by Mike Shea on 18 May 2009
Kalarel has been defeated and the dark portal has closed, at least for now. Not all the kidnapped slaves of Winterhaven have been recovered, however, and their tracks lead into the Thunderspire Labyrinth. Today I'll give you three tips to make the most of this adventure, breathe life into one-dimensional characters, and give your players the greatest possession one can have: a home.
Build Out the Seven Pillared Hall
Unlike Fall Crest or Winterhaven, the Seven Pillared Hall is a truly unique town and rest area for your adventurers. This is a great fantasy setting, an entire town underground, and, with the right descriptions, can really add flavor to your game. Spend time showing players around. Let them meet the locals and get a feeling for the strange political forces of the town. Let them scrape with Brugg, the ogre police chief. Let them feel the strife of the poor souls who find themselves living in the pigeon holes.
Don't dump the entire town on your party at once, but give them a new feeling for the Seven Pillared hall each time they rest between explorations into the Thunderspire Labyrinth.
Introduce Paldemar Early
Like Keep on the Shadowfell, your group won't get a feeling for the prime villain of Thunderspire if you don't introduce him early. I failed to do so when I ran this adventure and by the time my players faced him, they couldn't even remember his name. He simply wasn't involved enough in their lives to care. Use the fact that Paldemar is a member of the Mages of Saruun to introduce him early. Perhaps he befriends the party and betrays them later. Give your PCs a reason to hate him.
Like Kalarel, it behooves you to understand Paldemar's motivations and background. How did he come to the labyrinth. What does he hope to accomplish? What drove him to worship Vecna? Take some time to sit in Paldemar's shoes and find out what makes him tick.
Give the Players A Home
In the second phase of Thunderspire, the party has a chance to clear out some Duergar dwarves from one of the local shops. An enterprising party will take the shop as their own. In my own group, this became a local business that hired on the ex-slaves of the Gnolls and became a center for both commerce and adventure. Use this opportunity to show your players how different D&D can be from a typical computer roleplaying game.
Like Keep on the Shadowfell, Thunderspire Labyrinth can be as rich and deep as you want it to be. Take the time to fill it out, make it your own, and let it grow organically around your players and you will all find a richer deeper world than you get out of the box.