DDEX3-2 Shackles of Blood

By now my humble contribution to the D&D universe has seen a successful reception at Gen-Con, and has been released on the DMs Guild for anyone to purchase and play at home. I am pretty stoked about this.

DDEX3-2 Shackles of Blood 

I’m humbled by the positive reception I’ve seen, in particular I got a great review from The Tome Show. There have also been some critical forum posts out there in the universe that have offered some food for thought.

If you want to use this adventure in your home campaign. Here are a few thoughts and notes on how to modify the adventure to better accomidate whatever style of play suits your campaign.

Oh yeah, Spoilers…

Speed up the opening. 
Between the introduction of the setting, the meeting of Olisara Lightsong and the investigation of Tinfellow valley. It can take a good chunk of game play before your players are engaged in combat. As the DM if you want to shave some time off the introduction I recommend you start the session with the players entering the Poppets Playhouse. Everything before that moment, the invitations, traveling to the inn, is all background. They characters don’t even need to know each other as they step into the theater to watch the racist puppet show.

Red Plume Ambush
One critique I have seen is that the Red Plume Ambush is designed to easily overwhelm the characters and place them in cages on the road to Hillsfar. This keeps the sequence of events streamlined and fits the adventure into a 4 hour AL gaming session. If you have more time you can weaken the Ambush Party and allow the characters to escape or talk their way out of capture. The challenge then falls to you as the DM to get the players into the arena for the finale. Here are some suggestions if one or all the characters escape the ambush.

  • Hunted down Breex Vandermast needs you to spill blood in the arena to appease his dark master. He will hunt you, using illusionary terrain to route you back to another ambush, or mask of many faces to appear as an alley and trick you into another ambush.
  • Sold on purpose Olisara and her team will re-approach the characters and confess to knowing more about the situation in the arena. They need the characters in the arena and are not above bribing them.
  • Moral Imperative If the characters track the Red Plumes they will learn that the Tinfellows are likely to die in the arena. Would the noble heroes offer to trade themselves in for the halfling’s freedom? Would they attempt to rescue the Tinfellows only find themselves overwhelmed the second time?

The Road to Hillsfar
I had to cut the three day’s journey to Hillsfar down to a travel montage, but you could expand on this section if it suits the timing of your game session. The journey takes 3 days and the Red Plumes will gleefully starve and torment the characters each day. Every day the players do not receive food and water from their captors they gain one level of exhaustion. How can the heroes pry a few rations from the Red Plumes?

  • Sing for your Supper If a player has any musical talents they could find themselves entertaining the troops at the sharp end of the sword.
  • Fighting for entertainment On the second day of travel the Plumes will “requisition” a cask of ale from a nearby roadhouse and before long find themselves practicing melee combat with blunted training swords. Competent looking fighters will be “requested” to put on a display of martial prowess, against one of the Red Plumes, or another captive.
  • Diplomacy, Charm and Intimidation Any scheme, flim-flam or ruse the characters can conceive of has a chance of success, even if it’s only a slight one.

Any rations secured by one of the characters in these scenarios should be enough to remove one level of exhaustion for the entire team, or two if the character’s achievement was exceptionally successful. Once the characters are in locked up in Hillsfar they will regain one additional level of exhaustion.

DMs should take whatever pieces of this story you want, the investigation, the arena fight, whatever, and use it in your own game. If you do I’d love to hear how it went in the comments.



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