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Success Along the Adventure Path: 3
The Shadow Rift of Umbraforge
Robert Wiese

The Scales of War adventure path continues with "The Shadow Rift of Umbraforge." 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 Miniature figures and suggestions on how to make the encounter maps using Dungeon Tiles products.

Pitfalls and Trouble Spots

You probably won't have trouble with this adventure once the PCs cross through the Shadowfell gate to Umbraforge, but the first part of the adventure offers some potential pitfalls.

Getting to the Adventure at All

The first problem might be getting the PCs into the adventure in the first place. The text covers what to do if the PCs don't go back to Overlook after the events in "Siege of Bordrin's Watch." However, just moving the first combat to wherever the PCs are might not be enough. The text says, "When the Lost Ones are searched or questioned, the PCs find that they received their orders from someone named Modra in Overlook. This should inspire the party to return to the mountain city." Should is a great word, but not at all the same as will. The attack should get the PCs back into the adventure, but it might not. You might have PCs who don't search very well, or don't question enemies, or just don't care. And having more and more groups attack the PCs is just a means of forcing the issue. Instead, if the PCs just won't go back to Overlook after being attacked, insert another short adventure in the region where they are, or pick out a delve from Dungeon Delve. Whatever you choose to do, make sure the PCs don't gain too much XP, plus insert a reason to go to Overlook, or actually send them there during the adventure. Once in Overlook, introduce another iteration of the Street Skirmish encounter, and that should get them on the right track.

The Skill Challenge (Information Gathering in Overlook)

A couple of difficulties could show up in this part of the adventure. First, the PCs could fail this skill check, and thus not find the necessary information about the Happy Beggar. The PCs can meet Reniss apart from the skill challenge, but then what is the point of running the whole skill challenge? This is a delicate line between continuing the adventure and rewarding failure with the same reward as success would have brought. Perhaps Reniss doesn't know the name of the Happy Beggar, but knows there is a tavern. Her additional information would be enough to take another try at the skill challenge (maybe only one additional check per PC).

Second, even with a successful result, the PCs might not end up in the right place. It happens. Players are a strange breed, and you should already know whether your players are the type who handle noncombat encounters well or poorly. If they are the poorly type, just be more overt about the information they get. Give them a little more than the skill challenge would warrant, and remove extraneous clues that could lead them to wild goose chases. Even though player goose chases are amusing sometimes, they can be very frustrating for the players. Sometimes this kind of player is not aware that their play style is causing their frustration, so you have to manage the situation carefully. Or just tell them that they are causing their own problems.

The Happy Beggar

This encounter set should be fine, because PCs love to break and enter, but they might not find the secret tunnels beneath the tavern. You can be heavy-handed and have Reniss make the Perception check to find the secret door, or you can encourage the PCs to stake out the tavern and watch people who use the secret door. You can also introduce more obvious visual clues near the secret doors (such as someone accidentally leaving mud on the floor) to draw their attention to the area. Once they find the tunnels, though, they will be fine.

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 need a lot of the same figure, and in others you might not have the figure suggested. You usually don't need more than eight of the same figure, though. If you don't have enough, or don't want clones on the battlefield, substitute something that looks appropriate to you. 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 all sets of the tiles (and I recommend having two or three 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. You can get any old figures that you don't have from various online resources or your friendly local gaming shop.


Encounter: Street Skirmish

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This alley section requires tiles from Streets of Shadows. Use two 4-by-8 street tiles to make an 8-by-8 square, and then add 2-by-4 tiles to one side to make an 8-by-10 area. Then add two 4-by-4 street tiles and a 2-by-2 tile to make a 12-by-10 area. The area is technically 13-by-10 squares, but it should work with 12-by-10. You can always add another row of street to the 12 side to make it 13. Use carts (with horses even) and stalls and whatever else to represent the crate-filled squares.


Encounter: Black Cavern

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Use a 4-by-8 floor tile and a 4-by-4 floor tile from Lost Caverns of the Underdark to make the main parts of this room. The 4-by-4 goes to the right of the 4-by-8, and offsets down by 1 square. Then use 2-by-4 and 1-by-2 tiles with odd edges to fill out the cave area. You can use dice for the small rocks, or find small rock objects in the first Dungeon Tiles sets.


Encounter: Transfer Portal

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Starting at the top of this room, use two 2-by-2 corner pieces, one 2-by-4 floor tile, and one 2-by-2 tile to make the top two rows of the room. Add a double door from Hidden Crypts. Then use one 4-by-8 floor and one 2-by-4 floor to make the next four rows of the room. Use two 2-by-2 corners and a 2-by-2 floor to make the next row. Then use a 2-by-4 tile to make the main part of the bottom end of the room, and two 2-by-2 tiles (one on each side) for the angled section. Block off the unusable parts of the tiles with whatever seems good. There is a 2-by-4 stair tile in Hidden Crypts that can represent the stairs at the very bottom of the room well enough. Arcane Corridors has some 2-by-2 objects that can be used for the crates and such in the room.


Encounter: The White Shrine

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

The main part of this room is 8-by-9 squares, so you can use two 4-by-8 floor tiles and four 1-by-2 tiles. Then add the 2-by-2 corner pieces from Hidden Crypts (you'll need four of them). Between the corners you need a 2-by-4 floor tile and a 1-by-2 floor tile (four sets of these). Add one 2-by-2 for the corridor. Use four 1-by-2 rubble squares from set 1 to mark the rough terrain areas, and use two 2-by-2 pits to mark the chasm area.


Encounter: Training Session

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This outdoor area is 18-by-23 squares, but you probably don't need all of it. Start with two 8-by-10 tiles stacked to make an area 8-by-20. Then next to that put two 8-by-10 tiles stacked to make a 16-by-10 area. Finish the missing 4-by-10 space by using two 4-by-4 and one 2-by-4 floor tiles. You'll need three 2-by-2 terrain tiles and one 1-by-2 for the mud area, or you can make it using seven 1-by-2 rubble tiles. The 2-by-2 web tiles from Arcane Corridors capture the feeling of the terrain, even if they are completely inaccurate.


Encounter: Smoke and Shadow

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This whole area is 16-by-20 squares, but you might not need all of it. If you have several sets of Ruins of the Wild, you can make the whole area using four 8-by-8 grass tiles and two 4-by-8 grass tiles. If you don't have these, use dungeon floors. The thicket squares require seven 1-by-2 impediments and three 1-by-1 impediments (such as rocks). To represent the chasm you need some other obstruction tiles. Starting from the left on the map, try the 2-by-4 dark rubble tile from Arcane Corridors, a 1-by-2 rubble tile and the 1-by-1 dark pit tile (both from Arcane Corridors) beneath the left side of the first tile, then the 1-by-4 dark pit tile from Hidden Crypts extending right, and a 1-by-2 rubble tile from Arcane Corridors on top of that.


Encounter: Dark Foundry

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Starting at the top, make the top two rows using two 2-by-2 corners from Hidden Crypts, one 2-by-8 floor tile, and one 2-by-4 floor tile. Put two 8-by-10 tiles oriented side by side and vertically for the next large section of the room. Two 4-by-8 floor tiles side by side and oriented horizontally make the next part. Then add two 2-by-2 corners from Hidden Crypts, one 2-by-8 floor tile, and one 2-by-4 floor tile in a row for the next part. The section at the bottom is made from two 1-by-4 tiles and one 1-by-2 floor tile for the top row, and then two 2-by-2 corners and three 2-by-2 floor tiles for the last part. The lava river is 2 squares wide, so get 2-by-4 or 2-by-8 or 2-by-2 tiles that are different (such as wilderness tiles from Ruins of the Wild) to put it on the map. The pipes themselves do not hinder movement, and you can add them using 1-by-2 and 1-by-1 rubble tiles. The vats are 3-by-3 squares each. You can either make them larger and use 4-by-4 fountain and pool tiles from Arcane Corridors and Hidden Crypts, or make them smaller and use 2-by-2 tiles such as braziers, pits, and spider webs from Arcane Corridors, or you can use the 2-by-2 tiles and add 1-by-2 and 1-by-1 rubble tiles to make them the right size.


Encounter: Library

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

The left part of this area is made with one 4-by-4 corner tile from Hidden Crypts at the top, then a 4-by-4 floor tile and a 1-by-4 floor tile. The section to the right is made from two 2-by-2 tiles, two 2-by-2 corners, and one 1-by-4 floor tile. There is a nice 1-by-2 altar that makes a fine table in Arcane Corridors.


Encounter: Great Hall

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Start with the 4-by-4 corner tile in the bottom left of the main room (from Hidden Crypts). Above it use one 1-by-4 floor tile, one 2-by-4 floor tile, and one 1-by-2 floor tile to finish the left side of the main room. To the right of all that, put one 4-by-8 and one 2-by-8 floor tile. Use one 2-by-8 across the top (put a wall in the right spot) and one 1-by-4 tile on the right top to finish the main room. Add double and single doors as appropriate. A 1-by-4 tile on the far right makes the room with the W in it, because 2 squares will be sticking out of the tile that made the top of the main room. Use one 2-by-4 and one 1-by-2 tile to make room 7. The rest you can add in only if you need the areas for the combat.


Encounter: Guest Quarters

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

The part of this room that isn't rounded is made with a 4-by-4 corner tile from Hidden Crypts and a 1-by-4 floor tile to the left of it. Then overlap a 2-by-2 floor tile to make the extension into the round area. The center of the round area is a 4-by-4 floor tile, and use four 1-by-2 floor tiles (one on each side) to round out the room, so to speak. One of the 1-by-2 tiles should connect to the corridor's 2-by-2 tile. You need eight 1-by-2 bed objects, for which you can use benches and planters from Streets of Shadow (four) and coffins or sarcophagi from Hidden Crypts (four).


Encounter: Garden of Shadows

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

If you want to use Ruins of the Wild for this room, you have to add to the room. So let's use other tiles instead. Take one 8-by-10 floor tile oriented left-to-right, and two 1-by-4 floor tiles and a 1-by-2 floor tile in a row on top, and then add two 1-by-4 floor tiles and one 1-by-1 floor tile on the right, and you have the main part of this room. For the top and bottom extensions, you need one 1-by-4, one 1-by-2, and one 1-by-1 floor tile for each. Place them centered on top and bottom. A 2-by-4 pool tile in Lost Caverns of the Underdark makes a good pool for this room. For the thickets, it takes ten total 1-by-2 rubble tiles and six 1-by-1 obstruction tiles (such as rocks or pits) for the smaller areas, and one 2-by-2, four 1-by-2, and one 1-by-1 obstruction tile to make the larger thicket area at the top of the map.


Encounter: Last Stand

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This is the same map as for the previous encounter.


Encounter: Shadows of Doom

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

This is exactly the same map as for the encounter "The White Shrine" above.


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.

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