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Paraphrased, quoted, and/or adapted to fit the AP from an enormous thread of random encounters earlier on this site...
15. A horde of children gather around the Silver Ravens early in their career, asking intrusive questions about what they’ve killed, begging to see them cast spells, etc. How long will it take for the PCs to realize that they’re pickpockets, and what will they do?
16. Street rat with a monkey dashes by with a loaf of bread, followed by 4 dottari and then by an out-of-shape gasping baker.
17. The PCs happen upon an enormous snowball fight.
18. Prostitute offers a steep discount. If the offer’s taken, she uses the encounter in her crass come-ons in the future.
19. A group of four stray dogs are fighting over something in an alleyway-- a dismembered body part or clue from the tooth fairy or serial killer guy’s crime spree.
20. A wagon loaded with beehives runs out of control. If/when it crashes, angry bees swarm across the marketplace. How do they fight a swarm without area of effect spells that will damage stalls, produce, and people?
I mean, other than jail breaks? What kinds of things do revolutionaries do? Do they do things other than fight and spread propaganda? I'm looking for missions or skill challenges to replace some of the jail breaks in this AP.
Spreading propaganda could be a nice short 5-minute piece at the table: brainstorming slogans, a writing/artistry skill check, figuring out your target audiences, using a gather info check to get the message out, maybe a stealth mission for not getting caught.
Bard would be the best choice to solo Hell's Rebels: lots of potential allies to use, very social/political campaign, fewer obscenely hard fights.
I've DM'd a solo campaign for a bard. They're surprisingly good at it, as they're pretty good at a lot of things. It's a class that lets DMs have a great deal of variety in their campaign for you.
Given the number of similarities to planet earth, I think that Star Trek provides several excellent explanations for what's going on: alien copycats with a tiny exposure to earth culture, ascended beings with wish-like powers, Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development, seeding of similar genetic material, rule of cool on a budget, continuity errors dealing with forehead ridges, etc.
So, the science is similar until magic-babble is needed to deal with this week's inconsistency.
Rule 0: Say yes to things. Figure the rest out later.
Listen to the players brainstorm a problem, they're always more evil than you are.
Bad character design is not good role playing: you have a responsibility to be a functional member of the party. Corollary: optimal character design isn't necessary to be functional.
Give circumstance bonuses to PCs who do something awesome.
Don't stick to the plan: let PCs succeed at their wacky ideas.
First of all, dragons have colossal egos and this one has a particular grudge against the SR. So, it's totally in-character for this particular dragon to indulge in the delicious crunch of biting a SR in half at some point. Remember, it has regeneration going in favor for it, as well as spell resistance. It could just get overconfident from years of that kind of protection.
Second, if you want to balance this particular fight, let them pre-buff. It's not like a dragon is going to surprise them, even with invisibility, because the frightful presence aura in a city means that they just have to hear the waves of screaming citizens several blocks away to get a few rounds to buff up. In addition, her tactics allow for several rounds of buffing: breath weapon, circle, summon, mirror image, land.
Third, don't they have access to flight themselves?
Fourth, if the PCs choose a narrow street, there's not much the dragon can do other than breath weapon attacks or land and squeeze into that alley. Give that as an option.
Fifth, if you have the dragon cast a fireball early in the combat, some players will metagame and assume that they're dealing with an older dragon than they are, due to it casting a 3rd level spell. They'll be much more careful and use their best effects in this combat. It won't do much damage, but will signal to the table that this combat is special.
This is DnD. Your core assumption should be that your role as PCs is to cut the head off the snake. Prepare to infiltrate the army to assassinate leadership, while the town NPCs prepare the town. After all, as many people wrote, you may just be automatically dead if they're controlled by something smart. Your town's best chance is to face the mindless undead horde, so do your best to eliminate the people guiding the undead.
Since the game you're describing is going to be a mix of rocket tag and Diplomacy, Game of Nations, you're going to want to design your character to be able to game death in various ways and win friends and influence people. Diviners are a surprisingly good class for a lot of this, with their surprise immunity, access to Time Stop and Wish and Contingency, and incredible initiative score.
Their skills and spells mean that you have knowledge of almost everything, as well. So, you'll be involved in every plot development.
For the influencing people part, just remember that skills become a surprising back door at the highest levels, as spells often prevent spells but not skills. Example: Permanent See Invisibility doesn't really help with ordinary stealth.
Several most memorable ones...
The final encounter in our Age of Worms game. This one was memorable for the tactical complexity and the moral complexity.
Most of these are less tactically challenging and more interesting for the impact on character.
This encounter was pretty memorable low level one. I had a goblin fire department, since one of my locations included Freeport. So the PC ran into a fire department that was looting and eating pets in addition to saving babies. That fire department included her goblin crew, one of whom surprised her by acting heroic due to having been given a battering ram during a moment of terrible judgment by that PC. Her look when her goblin crewman said, "Me go save babies" made it worth it.
I had another great encounter of a duel between a PC and an actor, after she discovered he was the solution to the murder mystery, as he was killing people to advance extras who practiced his Method acting style into lead roles to promote his artistic philosophy. The fact that she had slept with the murderer--and that he had been disappointing in bed--made it particularly personal.
The hill billy horror cabin of the Hook Mountain Massacre adventure. Whoo-boy. Horrifying as a player, as I got captured. Awesome as a repurposed shrine to Lamashtu where Mammy Graul fought, naked and pregnant, in a pool of Lamashtu's vile mother's milk.
The time the party went up against a "fully armed and operational" 3rd edition battle cleric.
This whole module. But I modified it one way. The cover character had his equipment modified a bit. His swords were supposed to be invisible blades, but I changed them to have an illusion of a rubber chicken and a bowling pin. The boots of the elvenkind became the clown shoes of the elvenkind too.
1. I am for the inclusion of the GR as a component to the campaign backstory, because it gives the sense that the events in Kintargo are part of a larger movement sweeping the country. The players should have a sense that their characters are part of something greater than themselves, should be awed and inspired by that. I am against having there be contact between the GR and SR leaderships in Books 1 through 3. The GR doesn't have much to add to this phase of Hell's Rebels's story, which is about building local support in Kintargo and throughout Ravounel. Even if the GR seems more glamorous, it should not be hard to keep the PCs from haring off to join them. The GR leadership's on the other side of the country at this point, the PCs' travel options are (or should be) limited, and the immediate opportunity to make revolution in Kintargo should keep revolution-minded PCs where they are. If the PCs want to consider their group a local affiliate or ally of the GR (with or without adopting - or for that matter knowing - its organizational forms), that's their prerogative.
I pretty much agree with this, especially given the power of the narrative framing and the geographical isolation.
2. I am for the inclusion of GR characters beginning in Book 4, in the form of refugees from Kantaria braving the Menador Mountains or allowed to pass by the destruction of Menador Keep. The players should get the sense that while their actions are confined to Ravounel, the effects of those actions are not. Free Kintargo is a light unto the nations, a shining city on a hill, and they should feel responsible for keeping it lit. Because of the pace of Book 4, the PCs' attention should be easily kept on local events.
Yes, that works as a background flavor here. Sort of feels like Rick's in Casablanca on a regional scale.
3. I am, beginning in Book 5, for allowing the SR leaders in Kintargo and GR leaders in Westcrown to contact each other with sending spells and the like. Use the refugees to establish the requisite familiarity. I would let the players coordinate strategy with the GR leadership even as local concerns demand both leaderships' constant attention. Or they could have a political falling-out, because that's about as likely as solidarity between two proud and seemingly-ascendant revolutionary leaderships. Maybe they start out aligned and drift apart. Both the GR and SR should be for investigating the Kintargo Contract, but the GR would push for the SR to use it to split Thrune and Hell, while the SR should have some affection for Kintargo at this point and be more cautious.
Since I plan on cutting a lot of books five and six because I find the Return of Jack the Ripper and Hell's Dungeon Crawl uninspiring filler, this will work nicely and sets up my response to this below.
4. Finally, I am for allowing House Thrune to divide and conquer over the course of Book 6 by tempting the SR with a separate peace (which they need to deal with Barzillai's ongoing manifestations), while crushing the organized GR and forcing the remnants to go into hiding or flee across the frontier. And I would present this as an overall defeat for the players, because that's what it is. They could have played for the big prize, but instead betrayed their natural allies to preserve themselves. That might even have been the right strategic and moral choice, but it should be a hard one, and should inspire even greater heights of hatred for the enemy that played them. Continuing the campaign, they should want to work to redeem themselves by overthrowing Thrune and revolutionizing the country, but have to work to overcome the shattered state of the groups they abandoned, and their justified distrust of these putative patrons.
I get what you're saying and that should be the threat of negotiations, but, frankly, this adventure will take 5-6 years and my players will need more narrative pay off than this provides. I get enough of grim reality in my working life and from my perception of this past election. Narratives teach us about reality, yes, but they also provide comfort and resolve to face exactly that through diversions into fiction or just structure in nonfiction. I just can't DM that story; more power to you if your table would support it though.
If the PCs have set up a role as consultants on GR strategy, then it makes sense that they could intervene in the events of HV Book 6 as things start to get desperate. Your alternate narrative provides perfect justification for a cross-over event of HV vs. HR. I like that A LOT better than beating a villain you already beat, which is the narrative of Book 6 and an out of nowhere "All According to My Plan" player agency wipe by deus ex devilus, or whatever. This cross over would need some narrative foreshadowing, but that can happen during the negotiations set piece of Ravounel vs. Cheliax
Finally, focusing on the PCs renders the rest of the named cast - never mind the masses of people - entirely passive. The only hint of mass action the book provides are the responses to the tax hikes on Bleakbridge (pickets, ferries, etc.), and even those don't end up playing a part in the adventure. They're background noise. There are some hints in the rebellion subsystem that the PCs can organize mass actions (and that's a good thing! More of that please!), but for the most part they're locked away in the event table.
I agree. There's a solution for that problem, which is having the players periodically RP the other members of the Silver Ravens. I had a DM do that for Age of Worms, actually, to drive home a tragic loss of a castle. Worked like a charm as a single-session experience. Doing this a handful of times strategically can keep the immersion with a single party while still making the point that it's a mass movement that the players are actually RPing.
4. Taxes are high. Morale is low. Time to ... rob the tax collector. A heist adventure good for morale, or gaining gold for la resistance.
6. A family's being evicted because the parents can't afford the bridge tax to get to their jobs. How can you help them, without bringing the law down on them?
Um, why are the other players not policing this character? My response as DM would be a long silence and let the other players police the party's actions. If they don't do something to fix it after having been given a chance, then they've all consented to accepting the consequences of those actions, either for the party as a whole or just to that character.
Probably, yes, although you could lead up to that public torture with the threats, as I recall some of that occurring in book two. And, of course, organized crime and militias tend to prefer to use threats if they're effective.
I think some DMs are looking for things to make the Rebellion mechanic less... mechanical. To do that, you could periodically have small RP events to humanize the advancement of the rebellion. We should brainstorm a list of such advances. These should be events that take little time at the table, but symbolize the battle for hearts and minds, rather than major encounters like the ones handled by the books.
1. A child of one of the Silver Ravens' supporters is being bullied by children of the Chelish Citizen's Group. One of the parents approaches one of the PCs to ask for help for the kid. How do the PCs help? [justifies gain in supporters or addition of new generic team, perhaps] [events: ally in peril, low morale]
2. One of the teams a PC supervises is doing an assigned Rebellion Action. But a squad of Dottari or Hellknights is approaching and will disrupt the Action. How does the PC distract the squad sufficiently to let their team succeed at the Action? [good for covert action, placing a cache, black marketeers gaining gold, reduce danger, sabotage] [disastrous mission]
3. The Chelish Citizen's Group is spreading malicious slander about one of the more notorious Silver Ravens. How do you fight the gossip? Murdering the gossiper will simply confirm that the Silver Ravens have something to hide... [could work for gathering information action or recruiting supporters, disinformation by fighting this lie with a lie]
WITHOUT putting my personal anti-Trump politics into it, here's some traits to work with:
With all that said, how Trump's alleged motivations--monetary gain and fame--fit with the established plot that Thrune's engaged in? Will this distract the players from that plot line and make it harder for them to get into?
I've got a goblin Alchemist, True Neutral, who'd be good prospect for a Skull and Shackles or Hell's Vengeance campaign. Name's Max Biggins.
Background is a goblin raised by a paladin who chose adoption when faced with the choice of what to do with the goblin baby he found after slaughtering his tribe rather than simply killing the innocent. In a campaign that needs non-evil characters, Max is trying to live up to his father's example and live down his goblin instincts. In a campaign like HV, well, let's just say that his daddy issues push him the other way. RP is a nature vs. nurture conflict.
Party role: scout, skill guy, party buffer, mad bomber.
I agree with a lot of this thread.
For Magus, use the voice command gun tech of Judge Dredd in a melee weapon.
I second nanites as a good tech for this, very versatile, possibly best for the wizard.
Robotics and 3D printing for Summoner's eidolon and spells.
Mutations via gene editing seem like a natural for the sorcerer blood lines. If X-Men show anything, it's how varied genetic mutations effects can be within limited focuses.
Alchemists don't need reflavoring. Big Pharma.
Cleric: Advanced AI that others not in the know think is a god, not a Corporate Product Branded Intelligence. Leveling is upgrading the AI.
Oracle: Scavenged damaged AI tech, maybe?
Witch: I feel like one of the classes should be the primitivist, and this is the one I chose. The familiar could be a connection to the old gods, Gaia, or to ley lines.
Inquisitor and War Priest: Mecha suit, as a lot of their tech is self-buffs, and it could be connected to divine powers through the Corporate Products that clerics use.
Bards: Psychic powers from advanced brain structures of the future allow for buffs, charms, and sonic effects.
I think there's an element where we have a different take because of how I'm reading the canonical reactions of these nations. The difference with the alliance system is that the HV5 as written doesn't give the Silver Ravens an alliance to join. Andoran never commits troops to the effort, deciding to only attack slavers, protect refugees, and solidify its borders. Rahadoum retakes a small strip of land on its borders. Molthune doesn't help at all, being more interested in a 70+ year guerrilla war with someone else.
Without the PCs creating an anti-Cheliax alliance, there's no anti-Cheliax alliance to join.
For the delay option, yes, it's a bit of a dead end, the True Neutral approach. But it is the sort of strategy of amoral incremental positional gains that nations do take as medium-term strategies in places like the World Bank or UN.
I think we largely agree on the revolutionary organizing vs. guerrilla warfare issue, with only slight differences in timing and PC starring role being a difference for me.
There's a fourth option: Delay. Stall the negotiations for as long as humanly possible: throw a snit fit about the shape of the table, insist on out-of-season rare delicacies at the meals, proposals that change just a little bit each time, etc. That assassination attempt? Clearly we must delay until a totally secure meeting area is arranged over the next few months. Appoint a minion without the ability to make a deal as chief negotiator and force them to check in after every significant proposal. Delay negotiations as you wait to see which side comes out on top: GR or Cheliax. As the tides of war tilt one way or another, modify your negotiation strategy to come out on top with the winner. If Cheliax looks like a winner, settle with good relations with them. If GR secures Andoran military aid or its plucky paladins defeat the Agents of Thrune protagonists in the Other AP, then you use that as increasing leverage by opening up simultaneous negotiations with GR and play GR and Cheliax off of each other at the table.
There's a fifth option: Open up a second front for the GR in exactly the same way that Cheliax threatened you: guerrilla warfare. You send mercenaries to Strike terror in the hearts of the Cheliax nobility. Strike high-profile targets and teleport out. Quite frankly, I see CG PCs being more likely to do this than any other approach. Especially since some PCs may very well look at Barz-villain's haunting as an outrageous act of war by House Thrune from beyond the grave.
There's a sixth option: settle quickly, then use your sovereign nation status to use diplomacy to persuade nations to intervene to "provide humanitarian aid" in ways that help GR and hinder Cheliax. Consult the Other AP for how other nations are responding to the Glorious Reclamation.
You could try Tower of the Last Baron, which is a solid infiltration adventure. Change the hook to be helping the Iomedaen paladins secure your flank by taking out this outpost, reduce the leader in rank.
If you're looking for another seaside adventure, there's Treasure of Chimera Cove which has a hook from Last Baron, but stands alone pretty well.
Both would need to be updated from 3.5e, but that's not hard.
I have a group that's big and meets infrequently, every 2-3 weeks. I've been toying with an idea: what if I skipped to the big scene, rather than play out every encounter on a battle board?
I'm toying with one of two ways
1. Still do the encounters round by round, but just use verbal description and imagination, rather than a battle board and minis. Anything that requires precise positioning, we allow unless there's a reason not to that's been previously described.
2. Narrate the party cutting their way through the minions, soldiers, and so forth, but playing out the special moments and big combats the regular way
Does anyone do anything like this? What's the pros and cons, in your experience?
You don't have to make the character fall, you have to make the player want to change his character. As you all know, loot is the most efficient way to tempt a player. So, this anti-paladin keeps killing good monsters, whose hoard often has highly desirable GOOD-ALIGNED magic items that come with a penalty for users of the wrong alignment.
THEN, you introduce the love interest, innocent child, or adorable kitten. Motive and opportunity: If you want to catch a fish, you have to use bait.
No, you're going about this all wrong. Any loving attention you spare on the wagon just makes it more of a target. You have to treat it like a familiar: forget it's there most of the time, only use it when you need it, never put in on the battle mat, etc. The DM can't destroy what he forgets is even there.
For the same reason that RL people get dissatisfied with time spent solely on the internet, playing video games solo, playing with action figures and other dolls, etc. It's not the same as interacting with real people with free will, who are surprising and infuriating and everything in between. It's not only lonely, it gets boring after a while.
What advice would you have for best use of this kind of golem?
Background: So, my goblin alchemist just got a flesh golem manual in the latest adventure. He's in a 7 member party, so it wouldn't need to be a dedicated frontline fighter. He would be useful as a bodyguard, however, as Max Biggins has had problems with melee combat and grapplers in the past, as he's a mad bomber type.
Goblins are functionally invisible due to their massive stealth bonuses: size, race, dex boost, and class bonus (take a trait if your class doesn't have stealth). I started my goblin alchemist with a +16 stealth bonus at first level. You don't need to take a level in witch for scouting and the hex saves aren't going to be good enough to be very strong. If things get hairy, that's what Brew Potion and invisibility potions are for.
I would recommend going with a Mr. Hyde approach to your alchemist and going straight alchemist. Triple classing rarely works out in this game.
Empty: This cursed cantrip of Open/Close turns out your pockets and empties all of your equipment on the ground.
False Alarm: This audible alarm goes off for 2 hours/level. It is not dismissible except by dispel magic.
Hypnotism: Implants a random hypnotic suggestion on the caster.
Stinking Cloud: This gaseous spell works as normal, except it emanates from a square directly behind you to fill a cone-shaped area.