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Three Faces of Evil (TFoE): some new plot tweakings


Age of Worms Adventure Path

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Spacelard. I am using your idea that the Faceless One can copy and wear faces. The characters will be confrotning him at the end of Blackall Keep (in a city near where I placed the Keep). Can't wait for them to frea when they hear his giggle. :-0


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

Speaking of spikes in the wall that defy reason. The spikes that lead from area #14 down the shaft to area #16...

Who the heck put them there and why? The Grimlocks cross from area #15 (according to the module) by coming over the rope bridge at area #17, traveling through the tunnel (area #15) climbing the spikes at the end of the tunnel up onto the shelf (area #14). They then throw a rope to area #13 where one of their compatriots ties the rope off and they cross on the rope (these guys should join a circus).

Maybe, maybe not. I thought that area #14-15 was just a lookout, a defensive line. Could be either, I think. Anyway, we should scrap the iron spikes and replace them with hidden handholds, carved into stone (grimlocks are good climbers, and lack metals).

Did someone swap some of the monsters in that module? I think I will drop the krenshar for something more subterranean (monitor lizard? some vermin?). I can't figure how this poor beast got up the cliff...

The dire boar could go too, and be replaced by a souped up Grick (I could not use the WC one, so...). Less bestial impact, more barbed tentacles. And getting down a dire boar is a lot of trouble, not mentioning that it would have be diffcult to be discreet about it!

I definitively will swap the generic trog zombies for grimlock ones. It will emphasize the current state of hostilities between the temples (see previous posts: I borrowed the mexican stadoff idea).

See ya,


Smarnil le couard wrote:
Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

Speaking of spikes in the wall that defy reason. The spikes that lead from area #14 down the shaft to area #16...

Who the heck put them there and why? The Grimlocks cross from area #15 (according to the module) by coming over the rope bridge at area #17, traveling through the tunnel (area #15) climbing the spikes at the end of the tunnel up onto the shelf (area #14). They then throw a rope to area #13 where one of their compatriots ties the rope off and they cross on the rope (these guys should join a circus).

Maybe, maybe not. I thought that area #14-15 was just a lookout, a defensive line. Could be either, I think. Anyway, we should scrap the iron spikes and replace them with hidden handholds, carved into stone (grimlocks are good climbers, and lack metals).

The module describes the rope throwing scenario as how the Grimlocks cross. In any case they can't use Area #16 as their are Chokers down there that would attempt to kill them - plus there is no route from area #16 to their main encampment back around area #18. Quite litterly PCs that descend those spikes are going to have to find their own way up again because there is no built in way to egress from Area #16 up to the rope bridge or Area #15.

Smarnil le couard wrote:


The dire boar could go too, and be replaced by a souped up Grick (I could not use the WC one, so...). Less bestial impact, more barbed tentacles. And getting down a dire boar is a lot of trouble, not mentioning that it would have be diffcult to be discreet about it!

Replacing the Dire Boar is sacrilegious. That Dire Boar is almost certainly the single most bad ass creature ever placed into a Paizo publication. It has more character deaths to its name then anything else they have ever published. I'd not be surprised to learn that its in fact the straight up leader in character deaths through out the whole 3.5 era of the game. The Age of Worms obituaries thread is practically a tribute to its prowess. Beast has to much history going for it to be replaced.

Its a tribute to your players if they either loose a comrade here or win through without loss - in either case they are treading ground that has been tread by hundreds of D&D players before them - Age of Worms was hugely popular when it first came out and while comparatively few campaigns saw the whole thing through many, many got to the first few encounters of the second adventure - a lot of them collapsed in a TPK right about the point where the party met Beast...

One way or another, that Dire Boar left a lasting impression on a stunning number of those that have gone before.


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
The module describes the rope throwing scenario as how the Grimlocks cross. In any case they can't use Area #16 as their are Chokers down there that would attempt to kill them - plus there is no route from area #16 to their main encampment back around area #18. Quite litterly PCs that descend those spikes are going to have to find their own way up again because there is no built in way to egress from Area #16 up to the rope bridge or Area #15.

Sure, I forgot that one. It's probably freudian. So, I suppose you could still choose the ground way if the barnumesque one bother you. This way, you don't have to cope with the high attrition rate of aerial crossings by poor acrobatics-deprived grimlocks. You would have to scrap the chokers, who don't make for a very interesting encounter anyway. Climbing rules!

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Replacing the Dire Boar is sacrilegious. That Dire Boar is almost certainly the single most bad ass creature ever placed into a Paizo publication.

Sorry if I have hurt your religious feelings (just kidding here!). Okay, I concur that a charge by a dire boar in a narrow corridor has a lot of appeal. I will keep the Grick for the grimlocks (gricks are good climbers, you know?).

Further tweaks : leftovers from a cannibal feast, including various tiefling body parts in the grimlock caves (further emphasis on the assault given by the grimlocks on Hextor's temple one or two weeks ago).


Smarnil le couard wrote:


Further tweaks : leftovers from a cannibal feast, including various tiefling body parts in the grimlock caves (further emphasis on the assault given by the grimlocks on Hextor's temple one or two weeks ago).

We know they where in Smenk's compound as well...they may have stopped to grab some munchies for later on the way to the compound, in the compound or when they where leaving. Miner is probably easiest but they may be getting tired of that and more tender less chewy meat may be desired.


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
We know they where in Smenk's compound as well...they may have stopped to grab some munchies for later on the way to the compound, in the compound or when they where leaving. Miner is probably easiest but they may be getting tired of that and more tender less chewy meat may be desired.

I agree that in TFoE as written, a severed head was supposed to have been delivered on Smenk’s bed by « grimlock scouts », but :

1. there is no such thing as “grimlock scouts” anywhere. Not one. Only very unstealthy fighters and barbarians. Furthermore, any guy whose main sense only extend as far as 40 feet isn’t exactly best suited for infiltration missions on the surface world, where sight extend quite further than that (Splinter Cell with a white cane, anyone?).

2. On the other hand, still in TFoE as written, you have kenku sneaks twiddling their feathery thumbs just past another door…

IMHO, this “grimlock scout” thing is just (another!) goof.

The main purpose of this thread is to patch the biggest holes in TFoE’s plot, but there is many, many, many small mistakes like this to mend too (think about your grimlocks engaged in aerial acrobatics, the poor chokers still starving to death in their hole months or even years after the grimlocks’ arrival boxed them in, etc.).

I am sure Mike Mearls wrote (other) good things, but I am NOT impressed by this piece of work. Overall, TFoE is quite badly thought out (maybe he wrote it while commuting, who knows?). It was even worse before editing: in the first draft, you had to find a key in the Hextorian temple to open the grimocks’ door, who in turn had the key to Vecna’s labyrinth… You get the idea : a Curse of the Azure Bonds video game reborn. How in the nine hells were they supposed to work together to create the Ebon Aspect, if they locked each other? This made absolutely no sense!

Just to say that anything written in this module has to be taken with a wagonload of salt before inclusion in your game.


Just for the record, my players completed the Whispering Cairn last month.

Before getting in the old observatory, they came up with good questions, such as “is it really legal for us to do some breaking & entering in a private home, just because we have a hunch that some bones we are looking for COULD be inside?” and “even if some guy is practicing necromancy inside, is it illegal under local laws?” and got negative answers to both.

Then they spied on Filge, forgot all about it and came crashing in through the second floor windows, spells blazing…

After a quite long battle, they had on their hands a prisoner, potential legal troubles, and the knowledge that they just trespassed on Smenk’s property, crashed some of his plans and most probably pissed him off. I made Filge as uncooperative and arrogant as possible to make them work for their information. He only spilled his beans at the third round of interrogation. Note that I chose to leave some information out : IMC, Filge knew that the worm came from a mine, but not which one (need to know, and all that).

My players negociated a truce with Smenk, using this information to point out that they had a common enemy, that it was all a terrible mistake and that they were so sorry about the property damage. Then they released Filge.

Because they took poor precautions to maintain their anonymity (holy symbols displayed, real names slipping in the conversation, no blindfold, etc.), Smenk had no difficulty to identify most of them.

I made Smenk lodge a complaint against “an unknown party” at the sheriff’s office as a veiled threat, to underscore what the PCs could lose if they didn’t keep up their part of the bargain (ie, shutting up). Anyway, with the upper floors half burnt, it was difficult to do as if nothing had happened… He even paid in advance for a Zone of Truth spell “to make sure the real culprits would be apprehended”, and . The PCs were informed by Valkus of Heironeous, only cleric in town able to cast this spell and mentor of one of them.

A week later, they got an offer they couldn’t refuse… And gladly took, because Smenk presented himself as a victim and a concerned citizen, duped by a duplicitous dwarf. They just have to recover “the body, of parts of it, of one of his followers”, supposedly killed along Mestal (in fact, the head of a murdered past accomplice, held against him as blackmail material), and remove all traces of his past deliveries (“because, you know, being associated with such heinous crimes, even unknowingly, would be awkward for my business. Justice can be harsh and expeditive here; it’s even worse when you have really committed some felonies, if you get my meaning”).

Next session : down they go…


Dennis Harry wrote:
Spacelard. I am using your idea that the Faceless One can copy and wear faces. The characters will be confrotning him at the end of Blackall Keep (in a city near where I placed the Keep). Can't wait for them to frea when they hear his giggle. :-0

Cool. Have fun with him.

He's just hired the PCs to go and do a bit of dirty work for him!
Except the orcs he said are there are ogres...
Are you using the FO has his own apothyosis angle using Maldred the Mighty? I've got a 3.5 conversion if you fancy it.


Smarnil le couard wrote:

I am sure Mike Mearls wrote (other) good things, but I am NOT impressed by this piece of work. Overall, TFoE is quite badly thought out (maybe he wrote it while commuting, who knows?). It was even worse before editing: in the first draft, you had to find a key in the Hextorian temple to open the grimocks’ door, who in turn had the key to Vecna’s labyrinth… You get the idea : a Curse of the Azure Bonds video game reborn. How in the nine hells were they supposed to work together to create the Ebon Aspect, if they locked each other? This made absolutely no sense!

What you get here is some excellent tactical encounters held together by very thin bonds. It can work well depending on your group - I'm running newbs and they are having a blast and were pretty beaten up by the U shaped cavern.


Hey Spacelard. No, I am not going that far with him. Plus I have added so much already I do not want to include another big side trek into the plot.

I essentially have Faceless One working for Ilthane so when he escaped the characters he went right to her and assumed the identity of an enemy of the Ebon Triad. This is what led to on of my modifications of Blackwall Keep. Sort of tied things in a bit better I think, especially in light of that fact that Blackwall Keep in my game is NOT an outpost of the Free City.


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
What you get here is some excellent tactical encounters held together by very thin bonds. It can work well depending on your group - I'm running newbs and they are having a blast and were pretty beaten up by the U shaped cavern.

Yep, I agree with this assessment. Pieces of tactical ingenuity, among a quite incoherent background.

My players are oldtimers. Some of them can smell a shaky plot miles away (sometimes, when they are in the mood; I got away with murder in some instances).


In the end I see this as something of a strength for the AP as a whole. 3FOE may be a bit weak in story but its got excellent tactical encounters. In another AP we'll see a different author do wonderful things with the plot but some other area will be a bit weak. Its rare that any single author is going to be equally good in all the aspects of the game so in some sense the authors various strengths and weak points will provide a certain amount of variety for the campaign.

Likely all the variety possible is going to be needed as well as the average AP takes somewhere in the range of about two years to run for a group that has a weekly game night.

That's not to say that plugging holes in the plot is not a good plan and with these forums its easier to do. In fact its more the other direction I'm concerned about - The forums are an excellent resource for plugging plot holes but not so much for improving encounters to make them interesting tactically.


Smarnil le couard wrote:

Well, maybe August wasn't the best month to get input on my plot tweaks... Let's try September. <Bump>

You will find below a draft of the Faceless One's notes. I got rid of the coded message sent to Theldrick (the one which was supposedly a taunt, but weirdly included orders to kill Belabar) and replace it with notes written in the margin of a ledger containing daily measurements of arcane things such as « divine energy infusion level », « divine energy balance », « embryonic growth », etc. Entire pages can separate two paragraphs.

[i]I came to life today, in this dark place. Then, the Master's Voice taught me my place in this world, and spoke of my role in the accomplishment of the Ninth Prophecy. He told me I have to forget the surface world, the trees and the sunlight, that these dreamlike memories weren't mine but would stay with me, and that he had taken away from me the face that wasn't mine too. Toiling on the Master's Great Work makes me happy. I hope to prove him my devotion by succeeding where the Ebon Triad project failed...

Good stuff. I modified this for my campaign and have included it as a hand out for my players (after suitably aging and staining it in Gimp).


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:
Good stuff. I modified this for my campaign and have included it as a hand out for my players (after suitably aging and staining it in Gimp).

Glad it pleased you. In the end, I added in both Theldrick’s diary and the Faceless One’s notes some information about the recent assault given by the grimlocks on the Hextorian temple. Theldrick complains about the FO’s seeming unwillingness to help him retaliate, and the FO comment that he needs to stall “because the premature death of one of the vessels could precipitate the early birth of the Tripartite smpawn” <insert huge roar from the black pool here>.

I even went further, because one of the PC is a paladin of Heironeous, sent in Dimaondlake with his lady liege, Dame Melinde, and Father Valkus, the current and quite overpowered head priest, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the previous head priest (named Amon Kyre, in tribute to Erik Mona). So, instead of keeping with the time honoured tradition of having bigwigs NPCs doing absolutely nothing, I made them very interested in all that wormy stuff and talk about an evil cult beneath a mine from the day Smenk’s letter was retrieved from the Old observatory (supposing rightly that there must be a link with their investigation; how many evil cults can you cram in a single mining town?). They sent the worm to the main temple in Greyhawk for quick Commune spells, and got two small poems, one about the worm, one about the mine, that they shared with the PCs. I made sure to inform the PCs that such extended answers were unusual and could mean that they are treading on touchy godly subjects.

Here they are (sorry, they did rhyme in French…)

The worm that walks gnaws at the renegade’s bowels,
And will make the triple abomination spout from Oerth’s corrupted blood,
He who would open the way to the Age of Worms Herald.
The path to salvation start beneath the chosen’s steps.

Under the King’s mask, a Warrior is hidden,
Making both the Herald’s hero and the blind seer dance,
As in the deepest depths, laughs the worm that walks,
Because the ends of some is the beginning of the other.

Some explanations are due :

The first verse of the first poem refer to Ragnolin Dourstone. “Bowels” means both his mines and himself (his corrupted mind). The second and third verse are self explanatory (for us!). The fourth is meant to prod them to the mine.

The first verse of the second poem (about the mine) is about the Faceless One (King and Warrior are two Dragonchess pieces, respectively the one representing the player himself and the weakest one, equivalent to a chess pawn); it means that the apparent head of operations is himself a pawn (and a Simulacrum to boot); my players made me proud, and caught on this one. The second verse refers to his manipulation of Theldrick (priest of Hextor aka Herald of Hell) and Grallak Kur. The third tells about the avolakias masterminds in their Rift lair. The fourth could mean that Kyuss’ coming would spell the end of times, but also that killing Theldrick, Grallak Kur and the FO would trigger the Ebon Aspect birth.

I love foreshadowing...


Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

In the end I see this as something of a strength for the AP as a whole. 3FOE may be a bit weak in story but its got excellent tactical encounters. In another AP we'll see a different author do wonderful things with the plot but some other area will be a bit weak. Its rare that any single author is going to be equally good in all the aspects of the game so in some sense the authors various strengths and weak points will provide a certain amount of variety for the campaign.

Likely all the variety possible is going to be needed as well as the average AP takes somewhere in the range of about two years to run for a group that has a weekly game night.

That's not to say that plugging holes in the plot is not a good plan and with these forums its easier to do. In fact its more the other direction I'm concerned about - The forums are an excellent resource for plugging plot holes but not so much for improving encounters to make them interesting tactically.

Agreed. Quirky tactical situations to make the players sweat a little are good, but most of the time won't suffice to make a good play.

In fact, it all depends on your players' tastes. Some love to fight and dont' care about the rest; others see the fights as boring breaks between thorny RP situations. As DMs, we have to strike the right balance. FOR MY GROUP, I feel that TFoE contains too many fights (some good and some not so good; I am thinking about the labyrinth, here) and too many plot holes.

Other DMs with powergamers wouldn't care as much about the plot, or could be cursed with even worst nitpicking players than mine.

It's much harder to improve the tactical side of things, because it depends too much on the PCs strenghts and weaknesses. For exemple, mine have a lot of levitating or clinging magic on hand. So the grimlocks' caves will be much easier for them than it would be for a landbound group. So in the end, we are all alone to tweak our NPCs' tactics...


Smarnil le couard wrote:

Agreed. Quirky tactical situations to make the players sweat a little are good, but most of the time won't suffice to make a good play.

In fact, it all depends on your players' tastes. Some love to fight and dont' care about the rest; others see the fights as boring breaks between thorny RP situations. As DMs, we have to strike the right balance.

Certainly - I'm running straight up newbs myself so thorny RP dilemma's are not really called for - they have enough trouble dealing with the non-thorny stuff. Plus my Newbs are not (yet) much in terms of role players - they refer to their characters in 3rd person and tell me what their character is going to do or say. For the time being I'll stick to 'modeling' RPing to them as I always play the NPC roles and am descent with funny voices and accents (which is to say I'm really good at really bad accents).

Smarnil le couard wrote:


FOR MY GROUP, I feel that TFoE contains too many fights

I agree with you here even with Newbs who like fighting - its just a bit to much of combat after combat without the greater plot moving forward.

Smarnil le couard wrote:


It's much harder to improve the tactical side of things, because it depends too much on the PCs strenghts and weaknesses. For exemple, mine have a lot of levitating or clinging magic on hand. So the grimlocks' caves will be much easier for them than it would be for a landbound group. So in the end, we are all alone to tweak our NPCs' tactics...

This I don't face as much as you do as I'm DMing 4E and 4E characters are land bound - powerful magic will get you off the ground for like a round but usually the best you can do is be really good at hopping.

Needless to say the U shaped Cavern was a major ass kicking for my players - they eventually hid in the bottom of area #16 to avoid the arrows coming out of the darkness...for a while there it looked as if they might be forced to take on the Choker's niche in the ecology of the U shaped cavern, hiding in the pit from evil arrows that come out of the darkness while scrounging for vermin to eat.


Hi everybody.

I started this thread almost exactly a year ago, and thought I could post how it really went IMC.

The PCs went medieval in the old observatory, assaulting poor old Filge and detaining him for interrogation. When they realized that they had trespassed on Belabar’s property and roughed one of his employees, they spontaneously sought to negociate a truce with him: no retaliation for their "mistake", against all information they could get about the worm by their own means.

So, Belabar had some leverage on them. During the week between AoW and TFoE, I had him lodge a complaint with Sheriff Cubbin for breaking & entering, assault, etc. against “unknown bandits”. He also paid in advance for a Zone of Truth spell, to be cast by the Heironian high priest, to “ensure that the proper culprits are caught and punished”. As one of the PC is himself an Heironian priest/holy warrior, this was in fact a veiled threat, to remind the PC to stay silent about wormy matters. He later explained the complaint away as a “necessary step, given the quite visible damage inflicted on the observatory” and the spell as a “precaution against Sheriff Cubbin’s zeal, which would have led him to arrest the very first vagrant he cam by and frame him for the deed”.

Something like a week later, Belaba extended his invitation to meet him at the observatory (chosen as a neutral ground, plus a subtle reminder of said threat). There, while eating, he spilled his beans. Sort of. In (very) short, he told them that one of his competitors asked him for supply deliveries in exchange for a secret alliance, that smelling something fishy, he sent one of his men (Mestal) down his competitor’s mine, that his agent was killed before he could make a full report but managed to send him the worm and a cryptic note, etc.

In exchange for the information about the mine where the worm was stolen/found (info which was excluded form his letter to Filge IMC), he demanded 1) that the PCs go down there by themselves, without authorities involvement; 2) that they remove all evidence about the supply deliveries he “unknowingly made to dangerous cultists”, fact which could be used against him by unscrupulous competitors. As an afterthought, he asked them to recover the body of another of his agents if they come across it, who disappeared the same night as Mestal, “because competent employees are hard to come by nowadays”. He explained that he couldn’t get the authorities involved because he had no hard evidence, and that he feared that the cultists had spies.

In truth, his main interest is the so-called “second agent” he wants retrieved : the head of a man he murdered himself years ago, retrieved by the Faceless One and used as blackmail material to make him deliver illegal necrotic material, as discussed earlier in this thread. He is quite desperate and is betting (wrongly) that no written trace of his wrongdoings exist deep in the mine; he chose the PCs because of his (false) assumption that they tend to slaughter first and think about it later.

The PCs weren’t fooled by his story, but couldn't find a discrepancy in the fast-talk, and accepted the deal. Later, they infiltrated the Dourstone mine “Splinter Cell” style, using info about the guards roster provided by Belabar, and went down the elevator. Last session, they offed quietly the two guards. They now prepare to assault Hextor's temple.

As a funny twist, they were so focused on their preparations and planning that they completely forgot to tell anyone where they were going. So Belabar is the only living soul who knows where they are. the problem is that he skipped town and went into hiding with most of his wealth as soon as he got confirmation that they went down, as a precautionary measure against an eventual windfall. He only plan to come back if one of his agents send him a “all clear”. So much for the cavalry in case of big trouble…

Cheliax

Jeremy Mac Donald wrote:

Replacing the Dire Boar is sacrilegious. That Dire Boar is almost certainly the single most bad ass creature ever placed into a Paizo publication. It has more character deaths to its name then anything else they have ever published. I'd not be surprised to learn that its in fact the straight up leader in character deaths through out the whole 3.5 era of the game. The Age of Worms obituaries thread is practically a tribute to its prowess. Beast has to much history going for it to be replaced.

Its a tribute to your players if they either loose a comrade here or win through without loss - in either case they are treading ground that has been tread by hundreds of D&D players before them - Age of Worms was hugely popular when it first came out and while comparatively few campaigns saw the whole thing through many, many got to the first few encounters of the second adventure - a lot of them collapsed in a TPK right about the point where the party met Beast...

One way or another, that Dire Boar left a lasting impression on a stunning number of those that have gone before.

AroogA!

<pigspeak>I approve of this message.<pigspeak>


Truffles wrote:

AroogA!

<pigspeak>I approve of this message.<pigspeak>

Sorry, piggy. IMC, you got creamed by the paladin in one headshot (with a spear, to be precise). I guess he got lucky.


The piggy in may game never even got unchained so he was shot down from afar. Poor piggy.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's to reviving this WONDERFUL thread!!!

So I just started 'The Whispering Cairn' adventure last night and have been contemplating the TFOE for sometime as I've run the opening to the AOW's several times. Via this thread I've already changed so much to better tie it in.

Thus far:

1) Alluston has charged his apprentice Rekhyt (the Half-Orc Wizard PC) to put together a team of explorers he could trust and explore the Whispering Cairn. WHY? Because several weeks ago a friend of Alluston's had sent a letter (promptly arriving afterwards), a former member of the Seekers who apprenticed for Alluston before becoming employed by Manzorian. Oraal is a half-elf wizard Level 6 who showed Allustan some notes and a map leading to a location very near to the abandoned Fant mine. Oraal met with a Seeker in town, Kellek and another mystery man who Oraal disclosed was a wonderfully bright wizard with pale skin (The Faceless One). Oraal was to meet with this mystery wizard the next night after meeting with Alluston. Oraal told Alluston that the Seekers were at one time interested in the Cairn and have somehow forgotten about it. He thinks this Kellek is here to find the Cairns again. He gives the map and note to Alluston and disappears the next day (leaving his belongings and his spellbook with Alluston).

So, the Faceless One is attempting to not unify the Three Gods but create his own bestial aspect with some Mo-Gi science. He's not too concerned with Vecna, Hextor or Erthynull at all, being as the Vecna visage is a cover for his real intentions. This of course is to herald the coming Age of Worms. I love the idea of the FO being a simulacrum so I've added that he will show up later with some Green Wormage after being betrayed by Lashonna. (This isn't hardened in stone yet, but is focusing into something.)

My real concern is that i've played TFOE before and I agree with all the problems stated, so what about swapping the Ebon Triad, whole underground mine element with the 'Tomb of Blood Overflowing' from the 'Mad God's Key' in Dungeon #114. I REALLY like the Hextor temple battle so I wanted to include that somehow, but everything else in that place is just okay and I've always felt went sort of slow for my players. What does anyone think? I'm looking for some bounce to make this AOW adventure amazing for my players (they're former 4E players, playing this PF AOW Campaign.)

Also, I wanted to involve the Seekers more in the story. Maybe playing trouble to the party later on? Discovering their plots? Worshippers and Heralds of the coming Age of Worms?


I never ran the Mad God's Key but many DM's rave about it as a great tie in for AoW. The idea sounds pretty solid to me. I actually did not run the Hextor Temple battle having handled the entire matter much differently in my game though based on the most recent AoW Obituaries thread it has been a PC graveyard!


Dennis Harry wrote:
I never ran the Mad God's Key but many DM's rave about it as a great tie in for AoW. The idea sounds pretty solid to me. I actually did not run the Hextor Temple battle having handled the entire matter much differently in my game though based on the most recent AoW Obituaries thread it has been a PC graveyard!

The last few times I ran TFOE it was EASILY the place where a majority of the PC's, died. ESPECIALLY by the Boar.

The more I contemplate this the more I'm in love with it.

I'm going to remove the opening of the Mad God's Key and revamp the Vecna Temple and see where I get with it. Definitely going to add the Temple of Hextor in there, but I'll have to weigh out the CR's for that. Probably swap out the end baddie (haven't actually read through the whole Mad God's Key yet.) for the FO and work in the new plot elements.

This means, while they'll still encounter Filge and speak to Smenk, that Smenk won't tell them about some secret temple hidden beneath the mine. I'm going to still have to figure out how they'll find out about the Cairn where the FO resides, i.e. the Tomb of Overflowing Blood.


My biggest issue with the three temples is that the architecture of them seems really forced. I can force myself to suspend disbelief for the area that was once Vecna's former lab/library, but how did the rest of it get there? Is the idea that cult just decided to build all that over two years? That seems pretty ridiculous.

I'm okay with the Vecna. Erythunul, Hextor thing. Sure their gods would probably stop giving them spells since they've fallen so far into heresy, but Kyuss might be granting them their spells, and they think that they are still getting them from their former god. There's a bit of a precedent for that sort of thing in other D&D products and stories I've read.

As others have said I don't think it makes much sense that Smenk was given a tour of the lair and somehow got away with stealing the worm. However, I'm fine with the idea that Smenk has been contracted to provide supplies for the cult. He's better connected than Ragnolin and can probably get all sorts of stuff that cult might want that Ragnolin can't get his hands on (drugs, poisons etc...)

However, I'm thinking that since Smenk hasn't been impressing the cult lately with the supplies he's been providing and has been trying to squeeze them for more money they decided to send their message in the following way:

Mr. Fixx (Smenk's former right hand man that vanished) has been responsible (along with a few trusted cronies) to deliver the supplies into the mine once a month late at night. On the most recent shipment one of the Faceless One's acolytes was waiting at the lift and insisted that Mr. Fixx come down for a quick meeting. He was obviously worried, but the acolyte assured him that if they wanted him dead, he would have been dead long ago. Despite his reservations he goes down. There the Faceless one is waiting and hits him with a sleep spell. Mr. Fix is KOed and the faceless one has him drink a draught with a slow worm in it. When he wakes up the Faceless one tells him to let Smenk know that he needs to shape up or he will share Mr. Fixx's fate. This get's Mr. Fixx worried because he doesn't know what happened to him while he was a asleep or what fate he's going to receive. At any rate, Mr. Fixx goes back up top (having only been to the first room of the complex) and reports to Smenk. The next day he starts to get very ill due to the slow worm infestation. He stays in his home, considers going to see one of the clerics, but hates both of them. Smenk goes to see him, and he explains that he thinks he's been infected with some sort of illness or poison. In a good gesture for his right hand man and a desire for secrecy, Smenk procures a remove disease scroll and uses his "Use Magic Device" skill to try and cast the spell himself. He fails, and the disease seems to progress even faster (maybe he rolled a 1). Smenk apologizes for letting his friend down, and realizes that Mr. Fixx will have to die (since neither of them want the priests involved). Late that night he has Kullen and his boys help take Mr. Fixx to the outskirts of town, and there Smenk slits his throat has a mercy kill. As he does so some of the worms crawl out of the wound. Smenk is very disturbed by this, but decides he needs to save one of them to figure out what the hell is going on (since he's heard rumours about the unkillable zombies). After taking a big swig from his flask, he puts the worm in it to preserve it in the alcohol. They bury Mr. Fixx, and he swears Kullen and his boys to secrecy. He later hands the worm over to Filge and the story can proceed. This require a bit of modification to the note found in Filge's lair.


Here's my updated letter for the PCs to discover in the observatory:

Filge,

I need you in Diamond Lake. The bastards in the Dourstone Mine have decided to try and send me a message. They killed our boy Fixx. They infected him with some sort of infestation of worms. I know you two were close back in the day. I did what I could to help him- I paid good coin for a scroll to cure disease, but when I tried to cast it, it didn’t work. In the end, I had to put Mestel out of his misery. I made it quick and clean, but when I did these green worms started crawling out of where I had slit his throat. I managed to salvage one of them. I need you to take a good look at it, and tell me what we’re dealing with. Mark my words, they’ve gone too far, and when the time is right I’ll see that they get theirs.

I’ll put you up at the old observatory. Show this letter to the white half orc at the Feral Dog. He’ll help you get settled. I trust you’ll find these coins sufficient to cover your travel from the city.

S


P.H. Dungeon wrote:

My biggest issue with the three temples is that the architecture of them seems really forced. I can force myself to suspend disbelief for the area that was once Vecna's former lab/library, but how did the rest of it get there? Is the idea that cult just decided to build all that over two years? That seems pretty ridiculous.

I'm really liking your setup here. My group is approaching TFOE within probably 2 sessions so I'm trying to decide on some of these fixes. I'm probably going to take your idea here though if I don't complete the Mad God's Key fusion. I'll post it up here when/if I do it.


P.H. Dungeon wrote:
My biggest issue with the three temples is that the architecture of them seems really forced. I can force myself to suspend disbelief for the area that was once Vecna's former lab/library, but how did the rest of it get there? Is the idea that cult just decided to build all that over two years? That seems pretty ridiculous.

I did use this to underscore that the conspiracy has been going on for a very LONG time. IMC, the hextorites came to claim an already laid put temple, courtesy of the Faceless One.

My players did notice, and made the link later to conclude that Dourstone and Moonmeadows had been preparing this for decades before looking out for an Hextorite to trigger the birth of the Triple Abomination (DM's note : it's because the evil-cult-which-is-to stay-unamed try to make the prophecies happen in the order in which they are written, just to play safe ; it's not necessary in fact).

ShijinModan wrote:
Also, I wanted to involve the Seekers more in the story. Maybe playing trouble to the party later on? Discovering their plots? Worshippers and Heralds of the coming Age of Worms?

It's of course possible, but be wary of introducing too much false herrings. A little confusion is nice, too much can disgsust your players. Tying everybody and their cousins into the Age of Worms Conspiracy (AWC) is to be avoided.

Either, I can't explain why the AWC would have any interest in the Whispering Cairn in the first place (except to kill time waiting for delivery). The Faceless is supposed to have sent a Lurking Strangler (tm) into it, but why ? In retrospect, maybe I should have ignored this link. Please, do share what you have come up with to forge this link.


The idea that I posted above also entails that Mestel Fixx has risen as a spawn of Kyuss. After Smenk mercy killed him and salvaged one of the worms he kind of freaked out and left Mestel's corpse in the Abandoned mine. There it rose as a Spawn of Kyuss and is now beginning to plague the town and infect locals. Thus, the PCs will get a somewhat more early introduction to the Spawn of Kyuss. I'll probably also have one or two down in the Vena lair being held prisoner by the Faceless One.

ShijinModan wrote:
P.H. Dungeon wrote:

My biggest issue with the three temples is that the architecture of them seems really forced. I can force myself to suspend disbelief for the area that was once Vecna's former lab/library, but how did the rest of it get there? Is the idea that cult just decided to build all that over two years? That seems pretty ridiculous.

I'm really liking your setup here. My group is approaching TFOE within probably 2 sessions so I'm trying to decide on some of these fixes. I'm probably going to take your idea here though if I don't complete the Mad God's Key fusion. I'll post it up here when/if I do it.


P.H. Dungeon wrote:
The idea that I posted above also entails that Mestel Fixx has risen as a spawn of Kyuss. After Smenk mercy killed him and salvaged one of the worms he kind of freaked out and left Mestel's corpse in the Abandoned mine. There it rose as a Spawn of Kyuss and is now beginning to plague the town and infect locals. Thus, the PCs will get a somewhat more early introduction to the Spawn of Kyuss. I'll probably also have one or two down in the Vena lair being held prisoner by the Faceless One.

Not sure about that. A spawn so soon in the campaign could 1) be too tough; 2) spill the beans too early.

With the highly contagious nature of these undead(spawning in a handful of rounds, without limitation), their natural cunning and their damage resistance, Diamondlake would be oveerun by a free running spawn of Kyuss in no more than half a night, without any recourse available to your players UNLESS you downplay it, pull your punches, etc. Which I hate to do as a DM, as it cheapens the players achievements. Maybe it would be better to NOT include a unwinnable challenge so soon.


Good points, though I think the CR on them is overrated so I'm pretty sure my 2nd level party could handle at least one of the things. I don't think they are as tough as the Wind Warriors, and the PCs are due to fight 2 of those in the near future. Fighting one certainly isn't TPK material, but it might result in a PC fatality. They only have an AC 11 and less than 30 hp, granted they have fast healing, the fear power, the worms and the disease, which is all bad news.

I don't really see encounter a spawn of Kyuss as spilling the beans since they will already know about them from discovering the green worm in Filge's lab and consulting with the necromancer.


P.H. Dungeon wrote:

Good points, though I think the CR on them is overrated so I'm pretty sure my 2nd level party could handle at least one of the things. I don't think they are as tough as the Wind Warriors, and the PCs are due to fight 2 of those in the near future. Fighting one certainly isn't TPK material, but it might result in a PC fatality. They only have an AC 11 and less than 30 hp, granted they have fast healing, the fear power, the worms and the disease, which is all bad news.

I don't really see encounter a spawn of Kyuss as spilling the beans since they will already know about them from discovering the green worm in Filge's lab and consulting with the necromancer.

I see your point, and it all depends on the power level of your PCs.

On the worm topic, it also depends on the amount of intelligence you let them get their dirty pawns on.

IMC, I did without the "unkillable zombies in the hills" rumor, as I intended to make the spawn-plague a consequence of the Blackkeep scenario. All they knew at the end of the Whispering Cairn scenario was that a strange magical wormy thing had been found in one of the mines. They learnt only later that it was Dourstone's. After raiding the Faceless one's laboratory and reading his research notes, they got that the stolen worm had a a link with something called the "tenth prophecy", while the Overgod experiment was part of the ninth. They had to wait for a lizardman to spill his beans (in fact, his worms) to get an firsthand insight into the workings of the worm they had form the start, and then proceeded sucessfully to stop the spreading of the spawn-plague among the Blackstone garnison (they had liberated the hostages earlier, before they got to the Twisted Branch lair). They just forgot about the possible lizardmen carriers, and let the plague start from the marshes...

As you can see, I choose to let them in the dark for quite long. If they had known from the start what was their worm, they would have acted in a different way (would have worked fine: it's all a matter of taste. Some players hate to be kept guessing for too long, some others love piecing together small clues until they get a full picture).


The one thing I don't like/understand about the Blackwell keep plan, is that Ilthane wants to infect the eggs. That means you end up with a bunch of tiny hatchling spawn, but because they are undead they will never get any bigger. Wouldn't it make more sense to be trying to infect full grown lizardfolk, so you can breed proper sized spawn?

Of course there a lots of things in the campaign that are kind of off in my opinion that I will change a little.

For instance, in the whispering cairn- why build a entire underground complex for apparently less than a dozen labourers and an architect to presumably be using as a temporary residence while they build the cairn? You could be using that time to build the actual tomb part.

I ended up leaving the lair of the architect, as I figured that he was very egotistical and really wanted to immortalize himself with his own special area of the cairn. However instead of the lair of the labourers I made a catacomb level where more Wind Duke warriors were interred. They would have been Zosiel's honour guard. I decided that they had been cremated and their ashes were set on magical plinths that caused them to blow about just above them in strange patterns- sort magical, moving ash sculptures. It seemed like a cool and different way to inter Wind Dukes. My players seemed to dig it anyhow. I keep the flooded area, but it was catacombs not showers. I ditched the water elemental and had a big crack in the floor suggesting that there had been a long ago earth quake and water from a subterranean aquifer had flooded the room.

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