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If you want to change the final chapter: do you have "the witchwar legacy"? You could use that one as well.
Since one of my players wanted to play a rebel/revolutionary, I adapted her background story in order to make her character one of the Heralds. My group will be starting on The shackled hut this weekend. They are mostly very experienced players and heavily into roleplaying. My problem is a luxury problem, namely that they always take too many NPCs along. They attacked the Pale Tower with Nadya and her 4 warriors, Emil Goltiaeva (long story; they more or less set up Emil and Katrina against each other), Iziamir the blacksmith, Hatch and several Pale Tower guards, one of which was charmed. The others were more or less converted to the revolution (after consuming lots of alcoholic beverages and having to listen to a long political speech, made by the rebel character, accompanied by a successful diplomacy check).
I do not think letting them suffer the consequences of their actions vindictive. So let them go away on their own and see what they make of it. You can always have Nadya turn up later and help them. Moreover players will not appreciate it if you force an NPC upon them, so if they do not want to take her along, that might also be OK.
If they are sympathetic to rebellious characters, it is also possible to link Nadya to the Heralds and introduce them a lot earlier in the campaign.
Is there any possibility to link Nadya to the background story of one of the PCs? That is what I did, and it works every time.
They convinced Jairess to help them, and then she told them that Radosek was interested in her. Then the bard seriously considered the plan of dressing up as Jairess in order to 'seduce' Radosek. Since he did not have enough ranks in disguise, the plan was ultimately discarded. Ultimately they managed to defeat Radosek in 3 rounds or so.
My players seem to kill everything in sight. They killed Izoze right away (though she managed to severely wound the sorcerer) and they killed the doll after a very difficult and prolonged fight. They then set the hut on fire, to which I ruled that Hommelstaub spotted the smoke and tried to surprise them in the night. He almost succeeded. But this meant that Hommelstaub was already dead when they arrived at the portal. Luckily the troll put up a good fight and the sprites managed to lure 2 people into the pit (such fun!).
If you use 3.5 rules, consider making Rowyn a thrall of Malcathet (from Dragon 353).
She tried to steal Demogorgon's throne from under the PCs' noses, but failed in the end. However, it was quite a surprise for the players that she turned up in the end.
Thanks for your feedback, Tangent101 and Zhangar. And as this is the DM thread, you do not really need to use spoiler buttons here.
My players are interested in solving the Baba Yaga problem. It might be that they will try to attack and kill her, but it might also be that they will try to negotiate with her about another route to immortality without having to kill her daughters (they do not know about killing the daughters yet, but they suspect things and I think I know how my players will react). The Dutch Wikipedia had an item on Baba Yaga where she makes tea from the leaves of blue roses, with which she can prolong her life. My idea was to run a double adventure at the end: first Witchwar legacy, in which they find a reference to blue roses. Then they have to use the hut to return to this world and travel to a monastery in Tibet, the Sera monastery in Lhasa. This will consist of a trek through the Himalaya searching for the monastery, followed by enemy parties (I do not know yet who or what they are, but they will probably have modern weaponry) and fighting yetis and other monsters. They can find the roses in the Sera monastery (the name is derived from se ra, which is Tibetan for wild rose). Or perhaps in the monastery they can find the wisdom to discover the roses. Since the PCs have a lot of very intense personal plotlines running (mostly childhood traumas), these can also be resolved in the monastery (and they can find personal enlightenment here).
My group took a number of villagers along to the Pale Tower (Nadya, Hatch, Iziamir the smith, Emil Goltiaeva (long story, but basically they got him away from his wife). Since there are 5 PCs, this makes for a very large group. I am going to solve this by letting the defenders come in groups with only a short pause in-between. So far it has been very exciting doing this and things are still dangerous enough (2 PCs nearly died in the first fight, against a number of guards, the troll and the elemental from the hot pool).
I am now preparing the second book and I am adding an adventure from "Tales of the Old Margrave", namely "Challenge of the fang". It is basically a darker version of Little Red Riding Hood. I am adding the encounter because I wanted to expand on the rimepelt storyline. My group can take the rimepelt from one of the wolves in this adventure (which I will be changing into winter wolves).
There is another thread already about music, so I am not going to advise any music here (just check out Russian composers), but I would like to add one inspiring book series to the list, which I hope is still in print:
This series perfectly captures the atmosphere of this campaign.
I am adding some fairy tales to the campaign, e.g. the adventure "Challenge of the fang" from "Tales of the old Margreve" (from Open Design/Kobold Games), which is a Russian/Slavic version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Just a bit of brainstorming from me...
You could give the mantle powers that are activated by different events, just like mythic tiers. At first the mantle only works to give the PCs entrance to the hut. Later it gets extra powers.
If you go the dr. Who way, the hut, like the Tardis, could have a will of its own. Then you do not need the keys at all, since the hut determines where it goes. Perhaps Baba Yaga has preprogrammed it for those wearing the mantle, or the hut just responds to Baba Yaga's need. Perhaps you could even make the hut intelligent.
As for Artrosa: an extra reason to go there could be that Kostchtchie wants the hut for himself. I myself am thinking of situating the third adventure on the 3 x 10th kingdom (which is part of the first world), and then adding Russian fairy tale motiffs, such as the firebird. This means that Kostchtchie gets a more Russian flavor in my campaign and that he will be a direct enemy of Baba Yaga.
I get what you are saying about the fourth adventure and more or less agree. Though it is an exciting adventure, it does not feel like a part of the campaign to me, except for the winter theme. I am still brainstorming about it. Perhaps I will do something with the dragon theme, as a dragon theme seems to be creeping into my campaign. Probably I am going to elaborate on that. Perhaps I will also make the dragons more Russian. There are some Russian type dragons, such as the zmey. I think there is one in the Irrisen book as well.
Very cool beginning (literally!), ryschwith!
It is even more funny if you know that the player has political ambitions (in Irrisen) for this character. Also he does not pray to any god, because 'religion is opium for the people'.
My group consists of:
Aleksej: NG human bard (basically a Russian ballet dancer)
Last weekend we had our second Reign of Winter session. My players did something I never expected and I want to share it, because it was so surprising and may perhaps inspire you.
They met with the three winter-touched sprites, which was a tough fight, but they managed. They even managed to capture one of the sprites. Now one of my players is playing a druid who is interested in the workings of the body. So he was wondering whether the fey really had an ice shard in their hearts, as told by Yuln Oerstag. So they decided to pummel the sprite unsconscious. Then they cut it open to see its heart. So I told them: "Are you sure? Since this will probably kill it." Yes, they were sure. So I rolled damage for cutting open the sprite. It survived the damage (I rolled a 1). So they saw the ice shard in its heart and then decided to remove it. Again I rolled for damage, and again I rolled a 1. So I told them: "the sprite is bleeding to death. You will need to stabilize it, but since it is its heart, you will need needle and thread!" Then one of the other players, the bard (basically a gay Russian ballet dancer), said: "I have needle and thread". He had indeed bought needle and thread. I then let them roll a heal check, and rolled very high, with aid another. In other words, they saved the sprite's life, and it no longer had an ice shard in its heart. Later that evening they managed the same procedure again (and again successfully, now using cure spells as well) with Fawfein (he almost died). This means they now have two no longer winter-touched fey accompany them, who are very grateful for saving them from the Jadwiga witches.
If I want to give my players clues, I just let them roll an appropriate knowledge check if they have one. Then if they roll high enough (and usually there is one player who does), I give them the relevant information. This usually works.
- emphasize the weirdness of the underground environment in TLD; it really freaked my players out;
Yes, I agree.
Another solution is to make shorter high-level adventures. There are lots of ways to link adventures, so that would not be a problem.
A third solution is perhaps to make the environment more dangerous, so that the NPC stats need not be so high, i.e. introduce general rules to make the adventure tactically more dangerous.
I would like to see high-level adventures in general. I have an enormous collection of adventures, but I always notice I have more and more difficulty finding relevant adventures when my players reach high levels. This starts around level 12 and gets worse from level 16 onwards.
I was already beginning to wonder whether I was the only one to notice the parallel. I have a number of Doctor Who fans in my group (at least two, excluding me), so there will certainly be Tardis comments I guess. I was also toying with the idea of using the Tardis noise when the group is switching from one adventure to another. It is surely appropriate.
Thanks for your feedback, Canadian Bakka! Unfortunately we have finished the Savage Tide about a month ago, but perhaps these gruesome ideas will be useful some other time, or they will inspire others.
We will be starting Reign of Winter tonight with the same group, + one extra player. Again they have thought up some pretty weird characters, so who knows I am going to need some other gruesome initiation in the near future :-)
One of my PCs was lawful evil. She had a strong connection with Glasya, and of course devils do not want a savage tide. It will disrupt all their fiendish political manipulations on prime material worlds.
I am going to run this for a party of five and am just going to add a zombie or elemental here and there. Adding low-level creatures is usually better than giving the main villains extra levels. Alternatively you could make the snow more dangerous or add more random encounters.
TBA, of course I will be watching this forum and commenting when I have ideas.
Carborundum, I hope you will get to finish the campaign one day. When the children are older, you will have more time, and hopefully new players :-)
Last night my PCs finally did it: defeat Demogorgon and once and for all end the threat of the Shadow Pearls.
This was a great campaign. We had a lot of fun, and a great final evening with some memorable fights, especially against St. Kargoth, and the final one against the Prince of Demons, which was still tough after all the PCs had done to weaken him.
We will be starting a different campaign soon. I have had my PCs choose one from several campaigns and they have chosen Reign of Winter. Very apt, with the Olympic Winter Games going on in Russia at the moment. And something very different from the Savage Tide!