I am midway through running module 10 in 4e. The PCs are Epic level , 25th level for the first half, and I am running into some serious problems with the pacing and encounter design. My purpose for posting here is to get some help with how I can go forward with the game.

First off, I don't blame the writers for this as they were converting the modules over before there was any real play experience at epic level in 4e. I also don't expect a rewrite {altho that would be nice}.

M10: Sleep, Ye Cursed Child, level 26
M11: Under the eye of the Tempest, level 28
M12: Beating of the Aquiline Heart, level 30

The modules were ported from 3E mechanically, but were not altered for the new paradigm of encounter design and pacing. 3E favored long adventuring days with attrition mechanics, and was able to pull it off as each combat was relatively not time consuming. With 4E, each combat averages one hour to play. With 18 combat encounters and an average of 2 combats per session, at one session a month this module would take 9 months to complete one of these modules as written.

So how can the depth of the modules, the hazards and dangers that keep mere mortals from attempting the heroes mission... be emulated without resorting to a grind-fest?


I am going to attempt to trim these modules down based on the following general guidelines for Epic adventuring day in 4E:

Each adventuring day generally consists of a three phase encounter
o Plan and research the target {skill challenge or brainstorm session. Fail/success impacts the next}
o Get to the target {usually skill challenge that burns resources, fail/success impacts next}
o Fight the target

Make it matter. Use skill challenges or gloss over things meant to wear down the parties resources. 'Lethal Obsidian' is useful here in burning healing surges and daily resources with player involvement.

Make it Big. This is Epic level play and the PCs should be able to nova in the main encounter. Of course this means that the NPCs should get to nova as well.

Never Nerf without obvious, and massive in-game reason/plausibility.


For M10, which we are mostly done with, I am slicing up the Dream Palace encounters and replacing the entire mess with one encounter with Freedom. I have yet to decide whether to use a skill challenge to handle the 8 external rooms, or to use Zone combat and have the encounter range about the palace in a non-grid format.

I am planning on handling the Trilla/Annihilation encounter using Zone combat in order to give tactical depth to the scene.

I haven't dug into M11, and am considering skipping it completely. The story line is so awesome I feel that cutting it down would be a disservice.

I have dug into M12.. and it is a grind fest. There are three main plot points spread over 4 to 7 adventuring days. This can be set up with the first and last plot points being a full day event with a major combat encounter at the end. The middle plot point.. the war, can be spread into a morning and afternoon set for each day. The PCs can pick and choose if they take on any missions, and the PCs victory point score can push them forward of the planned timeline or drop them back. Something like:

Battle Progress:
Morning of day one, arrive.
6 Successes to pass afternoon of day one. Missions include Badlands Battle Wave 1, Wave 2, Cav General, Monstrous Assualt, Golems, Army of Darkness and the Necromancer. Each can be a minor success or minor failure.
8 successes to pass morning of day 2. Missions include Flayed Druid, Night Ambush, and Abduction. Each mission takes 4 hours and can be a major success or failure.
10 Successes to pass afternoon of day 2: The Slog. Each mission takes an hour of time and includes things like assassination of key targets, spying, hold the line, counter-intell, recon, or other idea the players come up with. Each successful mission garners a minor success.
12 Successes to pass morning of Day 3. Into the Dragons Teeth. Missions include Daunting Dragons, Murder Tunnel, and Edge of History(Part 1)



My apologies for the wall of words!