Tutorials Archive | 6/17/2009
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Success Along the Adventure Path: 7
Fist of Mourning
Robert Wiese

Scales of War began back in Dungeon Magazine 156 with Rescue at Rivenroar. The PCs are now on the verge of making paragon tier; this adventure is designed to fill in the space if they have not yet made 11th level. To simplify preparation a little, this series explores how to handle trouble spots in the adventure. It also suggests Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures to use to keep the visuals true to the text. Lastly, you will find suggestions on how to make the encounter maps using Dungeon Tiles products.

Pitfalls and Trouble Spots

Luckily for you, there are no problematic parts of this adventure. The hooks are straightforward, but if neither work, just modify the second hook so that cultists attack the PCs and try to kidnap one. That should get them interested. And once you're at the Fist, the tactics are clear and make sense.

Extended Rests

The one point worth mentioning is that the notes about taking extended rests are not present in this text, as they have been in past Scales of War adventures. There is a note in the text for area 6 about taking an extended rest there, but the PCs might want to take an extended rest elsewhere. In this adventure, taking an extended rest outside the Fist is the safest option. The PCs won't be attacked at camp (unless you toss in a random encounter), and the cultists at the Fist cannot add reinforcements to “restock” a room the PCs have cleared out. However, while the PCs are gone their damage will be noticed, and other rooms will be on guard for the next 24 hours.

Inside the Fist, the only really safe place is area 6. If they rest anywhere else, they face the risk of being discovered and attacked (possibly repeatedly) during their rest. The cultists will notice the cleared out rooms and go on alert, and will also send search parties through the rest of the Fist. These parties have instructions to have one member flee as soon as intruders are discovered, so that the leadership can be warned as to the intruders' exact location. If this happens, bring the pain to the PCs as much as you want by moving and combining other encounters and attacking the PCs at their rest spot; after all, they chose to take a risk and rest in a dangerous place.

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 F1: False Witch

Miniature Figures Suggested

  • 1 bulette: Bulette (Dungeons of Dread #53)
  • 1 firelasher: Immolith (Dungeons of Dread #15)
  • 1 oni mage: Oni (Dungeons of Dread #11)

Dungeon Tiles

Starting in the lower left corner with the oni, place (1) 4x4 floor tile and (1) 2x4 floor tile above it. Add double doors and a 2x2 on the other side of them. On top, add (1) 2x2 floor tile centered and (1) 1x2 next to it on the right. To the right of this section add (1) 2x8 floor tile starting down by the oni and going upward. To the right of that, add (1) 2x4, (1) 2x2, and (1) 1x2 floor tiles to make the next column. To continue upward towards the bulette, add (1) 1x4 floor tile. Then add (1) 2x4 and (1) 2x2 tiles going upward, and (1) 1x4, (2) 1x1, and (1) 1x2 floor tiles to the right to complete the top left area. Use a 2x2 stair tile from Hidden Crypts for the stairs, and (2) 1x4 and (1) 1x1 floor tiles to make the area around the lava. You need a lot of lava, but you can use just the 4x4 red tile from Arcane Corridors to make the important area of lava. For the passage to the right of the whole area, use 2x8 floor tiles for the straight part and 2x2 floor tiles for the angled part on top if you need this section.


Encounter F2: Infested Mine

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Start with area 6. Use (2) 2x8 tiles for the main passage, and (1) 1x4 and (1) 1x2 for the wider parts on the left. Add (6) 1x1 rocks or obstacles. For area 3, use (1) 4x8 floor tile, (1) 2x8 floor tile, (1) 2x2 floor tile, (2) 1x2 floor tiles, and (1) 1x2 rubble tile. Add about (6) 1x1 or 1x2 rock or rubble tiles for the obstructions. Going toward the large flight of steps, use (1) 1x2 floor and (1) 1x2 rubble tile, then (1) 1x2 and (1) 1x1 floor tiles. The steps themselves can be made from (2) 2x4 floor tiles and (1) 1x2 floor tile. After the steps use (1) 1x2 and (2) 1x1 floor tiles. Use the 4x4 red square from Arcane Corridors for the lava area.

For area 4, use (1) 1x1 floor tile, the (3) 1x2 floors, then (1) 2x4 floor, the (1) 1x4 floor, then (1) 2x8 floor, and then (1) 1x4 beneath that. Add (3) 1x2 rubble tiles and (2) 1x1 rubble or obstacle tiles. Going to the right, use (1) 2x4 and (1) 1x2 for the right end, and (1) 1x4 for the connector. You can use (1) 1x1 ladders (from Streets of Shadows or Against the Giants) for the steps.


Encounter F3: Entropic Thralls

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Start at the top left with (1) 2x4 floor tile. Place (2) 1x1 ladders on the far right column of this tile to represent the stairs, and add 1x1 floor tiles for the partial squares you think could be occupied. To the right of that, place (1) 2x4 and then (1) 2x2 tiles, and then (1) 1x1 floor tile. Above that, use (1) 2x4 floor tile and (1) 1x1 rubble tile. On the far top right, add (2) 1x1 floor tiles in the alcove. You will need 6 total 1x1 rubble tiles for this part (including the one above). Below that, use (1) 1x4 floor tile and (1) 1x1 rubble tile. Then place (1) 1x2 floor tile below that. For the lower part, use (1) 2x8 and (2) 1x4 floor tiles. You will also need (2) 1x2 floor tiles and (2) 1x1 floor tiles to complete the room, and (2) 1x2 rubble tiles.


Encounter F4: Outraged Dead

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Start at the bottom with (1) 1x4 floor tile and (2) 1x1 statue tiles. Then above that place (1) 4x4 floor tile (and indicate where the floor changes). To the left of that on the top place (1) 2x2 floor tile. Above that place a row using (1) 1x4 floor tile and (1) 1x2 floor tile. Above that (in the right place) place a row with (1) 1x2 and (1) 1x1 floor tile. Above that place a row using (1) 1x4 floor tile. Above that use a row of (1) 2x2 floor tile and (1) 1x2 floor tile. Above that goes (1) 1x2 floor tile, and this gets you to the stairs. For the top row, use (1) 1x2 and (1) 1x1 floor tile, and indicate that they are lower than the other part of the room.


Encounter F5: Hideous Cultists

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

When making this area, leave a little space between each room to visually stress that they are separate areas without having to put in wall tiles. Starting with area 10, use (1) 2x4 floor tile, (1) 2x2 floor tile, (1) 1x4 floor tile, and (1) 1x2 floor tile. Place a 1x1 ladder square (from Against the Giants) for the stairs, because there are no 1x1 stair tiles. For area 9, use (1) 2x2 floor tile and (3) 1x2 floor tiles (part of one goes under the ladder). Add a 1x1 ladder in right middle, and a 1x2 to extend the top right. Then add a 1x4 floor tile, (1) 1x2 floor tile, and (1) 1x1 floor tile to make the upper "balcony" above area 8. For area 8, use (1) 2x8 and (1) 2x4 floor tile, and (11) 1x1 statue or other object tiles. Add a double door at the top middle and bottom middle.

For area 11, use (1) 2x8 floor tile, (1) 2x4 floor tile, (3) 1x4 floor tiles, (2) 1x2 floor tiles, and (2) 1x1 floor tiles. Add a 1x1 ladder tile at the left end and 6 pillar tiles (or dice). Place a single door at right middle and at top toward area 13. For area 12, use (1) 2x2 floor tile and (1) 1x2 floor tile. For area 13, use (1) 2x4 tile, (1) 1x4 tile, (1) 1x2 tile, and (1) 1x1 floor tile.


Encounter F6: Living Statues?

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

Area 14 (the large area) is made with (1) 4x8 floor tile and (1) 4x4 floor tile. Add 10 statues and a 1x2 tile for the bottom right exit. Place (1) 2x2 stair in the middle left, then make area 15 using (1) 2x4 and (1) 1x2 floor tiles. Add another 2x2 stair for the other exit.


Encounter F7: Beyond The Pale

Miniature Figures Suggested

Dungeon Tiles

The main part of this room is made from (1) 4x8 tile and (2) 1x4 tiles. Add (1) 1x4 to the bottom center, then (1) 2x2 floor tile, then a double door, the (1) 1x2 floor, and then (1) 2x2 stairs (because there are not any 1x2 stairs). To the top, add a row containing (1) 1x4 and (1) 1x1, then (1) 1x2 and then (1) 1x1 to make the area up to the ledge. The center raised part is made from (1) 2x4 and (1) 1x4 tiles on top of the base floor. Add (8) 1x1 statue tiles or miniature figures as appropriate.


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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