I recently (about 2 weeks ago) finished up two major D&D campaigns. What a rush! Two such project ending in the very same week! It took me some time to gather my wits for some kind of resume.
This took 3.5 years and was played in 3.5, using quite a lot of house rules, such as recharge magic. It was based on Pazio's Savage Tide adventure path, one of the best series of adventures ever published IMO. One player got ill halfway and we decided to take a break for him to recover; we used that break for a spin-off police story set in Sasserine. Thus, this was two campaigns in one. The main arc was level 1-20 using the adventure path, the other was set in Sasserine and level 1 to 13, centered on the Chimes of Midnight arc. Both used a lot of filler adventures from Dragon.
This took 1.5 years to play and was played in 4E using some house rules, but generally much closer to canon than Savage Tide. Unlike the other campaign I did not use a lot of filler, tough I did insert "Seven Swords of Sin" in the middle. It’s a much more linear adventure path than Savage Tide, and not quite as good IMO, less bristling with opportunities for interesting roleplay, but still exiting and compelling in its own right.
Judging the Edition Wars?
I should be in a perfect position to judge the edition wars, just having finished two such great projects in the two competing systems? Not really. First, my answer to which system is best only applies to me, my group, and our tastes. Secondly, we only used a tiny part of the 4E rules (the classes my players choose to use), and my version of 3.5 was heavily house ruled.
Comparing 3.5 (heavily modified) to 4.0 and thinking on what system to use in the future, I settled on neither. My next project, to tentatively start this weekend will be using homebrew rules loosely based on the Feng Shui rpg. If I had to choose between 3.5 and 4-0, I think I’d choose 3.5, but not by any great margin.
The problem with 3.5 is mainly the prep time. I really don’t want to spend that much time and effort preparing for play, and I don’t have any really good electronic tools to help me either. This means I am more or less bound to using published scenarios as written. The humongous stat blocks are also hard to read and use in play – 4E really improved the DMs side of the screen. The player’s side of the screen works much better. My players were mostly happy with the rules, thinking they were versatile, not that hard to use, and gave a great variety of options in and out of combat.
The problems with 4E are the mechanics. They are slow and cumbersome, and the structure with encounter/daily powers did not sit well with the group. Combat is not swingy enough for our tastes, which makes it seem grindy and unexciting. We tried half hit points for a while, but that meant fights felt like they finished before you had time to use your encounter powers. Basically, the gamism is at fault because it didn’t mesh with out play style and expectations. In 4E, the problems are mainly on the player’s side of the screen. That said, the group was heavily divided, with some liking 4E quite a lot and others hating it.
But the major problem is actually common to both systems, even if 4E had them to a greater degree. And this problem is classes, builds, and the linear probability distribution of the d20. 4E in particular is very centered on the classes and the various pre-prepared builds. If what you want to play falls just a little outside the given builds, it’s very hard to realize. And some builds are missing – in 4E there is no such thing as a Dex-based leader or an Int-based arcane melee striker, both of which were in demand IMC. This problem is less pronounced in 3.5, but once you notice it the issues carry over; the level 20 druid IMC was pretty happy with her (house ruled) class package deal, but not perfectly happy. The same is true for the 20th level ranger. And the two prestige/multi class builds sure worked, but had lots of little oddities and were very dependent on specific prestige classes – and there is not a prestige class for every role you might want to play. Some game values – such as saving throws and non-armor-class defenses – end up way out of sync with what the game expects. On top of this comes the very concept of a “build” – that you have to plan ahead in order to purchase every feat and option in the right order so that they all add up. All too gamey for me, I want to concentrate on role, not build - I can do builds in MMOs. I also find I dislike the linear probability distribution of the d20, where a modifier has such a different effect depending on which part of the probability scale you are in – I’ve come to appreciate the pyramidal probability distribution of 2d6. That’s why I’m going to try out a non-DnD, non-class system using 1d6 -1d6 for a while.
So, what were the high moments of each campaign? For me personally, a great moment in Savage Tide was at the very end, when Iggliv disintegrated the wall of stone blocking entrance to the room where the players were fighting Demogorgon, stepped out of the mist, and used the Flask of Turney the Mad to capture Demogorgon’s soul.
A lovely recurring theme was crocodiles – one player had to use a fate point to survive a crocodile encounter at level 2, and crocodiles continued to plague the players for much of the arc, cumulating with the great crock in the lake of Tamoachan. That one made for a great pair of crocodile boots!
From Rise of the Runelords, the scene from The Skinsaw Murders where the players pursued a ghost through an entire haunted house, tough a secret door they had failed to notice earlier, trough ghoul warrens, and into a confrontation with the main villain - who was lusting after one of the PCs and the brother of another, and those two were the only ones who got by all the monsters on the way down to see the climactic scene – the others arrived pell-mell as they could.
And again, the final fight (that I had to re-script completely), an airborne conflict in a great empty room, with mages on the ground acting as Flak guns and players having to hitch fly boosts from each other.
In toto, I am very happy with both these campaigns, and as I said I am up and at it again this Saturday – even if that campaign proper will not start until the end of summer I want to thank all the wonderful players who participated,. I also want to thank these boards that gave me a lot of ideas, particularly for the 4E game, and Scott Betts and the Rusty Dragon blog that helped me trough the early levels. Finally, a big thank you to Pazio and the crew there that made it all possible as well as WotC and the game designers behind both editions of DnD.
My players could not stand by and watch as Crimson was slowly torn to bits by Malcaeneth's court. M's agent assumed responsibility for Crimson and they took her aboard the Sea Wyvern.
So, now is the question; what kind of plots should this lead to? Crimson is depressed now, and the players thought they saw a glimmer of redemption in her - which is fairly much projection, as my party is a bunch of very Good people. Still, I don't want to hose them because they want to be nice.
I need some crux and plots to develop the situation. I depicted Crimson as very goth, very much about drama, and incredibly self-centered. Basically, if she could not get Malcaenet's attention in some other way, she was ok with being torn to shreds in order to satisfy her own egotism.
I am planning to have Iggliv somewhat amused and the rest of the "people" they will meet during the AP pretty much ignore Crimson. What I'm mainly looking for is some interesting developments with Crimson herself.
Thanks for the index.
Based on earlier work by Jay A. Hafner and others I made a Google document Index for Dungeon Issue 1-150 with the scenario list in table form . It has some points that are not of general interest (if I played the scenario or not, and in what campaign I am planning to use it), but I can still share it.
Since others can't sort the document, I made several pages, sorting by issue, level, and scenario name (and hiding the personal notes).
I also included the scenarios that used to be on Wizard's Webiste into this list (Issue listed as File instead of a number). Last I looked, they were still available on the Wizards of the Coast Website.
Hey! I noticed there were some "new" scenarios on that link that I didn't have! These obviously are not included.
In Rise of the Runelords I, Cyrdak Drokkus is a homosexual theater owner exiled to the small town of Sandpoint from the nearby city of Magnimaar. I am now running the 5th part of the adventure path, and my players have asked for an interlude where they stage a play one of them has written.
I thought it would be a nice part of this interlude to have the players redeem Cyrdak Drokkus and restore him to the good graces of the good people of Magnimaar. But I must admit I am bereft of ideas. The players will be lvl 21 (4E, equivalent to around lvl 14 in 3E), and even if the task is not really expected to be a challenge for them, I want it to be meaningful. And the fact that they are not fighting an evil mastermind, but rather public opinion, makes it doubly hard.
I've been thinking of adding some kind of sinister shadow presence for them to cross, but I really don't have much of a lead for it, so I decided to ask here.
I've been thinking that a World of Greyhawk where the Savage Tide failed might be a cool place to adventure. I know Greyhawk is no longer something Paizo can work on, but I figure these fora can still be a place of fan discussion.
If we stay with the campaign arc's number of shadow pearls, I think they were only about 70 - considering the chaotic organization behind the Savage Tide, that would hardly be enough to cause more than a wave of terror. But imagine a genuinely successful Shadow Pearl blowout - with most large cities blown away. The situation is in many ways similar to the postapocalyptic games that bloomed around 1985. Most larger cities have been "nuked", but important people got away (save DCs are modest). The area of destruction is not huge (only a mile in radius each); the outlying areas of large cities would be spared, only to be savagely attacked by transformed inner city citizens - many still somewhat recognizable. Many cities would be "zombie towns" full of the transformed and those infected. Others will have curtained-of badlands where all the monsters live. Small bands of infected would prowl outlying areas, attack outlying settlements and provide a general menace. The largest cities, like Greyhawk, Dyvers, and Rel Astra, would probably survive because of their powerful guardians and large size. Rural states, like Nyrond, Furyondy, and all hinterland areas, would hardly be affected at all. The emerging city culture of Greyhawk would be setback, but not destroyed. Trade would grind to a halt with so many hubs of communication disrupted, but would soon resume at a much reduced scale.
Recovery could take decades - or maybe just years, depending on resources and heroes to lead. It would be a points of light setting initially, but with a known map and known objectives. Nations would come in to "succor" wounded cites, no doubt re-igniting old political conflicts like the independence of Dyvers. And once the old safe places are saved, the larger world looms.
Monsters in the hinterlands would not be affected at all, and would start raiding the weakened civilized areas. Ius' state seems largely rural, but would probably be disrupted by the loss of key marshaling fortresses. Also, the infected in this area would be particularity vicious because of the high concentrations of military force there. The Great Kingdom would be largely intact but politically beheaded; it is a rural economy, but all the political power is in urban areas. A great opportunity for an insurgent campaign in either of these places.
And finally, there is old monkey-boy himself and his minions, greatly strengthened and with a new unity. The chaos would engender apocalyptic cults, many demon-worshippers. The cults of various demon lords would be warring against each other. Powers like Iggliw that opposed the new king of demons will be in hiding and might have to be sought out for their knowledge. There will be a civil war among the succubi, with a weakened Malcaenet rivaled by the likes of Red Shroud and Shami-Amourae.
Overall, it will be a very chaotic world, and adventurers thrive on chaos.
My players just woke up the dragon at Divided's Ire. They cast control winds to cover their passage across the bridge. The storm lasts for hours and is big enough to block all bridges but one and the volcano . They then ran from the enemies still inside and ended up inside before the dragon awakened.
So, what will it do now? Its a pretty stupid beastie (Int 8) and lacks any Spellcraft or Knowledge skills, so it doesn't really know what happened, only that a tornado is throwing chunks of its beloved magama all over the place. I guess this is the kind of thing that can happen in the Abyss, but hasn't in a long time, so the dragon is too pissed to just go back to sleep.
Should it start tearing up the buildings? The tornado is mildly dangerous to it (Fort save +26 vs DC 30), so it would begin with some building not in the storm, which basically gives it a 50% chance to pick the building the players are in. They would have plenty of warning as it would take a bit of time to get through the very solid roof.
It could also simply hover outside and wait - sooner or later someone will walk outside. Its not like dragons lack patience.
As an aside, there are no demons outside any longer - most were swept away by the tornado and ended up outside the Forbiddance effect. They are very happy now - but won't be so happy when the secondary compulsion hits them, probably going to great pains to get even for this cruel "prank".
We just finished Serpents of Scuttlecove,and Harliss is triumphant. it was she who stuck the final blow to Cold Captain Wythers, she used his head to intimidate the crew, and she personally stuck down the last of the opposing pirate captains.
The question is; what to do now? My players (very much into the good amd redemption thing) are debating whether to give her the crystal ball with telepathy, to try and let her lead and reform the Crimson Pirates. However, even if they do not recognize Demogorgon's leadership any longer, they are still the scum of the high seas.
Good times was had by all! And a big thanks to all the people who made illustrations to show the structure of The Wreck; we really found these graphics useful.
Quoted from the Downtown thread:
Peruhain of Brithondy wrote:
Actually, Lavinia helped set it up. This is how it went; My players marooned Rowyn after the incident in In the Sea-Wyvern's Wake. She ended up in Scuttlecove and got recruited to the Crimson Pirates. Rather roughly too. While she didn't protest at the time (smart girl), she didn't like how they treated her. She joined the assault on Farshore but ran away at the first opportunity.
Meanwhile, the players had picked up another bunch of colonists from Dragon Hunters (Dungeon #104) on a small island on the way. While Prince Henri and his cohorts most certainly were not of the same culture or alignment as the players, they decided his case was not hopeless and that taking him along was the best solution. Conveniently, there was room on the Blue Nixie as the passengers had eaten about half of the food stores. Prince Henri enjoyed Lavina's company a lot, tough not of that of the Jade Ravens. After the pirate attack on Farshore, Prince Henri was put in charge of keeping the pirate prisoners on his plantation - the task of being a prison warden being distasteful to my group. Most of the pirates were saved from death and captured - my players are quite pacifistic and very good in outlook.
As one of the more charismatic escapees, Rowing gathered many runaway pirates around her, then contacted Prince Henri with a deal; she'd give up all her pirate prisoners in return for a full pardon. The heroes were reluctant, but both Lavinia ad Prince Henri supported the idea, and it was accepted. Rowyn ended up living on Prince Henri's plantation (Farshore wasn't large enough for both her and the heroes), and the two became an item and finally got married. Her opportunism and quick thinking (CE) complements his steadfast and methodological approach to life (LE), tough neither is as evil as they were at the beginning.
About a year later, all adventures on the Isle of Dread resolved, the PCs arranged a reconciliation between Prince Henri and his mother, who I now (level 15) decided was actually the acting regent of Ahlissa. This was largely possible because Prince Henri has so obvioulsy settled down and "grown up" as his mother would say, getting married , building a plantation, and giving up the ambition for immediate warfare. With Prince Henri restored to the succession in Ahlissa, Rowyn ended up as a princess of that realm.
I don't expect this arc of the campaign to ever visit Ahlissa again, but I'm thinking of placing the Curse of the Crimson Throne in the Great Kingdom, where this act of charity could affect things greatly. I'd not go as far as placing Rowyn as the queen of the Crimson Throne, tough ow that I think of it... This will need more thought.
I have a system of Metamagic that keeps low-level spells attractive at higher levels. Basically, the idea is that you can metamagic any spell up to the level of the highest level spell you know, thus keeping low-level spells viable and reducing the 15-minute-mage problem.
I'm posting it here, and hope it makes some sort of sense:
Starfox's House Rule wrote:
Add to this my modified version of Heighten spell:
Starfox's House Rule wrote:
page 16 wrote:
Dies this mean that the bond is optional; that the wizard has EITHER a familiar or a bonded object? Or does it mean he has both, and MIST have a bonded object to cast spells?
I think the intent is that the bonded object is mandatory and the familiar optional. This means you can disarm a wizard by taking away their bonded object, which is good from a story perspective. But its not very clear on this point.
page 14 wrote:
Can we get rid of this 3.5 inheritance? At least the part about concealment? The bad thing about it is that rogues should be masters of combat in shadowy conditions. Now, they're not - dim lightning gives a miss chance, and that kills off Sneak Attack.
Page 12 wrote:
I feel this is too restrictive and encourage fighter to be one-weapon-ponies. I suggest the following instead:
In my example, a fighter adds +4 to one, +3 to two, +2 to three, or +1 to four weapons at level 20. In the original, a fighter has a +5 bonus to spread over all groups.
Check out the last item on the
WotC Announcement wrote:
Isn't this exactly why so many companies stopped using the d20 license? Because WotC claimed a right to force publishers to withdraw undesirable products? Or is there some other meaning?
How will third-party publishers react to this?
We just finished this chapter, and I must say the fight at the end was stunning. My party sleuthed their way to the pyramid with the help of some illusions, but got spotted in the room of eyes. Hearing the boss below casting spells on himself (I am fairly strict about spells having a Listen DC of 0, and the distractions weren't enough) they charged down, and much hilarity ensued.
In the end, the 8 proto-shadow pearls found here and the one they got earlier was left in the hardening Black Bile of the World. They figured that once it hardened it would be tough enough to keep just about anyone out. I had foreshadowed this and played up the toughness of the material, so IMC this makes complete sense.
The Eye of Tlaloc was religiously avoided just as I expected, only now they plan to go there to check out its properly defended. Wonder how they'll like the current defender.
The best idea of the evening was to release a Shadow Pearl and trigger a Savage Tide in the Cavern as a distraction. Though it wasn't done because it was an evil act, particularly to the poor troglodyte slaves, it was still a very, very cool idea.
Given the open nature of the campaign and that many DMs will expand on the published materials, it is inevitable that some players will get a hold of shadow pearls. Mine run a high risk now when I'm running a modified Porphyry House of Horror - guess what's the key catalyst in the creation of Devil's Breath?
Assuming they are basically Good, how should they dispose of them?
The easiest way is to go to a desolate area, trigger the pearl, then get the abyss out of there. However, doing so is a major Chaotic and Evil act.
When Vanthus triggered the pearl in Farshore, the solution was to have a summoned archon teleport to the Endless Waste with it. But any summoned Lawful or Good outsider will refuse to trigger the pearl. Asking a Slaad is asking for trouble, assuming they could even summon one.
Any other ideas out there? Any DMs faced this?
In the new (sob) Dungeon 151 posted on Wizard's site, there is an updated version of the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Since I am running STAP with many extra insert adventures (and half xp rate), I am considering using this. However, it might make the players hate Iggliw too much to be duped/cooperate with her. It might also be too big; even at half xp gain, it seems large enough for people to gain several levels. Finally, it is in the wrong part of the world (I play in Greyhawk), but a party at this level can be fairly mobile.
Any thoughts on this?
The later part of STAP assumes the players are motivated to bring the Sea Wyvern along - even to the abyss. Bringing a low-level crew to the abyss seems downright absurd, even using the leadership feat. But maybe a little creative reading of the rules can make it more attractive (as I love the idea of sailing the abyssal seas).
First, I changed the Leadership feat as it applies to followers, adding one level to all followers per four character levels. I don't really recommend this for everyone (there are probably lots of misuse potential), but for my rather play-nice group, it works well. This gives the crew a tiny bit of staying power. It is also a nice place to put some minor NPCs for social interaction - they even reformed Soller Vark from the very first adventure and have him as a provost on board. :)
Second, I decreed that the Sea Wyvern is a place . You can teleport to it if you have studied it. You can cast hallow and other location-based spells on it. This makes it quite useful in the abyss and when vile damage starts appearing.
I downloaded the Pathfinder 1 - Burnt Offerings I got as a part of my subscription. Sad to say, IP issues has made it useless. I was using Photoshop to extract images from the Dungeon online supplements, but because this document is password protected, I cannot do so here. And what use is the PDF if I cannot print handouts, maps etc from it?
I have access to a 24 inch printer and print out maps in 25 mm scale. Since I cannot do that from Pathfinder, I will probably never use the modules, which of course means I will most likely cancel my subscription as soon as the "free" issues I got from converting my Dungeon and Dragon subs run out. If they are truly excellent, I could scan from the print version and print out in poster size, but that's less quality for more work and makes the product less appealing.
Sad, because the material otherwise looks good.
Since it gives a chance to shine on the social scene, I think my players will be fairly interested in the election of Lord Mayor of Farshore.
As detailed under Vanderboren Estate and Meravanchi Manor (Dungeon 143 p 65), you can campaign for either of these as Lord Mayor. Doing so entails a DC 20 Diplomacy check, and gains 1d10 converts to the cause. Failure results in 1d10 converts to the opposition. For every 10 points you beat the DC, you gain 1d10 additional converts.
Isn't losing 1d10 people to the opposition for a simple failure a bit harsh? Avner Meravanchi is campaigning for his uncle; his +9 Diplomacy gives him only a break even chance. +9 is fairly competent. He could just as well not bother for all the effect he will have, statistically speaking.
I think only a poor Diplomacy check should entail a loss. Say if you fail to roll 10.
Also, since Avner can campaign, can either Lavinia (Diplomacy +25) or Manthalay Meravanchi (No stats, but since he is an aristocrat and eighth level I suppose Diplomacy around +15 to +20) campaign for themselves? It might be that they have a gentleman's agreement not to, which would be a loss to Lavinia, or it might be that they are both too busy. Or it might simply be subsumed into the bustle of NPC activity in the town, but then Avner shouldn't campaign either since he is an NPC too.
I am inserting a slightly upgraded Torrents of Dread from Dungeon 114 into STAP. I think the zombie master will intrigue my players, and they might look up his mentor. Can I find more information on him anywhere?
It says in the original Zombie Master is a lich "living" in the Fangs of Zotzilaha. You visit a Shrine of Zotzilaha in Tides of Dread. Is there any relation?
And finally, is there any published scenario that would fit the bill of being the lich's lair?
Copied from another, less appropriate place.
The new Rise of the Runelords players guide got me thinking.
Having just got my players to actually like Greyhawk 1/3 through the STAP campaign, I wonder if I should use Varisia in its own world or in Greyhawk. I figured out where I would put it; to the east of the Great Kingdom, across the sea, as a lost colony of said Great Kingdom. The back stories match decently enough. Of course, there will be loads of details that needs to change, and once the players go continent-hopping, things might go critical.
I mainly want to avoid introducing a new pantheon of gods; though the pantheon of Varisia is mercifully small and simple, some of my players are getting attached to the Greyhawk gods.
Of course, by the time we are done with STAP, the entire Rise of The Runelords run will have come and gone, along with lots of supplemental material. So by then I'll know a lot more.
Anyone else gave a thought to this?
The new Rise of the Rulenods players guide got me thinking.
Having just got my players to actually like Greyhawk 1/3 through the STAP campaign, I wonder if I should use Varisita (the new Pazio setting) in its own world or in Greyhawk. I figured out where I would put it; to the east of the Great Kingdom, across the sea, as a lost colony of said Great Kingdom. The back stories match decently enough. Of course, there will be loads of details that needs to change, and once the players go continent-hopping, things might go critical.
I mainly want to avoid introducing a new pantheon of gods; though the pantheon of Varisita is mercifully small and simple, some of my players are getting attached to the Greyhawk gods.
Anyone else gave a thought to this?
PS: Maybe it is time for a new Rise of the Runelords sub-forum here at Paizo, and if so this thread belongs there and not in transition.
I'm about to run the storm at the end of Sea Wyvern's Wake. Because the players have various abilities that make a storm hitting them out of nowhere unlikely, I've decided to let Emrag the Dragon Turtle make an introductory appearance.
The PCs spot the Isle of Dread, and as they approach they might or might not spot the Dragon Turtle spying on them. Either way Emrag casts Control Weather to cause the storm, figuring it can always clean out the wreck later.
I know Dragon Turtles are not normally spellcasters, but my players are not rules-lawyers (at least not where monsters are concerned) so I can easily get away with this. I simply give him Control Weather as a spell-like ability 1/week. CL = HD, (25), so no worries about dispel. It should build some animosity against him for later. Of course, they might go our of their way to hunt him down once they get powerful enough.
* Can anyone find a serious flaw in this as a plot development?
There have been no online supplements for Dungeon since #143. Which is a shame, really, as they do save a lot of work making handouts, tactical maps and such.
Can we please get these again, so I can keep up the great production values my players have become used to?
Ok, so not everyone can print 38 inch wide maps from a roll, but I know some people are using projectors and so on; production values keep PnP RPGs competitive.
I posted in another thread that the Blue Nixie is much larger thanthe Sea Wyvern from the maps we are given in the scenario. One of my players is into modeling, and has made models to use for these two ships. The models are to scale with the maps in Dungeon, and you can really see the difference.
I'm not a regular at the WotC website - it is too messy for me. But I'd like to stay on top of whatever their "online initiative" is. Basically this is a request for WotC to advertise in the Pazio newsletter. Op perhaps I'm just counting on the crowd here to report whatever initiative they take.
I'm willing to give WotC the benefit of the doubt here. I am hoping they have some form of plan, because as market leader their plans are important and it would be a disaster to the hobby if they didn't.