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Tuesday, 8th March, 2011, 08:59 PM #1
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
My Dark Sun 4e Game Experience Updated 01/22/2013
This past Saturday, I ran my first session of Dark Sun 4e,
and I must say it was great fun!
I figured that I would use HS1: The Slaying Stone as a basis
for the group’s 1st adventure in Dark Sun. Not only is it a pretty
good adventure, but I also had a few new D&D players that this would make a
great introductory adventure for. Of course, I had to slightly modify several
of the encounters and factions in the module so that they would fit inside Dark
The group consists of 5 party members:
Dryder: An Elven Rogue who follows the Athasian Minstrel
Zanne: A Human Bard, also an Athasian Minstrel, who is a
good friend of Dryder.
Tor Val: A Half-Giant Barbarian and Gladiator
Gundrek: A Mul Battlemind who was once a cell-mate to Tor
Val in the Arena. Uses the Wilder theme.
Katrie: An Elven Druid and Elemental Priest.
After killing his master in an escape attempt from the Tyr
arena, Gundrek decided to exile himself, hiding in the wilderness and smaller
villages in the Tyr region. His hope is that now that there is no more slavery
in Tyr, there will be no more reason to find escaped slaves. He decides to keep
a low profile out of fear of retaliation for the death of his master and return
Katrie is also an exile from her tribe. For as long as she
can remember, she has heard the call of the primordial spirits, many begging to
be healed from the torment that the Defilers have imposed on them. After
refusing to join in her family’s “business” (a racketeering scheme that her
father and brothers had set up in Urik), Katrie was banished from her tribe.
She wanders into Tyr, hoping for work.
I would post the other backgrounds here, but the 3 monkeys
playing these characters haven’t provided them yet.
The party meets when they answer the call for a group of
guards to escort a caravan to Nibenay. Treona is the caravan master, and she is
hoping to get her last shipment of iron sold before there is none left (the
iron mines are closed). Sadly, Gundreks’ player was being a slacker and decided
to go out to eat with his family instead of gaming with the rest of us geeks.
Something about a birthday (insert eye-roll here). So, I had to cast Polymorph
NPC on his character. And since I was running him as an NPC, I’m quite certain
that he wasn’t as effective as he could have been.
The first half of the journey is completely uneventful. The
party gets to know each other, trading tales of past adventures. However, on
the 4th day of the trip (which lasts a week, usually), they are
ambushed by a pack of Jhakar. Treona stays back with the caravan while the party leads the
ravenous monsters away. Tor Val valiantly wades into the fray, charging one of
the Jhakar and smashing it with his massive maul. But soon, the rest of the
pack descends upon him, bloodying and nearly killing him in the first exchange.
Katrie, in her primordial cat form, makes several unsuccessful attempts to
distract the Jhakar attacking Tor Val, but the dice are not being kind to her.
Luckily, Dryder jumped in with the assist and was able to distract the Jhakar
enough so that Zanne could shout a Majestic Word at Tor Val, which allowed him
to shift away from the worst of the trouble. Gundrek then stepped into the fray
with his Trikal and his Battlemind’s Demand. Tor Val was out of danger for the
Tor Val again charges, smashing another one and soundly
killing it. Katrie, now in trouble from the Jhakar she was trying to distract,
summons her Giant Toad, who pulls the Jhakar away and happily begins munching
on it (we are going to have to find a name for that Toad)
The party makes swift work of the last of them, then returns
to the caravan. Sadly, Treona’s personal guards died fighting off a second
group of Jhakar, but at least Treona was safe.
Several days later, the group arrives in Nibenay. Treona, pleased
with the group, pays them their escort fee, then tells them to meet her at one
of the inns in the Merchant quarter after sunset.
The party uses their newly acquired wealth to purchase
weapons and supplies, and then heads to the inn.
There, the group meets Treona and her friend Allkirk. Treona
explains that she has another job for the group. However, she is unable to pay
them in gold, but assures them that Allkirk would be willing to grant a favor
from the organization he works for. Allkirk then covers the lower half of his
face and waits to gauge their reactions (they all rolled horribly on their
History check, so none of them were able to determine that he was Veiled
Alliance). Allkirk angrily admonishes Treona for sending such a group of
amateurs. Treona responds that the group is quite capable and would be ideal
for this mission.
Treona then reveals the story about a small city named Kiris
Dahn. Nestled in the Black Spine Mountains, Kiris Dahn is an unusual phenomenon
in such a dead world. Located in an idyllic valley, the town gets a fair amount
of run-off from the snow in the upper part of the mountains, which collects in
a small lake. The land here is fertile and rich, and due to the size of the
Black Spine Mountains, the town gets a fair amount of shade in the early
morning and late afternoon. Due to its location, the city was relatively hidden
until a few years ago. A Slaver Tribe somehow found out about the town and
attacked, enslaving many townsfolk and forcing the rest to flee.
Among those that fled were Treona and her sister Dreus. Both
knew the secret held in the city, and both knew that the town Wise-man hid that
secret somewhere within the town. Only recently did Treona discover the means
to locate this secret.
Treona wants the group to find a magical artifact known as
The Slaying Stone. She tells them that it is an extremely dangerous defiling
artifact that absolutely must be destroyed. She then warns them that her sister
Dreus may also be seeking this artifact. Then she reveals that Dreus is now one
of the Templar wives of the Shadow King. If she were to find the stone, then
she would gain considerable favor with Nibenay.
After much deliberation from the party, they agree to travel
to Kiris Dahn and retrieve the Slaying Stone. Treona gives them 3 ritual
scrolls and ritual components that will allow them to find the stone, and
assures the group that she is only interested in the stone; anything else they
find is theirs for the taking. She reluctantly provides them with mounts and
supplies, and the party departs for the Black Spine Mountains.
The journey through the desert is difficult, but they
finally arrive at the hidden pass to the valley where Kiris Dahn resides (the group
went through a skill challenge to survive the desert and find their way to the
hidden pass; they did well for the most part, but fail a couple of crucial
checks, thereby losing a couple of healing surges). There, they witness the
arrival of a mercenary band called The Severed Eyes. Dryder crosses the nearby
creek and scouts ahead, easily using the late afternoon shadows to hide his
presence. He is able to find a farmhouse on the eastern side of town that the
group can use as a base, and the party hides in there while Dryder continues
his reconnaissance. Dryder witnesses a group of Silt Striders digging through
the rubble of a nearby building, looking for something. He decides to skip the
building and move on, sneaking to the next building. While searching the
building, he sees a group of slavers harassing the Silt Striders he saw
earlier. Remaining hidden, he watches as the two groups have a heated exchange.
Then, finally, the slavers move on, leaving the Silt Striders to their search.
Dryder returns to the group and discusses his findings. The
group decides that the city would make an ideal base of operations if it could
be cleared out, but agree to wait until after they find the stone and destroy
it. Hoping to avoid the majority of the population there, the group travels
north from the farmhouse, hiding in the trees and vegetation. (The Skill Challenge went extremely well
for the party, having almost all successes before making any failures, so
moving through the city at this point was quite simple)
Soon, they come upon the hot springs. Finding a nearby bath
house, the party descends and discovers a ghostly guardian. After asking who
they were and what they were doing there (and getting lied to), the guardian
tells them that he is the keeper of the stone. He gives the stone to the Druid
because he trusts her to destroy it, thereby freeing him. But he warns that
they must not use the stone and that they must destroy it; he would know of its
destruction since he is linked to it.
The party leaves the bath house and witnesses the Severed
Eyes mercenaries accosting a group of slavers and interrogating them, asking
where the stone was. The slavers are unable to give a satisfactory answer, so
the slavers brand the image of an eye on the slaver’s foreheads before leaving.
The party decides to escape back the way they came, only to
run into a Silt Strider named Speelock, who had two strange stone wolves
guarding him. Speelock, thinking they were slavers, immediately attacks, sending
a psionic shockwave at the group, then throwing a vial of foul liquid at Dryder.
One of the strange stone wolves rushes to attack the group while the other
Soon, the purpose of the foul liquid becomes clear; an
Ankheg burrows from under the ground and attacks Dryder (the vial contained
pheromones). Tor Val and Katrie jump in,
trying to fight off the Ankheg while Dryder and Gundrek take care of Speelock
and his guardians. Zanne waits behind the party to heal them if needed.
It isn't long before the Ankheg is hurting. Grabbing Katrie, he tries to
flee the group and bring her back to his lair. Tor Val swiftly charges in and
makes quick work of it. Meanwhile, Gundrek and Dryder finish off
Speelock and his guardians, and the group wastes no time in fleeing.
The combat attracted attention, however. The party moves as fast
as they can through the forest in an effort to avoid patrols, all while the
slavers and mercenaries mount a search for them. Soon, the party escapes the
city and head back to Nibenay to return the stone.
But what none of them know is that the Severed Eyes have
found their trail. While the party rests and recovers, the mercenaries make
their way ahead of them, ambushing them the following day. A fierce battle
Only Katrie and Zanne are unsurprised as Vohx and his
companions spring their trap. Moving to advantageous positions, Vohx offers the
party quarter of they give him the stone. The party refuses (of course), so
Vohx orders them killed.
This was a tough battle. Since the party skipped most of the
encounters (and therefore loot) within Kiris Dahn, they were vastly
underpowered. Fortunately for them, the dice roller was not being kind to me.
Vohx throws his chain, binding Tor Val and effectively
preventing him from doing his charge and smash thing that he does so well.
Gundrek moves beside Tor Val to help keep the mercenaries from overwhelming
him, while Dryder and Katrie try to prevent the enemy Shaman from causing too
much havoc. Zanne is busy trying to keep Tor Val and Gundrek buffed, but it is
soon clear that the group is in trouble when Tor Val fails to break free of the
chains (he spent 2 rounds immobilized…a bad state for a Barbarian), and then
more so when Gundrek takes enough damage to fall to 0 hitpoints (Zanne had to
use his two Majestic Words on Tor Val and Gundrek). Meanwhile, Katrie and
Dryder take out the enemy shaman, but are soon nearly overwhelmed when Vohx
Finally, the party kills Vohx. With only two of the mercenaries
left, the party strongly suggests that they surrender. Tor Val (with his
massive scariness) eventually convinces them that surrendering is a good idea.
The party learns from their interrogation that the Severed
Eyes were hired by Dreus to find the Slaying Stone. When the mercenaries
discovered that the party had snuck into town, they used their Cilops (a one
eyed, centipede-like creature) to track them down and setup an ambush. They
also learn that the mercenaries had sent one of their number back to Dreus to
let her know what they found, and left one of their number back in Kiris Dahn
in case the party returned. Tor Val and Dryder then swiftly finish them off (I
wasn’t happy about this, but hey…the party are all Unaligned). They then loot
the bodies for Survival days and find their first magic item; a very useful Bag
They depart. Several days later, they arrive back at Nibenay and hand Treona the
Slaying Stone. She and Allkirk destroy the artifact, and the party basks in
Since they successfully completed the main quest, I granted
them the story reward for that. Also, they had gained just enough experience
from the encounters and skill challenges that they were just short of 2nd
level. So, I granted them a role-playing reward for a job well-done. Now, they
are discussing the next step in their conquest of Kiris Dahn.
Things I learned:
Barbarians can do GROSS amounts of damage….and I do mean
disgusting. Couple that with the Bard’s Focused Sound encounter power (grants a
crit on 18-20), and you are looking at one hit kills.
Druids can be fun and can lock an enemy down quite simply….if
the dice work for them.
Bards are interesting leaders. Their ability to heal and
move the party makes for some very nice team-work.
This I already knew, but I am still sometimes surprised how easily a smart party can derail plans. Improvise, improvise, improvise!
Favorite quotes from the session:
“It’s almost like Christmas! He keeps moving away.” –Tor Val
to the rest of the party as the Ankheg tries to flee him.
“Elven craftsmanship? Since when did Elves know how to craft
anything?” – Zanne to the Elven Merchant.
Last edited by Raunalyn; Tuesday, 22nd January, 2013 at 06:32 PM.
Tuesday, 22nd March, 2011, 09:04 PM #2
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Gundrek's player was able to attend this session, but the Bard was not. So we had to NPC him for the day. My strategy for this was to allow the party to control him through a communal vote; they would decide what powers he used, and who he would heal during the combats, but for all intents and purposes, I rolled his attacks and saves.
The group gathers in Nibenay to determine the next step in their conquest of Kiris Dahn. Unsure as to how many slavers occupy the village, the party is reluctant to do a full on frontal assault. Treona offers a suggestion; scout the village out, determine how many slavers occupy the town, and she would do what she could to influence her Veiled Alliance contacts to send help. The group agrees that this is an adequate compromise and return to Kiris Dahn.
Over the course of the next 10 days, the party observes and hides in the village and countryside around the village. This is a secret extended skill challenge that utilizes Stealth (to go unnoticed), Perception (to catch pertinent details), and Nature (to forage and to assist with covering their campsites and tracks). Unknown to the party, though, was that their failures did not go unnoticed. During this time, the group agrees to hide in the Bath House where, previously, they had encountered the stone's Guardian. Katrie informs the Guardian of the destruction of the stone. The guardian is grateful and allows the group to remain in the Bath House. Since none of the slavers in the village are willing to enter the Bath House due to the presence of the Guardian, the group decides that this is an ideal hiding spot.
The Stone's Guardian informs the group that a defiler is hiding somewhere in the village, and that this vile magic user is somehow preventing the Guardian from passing on to the Grey (Athas' afterlife). He asks the party to find and kill this defiler, and in return, he would reward them. The group agrees that this is a good idea.
Their scouting reveals several interesting details. There is a small group of Silt Striders that hides in the slum area of the village. Due to the bullying and such of the Slavers, the Silt Striders only come out at night. Also, the slaves outnumber the slavers, so the slavers only allow a few slaves out at a time. It appears as if the slavers are trying to fortify and repair the village; both the Mansion and one large building near the center of the village have scaffolding and obvious repairs. They witness the last of the Severed Eyes mercenaries swaggering through the city, a Tarek named Krayd. She bullies and pushes her way through the slavers, arriving at the Mansion and disappearing inside for a time, only to leave later and return to her quarters. They also see the leader of the slavers, Hu-Jat, move about the village on his rage drake, giving orders and recommendations on what needs to be built and fortified.
Once the party was able to obtain enough reconnaissance, they use Katrie's Animal Messenger ritual to send their information to Treona. The following day, they receive their reply through a Sending ritual; help is on the way. Treona offers 10 mercenaries to assist the group, and the party begins formulating a plan.
Gathering a large number of makeshift clubs, the party and mercenaries split into two teams; Team 1, the mercenaries, will infiltrate the village from the west end, freeing and arming as many slaves as they can, and then causing a riot. Team B, the party, would use the ensuing chaos as a distraction and move into the Mansion from the east in order to cripple the leadership of the slavers.
Unfortunately, as the two groups move into position, the mercenaries are ambushed by the waiting slavers (remember those skill failures I mentioned earlier? Yeah...there you go). A fierce battle ensues as the Mercenaries try to free as many slaves as they can.
Meanwhile, the party moves into the mansion, only to be attacked my Hu-Jat, his Rage Drake, and his retinue.
Katrie summons her Fire Hawk, swiftly killing one of the minions, while Zanne kills the other. Gundrek moves forward toward the entrance of the mansion just as Hu-Jat and his Rage Drake charge. The Rage Drake attempts to claw Gundrek with his Raking Claws attack (two melee claw attacks while charging). The first soundly hits Gundrek, who then uses his Persistent Harrier power to teleport behind Hu-Jat and his Rage Drake, causing the second attack to miss. Tor Val charges Hu-Jat, but is unable to hit. Then, from deeper in the mansion, 2 more of Hu-Jat's retinue appear, so Dryder, Katrie and Zanne focus their abilities on the newcomers while Tor Val and Gundrek hold off Hu-Jat and his drake. Gundrek marks Hu-Jat and his mount with an augmented Battlemind's demand, Hu-Jat focuses all of their attacks on Gundrek, dropping him to bloodied status. Unknown to the group, the third of Hu-Jat's retinue sneaks behind Gundrek and hits him hard, knocking him unconscious. Tor Val then shouts in triumph as he hits Hu-Jat with a mighty blow, only to be horrified as Hu-Jat shifts his drake, causing the critical hit to strike it instead. Katrie uses Grasping Claws on one of Hu-Jat's warriors, immobilizing him and preventing him from assisting his master. Dryder fights off the second warrior while Zanne rushes to help Gundrek with a Majestic Word. The group finishes off two of Hu-Jat's warriors and decides to focus fire on the Drake.
Soon, it is down to just Hu-Jat and the party. Dryder uses a Poisoned Strike, which causes Hu-Jat to fall prone on his next attack. Knowing what would happen if he tried to stand with everyone surrounding him, Hu-Jat tries to fight from the ground. What ensues is a humorous round of bad die rolls from Hu-Jat and the party. Finally, though, the party is victorious, just in time to see a sickly green ball of fire explode in the Southwest part of the village. After swiftly looting Hu-Jat (for a nice suit of Bestial Hide Armor +1 that Tor Val was VERY pleased to get), the party rushes south in order to help the mercenaries.
Unfortunately, they run into Krayd the Butcher just as she is cheerfully dismembering several escaped slaves. Seeing them approach, she hefts her obsidian greataxe and attacks.
Gundrek moves first. He rushes forward and uses his Living Fortess Daily, then marks Krayd with his Battlemind's Demand. Using the debris and dust from Gundrek's power as cover, Katrie moves forward and attacks Krayd with a Fire Hawk. Zanne then sets up the rest of the group to do major damage to Krayd with an Echoing Thunder. Tor Val then charges forward and nails Krayd, followed closely by Dryder's sneak attack. Krayd shrugs off the damage and laughs, unleashing her fury. With a mighty swing, she strikes Tor Val, dazing him, and immediately turns and attacks Dryder, but misses. Gundrek's Mind Spike is triggered, and Krayd finds that the damage she just did to Tor Val is reflected back at her. She spends an Action Point and spins around, swinging her axe like a whirlwind. Again, she hits Tor Val, but misses Dryder and Gundrek. Gundrek deals a hefty blow to Krayd, and then Katrie decides to summon her toad, who attacks Krayd and begins munching on one of her legs. But, it is after Tor Val and Dryder team up and attack Krayd again when she starts getting worried. Bloodied and near death, she again swings her axe, killing the Toad, bloodying Tor Val and barely missing Dryder. But her desperate attack triggers Gundrek's Mind Spike, and she falls to the ground dead.
The party has a brief debate on whether or not to take a quick 5 minute rest or to continue on to the south, where they see the battle still raging. After deciding on the quick rest, they watch with concern as the battle winds down, then ends. Running to the scene, they notice quite a few slaves dead, and several of the mercenaries as well. Fortunately, they also discover a good number of slavers either dead or dying. Seeing activity at the gate house, they move south to engage.
This is by far the party's most difficult encounter to date. 2 wooden guard towers stand nestled within a small cluster of buildings. A small patrol of Slaver Guards roams the streets in front of the towers, and a couple of archers watch, ready, for any trouble that might come their way. Immediately, one of the guards on the street notices the group and shouts an alarm, rushing forward to meet them. Dryder moves behind one of the buildings and hides, hoping to use his stealth to make a surprise attack. Katrie runs forward and shifts into beast form, using Grasping Claws to lock down the guard. Meanwhile, the other guard hears the commotion and runs to assist his companion. The Archer in the east tower fires at Zanne, nearly killing him. Dazed, Zanne uses a Majestic Word on himself, stumbling back. Tor Val then charges forward, slamming into the guard Katrie has locked down and getting a critical hit. Immediately, he hits again with his Rampage attack, killing the guard almost instantly. Gundrek moves forward to engage the second guard, but is targeted by the second archer from the west tower, and is dazed. Immediately, he uses his Persistant Harrier encounter power and appears behind the archer who just hit him. The archer, surprised, knows he cannot attack Gundrek with ranged weapons in such tight quarters, so he drops his crossbow and pulls out a club.
Meanwhile, Katrie begins attacking the second guard, locking him down with a Grasping Claws. Dryder sneaks behind the guard and hits him with a Sneak Attack. The guard retaliates, hitting Dryder hard. Seeing his companion in trouble, the archer attacks Dryder as well. Zanne uses his second Majestic Word and heals Dryder, pulling him out of immediate danger. Tor Val charges the eastern tower and starts attacking one of the support beams, hoping to knock the tower down.
Unknown to the party, the Guard House Group's leader, an elite defiler mage, is creeping behind one of the buildings to flank the party. As Tor Val breaks one of the support beams of the eastern tower, the mage attacks, targetting Dryder with a bolt of black lightning (does Necrotic and Lightning damage), causing the grass around him to shrivel and die. Gundrek, unaware of the danger his companions are in, shrugs off the daze effect he is under (gotta love that Mul resilience) and begins attacking the archer, who is doing a poor job of defending himself. Below, Katrie rushes to attack the defiler, forgetting the guard she is locking down. Dryder also moves to attack the defiler, attacking him with his Poisoned Strike. Tor Val charges, slamming the defiler and bloodying him. The defiler, sensing his danger, teleports away from the group and turns, draining the plantlife around him of life as he casts a fireball. The blast catches Tor Val, Katrie, Dryder and Zanne in the area of effect. Only Tor Val remains standing. The second guard, no longer immobilized, charges Tor Val, dropping him into negative hit points.
Gundrek, seeing his companions in serious trouble, jumps down from the guard tower (receiving an OA that misses for his troubles) and charges the defiler. His attack kills the mage, and then Gundrek rushes over to his companions, hoping to save them before they die. The guard who dropped Tor Val, seeing his leader fall and an angry Mul rushing to attack him, realizes that in his injured condition, he would be unlikely to survive. So, he cuts his losses and runs. The archer in the West tower, also seeing his leader die, decides to run as well. That only leaves the guard in the east tower, who tries to move into a more advantageous position.
Gundrek does a heal check on Katrie, which allows her to use a healing surge. Between the two of them, they quickly revive their companions and rush to kill off the last archer. Exhausted, the group hides, barricading themselves in a nearby home. They begin making plans to finish off any stragglers in the town.
This session was pretty tough. The pacing of it allowed me to slowly weaken the party and force them to use resources. The last encounter was EL+4, so it was really difficult and almost resulted in a TPK. I don't hide my dice rolls, so they all were able to see just how bad things were everytime I rolled. Luckily, Gundrek was out of the area of effect of the Fireball and rolled really well on his heal check, so I give him the MVP award for the night for coming through and saving the party's collective ****. Tor Val did the most damage (big surprise there), and Katrie was extremely effective in locking down her opponents (the dice were kind to her).
Favorite Quote: "Hold still; I'm trying to hit you here!! Really, I only want to kill you a little bit!" - Tor Val to Hu-Jat as the latter rolls around on the ground trying to avoid the big scary half-giant with the shovel.
Tuesday, 5th April, 2011, 09:37 PM #3
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
After a much needed rest that night, the group has a quick debate to determine the fate of Kiris Dahn. Do they try to maintain the city, or should they give the city over to the Veiled Alliance? The latter option seems to be the consensus, with the hope that they can receive a lucrative deal for their services.
It is late afternoon when the party emerges from their hideout and begin doing a quick sweep of the city in the hope that they can wipe out any stragglers. There, they meet a small group of freed slaves led by a one-armed Mul named Tenpug. Using weapons and equipment they had found throughout the village, the small band had decided to fortify themselves in a well defended stockade they had setup during the day. After meeting the group, Gundrek, Tor Val and Dryder proceed to convince Tenpug and his band to remain in the village and to do what they could to prevent any remaining slavers from trying to escape. Tenpug agrees that this is a reasonable idea and promises to do what he can with his small group to prevent any slavers from escaping the village. He also gives them some information about those slavers that he knows are remaining in the village. He knows that one of the Slaver's defilers, Rort, has barricaded himself with a small retinue within the library. He also knows of a band of slavers roaming the village looking for something, but he can't specify where.
The party moves north, searching the ruins of the inn and mansion and picking up any treasure they may have missed. They find the barracks and discover the weapons cache for the slavers, including obsidian longswords, spears and leather armor. The group agrees that this cache would benefit Tenpug's band, so they leave them alone.
Soon they find a ruined shrine devoted to one of Athas' moons, Guthay. Within, they find a lone and frightened hermit. After calming him down, they discover that his name is Hoyt, and he is one of the original inhabitants of Kiris Dahn. He explains that what had happened to the village was his fault, and he was cursed.
Hoyt was one of the creators of the Slaying Stone, and when the slavers first attacked the hidden village, he was the one that used it. The resulting catastrophe forced the villagers to flee the village before they, too, were destroyed. Since then, Hoyt has remain hidden in the ruins, stealing food when he could from the slavers, and killing any of the slavers who found him. When the party asks about the curse, Hoyt only says that "bad things" happen to him and those around him.
At this point, a slaver named Triflik and his group of guards bursts into the ruins, having watched the group enter the shrine earlier. The group begins attacking the characters, but when Triflik sees Hoyt with them, he orders his guards to attack the hermit. Hoyt then screams in fear and agony and suddenly transforms to something out of a nightmare. He grows almost a foot taller, and his arms grow long and emaciated, his fingers growing razor sharp claws of obsidian.
Dryder and Tor Val try to kill and distract Triflik while Katrie and Zanne attempt to calm Hoyt. Gundrek holds off the slavers pouring in from the northern door.
This fight was sadly way too easy for the group. This was, partually, because I was using the old MM damage expressions as opposed to the MM3. The other part was that since I don't hide my die rolls from the players, it was almost comical when I rolled 2 misses in a row, and when I finally did hit, it was for minimal damage....twice in a row. And then, further mistakes on my part as I forget to use an ability of the minions they were fighting that allowed them to stay up until the end of their next round when they are dropped to 0 hitpoints.
Too soon, the battle is over. Sadly, they are unable to calm Hoyt, and the party is forced to kill him when his berserker rage causes him to attack the group. As Hoyt finally falls, a rush of wind erupts from his body. The party discovers that Hoyt was the cause of the Guardian Spirit's captivity, and with his death, the spirit was now free.
Dryder gets a nice, new shiny metal longsword for their efforts, and they all decide to move on.
Returning to the bath-house, they learn that the spirit is now gone, and it has left a gift; a totem for Katrie.
They move south to the Library. In there, they discover Rort and his band. Immediately, Rort orders his guards to attack.
Luckily, the party goes before Rort can cause too much trouble. Dryder, Gundrek, Katrie and Zanne try to hold off the guards while Tor Val rushes in to take out Rort. But, it is then that Rort defiles the ground around him, summoning 3 gray oozes. Soon, Tor Val is in serious trouble. Meanwhile, Dryder is faced with trying to fend off the guards, and he takes multiple hits (level 2 minions). Soon, he is bloodied. Fortunately, Gundrek pulls him out of the worst of the danger and moves to a more advantageous position in order to stop the guards from swarming the group (I like how Gundrek is learning his character and figuring out the best place to be in situations. He did a really good job as a defender this session). He uses a Concussive Spike to knock Rort prone and force the 3 oozes away from Tor Val. Katrie summons her Toad into the room, which proceeds to eat one of the guards. Soon, the battle is over, and the group grabs several tomes so that they can return them to Treona in Nibenay.
This combat went a bit better. It was still a little easier than I would have liked, but the cramped quarters mixed with the minion swarm was pretty effective in nickle-ing and dime-ing the party. Zanne had to use both of his Majestic Words to keep Tor Val and Dryder up, though.
Soon, the entire town is liberated. The group returns to Tenpug and informs him of their success. He is grateful for the weapons and supplies, and he lets them know that his group was successful in preventing any of the slavers from escaping.
This last part of the session was actually my favorite. There was a ton of role-playing involved and serious discussion and negotiation. Sadly, it was also interrupted several times by Gundrek's player losing connection multiple times, my computer getting a BSOD close to the end of the session, and wind knocking out power lines near my house.
The group returns to Nibenay and meets up with Treona, letting her know of their success. She promises to contact her Veiled Alliance superiors and, from there, work up a deal for the village.
A few days later, the party begins negotiating the rights to the village. Attending are Treona, Allkirk, and a new person they had not met; the leader of a small merchant house named Marius Amketch. They hammer out a deal that will leave the party quite wealthy, as well as provide the group with a few magic items every few levels for free. Marius, who is backing the Veiled Alliance in this purchase, offers the group a position in his merchant house.
I was a bit concerned about giving the players too much, too soon. Dark Sun is notorious for having fewer resources, but the party was adamant about not wanting favors or services on credit; they wanted something substantial up front. They were threatening to bring their offer to other merchant houses, and for the sake of future adventures and campaign direction, I gave in a little. I was a bit worried about balance, so I decided to give them a promise of magic items every few levels, and a monthly monetary allowance. By the time the group reaches paragon level, they will have received the full monetary allotment for the village. Also, this helps me with parcel deployment in future adventures; they won't be getting as many magic items from parcels.
"You guys are all cool in my book, but you, sir, take us for idiots." - Dryder to Allkirk as they negotiate their price.
Next session: The Merchant House of Amketch.
Friday, 8th April, 2011, 04:50 PM #4
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
In prep for my next few sessions, I was thinking about the Cerebral Parasites that play so prominently in the 2e Dark Sun module The Merchant House of Amketch. I realized that this would best be handled by the 4e disease track.
So, here's my attempt at it. If anyone has feedback or suggestions, please comment. Any ideas are welcome and appreciated.
Cerebral Parasites - Psionic parasites infest the brains of psychically proficient individuals.
Level 6 disease
Attack: +9 vs Fortitude
Endurance Check: Improve DC 20, Maintain DC 16, Worsen DC 15 or lower.
Stage 0: Target is cured
Stage 1: Initial effect. Player loses half of their Power Points.
Stage 2: Target loses all Power Points
Stage 3: Target loses access to Daily Powers
Monday, 11th April, 2011, 12:40 PM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
First off, thanks for the write-up. Sounds like a really fun game!
I would also like to propose a slight change to the Cerebral Parasites track. I don't know your players, but I would really hate losing almost all class abilities and becoming reduced to at-will and hoping the next endurance check works out.
Perhaps a disincentive to use the stronger powers rather than a complete removal?
Stage 0: Target is cured.
Stage 1: Initial effect. Each time the target uses a power point he suffers 5 points of psychic damage.
Stage 2: The damage for using power points increases to 10. In addition, whenever the target is reduced to 0 power points he grants combat advantage to all enemies.
Stage 3: Whenever the target uses a Daily attack power he also loses a healing surge. If he had no healing surges to lose, he instead takes damage equal to half his bloodied hitpoint value.
In this way the PC can still contribute, but at a steep cost. What do you think?
Monday, 11th April, 2011, 03:36 PM #6
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
I really like your idea, Hof! Thanks so much for posting your thoughts.
Monday, 11th April, 2011, 05:19 PM #7
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I would also like to point out that the 'disease' track, as I proposed, is also rather debilitating to non-psionic characters. At least if you count not having power points at all as equal to zero power points. If so, stage 2 and 3 would have such a PC permanently grant combat advantage.
This might not be as intented. If so, I think these changes should be enough:
Stage 2: The damage for using power points increases to 10. In addition, whenever the target is reduced to 0 power points he grants combat advantage to all enemies. Characters who lack the power point class feature are not affected.
Stage 3: Whenever the target uses a psionic Daily attack power he also loses a healing surge. If he had no healing surges to lose, he instead takes damage equal to half his bloodied hitpoint value.
Tuesday, 12th April, 2011, 07:03 PM #8
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
The group (now 3rd level) spends a couple of days in Nibenay to rest, recuperate, and resupply. During this time, Zanne decides that he has had enough of the dangers of the Adventuring type and returns home (Zanne's player has only been able to attend one session, so I wrote him out of the game).
As the party gathers in a local tavern to prepare for their next journey, Dryder spots an old friend of his from childhood; a human Ardent named Kratas.
Kratas is the son of a minor noble from Tyr; the owner of a moderately large stable of gladiators who was fairly successful in the arena. Not long before the death of the Sorcerer King of Tyr, a revolt from the gladiators left Kratas's father dead, and a number of prized gladiators escaped. Unfortunately, Kratas was attending Tyr's House of the Mind (a psionics academy) when his father died. Unable to maintain his father's house and attend the Academy, Kratas decides to leave school and strike out on his own so that he can make his own fortune. And possibly, to find his father's killer.
The group welcomes Kratas, and then meets with their merchant sponsor; Marius Amketch.
Marius asks the group to travel to Balic and meet with a representative from his Merchant house named Maserak. Marius explains that he thinks that a trade war is looming between Amketch and House Shom, and would like the group to investigate the possibility that Amketch's caravans are being sabotaged. The party agrees to help and soon begin their journey south to Balic.
They decide to take the direct route, heading south across the Ivory Plains and to North Ledopolis. From there, they would ferry across the Silt Sea to South Ledopolis, and then head east to Balic. Marius provides the group with plenty of supplies.
On the second day of their journey south, the group decides to camp for the night in a small secluded area surrounded by boulders. As the group prepares to bed down for the night, Kratas suddenly realizes that something is trying to probe their minds. The party swiftly arms themselves and turn to face a hulking terror; an Id Fiend.
This battle was far, FAR, easier than it should have been. An Id Fiend is a level one solo, but I beefed it up to a level 5 and added a few new bells and whistles to it so that it could give the party a nice challenge. However, the challenge just didn't pan out due to very poor die rolls. I kid you not, my first 4 attacks in that combat were no higher than a 6.
Tor Val charges in (no surprise there). As he moves close to striking distance from the fiend, it uses its tail to swipe at the raging Half-Giant and misses. As Gundrek moves in to attack, the Id Fiend again swipes, missing Gundrek completely. The Battlemind then uses this opportunity to use his Persistant Harrier encounter, hitting the fiend and teleporting onto the small rise next to the id fiend and marking it. The Id Fiend retaliates, biting and clawing at Tor Val and missing....again....twice. In frustration, it uses an Action Point to use its Manifest Fear power, hitting both Tor Val and Gundrek, which dazes and slows them. Then, as its final action, he immediately attacks the two of them with Fearful Torment, which immobizes both of them. It then shifts away from Tor Val and moves closer to the rest of the group.
Katrie shifts into her primal cat form and rushes forward, only to be smacked by the Id Fiend's tail. The impact knocks her prone, and she struggles to stand back up.
Dryder and Kratas then move forward, both dodging that dangerous tail, and strike the fiend.
Tor Val can do nothing, so he stands in place and fumes (note to self; great way to tick off the Barbarian? Stop him from being able to charge). Gundrek uses his Mul Resilience to shake off the effects of the daze and immobilize. He then uses a Spectral Legion to grant the party combat advantage when attacking the Id Fiend. He hits, but to his horror, the Id Fiend lashes out with a Psychic Feedback, which weakens and damages Gundrek.
The damage has been done, though. Gundrek's Spectral Legion gives Dryder Combat Advantage, which he then proceeds to use to great effect. Soon (too soon), the Id Fiend is dead, and the party decides to skin it. They also learn that Id Fiend tastes a lot like Chicken.
The main purpose of this encounter was to help Kratas's player become familiar with his character as well as the 4e rules (he's a new player).
A few days later, the party arrives in Balic. The journey is punctuated by a brief and tense journey across the Silt Sea from North Ledopolis to Soutn Ledopolis. The crew of the ferry they are riding watches anxiously as a small group of Beast Head Giants roam a little too close to their vessel.
In Balic, the party meets up with their contact, Maserak. He shows them a large insect, something called a Shaqat Beetle. He informs them that the beetles have been showing up in the possession of Templars, Slavers, Assassins, and black market dealers. The beetles also have the unusual effect of making it very difficult for users of the Way to use psionics.
Maserak explains that in the course of his investigation, he has come to believe that someone is trying to frame Marius Amketch for spreading these insects, thereby harming his business. Maserak and Marius want the group to join up with the Amketch caravan that will be leaving the following day for the Crimsom Obelisk Oasis and find out if these beetles are being smuggled aboard somehow.
The party heads to the caravan and meets up with the caravan leader, Bezrak Sandfist. Soon, they agree to sign on as caravan guards and are brought to meet Bezrak's captain, a huge Half-Giant named Holtet Phen. They are given their duties; the group would be one of the foot patrols that surrounds the caravan. He lets them know what their shifts would be like and informs them that the caravan would leave on the morrow, and leaves them with a stern warning, "You'd better not show up drunk, or I'll flay your pathetic hides!"
The following morning, the journey begins. The caravan consists of an enormous argosy (essentially, a roaming fortress) that is pulled by two mekillots (giant armored beetles). 20 guards and 20 Crodlu mounted outriders roam in random groups around the argosy as it begins to lumber forward.
No more than an hour after their departure, the group notices a small contingent of Balican Templars catching up to them. The caravan halts, and Bezrak climbs down from the argosy, muttering angrily. He points to Kratas and Katrie to follow him, and he proceeds to meet with the Templars, who are their for a routine customs inspection. Bezrak pulls the leader aside, and Kratas takes the opportunity to try to hear what's going on.
Bezrak whispers to the Templar that it would be worth it if the templar let the caravan go without inspection. He then covertly slips the templar a pouch that looks a bit full, but which clinks with the pleasant sound of coins. The templar nods his head in agreement, mounts his Crodlu, and heads back to Balic. As Bezrak watches them go, he turns to Kratas and growls, "Next time, I suggest you control your curiosity. Keep
your nose out of my business and you will still be employed when we return to Balic." He then stalks off. Kratas then realizes that Bezrak happens to be a fairly powerful psionic.
The next part of this session is heavy in roleplaying as the party tries to determine if there is anything unusual going on. This ends up being an extended skill challenge that includes Perception (to inspect the cargo), stealth (to not be seen inspecting the cargo), thievery (to open locked areas of the argosy), and diplomacy (to talk to several members of the caravan and find out what they know).
After searching the cargo bay and one of the locked areas, the caravan arrives at its first stop on its journey; a merchant fort about 3 days west of Balic called Fort Glamis. Dryder notices that Bezrak leaves the caravan alone and wanders into the fort, so he clandestinely follows. Bezrak disappears inside of a small bar near the outer wall of the fort, and then exits about 20 minutes later to return to the caravan.
On the 5th day of the journey, the caravan leaves the road and starts ponderously moving across the open desert on its way to the Crimson Obelisk Oasis. Meanwhile, Kratas begins to question several of the caravan members. First is the leader of the outriders; a half-elf named Arrazo. The half-elf has reason to believe that the caravan will be betrayed, and that he has made a deal that will keep him safe. He ensures that the party can also be spared...for a price. Kratas finds this suspicious, but agrees to pay anyway so that he can cultivate a potential ally. He also has a chance to speak with Vashara, who is the dwarven psion that drives the argosy. She is quite friendly (he rolled REALLY high on his diplomacy check, and then used his heroic effort and his Adept's Insight power to effectively raise the roll by 8 more), and explains that she doesn't trust Bezrak, and that she thinks he may be hiding something. However, she has no way to prove this.
On the 6th day of their journey, during their morning patrol, the group is alerted as they hear the clash of arms from a group of outriders. Just as the party hefts their weapon, they see dozens of Gith raiders descend on the caravan.
The party decides to defend the right side of the caravan while the other groups defend the left and rear sections. The argosy locks up all of its hatches and brings the upper Arbelest about to assist the guards.
13 gith leap into the midst of the party. Immediately, Tor Val begins attacking, plowing through the Gith Savages with glee. The rest of the party tries to prevent themselves from being overwhelmed and separated, and things begin to look dire when a Gith Drone and the leader of the group, a Gith Spearhead, leap into the fray. The drone begins to attack the group psionically, laying a debilitating psionic blast on Kratas that causes him to take damage whenever he uses a daily or encounter power. The spearhead focuses energy through his spear and does a devastating attack on Gundrek, dropping him. Meanwhile, the 3rd Gith leader, a Hobbler, leaps up into the air and hurls a javelin at Tor Val, missing him. Tor Val rushes the Drone and proceeds to nearly kill it. Kratas uses his Ardent Surge to heal Gundrek, and Katrie was able to throw Tor Val a magic seed, which allowed him to heal a bit from the injuries he had sustained while fighting the savages and the hobbler. She then uses her magical totem to help Gundrek further by allowing him to spend another healing surge.
Just as the party thinks their victory is assured, another wave of Gith savages leaps among them, 10 of them, along with another Gith hobbler. The hobbler tries to hit Tor Val with a javelin (which, if it hits, would immobilize him), but misses again. Soon, the party is again fighting for their lives as they are nearly overwhelmed by the rush of enemies. But soon, the tide turns as the argosy turns its arbalest on the enemy gith. Finally, nearly beaten and bloodied, the group is victorious, and the remaining gith flee.
This fight was a BLAST! Tor Val at one points crits a minion, then charges the drone, doing over 50 points of damage between all of his attacks. The group, at one point, was genuinely worried about being overwhelmed, especially after Gundrek was taken out in nearly one hit. But between Kratas's Psionic Shield power and Katrie's Spirit of Athas, there was one point in the combat when almost everyone in the party had a +5 to all defenses. It was glorious!
I deliberately made all of these encounters at level+2 or level+3 because I knew that the group would be travelling a lot between encounters, and therefore they would be fresh. The last fight had nearly all of them using most of their resources to survive, so I was quite pleased with the outcome.
With that, we ended the session. The party is still no closer to finding who is actually behind the Shaqat beetles, and they are nearing their destination.
The date is now the 1st day of the Festival of the Soaring Sun in the season of Sun Ascending, in the Year of Enemy's Vengeance, 190th King's Age.
Next Session: Crimson Obelisk Oasis
Wednesday, 13th April, 2011, 08:40 AM #9
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Monday, 13th June, 2011, 08:28 PM #10
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
I know it's been some time since I've written about my Dark Sun game. Unfortunately, we had a small hiatus while one of the group got his computer fixed, and scheduling conflicts, etc. However, yesterday, my group finally got to return to the burning sands of Athas.
Ah...what to say? This was, by far, my favorite session to date. While it was a short session, there were so many things that happened, some great role-playing, and some really tense moments.
When we last left our band of intrepid adventurers, they had just defeated a nasty band of marauding gith, all bent on trying to capture the caravan that the party was helping to defend.
As the group watches the Gith flee, a rousing cheer erupts from the Argosy. While some of the Caravan guards were killed in the attack, due to the party's efforts, many were saved. Bezrak and Holten Phen emerge and congratulate the party and promise them bonuses upon their journey's end.
The party rests for the night. The following morning, they resume their investigation. They decide to speak with more of the crew in hopes that someone can give them some clue as to where the smuggled cargo would be. After speaking with the quartermaster (who was thankful and impressed with the group's prowess in the attacks) the party decides to try to talk to Holtet Phen in the hopes that they could gain more permanent employment on the caravan.
After their guard shift, the party gathers in the common room of the Argosy to eat and discuss their next step. A slave woman named Ekarga whispers to Kratas that she knows what they are looking for and is willing to help them for a price. All she wants is her freedom. The group agrees to buy her freedom.
Kratas, Katrie and Dryder follow Ekarga while Tor Val and Gundrek decide to talk with Holtet Phen. Bezrak is talking with Holtet when the two of them arrive, but quickly dismisses himself so that they can talk with Holtet. Meanwhile, Ekarga shows the rest of the party a secret wall that opens into the room where the caravan's secure cargo is located. They can all hear chittering coming from one of the crates. Just as Dryder gets ready to try to destroy the beetles, Bezrak steps in.
Angrily, Bezrak demands to know what the group is doing in there. He accuses them of trying to steal from him, and by extension, Marius Amketch. Dryder tries to talk his way out of the situation, and succeeds only in convincing Bezrak that they didn't know what was in the room. The party leaves.
The following day, as the sun is getting ready to set, the caravan arrives at the Crimson Sands Oasis. Bezrak, in celebration, orders that the wine and ale casks that he had on the Argosy be cracked open, and all members of the caravan should partake and enjoy. Bezrak and Holtet then head to the village that surrounds the oasis.
While the rest of the party makes merry, grabbing drinks and socializing with the caravan crew, Dryder sneaks back into the argosy so that he can attempt to find where the beetles are hidden. Meanwhile, the rest of the party discovers, to their horror, that the wine and ale that they have been drinking is poisoned. Soon, all of the caravan crew and Kratas, Gundrek, Tor Val, and Katrie are drugged into a deep sleep. Dryder, unsuccessful in his attempt to find the hidden cargo, exits the Argosy just in time to witness a large group of House Shom guards grabbing his companions and the rest of the caravan crew, stripping them of all valuables, and tossing them into cages. Wisely, Dryder hides and watches, waiting for his opportunity to rescue his companions.
The following morning, the captured party members awaken inside a guarded cage. There, they see Bezrak, Holtet, a man dressed in the livery of House Shom named Agristes, and a very beautiful woman dressed as a Templar Wife of Nibenay who looks vaguely familiar. After a few moments, they discover that her name is Dreus, and she is the sister of their old friend Triona. Dreus is purchasing the party as slaves.
Agristes enters the cage and explains to the party that it is more profitable to sell the group as opposed to killing them, but he would take the time to weaken them so that they wouldn't cause trouble. He then explains that the beetle trade was highly profitable, but very controversial. So, it was in his best interest to use rival merchant houses to profit from his discovery. He then places one of the Shaqat beetles on each of the party members. Gundrek and Kratas are infected by cerebral parasites. Their cage is then loaded on a wagon, and the party is taken east from the Oasis, followed closely by Dryder. Meanwhile, the stolen caravan continues on to the west.
Dryder follows them stealthily, waiting for the right time to rescue them. That evening, the prisoners and their captors make camp. The group is able to determine that these are probably members of the Severed Eyes mercenaries, and that Dreus probably wished to enslave them in retaliation for them ruining her plans to find the Slaying Stone. They also overhear two of their guards discussing Gundrek and how he used to be a gladiator in Tyr. They mention how he escaped (by killing his master).
One of the guards gets bored and heads over to the main camp area, where the group is celebrating their capture and their victory, to get some alcohol. At this time, Dryder uses the distraction to make his assault.
Because the guard was nearly asleep and was distracted by the celebration, I allowed a Coup De Gras. Dryder delivered with spectacular results. He takes the guard's weapons and leaves the body, slipping back into the shadows. He moves to the party's cage and begins working to free them. He throws Tor Val the short sword he got from the dead guard, and hands Gundrek his spare short sword, and the party quickly jumps out to attack their captors.
This fight was FUN! Their captors were mostly drunk, and the group was practically naked and nearly defenseless. Gundrek and Kratas were also under effect of Cerebral Parasites; Gundrek was only in stage one, so it was more expensive for him to augment his powers while Kratas was in Stage 2 and took damage whenever he augmented or used his powers. I gave a penalty to defenses and attacks to the mercenaries to reflect their inebriation.
As the guard who left earlier for drinks returns to his post, the party attacks. Dryder attacks him, followed closely by Tor Val, who crits, killing the guard. He immediately uses his Rampage to charge a second captor. Kratas grabs the Guard's spear and attacks another guard. Meanwhile, Gundrek moves in to mark and distract the guards. Katrie moves along the outskirts of the camp so that she can get into better position, and Dryder moves to the opposite side so that he can attack from the shadows. And, this was just the surprise round!
Soon, the mercenaries retaliate, and the party is fighting for their lives. Tor Val is nearly surrounded by mercenaries, and one of them hamstrings him, causing him to be slowed. Gundrek and Kratas team up together to fight off 3 more mercenaries, and Katrie summons her Toad to assist. Dryder remains on the outskirts of the camp, attacking with ranged weapons. At this point, the mercenary leader, a Defiler, steps from his tent and starts attacking the group. Katrie uses her Toad to help distract him, and Tor Val is nearly killed by the group he is fighting. Kratas uses his Artent Surge to help, then continues to help Gundrek. Meanwhile, Dryder rushes in to attack the Defiler, and Katrie steps up to assist Tor Val. Gundrek is continually slammed by his enemies due to his mark, and eventually falls unconscious from the repeated attacks (and fails 2 death saves before Katrie can get to him and do a heal check). Eventually, though, all of the enemies are dead. The group gathers as much equipment as they can and force marches back to the Crimson Sands Oasis with Katrie leading the way as a scout.
This extended skill check went well. Katrie rolled EXTREMELY well on her nature and perception checks (a critical success on her perception...she was able to stop the party from encountering some pretty nasty critters), but their endurance checks weren't so great. By the time they reach the Oasis, they are all a bit dehydrated and exhausted. Fortunately, Gundrek and Kratas are able to overcome their parasite infection.
Dryder, since he hadn't been seen by anyone in the Oasis, decides to go into the town to discover if he could find where the Caravan went, and to resupply. The party rests the night, and the next day begin to try to track down the Caravan.
All in all, this was an excellent session. Dryder gets the MVP for avoiding my trap, and rescuing his companions. The party, due to the difficulty of this session, was able to achieve 4th level.
The date is now the 4th day of the Festival of the Soaring Sun in the season of Sun Ascending, in the Year of Enemy's Vengeance, 190th King's Age.
Next Session: Return to the Caravan and the Beetles...where do they come from?
Last edited by Raunalyn; Monday, 13th June, 2011 at 09:41 PM.
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