Using Stoneheart Valley Dungeon as part of a larger campaign

I’m basing my new campaign off of Stoneheart Valley and Bard’s Gate. However, it seems to me a megadungeon could get boring (I’ve never run one before) and could lack motivation to explore (I prefer games where heroes are out on a quest to save the world rather than just adventuring for gold).

I was thinking of combining these with Red Hand of Doom. The hobgoblins will be working for Orcus rather than Tiamat. The big end will be when they discover the plans for the black monolith and they have to stop it before Orcus can summon a second wave of troops to attack Bard’s Gate.

Does anyone have any advice? I’m looking for a good way to get them to go into the Stoneheart Dungeon multiple seperate times. I’ve never run a campaign like this before.

 

 

I've done something similar, save that I combined Sword of Air (another FGG product) with Stoneheart Valley.

 

The villain in the background of The Sword of Air has manipulated the party into going into the Stoneheart Dungeon by revealing the Cult of Orcus' plans: to locate the Black Monolith and open the gateway to the Abyss, to the Palace of Bones. Once this is done, the world is on borrowed time, as Orcus himself and his undead and demonic armies will gather in the Valley of the Shrines, and will eventually march across the world. 

The way I've done the campaign, though, is as a mystery, all based around one NPC, a sorcerer of Bard's Gate named Corian. Corian's obsession was the Sword of Air and the legend surrounding it. He sought it, and his seeking killed him, because it brought him into conflict with the Evil Wizard (names withheld just in case) and his master (name withheld just in case). This becomes the catalyst to the entire campaign, because Corian the Sorcerer had an amulet, stolen from the wizard Feriblan (whom I put in a mindrot brought on by his apprentice, Vortigern), the very-same amulet that opened the tomb of Eralion in the Ruined Keep in Stoneheart Valley.

What got Corian the Sorcerer killed? What about the Sword of Air and its legend did he discover, only to be killed for that knowledge?

This link is to a thread I started where I was still planning the campaign; it evolved a bit from what I wrote there, but the essentials are still the same. I'll say, though, if your players don't like mysteries, they won't like what I did!

I am currently running a mythic campaing that uses Stoneheart, RA, Tsar and B-Gate and Black Monastery.

I only use certain levels of each but enough for the characters to reach level 20, tier 20 for the main group.

The players have an alternate group that are working for the main group and fulfill missions.

Am also using the Caravan rules form Paizo and intend on using ship combat rules from either Razor Coast or Blood and Plunder from Firelock games (haven't decide yet).  We started about a year and a half ago, they are presently level 10 eand mythic tier 3.

 

Group A (main)  are exploring the city a Tsar and have assaulted the gate keep.

Group B (secondary) are waiting to talk to the Oracle in RA  to find out where they can find the sword Demonheart for group A so they can go into the Hidded Citadel (still hidden at the moment).

 

 

As for you, STElias if you are looking for more stuff for your campaign, Boderland adventures might be of use.  Sure the distances are long, but then, everything is fair in the Lost Lands.

I run a couple of campaigns.  My main game is Stoneheart Valley, and the players went through some long mini-campaigns during all of this.  That means, they went through the events of Paizo module, "Conquest of the Bloodsworn Vale," threaded with my favorite module, "The Vault of Larin Karr."  Their quest log was swole, and I was seeing they were happy to be adventuring all over the hexes, discovering things that the cheater (this guy had pdf's of the adventure, it spun him up that I was adding to it--he left after the third game) was unable to find, even armed with broadband internet on his Verizon service.  As the party ran through the associated events, they tied up those ends in those aforementioned adventures, before finding the Path of the Ancients in the north vale.

Tonight, they finally made their way into the Temple to Orcus on Level Four.  The Tsathar have used their time wisely, and found the obelisk, and found out exactly what it is.  The Abysthor has communicated the danger the local area is involved in, and is witnessing the demonic frogmen prepare their ritual which will allow them to abuse the power within the artifact.

I wish I knew what the Obelisk is, in the lore. I have my own pet theory, but I have so few books so I can't corroborate my theory with any hard evidence. 

The Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms goes into detail on what they are.

ANother way to motivate players into going into super-dungeons is have them be 'Antiquities reclaimers' hired by a powerful or rich (or both) NPC to find some artwork such as sculptures, jewellery, books etc, seed a few cheaper ones near the start of the dungeon, and as the campaign progresses, they have to find older pieces deeper and deeper inside.....

Limper's picture

Hi St. Elias,

So you're using Stoneheart Valley (Wizard's Amulet, Crucible of Freya, and Tomb of Abysthor) with Red Hand of Doom.

Actually, to be honest, that is a near-perfect sequence of adventure modules to string together!

Here's why:

1. Each module "feels" different, offering your players something new and exciting. For example, "part 1" consists of story-based adventures in a specific sequence (Wizard's Amulet & Crucible of Freya). Not only do these adventures provide a very good opening reason why your PC's have formed an adventuring company initially (i.e. to investigate the mysterious Keep of Eralion with the Amulet), but it also quickly ties them into the campaign setting. How? By giving them a keep!!! (If they survive Crucible, of course.) And you should definitely let them keep the keep---err, castle. Fort. Whatever. Why? Because once they get it, and they get super excited, they will suddenly have something to "build up" (i.e. with money, which they won't have, forcing them to "keep" on adventuring) AND something to "defend" (i.e. when you totally attack their property with the Red Hand of Doom).

2. Tomb of Abysthor will be a source of revenue to maintain this keep. (This will naturally happen when the PC's get the keep. Always does.) But it is also a "different" kind of adventure. It's a megadungeon. Or at least, a "really big" dungeon that is difficult to clear out, but isn't beyond impossible to. There is also a natural story tie-in to it: Tavik answers directly to Korashaag in the Temple of Orcus. So the "revenge" plot is easy to create from this. (Either the players pursue after him because you've planted a letter from Korashaag to Tavik revealing the existence, but not exact location, of a secret temple in the Tomb of Abysthor, OR Tavik is resurrected by his boss and sent to murder or harrass the PC's for their victory at Eralion's Keep. In fact, you could do both. And that would be two big reasons for them to go after Tavik and enter the Tomb.)

3. After you've beaten the "opening adventure sequence/epic keep battle" scenario and the "megadungeon" scenario like a dead horse, and just as the players are probably tiring of it, you spring the "war" scenario on them, which is a fast-paced, fun-filled, heroes-kick-butt Red Hand of Doom adventure. And with Tomb of Abysthor's natural elements, like the Black Monolith at the bottom, it is easy to justify the events in Red Hand of Doom: the Monolith is the way that Azarr Kull (Korashaag, or whoever is your big bad guy) will summon the demonic horde, which comes AFTER the invasion of Brindol (i.e. Bard's Gate).

See, I think this is a really great string of adventures. They are very easy to modify. In fact, you could easily replace the town in Red Hand that gets sacked by the Horde with Fairhill, since the players will already have ties there from the first adventure, Wizard's Amulet.

This will really immerse your players in the setting organically. They will care about these NPC's and important locations (well, most of them, depending on how you play it). So the "adventure hooks" will be easy to provide and will work like a charm.

All Best,

Rob

Limper's picture

Possible background goals for each player character, depending on their class or race:

1. Paladins/clerics: before the start of the campaign, they've received a "vision" of an artifact in the deeper halls of the Tomb of Abysthor (i.e. Sword or Stone of Tircople), and their mission is to recover it. The company also appears in their vision, so they know that these individuals will lead to this artifact. So they go with them.

Another option is that the cleric/paladin serves one of the deities of the Tomb, and has been tasked with discovering the fate of Abysthor himself, or cleansing the Tomb of evil. 

Finally, paladins might want to become Justicars of Muir, restoring that order.

2. Bards: I mean, DUH! It's called "Bard's" Gate for a reason! :)

3. Rogues: They have a treasure map to some location in the Tomb already, maybe half a level of the Tomb, with rough sketches, and a few key words to hint at what lies there. They've gone with the company because it's on the way to the Valley where the Tomb lies.

4. Wizard/Sorcerer: Corian back story, obviously.

5. Monks: They want to meet the monks around the Crimmor area. (I forget their name.) Maybe they want to study under them or something. Tasha the monk in the Crucible module can point the way when this PC gets there.

Just a few quick thoughts! Hope they help!

All Best,

Rob

We are playing S&W. We've started with Grimmsgate and I'm planning to move on to Soneheart Valley. I will transform The Wizard's Amulet into appropriate background story, as mentioned earlier. I will also use the Bard's Gate Supplement, both for backstory and for samller quests where I can plant information that finally sets The Sword of Air into motion. Let's see how far we get...