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5E Storm King's Thunder - Nonan's Hold (need DM advice)

twofalls

Explorer
I have a great group of players who are all excellent roleplayers and are led by my best friend who is a great DM (better than me), and though I've run games for over 40 years, I'm starting to slow down. The party is 6 players at level six and we are in chapter 3 of SKT. I like to write my own stuff, and I use the campaign and its ideas to hang my hat on, so to speak. I like the Nonan's Hold story idea as presented in the SKT book, and I've worked up a hook where the PC's (who are travelling to Yartar from Triboar) enter Calling Horns and the Lord there, one Tamalin Zoar, has a problem. Her grandson is in love with a villager in the Hold, but she will not marry him and move to calling horns in fear that she will be tracked down by the Hunt Lords and murdered, or that the other villagers will take it out on her family remaining at the hold. Some kind of accord needs to be made with the Hunt Lords, or they need to be neutralized. The party is led by a Paladin of Illmater, so I expect he will want to destroy them.

Here is my problem, the PC's are very strong, two warriors (Pally and Barb) and four spellcasters (Wizard, Bard, two Clerics) all at 6th level. The Pally basically only uses his spell slots to increase his melee damage. I confronted them with three Hill Giants and five Ogres and they took them out handedly. They do not have many magical items, but every player has access to either spells or a +1 Weapon. They are travelling to Yarter to relieve an NPC of his Hammer of Giant Slaying but don't have it yet. Five wraiths will be a bit of a pushover for the PC's, so what do I do to make this a memorable fight that challenges the PC's? There are obvious answers, add another wraith, increase HP, make their caretaker the old dwarf Amrath Mulnobar something more powerful than a veteran, etc. I thought I would fish for ideas in the enworld pond however. Game is this Saturday. Thanks.
 

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ninjayeti

Adventurer
I find it can be tough to challenge mid to high level characters with single encounter days. This is especially true as five of your six PCs are long rest classes that have lots of resources to burn when they "nova." Not every day needs to be 6-8 encounters, but the more you can wear them down with earlier encounters the more challenging the "boss fight" becomes.

For Nonan's Hold I'd just have the caretaker around when the PCs arrive - maybe he sends them on a wild goose chase into the woods. The next time the PCs are camped out in the wilderness, the Hunt Lords come after them ('cause their whole schtick is hunting people for sport right? Its pretty boring if the party kills them in their living room). First there is a baying of hounds and a pack of dire wolves lead by a shadow mastiff attacks. Then a wave of ghasts - previous victims of the hunt lords - swarms over the group. Maybe there are more waves: giant bats, shadows, a huge undead stag, whatever seems cool and thematic. Only then when the party is banged up and has burned their high level spell slots do the Hunt Lords move in for the kill. At THAT point your PC's should be worried and their eventual victory will be a memorable one.
 

cmad1977

Hero
With 6 players ask yourself..
“ is this scene ‘metal enough?’”
And if the answer is yes or no...
Make it more metal.
They’ll be ok.
 


Eltab

Hero
Besides the hunters and their hounds, have some of the animals of the forest appear to be spying on the group out on the wild goose chase. Most just look like it, but some really are spying on them.

Oh, and for laughs have them get attacked by a wild goose (defending its nest). It might have a golden (or just golden-looking) egg?
 

twofalls

Explorer
Thank you for your advice folks, I really like the wild goose idea. As I get older my creativity wanes so ideas like this that make the world feel real helps me a great deal. I can't use geese as it is late summer and the game is set in the North, so the weather is starting to chill. Any goslings not ready to migrate by this time are not going to survive. But I can look up other defensive animals online, squirrels being too commonplace.
 

Eltab

Hero
The "golden egg" might be a piece of the Vonindod
... if you want to bring the plot right up to the PCs' front door.
 

twofalls

Explorer
They experienced a heavily modified version of chapter 2's Triboar fight. They spent several sessions roleplaying in the town and interacting with the villagers, solving a couple of mysteries. Of the two giants and their minions, one of the giants survived unscathed and drug the hunk of adamantine away with him. The party is very curious regarding what that was all about.
 

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