my AoW campaign is about to come to an end after 18 months of play. Unfortunatly it seems that the ending will be not as fortunate as it should be and I feel that an unfortunate mishap will ruin the experience of the campaign to both players and DM.
Here is what happend:
My group just killed Dragotha (man, what a fight!). Then they scryed Lashonna. Spontanelously I decided that they spot Lashonna together with some blessed angels and some Kyuss knights on top of the Alhaster spire doing some praying to the Kyuss monolith. The group so should get an impression on the thuner storm above Alhaster, the chaos going around in the streets and so on...
Unfortunalty they spontaneously decided to power themselves up and teleport to the spire right away to confront Lashonna! According to the information given in the module, going directly to the top of the spire without killing Kyuss minions first and doing several other things will really make the task impossible to kill Kyuss. Well, Lyashonna goes down in a single round as she spoiled 2 saves (I rolled a 2 and a 4!): The psion made 340 HP using a maximized augmented Disintegrate followed by a lucky sunburst from the wizard for another 60 HP.
What I do not want is to get the PCs defeated next evening. I want to come to a heroic ending, but how to help them without spoiling the game? Divine interaction is not the right way :)
One idea is to let Manzorian emerge using a timestop or something to bring them the Sphere of Anhiliation. I also might rule to deprive Kyuss of some of his divine powers as if the PCs has managed to fullfill all the other tasks of the module.
Right after coming to Alhaster, I let the PCs witness the execution of two traitors, Raknian and his Assassin cohort. (Great idea stolen from another post here somewhere. Many thanks to the author!) Shortly thereafter the crowd was scattered by Blessed Angels and the PCs overhears some peasants complaining about the "police force".
The banquet does not work with my PCs and came out to be rather boring so I cut it down to the final meeting with Lashonna.
Has anybody ever tried to run around more than a minute with a dime in his mouth beside wading into combat or be engaged in other physical action? You normally should roll a Reflex save every few seconds not to swallow it or let it drop off your mouth AND a Fortitude save vs drowning in mouth-water AND a Will save against the urge to spit out that metallic tasting stuff.
I Love prismatic spray...
And our wizard also did not made his save vs plane shift - too bad. I decided that he should not have an easy way back as otherwiese the effect of the spell is just of hom having a few rounds of combat off.
As we are playing on Eberron I ruled that Dolurrh, the domain of the dead was his destination. As per the Campaing source book, there is actually no way back from Dolurrh.
However: after spending a few weeks of game time the group finally met their wizward again on their way to Alhaster. All they noticed was his slightly altered attidude and his pale skin... I made him a vampire, the daywalker style, that uses make up to be able to walk around in sunlight. And yes, this opens up a few roleplaying opportunities within the group. The cleric knows but struggles with himself if he should destroy him or save him somehow. Our Psion Kalashtar lady who is in love with the wizard is looking for ways to help him and most others did not yet noticed...
very cool story, Strachan!
My party has the same troubles with the box and is still carrying the thing with them - unopened - and they are in Alhaster now! They hired a high level thief to open the box but that guy miserably failed his discable trap check. They used the box to trap Ilthane with a very good placed Bluff check in GoW.
As with Raknian, there is a fine post somewhere els in this group. Where somebody let Raknian and his assassin cohort be publically executed by Prince Zeech in PoR. I used this when my group get to Alhaster and it has a great effect on the partys mood.
My group took a two way strategy as some are in the cenoby while others are outside in Free City.
1. If a player is to roll up on a higher starter level, I give them the appropriate amout of money to buy his equipment. No PC will reach 10th level without some magic stuff.. The DMG gives some advice on starting money for higher levels.
2. I let it totally up to the party to decide what their level of support for a new fellow might be. In fact: Who decides that they will LIKE the new guy? Or trust him? Would they give him tons of magic stuff if he was a NPC? Let the new PC first proove his loyality and then the players will start sharing their stuff.
Folks, I as the DM have a problem with a possible misunderstanding of the storyboard of Spire of Long Shadows and any forthcoming modules. It is regarding the AoW prophecy detailing that the re-unification of the tri-partitite spirit will one of the two last events heralding the coming of Kyuss.
Am I misinterpreting something or will a clever group (which my definitly is) have a chance to save the day at an relativly early stage of the path?
I’ve Got Reach wrote:
I like your idea and in my earlier gaming life (some 20 years ago :)) I had a very similar situation: I almost hoped that there will be a player self-sacrificing to rescue his friends or to save the day.Then there was a scene where all players fumpled their rolls to bypass a trap, monster (actually I can´t remember whaat it was). There was only defeat or give up the game. Then the (remember!) red D&D box Elf (you know, there was a time where every elf was half fighter/half mage) started a prayer to his deity and pledged for help. I took him aside for a 4-eye conversation between the elf god and his character and offered help at the cost of his life. The player agreed and we create a breath stunning climatic and dramatic showdown which ends a a well played death of a friend.
Then I took the player aside a second time and his god sends him back to earth as his paladin (effectivly changing the alignement and introducing multiclass to the old school D&D elf).
None of the group ever forgets this adventure and the players elf became an iconic within our campaign world.
Interesting: Both encounters are cakewalks for my group. The mimica were dispatched quickly and the octopus has ben cirumvented: they figured out that the lower level lies under the upper level (well, obviously) so they used their Dungeneering skills to guess which rooms lay above each other. They then used the pit in the mimics room to dig through the floor which was a cool idea as the ceiling could only be a few inches thick (due to the pit). So it was a cakewalk through investigation and proper thinking, which I like most.
What´s the problem with clever players capturing villians instead of killing them? In any case this would make the game far more interesting than yust quick kills. If your players are playing for 20+ years I assume that they are quiete mature. No wonder that they try to find out more advanced methods of dealing with the modules objectives. In fact, this is D&D where it is at its best! Remember, there is a reason why the game designers made skills like Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive.
SPOLIER SPOILER SPOILER
How Ilthane gets killed...
Well, Ilthane decided to wait outside the cairn on PCs and Alustan to return. She made herself comfortable at a distance of 100 yards in an underbrush and allowed herself a nap while her mass charmed reptiles functioned as her eyes and ears.
Its great to play other classes but in the end all are specialised core classes to some extend. The most powerfull characters are high level single core class. Every prestige or alternate classe substitutes one benefit against another and most of the time it specialises the character on one aspect with the effect of degrading his abilities on others.
Ilthane surprised and nearly routed my PCs at the beginning of TWC. The group manages barely to enter the cairn and decided to rout the caverns first in hope to find something to defeat the dragon later on.
We use dry-erase battlemaps.
Helps a lot...
>> poss spoilers ahead <<
This chest has become a interesting sidetrek in my campaign. Our party lacks a "real" rogue, they only have a rogue/bard. So they decided to stuff the chest into their bag of holding for later examination.
Between TCB and TGoW they consulted a high-level rogue in Sharn (Freeport) with the help of Tirra who has some connections to local thief guilds. The deal was an upfront payment of 5000 GM plus first choice for the rogue on the contents of the chest. Unfortunatly the rogue fumbles on his disable device roll and was sucked in... :) and the party put the chest back in their bag.
While in TGoW their fighter was captured by Flycatcher and broaught to the shadow plane. The group agreed to kill the true ghule but was successfull in confincing that they need their strongest fighter to do so. They offered the chest as a deposit and Flycatcher agreed.
Lets see how this will end...
It was a memorable fight :-)
It was a memorable fight leaving high level PCs trembling in terror. That is how I ever wanted to play a fierce dragon that stood above any monster that normally gets killed in 6 to 24 seconds.
(As the party has 6 10th level PCs, I upped the dragon one age level)
It is not necessary to enter the games if the PCs manage it to kill Bozhal and the Ulgur any other way (the players are just skipping a lot of fun..). The way your PCs are doing it sounds great.
No it was neither Ehonna nor Olidammara who granted the spell, it was Kyuss himself who through the powers of the dark citadel has found some ways to reach into the minds of some beings in the material world from his demiplane prison. I found it a good idea to resurrect that poor rogue and use him as a puppet later in the campaign. e.g. he could be misguided by false visions or - if the Kyuss mind could not be exocised before the climax of the campaing - could be used as a spy on the group revealing tactics and powerups before it comes to the final battle.
Would you mind telling me why an evil group should go through the all the modules of the adventure path and for what reason?
Goth Guru wrote:
Some places you should up. Most not.
I agree to this. My group of 7 is slightly overweighted towards spellcasters (2 druids, 1 cleric, 1 bard, 1 psion, 1 wizard, 1 fighter) and they are very well prepared to get through most encounters easily. Where enemies can make use of the terrain against the PCs (eg the grimlock cave in 3FE) they have a really hard time.So I decide from time to time if there is the need for some ups.
Anyway, for most boss-encounters, I have two stat blocks ready: One upped in the case, all 7 players are there and the original one if 2 are missing.
(Note, I use a variant raise dead that costs 2 points of Con instead of level loss so they haven't lost any levels, but letting them get a little more treasure and XP will help shore up the deficiency in hp.)
That brings me to another discussion point: Our cleric just hits 9th level and is now capable of raising dead. I feel that this takes the horror and drama out of character death. Who is afraid if he would be raised anyway?
We play in Eberron, so I ruled that the only clergy that could raise dead are the ones that worship the Keeper. The Keeper is one of the dark six which oposes the six good gods the PCs usually worship.
The other way is to bring the dead body to a Keeper temple and - again roleplaying - ask for help.
How are you guys handling this?
ooops you re right. But anyway, it was a cool combination of spells and nice tactic, so I would have ruled to let them go with it. Beside, they defeated Bozhal 2 nihgts before, so they could have had plenty of time for preparation if they had the idea earlier.
Regarding matierials, we do not use this rule. I know that this would slightly overbalance spells but the rule counts for both, players and NPCs so that´s fair enough.
We had a gread climax of the module yesterday with teh Ulgur being terminated prior to the last fight.
The night before the final battle the party successfully manages to convince Auric to help them confronting the Ulgur. That was only possible with a trick (the Changling mimics Tirra :-))
Your post highlights one underestimated aspect of this mod: Why for gods sake does the Free City council tolerates a ghoul invested warren (even if it is sealed away from the Cenoby)? Following the rules of D&D Game Mastery there will be at least one other entrance to the warrens and sometimes it will make another exciting adventure having ghouls invading the city streets.
After fighting a few ghouls my players group explored the warrens and I had to portrait horribly scenes to prevent them from exploring deeper and fighting ghouls for the next few playing sessions. However, the players connected the warrens to Raknians plans. I picked up this idea and am about to flash up the final battle a bit:
While some players are operating from within the arena, two (one exiled from the arena after disqualification and one dead-PC replacement) are acting from outside. These two are about to mobilize the Free City military and warn them of a forthcoming apostle climax plus undead invasion. Sure, nobody trusts their words but anyway the officials are at least a bit warned and prepared. So for the final battle, not only the Ulgurtasta will emerge but also the warrens gates will opened into the cenoby releasing hundreds of undeads to the arena complex. It will result in a major battle men vs undead and PCs vs Ulgurtasta and this scenario really helps to give all the gladiators and Auric´s something to battle with while the PCs can concentrate on the real evil here, the Apostl.
Lord Of Threshold wrote:
THAT is quit an idea! That gives Raknian a much more dramatical role (ending) than just letting him slip away... Very cool idea!
It says, that the summoning of the Ulgurtasta using the Apostolic Scrolls finally needs "the blood of a champion".
So what does that mean for the climax of that module when the beast tunnels to the arena floor with respect to the outcome of the last arena battle?
Option 1: The fight between Auric and the PCs is still going on. So Auric is the champion still?
Option 2: The PCs defeated Auric (by disabling him) but are not yet declared winner by the master of games. Who is champion now?
Option 3: Is there a way to avoid having a champion at all and would that spoil the evil guys plans?
... I am just wondering if there is a way to avoid the railroaded climax of the module as otherwise, killing Bozhal, destroying the scrolls etc will not really have an impact on the flow of the adventure.
I replaced pithblade with a w´forged fighter lvl 10 and a w´forged titan (he he). Because my group counts seven people I just added a w´forged artificer lvl 10 that was simply used to power up the titan and the fighter.
I changed Aurics warband a little. I made Auric dragonmarked (can´t remember which house by now) so he is able to use dimension door to jump nicely in the back of the players wizeard... Khellek remains a wizard but got a fey artificer levels as well. So is great to power up the leatherworkers a bit (so the constructs gets DR/adamant and such...)
Generally spoken... I find identification of magical items as boring for the rpg as constantly counting cp´s for food, taking notes of how many mundane arrows are left behind or paying the bartender for the drink.
The party lost their paladin to Bozhal and their Warforged fighter has been disqualified (see other post) - that leaves the party with only 5 (psion, druid, wizard, bard and cleric) for the last round. Clearly they will have little chance vs Auric but that does not matter as the fight will not go to the end and when the ulgurtasta shows up, the ´forged and the paladin-replacement can join the fight from the outside.
We had a near-TPK last Tuesday in the Champions Belt while battling Frogemoth. Here´s how it goes:
Cintra Bristol wrote:
I decided that those who surrendered were still eligible for the next round, assuming their team won. An interesting tactic this makes possible - a team could have a low-level spellcaster or two on their roster, whose sole job is to cast a few buffing spells, then promptly "surrender" once the fight ends
I used this tactic for my replacement of Pitch Blade, which was a Warforged Titan (I bought the mini for this and it scared the PCs to deaths :)), a Warforged Fighter lvl 10 and a Warfoged Artificer lvl 10. The Artificer buffed both tanks and than surrendered - very much to the surprise of the PCs who were focussed on destroying the "wizard" at an instant.
The changeling rouge approaches a grimlock guard in 3FoE. To do this he shapechanged into a grimlock - just to make sure his disguise is perfect.
During the same session, after meeting the mad Grimlock cleric, one of our players notices:
My group first met Tirra at the Dog´s basement during a dog-fight (where our 1st lvl Druid had the chance to heal and rescue a half-blood wolf, his later companion). Tirra and a few others were engaged in a dart game (which she won easily) and our elf paladin (sadly deceased yesterday - pls read in another post) immediatly started to flirt heavily.
Later our warforgend fighter engaged Auric but found out that Auric, who also has fought in the Last War (Eberron players do know what I am talking about) and did had some nasty experiences with the ´forged. This conversation nearly ended in a tavern brawl if not for some smoothing tunes by my groups bard.
During CB Tirra approached my group and offered her special deal but for some reasons my group ignored Khellek and Auric, even if these are the last ones standing in the arena underground.
Names: Talabir, Valenar Elf Paladin with holy double-scimitar
Adventure: Champions Belt
Talabir recognized two evil sources behind the double door so he prepared himself to rush in and destroy whatever lies ahead. Doors open he (and the group) spotted a tiefling cleric with an evil grin and an unholy weapon plus... the Scrolls!
Talabir emanates a war cry and charges the cleric but was blocked by some invinsible barrier. The cleric points his finger at the elf and a black unnatural force strikes him. He would have been lucky to resist the effects of the Harm spell if not his earlier attempt to crush the scrolls with his scimitar would had resulted in a negative energy backlash that reduced his life energy dramatically...
I skipped BK completly as I found that it did not contribute much to the AoW story - beside the egg chamber. Here is what I´ve done:
On their trip from Diamond Lage to Free City the group made stop at a wayside tavern and found the innkeepers wife in distress. They told the PCs that their husband came back from woodcutting the other day and was stragly disformed. She managed to lock him away in a cellar room. The PCs doublechecked and found out that poor innkeeper has been transformed into a Kyuss zombie. The PCs druid had a chat with the innkeepers horse and let the horse guide they way into the woods where the innkeeper left the horse alone.
Very cool suggestions.
I mentioned that somewhere else in this board but because it just fitrs the thread:
I enlisted my partys rogue/bard who is a Changeling (race with minor shapechange abilities). I gave the player nearly most of the maps and information on the hideout and let him "guide" the party in each and every nastie that was available. As it is the rogues job, he scouts a´head and rolled some Search, Spot and LIsten checks and reports back to the party "no nothing ahead - the road is safe" - later - "what? a trap? must have had a very high DC" he he
Eventually my group found the dump-entrance to the hidden shrine level and killed several Kyuss zombies and the Morgh. Then they decided to stop advancing (in fact approaching the tiefling cleric), recover, do the next days arena battle and return the other day.
John Jones wrote:
John, you are absolutly right. Just from the start my group is suspecting that the source of evil is located in Raknians manor. Not only because it is located just next to the arena. So they tried to investigate the manor through various ways and find a way to get in. Because there are no details on the manor (and because it is a dead-end anyway) I let them find out that the manor is heavily protected through magic and huge forces of guards. So far the group has not found a way to get into it.By the way it took them nearly 3 hours of plaing time exploring the first arena level and the cenoby level before they come up with the idea that there must be a thrid level in the middle and before they found the dump that leads to the Kyuss spawn room.
And I had a hard time preventing them to follow some turned ghasts down the sewers and battle bigger forces of undead...
I can´t wait to play the second fight. We are onto it next Tuesday. They will in fact face the ´forged titan plus a ´forged artificer and a ´forged fighter.The artificer will power up the titan, the fighter will protect the artificer and the titan will do what he can best: jump on the PCs and crunsh them to dust.