Monday, September 10, 2018

The Chaos Scar - Best of D&D 4e

Keep on the Borderlands

The Best of D&D 4th Edition, Part 2


Wait! Be sure to also read Part 1 of Best of D&D 4th Edition.

The 3rd Season of D&D Encounters (which later became Adventurer’s League) introduced the Chaos Scar in Keep on the Borderlands: A Season of Serpents. This Encounters season was a thematic hommage to the original B2 - Keep on the Borderlands module from 1980. It was not written as a conversion of the original module, as the Caves of Chaos were replaced by the Chaos Scar, a much larger ravine created hundreds of years prior by the crashing of a chaos-infused meteor from the Far Realms into the lands.

The Season of Serpents module was divided into 5 chapters, with 4 distinct 2-hour scenarios per chapter. The plot outlines a power struggle between Zehir and Tiamat cultists which involves machinations to control the Keep itself. Due to the D&D Encounters format (and the limitations thereof), the adventure is a fairly linear checklist of pre-defined combats to be run at game stores in order to introduce new players to the game. But, it is a fun adventure and the Chaos Scar setting itself was also supported through articles in the Dungeon Magazine PDFs, which immensely strengthens the overall utility of this module. The right DM can cobble the D&D Encounters module along with all of the supporting materials into a nice low-level sandbox campaign.

Product support from Wizards of the Coast through the Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine PDFs (D&D Insider) was one of the “hidden” treasures of D&D 4th Edition. Dungeon Magazine in particular was a phenomenal resource for short (1 to 3 session) adventures that could be dropped into almost any campaign. This holds very true for the Chaos Scar series of adventures published in Dungeon #171 (October 2009) through Dungeon #197 (December 2011). The Chaos Scar adventures were a loosely connected sandbox campaign revolving around gemstones infused with chaotic energies from the Far Realms meteorite. While the adventures were set within the Chaos Scar region, most were setting neutral enough to be used in any campaign. I utilized several of these mini-plots in my own Reavers of Harkenwold campaign (see prior post).

Between the content within the Keep on the Borderlands: A Season of Serpents (only $5), the various adventures, and setting background contained within issues of Dungeon, the Chaos Scar made for an excellent sandbox campaign or idea resource for your homebrew game. I won’t be able to highlight every great adventure in Dungeon #171 to #197, but I’ll try to hit the issues I found most valuable (Dungeon #176, in particular). I do provide a full list of them below.

Restwell Keep by CrazyRed
 Dungeon #176 cartography by "CrazyRed"
Dungeon #176
Keep on the Chaos Scar (Mike Mearls) - Background on Restwell Keep as well as majors NPCs and events around the Chaos Scar. A must-have for a Chaos Scar campaign.
The Crossroads (Rodney Thompson) - An inn and trading post populated by unsavory types set within the Chaos Scar.
Dead by Dawn (Aeryn Rudel) - Hordes of undead trap the PCs in an abandoned church. Can they hold out until the sun rises? Dead By Dawn is an amazing undead adventure that can be dropped into any campaign or run as a Halloween one-shot. There’s even a convenient 5th Edition conversion guide.

Dungeon #171
Stick in the Mud (Aeryn Rudel) - Bullywugs have taken over a ruin overflowing with mud. Thematically, this adventure fit well with the Bullywugs in Reavers of Harkenwold, but it is generic enough for just about any campaign.
Den of the Slave Takers (Rob Heinsoo) - Myconids, cultists, undead, and a one-armed gnoll. This adventure has it all, including some non-standard terrain to make things exciting.

Dungeon #180
The Pillar of Eyes (Robert J. Schwalb) - The PCs investigate an otherworldly stone pillar covered in eyes. What bizarre mystery created this... monument?
Down the Goblin Hole (Gareth Hanrahan) - What campaign is complete without a goblin war chief in a cave full of spidery minions? (Hmm... I sense a pattern).

Dungeon #182
Vanguard Tower (Rob Wieland) - A beholder has taken up residence in the Chaos Scar with a couple captive rust monsters. What could it be up to? Nothing like a Beholder (even a lower level one) to make your party poop their collective pants!
Wayward Wyrmling (Aeryn Rudel) - A group of ambitious kobolds takes an orphaned dragon under their metaphorical wing. Which will win, nature or nurture? Another excellent adventure short, generic enough for any campaign.

There are too many excellent adventure shorts to detail them all, but I have listed them with their respective Dungeon issues below.

Level
Adventure
Author
Issue
1
The Brothers Gray
Greg A. Vaughan
172
1
A Chance Encounter
Robert J. Schwalb
174
1
Death in the Pincers
Rob Heinsoo
172
1
Den of the Slavetakers
Rob Heinsoo
171
1
Elves of the Valley
Robert J. Schwalb
178
1
Eyes in the Forest
Robert J. Schwalb
177
1
The Lost Library
Peter Lee
173
1
Stick in the Mud
Aeryn Rudel
171
1
Tainted Spiral
Aeryn Rudel
173
2
The Crossroads
Rodney Thompson
176
2
Dead by Dawn
Aeryn Rudel
176
2
Down the Goblin Hole
Gareth Hanrahan
180
2
The Hammer Falls
Corwin Riddle
179
2
The Shrine of Glass-Spire Forest
Cal Moore
175
2
Sliver’s Call
Stephen Radney-MacFarland
174
3
The Splintered Spring
Scott Fitzgerald Gray
179
3
The Wayward Wyrmling
Aeryn Rudel
182
4
Crawling Fane
Aeryn Rudel
178
4
Glowstone Caverns
Jennifer Clarke Wilkes
177
4
The Pillar of Eyes
Robert J. Schwalb
180
4
Vanguard Tower
Robert Wieland
182
5
The Slaver’s Stone
Robert J. Schwalb
181
5–7
Scarred for Life
Andrew G. Schneider
192
6–8
The Radiant Morn
Daniel Marthaler
183
7–9
Reflections of Ruin
John Rossomangno
196
7–9
Rumble in the Valley
Dave Chalker
193
7–9
Scarblade
Sterling Hershey
189
8–10
Pit of Delirium
Jeff Morgenroth
190
9–11
Heart of the Scar
Aeryn Rudel
197

Crossroads by Vincent Dutrait
Vincent Dutrait, Dungeon #176

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