Albany Game Day 14: Grind 4E

Grind 4E is a 4th Edition D&D conversion of Jason Bullman’s Weekly Grind for 2nd level characters. Grind was originally written for the Pathfinder RPG and the first five rooms have been converted by @saveversusdeath with a Fourthcore sensibility.

Fourthcore D&D creates challenges for the players and not just the characters that they play. The result is a uniquely difficult dungeon delve that often inspires lively game-play under pressure.

Caution: Here be SPOILERS.

Grind 4e

I had brought the first five rooms with me in hopes to see it all in play. While the party only managed to make it to room 3, they were a much livelier lot than the morning crew that I had DMed for. I was pleased to see many of the people who had played in last spring’s Iron Lich game had returned for Grind 4E. I had high expectations for the fun that we were about to have—and in that there were no disappointments. 😀

Room 1: Tainted Gallery

The party descends into the ruins of Amaloss Keep in search of their missing friend.

On the landing of the stair, the dungeoneers look out upon the gallery. Upon examining a nearby statue, they take note of an odd star on its base. They fan out to examine the other statues in the room and see that each statue has a different star. Before they could divine the significance of this, one of their number approaches the pool in the center of the room and first encounter begins.

Six skeletons appear beside the six statues and they attack the party. Each hit on a dungeoneer taints their soul a little more. I asked the players to add black marks to their character sheets but they don’t yet know what they mean.

After the skeletons, two random statues spew forth a cloud of acid, nearly filling the gallery. One dungeoneer’s armor melts away in the mist! Four skeletons are quickly dispatched as the party moved further in, away from the acid traps.

The surviving skeletons move in to the tainted characters and land especially effective melee attacks before being cut down themselves. The acid traps fire off again and this time one of the defenders watches in horror as his armor disintegrates.

Even though the skeletons have been put down, the acid traps continue to fire off. and the party moves deeper into the room. Before them towers a tall statue of the Wailing Prince. The statue’s up-turned face weeps a clear watery liquid which feeds the pool and his open mouth appears to howl in torment.

The rogue climbs atop the warforged to examine the statue with minimal touching. He was looking for a way to disarm the acid traps in the gallery and discovers a mechanism in the statue’s mouth. Unable to determine its purpose. He scrambles down and turns his attentions to the door in the south wall. A pair of statues in the gallery crumble into acid-soaked rubble.

Meanwhile, the other party members examine the north door which has a puzzle-lock. Noting the star patterns, several of them return to the gallery to see if the they correspond with the stars on the gallery statue’s bases. They note a stone in one of their left eyes but are unable to retrieve it in time. One by one, the statues continue to fall apart.

All hope of deciphering the northern door’s puzzle is gone. As if to emphasize that grim fact, a green halo flashes about the Prince’s statue and lances out at the nearest dungeoneer, narrowly missing.

The lock on the south door proves to be impenetrable. Intense labor during the party’s “extended rest” forces the northern door open at the expense of a healing surge from each dungeoneer. Armor is swapped to provide the defenders with the best protection remaining.

Room 2: Sacrificial Shrine

Weary and wary, the group looks into the new room to the north. The true shape of the room is hidden due to hanging curtains to the west and northeast. A trail of dried blood leads from behind the northeast curtain and out the northern door, which is opposite the party’s entrance. To their right, the dungeoneers spy a basin of blood in the middle of the room, and a font of water against the eastern wall.

The warforged lumbers forward and draws back the curtain on the western wall. A mural is revealed and, suspecting a trap, it quickly replaces the covering. However, invisible hands immediately pulls the curtains back once more.

The fully revealed mural works its magic! The warforged, the cleric, and the dwarf are entranced and move to begin a dark ritual of unknown consequence. The afflicted walk to the east wall and wash in the font of water. Each watches passively as the font’s magic reduces their magical items to residuum before throwing off the effects of the enchantment.

Meanwhile, disembodied voices tempt to follow the trail of blood to its origin behind the northeastern curtain. There she discovers the altar and discovers a magical dagger alongside several cubes of incense.

Intrigued by the basin of blood, the cleric experimentally cuts herself open to add to the pool. She determines that she is using the wrong tool for the job or that it only works within the context of a ritual. She casts about for more clues and retrieves the magical dagger from the altar. She repeats the experiment and is rewards with a ruby that forms on the surface and then sinks beneath the surface of the pool of blood.

The elf begins to experiment with the incenses on the altar while listening to the advice of the disembodied voices. She accepts the consequences, both good and bad, and discovers that the purpose of the room is to complete the ritual.

Having exhausted all but one of the incenses, the elf backs away from the altar. Flickering into view, two quasits manifest and poison her with their bites!

Several skeletons appear in the room and swarm the party. The cleric falls under the mural’s sway once again and returns to the font to wash as before, heedless of the dangers about her.

The friends of the cleric and elf spring into action to defend them. However, the party is hard pressed by the fight and are unable to do more than shield their friends. The elf nearly dies of poison and the cleric fails time and time again to resist the compulsions that guides her every step.

The last of the skeletons fall but a moment too late. The cleric has burned the last of the incense and, possessing the cursed dagger, opens her veins to feed the blood pool. Her arms raise in worship and she utters an alien cry of triumph as her flesh combusted in an intense flame that leaves nothing by ash and bone behind.

Stunned, the survivors cast about, looking for some hidden result of completing the damning ritual. In the southeast corner of the room, hidden behind a corner and at the bottom of a staircase, they locate a lever, which causes a grinding noise behind the altar. They smashed the stained glass window above the altar and find a niche. Just inside and to the right is another lever which causes the mural to slide aside. Behind the mural is several potions.

Correctly deducing that the levers produce reversible effects, the first one is restored to its original position. The space within the niche above the altar moves to the right, revealing a gibbet with a skeleton inside. Hanging from the skeleton’s neck is a magical ring. The wizard senses magic way above his pay grade and refuses to have anything to do with the grisly scene, but the dwarf reaches forward greedily for the ring.

The skeleton laughs and disappears from the gibbet, replaced by the dwarf’s skeleton. The dwarf’s unsupported body crumples into a soft, misshapen heap before the party.

*silence*

Feeling a little punchy at this point, the warforged declares that it has no skeleton to risk and grabs at the ring itself. The dwarf returns to life with his bones intact. He looks up to see the armature upon which the warforge’s frame was built, dangling from within the gibbet. Beside him is a mass of metal, clockworks, and alchemical components that was once his companion.

Another moment of respectful silence follows as the dungeoneers contemplates the possibilities. It does not take long before someone suggests that the cleric has no need of her skeletal frame any longer and she has kindly left it behind. The warforged is soon restored to operational capacity.

After two rooms, the party has taken such a beating that they spend 5 points to return to town and to take an extended rest instead of gaining the milestone. A helm is used to scoop out the basin of blood in order to retrieve the rubies created earlier. These stones and the residuum gathered is used to replace damaged and destroyed equipment.

Room 3: Convector

Whilst in town, a new cleric is recruited to join the fight! The party returns to the scene of the crime and opens the norther door of room 2.

Immediately, the party is struck by a wall of heat that rushes from the short hallway beyond the door. Undeterred, they proceed to the far door and gaze upon the next room.

This room is like the inside of an iron furnace. the iron walls radiate a hellish heat that immediately begins to take its toll upon the dungeoneers*. Along the walls, several grates set in the floor vent great gouts of steam at random intervals. In the center of the room is a glowing ritual circle and just beyond it lay a bound chest. Flanking these is two long pits of small, burning, black bones.

(*At the end of each round, they lose a healing surge unless they make a successful Endurance check as a standard action).

The rogue enters alone. He deftly manuevers around the hazards of the room and approaches the chest from behind. His examination of the lock is interrupted, however, by the summons of a blighted ogre within the circle.

A hail of bolts from the party cover the rogue from the doorway. The ogre swings his guisarm at the rogue, but the slippery devil passes under the reach of the weapon and strikes home with a devastating blow. Spending an action point, the rogue immediately follows up with a killing blow.

The lock on the chest is too complex to open quickly (skill challenge) but the chest is too heavy to moves. Everyone does their best to endure the heat while providing the rogue with the encouragement necessary for success. Within the chest were several items, including a brass quasit skull.

The brass skull is married to an indentation on a brass door on the southwest wall. The party is instructed to return to room one, but we were out of time for the evening.


This group of seasoned veterans were much more fun to play with. I’m afraid that time and weariness has left me without any quotes from the table, but everyone was equally engaged and engaging. I would play with these people any day.

I have no and received no complaints regarding the material that I ran. The ogre dropped in one round, but that was due to several extraordinary rolls from the players. The rogue had a critical hit on his first attack and followed up with a daily power that dealt an almost equally insane amount of damage. Extraordinary results shortened the combat.

I had prepared the five rooms that were available at the time, but you ay be interested to know that room 6 has been released. It has been adapted by @MilwaukeeJoe and is available now at SaveVersusDeath.com. I hope to find a group brave enough to play it some day!

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~ by Hunter Rose on September 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “Albany Game Day 14: Grind 4E”

  1. I’m super glad to hear it went well, and I love reading your after-action reports. This sounds like a really fun group. 🙂

    • Thanks! I try not to make them too matter-of-fact, but there’s so much that goes on, it’s hard for me to pt in everything that made the game great! For example, I forgot to mention that the warforged was the one who waded into the acid pool for the everburning torch. Yeah, that went well 😀

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