically the Horned Hold has two entrances; this is the other one.

There's no good reason that PCs couldn't approach the Hold from this direction (provided they found someone to show them how to get there). However the module obviously doesn't expect players to do that - there's no details on breaking down this door or entering the Hold from this room.

The door, in fact, is a "sturdy double door of iron plate", "secured by a bar inside the room". I think that's supposed to be code for "unbreakable". It's a shame the Duergar didn't install this advanced door technology at their main entrance.

As encounters go, the writers phoned this one in. It's four orcs and an ogre, and it goes exactly as orcs and ogres have gone since the beginning of D&D - they draw weapons and start rolling to attack. The ogre, in fact, "has no tactics", which is suspiciously convenient as the space allocated to this encounter didn't leave room to describe any.

Once again runners are the prime consideration here. Escapees from the Western Guard Post don't stop to back these guys up - they keep moving, heading for the chambers of the Hold's commander. The orcs will flee, too, given a good enough reason, and go provide additional backup to the level 7 elite in the next room.

From a DM's perspective, the significance of this room is mostly that it offers a way out of the Hold. If players rescue the captured slaves without clearing every room of the fortress, this back door is a mere two rooms from the slave pits, offering easy egress without having to mop up the remainder of the Duergar.

9 comments:

Scott W said...

Unbreakable doors.

That just reeks of arbitrary railroading.

Also reminds me of this essay on the Plot-Driven Door, which is at least tangentially related--right?

GregT said...

Well, the moduel doesn't explicitly say it's unbreakable; it just doesn't give any rules on breaking it or mention it as a possibility.

And Shamus' blog is generally a pretty good read; I'd not seen that particular part of the archives - thanks for directing me to it!

GregT said...

Actually, while we're sharing blogs, the Rampant Coyote blog that Shamus links to there is also pretty excellent and is over the last month look at a lot of the same issues that we're looking at here at Eleven Foot Pole. Plus those are the guys who did the Virtual Villagers games which are pretty some pretty sweet games.

KoalaBro2 said...

Actually, what it reminds me of is the editorial in Dragon a couple months back where the writer goes off on a DM for including a door barred from the inside! As he said, essentially, if there's no meaningful way for players to interact with it, it shouldn't be there. If only that sort of wisdom would make its way around their own company...

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

The trouble I've always found with 'impassable barred doors' is that they're not even realistic within the context of the system. Unless they've been magically barred, anyone with a good Arcana check only needs to beat DC 20 with a Knock ritual. Or, failing that, it's frighteningly easy to just hammer a door to pieces, as my group's Avenger and Fighter have proven on more than one occasion.

Scott W said...

If only that sort of wisdom would make its way around their own company...

It is really kind of surprising how often this is the case with Wizards. The Dungeon Master's Guide provides guidelines for coming up with your own monsters' HP and defenses... which are never once followed in the Monster Manual. The Monster Manual 2: nuggets of absolute gold (see the Angel of Light and the exarchs of Demogorgon, f'rex)... side-by-side with rubbish like the new-Barghest. In the introduction to Dungeon Delve, Bill Slavicsek describes a type of module they had all kinds of success with at big conventions; in fact, people loved this game style so much that they published Dungeon Delve... a compendium of short modules that are absolutely nothing like the game he described.

Gives me whiplash, it does.

Hugemelon said...

First, great blog. I love reading this. My group happens just ran through this last weekend.

To try and spice up the horned hold a little bit, i had a duergar with the orcs in the original door to this complex pull a switch to spring a trap closing off the tunnel leading into the other entrance once the PC's had gotten the portcullis open. Now they were forced to storm this entire "fortress", as i described it, with little to no time to rest.

It put a lot of pressure on them as they started to run out of healing surges.

This was the last encounter that my players did last week, and tonight they will be picking it up from here. This will be their way out when all is said and done.

This is all of our first times playing D&D and it's been really amazing, and this blog has been a great help in giving me ideas on how to run this module.

Greg Tannahill said...

Scott - Hey, you caught that thing in the Delve too. I was pretty puzzled by the final book not being the one he clearly was talking about.

Hugemelon - Great! Thanks for joining the blog!