Ascension of the Drow- What did you think?


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I was wondering what did people like about the game and what did they not like about the game? I had an amazing time GMing part of High House Vonnarc (Who won by the way lol) I am very thankful to Nick, Steve and his wife, Shane for allowing me to participate. I have so many favorite moments I can not begin to tell them all. My favorite part that I played was introducing a Shadow Dragon who then went on to take out two houses on its own and managed to survive the Chaos. I will say this, the funniest thing I heard about came from Necessary Evil hands down the best story I have heard in so long. If anyone knows how to contact him ask him to post it up because it ranks right up there with the Head of Venca or attacking the Gazebo stories.


z28camaro90 wrote:
I was wondering what did people like about the game and what did they not like about the game? I had an amazing time GMing part of High House Vonnarc (Who won by the way lol) I am very thankful to Nick, Steve and his wife, Shane for allowing me to participate. I have so many favorite moments I can not begin to tell them all. My favorite part that I played was introducing a Shadow Dragon who then went on to take out two houses on its own and managed to survive the Chaos. I will say this, the funniest thing I heard about came from Necessary Evil hands down the best story I have heard in so long. If anyone knows how to contact him ask him to post it up because it ranks right up there with the Head of Venca or attacking the Gazebo stories.

How about describing what the scenario was about as well? Maybe even give a bit of an overview of what happened? I keep hearing about this and it makes me want to know more.

I suppose what I'm saying is: Details man! Details!

Dark Archive * ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Michigan—Warren

The event was sheer pandemonium, which I mean as a compliment. I may be wrong on some of the specifics, but I'm giving you what I was able to get out of it. All of the hundred or so participants were divided into different drow major and minor houses of 5 or 6. We were given character sheets with fairly high level drow members of the houses (average of 14th level at our table). The goal was to get a member of your house to ascend the throne. How we did it was left totally up to us. We were given huge amounts of detail about the other houses, the city, stone giant neighbors, and many other points of interest and then told to do whatever we want to do. I confess to being overwhelmed at first with everything we were supposed to be taking in and the unstructured feel of it all.

But then everything just clicked. Tables were joining with other tables and trying to attack still other tables. Individuals playing demon lords were walking around giving houses advice or warnings. The various GMs/demon lords/moderators let our imaginations run totally wild. Our house, which handled vermin in the drow city allied itself with a house that are masters of flesh warping and our demon lord facilitated us blending our crafts to create wererats and mutant babies. We then assaulted another house with these mobs. Alliances were made and broken. People were running around and shouting. Some players managed to get into the throne room to try to combat the challenges within while others were blocked out by a force wall. Other subadventures occurred where we were trying to placate stone giants. I was encouraged by a demon lord to murder my king. At first, I tried to joke my way out of it but then, in character I realized that I was being asked by an imposing 12 ft tall demon lord with a whip to do something. And as all this running around was going on Nick and Lou were standing on chairs shouting into a bullhorn with voices of doom telling us all the apocalyptic events happening within the city that changed the ground we all stood upon. Dragons flew over head. The river ran red. Poison gas filled the air.

I confess that I probably only grasped 30% of what was going on (very noisy with 100 people all talking at once), but the event captured much of what I love about gaming: immersion in a setting and opportunities to use imagination. The numbers almost didn't matter as much as the play and interaction. The various moderators were encouraging of whatever nefarious ideas we were coming up with. Our demon lord, Andrew, seemed to light up, the more perverse our ideas became. And the chaos of the room seemed to perfectly mirror the chaos and upheaval the drow city was going through.

I give huge thanks to the designers and all the moderators for creating a very memorable (if exhausting!) experience.


Kurt Wasiluk wrote:

The event was sheer pandemonium, which I mean as a compliment. I may be wrong on some of the specifics, but I'm giving you what I was able to get out of it. All of the hundred or so participants were divided into different drow major and minor houses of 5 or 6. We were given character sheets with fairly high level drow members of the houses (average of 14th level at our table). The goal was to get a member of your house to ascend the throne. How we did it was left totally up to us. We were given huge amounts of detail about the other houses, the city, stone giant neighbors, and many other points of interest and then told to do whatever we want to do. I confess to being overwhelmed at first with everything we were supposed to be taking in and the unstructured feel of it all.

Thanks for the reply.

So...

How'd your house do? How'd you do? Did you kill your king?

Liberty's Edge

That's freakin' cool as hell.


Well right now I am at work but I promise that when I get home I will post up my viewpoint on the evening.

Dark Archive * ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Michigan—Warren

Cainus wrote:
Kurt Wasiluk wrote:

The event was sheer pandemonium, which I mean as a compliment. I may be wrong on some of the specifics, but I'm giving you what I was able to get out of it. All of the hundred or so participants were divided into different drow major and minor houses of 5 or 6. We were given character sheets with fairly high level drow members of the houses (average of 14th level at our table). The goal was to get a member of your house to ascend the throne. How we did it was left totally up to us. We were given huge amounts of detail about the other houses, the city, stone giant neighbors, and many other points of interest and then told to do whatever we want to do. I confess to being overwhelmed at first with everything we were supposed to be taking in and the unstructured feel of it all.

Thanks for the reply.

So...

How'd your house do? How'd you do? Did you kill your king?

I didn't kill our king. We seemed to be on a good roll leading a 6 house alliance at one point in what seemed to be a potential massacre. I figured if I could get away from the demon lord I'd maybe have to settle up with him later. But an hour later, I see my king conferring with the same demon lord. "Psst, um, king? That's the demon who wanted me to kill you..." "Yeah yeah, I've got everything under control" Another example of the total chaos and uncertainty going on.

We failed in our attempts to take the throne and then were locked out. Our king received a special boon that let him potentially take the throne after it was initially taken by causing a member of the winning house to betray the new king. Unofficially we can picture how it may have played out, but officially the house that won the throne kept the throne (after about 6 hours of everyone jockeying for it!) and big congrats to them!

Scarab Sages

I think the event should have been called "Apocalypse Drow" just for the sheer, surreal chaosness of the whole thing. It was appreciated at times but also frustrating when judges would contradict each other as to what exactly is going on in certain instances.

I certainly had fun playing Voltura Caldrana, the matron of the House of Dark Flames....even with the botched assasination attempt on my life. (I tip my hat off to whoever you are since I didnt catch your name) :-)

My compliments to the authors for creating all those unique characters with their own personal background stories...unbelievable job! Also, many thanks to the volunteer judges and demon lord NPCs (especially you, Shane!)

If Paizo does an event such as this again, I would suggest setting up a 'big board' where all the drow houses would have been placed and we, as the players, could have seen which houses still stand, are fallen, and movements/shifts of various house alliances and battles.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Well, I have to chime in with a negative review on Ascension. I'm going to be brutally honest from my opinion, in the hopes that a) future events of this type can be much better, and b) so that there won't be any dissapointed players in future events.

My biggist problem with the event was that, from my point of view, it was much more of a LARP event than a RPG event. Lots of people like LARPs and I have played a few and had fun with them, but had I known ahead of time that this would be the focus of the event, I wouldn't have bothered signing up, and found something else to do Friday night that was more to my tastes, and also therefore allowed someone else to have had my ticket who could have enjoyed the event more. I would suggest that events like this either be listed in the LARP category, or at the very least have a description in the Gen Con event listing that indicated the nature of the event as a hybrid RPG/LARP as opposed to a more typical RPG event.

That being said, the other major problem I had was that even at the beginning of the event, there was not a lot of indication given as to how the event worked. I was assigned to a table, given a character sheet, and that was about it. After everyone had time to review their sheets, we were told that each table needed to pick a leader that they would try to put on the throne. My table at least never got much information on the other houses nor on anything else. At some point, our candidate for the throne got ahold of brief 1 sentence descriptions of other houses, but other than that, I felt like I was flying blind with basically no information as to what was going on or how we were to achieve our goals. Many of the global loudspeaker announcements were about events that I couldn't fathom how my character or our house could achive anyting of the sorts. At some point later, someone at my table revealed that their character controlled our military forces and could move them to other locations, but none of the other players had known that (this was 2 hours into the event.) It would have been a lot better had there been a general handout that every player got with background information on both the setting and various houses and power groups, as well as some of the new mechanics on how the game worked (some character had control of troops or other alliances, patron demon lords of your house could offer great magical aid, each house had several leads on potential additional power sources, etc.)

I also would like to second the suggestion about having a large board in the room displaying the recent information that had been publicly revealed - as not having a reference to check, it was nearly impossible to know who was who.

Perhaps my lack of enjoyment of the event was due to different expectations on my part compared to others, or to a DM for our table that didn't have the best understanding of the event himself, but I know that 4 hours in, I left the event, which in 10 years of going to Gen Con, is something I've never done before. I was not alone in this, as 4 other players from my house also left at about the same time(our house actually had 2 tables of players, so it was about 1/3 of our house that left early, not 2/3).

That being said, I do know that many of the players and DMs of the event were having a lot of fun, but that it was not as universal as my experience with and observation of the PFS events. I also wanted to mention that I did hear after the fact about several major issues that affected the event which probably had a large impact on how it turned out compared to how it was initially envisioned by Paizo, and I understand that some of my problems could have been influenced by these issues.

All in all, while I didn't enjoy this event at all, overall, I had a wonderful Gen Con experience playing in Paizo events, as well as Iron DM (which had a lot of the same people as the masterminds, so I'm certainly not trying to imply that anyone dropped the ball on this.)

Shadow Lodge **

Wow...this event sounds amazing and I wish I had been able to be there.

Dark Archive

Will there be any chance that some sort of product will be released that includes all of the characters (drow, demon lords, and others), along with all the other relevant info that would be necessary to run a scenario for home games where players could take the role of one of the factions and (with the DM controlling the other groups) attempt to seize the throne? I know my players would love a chance to play as a demon-backed drow house in a power grab for the throne, and while I was unable to attend this event, I'd certainly love to buy something that would let me run a smaller-scale version of it.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

So which House claimed the throne?

Scarab Sages

Lazaro wrote:
So which House claimed the throne?

How many houses were there? Who were they?

Liberty's Edge

fray wrote:
Lazaro wrote:
So which House claimed the throne?
How many houses were there? Who were they?

There were 12 houses of the drow, including four "High Houses," houses of noble blood and ancient lineage. I was GMing half of House Vexidyre, the house of politics and diplomacy. "A fierce grip makes a blade of chaos" was our house motto, and that was pretty much how the night went for us: chaos, and lots of fierce gripping.

The other great houses were: Azrinae, historians; Vonnarc, archmages; and Tracinoa, water finders. We were working on a decent alliance with two of them and two minor houses, until a traitor in our house sold us out for power. The house leader had him killed, but it was too late: a two-house alliance came to kill us all. In the midst of it, the house defenses failed (the legacy of another traitor, this one entirely the house leaders' fault) and only four members of House Vexidyre got away alive. Their demon lord transformed them into doppelgangers so that they could get out of the city alive (and as a sort of punishment), but that was pretty much the end of the house.

In the end result, the monarch of Zirnakaynin turned out to be an adopted member of House Vonnarc, a former member (the former leader?) of Minor House Sardavic.

I had a hell of a good time helping out with this event, and with the Pathfinder Society. Looking forward to next year's madness!

Jeremy Puckett

Liberty's Edge *

I was also a member of the house that handled vermin, and yes it was pure chaos. Which I guess in a drow city at war with itself is as it should be.

I agree with some of the others that it felt more like a LARP/RPG hybrid than an RPG. There was one house next to our table that spent 2 hours playing out a combat using standard RPG rules. During this time drow armies would be attacking each other and be over in a just a few minutes. There needed to be a much faster system for battles instead of just standard 3.5 rules. Something that could be done in just a few minutes time.

Overall I had a good time though, and would do it again next year.

Liberty's Edge *

"LONG LIVE HOUSE VEXIgack!"
Krastur Vexidyre's last words... not really

Seriously I had a frikking blast.
That said it kinda sucked that three of our house members ditched right at the break.
I communicated some of my concerns/criticisms to people involved in organizing the event.
Even with all my concerns I think they did really good at a first attempt.

graywulfe

Contributor

Hey guys!

I can't possibly tell you how much I appreciate all of the feedback here. This is what will help us build a better event for you next year. I have an endless appetite for that sort of stuff.

Also, having put many (many, many) hours into the preparation of this event and having been unable to attend it in person I find that I have a bottomless hunger for stories and anecdotes from Ascension. I loved some of those characters, so I'm dying to find out what became of 'em. Feel free to PM me here if you want, or just post 'em on the forum. I'll be watching, and I'll be grateful!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

We must have a product detailing all of these characters.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Please keep posting feedback. I was in the room for five minutes. The announcer used a bullhorn to announce that one house had summoned the Tarrasuque. Scores of people cheered with glee. One guy yelled at me about how awful it was. Other folks approached me later to say what a great time they had.

Obviously, it was PURE CHAOS, with all the good and bad that that entails. But it's clear that there was really _something_ to this event that people really enjoyed.

I'd love to hear some discussion about the things that really worked with the idea, so that we can concentrate on enhancing those elements in events to come.

Thanks for the feedback!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Yeah; I stuck my head in the room for about 5 minutes along with Erik and it was a veritable hurricane of crazy in there. The event is loosely inspired/tied to the fourth adventure in Pathfinder's Second Darkness adventure, in any case. The details and nature of the drow houses and their inhabitants are sure to change in the final adventure (I highly doubt any of the drow in Zirnakaynin could or even WOULD summon the Tarrasque, for example, which has a pretty high-continuity role in Golarion that doesn't involve drow), but those who played in the Ascension of the Drow event should see PLENTY of familiar names in that adventure.

**** RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Instead of summoning the Tarrasque, all they had done was summon a giant in a rubber suit. Really easy to mistake one for the other.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

I want to echo Shane's sentiment. Real feedback is a hundred times better than a hundred people only posting they had a good time. I wanted to set the bar pretty high for the event, so Shane and I pounded out 126 awesome characters, some NPCs and a brief gazetteer in about three weeks. Then I fell asleep at my Iron DM table.

So, I am sincerely grateful and pleased for those of you who loved the event. Clearly it was a blast to plan. When Shane conceived ideas of a conflict between the runeslave stone giant Gralaag, and his old buddy Helvar - exiled to the drider barbarian camps for selling Gralaag into slavery - we were only inspired to make the characters as interconnectec and brutal towards each other as a 'real' drow city might be. When I stepped out of myself and became the demon Socothbenoth, I smiled darkly and lovingly wrote the parts for House Sardavic and included both their Sin Wall and Den of Inequity.

If Shane (who is not my wife, for the original poster's edification) and I are invited back for next year, we'll do everything in our power to start work earlier (we got the go-ahead on 10 July), and have some consistent expectations and ruling for our GMs. In some ways, my heart goes out to the fellow that approached the Throne first. While he didn't take precautions to make sure he fought for the throne alone, he did have a point in that some others weren't following the rules.

Also, I hope we'll have more gms and volunteers by having a finished product ready for them earlier. Our original vision was for Paizo and werecabbage celebrities to play the parts of demons lords in the city, but then the schedule for the Ennies was changed, and the company to be crowned Best Publisher was sort of caught in the middle. Having players appointed as demon lords means the houses would have more independence and guidance, and not spread themselves too thin.

I have to go to work. I anxiously await more feedback and have more fun info on how the event was designed and some things that happened in the storm of chaos!

And, those of you demanding product...be loud, and be more of you. If Paizo wants, there's enough information in this game for a full setting. And then your table at home can tear the city apart fighting for the Soulwrought Throne.

Contributor

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for posting your feedback and please continue to do so! This event was a first time for us and was about four times the size we originally planned it to be, so the more I know the better this gets for the future.

One great point has already been made: LARP-like. I needed to make the nature of this even far more clear in the con book description of it. My apologies to Joel and those others whose expectations were totally misconstrued thanks to make lake of clarity! Please forgive!

Yeah...I tried to avoid the Tarrasque. I tried so hard.

Player: "We want to summon a Tarrasque!"

Me: "No."

Player: "What if we willingly sacrifice one our House nobles [another player in their group]"

Me: "No."

Player: "What if we sacrifice two of our House nobles [two players in their own group!]"

Me: "No."

Player: "What if we sacrifice three members of our House [HALF THEIR FRIGGIN GROUP!!!]"

Me: "Sure."

Then the tarrasque showed up and started off things by eating the rest of their House...hey, nobody said they'd be able to control the thing...I never promised that. Then their Demon Lord got pissed, manifested and took on the Tarrasque along with them, eventually driving it off into the rest of the city to eat other Houses...

good times!

Liberty's Edge *

Shane Cottom wrote:

Hey guys!

I can't possibly tell you how much I appreciate all of the feedback here. This is what will help us build a better event for you next year. I have an endless appetite for that sort of stuff.

Also, having put many (many, many) hours into the preparation of this event and having been unable to attend it in person I find that I have a bottomless hunger for stories and anecdotes from Ascension. I loved some of those characters, so I'm dying to find out what became of 'em. Feel free to PM me here if you want, or just post 'em on the forum. I'll be watching, and I'll be grateful!

When I don't feel like death warmed over I will attempt to put my thoughts in some semblance of order.

For now much of what I had to say is in the hands of SarNati, Rambling Scribe, and Boomer each of whom I spoke to in person, either at the event or, in the case of Boomer, on the train ride home.

Dark Archive

As the DM of House Parastric I had to say my players had a slower start than everyone else, but they mixed it up once they got the feel of the game. hell they were the first house in the throne room to challenge for the crown. Push came to shove and the next thing you have is my wife, one of the combat DMs, playing a Horned Devil dropping Fireballs on itself killing any Drider who got near her.

I also wish to let you players know that it was never supposed to be this large and event and due to a typo it became the Chaos it was. In the end though this madness made the game, and many memorable moments.

I also had a blast watching characters I help design strive reach claw and grapple their way for their very survival. I will endeavor to see this again next year... just with fewer players.

*****

"I certainly had fun playing Voltura Caldrana, the matron of the House of Dark Flames....even with the botched assasination attempt on my life. (I tip my hat off to whoever you are since I didnt catch your name) :-)"

Actually that was me, if you mean my walking in your front door to challenge you to a duel to the death. That combined with shouting to everyone assembled that you were a coward to try to goad you into a fight. But I must protest it was the sword of Vanity that made me do it! Overconfidence is a killer!

Unless I have the wrong guy. I had a blast holding off an entire house of ten for two full rounds!

It was a good way to go.

*

I had a lot of fun playing with the people at my table, especially the Brothers Shackleton. And the event itself was a great concept, and I had a lot of fun running around to other tables and wheeling and dealing, as well as staying put for a while to act as advisor to our matron mother as well.

However, there were definitely some problems with how some things got adjudicated, and please, don't take any of this personally if you were one of the people involved, because I understand this this was like trying to herd cats in room full of mice.

1. There was no set way to adjudicate mass combat. It should have been fairly quick to figure up how much a "unit" was worth, and how that unit would fare against another unit with one or two dice rolls, because . . .

2. There were "real time" and "turn based" elements going on at the same time, and they didn't mesh well. Before combat even started, more units would arrive and support this or that house, and while we were in the middle of resolving something via standard 3.5 rules, "real time" things were being done that apparently affected our characters that had no say in said "real time" issues because we were still busy trying to resolve something using 3.5 rules.

My biggest complaint wasn't that I died or didn't end up "winning" or anything like that, but rather, that I never had a chance to die a horrible death and ham it up, because whenever we would get into a fight, some meta-game maneuvering would "ret con" our ability to get into the fight becuase we would be told "no, this was happening so this situation didn't get to this point yet" or something like that.

It was still a fun event, but it did get frustrating at times because things that some of our characters clearly did never officially happened because it took too long to tell the right people what was going on.

Still, I'm glad I went. I had a good time overall, and it was a sight to behold.

*****

KnightErrantJR wrote:


1. There was no set way to adjudicate mass combat. It should have been fairly quick to figure up how much a "unit" was worth, and how that unit would fare against another unit with one or two dice rolls, because . . .

2. There were "real time" and "turn based" elements going on at the same time, and they didn't mesh well. Before combat even started, more units would arrive and support this or that house, and while we were in the middle of resolving something via standard 3.5 rules, "real time" things were being done that apparently affected our characters that had no say in said "real time" issues because we were still busy trying to resolve something using 3.5 rules.

I agree wholeheartedly. My suggestion for the future is that the first 75% of the event be the negotiations and wars, mostly resolved with simple die rolls / circumstance bonuses like I imagine a LARP would be run. The last 25% could be a tactical fight between the remaining houses ala 3.5. This way people would feel they had a chance to have a "proper" fight with their character if they were lucky to survive that long.

Considering all the challenges, and that this was the first crack at it, it at least showed how much potential a mass event like this could have if tweaked a bit. I had a freakin blast!

Glen


I was a member of the house that summoned the Tarrasque, house Resivren (or however it’s spelled), though I had nothing to do with the summoning. I had an awesome time with the event, though there were a few things I wish had been done differently.

It seemed to me that the last hour totally invalidated what was done in the first five hours of the event. Our house had been making deals and gathering alliances (and even subsumed two houses into it), but in the end it just seemed that whoever got to the throne room first and completed the challenge won. We could have just sat outside the throne for the first five hours and it would have ended the same for us. Also, I believe the end challenge involved having to defeat a balor in one on one combat. There were many characters that would have no shot at taking a balor on their own, including our house matron. She did have an ECL of 19, but she was only a 9th level vampire drow cleric. So, in the end it seemed that no matter how much scheming our house did there was no way she could “win” the game.

I agree with a previous poster that there should have some sort of characteristic or unit strength for a house, because there was no way for the players to know how strong their house was. I was part of the slaver’s house, and supposedly we had the biggest army. But no one knew how that compared to another house.

I also think there should have been another way to resolve combat when it came to the PCs, as high level combat in 3.5 can take a while. There were times when we were trying to get stuff done, but had to wait 20-30 minutes for a combat to be sorted out.

All in all, I still had a great time, and would definitely do an event like it again. I would just want it changed so where what you did for the first five hours mattered at the end. Though this is just coming from my perspective of the event.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think I should have sold a kidney or six to get to GENCON!


deathboy wrote:
I also wish to let you players know that it was never supposed to be this large and event and due to a typo it became the Chaos it was.

This is not 100% accurate and I'd rather this statement stopped being used in reference to this event.

It seems most everyone had a good time. The event was supposed to be chaotic--it's a drow war for control of a city. I agree that some minor things could have been done better, but I'm 99.99% happy with the results. Lou, Nick, Steven and his wife, and everyone else who worked on this project should give themselves a pat on the back--this was an awesome event and was exactly what we had in mind for a "mega event."

Dark Archive

I am not sure how it will all play out in the Drow history annals. So here’s what I think. Overall I had a good time at the event. It was crazy and chaotic and some really insane things happened and all that was good, but I will second what others have said the organization needed a lot of work.

I was playing as one of the Driders (Zalthu, Drider Wizard) in the event. Our group was small but fairly powerful. At the start we spent a lot of time bargaining with houses to gain some advantage but it seemed that none of these dealings played out to any great extent because of all the chaos going on. So a little later in the night we decided to take our fates into our own hands rather than end up as someone’s pawns to be crushed and with one expatriate from house Sardavic (sp?) decided to go for the throne room. Now I don’t know exactly what was going on with the throne room but there was a lot of confusion on who got there first. (Anyone who couldn’t get in the throne room because of the wall of force can thank me for that. ;) ) I know the Driders started to make an attempt on the throne room a good 30 minutes before the 11:00 PM break. We were making good progress until we came back from the break then we got pulled over to a table with Steve Helt because they wanted to consolidate all the throne room fights. We spent the rest of the evening slugging it out in throne room only to hear that house Vonnarc took the crown who were not even at the consolidated table.

One of my group’s players, Sarah had some great ideas on how a flow chart of some type that detailed the political layout of the houses, what the houses controlled, what demons they worshiped and where they stood in the hierarchy of houses being given to the players as a handout at the start of the game would have been very helpful. She said because the Drow names are very hard to pronounce, spell, and remember a handy reference sheet would have been great. I would also second the suggestion made earlier with some large board that would track what houses were still in play. Also more houses should have been eliminated earlier on as by the break I believe almost all of them were still around.

All in all, even though it was absolutely insane I had a great time and I hope we see another big event like this again and since this was your first attempt I am sure they will only get better.

*

Definitely a clearer description for both players and GMs the purpose of the event and how things would play out. Most of the full stat blocks were not needed, and a simplified, stripped down version of it would probably go down a lot better (heck, maybe even True20). A whiteboard with "current events" and standings posted on it would be great too.

Regardless, I had a blast with this event! :D

Scarab Sages

Lilith wrote:

Definitely a clearer description for both players and GMs the purpose of the event and how things would play out. Most of the full stat blocks were not needed, and a simplified, stripped down version of it would probably go down a lot better (heck, maybe even True20). A whiteboard with "current events" and standings posted on it would be great too.

Regardless, I had a blast with this event! :D

I'm with Lilith on this. I think clearer descriptions for players and GMs would have gone a long way. I did have a blast and it certainly gave me a new GM perspective.

To paraphrase some feedback i got from other people:

1. Clearer descriptions of everything (aka rules, characters, houses, city, etc)
2. Clear DM guild lines for interaction. (aka, some DMs helping players to much, others not enough)
3. A way to help spread out seasoned players and new players. There was a feeling of lopsidedness among houses that knew what they were doing and houses who were a mix of people who had never tried this before.
4. Some way of tracking events to refer back to.
5. More room, less noise.
6. More clarification on what the the event will be. People bought tickets thinking it was going to be more RPG and less LARP. This lead to several people leaving.

These are just paraphrases of what some people told me during/after the event. I took time to talk to people and collect their feedback.

I personally had a blast with this from all levels. Helping make the characters to running a house to helping clean up and take feedback afterwards. I look forward to next year!

The Exchange **

I came into this event blind. I hadnt even heard much about it until Nick,Jared, and I were talking while waiting for the doors to be opened to the Paizo room. Nick mentioned that they needed Battle GMs and I volunteered. Little did I know what chaos awaited.

I ended up being a Demon lord named Flauros (sp) and an ancient wyrm shadow dragon. I wasnt sure what I was doing, but I had a great time doing it. I agree that there are some things that can be done to improve upon the next one, but for what it was, kudos to all involved.
My house got kinda hosed (No powers till halfway in, and no Loyalty/Betrayal cards) but Im fairly certain the table all still had a great time.

Sovereign Court * Contributor

I had fun at this event, although I delegated myself mostly to a runner/admin role because I'm not so awesome with the crazy-chaos. That's not a criticism of the game, it's just a recognition of where my strengths do and don't lie. I like to be really prepared, so that when I adapt, I know where I'm going and how to respond to changes.

I agree with many of the above comments about improvements. My personal main comment though, is that there should have been better defined stages with limited scope that grew into the main conflict.

For example, at the beginning, the city could have been divided into four quarters, with 5 tables in each quarter striving for dominance of that quarter. The players in that quarter would need to limit their activities until a set time, when whoever is on top at that point becomes the main power in that quarter. I'd have some elimination in this round as well, to bring the numbers to a reasonable level for the next segment.

In the second segment, the remaining forces in control of the four quarters duke it out for control of the city or to gain more benefits in their lead up to the competition for the throne. All remaining characters could interact, and players who were eliminated in the first round could run some of the neutral elements (like the stone giants) in fights, keeping them in the action and taking some of the load off of the combat GMs.

Then in the final segment, the top champions of the city get to advance on to the challenges inherent in fighting for the throne. Give the remaining surviving PCs the ability to throw some weight behind the various contestants, while the players eliminated in round one become mostly the unruly mob of spectators.

From there, you could have more complexity (like ways for eliminated characters to 'get back in' or things like that.

It would still be a huge chaotic crazy event, but each segment would be more manageable, both for the players and the GMs (and possibly the organizers). I'd love to help work on this for next year, as long as I have time to start helping early.

Again though, the event was awesome. My mind was blown by the stuff that was going on and how well it held together. I remember looking around the room and thinking "At this moment everyone is having an amazing time." I looked to see if I could see someone that looked frustrated or bored and could not find one. I know that later on some people did get frustrated with some aspects of the game, but I know they had fun too.

Here's a taste for those of you who couldn't be there:

Player: We need a combat GM over here!
Me: Here I am! So you two are fighting?
Player: Yes! turns to other player So I guess were both naked.
Other player: Yep!
First Player: I have a special power card that lets me make a death attack as a swift action on an opponent that I'm currently having sex with...
Me: Head explodes

The Rambling Scribe


Shout out to the Drider Barbarian and Friends camp!!! (including render and stone giant!)

You guys rock houses! (Drow houses as it turns out. . .)

Thanks for playing,

Your favourite banished Balor,

-MiKe

P.S. Thanks to the organizers! Love it, hate it, it was an rpg event we will never forget!

Dark Archive

Ask a Shoanti wrote:

Shout out to the Drider Barbarian and Friends camp!!! (including render and stone giant!)

You guys rock houses! (Drow houses as it turns out. . .)

Thanks for playing,

Your favourite banished Balor,

-MiKe

P.S. Thanks to the organizers! Love it, hate it, it was an rpg event we will never forget!

Oh Wow, Mike I must have missed your last name at the game or didn't put two and two together. I had no idea it was Mike Kortes. I just picked up Entombed with the Pharaohs at GenCon and was just reading it last night.

Thanks again for making the the game great for our group!

-Zalthu
Drider Barbarians and Friends.

The Exchange

I was a table GM for House Misraria, a minor house of Drow Assassins. I had a great time running the event, and all of the guys at my table said they had a lot of fun playing. In addition, for a minor house, we couldn't have done much better.

We were directly responsible for the downfall of 2 of the major houses, NONE of our house nobles died, and we were part of the alliance that was eventually able to take the throne.

Our demon lord was VERY pleased with how we'd played the evening, and everyone in the house left the city before the final 20 minutes or so, planning to come back in a few months when everything had died down. I'd imagine that when they did, they'd no long be considered a "minor" house.

Now, having said all that, there WERE a few complaints, mostly due to some lack of prep time issues, as ancientsensei outlined. Of my six characters, 2 were not given equipment lists, 1 was not provided with a spell list despite being a high level caster, and worse still, our "master assassin" was given a character sheet not showing any assassin levels. He was fighter 5/rogue 4 or some such, and I knew he was supposed to be much more powerful than that, so I had to give him 8 levels of assassin on the spot.

On top of all of that, the "power cards", the one use abilities that the characters were supposed to receive, never materialized. Those hiccups were all dealt with by myself and the players, and took about the first 45min of game time...and despite all that, we still accomplished a lot. And most of my guys ended up playing the whole game with no power cards and still had astounding success. It gives me pause to wonder how much better they could have possibly done with all their tools at their disposal.

The truth is that none of that stuff really mattered all that much once things got really going. And as I said, everybody at the table (self included) had all kinds of fun. Next time if people have more prep time and are a bit more ready to go, some of these clerical problems will be avoided, and all will be just that much better.

I also agree with others that a slightly more descriptive event listing may have helped with those who didn't know what they were getting into. I played Hellfire Congress last year, which was an event with a similar format last year, and to be totally honest, it had the same up and downsides. I said after I left: "In some ways that was the best roleplaying experience I've EVER had, and in some ways it was a total disaster." I tried to give the guys at my table that sort of talk to prepare them for what was coming, and I think it helped. There were times as the event was in progress that I just had to sit back and laugh at how perfectly chaotic it all was - just like a real drow city under crisis would surely have been.

Many thanks to Nick, Steve, Tabby, and Shane for all the hard work they put in. It all worked out well in the end, and I'd be happy to do it all again.

The Exchange

Oh, one other thing I'd like to add re: how to improve. Several of the guys at my table and I all agreed that the "global announcement" thing was a real problem. For one thing, by the time the whole room finally got quiet, half the message was already over and the rest didn't make sense.

More than that, though, was the issue that they were highly disruptive to the flow - be it the conversation, the combat initiative order, or what have you. I understand the need to be kept appraised of what's going on, and I also understand the need for those updates to be timely, but at the same time there needs to be some limit to how frequently the interruptions come. Perhaps all the announcements get held and then made every 10 minutes or something? Then maybe there'd be 3-4 at once, we all get the news, and then we all react or go back to what we're doing as appropriate.

I don't know if that's the optimal answer either - I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers - but that was just an observation we had made.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

Great feedback from everyone. I appreciate that and wanted to add or clarify a few things:

First, I never made the statement that a typo is responsible for the 126 player event. While the event was initially advertised for 48 players, last I heard that change was intentional. One thing that is true, is the communicating this change to myself and Shane fell through the cracks. When we did realize the event was going to take far longer to plan, we hit the books pretty hard. We outlined about 80 PC shells over the first weekend, including rough class descriptions and relationships within houses. We were asked to hold off on any mechanics until we heard more from the editorial pit, but then events conspired to keep everyone very busy and we waited that part out making characters and such.

At some point, I asked Nick if we were using the Pathfinder system and the SRD - meaning mechanically - and he replied yes..but he meant using Paizo and the SRD in terms of intellectual properties. When that was cleared up, forty entirely finished characters were scrapped and started over. That was after July 10, when Nick revised my format based on the late date, and gave us the green light.

I want to give credit to the guys at RPGXplorer.com. While we didn't have time to master their system, there is no way we could have pounded out these characters as quickly in any format other than handwritten on notebook paper. Unfortunately, our lack of expertise led to some corrupted file transfers, some backed out character sheets (like Misraria's greatest assassin, who levels apparently could not be saved), and some lost equipment or background text. With no time to check everything, some things weren't discovered as missing until Friday night, and obviously that created frustration.

So...I don't know if Paizo will ask us to do this again next year (I would like to think they know how much we want to be working for them), but I am really very proud of what we created given the pitfalls we encountered. I now know that Shane and I can bust out about anything we need to in a short time, and still be strong in terms of prose and mechanics. We are really looking at your feedback. Some of it we knew going in, and I had to shed my disappointment at losing some of my vision and just go out and play a dmeon or run a combat. But some of it are new and exciting ideas that any coordinator of such a huge event would be wise to use.

Thanks to all, and don't hesitate to email directly and tell me what you think. I hope the feedback keeps coming until about January.

Here that, Paizo? January. : }

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013

Oh, yeah: thought I'd add. While we were doing that, we found many many things to love about the Pathfinder system. The class treatments are exceptional, including bard, barbarian and paladin. But nothing got me excited by the way the sorcerers work now. Awesome.

Abjurers are still getting screwed, though. : }

If you have not downloaded Pathfinder or started a playtest campaign, I very much encourage it. Fantastic for power gaming (my fave), fantastic for in-character role-play (my fave), Pathfinder is the game that I play and (soon, I hope!) write for before any other.


I also played in the event as a member of House Tracinoa. I want to start off by saying that I had a great time and I love being an instrumental betrayer to the house (letting in an assassin during a wedding!) In discussing the event with my friend who also played in Tracinoa (and ended up being the one loyalist to the House) we thought of a few changes if it were to be done again.

1. Cut the game down to 60 people. 120 people was awesome, but ultimately the number of people caused the chaos to get a bit out of control to the point we couldn't effectively plot as a House. We would have liked to see people working more as cohesive Houses, and cutting down the number of people would allow this to me more manageable.

2. Give everyone a brief overview or cheatsheet on the houses. When the game started, we had no idea about our own house much less the other houses. It might have been nice to know who the "House of Assassins" are, or who controls the mines, the water, or the poisons. A listing of house assets like 50,000 armed men or 100 combat mages or poison for 20,000 people would be good too. When combat started to break our we had no idea how many forces our house has to compare to others. Would a high house have a bigger army than a lesser house? Also some reference sheet of the houses, leading us to suggestion #3.

3. Give some identifications of the Houses. With all the chaos, meeting and scheming with multiple people, and a gamer's poor memory, we were often reporting to our House about a deal with "that guy" or "house over there". Larger banners, color coding or identifying heralds for the houses would help keep it straight and help us find houses we wanted to scheme with.

4. Lose the character sheets. This is a bit radical, but as many people have said, this was really more of a LARP. The backgrounds of each character and their motivations were ultimately much more important than their stats or skills. Now, spells and powers did come into play some, so perhaps these could be consolidated onto power cards, like many of the special powers were.

5. No PVP. Again, a radical change. We went back and forth on this one with no consistent agreement, but I thought I'd put it on the table. We really liked the political maneuvering, building alliances, and betraying other houses. Real nobles houses rarely have an out and out war. Now to be fair, these are Drow and this was a very special event. But when we thought about eliminating the character sheets to force people to simply play their character, we also thought to eliminate actual battles. People would still get assassinated, poisoned, or die from an attack. Again, we could see both sides of this idea and eliminating it might create a game that never ends.

Those were some suggestions we thought of after thoroughly enjoying our time. Our house suffered from multiple betrayals and fell. Ultimately, I joined another house and we raided a rival house's manor while they were out fighting only to confront in single combat a member of my previous house who had gotten married off. Time didn't allow us to end it, but it was the moment we both had been waiting for!

Contributor

I wanted to echo ancientsensei's post thanking you guys for the feedback. This event was a joy to help plan for and write, but it was also the most challenging gaming experience of my life. There are a lot of good ideas here that I wish I had thought of in mid-July.

I'm not going to lie, lack of prep time and technical difficulties were definitely a major concern (for instance, <i>all</i> of the characters had a version of their character sheet complete with gear, but somehow about twenty-five of them failed to transfer from one computer to another before printing - then to make matters worse there wasn't really time for a proofreading phase before the game), but it's great to see a list developing of ways we could have still improved Ascension given what we had to work with.

I'd also like to add a big thank you to everyone who has posted here. The reaction we have received from this has been nothing short of awe-inspiring to me. Keep it coming, good bad and ugly, here or via e-mail. I can't wait to read every single word of it, be it compliment, criticism or tales of the eventual fate of your character.

Dark Archive

Nicolas Logue wrote:

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for posting your feedback and please continue to do so! This event was a first time for us and was about four times the size we originally planned it to be, so the more I know the better this gets for the future.

One great point has already been made: LARP-like. I needed to make the nature of this even far more clear in the con book description of it. My apologies to Joel and those others whose expectations were totally misconstrued thanks to make lake of clarity! Please forgive!

Yeah...I tried to avoid the Tarrasque. I tried so hard.

Player: "We want to summon a Tarrasque!"

Me: "No."

Player: "What if we willingly sacrifice one our House nobles [another player in their group]"

Me: "No."

Player: "What if we sacrifice two of our House nobles [two players in their own group!]"

Me: "No."

Player: "What if we sacrifice three members of our House [HALF THEIR FRIGGIN GROUP!!!]"

Me: "Sure."

Then the tarrasque showed up and started off things by eating the rest of their House...hey, nobody said they'd be able to control the thing...I never promised that. Then their Demon Lord got pissed, manifested and took on the Tarrasque along with them, eventually driving it off into the rest of the city to eat other Houses...

good times!

I can proudly say that this foolish, yet quite literally self-sacrificing group of drow were part of House Razivrein, and I had the dubious honor of guiding them, along with the demon lord and another table GM. When they came back to the table and said "We just got approval to summon a Tarrasque, and we sacrificed three of our own to do it," I wet myself, and then quietly laughed to myself as I saw the house's impending doom.

Aside from this minor misstep, (yeah I said minor), I was proud of them all for playing the devious nature of the drow so well. They never overextended themselves, made alliances and abandoned them shamelessly when their allies were not going to win, then just as quickly offered them refuge when they fled their enemies who sought to destroy them utterly. I think they absorbed 3 houses before the game was over and had a good chance at the throne as well..... It's a shame they had to summon the Tarrasque on their own grounds. I was really hoping they'd have done it at the battle between Azinrae and Tracinoa, sacrificing their own to let loose destruction on thier enemies, and then just promptly left the scene. Now THAT would have been AWESOME!

P.S. Nick - take note, for Grugenor Stonespurr, the Master artillerist of all barrels and eternal friend of Cooper the "reforming" barbarian craftsman has posted this message. You asked for my handle at GenCon, and now you have it!

Ron Janik aka Ramicus

Dark Archive

First, let me say I had a blast with this event. My hats off to Steve and Shane and all the rest that helped out. Writing Power cards on Wednesday night with Steve and his wife into the wee hours certainly gave me insight into just how much effort these three people put into making this event happen. I shudder to think how much more there might have been with an additional 30 days of time to prepare.

Second: the chaos made the event what it was. Yeah it was a logistical mess, and yeah I spent most of my time encouraging, listening and running around for my players to make things happen, but it was still a blast. I even got to throw a mat down when the final showdown took place.

Third: when scheming, especially in corporate politics for example, your opponent moves as you do. The trick is to manage your goal seeking behavior in tandem with your defensive behavior. It's about achieving a certain balance. We need to find that balance for real time events vs. game time combat resolution else it creates unintentional conflict at a metagame level. The answer: a faster, nonstandard conflict resolution system is necessary, particularly during the early and middle stages of the event. Maybe the mats get thrown down for the final showdown or for major events like assassination attempts, but not much else, and definitely not PvP, where players should be narrated through the scene rather than having dice hit the table.

Lastly, if events are to culminate into a single final scene, we need a way to determine whom the final participants are. I know Steve and I discussed this briefly Saturday night while gaming, and we definitely need to consider a better way to funnel and eliminate the players who try to make it to the final scene, or plan accordingly for multiple resolution events to occur simultaneously. Honestly, I think this situation was unique, because literally it was one big game of "king of the mountain." Our problem was we had 50 people trying to climb that mountain at the same time, and no one can manage an RPG table of 50, at least no one I know of.

All in all, this was a very cool event. It exposed people to a radically different style of play, allowed them to get involved and still had the feel of D&D fantasy, even if all of us didn't roll a ton of dice.

Paizo can count on me to herd the cats any time they run an event like this. I had a blast doing it. And I had a great time running the PFS events too!

Well, there's my two cents. Kudos again everyone!

Ron Janik, aka that barrel-tossing dwarf drowned by the serial killer half-orc paladin (played by Steve!)

Sovereign Court

I had a total blast playing Ascension of the Drow even though I was probably one of the players who had the most trouble getting started. I played Haradro Vexidyre, who was an eldritch knight who specialized in mind control and divination spells. It was hard for me to figure out exactly how to use these spells in the context of the game (disguising myself? how does that work? do I get more nametags?). I could definitely have done with more information about potential targets and how to deal with other characters (I noticed that some of the characters had page or two long descriptions, so my one and a half paragraphs felt a little insubstantial).

I think there should have been more time for each house to communicate with each other before the start of the fun, so that we could focus on figuring out what everyone was, did, etc. before the chaos began.

Also, Vexidyre had 3 traitors, even though, as far as I understood the rules, each House should only have had a maximum of 2 possible traitors. The third traitor was actually the most damaging of all.

Vexidyre also had the disadvantage of (I think) having the greatest percentage of players who were unhappy with the event, as half of our remaining table departed at the break, forcing us to resort to drastic measures: abandoning our House and having the Demon Lord Shax turn us into dopplegangers.

That said, I had a total blast at this event and I would do something like it in a heartbeat.

And I can't wait to see the fate of the four scions of House Vexidyre in Pathfinder, Haradro, for his part, I am sure will be extremely excited about his newfound abilities as a doppleganger (or if that is decided to be too extreme, his predilection for disguise and spying should fit his life as a drow terrorist perfectly).

Liberty's Edge *

Michael Chu wrote:


Also, Vexidyre had 3 traitors, even though, as far as I understood the rules, each House should only have had a maximum of 2 possible traitors. The third traitor was actually the most damaging of all.

We had 3 traitors??? Who was our third? I was Krastur Vexidyre, btw.

graywulfe


First Steve sorry about that I did not mean that he was your wife bit of a editing problem on my part so I apologize to all three of you.

I GM part of High House Vonnarc and my group came in think it was a Paizo adventure and was going to be ran like one not like the LARP that it turned out like. It took them awhile but they got into it and ran with it. I ran them outside of town were they fought off several Deathweb’s and undead before making an insane deal with the Shadow Dragon. The second of the house started talking to the dragon wanting to have it as an ally but the Dragon says you’re a weak race why should I prove yourself to me. A big fight with Dread Wraiths ensures and in the middle one of the players decides that they will teleport next to the dragons head and talk while the rest are getting it handed to them. The player then offers up 100 years of servitude to the dragon and anything else it desires to stop and join sides with there house. So the Dragon says that the House will owe it three favors that it can call in at anytime for any reason no questions asked and it will accept. A bargain is stuck and the Dragon takes off to the city. So now the Second of the house is mad because he was in charge and some lower class of the house made the deal. So he waits lets the guy walk back towards the city and summons a chain devil to attack him. After a brief fight the lesser Drow teleports back to the city because he is about to die. Was a great moment when the Second in command yells out “Learn you place young one” and attacks him. I hear latter that the Dragon took out two houses on its own and is still alive.
When High House Vonnarc is final able to enter and try for the throne the first thing they have to do is fight a Balor. Three people manage to get initiative on the Balor so round one the head of the house cast Crushing hand and wins the grapple. The Combat GM no big deal I will teleport next to him and kill him on my turn. Second guy runs up attacks does some damage, third guy a cleric cast Banishment. The Combat Dm looks ok just have to roll 2 or better rolls ……. A “1” in front of 15 people. Balor done in under one round. The head of the House cast the spell and uses a power card that allows him to use caater level instead of his skill modifier. So he has a +32 before even rolling the DC was a 30, he rolls a 13 makes it. Then we are told that everyone takes 70 points of environmental damage no save from it and they have to make a Death saving throw. He is a wizard so his fort sucks but all he needed was a 7 or better but he rolls a 4 and dies on the throne right as he is claiming it lol. Is soul is sucked into the throne and he is gone. Meanwhile out of 7 member of the house being alive only 3 remain after the attack. One a construct, the other a monk and the last a female cleric who defected from her house and decided to join the house. The cleric says I will take it sits down makes the DC 30 check and the monk then lays down his life so that the throne may be claimed. This was a tremendously wild night for all and I look forward to helping out next year.


Also Stuart and I talked with some of you after the game but our suggestion was that because there were three challenges that had to be completed and no one knew what they were but the Daemon patrons. You could have had it as each Daemon had three tasks that they wanted done and each time a house completed one they were told about one of the challenges. Each challenge could be set up to cause the same amount of chaos that was going on. The challenges could be suited to each of the houses flavor. For example for the house of assassins kill the head of this house or the house of diplomats gain X amount of people sworn to you house. Then after all three are completed and the House knows what needs to be done to win the throne the GM can now send them up to Steve or Nick. A couple of things could happen at this point. First you could then say that only one person may enter the throne room at a time so that the house has to decide who should go in or you could have who ever is left from the house can enter. Second you could have it so the first one there goes in and no one else can go in until the challenge is won or lost. So if another house tries to go in they can not or you could have it so that it ends up that each of the surviving houses have one person outside the throne room and have a fight to see who gets to go in. Have a table that is only for the throne room maybe set in another room or blocked of from the rest and a table that would represent the outside of the throne room.
This would allow you to funnel the chaos and have control over the end game but still have the chaos of the first half of the night.

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