Article Header Image
Success Along the Adventure Path: 2
The Shadow Rift of Umbraforge
Robert Wiese

Dungeon Magazine 156 featured the beginning of a new Adventure Path called Scales of War. Broader in scope than previous Adventure Path series, these adventures take characters from 1st level all the way to 30th level. To enhance the fun of these adventures and make preparation a little easier for you, the DM, this series explores how to handle expected trouble spots in the adventure. In addition, you can find lists of suggested Dungeons & Dragons miniatures and suggestions on how to make the encounter maps using Dungeon Tiles products. This article gives helpful information for the second adventure in the Path, "Siege of Bordrin’s Watch" from Dungeon Magazine 157, designed for 3rd level characters.

Pitfalls and Trouble Spots

This adventure is tightly written, and even includes troubleshooting suggestions and multiple entry points for the PCs, should they prove obstinate! Thus, this section instead contains advice for making things more exciting.

Keep the Foes Moving

This adventure is full of large encounter areas that require a lot of Dungeon Tiles to make. Since you are going to all the effort of mapping out these large areas, make full use of them. Each enemy can make an attack and move, so if possible don't just have them rush into combat when smarter options are available. Not that these orcs are brilliant tacticians, but they do understand that doing damage somehow every round is better than spending a lot of time moving into position. So have them used ranged attacks; give them basic ranged attacks if they don't already have such options (presume they carry bows or javelins). Most enemies want to get into melee as quickly as possible, but sometimes it is better to strike and draw the PCs apart, and these orcs would understand such tactics.

Make Good Use of NPC Adventuring Parties

Several potential allies exist in this adventure. Should the PCs really have difficulty, you can bring in some help to prevent a TPK. Of course, such help should come with remarks like "you owe us one" or with the NPCs taking a hefty part of that encounter's treasure, but at least the PCs lived. And on the other side, if the PCs are having too easy a time with the encounters you can introduce another adventuring party in need of rescue to make the PCs' task that much more difficult.

Mix It Up in the Nexus

The Nexus encounter is the climax of the adventure, but it can quickly grind down if you follow the setup instructions to the letter. Specifically, waves of orcs emerge every round into the nexus chamber from random tunnels, and this can lead to a lot of enemies out of good position. The encounter is supposed to be exciting, not necessarily realistic. Bring in the enemies to cause the most excitement and potential danger without overwhelming the PCs. Perhaps have a group appear right next to the PCs, and the next appear in their way further up the catwalk. The PCs' goal is the control panel, and Tusk knows this. His goal is to stop them, but it could be more exciting if his goal was to break the control panel before it can be used to seal the nexus. That would turn the encounter into a race against time rather than a big slugfest.

Visualizing the Game: Using Miniatures and Dungeon Tiles

The miniatures are selected from the most recent sets when possible, but occasionally there is a call for an older figure. In some cases you'll need multiples of the same figure, and in others you might not have the figure suggested. If so, just substitute something that looks appropriate. That's what a good DM does, and you are (no doubt) a good DM!

The instructions for Dungeon Tiles assume you have access to various sets of the tiles (and I recommend having two sets of Dungeon Tiles 1st set and Arcane Corridors). The empty dungeon floor tiles come from the first three sets: Dungeon Tiles, Arcane Corridors, and Hidden Crypts. You'll need a lot of them for these maps, even though you can take apart rooms to make other rooms as the PCs progress. Special tiles have their set source listed.

This adventure has a lot of large encounter maps, which require several 8x10 dungeon tiles. You'll need extra sets of set 1 and possibly set 3, unless you instead use a battlemat.


Encounter: Urban Encounters

This is a series of random encounters, so all the figures are listed together and in the order presented in the text. You create the encounter location, so no Dungeon Tile information is provided. Repeat figures have only been listed once.

Miniature Figures Suggested


Encounter: Wilderness Encounters

This is also a series of random encounters, so all the figures are listed together and in the order presented in the text. You create the encounter location, so no Dungeon Tile information is provided.

Miniature Figures Suggested


Encounter: Orc Sentries

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This area is a whopping 22x30 squares. It requires 9 8x10 empty tiles to make just the base area. You can get these from the first two tile sets. However, you'll only get three total from these two sets, so you can see needing a few sets to get to nine. Once your large area is in place, use the 8x4 roof and the 4x4 roof from Streets of Shadows to make the edge of the building with the double doors, and then take the two 4x4 45-degree corner pieces from Hidden Crypts to finish off the building. Use small dice for the small pillars that are located on square corners, and bigger dice for the pillars that take up whole squares.

To make each side of the wall, use the following floor sections: 8x2, 2x2, 1x2, and 1x1. Use a 1x2 piece for the section next to the gate, since no one can occupy that half-square in the back anyway. Use a 1x4 for the gate, or you can use two 1x2 double door sections from Hidden Crypts. Connect the two sides with the gate, and you are set to go.


Encounter: Hall Of Moradin

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

You thought the last one was big. This map is a hefty 25x32 squares. But you probably don't need the outside squares, so that takes 5 squares off the length and makes it 25x27 squares. Still, it's huge. If you're running low on tiles, you probably only need to make the top half (looking at the map) of the chamber, since that is where the fight is likely to be. But feel free to lay out the whole thing.

Start by laying a base of 8x10 tiles to make the whole area (you can get away with nine, or you can use six 8x10 and three 8x8 tiles). Then put on the balconies and pew pits, leaving the middle "layer" on the base tiles. Use two double door tiles from Hidden Crypts and two walls, to frame the door. Then put in the balconies. Each balcony takes a 2x2 tile at each end (2 total), and six 2x2 45-degree corner tiles from Hidden Crypts. Arrange back-to-back to make the slanted balcony. You could take a 2x8 straight piece and turn it, but then the squares might not line up unless you laid a base of 8x10 tiles. The little ladders come from Streets of Shadow, and you'll need four to eight of them total.

The pew it areas are made with two 4x4 45-degree corner tiles from Hidden Crypts, plus a 2x8 floor, a 2x4 floor, and two 1x2 floors. You'll see how to arrange them. Remember that you need at least two pew sections and two balcony sections.


Encounter: Hall Of Heroes

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Another big area, this is 10 x 29 squares for the middle part. Use 8x10 floor tiles and lay four of them to make the center part of the room. This will extend the entry hall by 3 squares, but that's okay. Then add three 2x8 floor tiles and a 2x2 floor tile to each side of the room, to extend the room toward the crypt areas. Use sixteen 2x2 tiles for the crypts, and use a 1x2 single door tile from Hidden Crypts to mark the opening. You can use 1x1 ladder tiles from Streets of Shadows for the stairs up to the crypts, since there are not 1x1 dungeon stair tiles. For the stairs at the end, use the 2x2 circular stairs from set 1. Then you just need the decoration: fourteen 2x2 tiles such as fountains, fire pits, and the like; you'll find several in each set. Use the 4x4 pyramid tile from Hidden Corridors for the center object.


Encounter: Into The Depths

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Start at the bottom of the map with an 8x10 tile. Each of the small platforms requires a 2x2 floor tile, two 1x2 tiles, and a 1x1 tile. There are five such areas, for a total of five 2x2s, ten 1x2s, and five 1x1s. And then we get to the difficult part, since this area requires thirty-two squares of stairs and there aren't any. So, use four 2x8 tiles for the stair sections, cover up one row of tiles to make them 1 square wide. For the last stairs, you can use a 1x2 tile.


Encounter: Chamber Of Works

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

The exact shape of this cave is not important, so we can get close. Start with a 8x10 floor tile oriented northward. Add 1x4 tiles at the north and south ends to make the extended parts, and add a 2x4 and a 2x2 on the east side for the entrance area. This gets you the east side of the room up to the fire. Make the rest of the room around the fire using a 4x4 tile, a 2x4 tile, and a 1x4 tile. You can see how they go. For the fire itself, use the 4x4 red tile and the 2x4 fire trap tiles from Arcane Corridors for the fire areas that touch reachable areas of the room, and use a 2x4 and a 2x2 floor tiles for the section of the fire that is not reachable. Use the 1x2 rock rubble tiles from set 1 to mark the rubble areas.


Encounter: Entering The Vents

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Start this area with an 8x10 floor tile. There are no stair tiles going the way that the map shows, but you can use two 2x4 stair tiles from set 1 or Arcane Corridors that go the other way as representative. Then place a second 8x10 tile oriented the other way for the hallway. It adds some to the map, but you can just add to it later for the next encounter. For the tunnel entrance area, use two 1x2 rock-filled tiles (from set 1 or Arcane Corridors) for the north side, and four 1x2 rock-filled sections for the east side. That should be enough, but you can always use more 1x2 rock tiles to make corridors further into the vents.


Encounter: The Gauntlet

Something with a crossbow seemed best to convey the essence of what the PCs are seeing. For the crossbow turrets, use dice or Scythjaws (Demonweb #36) since they are traps.

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

You already have the last encounter laid out, so just add a 8x10 floor tile to the corridor, and then a 2x8 tile. Put some double doors from Hidden Crypts at the end, and you're done.


Encounter: Boiler Room

The giant stag beetle is too big to double for the fire beetles, so I went with fire mephitis.

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Make the entry area of this room using a 8x10 floor tile, a 2x8 floor tile, and two 4x4 floor tiles. The extended section on the same level is made from a 8x10 floor tile and a 2x8 floor tile. Add double doors (from Hidden Crypts) to complete the upper section. The two sections under the grates are 6x8 squares, and can be made from a 4x4 floor tile, two 2x4 floor tiles, and a 2x2 floor tile. The lower sections remaining are 10x12 squares, and can each be made from a 8x10 floor tile, two 2x8 floor tiles, and a 2x2 floor tile. Use ladders from Streets of Shadows for the ladder sections. You might want to use something to delineate the upper from lower sections: 1x2 door tiles from Hidden Crypts work well so long as everyone realizes they are not actually doors.


Encounter: Shrine To Moradin

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This room is 12 x 12 squares, so use a 8x10 floor tile, a 4x8 floor tile (from set 1), a 4x4 floor tile, and a 2x8 floor tile. Add a 2x4 tile for the entry corridor. Decorate with two 2x2 statues from set 1, the altar tile from Arcane Corridors, and sixteen pew tiles from Arcane Corridors. The set only has four of them, so you may need more sets or to make some copies.


Encounter: Dwarf Quarters

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Each room in this area requires a 4x8 floor tile, or two 4x4 tiles. The four doors you need for the four rooms come in Hidden Crypts. The main room is 8x8, which can be made with a 8x10 if you orient the 10 square direction of the tile toward the entry corridor. Use a double doors tile from Hidden Crypts, and then add a 4x4 tile to extend the corridor. Use a 2x4 black tile from Arcane Corridors to block off the part of the 8x10 tile you don't need. You can decorate the smaller rooms, but you won't need to for the combat since everyone should rush into the big room.


Encounter: The Nexus

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

The floor section of this room is 20x22 squares so take six 8x10 floor tiles and lay them out to make the base floor (20 squares extending north). At the entrance, add a 4x8 floor tile and two 4x4 45-degree tiles from Hidden Crypts. Now, around the base (and over it), build the rest of the room. You might want to separate these walkway sections a little from the floor of the room, for visual clarity. And remember that the center of the floor is solid, so they cannot go through the circle area.

You'll need seven ladder tiles from Streets of Shadows. Starting from the door, make the first walkway section using two 2x2 45-degree tiles from Hidden Crypts, and three 1x2 floor tiles. Add ladders as appropriate. It takes three 2x8 floor tiles to go along the south wall to the other end. Add appropriate ladders, and in the middle extend a 2x4 and 2x2 tile section toward the middle to reach the middle level of the column around the steel pillar. It takes two 2x8 and two 2x2 floor tiles to go along the west wall to the ladder before the turn. It takes an additional two 2x8 and two 2x2 floor tiles to go along the north wall to the ladder at the end. Between the first and second ladder, extend a 2x4 and 2x2 tile to reach the center.

The south wide walkway takes a 4x8 floor tile, a 4x4 tile, and a 2x4 floor tile. Extend westward using a 4x4 tile, two 1x4 tiles, and a 1x1 tile. That gets you to the steel grating. There are no circular sections yet (not until Arcane Towers releases), so you'll now have to fake it somehow if the PCs really want to go around the grating or climb it.


About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts camping trip. He was fascinated, so he delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there he progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR, where he studies mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same, and teaches physics at Truckee Meadows Community College. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and daughter Rebecca.

Follow Us
RSS
Find a place to get together with friends or gear up for adventure at a store near you
Please enter a city or zip code