Is This D&D 4e Adventure Any Good?
Menace of the Icy Spire
This week I take a peek into the Dungeon Magazine Annual that was released for 4th edition. In particular, I look at the first adventure in this collection, Menace of the Icy Spire.
I made a mistake in my video when I said this was the second such annual. In fact, it was the only Dungeon Magazine annual. The prior year, an annual for Dragon Magazine had been released.
You can check out the video and below I share a few tips to fix the skill challenge.
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Fixing the Skill Challenge
The first encounter in the module is a skill challenge. As I mentioned in a prior video, the best way to deal with skill challenges is to trash all the formal dice roles and focus on the roleplaying.
This particular skill challenge involves the party encountering a blizzard. There are two goals from this encounter.
Survive the storm
Stay on the path to the tower
There are a few things you can do to make this more enjoyable.
Use a map
Put everyone in a starting position within the storm. Be sure to have trees and rocks and snow drifts that the party could use (or need to avoid). Having a map will help visualize what is going on.
Run it like a combat encounter
Roll initiative and give each player a turn to decide on what action they take. You can use the information in the skill challenge to help determine the outcome of an action, but don’t worry so much about the skill checks. Focus on the creativity of the player as they try to achieve the above goals.
Treat the blizzard like a boss monster
If you look through the details of the encounter, you will see a few details that can help you imagine the storm as an actual monster. Feel free to be creative with how these powers can be used.
It can create an ice patch causing any player that starts their turn in that square to have to roll a reflex save or fall prone (minor action)
It can create a gust of wind that can either be an attack on a character that deals force damage or used on an object like a tree to cause it to fall down and possibly affect multiple squares. (standard action, you decide the specifics)
An ‘attack’ on the storm is the result of the actions that each character has taken during the round
Set an HP for the storm that is appropriate for a 2nd level boss monster
On the blizzard’s turn, have each player roll a Fortitude save to see how they fared against the storm. Be sure to grant bonuses (or deductions) based on actions they took during the round.
If a player succeeds on the save, then the power of the storm (HP) is reduced by an amount that you can decide
Once the power of the blizzard is reduced to zero, then the storm ends
Don’t forget the second goal
The party needs to stay on the trail in order to reach the tower. I recommend an appropriate skill check at the end of each round to see if they maintain their course. If they are off course, you could even give the blizzard a small boost to extend the encounter.
Note that with some investigation, the party can trace the magical origin of the storm and give them an advantage during this check.
Or just wing it
Don’t believe that you have to setup some fancy set of rules. The players need to survive a storm and stay on the trail. Go! It can be that simple and just have fun with it.
Overall, this is a pretty good adventure for low-level characters and could be easily adapted to 5e if desired.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this adventure, the Dungeon Magazine Annual, or 4th edition in general. Let me know your comments.