D&D Solo Adventure

The Sellswords of Luskan: Winter Ambush!

A 4e Solo-Adventure
Brought to you by Dan Head and the Warmasters of Luskan Adventuring Company

My book, Sneakatara Boatman
and the Priest of Loki
is out now
for the Kindle.
I very obviously got the idea for this from the recent one-off solo quest in Dragon 382, “Dark Awakenings.”  Kudos to WotC for doing such a great little project and for laying out the structure that I’m borrowing from rather freely.

If you’re wondering, The Sellswords of Luskan is the name of a campaigns that I run.  In fact, my plan is to repurpose many of the encounters and plot-points that I ran in the original game for a use in this, a series of one-PC solo adventures.  I have no idea how many I’m going to do, but my guys seem to be enjoying our game, and at least right now, setting this up seems like an interesting challenge.  Also, I have a long train commute into New York City every day, so this little project will give me something to work on during the ride. 

Let me apologize in advance for the art.  I’m working out of Excel, and that’s the way it’s gonna stay.  Bottom line, using your imagination is going to be part of the test here.

Set-Up and Play

Create a 1st Level Character.  Equip your character with 100 gp worth of weapons, armor, and adventuring gear, and give yourself a single Potion of Healing. 

Heath the Bladesinger is your Companion Character.
As with Dark Awakenings, in this adventure, you have access to a side-kick.  Here it’s Heath, an apprentice bladesinger.  I made Heath a Leader/Defender because I’m assuming that most folks will want to play Strikers in a Solo Adventure.  However, if you choose to play a Leader or Defender, replace either Heath’s Majestic Word or his Selune’s Challenge power with Sneak of Shadows:

Sneak of Shadows (Encounter): Once per Encounter when Heath has combat advantage and hits his target with a melee attack using a light blade, he deals 2d6 extra damage.

As a note, I tried to make every skill in the game useful to some degree or other in this adventure, but some are easier to use than others in a game like this.  For example, a solo-player adventure set in the woods outside of a town can find many uses for Athletics or Stealth but fewer for a skill like Streetwise.  With that said, I put in a lot of wacky stuff on purpose, so I encourage you to make the character that you want to play and then give me feedback later if you didn’t get to use your favorite skills.  Hopefully, I can address that sort of thing next time.  Since Streetwise is as of this writing the only skill that isn’t used in the game, I promise to make it an integral part of the next adventure.

Last note: I’m going to refer to you and Heath collectively as “the PCs”. 

Encounter Format and Basic Play

This is very similar to the way Dark Awakenings was organized, and with any luck it’ll be just as self-explanatory.  I’m going to give you some encounter statistics and a little bit about the monsters’ tactics and your choices.  Please read those first, so you know how to move the monsters.  I've also included some (very basic) maps.  Personally, I tend to run this stuff out of Excel, using the random number generator to create my dice rolls.  That’s the easiest way I know to actively track each encounter.  With that in mind, I've linked an Excel spreadsheet for that purpose below.  

Winter Ambush Worksheet Link

To keep it simple (for me), I'm making copious use of Google Drive for the various spreadsheets and other associated documents.  So, it you follow the link, and you'll find the spreadsheet on Google Drive.  I suggest you download the file to your own machine so that you can edit it and use it fully, but if you absolutely want to, you can try to use it in Google Drive.  However, you'll not be able to edit or manipulate it there.

As you play through this, you'll also need the Numbered Paragraph document.  This adventure works a little like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, using numbered paragraphs in lieu of numbered pages.  You can find the numbered paragraphs here, also in a shared Google Drive document:

Numbered Paragraphs

That one--and all of the other documents--were set up using the Google Drive word processor  so you'll probably be okay just running them in an open tab in Chrome of Firefox or whatever.

You can take a short rest after each encounter, but you cannot take a long rest.  I thought about trying to include one, but the number of potential plot branches just got completely out of hand.  I’m trying to keep it simple here.  Maybe we’ll do one later if I’m feeling froggy and this actually works out okay in its first attempt.

If you fall unconscious and Heath cannot revive you, your game is over.  You lose!  If Heath reaches 0 hp and falls unconscious, he makes Death Saving throws the same as any other PC.  You can try to revive him with your Heal skill if you want.

They have a whole section in Dark Awakenings on Basic Monster Tactics.  I’m assuming here that you already know how to play D&D in the 4th Edition.  If you do not, then you are not my target audience.  Go buy a PHB and read it and then come back.  Otherwise, enjoy!

Background and Initial Encounter

No one wants to go to Luskan. 

Some go to escape the law.  Some are brought there.  Some are sold there.  A few unfortunate souls are born there.  But no one wants to be there.  No one desires it.  The one time City of Sails houses some four thousand souls, but it is home to none.  “Home” implies hearth and family.  Warmth.  Safety.  Security.  Belonging.  Luskan has none of these things.  It’s a cesspool.  A sewer.  A blight upon the world.  It is the cankerous tumor on the backside of the Sword Coast, the Hellhole where the sins of the past are continually revisited upon the sons and daughters of the future.

Luskan.  The City of Shame.  The City of the Damned.

Unfortunately, the life of a sellsword is rarely about going where one wants.  A safe place has little need for soldiers of fortune.  A happy home employs few dogs of war.  No, for those for whom battle is a business, life is not about the creature comforts.  It’s about going where the work is.  It’s about doing what’s necessary to survive and thrive. 

For the sellsword, there’s profit in human misery.  And in Luskan, the misery business is booming.

* * *
You’d seen the note posted in the Warmaster’s Guild House back in Waterdeep.  You’d grabbed it, holding it out to your friends.  “Did you see this?” you’d asked.  “This guy’s offering fifty gold… just for taking a meeting!  Fifty gold!”

Of course, Old Bruno had scoffed.  “Bah!  Only fifty?  It’s hardly a king’s ransom, m’boy.”

“What d’you know about it, Bruno?” you’d fired back.  “All you do is stand here.  Hell, you been standin’ here with a tankard in your hand for damned-near as long as I can remember.”

“I know that young pups ought’a learn to read the fine print.”  Bruno had said, smiling.  He’d pointed with one of his meaty fingers.  “That meetin’ there’s in Luskan.”

“So?  It’s the middle of the gods-damned winter, Bruno.  A man’s got to go where the work is.  No?”  At least, you’d thought, that’s what Master Wu-Tang always said.

“True enough,” Bruno’d replied.  “At least until he learns to save his silvers.  Then he can ride out the winter drinkin’ with Old Bruno.”  With that, the old bastard had laughed.  “Make sure to take yer hat, puppy.  It’s colder than a witch’s teat in Luskan this time o’ year.  But I guess you’ll be learnin’ that the hard way soon enough.”


But he’d been right, of course.  After a week of searching, you’d managed at last to find a caravan headed in the right direction.  You and Heath had signed on as guards, riding heard on a bunch of skinny merchants from the snow-swept lands of Icewind Dale, the lonely, forgotten space that lay north of the Spine of the World.  So far as you knew, those hardy men had been the only people on Toril willing to brave the snow-packed Northern roads at that time of year.  And you’d said goodbye to them earlier in the day.  They’d turned for home a full league short of the city, unwilling to go any closer to Luskan than was absolutely necessary. 

You and Heath had continued on alone. 

For the two of you, today marks the fifteenth day of the journey northward and the tenth in a row in which you’ve seen the sun for less than a pair of hours.  Between the constantly grey, snow-filled skies of the Northern winter and the shortening of the days before the winter solstice, you can hardly remember what a true sky of blue looks like.  Or what it feels like to be warm.  It’s been a cold, lonely road, with barely a farmhouse or roadside inn to break the monotony.  Today in particular has been a hard slog now that the merchants from Icewind Dale have said goodbye.

Ahead of you, dark woods rise one either side of the road, blocking your sightline completely.  Closer on, something you can’t quite put a finger on raises the hairs on the back of your neck.  But there’s nothing to see.  The wind has blown the snow into great mounding piles on either side of the road, and visibility is poor.  Snow—swirling in the air and piling on the ground—prevents your seeing anything beyond about thirty feet, and the fast fading light of day does little to illuminate what little you can actually make out.

You pull your cloak tight.  What is it that’s out there?

Roll a Perception check.  Use the Numbered Paragraphs link.  If you rolled 13 or higher, go to paragraph #32.  If you rolled lower than 13, go to paragraph #7.

Winter Ambush Encounters

 I'm working on a D&D Next Solo Campaign.  You can find that here.


  1. Any chance of just converting the existing solo adventure to DND Next format? Maybe just a class/race/background/level suggestion for the companion?

    1. I could probably do that.

      I've actually been working on a wholly new Solo Campaign using the Next ruleset, but work is progressing VERY slowly. Updating this one would certainly be easier.

  2. I know little about 4th edition, but I know that fighter/cleric/paladin are leader/defenders. Would a Paladin make a good replacement for Heath?

    Also, could this be played without an ally, perhaps by a single third or fourth level Paladin or Cleric?

    1. I built Heath using a bastardization of the Companion Character rules in the 4e version of the DMG2. I mention that because he's kind of a paladin/bard combo already. That said, I intentionally made him LESS useful than a true PC, so that he couldn't essentially win the whole compaign by himself. He needs your help, or he's gonna get smoked badly.

      You could undoubtedly replace him with a Cleric or Paladin, but if you make the Companion a full PC, you'll break the balance of the adventure itself. Similarly, because of the way 4e is balanced, you'll almost certainly rip through the thing wholesale if you go in with a 3rd or 4th level character.

      Sorry it's so limited. Building these is really a lot harder and more time-consuming than it looks. I think that's why this is one of the only ones out there (at least that I know of).

  3. Maybe I'm missing it, but I don't know what paragraph to go to after I finish encounter 1. Neither 7 nor 32, nor the excel document, tell you where to go after you finish the encounter.

    DND Next:
    I played with a level 2 cleric and a level 2 rogue, the pre-gens from the packet. Encounter was tough (I used 4 normal goblins and 2 normal wolves) but manageable.

    1. It depends on what you want to do. Did you open the Encounters Page? It's at the bottom of the write-up for the first enounter:


      The easiest thing to do is to download a copy of the Excel sheet to your own desktop and work from that. In your browser, you'll want to have the Encounters Page and the Numbered Paragraphs open. Did that make sense above? It probably didn't.

      Anyway, what it says at the bottom of that first enounter is:

      You can make any of the skill checks described above, or you can simply continue on with the adventure.
      -- If you choose to simply carry on to Luskan, go to #12.
      -- If you attempt to follow the goblins back to their lair, go to #21.
      -- If you made a Nature Check and succeeded on a DC 19, go to #15.
      To make a History check, go to #3.

    2. Ah. I had the Numbered paragraphs, and I had the Winter_Ambush_Worksheet, but not the Encounters doc. Thanks!

    3. Good.

      Did you see that I put up the first part of the Next Solo quest?


    4. I'll check it out, looks interesting!

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