Behind the Screen: Keep on the Shadowfell wrap up…

2009 June 1
by Dante

Tonight we wrapped the big iconic battle in Keep on the Shadowfell.


The Final Battle Went Well

The last two battles of the setting are very demanding, and blindness struck three of our party members which made the last battle even harder. The dynamics of the entire last battle were excellent. The setup, the behavior of the bad guys, the fact I got to use unexpected teleportation… all cool things. Kalarel was really easy to make the focus of the group’s aggression… taunting goes a long way with my particular group of NPCs.

I don’t know if this is technically something that went well, but it certainly went well from my perspective behind the screen. I got to kill one PC and knocked two others unconscious. By the time you add in the other three characters that were rendered largely useless due to blindness, it was a pretty tough fight.

Luckily, the slain PC was an extra. Our group started off small initially, and in order to fully review the Player’s Handbook 2 we allowed our small starting group to create a secondary character. As our group has grown we towed around these additional characters, so thinning one out wasn’t as heavy of a loss it would have been otherwise.

The Thing in the Portal was one of my favorite parts. Its ability to heal Kalarel AND heighten the perceived peril by dragging characters closer to the rift was exciting for everyone. The Portal itself was a very good mechanism to dovetail my own campaign plot into the rest of the world established by the module, so I was very pleased with that.

What Didn’t Go Well

A long, taxing series of battles is a two-edged sword. Kalarel and company stretched our group so thin that a couple of my players didn’t get the “reward of victory” feeling after completing the battle. The group elected to stop for the night before searching the area, so maybe a bit of treasure might be a balm to their battle injuries… but I hate to see them walk away a little frustrated.

I was a little aggrevated with the lack of treasure in the second-to-last battle. I ended up putting a little gold in there so they had something to be excited about after taking the time to search the rest of that giant map.

This had very little to do with Keep on the Shadowfell, but we had a fairly large lull in the middle of the first battle trying to figure out exactly how Barbarian rage worked. Thanks to the ENWorld forums and the help of those that came before us we were able to sort it out, but that mechanic is just a tad clunky and poorly explained in the PHB2. We got past it eventually, but I don’t like it when that type of thing slows down the game.

Wrapping Up

The overall feeling for me that the whole wrap to this module was a giant success. My group is about evenly split between completionists and non-completionists, so I fully suspect there will be a discussion whether or not they go back through and explore the areas of the Keep that they missed on the way down to Kalarel.

I haven’t fully decided if the remaining baddies are going to stay put or if a portion of them are going to scatter after finding out that Kalarel is gone, but it should be interesting to see how they decide.

For those of you that haven’t experienced Keep on the Shadowfell yet, you can test drive it for free thanks to Wizards of the Coast!

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