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AoW 3.5 Campaign -- Starting Up


Age of Worms Adventure Path


So I was asked to run the Age of Worms by a group of players I DM for. Some of them played some of the early WC encounters, but a TPK ended the campaign and we moved on (in fact, I'm fairly sure we didn't get past the wolves).

They have all grown in their character building skills since then, and to date I know I have the following:

Wood Elf Barbarian 1 (a new player, I designed the character myself)
Whisper Gnome Transmuter 1 (meant to be a buffer/debuffer)
Human Factotum 1 (Skill junkie, and backup everything)
Wilder 1 (My first experience DMing for a psionic character)
and a fifth unknown character.

As you can tell I have a fairly open book policy on my campaigns (I realize this can cause problems with published adventures, more on that in a momment).

I intend to start with one PC inheriting the deed to an abandoned mine office. After some roleplay I'm hoping to guide the PCs there (maybe as a hired workforce to renovate) where they will find an old map with text written in Vaati. A Map which clearly shows the location of the Whispering Cairn. Hopefully (although its not required) they will take the text to get translated by Allustan giving them their connection to him. I'm open to suggestions on this, but we start tomorrow so it's not going to change much, I think.

More to the point, I understand the adventure path was built (mostly)SRD only to comply with the OGL. So I'm looking for suggestions on things to change to make it a challenge for a group with a wider book selection. Mainly what, if any changes, should be made to spell lists with the addition of the Spell Compedium?


I ran this campaign twice in 3.5, and ended up with a TPK twice. One was in 3 Faces of Evil, the next was in Hall of Harsh Reflections. Even with the players using each and every splat book out there, including the spell compendium. I didn't modify a thing as DM.

I am now running it in 4E and the game is running a LOT better.

Not sure if you'd consider trying it in 4E, but I am happy that I did.


From a player perspective, I'm okay with 4e. However I'm saving my first attempt at running it for when WotC reproduces Tomb of Horrors (supposedly sometime in 2010).

I've read that Dragotha's spell list in particular could use some tweaking with the spell compendium, hence why I asked if anyone else's should be looked at.


I am starting the AoW in a month myself. As I move forward I will reach out and let you know what I think as I am also allowing all 3.5 books for the characters.

I think for the NPC's in general though it would be useful to have Spell Compendium handy as a DM and swap out spells as you see fit, that is what I plan on doing. I am also running my game in the Forgotten Realms so some NPC's I will tweak a bit just because I want a different mix of classes in some cases.


Dennis Harry wrote:

I am starting the AoW in a month myself. As I move forward I will reach out and let you know what I think as I am also allowing all 3.5 books for the characters.

I think for the NPC's in general though it would be useful to have Spell Compendium handy as a DM and swap out spells as you see fit, that is what I plan on doing. I am also running my game in the Forgotten Realms so some NPC's I will tweak a bit just because I want a different mix of classes in some cases.

I've started it two weeks ago. If you want to share ideas, as I think we shall have a similar time line, email me drfegg@aol.com.

My campaign log is around here somewhere...
I have made what I think I made good use of The Faceless One very early on. This weekend the party may just turn on themselves...


Adam500 wrote:

From a player perspective, I'm okay with 4e. However I'm saving my first attempt at running it for when WotC reproduces Tomb of Horrors (supposedly sometime in 2010).

I've read that Dragotha's spell list in particular could use some tweaking with the spell compendium, hence why I asked if anyone else's should be looked at.

Dragotha is far enough down the road that you should wait to see the power levels of your PC's before you adjust him. They may not even be playing with the same characters at that time, modifying him twice is only more work for you.

Read this Killer GM Runs Age of Worms . It has good tips and its good entertainment.


Final Party Makeup

- NG Strongheart Halfling Wizard (Necromancer) 1
- CN Maenad Wilder 1
- NG Human Cleric (Pelor) 1
- NG Half-Orc Ranger 1
- LG Human Paladin (Kord) 1
- C? Wood Elf Barbarian 1 (Not present at first session)
- ?? Human Factotum 1 (Not present at first session)

After the first session I'll open a campaign log and leave this open for discussion.


Smarnil le couard has some interesting tweakings in this thread on adjusting the second adventure in the path. It is definitely worth reading.


I decided to make the Faceless a warforged made of flesh. It ties into the story of one of my characters, as Warforged are very recent additions to my FR world.

I would love to compare notes, I will shoot you an email after I actually start :-)

My final party make up is:

Elven Fighter 1,
Warforged Warblade 1,
Human Rogue 1,
Elan Psion 1,
Human Necromancer 1,
Dwarven Cleric 1, and
Sendasti (a race from a 3rd party publication) Barbarian 1.

With the backgrounds I developed with these guys they are like the Watchmen of adventuring groups should be a lot of fun to run especially with a Necromancer in the party!


I'm pleasantly surprised to see others starting up an AOW campaign. I've played through quite a bit of it a few years ago, and now I want to run it with a new group I'm DM'ing for. We're currently finishing up a 4.0 custom adventure in FR, so I'm still debating (1) whether to convert AOW to 4.0, and (2) which campaign setting to run it in. When I played, we used Eberron/3.5, which worked well. I've been enjoying 4.0, but I'm also wanting to keep things relatively low maintenance, so leaning towards 3.5. Any suggestions?

I only announced the campaign a couple weeks ago, and we still have 2-3 more sessions of the current adventure, so my players haven't picked characters for the new one yet, but so far we've got 5 players.

I'd love to hear about how your games are going, and/or compare notes :)


This is how I started AoW here
It foreshadows the Faceless One, more in the TFoE tweakings thread.

Qadira

My group just finished this campaign all the way through. Only three deaths, but they were all fairly monumental. Made level 20 by the end and let them retire as epic characters (may pick it fromthere someday, but having a dm break atm)

My advice on the spell compendium mostly comes for the buffing members of your party (if any). All the mass spells are essential, especially since they naturally allow you to selct who gets healed rather than just release an area effect. This works for your guys as well as the party.

Make sure a caster has access to mass conviction at some stage. The extra save bonuses are a must for EVERY character. If its a cleric casting this, then that bonus gets high and becomes very important in the end game phase.

As for attacking spells, let your players dictate what works. When they start using spells that are effective, make sure you swap them in for something else with the baddies you're running. It worked well for me and I didn't modify the spell lists of my NPC's too much at all, just occasionally threw one of the characters favourite spells right back at them. The orb spells are particularly dangerous as they are touh attack, no save. That hurts rogues and characters with evasion alot.

Be careful of Psionics, make sure you track how much they overchannel a power. The overchannel mechanic has built in limits but some of those psionic effects are far more powerful than equivalent spells.

DON'T use spells from other splat books. Many of the ones from the complete series are not well balanced and were superceded by the spell compendium. Sorry if that sounds bossy of me. We had some issues with spells my players wanted to use from those books. One fight was a complete NPC wipe because of a thorn spell in the complete divine. It had been nerfed in spell compendium but my player was using the divine version and complained when I made him convert over. It's easier to set the blanket rule at the beginning rather than have that fight half way through.

That's all I can think of. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. It was by far the best campaign we have played to date, and that really has everything to do with the quality story line and game design.

Cheers.


Hey Jes. I am not playing with 4.0 but I would think the conversion would generate a lot more work. The easiest way to run it would be using 3.5 rules in Greyhawk. That being said I am running it using 3.5 in the Forgotten Realms and expanding the adventure.

Since you already ran it, no need to state you should read through it all first :-)


I hate to say, but after the party split apart in the whispering Cairn (half going down the hold below the green lantern, the other half going down the elevator below yellow) we mutually agreed there was going to be a TPK, and the campaign ended prematurely.

Another player in the group has been wanting to run Red Hand of Doom, so I'm letting him, and I'm going to try to subtly improve this group's tactics as we play.

Meanwhile I have a second AoW group Ive been running for some more experienced players, currently on Encounter at Blackwall Keep.

Tomorrow I run them through the massive combat that will ensue outside the keep (basically the start of the adventure). Should be interesting.

If anyone is wondering this group (currently) consists of:

Human Cleric (pelor) 5 - Only character with no deaths.
Tiefling (lesser) Fighter 4 (I think fighter. He TWF)
Human Fighter 4 (Spiked-Chain AoO variety)
Catfolk Ranger 3
Goliath Fighter 3 (I think)
Human Wizard or Sorceror 4 (I forgot)


The battle at the keep went swiftly. With two groups of Lizard-folk attacking the keep itself while Kushak and Shest with the other four groups attacked the PCs. Fireball from a scroll, a few enlarged combatants. Kushak sounds a retreat before dying. Shest following into the Lizard-afterlife.

So now they find themselves outside the Lizardfolk lair deep in the Mistmarsh (with not much more than a few Spider Ambushes stopping them).
Nightfall is encroaching (its about an hour before they would normally stop traveling) and I determined the Harpies hadn't yet come out.

Next Monday they enter the Twisted Branch lair.

I can't help but feel that due to the experience of some of my players they are walking through this module a bit, but I'm inclined to let them after 3 player deaths on the Ebon Aspect.

Group Makeup (corrected and updated) is as follows:

Human Cleric (pelor) 5 - Only character with no deaths.
Tiefling (lesser) Fighter 4 (TWF)
Human Fighter 5 (Spiked-Chain AoO variety)
Catfolk Ranger 4
Goliath Barb 1/Fighter 2
Elf Rogue/Spellthief (in some combination, he passes himself off IC as a Wizard)

It'll be interesting to see how this group handles (and I handle) HoHR.


Adam500 wrote:

I hate to say, but after the party split apart in the whispering Cairn (half going down the hold below the green lantern, the other half going down the elevator below yellow) we mutually agreed there was going to be a TPK, and the campaign ended prematurely.

Another player in the group has been wanting to run Red Hand of Doom, so I'm letting him, and I'm going to try to subtly improve this group's tactics as we play.

Basically, it seems your players weren't motivated at all by the AoW campaign. Calling it quits without even bothering to play out a possible TPK is the sure sign of bored players.

Osirion

Adam500 wrote:
I can't help but feel that due to the experience of some of my players they are walking through this module a bit, but I'm inclined to let them after 3 player deaths on the Ebon Aspect.

This is a chapter that can vary wildly in difficulty, depending on what languages the PCs speak, and whether they are inclined to parley.

There really aren't that many lizardfolk at the siege, not enough to make it a sure thing, even before the PCs show up. One PC snuck in, invisible, and talked to the soldiers, went back, and the PCs charged across the lizard camp. Killed 10, wounded several more, including a KO on the war-leader. Quite obviously, the remainder were in no mood to continue, but had hidden their true numbers via fake trenches and pavises. So there was a truce, in which they revealed why they were attacking ('Ape-wizards from big town kill our eggs!'), but not who had given them that information.

They agreed to take a message to their chief, and slunk off. The PCs searched the keep, and found evidence that Marzena had been lured to a fake truce. After being attacked, she had teleported back to the keep, but been snatched from the battlements by Ilthane's harpies, before being able to write more than a brief warning.

I foreshadowed Ilthane, by having the dragon appear on the horizon, and making Allustan fly off to act as a decoy and harass her, taking both big guns out of the picture. I don't like the written event of him teleporting for for help, given it's so few lizardfolk.

A small dragon did attack the PCs on the roof top (I added this to explain why none of their bird-messengers were getting through). This dragon was beaten, but escaped.

The spawn in the cellar I changed, as it made no sense that the soldiers would lock one into a tunnel, and then NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT FOR YEARS. I had it be one of the soldiers who had accompanied Marzena, been attacked, teleported back with her, but already infected by slow-worms. This gave him time to recognise the symptoms, and wall himself up, scratching a message in the wall with his dagger ('The kobolds have poisoned me'), which made no sense to the PCs. They found him after taking a head-count, and someone asking 'Where's Ulfgar? I thought he came back from the swamp...'.

Once they made it to the Twisted Branch, using directions in Marzena's earlier notes (always provide more than one clue!), the lizardfolk were already expecting them, so they demanded an audience with the chief. I was happy for this, because I really didn't want to play out several pointless fights with CR1 goons.

Instead, they met all the tribal leaders, and tried to ask for Marzena and the prisoners to be released. All the evil lizards had been detected as such. Hishak, the druid, can speak Sylvan, which the others can't, so she told the PCs 'The chief has already decided to kill you. If you kill them, I'll deal with you.'
Cue one massive brawl (chief, sub-chief, evil druid, half-dragon guards, elite lizardfolk, and even the otyugh), with most of the normal members of the tribe kept out by webs, which made it easier to form a truce afterwards. Hishak took control of the tribe, looked at some random papers of the PCs, and bluffed her people that she'd seen proof of Ilthane's treachery. Time to bag up the eggs, and evacuate the lair...


So my group of players for my Monday night game are on their way back to Blackwall Keep. They successful negotiated with the Lizardfolk Shaman and dealt with the guardians Ilthane left behind in the egg room.

Now laden with the treasures Ilthane left behind they are carrying one additional unique item.... Ilthane's "Egg".

So I'm looking for ideas on how to handle this, I could simply have a random encounter in the Marsh target the egg (Constrictor Snake?), but I'm wondering if this is sufficiently devious enough.

So, ideas?


Adam500 wrote:

So my group of players for my Monday night game are on their way back to Blackwall Keep. They successful negotiated with the Lizardfolk Shaman and dealt with the guardians Ilthane left behind in the egg room.

Now laden with the treasures Ilthane left behind they are carrying one additional unique item.... Ilthane's "Egg".

So I'm looking for ideas on how to handle this, I could simply have a random encounter in the Marsh target the egg (Constrictor Snake?), but I'm wondering if this is sufficiently devious enough.

So, ideas?

I eventually had the egg hatch. Coupled with the fact that the egg was surrounded by kobold eggs the heroes can be allowed to put 2 and 2 together with a sufficient wisdom or intelligence check of your choice.


You could have it break open while they are resting that would be evil :-)

I am not sure if it would be more interesting to have it break open in Blackwall Keep or in Diamond Lake.

If it opens in Diamond Lake too soon though it drastically changes the future direction of the game.

What if they leave it and it opens in Diamond Lake right before they return from the Champions' Games? That would add to the chaos of a Gathering of Winds.

Of course if they try to break it open sooner then that would be fun too!

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