It’s Here! – Lair Assault: Temple of the Sky God

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 23, 2012

Lair Assault is designed to challenge the most experienced and hard-core D&D players and I have no doubt that season 6 will certainly live up to that reputation. The gimmick this time around is that most of the adventure takes place in the air with the PCs on the backs of flying mounts. Players who think they’re the best at D&D now have to demonstrate that mounted combat in three dimensions is something they can handle otherwise they’re in for a shock to the system and a TPK.

Lair Assault is part of Wizard of the Coast’s public play program. It’s the Top Gun of D&D where the best of the best can demonstrate just how good they are at the combat and tactical side of the game. Role-playing is practically non-existent in these adventures but that’s by design. In this case the DM is actively trying to kill the PCs. For once it really is DM vs. players. So come on out and show your DM that you really are as good as you claim.

The new season of Lair Assault runs from December 1 – February 28. Below I share some of the high-level details. I’ve tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. Some of my suggestions and observations may seem a bit on the nose but most of my points are pretty obvious or fairly common sense things so I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I’m certainly not going to give away anything that will give players an unfair advantage.

The Challenge

High above the town of Arabel in Corymer is a floating temple. An oracle known as the “Voice of the Wind” is said to reside there. The faithful travel to the temple by climbing to the top of nearby Windspire peak and then taking one of the flying mounts into the sky.

In recent months travelers venturing to the floating temple have not returned. The sky around the temple has become red and people who have climbed the mountain have heard howls on the wind. A local priest has grown concerned and requested the adventurers investigate.

We pick things up when the PCs reach the top of the Windspire peak. They must choose a flying mount to take them to the temple. The temple floats 5,000 feet above the earth and is concealed by the clouds. No one knows what to expect as the mounts breach the cloud-cover and arrive at the temple.

Character Creation Tips

This time around the PCs are level 7 (that’s a new one for Lair Assault). There are absolutely no restrictions on race or class this time around. Many people may automatically think that playing a Pixie will give them a huge advantage. I’ll admit that flying is certainly helpful, but remember that a Pixie must end their turn on solid ground or 1 square above solid ground. The lair is 5,000 ft up so this essentially nerfs the Pixie’s flying advantage in most circumstances. Weigh all your options before choosing a Pixie.

The rules for equipping the PCs follow the same guidelines from the DMG as the previous Lair Assaults. You get one item level 8 or lower, one item level 7 or lower, one item level 6 or lower and 1,800 gp to spend as you see fit. You can still only have a maximum of two consumables (level 7 or lower) and only one item you possess can be rare. You cannot cast rituals before or during this adventure.

You can use Fortune Cards if you want to. If you do it’s important to note that they’ve made some changes to how you can construct your deck. The deck must contain 10 cards; no more, no less. You can have up to 4 copies of the same card in your deck. This is a really big change. I suspect that popular cards will allow PCs to fly or give them a bonus to save against forced movement (since that could knock you out of the saddle of a flying mount). I don’t play with Fortune Cards so I can’t provide guidance on which ones to use. If you’re big into Fortune Cards and can provide some good recommendations please do so in the comments below.

When it comes to creating characters I recommend you look at the information at your disposal. Look at the cover of the adventure and the glory tracker. These can provide you with some pretty big hints about what’s in store. There is a Silver Dragon and a Blue Dragon on the cover. Knowing what kind of energy their breath weapons do (cold for the Silver and lightning for the Blue) could mean that you want to take resistance to these energy types.

With falling being a big deal in this adventure anything that will stop you from falling is probably a really good idea. Assuming that monsters have forced movement powers that can unsaddle you, anything that will keep you mounted is a good choice. Remember that Dwarves naturally reduce forced movement by 1 square. Anything that gives you a bonus to saves is also a good choice.

Assuming that a lot of the creatures will be flying, ranged powers are probably going to be more useful than melee powers. Now this is not to say that melee powers will be completely useless. There are ways to make melee powers very effective but I don’t want to give too much away other than to say melee characters will not be useless.

think every party should have a really good controller this time around. Nothing makes flying creatures more useless than not being able to fly around. A good defender can be just as effective if he can actually get the flying creatures into range.

The only skills that immediately come to mind as being obviously useful are Acrobatics to reduce potential falling damage, and Athletics to allow PCs to make jumps from one solid surface to another. Playing a Monk who’s jump distance is not limited by his speed could be a very powerful build (this is what I’m planning to play). I also find that knowledge skills are always useful so make sure someone is good at Arcane, Religion, and Nature so they can at the bare minimum identify the monsters and tell the party what to expect.

Healing is always an issue in Lair Assault so once again I’ll recommend that PCs multi-class into leader. Everyone is going to have a mount so any powers that will provide temporary hit points to all creatures will not only benefit the PCs but the beasts that are keeping them aloft.

The Mounts

Since the lair you’re assaulting is high in the sky the PCs need a way to get up there and stay up there. The solution is that everyone gets a mount. Eight mount cards are provided with the DMs kit (see below). The DM can let the players review the cards and then choose their mounts or you can shuffle the deck and hand the mounts our randomly. Although there are eight mounts to choose from, only the five selected will participate in the adventure; the other three are essentially “left in the stable.”

In the adventure there is a two-page summary cheat sheet designed to help the DM when it comes to making rulings about the mounts. This includes rules for targeting the mount and rider, provoking opportunity attacks, forced movement and falling prone. It’s probably a good idea for everyone planning to participate in this Lair Assault, DM and players, to read all the relevant rules in the PHB and DMG regarding mounted combat so there are no surprises during the adventure.

The mounts also have a few of their own rules which players will need to become familiar with before play.

  • No attacks – The mounts do not make attacks. This preserves the balance of the adventure and keeps the focus on the PCs and not the creatures they’re riding.
  • Legendary traits – Each mount has a trait that it bestows upon its rider. The traits are described on the mount cards for easy access.
  • Aerial rescue – All of the mounts have an encounter power that they can use once to rescue a falling PC.
  • Movement – While mounted the PC uses the mounts move speed, but it requires the PC to expend a move action to do so.
The Griffons
The Hippogriffs
The Manticores
The Pegasi

Glory Awards

As with every Lair Assault the PCs can early Glory rewards for completing specific objectives during the adventure. DMs are instructed to give players a copy of the glory tracker before play begins so they can check off the tasks as they complete them. I encourage all players to look at the glory tracker before making your characters as it will give you some hints about what’s in store.

Glory points don’t have any value beyond bragging rights (a currency gamers hold in high esteem). You’re encouraged to play the adventure numerous times so that you can continue to earn Glory. The points are tracked by player and not by character, an important distinction.

Party Awards Description Glory
Back from Whence You Came Defeat the challenge. 10
Conquer the Guardians Slay all four guardians. 10
Dragonslayer Slay Valraun before disabling all the runes. 10
Dropping Like Flies More than one party member falls to his or her death. 10
Epic Win Defeat the challenge on nightmare mode. 10
TPK Every character in the party dies. 10
Individual Awards Description Glory
And the Horse You Ride in On Your mount dies. 10
Bad Breath Get caught in a dragon’s breath weapon. 10
Crunchy, and Good with Ketchup A dragon scores a critical hit on you. 10
Dragon Banter Engage Valraun in some banter. 10
High-ho Silver Your mount rescues you from falling. 10
Mighty Blow Score a critical hit. 10
Runesmith Disable one or more runes. 10
See You Next Fall Cause an enemy to have a high-altitude fall. 10
Stormcatcher Kill three or more abyssal vortexes. 10
See You at the Bottom Fall to your death. 10
Secret Awards Description Glory
Secret 1 SPOILER 10
Secret 2 SPOILER 10
Secret 3 SPOILER 10
Secret 4 SPOILER 10

Glory Tracker

DMs are provided with glory trackers but I thought I’d post a copy here just in case your DM runs out. As mentioned above you should review the tracker before the session begins to find out what kind of actions will earn you the most glory. Don’t forget that there are four secret rewards. If you actually complete a secret objective during play the DM will note it and reveal at he end which one you’ve completed so you can track it.

Glory Tracking Poster

Each kit comes with a giant poster. On one side is an expanded painting of the cover image (which is pretty cool this season). On the back is a score sheet where you can post who’s earned which Glory awards. Nothing encourages repeat play like competition. See if your organizer will provide some kind of prizes for the players who earn the most Glory.



Official Instructions

Below are the official instructions provided by Wizards of the Coast with the Lair Assault DMs kit (just in case you’re worried that I didn’t cover everything).

Lair Assault: Temple of the Sky God runs from December 1 – February 28. Good luck!

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1 Joe Lastowski November 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I notice the aerial rescue is a (Mount) power. They are typically only usable by characters who have the Mounted Combat feat. Is that still the case?

I’m also curious if there’s any way to work paladin mount-related stuff into the mount discussion, and/or if other pet classes/themes/feats will make sense.

I’m pretty darned excited about this new Lair Assault, though. My FLGS couldn’t find enough people who wanted to play the all-drow one, so we’ve all been kind of feening for our next Lair Assault hit. I hope this does not disappoint.

2 Vobeskhan November 24, 2012 at 6:11 am

Many thanks for the preview, havent recevied our store copy yet so it’s nice to get a peek.

Really looking forward to this non-drow related adventure as perhaps more players will show an interest. (I’d play anything so not too bad for myself).

3 Taed November 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I’ll assume it’s the same multiple-encounter, no-short-rest setup…

I made my character this morning — a Githzerai Essentials Ranger (Hunter) with Mark of Handling and some mount-related things. The magical mount bridles and saddles are pretty cool, and I settled on Mirrored Caparison.

4 Vobeskhan November 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I’ll be taking part as a player this coming weekend (then DMing it myself the following week), decided to take a dwarven warpriest (storm domain) with the following resistances:-

thunder, lightning from warpriest of Storm domain
Force from brooch of shielding
poison from heir of Delzoun theme
cold from frozen soul feat

That should just about cover me 🙂

5 FLAvatar November 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Clearly, event is set at level 7 so you would have to spend your 8th level item choice to Sovereign Glue yourself to your mount’s back.

6 Greg Bilsland November 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

Regarding the Mounted Combat feat—the intent was that you would gain the benefit of the mount’s trait, regardless of whether you have the Mounted Combat feat or not. However, the adventure is not explicit about that.

Hope you enjoy the scenario!

7 Taed December 6, 2012 at 8:04 am

We’ve attempted this twice now and failed both times. We’ll keep trying until we succeed, though — it’s a fun adventure!

8 Taed December 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Well, we completed it on the third attempt with 1 PC and 2 mounts alive. Even then, we would have been nowhere close if we did not allow mounts to do an athletics check to stomp the runes out.

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