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Age of Worms new campaign, ironing out the bugs


Age of Worms Adventure Path

Silver Crusade

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The next campaign I run is going to be Age of Worms, which had we not been sidetracked by an excellent Kingmaker campaign, would have already begun. Still, gives me time now to read through the adventures, forums, and try to iron out what I like and don't like. Really looking for (1)feedback on what did or didn't work, and (2) feedback on my adjustments, some taken from these forums. Also, if anyone's substituted an adventure or slipped some appropriate side adventures in, ideas on those.

Setting: Taladas (Dragonlance).

Spoiler:
Want something a tad different from traditional settings, gives a different take on cultures (e.g. barbarian elves, minotaur league, tinker gnomes) without a headache on major conversions. The only drawback is that the Age of Worms really is a limited geography adventure; you don't venture far out in the world, and Taladas has a lot to share. The geography of Taladas doesn't perfectly fit the modules, so I'll have to add a marsh and a rift or two in Northern Hosk, with Kristophan as the "city."

Changes- Campaign Hook:

Spoiler:
I'm going to work with the players on backgrounds by providing a unique bit of history, inspired by Erik Mona's backgrounds. This shores up the reason to hit up the cairn. Intermixing backgrounds, the players get a lead off the name "Ulavant," a bragging adventurer from the city who came in 60 years ago and never came back. This leads to the idea maybe the tomb he went to was never uncovered, and a search of old maps confirms he was headed to the "Whispering Cairn" as well as an old mine nearby that would make a good base of operations.

Allustan:

Spoiler:
Giving Allustan a permanent limp and more of a non-combat, non-adventurer role. He got the limp from surviving the Test that wizards on Krynn (though Taladas has no official Tower of High Sorcery). Haven't resolved how to use the Test of High Sorcery with split classes like the Magus, but that's another day.

Kyuss History Changes

Spoiler:
It's actually a great story, my adjustments are mostly for flavor. Kyuss was a mortal priest of Chemosh, god of undead, who, after being banished from the Aurim Empire, delved into the magical arts of transformation as part of a cult of elemental sorcerers known as the Jezulein. He relocated his fanatical followers into the jungle city of Kuluth-Mar (in modern Neron). There, driven by a combination of Jezulein extremism about shedding the mortal shell and prophecy about an apocalypse that only his loyal followers would survive, he came across metal plates of ancient spellweavers that detailed the Age of Worms. One such spell-weaver, an ancient lich named Ma’Kar, aided Kyuss with in his quest for immortality by providing a single greem worm that would become his legacy. His powers grew immense as he created hordes of new undead, all bound to him. Soon, he turned his powers upon the Jezulein, eradicating most of them and sacrificing their power and magic to his ascension. However, the ritual failed, and Kyuss was trapped in the monolith that had focused his ascension.
The Jezulein (known as "mud sorcerers" due to tendencies to command earth and water) elite, never resting on their laurels, had divined their destruction and the strongest of them constructed tombs to hide in stasis, compelling followers to later seek them out and awaken them once the danger had passed. This divination would come true, at the hands of Kyuss.
One of the Mud Sorcerers, Tzolo (from adventure mud sorcerer's tomb) also divined tools to combat the destruction, but knew she would be unable to accumulate them in time. She secreted the knowledge and scattered a handful items to her most loyal of followers to be held in their tombs in case she were destroyed. Two of these items would end up in the tomb of Zosiel, her first apprentice, in the Whispering Cairn.
I just didn't like the final Kyuss battle and spontaneously discovering at that moment that maybe certain artifacts could help. While Tzolo won't be a complete spoiler, a few bits here and there might encourage the party to hang onto a few things.
The rest of the story flows like the path states.

Removing Wind Dukes:

Spoiler:
Removed the Wind Dukes from the Whispering Cairn and replaced with mud sorcerer history. While the story ties in later, it's too much distraction and might even lead one to think they're out to find the Rod of Seven Parts. Plus, the Wind Dukes' battle was with the Queen of Chaos. While Kyuss has a Chaotic alignment, just seems too much focused on the Dukes. Replacing their story with the few surviving Jezulein that Kyuss eradicated.
Changed Zosiel from a wind duke to mud sorcerer, apprentice to Tzolo. He was a rare master of air and obsessed with Vaati history, even shaving and modifying his appearance to look like one. Changed some sigils and the murals to reflect a mystery behind building of the tombs and emphasize importance of the circlet to Zosiel (the circlet absorbed his life essence to empower itself while Zosiel was in stasis). Modified the tomb cover to reflect his greatest feat, mastering a sphere of annihilation with Tzolo's gift, the talisman.

Changed Alastor from having Vaati heritage to rather being descended from mud sorcerer followers who scattered to escape Kyuss and could not safely restore their masters. Magically compelled to awaken their masters at one time, the compulsion passes down to children, skipping some generations. It has led to the Land family being drawn to settle in this area, and for Alastor to seek the Whispering Cairn, not understanding fully why a trap or two parted for him. Ultimately, though, without the "Scrolls of Liberation" provided thousands of years ago to the followers to bypass all the traps, Alastor fell prey to one. As a child, he does not fully understand, but later as a plot devince, he'll mature and share more knowledge with the players at much, much higher levels, concerning the destruction of the Jezulein.

Three Faces of Evil:

Spoiler:
The hooks on this one are a joke (e.g. Allustan just happened to research a carefully hidden holy site and its location?) Based on forum posts, changing to have rumors of abominations in hills with green worms in them. Recently, three garrison soldiers killed in hills, fourth came back raving about green worms. He was found with throat slit in an alley (courtesy of Ragnolin's toughs). Smenk had gotten suspicious of all the shipments going into the Dourstone mine and sendt in his right-hand man Mestal with invisibility. Mestal found the green worm and secreted it away with his glove of storing, then put it and a short report in a drop box which Smenk later retrieved. Mestal was tracked by the Ebon Triad who ended up killing him. At this point, Smenk brought in Filge to help him. When he learns of the party's involvement with Filge, he decides to kill two birds with one stone. He can get the party to infiltrate the mine, eliminating them or whatever's in the mines. If all goes well, he might put a claim on the mine...

Changing layout of mines to have the Temple level accessed by elevator directly, then adding a lift within the temple that connects to the other two levels just as the original map entails.

Based on a forum post, changing Theldrick to be a fallen local priest who turned to the Ebon Triad (Hextor replaced with Taladas god Sargas, god of vengeance). Ebon Triad's powers are fueled primally by the leaking powers of Chaos, an overgod that lies trapped but would certainly adhere to worship of anything that would seek to destroy three established gods of this world. Chaos, however, is an entirely separate campaign, and this is purely to explain how the Ebon Triad is getting its powers.

Blackwall Keep:

Spoiler:
May add motivation that Marzena is a family or even romantic interest, sending note to both PC and "smartest man" Allustan. Looking at 30 lizard men occupied with defenders in a keep and I'm thinking a 5th level party should handle them with relative ease. Since we've done Kingmaker, thinking of combining "mass combat" rules with the battle "missions." Using DM fiat to have the party arrive at the keep near sunset when the lizard men regroup, then run a mass combat. Also, with Allustan a non-combatant, would have him volunteer to "dimension door" inside and help however he can. Would grant a bonus to army defense if he makes it in.
- First foray - party is engaged by lizard men attempting to drag away staggered soldiers into the swamp. These soldiers can tell about others being taken.
- Second Foray: party assumes control of guards inside the barricaded keep. Three lizard men manange somehow to penetrate the upper tower and are seeking to remove the barricade. They come down the stairs. If guards defeated, barricade is removed and army loses Fortification bonus
- Leaders emerge: Behind enemy lines, party can spot enemy leaders. Defeat of leaders will demoralize lizard man army.. If the lizard army still "wins", the party may need to clean out the keep of survivors.

Looking to Replace:

Spoiler:
Particularly looking for a replacement for Gathering of Winds (11th) that gets the party to 12th level, at which point I'll plan on having Ilthane attack Diamond Lake but replace Icosiol's tomb with Mud Sorcerer's Tomb (14th), applying adventure hooks as above.

Pretty pleased with the rest of the modules as written, just a few minor changes. On a side note, has anyone run into a party that recalled that blocked passage in Whispering Cairn and tried to clear it out on their own?

Andoran

It looks like you have just about everything covered for the opening stages. I'm planning on replacing Icosiol's tomb with the Tomb of Horrors, converted from 3.5 to Pathfinder (obviously) and scaled up from 9th level to 11th level. If you're looking for just something to bump the party up a level you could still use it but add some other links to the campaign so you can than move on to Ilthane's attack.

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