This is an adventure for characters level 3-6. It says levels 4-6 on the cover, but the text inside clearly trumps that and expects new PCs to begin at level 3. This is a first for D&D Encounters. It may make things a bit tougher for brand new players to just jump in with a character above level 1, but those of us who have played since season 1 will certainly appreciate an adventure with a bit more teeth.
Storm Over Neverwinter takes place in Neverwinter (obviously) and can be run as a sequel to Lost Crown of Neverwinter adventure from D&D Encounters season 6. Players who bring back their PCs from the other Neverwinter adventure will actually have some additional benefits and bonuses (which we’ll cover below).
The adventure itself begins with the PCs facing off against a cult (yes, another cult) called the Ashmadai, worshipers of Asmodeus. Innocent inhabitants of Neverwinter are being abducted only to be returned to their homes a few days later. The symbol of Asmodeus is branded onto their skin and they bear physical and mental scars. As the PCs investigate they tangle with numerous evil-doers and eventually are led to Helm’s Hold, a cathedral once dedicated to Helm.
Through the adventure there is a literal storm brewing which threatens Neverwinter’s fragile stability and rebuilding efforts. The thrilling climax of the adventure takes place during the worst of the storm and the PCs have to face monsters and the elements of the storm.
The adventure is broken into two chapters, four encounters each. This means that the PCs will only get an extended rest between weeks 4 and 5. However, they will level up at an accelerated rate.
- Weeks 1-3, characters level 3
- Weeks 4-5, characters level 4
- Weeks 6-7, characters level 5
- Week 8, characters level 6
This season’s adventure returns to the familiar linear story-telling common to previous seasons of D&D Encounters This will make it easier for DMs to run the session cold if need be. With this familiar formula we also go back to random treasure being rewarded almost every week. This will make a lot of players very happy.
New characters begin at level 3. Use the guidelines from the DMG to equip your PCs with level-appropriate equipment. That means one magic item level 4 or lower, one magic item level 3 or lower and one magic item level 2 or lower. You also have 680 gp to spend on anything you want but are limited to two consumables.
Players can choose any race or class for this adventure They are STRONGLY encouraged to choose a Neverwinter theme. Since these themes are pretty powerful it shouldn’t take too much convincing. Download a PDF of all the Neverwinter themes.
If players still have their character from Lost Crown of Neverwinter they can use him this season. PCs who participated in the entire Lost Crown of Neverwinter adventurer would have reached level 4 by the end. Only these PCs are allowed to begin the season at level 4, everyone else must begin at level 3. Additionally, returning characters are dubbed “Heroes of Neverwinter” and receive a +2 bonus to all Charisma based checks when trying to influence the locals. These are a lot of opportunities to interact with NPCs so this bonus will be put to good use almost every week.
The only down side I can see to bringing in your old character is that they are unlikely to have three or more magic items. In order to keep the balance I’d allow any returning PC to take magic items as if they were creating a level 3 PC, assuming that they do not already have these or better. Of course, that’s just me.
Many D&D Encounter regulars at my FLGS do not play in home games, this is their only D&D outlet. As such they have very little experience playing above level 3. DMs should remind players (experienced and newbies) that the monsters will have higher defenses more hit points and will do a lot more damage when they hit. This combined with four sessions between extended rests means that some PCs may not make it through without dying.
With the higher level adventure also comes higher DCs for skill checks. Many of the checks are going to be over 20. Balanced characters who don’t just max out their combat scores will have a much easier time of things than characters who are great fighters yet terrible at everything else. Encourage players to choose at least one item or feat that will help their PCs with skill checks, believe me they’ll thank you.
Advice for DMs
Last season’s adventurer Against the Cult of Chaos provided DMs with a complete picture of Hommel Lane. Every location was detailed, and fleshed out NPC descriptions accompanied each location on the map. This made role-playing a lot better and it made the DMs job considerably easier. This season only the bare bones are provided for DMs. After all, Neverwinter is a pretty large city and it’s full of interesting people. Those DMs who have a copy of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting hardcover will find it an invaluable tool this season. If you don’t have it consider picking it up. In almost every encounter it says that more detail is available in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting.
Embedded in each encounter is a call out box called Adjusting Difficulty. The author suggests how to make changes if you need to make things harder or easier for your group based on their number of PCs or the experience of your group.
Since most of the “monsters” the PCs face this season are people, the heroes will need to decide if they want to kill them or capture them. There are consequences depending on which option they choose from week to week. Encourage the PCs to play their characters as they deem appropriate even if it creates some in-party conflict.
Oh how I love the maps that come with D&D Encounters. Every season I gush about how great they are and every season Wizards seems to top the ones that came before. This season we get double-decker maps; scenes that display multiple levels of the same structure. There’s a ship, a residence and a temple. Just when I thought I had every map I could ever need, Wizards gives me three new gems for my map collection.
Be sure to check out our D&D Encounters Map Gallery for all the maps that provided over the past 13 season.
Last season I complained that we didn’t get any free stuff. No rewards, no Fortune Cards, nothing aside from the adventure itself. This season Wizards stepped up and is providing participants with two great rewards.
The first is a free d20. Each kit comes with 20 d20s. They have a symbol I’m not familiar with in place of the 20 (if anyone can let me know what the symbol is in the comments below I’d be grateful). The dice are slightly larger than a standard d20, but they still get the job done.
In my opinion you can never have too many dice. I’m hoping that this just the beginning of the free dice. Whether it’s a new d20 each season or a different die in the same set, it would certainly give me another good reason to keep playing D&D Encounters season after season.
It’s up to the coordinators to decide how to distribute these rewards. I know at one of the FLGS where I play they are planning to hand them out to players who complete three sessions (while supplies last).
The second reward is tied in to Neverwinter MMORPG. With each kit there are 20 Neverwinter postcard ads. Each ad has a unique code that you can enter online and it will provide your Neverwinter online character with a free bonus random magic item. It’s unclear if these are items that are exclusive to people who use the code or if they’re just any old items you can get in the game through other means. If they’re exclusive and they’re cool, expect people to come out to D&D Encounters just to get their hands on a code.
The Adventure Begins
D&D Encounters: Storm Over Neverwinter begins on April 10 and runs through June 5. It’s particularly important for you to visit your FLGS during week 0 this time around. This is when you’ll find out if your FLGS is offering D&D Next or 4e or both. For newer players creating a character at level 3 may create challenges, especially if they don’t have a DDI subscription or all the books. Your DMs can help you make level-appropriate characters for this season.
Be sure to visit Dungeon’s Master every Thursday for our ongoing weekly coverage of D&D Encounters. Also be sure to listen to Recounting Encounter, the weekly podcast in which Alton (from 20ft Radius) and I provide our post-game report. Recounting Encounters is now available in iTunes!
Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.