Lair Assault: Forge of the Dawn Titan – Round-Up

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 18, 2011

There are only two weeks left before Forge of the Dawn Titan is replaced with Talon of Umberlee. I assume that most players who are interested in trying Lair Assault have done so at least once by now. I’ve had the pleasure of running it five times and playing it twice and I think that every time was more fun than the last.

Anyone looking for tips or hints on how to make their Lair Assault experience better should have no trouble finding plenty of articles online. In fact we’ve got plenty of useful links at the end of this article that you may find useful. But what you might find even more useful are the actual play experiences of those who have gone before you. So today I’m sharing seven podcasts of my experience with Forge of the Dawn Titan.

I’d like to draw special attention to session 6 which features the Dungeon’s Master creative team. This is your chance to hear us play D&D and get a sense of the camaraderie between this tight-knit group of friends.

Session 1

This was my first attempt at running the adventure. I thought I was ready but the first run-through was certainly a learning experience for all of us. We did have a TPK, but everyone at Dueling Grounds had fun.

The party consisted of:

  • Dragonborn Warden
  • Dwarf Warlord
  • Eladrin Bladesinger
  • Halfling Monk
  • Minotaur Runepriest

Session 2

Although this was my second time running the adventure it was the first time through for three of the players and our first playing it at Harry T North. Again there was a TPK, but that didn’t deter this group. They wanted to schedule the next session before we’d even pack up from this one.

The party consisted of:

  • Dwarf Paladin
  • Dwarf Runepriest
  • Tiefling Cleric
  • Tiefling Warlock
  • Vryloka Paladin (Blackguard)

Session 3

This was our second time running Lair Assault at Dueling Grounds, but for four of the players it was their first time experiencing Forge of the Dawn Titan. This was the most brutal of all sessions I DMed or played. By the end of round 2 one of the PCs was dead. By the end of round 3 another was dead. And then it got even worse. Needless to say it was a TPK by round 6. Lesson learned: bring a leader!

The party consisted of:

  • Dragonborn Barbarian
  • Genasi Swordmage
  • Halfling Monk
  • Tiefling Wizard Mage
  • Thri-kreen Monk

Session 4

We almost didn’t play this time through at Harry T North because one of the players cancelled at the last minute. I wasn’t interested in running it with only four PCs so one of the players agreed to run a second character. In retrospect we should have just rescheduled. Another TPK.

The party consisted of:

  • Dragonborn Paladin
  • Dwarf Runepriest
  • Elf Ranger Archer
  • Genasi Warlord
  • Half-Elf Druid

Session 5

This was my first time actually getting to play the adventure. By now I knew the ins and outs which gave me a huge advantage. I didn’t want to give anything away so I tried not to be the party’s decisions maker. In the end we were victorious. I only spent 1 healing surge and it was to use an item power. If only I hadn’t spent that surge I’d have earned the Tough as Nails glory. As it was I only ended up earning Vell’s Foil for completing the adventure and two of the secret awards (which I only got because I knew what they were ahead of time).

The party consisted of:

  • Genasi Bladesinger
  • Genasi Warlord
  • Tiefling Paladin
  • Tiefling Wizard Mage (Derek a.k.a. Ameron)
  • Vryloka Paladin (Blackguard)

Session 6

As mentioned above, this session features the Dungeon’s Master team. I’m the DM and only Liam (a.k.a. Bauxtehude) had played it before. The other four players were completely in the dark. What I really liked about this session was that the players spent about 20 minutes discussing tactics before the adventure even began. It’s quite interesting to hear the kind of things that they expected when you already know what’s coming. It took 19 rounds but in the end the Dungeon’s Master team defeated Mordai Vell.

The party consisted of:

  • Dwarf Fighter Brawler (Dave)
  • Dragonborn Barbarian (Cary a.k.a. Skallawag)
  • Genasi Paladin (Neil a.k.a. Wimwick)
  • Genasi Wizard Mage (Jay a.k.a. Suddry)
  • Gnome Warlord (Liam a.k.a. Bauxtehude)

Session 7

This session was played in Nightmare mode. I figured that since I was a player and all the other players had run through the Lair Assault at least once before that we could handle the extra monsters. In the end we were victorious!

The party consisted of:

  • Dwarf Cleric Warpriest
  • Dwarf Paladin
  • Tiefling Warlock Hexblade
  • Tiefling Wizard Mage (Ameron)
  • Tiefling Vampire

Additional Resources

These previous articles on Forge of the Dawn Titan provide a lot of tips and hints about what you need in order to be successful.

For a really in-depth look at Forge of the Dawn Titan check out the excellent blog Heroes of Shadow. Chris Shaw a.k.a. Sunyaku has compiled everything you could possibly need to know about Lair Assault: Forge of the Dawn Titan. His articles contain a lot of spoilers so be forewarned. however, if you’ve played before and plan to play again then you NEED to read these articles. If you haven’t achieved a victory yet, these articles will make things a lot easier the next time through. Be sure to read the comments in which a lot of DMs (myself included) share our own thoughts and experiences.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thorynn November 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

Anyone try a pixie party in dawn titan? Flying could be a pretty big advantage from what I’ve heard.
Thorynn´s last blog post ..RPG Webcomics 2 – Eclectic Boogaloo

2 Ameron (Derek Myers) November 18, 2011 at 11:20 am

@Thorynn
I don’t think the Pixie’s ability to fly is going to end up being anywhere as good as people think it is. I was reading somewhere (I can’t remember where, but I’m pretty sure it was on the Wizards’ forums) that although the Pixie does fly, they remain so close to the ground that hazardous terrain will still affect them. So in Lair Assault they’d still take damage if pushed into or over a square with lava. The idea is that the flight is more for flavour than power gaming. They can move without leaving tracks and fly across small gaps, but I think that’s the extent of what the flight allows. I could be totally wrong but I definitely read this (or something along these lines) somewhere in the past week. Can anyone back me up on this? Perhaps someone with Heroes of the Feywild can see if the book specifically addresses this issue.

3 William November 18, 2011 at 11:35 am

I ran the session 8 times. They managed to get to Vell twice, but died both times. The other DM in our city ran it probably 10 times, and only 2 groups managed to complete it. I played in both groups that managed to complete it. In terms of fastest kill, I managed to kill one character before he even came up in the initiative order. His horse lasted until the forge where Vell went to town on him.

I was seriously worried about being too hard on the players at my tables, but they were the ones who refused to plan ahead of time. Both times we completed it successfully it was with a a good deal of forethought and planning. We got together built a Party instead of characters, and demolished it. Just jumping in got a lot of characters killed.

As for the Pixie flight I believe they have an altitude Limit of 1. Which means that if the terrain is that high they will be affected. If the terrain is in a pit, or at altitude 0, I believe they can just fly right on over. But I don’t have my rules compendium here today.

4 Lahrs November 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm

The first two times we ran through, it was a disaster (though the second time was considerably better than the first). After some planning, we beat Vell in four rounds with nobody using a healing surge. At that point, the group lost interest in playing and we ended up spending our off LFR days playing the Legend of Drizzt board game (which is a lot of fun).

Our third group consisted of four genasi fire soul wizard/artificer hybrids and one genasi (to get the racial Glory) barbarian who specialized in strength checks. We ran straight forward to the next room, magic spiking the door along the way so we didn’t have to worry about the monsters in the first room, into the lava room where the wizards magic missiled the enemies, bashed down the wall, and used one turn to unload 168 points of magic missile auto-damage into Vell. We are still proud of the speed and precision used to complete the challenge.

We ran again right afterward on Nightmare, and although it took longer, we had no problems making it through. I would have liked to try it on Commando (no magic items), but we never got around to it.

We only played a few times, but we really enjoyed ourselves, and the next Lair Assault is looking even better. This is a great program for D&D vets.

5 Sentack November 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Did session 6 cut off after 1.5 hours for anyone else? I downloaded a 132MB file but it cut short shortly after the group started falling into the burning mud and the discussion about teleportation burning you into play.

6 Ameron (Derek Myers) November 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

@Sentrack
As soon as I get home I’ll re-upload the session 6 file. Sorry about that. I hope you were enjoying it until that point.

UPDATE: I’ve uploaded the session 6 file again. It seems to be there in its entirety this time. If anyone experiences any other issues please let me know.

7 halfnhalf November 19, 2011 at 5:03 am

There is no definite ruling on the pixie flying I believe. I’ve looked on the compendium and on the forums (on which most people agree that particular situations where such an issue on altitude limits come into play should be determined ultimately by a DM) and there isn’t anything said other than stating the altitude limit of 1 and that the creature using the racial fly ability will fall if it is more than 1 square above the ground.

“Altitude Limit: You fall at the end of your turn if you are using your racial fly speed and are more than 1 square above the ground (see the rules for flying and falling in the Rules Compendium).”

On the compendium it says under flying: “Terrain: Terrain on the ground does not affect a flying creature if the terrain isn’t tall enough to reach it. Because of this rule, flying creatures can easily bypass typical difficult terrain, such as a patch of ice on the ground. Aerial terrain can affect flying creatures.”

How tall that terrain is, is up to the DM/adventure details. I found this elsewhere: “The rules for flight in the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game stress abstraction and simplicity over simulation. In real life, a flying creature’s ability to turn, the speed it must maintain to stay aloft, and other factors put a strict limit on flight. In the game, flying creatures face far fewer limitations.”

Hope that clears things up. So basically (if I’m reading this right) Pixies would be able to fly over the lava (and hover above it at the altitude of 1), and would be able to fly over pits and such as long as the pixie is wthin one square above the ground, otherwise the pixie would fall. You (as a DM) might argue or reason that the heat emanating from the lava affects creatures flying just above it almost as much and as such I think a DM would be justified in reasoning that the flying creature would take 10-15 damage instead of 20 lava damage. D&D may have become a mechanics oriented game but at its heart is the role-playing/imagination aspect, if something makes sense then I think that is what should happen.

8 Carda November 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

As a Lair Assault DM myself, here’s how I would have ruled on the various terrain features for a pixie (based on my knowledge and interpretation of rules and flavor, your results may vary, batteries not included):

– The lava would deal damage to a pixie flying at altitude 0 due to heat convection. The same would go for any other player using some sort of levitation effect to avoid touching the ground. Because it seems kind of silly that lava can’t hurt you unless you’re in direct contact.

– The boiling mud would deal damage to a pixie ending its turn at altitude 0, but would not count as difficult terrain if the pixie was flying. Same goes for the burning oil pools in the first room.

– The rune corridor would still activate if anyone entered a square at altitude 0 (I’m sensing a pattern here); since it’s a magic trap, not a mechanical one, it wouldn’t necessarily rely on a PC’s weight to trigger.

Having read the preview of next season’s adventure, I’m extremely grateful that the scenario has been split into two encounters. Dailies with “until end of encounter” effects were extremely powerful in this module, and the two-encounter-no-rest setup combined with the capability of using rituals beforehand this time around should add some strategic depth to the proceedings.

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