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[SPOILERS] Second Darkness Completion and Reviews

Second Darkness

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Blazej wrote:
Mary Yamato wrote:
Blazej wrote:

My campaign seemed to fall down quite different. My non-good party seemed to have enough motivation throughout all the adventures to accomplish the goal. Even if it is only for their own safety and a pile of cash, they have had enough to make them go to the end. But they don't seem to hate the elves as much as you seem to, so that might impact things.

Can you say something about what your PCs' motivations were in each episode? I'm particularly interested in the transitions from 2 to 3 and 4 to 5.


All right, talked with them and got a bit of information and filled it in with my perceptions and memories. I will show it to the group later and (if they read it) post again if they find something to be inaccurate.

** spoiler omitted **...

Overall, it sounded like your group didn't have many problems at all as it was written, which is a good thing (I wish I could quote your entire summary; it was great!). At this point in time, it's been so long and so many rumors about everything have been flying thick and heavy, to the point where my playing group (5 characters, none elves, since we started their character creation before we knew they should all be elves only) is well aware of all the "railroading," starting with the bait-and-switch from the first 2 books on; they really like being pirates in Riddleport, even though only one is non-good (hey, the city itself is CN, not CE, and I've been playing any encounters with that in mind). And the difficulty with Book 5, etc., etc., but they're willing to give me a chance, since this is my first real campaign as a GM (we had no idea it was going to be this challenging...).

The problems might arise in that they're all vastly experienced players and GMs themselves, as well as mystery/intrigue fans, so I imagine they'd spot anything coming a mile away (it was like pulling teeth to get them to accept the good stuff from their potential ally in the caves at the end of Book 2). I do like the idea of threatening "only" Kyonin itself and maybe the Darklands underneath; Kwava is up north, hoping to avert a second darkness, due to visions he had had and that were interpreted. So no, it's not like every other nation on the planet is threatened, or even aware of this (one wonders what Tian Xia thought of the original catastrophe... "What was that noise?").

It will necessitate more sympathetic elf characters than were written to make the party really care about them, and perhaps playing up that the rest of the world (or at least Avistan) might be imperiled, too...but I think I can do a little "railroading" myself in the third book, where I need to kick them up a level or so anyway:

The ship that was mentioned at the end of Book 2 illusioned itself up to the gunwales and attacked a Riddleport that was still reeling from the tidal wave hit (why? To keep eyes and attention out to sea, and not inland towards Celwynvian, since whoever annihilated the mission on Devil's Elbow could represent a threat from the nearest coastal town and possible reinforcements for the surface elves ... as mercenaries, if nothing else). Everyone who saw the attack and the ship leaving afterwards (the resistance was surprisingly heavy) each saw a different nation's craft...two who didn't will be one party member and Captain Creesy of the Flying Cloud, who will be giving the group a ride back to town. They'll both see the truth (though not clearly enough to spot any obviously drow crew), and everyone on the Flying Cloud will see it use strong, subtle magics to dive dramatically below the waves. The Overlord will want to speak with his powerful people, including the PCs, and Kwava will need them, too...but since one of the party is a half-orc, they'll need him to come with them so the elves don't shoot them all on sight.

Knowing my PCs, they'll want to pursue the ship, but since the damage to ships in the area still hasn't been fully cleared, and the PCs' ship (the Teeth of Araska) is still in Roderick's Cove being extensively re-modified (that ship design was horrible!) and unavailable, they'll have to go overland. Also knowing them, they'll demand all sorts of things from the Overlord, and like other Powers in this, he'll promise them whatever it takes.

Beyond that, I'm planning on running the elves like the superpowers back in the 1950s: bloody paranoid, and willing to sacrifice some trust and freedoms for security. My main inspiration, though, will be the Justice League movie, "The New Frontier," which did occasionally have the decent person and ray of hope here and there, with a happy ending segue into the Silver Age of comics.

I'll see how well it goes...that half-orc could very well come in handy, later... ;->

Having only one jerk, initially, to worry about with the elves in Book 3 will be nice, and the queen will more than likely let the PCs in on what she can early enough so they can trust her, at least (or at least want her and others like her to survive). ;->

I will be open to any and all suggestions as we progress. :-)

Mary Yamato wrote:
FatR wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
That's not an indication of "elves being dumb" though. It's an indication, honestly, of the game not handling mass combat well.

Uh, doesn't the third installment of this very AP have a frikkin

war in it, despite this?

How *has* that worked for people? We didn't run it, as mass combat is, as James says, no fun, and the PCs would never have sat still for the totally brain dead elven tactics that avoid the mass combat. ("What? You are going to split into tiny groups so they can defeat you in detail? Why?? To hold the *roads*? Why do you care about the roads? What earthly use are they? There are no cavalry here, and anyway Celwynvian doesn't seem to be difficult ground. Look, can we help you with this tactical planning? It really doesn't seem to be your thing.")

My strong fear was that the PCs, who were elves, would end up in command of the elven forces, would organize them sensibly, and would trigger a mass combat that would be agonizing to run.

So I just didn't do it. I had the PCs raid into drow-held Celwynvian. That was more than enough combat anyway, and kept the elves offstage so they didn't have a chance to look like idiots.

My real regret with _Armageddon_ is that I didn't force the PCs to interact with the Echo more. It was the big GMing failure of the AP for me; I had the raw materials to do something good, but I didn't spot the opportunity until it was too late, and dead Celwynvian was just a tactical exercise.

Just going through this forum again for advice...

I think I can get why BOTH groups would be "piecemeal" in the first place; they're both chaotic. They're not going to organize along the same lines as more lawfully aligned nations would, it's not like Romans vs. barbarians, it's more like barbarians vs. barbarians. They wouldn't have massive phalanx units of shield walls, of everyone drilled to follow orders to a barked command resulting in a coordinated attack of several hundred+ artillery pieces, for example. Both sides would be composed of small, largely mobile specialized units, since essentially both sides live in "wildernesses" (the drow of stone, the surface elves of trees). So, you would have many instances of skirmishes here and there (and ruined "house-to-house" fighting, which is also very chaotic; watch Saving Private Ryan), and not actual mass combat as we see it classically. If any PCs would try to organize them a bit more along human, dwarven, or whoever's lines, they might very well balk and insist they know the best ways of fighting in such terrain.

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