I plan on using the Istivin 3-part adventure path, Dungeon #117-119, so the PCs can basically figure out the reason for Adimarchus to have an interest in Cauldron. Basically, his worshippers bound part of his soul to the volcano, a lot of planar entities are interested, etc...
And Jarl Khurok's keep is going to be the giant lair in the second adventure "Shadow of the Abyss" in #118.
I think that when they finally get back to the Prime Material Plane, a year or two will have passed in Cauldron. It will allow for Vhalantru's coming to power and pretty much any other changes I want to make.
Think of Link coming back to Hyrule in the Ocarina of Time, only to find that the world is a darker place than when he left.
This is weird. Last week my players and I ran through this encounter. I've [u]never[/u] had a fight last this long. Ten whole rounds.
Our group had some of the same problems. When we first started the Shackled City, I made a deal with my players that if I was going to stick with the same campaign for an extended period of time, they needed to devote themselves to the same characters. So, the rule was that if they died they could either get the character raised or start over at 1st level.
And so it came to pass that the group consisted of:
We had some friends visiting who wanted to join our group. Never again. Like an infusion of pure Chaos, they were. I'd never actually seen Munchkin players in action before.
Grapthar (1st Human Fighter) and Abi (1st/8th Human Fighter/Rogue)
Now notice all these Rogues. You'd think they would flank him to get at least +4d6 damage per round. No. Perhaps the Paladin would smite him? No, he wasted all his smites on the Imp at the entrance. I kid you not. The only ones doing damage were the Dwarf (equipped with the Dwarven Thrower hammer he got from Zenith) and the Elf (Lathander bless touch attacks on giants and their ridiculously low ACs).
The Paladin kept going solo into melee. He would make a charge attack, get beaten into unconsciousness, get healed and wake up. Rinse, lather, repeat. This happened three times, each time the party told him to get out of melee, because it wasn't working and he was giving them a -4 penalty on their ranged attacks. On the fourth time, he got beaten to -22 hp with one attack.
Finally they dropped the Fire Giant below 0 hp, and the Dwarf got a nice coup-de-grace moment. Dugobras mutters "Sisters... I failed you..." To which Torick replies: "The sisters are dead a**h*le... and so are you! *WHAM!*
I plan on having the party emerge in an arctic environment many-thousands-of-miles away. Coincidentally near the ruin of Karran-Kural. After all, the Starry Gate was meant as a quick transport between Spell Weaver outposts.
Kaurophon of course will refuse to transport them back to Cauldron. Thus, railroaded will they be. If they're smart enough, seeing the arctic ruins should help the PC Wizard with his teleport spells later in the campaign.
One of my players found a Cloak of Charisma. So I begin to describe it as such:
"The length of this deep maroon cloak reaches to your knees. It's lined with white fur (DC 15 Nature check reveals it to be from a Winter Wolf). The ends of the golden rope ties are genuine pearls."
Without a touch of humor or irony he says "I'll just write red cloak."
"Is that a huge morningstar in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
This is SO wrong.
And now for something completely different:
Just how does one go about killing a god? And I guarantee at least one of my players is going to want to absorb his divinity a'la "Time of Troubles" style.
When my players and I ran the Demonskar Ball as a social event, I used the Wormfood article on preparation in Dragon #340, so they could gain some Diplomacy modifiers. Then they employed magical aid like an extended Eagle's Splendor. Apparently, they felt that their gold was burning a hole in their collective pockets, so I let a couple of them make their masquerade outfits out of glamerweave (from Eberron).
With a large population of gnomes in the city, there were plenty of dancing lights for illumination, food, drinks, and a band: dwarf on drums, elf on flute, human on lute, and a pair of halflings on the piano.
The Wizard thought he would cast mage hand to open the doors for him, glitterdust to make confetti, ghost sound for a fanfare, and whispering wind for something to say "Oh my goodness, there he is!" into the ears of the ladies. Of course, he couldn't resist unseen servant to get the drinks and chill touch to cool them.
Our charismatic Elven Cleric made a big splash by showing up on Vhalantru's arm, which literally made the other three player's jaws drop. Later, she made her Dance checks (trained) to become the belle of the ball. Also, she had made herself glowing with Light of Lunia (from Spell Compendium).
The party Paladin agreed (after much discussion) to wear the glabrezu outfit. The Wizard cast an Enlarge Person so the Paladin could make an untrained Dance check against Zach Aslaxin. Just imagine: there's the Paladin dressed up like Nabthatoron, with those two great big pincer arms on strings.
After much wining, dining, and chatting it up with NPCs, the Lord-Mayor announced his new tax programs to the assembled aristocracy. For example, all adventuring parties must have a charter to operate within the city of Surabar (which the locals have nicknamed Cauldron). Also, a new import tax was coming into effect. Maavu and the Mayor of Redgorge went nuts and stormed out of the ball.
Later in the evening, an Umber Hulk burst through the dance floor and began murdering people left and right. Of course, the PCs charged into the fray regardless of the fact that none of them were armed with anything but touch spells and furniture.
This attack of course gave the government a big excuse to bring in the orc mercenaries to re-establish order and establish the Spellguard (which takes the place of the MTA in my campaign). Also, Maavu has a shadow of doubt cast on him for being absent when the Umber Hulk arrived. Now the players are totally on edge and don't know who they can trust!
Hopefully, all of you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it for you!
My players for some reason totally ignored the fact that the entrance to the Underdark was called the Pit of the Seven Jaws. So they pretty much had it coming.
And when I had the cryo-hydra focus on bringing one PC down at a time, the result was a TPK. So we re-ran it and this time the heads kept aiming at different people, so everyone was attacked constantly, but took less total damage overall.
Don't know if this helps, but it's something to be aware of.
Chef's Slaad wrote:
I introduced Maavu early on during the campaign, as a businessman who could exchange the coins the PCs found during their dungeon delves into Cauldron coinage. For example, the Jzaridune coins are all shaped like gears. Also, the counterfeit Last Laugh coins. So they dealt with him on a regular basis.
Krewis is sort of a casual acquaintance of theirs. He basically provides the mop-up for whatever the PCs miss. He found the link between Patches the half-orc janitor at the orphanage and the Last Laugh, for instance. He earned the promotion to Sgt. because of that case.
So hopefully this will provide a good reason to save these two during the riot.
Here are my 2 cents worth:
If you're playing in the FRealms:
I suggest the Spellcasting Prodigy feat if your DM allows it. +2 to Int for purposes of determining bonus spells can make a world of difference. You're not a sorceror, after all, and you need those precious spell slots.
For your bonus human feat, try something interesting like Martial Weapon Proficiency. If you want to live dangerously, cast mage armor and shield, then use a longsword (combined with true strike) to show everyone how it's done!
Then, if that's working out for you and you survive, go for the War Wizard of Cormyr prestige class. So long as you're nonchaotic and nonevil, you're in!
The Research feat is vastly underused. Get inside Bluecrater Academy and find out everything you can about anything and everything. Bardic Knowledge be darned!
"What's that you say? A dwarven stronghold? Let me go to the library and see if they left any structural blueprints laying about..."
Man... now I almost want to stop DMing and start playing a wizard myself!
Savaun Blackhawk wrote:
Depth, depth, depth!! Awesome, ingenious, evil and beautiful, all at the same time. Oh man...this is going to be great! Thanks for the tips, guys.
That would be neat to have Vhalantru using the party to take out his competition while pretending to be benevolent.
The only problem I can foresee with the party being sponsored by Vhalantru, is that he typically invites adventurers back to his place and 'cashes them out' by turning them into lawn statues. What's to keep him from doing that this time around?
I just pulled my copies of the dungeon magazines in which the SCAP appeared (which is what i'm using at this point,) and the notes clearly indicate that SCAP was designed for a 4 character party. Was it tweaked to a 6 character party in the conversion to the bound volume, or am I missing something else?
On page 400 of the hardcover it says, and I quote: "The SCAP is designed to challenge a group of six player characters - if your group has fewer numbers than this, you should consider reducing some of the dangers the PCs will face, or perhaps simply allow them more opportunities to rest."
In the fight with Gottrod, the mage managed to distract him with a well-placed ice storm which greatly helped the elven cleric and her blessed comp longbow.
Aushanna the erinyes performed a re-enactment of the Valentine's Day Massacre with my party. She just machine-gunned the mage. If the player had said he died after the first shot, she probably wouldn't have wasted her next three shots liquifying him.
"I'm down to -30 hp! I have a frickin d4 for hit points, come on man!" *shrug* She was spiteful.
And the poor rogue. She never figured out that a shortbow, which does 1d6 dmg is pretty much wasted on something with DR 5/ good. Man it feels good to be a DM sometimes.
PS: By the way, are outsiders susceptible to a death attack?
Respectable Hobbit wrote:
What adjustments should I make to run this campaign with a 6-man party? Should I simply add one monster to every encounter?
I think you can safely leave the encounters as written. However, when dealing with 6 adventurers, show no mercy.
Leave your compassion at the door. Set up all the sneak attacks, flanking action, and area spells you can.
For example: recently, in a fight with Gottrod, the party tank was getting upset because the red dragon was staying in the air, raining fiery death upon the group. *shrug* Why bother to get within range of his sword when the adventurers will die just as easily from 50 feet away?
I would have him arrested by Sergeant Krewis and charged with murder by Captain Terseon Skellerang. Then, perhaps Jenya puts her reputation on the line to vouch for the player, thus putting him in her debt.
And later in the campaign, Triel Eldurast can make some biting remarks along the lines of "Don't you see? We're the same, you and I..."
I'm always tempted to start drawing the PC toward evil, then taking control of the character and making them an archenemy NPC. Of course, if you really want to punish him, try having an entire gang of Last Laugh thugs catch your PC alone. Fun!
I wouldn't worry so much about Smenks' resources as I would worry about his friends...
He runs a mine, and ships iron to somewhere. Somebody needs that iron to forge weapons, armor, etc. So imagine some warlord who gets very cranky when his iron shipments trickle to a halt.
And assuming this is true, then perhaps he sends investigators first, and depending on what they find out about the PCs (a chance for some roleplaying/combat), then perhaps he sends in the shock troops. In the Realms, the PCs may have just upset the Zhentarim. In Eberron, perhaps Karnnath has a vested interest in outfitting their necro-soldiers.
Somebody has to pay... somebody always pays.
Savaun Blackhawk wrote:
Being a fantasy setting, and a harsh environment at that, I dont see it as a problem carrying arms in the street. Has anyone done anything for tavens and inns, such as having the characters place their weapons in a holding box or something?
At the start of the campaign, there's no ban on weapons, but as time goes by, and half-orc mercenaries are brought in, I plan on a gradual transition to more of a police state, when people's right to bear arms are taken away.
And the PCs (especially lawful ones) will be in a real bind then...
Frank Steven Gimenez wrote:
Okay, I'm running my game tonight. Just tell me the cool zingers that you have had the Stormblades say when they ripped on your PCs.
I like sideways compliments. They make you look witty.
"Oh, that must be the most beautiful dress that you could afford!"
"It's nice to see that the spoils from your so-called adventures haven't been entirely wasted..."
"It is so refreshing to see a dwarf who isn't filthy from digging in the dirt all day!"
"I must admit, I am frightfully curious as to something. Why are your people, elves, that is, always climbing about in the trees as though they were monkeys?"
"Adventurers, eh? Well, clunking around in armor and swinging swords about does not make one a hero. Nor does it make one *sniff* civilized."
And then there're the guards who keep people from bringing weapons. I had great fun with the rude maitre d (sp) at the Cusp of Sunrise. For melee weapons: "We're not at war here sir..." Or for ranged weapons "There are no stags in the ballroom, madam..."
yeah, I dont think I am going to pursue that. I will just make it seem like that is what happened to make him follow the life of a monk.
Maybe consider some backstory involving Shensen Tesseril as his mentor. That would make it more personal and important that he rescue her.
I suggest using Dungeon #117, "The Winding Way" as a final test for your monk player. It's for 14th lvl or so, so by that point they'll be becoming a master in their own right.
How this idea: the Hobgoblins seek employment elsewhere, like with Drakthar! It makes total sense for them, if you think about it.
Hanging out with other goblinoids, making a profit, hooking up with a strong leader, beating up on little goblins, man would being a hobgoblin rock. Except for those meddling kids, I mean, adventurers...
It's better to have the cutting remark handy, but what if she blows the roll?
I prefer to simply fake rolling a dice and having whatever outcome I want occur. In roleplaying encounters at least, usually not in combat. Story is key, after all.
Anyway, I plan on having the players first real confrontation with the Stormblades come during the Demonskar Ball. This gives the PCs a chance to put their Diplomacy skills to work, rub elbows with some citizens they would otherwise never meet, etc.
Of course, they have to be careful not to lose their collective cool against the Stormblades... a glass of wine thrown in a face is frowned upon but not necessarily uncalled for. A bottle of alchemist's fire, on the other hand, would be downright rude.
Sean Brown wrote:
Wow - didn't realize that disagreeing the this isn't the best thing since the wheel was such a crime - We appreciate James' comments, but vitriole like this just isn't necessary.
Vitriole? Who started the entire thing? Why on earth would you start a negative thread on a messageboard dedicated to the positive discussion of the SCAP hardcover, if you didn't want to hear what people had to say about it?
I particularly enjoy these gems: "In all honesty I don't need to provide reasons..." or "I prepare 1 chapter at a time, I don't have time to read through the whole book. I shouldn't have too either it's not like I'm an in-experienced DM, it's just with the way the book was layed out there should be no problems going chapter to chapter."
When people respond to these well-thought out responses this is what we get: "I was unaware that your opinion on why we should or shouldn't be enjoying the game is necessary - whether you feel the reasons are weak or not is irrelavent."
And then you whine that you are being attacked? That's a little like the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? Present us with a specific problem and we'll do our best to fix it. To employ another oft-used phrase; If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, boys.
When I ran this part of the adventure, the PCs had just put down Kazmojen and his puppy, when two hobgoblin guards ran through the door with fearful looks plastered on their ugly mugs. One of them fell to his knees and was disintegrated, the other looked back and was turned to stone. This saved me the trouble of any stupid "I attempt to disbelieve" notions.
Then, he demanded the boy and showed this party of upstarts what was up. Fortunately for them, none of them were foolish enough to draw down on Orbius. The Paladin did stand right between him and and boy, however, so Orbius simply put him to sleep, charmed Terrem to come with him, and floated on out.
And since he's rich as Croesus and enjoys corrupting the good guys, he telekinetically tossed them a bag of coins to show them he thought as little of them as servants.
I much prefer it when the players work really hard on something without thinking it through, only to have it turn to ash right before their eyes. If the PCs are silly enough to drag a corpse through the desert, then I think it's poetic justice for the resurrection not to work. There really seems no reason for Alex to want to return to life.
And as for the Smoking Eye, I think the cage that binds Adimarchus should be EXTREMELY difficult to destroy. We are talking about 20th lvl PCs by this point, attempting to unbind a demon prince afterall. The idea of a chaotic evil creature and a lawful good creature both attacking the cage at the same time is always fun...
I must say I am incredibly dissapointed with the hardcover edition of SCAP. After running it for about 5 weeks the large flaws in it have become more and more apparent. The biggest being encounters that just plain suck to DM, and parts of the book aren't converted to 3.5. I'm just plain dissapointed with it now and I'm not going to continue running it.
As a DM of over 10 years experience, I must say that I am getting my money's worth out of the SCAP hardcover. I've tailored the campaign to make it exactly what we want to play, and my players have never been happier. Each and every week my players and I are excited to play, and find another facet of Cauldron to explore.
Regardless of whether or not you play the adventures 'by the book' there remains a wealth of information a DM can use.
The book contains maps, ideas, NPCs, new monsters, new feats, new spells, new prestige classes, the stat blocks for villains, and 12 adventures.
If you can't scavenge anything in this book to spark your imagination or use something for your own campaign, you're either illiterate or lazy.
Frank Steven Gimenez wrote:
p#33r my universe creating and defining $k!77s!
You need to be brutally sacrificed to some evil god for using leet-speak. But I digress.
I always felt that it was basically a choice of the caster/ deity whether or not to leave scars. For example, a follower of Ehlonna would never do so, while a disciple of Hextor probably would leave the scars every time.
Also, one could argue that scars (or at least the pain thereof) help a person "feel alive when they feel dead inside." At least, that's an often-heard answer from "cutters."
Using "Within the Circle" raises some interesting possibilities. If the Lord-Mayor was put into power by the Yuan-Ti, then why would they abandon him to the tender mercies of Vhalantru?
On the other hand, perhaps that was their goal all along, to bring about his downfall and with him, Cauldron. Then the serpent people of Shatterhorn would be able to move in and take over while the city is in turmoil. They do tend to think in long-term plans after all...
I think a druidic order is often much more interesting when led by non-humans, and even non-elves. For example, a Treant druid could certainly shapechange into a demihuman creature, couldn't he? I seem to recall an adventure in a past Dungeon magazine that had a circle of druids led by a gnoll...
As for headquarters, do druids really need anything more than a clearing? If necessary, there's always your good ole' fashioned circle of stones.
Be wary of making them too powerful though, because then it begs the question of how involved do they get in saving the city of Cauldron once demons begin the invasion?
Just curious: if an intelligent weapon were also a bane weapon... would its enhancement apply to an undead version of that creature? For example an aberration-bane sword could still apply its bonuses against the ghost of an illithid?
A strict reading of the rules would seem to imply that it would not, but could an intelligent weapon make that choice for itself?