The black crown on purple is the sign of the Nothing-King. The strange and enigmatic figure ruling over the Chasm of the Nothing-King, where the Adder Hills used to be. The Adder Hills, of course, are now floating over head, being the problem to shit that can fly. The goblin fight was not without perils though, as deadly, deadly, bees swarmed all over two of the players and made an official Bad Time for them.
Eventually the group gets to their launching point, the town of Maerchlin, where they discover that the item they need to recover is an axe that was, at one point supposedly, wielded by the Red Dragon God-King in the execution of those that had personally betrayed him. The town, though it has numerous other problems, citizens being kidnapped, the town being attacked by strange shadow creatures, and the occasional murder by beings made out of the night sky, was saddened by the loss of this object, which was apparently perpetrated by two large crystalline spiders.
This task was decided upon from 6-8 possible avenues for adventure the group could have chosen. They decided they wanted to kill some goblins to start off with and chose the area in which they knew they could find goblins. To be fair, that is the first thing they did. So, mission accomplished!
Shortly there after, the party found itself in a strange chasm, filled with giant mushrooms, strange faintly glowing fungi, twisted and blackened trees, being overlooked far in the distance by an exceedingly large and strange guard tower. The group made some stealth checks and nature rolls to remain hidden. They tracked their strange quarry to a spring which had been redirected to make a small lake. They found some boats and began to cross the lake, about half way across, the horror struck.
OH SHIT! SNAKES!
So, this was the first time in any 4e game in which water combat was a concern. It was an eye opener for all of us. The combat, which consisted of two large serpents, two foulspawn, and one water dervish, was eventually won by the PCs, but it was ugly. The foulspawn did not have cowboy hats. I wanted them to, though.
There are several lessons I learned from this combat as a DM, and that the players learned as players.
1) If you have water creatures that never leave the water, advantage water creature. The players and I both learned this lesson simultaneously.
2) When you have a water creature that only deals damage in water, and it's a flat out, that creature can be devastating if not immediately handled in some fashion.
3) Clumping is still bad, even in water.
4) 2d8 is a lot of damage at 3rd-4th. Those snakes were awful. Their bite did 2d8 damage and then had a chance of 2d4 and 5 ongoing after that. They had a tail swipe that did 2d8, only once but wow. Now, they were easy to hit, and their hit ratings weren't great, but damn. That's a lot of damage at 3rd-4th.
5) Consider giving players a way to increase their defenses after a particularly devastating round of combat with a skill check of some sort. This is something I was thinking about after the session. Yes there is total defense, but that's your action. Encouraging situation appropriate RP and tactics should give some sort of bonus. If you got snake slapped, attempting to use the snakes own tail as cover the next round isn't a bad thing to allow. Using athletics or acrobatics to latch on to the snake as it flails to increase your defenses would be cool. Allowing a bluff or intimidate check after being critically hit to shake the morale of the enemy would be cool. I am pretty sure I am going to incorporate this, I just need to fully think of how.
6) Snake Rape might replace Drake Rape as the most common reptilian sex crime.