Fantastic stuff Haakon.
My story is also one of needing most of the prep work done for me (thus my enthusiasm for Dungeon and Dragon all these years), so just know that I will be looking at all of your hard work with interest!
Thanks so much for sharing like many others have over the years on this web site.
I TOTALY agree that it is up to you. I also applaude you for thinking in terms of what is going to make this encounter the most fun!
You know your players and the characters better than any of us, so I would say my last piece of advice would be a final question you can ask yourself:
What situation keeps ALL the players engaged in the encounter and happy knowing that they are participating?
Good Luck Dude! And let us know how it went and what your players thought of it.
I have to say that the Alleybasher should not have been able to lock the door. If there is a key as the adventure says, then you should have to use the key to BOTH lock and unlock the door.
I would back it up to the Alleybasher having moved, then close the door. It's not locked, and the group both outside and inside can make the hard choices of where they should focus their energy. Triel is a Bad MF wjhen hopped up with all her spells!
That sort of situation is both fun and exciting, I hope you have fun with it, and make Triel dash off some speech about how the group outside the room won't have time to hear the ones in the room scream....
I think you have about six months of great gaming there.
Having just completed Zenith Trajectory, I can totaly see Splintershield as having the "key to get home" for his old dwarven fortress portal.
My group got to about 8th level at the end of that adventure, do you think that will satisfy your group? Or, do you plan to continue with more adventures after the group "gets home"?
On a side note, I found the Forge of Fury to be one of the best adventures my group ever played in, and they STILL talk about it today almost EIGHT YEARS after playing it.
Great choice Hakkon1!
Awesome Patman, just knowing that you have to do that makes you a good DM, even if you don't manage to pull it off all the time!
My group favors the "out of game" approach to playing with a few exceptions during the more dramatic moments of play. Who doesn't want to spew off a few well placed lines as they take down the Big Bad Evil Guy?
Could be the best reason they end up NOT doing that. Maybe the guards... (or the local group of heros) would look there first as well?
The number of players also makes a great deal of difference. If you have just four players then yes, a larger point buy might be the way to go. If, however you have six or more players you could consider just letting them make normal characters. I have found my large group of eight players to have little trouble with the adventure unless I play the monsters very very smart.
Hope that helps!
Pat, isn't it wonderful to have this delemma?!
I have 8 players in my current campaign and have kept the group up to speed with boosts in XP due to "good roleplaying", and a few side quests to add more treasure and flesh out some players character stories.
I think it's awesome that you are just "leveling up" whenever the DM says so. If I could, I would use this method myself for a large group. How are you handling Item Creation? That would be my big question. Also, remember that if XP is not tied to the number of opponents they face in combat, you can hit a group with just about ANYTHING you can think of, and make the bad guys fight SMART. (Why use one dragon when you can hit them with two for the same price!)
Big groups lead to big fights over treasure if there is only a few big ticket items. I would suggest using the Magic Item Compendium to create treasure lists that have a bunch of smaller items to spread around to the groups. Hand out potions and scrolls like candy!
At the point in the story where this takes place I imagine in my minds eye that this is the "slow season" for traffic on the road from Sasserine to Cauldron. Heavy rains, jungle predators, and the fact that the crop harvests were several months ago in the "fall". A modest ammount of traffic would still be on the roads due to the mineral and gem mining that occurs, but it wouldn't be much in my opinion.
Traffic would pick up considerably in a month or two when "spring" arrives in chapter four...
I also had this problem, and set it up so that the inn keeper survived the attack due to the groups "heroics".
They then offered him money to fix the place up and became silent partners.
It's an easy way to keep the game from bogging down, but still let the players feel like they own a shiney new "toy".
My campaign is at the beginning of Chapter Four.
One of my players has been playing a priest of Wee Jas.
With the suggestion of the Hardcover that some sort of "underground" movement could be started in the temple, drawing the player character in, I have gotten the PC together with Calmus Vel to have a talk.
But what should be revealed at this point? I can see this sort of thing bringing the game to a complete halt as the group swings their focus on just cleaning out the temple right away. The temple of Wee Jas has a strict heirarchy, meaning that this meeting between two low ranking members is a BIG DEAL, but how far to take it at this point?
I like the idea... but how are you going to convey it to the party?
I just finished my "side adventure" between Ch3 and 4, and threw the Triel map behind a "false wall" in the home of the Tiefling Vervil Ashmantle. The group was impressed, and even though I didn't change a thing about it, they read exactly what they should have from it despite the different placement. I will start feeding foreshadowing dreams to the discoverer of the map soon.
Ashamntle escaped them with the parting words of "don't ever sleep". A great way to start the dreams off!
(insert evil DM laugh here)
Age of Worms was one of my favorite campaigns EVER. I ran it for the same group I am now running Shackled City for. I am running SC in Golarion though, so there will be no connection, sadly. The characters and the whole AoW was tremendous. I started Savage Tide, but we got sidetrekked...hopefully after this one...
Out of curiosity Patman, does the group have a problem with running the APs out of order? Do they know/care that you are doing it that way? I am thinking of doing AoW next and was wondering about the links between it and this campaign.
Wow, good question, but I don't recall ever telling my players what year it was.
I flooded them with a lengthy Pre-Campaign booklet detailing almost everything that made the adventure series specific to Greyhawk (calender, coinage, races of humans, etc.), but they never even stopped to ask what year it was!
Our last campaign wrapped up in about 602 or 603, so I suppose this could be considered about 2 to 5 years after that. I like to keep the clock running for the years to keep it as close to our current year (in the real world) as possible. we started this campaign in the spring of 2010, so lets call our current year in the campaign the Spring of 611 (we are headed into the beginning of Chapter 4).
I kind of got caught in this trap as well. The group went half and half (demons / founders) and it became quickly apparent that the detail just wasn't there as far as names.
My solution was to throw that out of the picture as being unnessesary. I emphasised to the group that this was a Costume Ball and that it was a Masked Ball to boot. Clothing and Hair style was what was really important, as well as magical accesories or baubles if they could arainge for them. This brought the group back into focus, and let them go "hog wild" with their imaginations as they began to use their magical talents to spice up their outfits and the carriages that they arrived at the ball in.
Illusion Magic. It gets left on the roadside a lot in my campaigns, but the group really enjoyed using it in this creative way.
Sorry Patman, didn't hear about this one. I did a big contest at the Temple of Kord, with lots of skill activities to include as many PC's as I could.
I also played up the Drinking contest to get lots of folks involved as well. ( the wizard almost took the whole contest believe it or not, great dice rolls!)
To draw it back into the plot line, this seems like a great time to introduce the Stormblades into the mix. (if you haven't already)
They can arrive to disparage your priest's new church at an opportune moment when the rest of the PC party is around to back him up. Just the sort of thing to get a street brawl going!
LOL, I just spent an entire night scanning this very same material earlier this month! Shimrath's scans are great. If you want backup copies of your maps this is a fantastic resource. Thanks a lot Shimrath!
P.S. My group currently on "vacation" in between Chapters 3 and 4 out in the Amedio Jungle helping a group of Olman natives get rid of their green dragon problem.
Currently running the Demonskar Ball as laid out by DD.
The group is LOVING IT. Great stuff DD thanks so much for the extra content. My group needed that chance to get in good with some of the nobles.
The fact that the players have not drawn a blade in two weeks of playing is very foreign to them, but a great change of pace for us.
ELCIAN - Great tie-ins for your group! I have been looking to work similar magic with my group. The players are feeling the extra spark of having a personal stake in the campaign.
Keep up the good work everyone!
I completely agree. My group is loving the urban aspect of the AP, and I'm finding them diving headfirst into becoming a part of the city and it's people.
Budding romance between a Stormblade and a PC.
PC's attempting to join the Alleybashers simply to get a crack at the Last Laugh.
A PC attempting to join the Bluecrater Academy
The dwarf priest rededicating the desecrated Chapel to Moradin they found.
EVERYONE getting ready for the Demonskar Ball.
I am sure to have quite a time just getting everyone to stay on the storyline! But that is a great thing. It means everyone is having a good time, and that is what really matters.
Five years huh? Woah. Hope we get through it faster than that. Thanks a bunch Qualidar for the report on the entire AP. As we are just getting into the beginning, I will try to take that advice and use it. I hope to make my game as exciting as I have read some others to be on this website!
A big Congrats dude. It's always satisfying to reach the end of a campaign.
The trial happened today, with the group preparing the night before. They ALMOST got distracted by recieving their invitations to the upcoming Demonskar Ball that night. Many players were ready to haul off and go shopping for costumes right then and there. Afew others wanted to go back into the dungeon, but were persuaded not to in case they got caught up in something that might make them miss the trial.
The next day saw the group at the trial. Skellerang, Vhahlantru, and Krewis were the tribunal, with speeches made basicallly stating to the players how they were going to vote for punishment. (I played as I stated in the previous post) I allowed each player who wanted to make a speech aguing how they thought punishment should be determined. As expected, the group came down on two sides of the matter, but only one player really pushed for "throwing the book at him".
Here's the KICKER!
The group had gone to the Malachite fortress, saved three of the four children and four other people, but retreated with out going to the cell block area. They never returned to that area and days and days had passed since they had defeated all of the hobgoblins. The PC group spent that time doing business in town, buying items and partying.
At just the right time during Ghelves trial I had the Stormblades burst into the courtroom with the remaining citizens who were in the dungeon in tow! They announced that they had collapsed the tunnels to the Underdark and that these people had a right to testify as well, and that they had been saved only due to the Stormblades heroics, and the PC's utter carelessness! Oh what a *&#@!storm THAT kicked up!
Party rivals immediatly closed ranks against a common enemy, and the group would have tried to slaughter the Stormblades if Captain Skellerang had not warned them all that they were in a court of law. What fun! As a DM watching the group come to the realization that they had screwed up, and left part of the dungeon unexplored was priceless. Several players saw right away that the group did not have a leg to stand on, and that the Stormblades had just COMPLETELY upstaged the PC's in a public setting. The group had barely known who the Stormblades were before, but they are BITTER enemys now.
Almost as a side note both groups were tossed out of the court and ended up in the courtyard of the City Watch Barracks staring each other down (no fighting kids!). Ghelves trial was ended with each player who spoke getting a diplomacy check to sway the verdict towards his view. Ghelve got off very lightly, with only a small fine (which the PC's paid for him) and 4 months in prison, during which he would replace all the locks he had sold in town.
They will remember this one for awhile... my hats off to everyone who ran this trial before me. It was much easier to run with your input guiding me!
My group just about came to blows over this one and I have to say, as disturbing as that may sound to you reading this I LOVED IT. How often does a truely aweful moral delemma like this one come up in D&D? It's tough to set up and tough to roleplay (for Me).
My group has argued about Ghelve for WEEKS now, and that was long before I had the City Watch arrest him. A lot of the players came down on the side of "Ghelve was forced to help commit these awefull crimes". But at the same time, several of the groups players who were roleplaying Lawful characters took the stance of "Nothing matters but finding the children, lets beat him till he tells us what he knows then throw him in jail for the rest of his life(or kill him for aiding these guys who just attacked us)".
WOW! Let me tell you the players went back and forth on this one and I acctually had to stop a gaming session to remaind them that this was a great debate, but that it wasn't REAL. I even threw in extra experience points for what I saw as fantastic "Roleplaying" as they argued about it.
Next week will be Ghelves trial, and the group is really hurt that I had him arrested. They took great pains to hide the fact that they had discovered where the kidnappers were coming from. (they mistook the Striders creeping around for Last Laugh thugs and didn't want to have Ghelves familiar killed if Ghelve was discovered "helping them") They got sloppy though when they started carrying the loot from the Malachite Fortress out into the city, going so far as to have waggons outside Ghelves Locks that they were filling with bloody armor they had salvaged!
Now Ghelves trial will be next week, and thy visited him in his jail cell. I was a little suprised when most of the group still insisted at that point that he should lie at his own trial to get himself off the hook for aiding the kidnappers. I guess I don't know my players as well as I thought...
The group will be testifying at the trial, and I will be introducing several NPC's at that point (Skellerang and Vhahlantru). I am going to go for "Fire and Brimstone" with Skellerang and "Let's hear these guys out" with Vhalantru. Skylar Krewis was the arresting officer (Alek Tercival is out in Redgorge at this time), and I want to play him up as friendly, but Neutral.
How should the groups arguments affect the case?
Should I give them a side to pick and let them each make an argument?
Should I have just one spokesman for the group make a diplomacy check?
Have other groups used the Zone of Truth spell, or have you allowed rougish types to try their hand at the Bluff skill?
Please give your thoughts, and share what has worked (or not!) for your groups. Thanks!
The Scroll and Feather, what a time saver! I was really excited to hand out the first few copies, and the group took to it right away. A "special edition" was made up to spotlight the group after they emerged from the dungeon with 7 citizens in tow.
I have to admit though that most of the group was horrified at the thought of giving an "interview". They wanted their characters NOT to be in the spot light! Only one player stepped up and told the groups story, so he is now being called the "leader" by the Mayors office, as well as the City Guard. The funny thing is that after shying away from doing the interview themselves, some of the others in the group who want to be "cool", and "famous" started to tease the guy who did the interview. Huh? I just have to shake my head.
To sum it up, I have to tip my hat to whomever thought up the first newsletter for this adventure path, it has been a complete success so far in my game.
Well, I got the group motivated alright! They are so busy cleaning out the dungeons from Chapter One that they are going to be too higha level for Chapter Two to do anything other than give them free loot and XP. I am closing out Chapter one this coming week with the Trial of Keygan Ghelve, and starting Chapter Three after the group finished one last round in the Malachite Fortress.
My group has a priest of Moradin in it who is a bit on the poor side, but was insistant on immediatly building something. I had to skip past Chapter TWO due to the group already being almost 4th level as they finished up Chapter One.
I had my dwarven priest find some local stone carvers (dwarven of course) to get started on a shrine to Moradin, but have kept things simple after that to keep the player focused on the plot line rather than flying off on a tangent. I hope to have him set up his shrine, be happy about it and get back into being with the group as they plunge into Chapter Three.
I have not read anything yet on this Skylar Krewis... what chapter was he originally in?
I like the "foppish drunk" idea for Vhalantru, It is a role the group will definitly buy into.
I have not had alot of time this week to get more reading done, but I see my group having no problems being deep into 3rd level by the time they are done with Life's Bazaar.
Can/should Drakthars Way take a pass if the group is high enough level to start Flood Season?
Will this kill any storyline for the group? At this point I can easily have th Stormblades complete that adventure and just have it be a newsstory in the local paper.
Great advice Oliver thanks!
I can see the need to create connections now with characters that tie into the story line and adventures later on. My immediate problem is that I am reading ahead as we are already hip deep in the first adventure. I have made a few gaffs already, though the group will never know it. (Having the character portraits spread through out the book is nice to keep things visually appealing, but having an index of those somewhere would have prevented me from creating the entire Taskerhill family from other portraits! Doh!)
I will start creating tension with the Stormblades in the next session or two. The group has not given me an opportune time to introduce them.
Out of curiosity, how did the whole "Skellerang is like JJJ" play out with Skellerang asking the adventurers for help during Drakthars Way? Or did you develope that side of his personality later on?