Any tips on running JN1 The Chaotic Caves?

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Any tips on running JN1 The Chaotic Caves?

Post Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:19 am

I may be running The Chaotic Caves soon, for a group of 3 or 4 players. Does anyone here have any advice or recommendations on running this adventure?

Would it be a meatgrinder for 3 or 4 players? The PCs will start as Level 1 PCs. Should I allow NPCs to join the party, to make the party stronger?
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Re: Any tips on running JN1 The Chaotic Caves?

Post Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:24 am

Have each player have a couple extra characters rolled up on hand... just because.

Start level one at max HP, small boost to get level ones a bit more survive-ability.

Players should be prepped mentally for the lethal nature of lowest levels; make sure they include retreat and/or full blown running away when the situation requires. In this game, nobody is a hero at level one... just survival is the "big Win" for lowest levels.

On GM side, have NPCs ready to deploy. Have some monsters be more favorably inclined to the party than just being there to fight... of course, this requires players to be ready to parlay and interact in ways other than swords. When it comes to the caves and the humanoids within... they are a chaotic lot... there could be a faction within an individual lair that wants to become chief; just waiting for the opportunity to turn on their leader when his chips are down... it is part of the plot of so many stories/movies.

Have players invest in guards, torch bearers, dogs, etc. to round out the adventuring crew. These are easily elevated to proper characters when they suffer losses.

Make sure there are ample opportunities for players to run/get back to town to rest. If they are pounded relentlessly, and chased all the way back by full forces of caves they will have little chance to survive.

Consider prior to having the players hit the caves on day one, have them exploring the environs, make a few contacts/friends, find a little treasure to fund additional preparations, etc. and most of all get a little bit of real experience in how to work together (not just XP). They can develop some little bits of tactics in these encounters.

That's it for now. There is tremendous extra advice around here...
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Re: Any tips on running JN1 The Chaotic Caves?

Post Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:37 am

The Halfling home is not too bad if the players take it one encounter location at a time and rest in between. The ruined castle with the orcs will be difficult simply because it is a defensible position for the orcs, so they have to be surprised or otherwise tricked to come out of the ruins. The bandits on the road would be too hard if a fight ensues - you would need to reduce the number of bandit fighters (10 as written). The Harpy is iffy, if one or two PCs fail their saves they are toast, and you also have the giant toads to contend with. The cave of horrors will be very hard for a few 1st-level PCs. For the chaotic caves themselves, I'd say they will be very deadly as written for 3 or 4 1st-level PCs. Hopefully they don't find either of the caves until they get some XP and another level (I think that is the intent of the module anyway).

So to start , I would cut down on the number of enemies in the set wilderness encounters and also the number of wandering enemies. Do that in the caves also. If they can handle it, I'd let them run two PCs each, or bolster the party with some hired help or NPCs as you suggest. If you want to run it all as-is, I'd make the PCs start at 3rd level.
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Re: Any tips on running JN1 The Chaotic Caves?

Post Sun Jun 23, 2019 9:53 am

Not "3rd level," but 5,000 XP (5,500 XP for humans) so that they have a normal distribution of levels. Otherwise I agree with merias.
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Re: Any tips on running JN1 The Chaotic Caves?

Post Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:24 pm

When I ran it for my students, I started them with "Kidnapped!". It was a case of Mistaken Identity. The baddies thought they had captured a high level group initially, then didn't really know what to do with them after capture. Then, when the group got to the town, people also mistook them for the high-level group. (oh what fun I had!) anyway, that first adventure got them some XP, exploring around got them some more, and I sprinkled a couple AA adventures around the area as well. It got them ready to tackle the Caves, which I envisioned as sort of a crucible for other bad guys. Like, the Caves were a place for the little Bad Guys to rest and re-supply. So all the little adventures had tie-ins to the Caves, giving the players valuable intel when they were finally able to tackle it.
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