In just a few hours, we’ll be starting Madness at Gardmore Abbey at our Thursday night D&D group that meets at Total Escape Games in Broomfield, CO. After an accelerated schedule of advancement during our campaign, we’ve zoomed right along, have arrived at Level 6, and are ready to have a go at the monster-infested, ruined monastery.
I’ve read through all four 32-page books several times and meticulously organized all the minis, tokens, markers, and dungeon tiles I’ll need to run the 30+ encounters. I’ve prepared several handouts to give to my players during the course of the adventure, including a map of Winterhaven— which in our campaign’s world is going to be named “Bree.” I’ve changed the names of some locations and NPCs since several of us have played Keep on the Shadowfell, etc and I wanted Gardmore Abbey to be unique to our campaign’s world.
Anyway, I think I’m locked and loaded, and ready to lead our D&D group through what looks to be an excellent adventure from the folks at WotC. Y’all are invited to watch as we head into the ruins of Gardmore Abbey—a place warped and twisted by the chaotic forces surrounding the infamous Deck of Many Things. As usual, I'll take lots of pics to share with you.
Below is the back story that Lord Bothwell is going to use this evening to ‘hook’ our heroes into accompanying him to the abbey…
(btw: I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but at the end of Bothwell’s plea, you’ll find the name my players chose for their adventuring company way back during the first session of our campaign…)
“Gardmore Abbey was one of the first settlements in the Lake District, established by knights of Bahamut during the rise of the (now fallen) Empire around 350 years ago. Along with Bree, the combined abbey and village at Gardmore defined the far northeastern boundary of the Empire.
The abbey was built as a defensive fortification, combining the natural slope of the land and a strong stone wall to protect the village and the home of the monastic knights in the abbey proper. A prosperous settlement grew up between the outer wall and the cloister of the abbey, supporting the knights and enjoying their protection.
During the height of the Empire’s rule, the holy knights of Gardmore Abbey fought valiantly in Bahamut’s name against any monstrous and evil forces that encroached into the Lake District, and on occasion launched campaigns to bring down bastions of evil in the world beyond the district. They destroyed thousands of orcs in the Stonemarch, brought low a temple of Zehir in the depths of the Witchlight Fens, and journeyed to the Dragondown Coast, far to the south, to sack the Infernal Bastion of the terrible hobgoblin warlord Hur-Tharak.
According to legend, that southern campaign ultimately spelled the doom of Gardmore Abbey. As the story goes, the knights brought a dark artifact back from that crusade for safekeeping, but evil forces gathered to assault the abbey and take back the artifact. About 150 years ago, a force of orcs from the Stonemarch descended on Gardmore Abbey. Aided by ogres, hill giants, and demonic embodiments of chaos, the orcs laid siege to the abbey, but even against such terrible foes the knights held firm.
But then something terrible and unexplained happened. During the battle, in a roar of infernal wind, a new wave of attackers was unleashed upon the abbey, this time from inside its mighty walls. Scores of undead monsters, from skeletal legions and sword wraiths to nightwalkers and fire demons, emerged from the space between worlds and spread throughout the abbey, bringing terror and destruction in their wake. The walls were breached, the Stonemarch forces spilled inside, and a titanic battle among knights, undead, and orcs wrecked the abbey. For well over a century now, Gardmore Abbey has been a monster-infested ruin.
This recent brush with death has made me realize that it is time to complete my lifelong goal of cleansing Gardmore Abbey. As a devout paladin of Bahamut, my goal is nothing less than the purification of the abbey. I would like you to accompany me on this holy quest. Your job will be to keep me alive and help me reach Dragon’s Roost, the temple that stands at the highest point of the abbey. Awaken the Slumbering Hurt, will you accept this quest?”