Over the weekend, I started a 4E campaign for Nolan and his friends. The plan is to take them through the entire Keep on the Shadowfell module, and then probably into Thunderspire Labyrinth, with possible detours into various level-appropriate Delves, or something from Monte Cook's awesome new project, Dungeon-a-Day, if it makes sense to incorporate it into the campaign. If my memories of running campaigns are any indication, they'll find some way to go storming into some tower or sewer or whatever that isn't in the actual module, and I figured I should have at least one Delve prepared, just in case.
I haven't DMed anything in ages, and I haven't DMed 4E ever, so rather than start them out in Winterhaven with the events of H1, I started them out in Fallcrest, and planned to run them through a slightly-modified version of the first level Dungeon Delve. I thought this would be a good way for me to remember how to ride the bike, and a good way to introduce them to the new combat mechanics in 4E. And I'll be honest, here: I love a good dungeon crawl as much as anyone. Because I'm running this campaign for teenagers, I didn't think it was wise to dump them into serious roleplaying right away, and I'd use a play session that was primarily combat-based to get them comfortable with each other as players, and with me as a DM.
We had a lot of fun, and played for just under five hours. I had planned for about four hours, but I had to spend more time than I thought I would refreshing my memory in the DMG.
We sat around the table, and I began...
"You've known each other for some time, and train together at a small adventuring school founded by your friend and mentor, Douven Staul.
"For weeks, Spring has struggled to pull the Nentir Vale out of Winter's icy grip, and on this day, it just may have succeeded. The sky is cloudless and the Sun spreads warmth wherever there is not shadow.
"Douven Staul gathers you in his small office, and says, 'One month ago, my good friend Bekar Copperknight learned that a small nearby tower, abandoned for an age, had actually been built by his ancestors. Bekar, like all Dwarves, is proud, and he took a small party of prospectors with him to examine the ruins, before he reclaimed it for his family.'
"Douven pauses, and gives you all a very grave look. 'I have heard nothing from him or his party, and I fear that foul work is afoot. I am needed...' He looks uncomfortable for a moment '... elsewhere, so I have selected you, my brightest and best students, to discover his fate."
I looked up at the three of them while I spoke. One of Nolan's friends made notes as I talked, another grinned back at me. Nolan spun a d20 on the table as he listened. I kept a straight face, but inside I was bursting with joy.
"He gives you a map. On the banks of the Winter River, about a day's journey from Fallcrest, he's drawn a small building. 'The tower is here,' he says, 'you must leave immediately, for I am beginning to fear the worst.'"
"This is what you've been waiting for," I said. "You return to your rooms and gather your gear."
Continued in Part 2...