Monday, September 17, 2018

Hommlet - Best of D&D 4e

The Village of Hommlet 4th Edition cover
While the new cover art was pretty cool, it
did a poor job of illustrating the module itself.
Best of 4th Edition, Part 4 - The Village of Hommlet

Wait, what?!? I thought this was about the Best of 4th Edition... 

It is!  You see, during the D&D Encounters days, Wizards of the Coast gave out a limited edition, revised version of the Village of Hommlet to D&D Encounters DM’s. They later reprinted these revisions in Dungeon #212.

In this revision of Hommlet, they altered some of the encounters a bit to tie the moat house bandit activity directly to Lareth the Beautiful’s overall plan. The changes to the encounters give the adventure a bit more internal consistency.

However, Wizards had to fit the moat house on a single poster encounter map, so the scale of the fortress was altered (to the chagrin of some). The revision also includes a bit more detail on the major NPCs and the “delve” page format of the 4th edition version makes it easier to run.

D&D Shattered Keeps Map Pack cover
Side note: The revised moat house poster map (among others) can also be found in the excellent Shattered Keeps map pack.

The D&D Encounters program later came out with another adventure, Against the Cult of the Chaos, which mashes-up Hommlet, Orlane (N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God), and the Caves of Chaos (B2 Keep on the Borderlands). Against the Cult of Chaos combined and linked the threads of Lareth with the cultists in the Caves of Chaos and added the mystery of the Reptile God from the original N1.

I thought the Cult of Chaos version tried too hard to include bits of everything under one roof, but my players really enjoyed it when I ran it as a 5th edition conversion. They also experienced the first PC death in the game when the “reptile god” used its dominance power to force the rogue PC to stab the monk. With sneak-attack damage, the already wounded monk was killed on the spot. It added an emotionally shocking moment to what may have been an otherwise typical combat... and they were really surprised that they were facing such a powerful foe.

The D&D Encounters version came with stats for the D&D Next playtest, so conversion to 5th Edition was fairly simple (although Lareth was a little weak, so I buffed him a bit). It is a shame this module is not currently available in the DM’s Guild, as I think it serves as a fascinating artifact during the bridge between editions.

Lastly, Dungeon Magazine #221 also touched upon the history of Hommlet in the The Battle of Emridy Meadows, a prequel adventure prior to the fall of the Temple of Elemental Evil and its moat house outpost. This adventure also includes stats from the D&D Next playtest making it simple to run in 5th Edition.

Using Against the Cult of Chaos as a rough guide, one could take the original T1 Village of Hommlet, N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God, B2 Keep on the Borderlands, and some of the content from Dungeon Magazine and cobble together a low level campaign based around Hommlet. Place Hommlet on the outskirts of the Duchy of Harkenwold, and there’s probably enough grist in the mill for a fairly long-running low level campaign.

AD&D and 4th Edition Hommlet
Everything old is new again.

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