A DM's tips of the trade

Savage Tide Adventure Path

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Silver Crusade

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Drawing from what others have done and my own touch, laying out what seems to be working and not working as far as style and personal touches for future DMs. As we're just getting started (using 5E rules if it matters), a work in progress.

A Matter of Honor

- Largely running as-is, with a prologue that I call Session 0 to allow players to create a story to unify them without any dice rolling. Ours dealt with surviving the events of Kyuss that gave rise to the Wormfall festival. During that event, they saved Vanthus, who was a jerk making inappropriate comments about paying them with his sister since he thought they were "mercs."

- Lavinia, using the princess from Braveheart, thick French accent. Having her cover up her loss of wealth, a fancy dinner to start but then when the party visits next, Kora is making stew. It's so important to get the party to like her, to play her not as a damsel in distress but a person whose life has imploded as her parents have recently died, her brother struck her, and now she's head of a declining household. Played up her memories of Vanthus (a laugh describing the good old days of the elixir of love and then a somber description of him hitting her).

- Playing Kora as the matron (she knows one PC already), concerned about their weight and health. The sole servant / messenger / seneschal, she's also a great cook who likes to have some blueberry scones handy for her favorite visitors.

- Changed Soller Vark to being in the act of getting it on (we're all adults and things like this are a lot more interesting than monsters just waiting in a room to be killed) as the party navigated a boat rented from a jilted noble whose girlfriend never showed up. Since it was his stepdaddy's boat, he didn't care. Later, the party lamented they didn't keep his fishing poles on board to make it look more authentic as they snuck up on the Blue Nixie.

- Burning monkeys curling up into little balls as they died really, really got the party fired up and angry at the smugglers on the Blue Nixie.

- The vault below Teraknian Castle has a unique puzzle lock; DMs should carefully read it to understand the sequence. If your PCs are really having a difficult time, maybe allow them to hear a "click" if they've gotten a tumbler in sequence.

- Sasserine is such a troublesome setting. Love making it come alive, but 90% of the path takes place somewhere else. Wouldn't overplay the city.

- Factions (affiliations) didn't grab everyone's attention as I thought they might. Different strokes for different folks.

We will pick up after clearing the vault. The party talked Lavinia into taking her last chest of coin in case Vanthus (whom they suspect) comes back to clean her out. Party is invested in her cause, and since she's a big part of the story line, this is important.

If your party does become invested in Sasserine, you could always fit in some side adventures after Tides of Dread. My GM for instance threw in a scaled up Freeport Trilogy.

Silver Crusade

The DM in me wants to sketch up a paragraph for every inn and brothel in the city and flesh out NPCs, political landscape. Not what Savage Tide was designed for, but great workup.

Session 2

- Searching the city, great chance for some role play. Where does a guy like Vanthus go.... could have easily left out Lavinia's clue other than reducing it to some "gutter trash artist girlfriend" or the like.

- DM needs a backup in case the party doesn't take Shefton (modified to nickname "Chef," took away his right hand, he claims lost in a shark attack while serving on a ship that later sank, also a junkie) up on his offer. My party did, but if they don't....

- They hate Vanthus. Shopowner who revealed his purchase of a boat referred to him as the "little prick" with the "smuggler jerk." Business is business, however, and coin talks. I've been using "V's Campaign Log" for inspiration. He learned poison in my campaign when his parents forced him to Farshore, and now he's using it. Pricked Chef and tossed his body down the shaft, then a taunt and some coins for the ferryman. Party wants revenge. He uses silver pins topped with opals. Guess what was used to kill the harbormaster... (one in each eye, body bloated by poison).

- This is a problem. Revenge on Vanthus has to wait several levels. It'll likely be job #1 come module #3 (sea voyage), but no leads will exist. Hard to let a bad guy go, not usual D&D fare. Not sure what they'll do.

- 5E zombies are nasty for low-level parties. They just won't die. This was a great intro to undead and has given a healthy respect to undead. The oversized maws and fanged teeth of the rotted corpses, just a great addition of flavor text. Monsters have to be more than just stats.

- Penkus's note. Had a player read it aloud. Masterful, full of bile. Provided a printout of the dragon lotus tattoo. Visuals have a use. Every time we speak with Lavinia, her graphic comes out. Others have suggested a "theme song," might add if I get my mobile speaker purchased to sync with my phone.

- 5E has no wealth by level. As a result, my Tormite cleric sought out an orphanage and donated half his wealth (he could have bought better gear, healing potions, so on). The headmistress didn't even know what the faith of Torm was about. Interesting dynamic...

- Again little modification needed from the original. Party reached 2nd level. Using milestones, the escape from Parrot Island is the spot. On the side, Vanthus is cruel. Just in case the party escaped, he punched holes in their rowboat. More jerk behavior. A "mending" spell did the trick, but no one was amused. After all, they had rented the boat and wanted their deposit back.

Sounds like a fun campaign you are running, and you made interesting modifications to make it come alive. I am curious to hear more.
Parrot Island is very memorable and sure to make players hate Vanthus. Mine did. I remember playing Shefton with a lisp in order to make him memorable.

A few pointers

1. Try and have some party investment to the Jade Ravens. Doesn't matter if is Like/love/hate or rivalry. Just something.

2. I had the party come across mention of Vanthus during the journey just to keep the name in their minds

3. Like all campaigns, I personalised things to fit into the characters back stories (e.g. The basilist statues in adventure 3, one was a characters lost uncle. An evil necromancer, but she did not know that at the time

4 I liked Sasserine so added material between 2 and 3. Including investigating the plantation Vanthus was sent to.

Peter Stewart wrote:
If your party does become invested in Sasserine, you could always fit in some side adventures after Tides of Dread. My GM for instance threw in a scaled up Freeport Trilogy.

And a Prince of Redhand, The Standing Stone, The Fall of Greymalkin Academy and Lost Temple of Demogorgon, all after Lightless Depths. Quite frankly, I question your DM's sanity. He clearly went overboard.

You can check out the wiki and OP stuff here, Touc. Can provide some good character art, if nothing else.

I added the plantation as well.
I added some more adventures later on, namely Torrents of Dread (on the Isle of Dread) and Tammeraut's fate (during the voyage).

In my experience, players don't forget Vanthus. They understand how narratives work, and thus that Vanthus will return. Players like to defeat villains and the fact that they don't get to defeat him will stick in their craw and make them remember him.

After HTBM, which took my group like 4 months to complete because of irl reasons, as soon as they saw Farshore on fire when they first arrive they immediately said, "I bet it's Vanthus."

But for more concrete-ness, someone (I think in V's Campaign Log) recommends swapping the relatively boring "Fort Destroyed By Lizardfolk" encounter in SWW with another Savage Tide attack, to remind players that the Savage Tide is still a thing. (in my experience, players remember Vanthus - that bastard we haven't killed yet - but can forget about the Savage Tide threat that gets introduced in TBG and is pretty central to the campaign)

And yeah, I have failed to come up with a way to make the Jade Ravens interesting.

I ran a one-shot campaign set in the fort, although making it a savage tide would have made more sense. Instead, lizardfolk and deep ones backed by Dagon invaded. The main game later picked up the PCs from the one-shot, who had been captured by slavers from the Crimson Fleet.

The Jade Ravens didn't have much of a problem being interesting, I had them interacting with the party since the beginning. I also used the Paizo iconic art for them, so Tolin = Valeros, Liamae = Seoni, Kaskus = Harsk and Zan became Zani who = Merisel.

I introduced the Jade Ravens and especially Liamae quite early. She got involved in a love triangle with one of the PCs and Tolin. This worked very well. I also let the players rescue them in SOS, so that they could say "told you we were the better adventurers". They played a major role in my campaign.

Silver Crusade

Betting on the Jade Ravens playing a much more prominent role in the Sea Wyvern, lots of RP opportunities, especially if a romance begins and Tolin makes a move on Lavinia. Also chances to talk about Vanthus with her.

Borrowed V's attack on the Fort. While it doesn't fit with the overall plan, maybe it was an experiment or a test, isolated, for when the big event happens.

Will check out the Darkwind page, thanks!

I figured that the Shadow Pearl attack on the fort was Vanthus trying to experiment with them to see how they worked. The first time he was just desperate, this time he's got one (somehow) and is being more scientific about it.

It's been mentioned on the boards before, but everything is new again! In the Lotus Dragon Guildhall, the room that Rowyn is in is super tiny. The party, Rowyn, and Gut Tugger barely fit, and that's assuming that none of the players have animal companions. As it's drawn up, Rowyn can't really move around to create flanks and can get overwhelmed really quickly. I know we've been talking more RP tips in this thread, but making that battle site bigger really helps the party not kill her in 2 rounds.

Silver Crusade

Making the room more manageable by enlarging a good tip, add in room features and it's pretty tight. I want to reserve the option to include 2 more rogues as guards (if the party is cruising through), so more space better.

Silver Crusade

Session 3, Lotus Guild mostly.

So how do you break it to a young woman who has just lost her parents and inherited an estate with a single Halfling crone as her greatest ally that her only sibling is a murderer and thief? Great RP opportunities.

- The Lotus Guild ambush wasn't needed. My players immediately went to the Taxidermist Hall and broke in at night. There's a ton of opportunities here. One player remembered Penkus's note of being under the guild and checked out the well. If it hadn't been daytime, he might have jumped in. Know your map if players take an inventive way in.

- You may wish for notes to distinguish the guild's level of activity at day or night, make it live and breathe a bit more. I figured late evening was a period when many of the guild are above ground. Same with Rowyn. Does she always happen to be in her room waiting for PCs to break in? Figured the late night was a chance to read a book, then a bath. The party caught her in the middle of reading a tawdry erotica novel, though she was alerted to their presence.

- Enlarging Rowyn's lounge, a much appreciated idea. Doubled the dimensions, left the bedroom the same.

- The game system may make this difference, but adding 2 rogues in secret chambers (complete with peepholes, chair) helped make the battle last a bit. Made it a lot tougher.

- Made the secret door to the treasure room radiate a slightly different temperature. Like the 5E idea of a bit more inventive search for secret things than simply a die roll.

- Treasure room traps, at least as I converted them, can be very dangerous, especially if the group goes straight for the loot rather than take a breather. No rogue in the group nor anyone proficient in thieves' tools, so disabling traps a bit problematic as was getting the door open. Fortunately, Rowyn's bed had a massive headboard. Made a serviceable ram.

- Decisions decisions on whether Rowyn would circle back and rally her guild behind her. Be prepared. As scripted, she likely won't given the carnage it takes to reach her.

- I hijacked a hand-drawn map of the guild someone prepared from a thread here from one of the rogues if they surrendered. GREAT IDEA! Incomplete and a great prop.

- If you've modified your campaign for a more Sasserine-heavy game, consider creating a Sasserine map with pins to demonstrate Rowyn's strategy room. Party was intrigued but I'm not modified too heavily.

- Same with the chalkboard with ships. Consider a handout. Maybe the party can affect some of the Lotus Guild's activities.

- Players got a great kick out of having their names on the board. True to player fashion, they erased much of it and wrote "Vanthus sucks!" They really don't like this guy ever since he tried to trap them in with ravenous zombies...

- If they trash Rowyn's area, they may not have incentive to search the rest of the area except to find Vanthus. Important you've made them hate him by now.

Great read! It brings back memories of running this adventure.
My group confronted the taxidermist by daylight, but he managed to confuse them with his illusion spells. I remember someone falling (or jumping) in the nearby water (do not quite remember which) and getting attacked by ixitchachitl. The taxidermist managed to escape heavily wounded and patrols got wind of the pc actions. All in all a very exciting episode with lots of repercussions for the pcs. Such good times we had.

You won't run into too many traps in the campaign, so not having a rogue isn't going to hurt that much.

In fact, the end boss of SWW is a plant creature (and one of the harder fights is against an ooze) and the boss of HTBM is a golem, so rogues can get a little frustrated. It's not like Age of Worms where you need to modify rogues so they can harm undead or they're useless, but the middle section of the adventure path can be hard for that class.

The hook for TBG is super easy: Vanthus went that way! My players had no problem following it. They need to get over to the cove by boat though, which can be a good opportunity to introduce Amella or one of the other sailor NPCs from SWW.

Silver Crusade

Like the idea of offering a crew member of SWW early, good idea.

Luna eladrin wrote:

Great read! It brings back memories of running this adventure.

Same here!

IMC the taxidermist tried to flee while invisible, but the druid PC had summoned a dire bat & the taxidermist got captured.
In the end, the players tied him in one of his stuffed animals...

Amella was indeed the captain who took the group out to Kraken's Cove in my campaign too. It's a natural fit.

Might be too late for it in your game (it certainly was an opportunity I missed), but Kigante Valeros, if he can be snuck into a throwaway encounter, either utterly neutral or possibly even helpful to the PCs, will make his death hit a bit harder.

Silver Crusade

After a long break, we are back in action near the end of Module #1 and beginning of Bullywug's Gambit.

- Lotus Guild is really awkward to run if you're not thinking ahead of what the guild might do if the party takes a rest. My group entered around 10pm (prime activity aboveground) and rested till around 7am (time to rest for many). Stood to reason only a handful of folk would dare to disturb Rowyn. As above, be flexible.

- The crocodile trap is great but lethal, killed our cleric. I initially had the room flooding in 2 rounds. But that's nasty, so I ran it gaining 2' per round until 8' deep. A crocodile + snipers for anyone treading water? Consider removing snipers if the party kills enough of the guild. But if they jump in from the well, that's asking for trouble.

- The torturer is an interesting RP encounter. I ran the guy as somewhat deranged and a racist. He is used to playing psychological games with his victims and gambled by playing one with the party (getting an alert when they killed Cruncher). But, rather than play the role out, he couldn't help his anti-demihuman ways and tried to off the party's dwarf prematurely.

- Be ready if the group wants to involve the city guard in cleaning out the guild and exposing the areas that may be bribed. Either immerse in it or gloss over. I glossed over at the epilogue party (wherein Avner brought Lavinia a dress to wear, citing she's noble, he's noble, why not...her refusal...and then our female player wearing the gown with Kora's skilled adjustments...wherein a drunk Avner grabbed her arse thinking she was Lavinia...wherein Avner is a great NPC. Have fun early with him, don't wait for the 3rd module).

- I play with my imaginary moustache when RPing Avner. If I'd been very creative, I would have bought a fake moustache.

- Had the player who looked at Vanthus's letters to Rowyn read them aloud to the group. Much more interesting that way.

- It's going to feel like a railroad, but the campaign provides that there's time to go on a side quest and so on if you want. However, it's meant to be linked. You're going to Kraken's Cove if you want to see how this plays out. My players were ready to roll.

- Introduced Captain Amella (and her foul mouth earlier) as a captain Lavinia's family used in the past for business. She doesn't own her own ship but is competent enough. Keep reinforcing that Lavinia isn't rich and connected like her parents. She's got a name and what's left of her family wealth. She can't afford the best.

- Had Amella give a "landlubber" speech before anyone sets sail. Even on a little cog, she'll give the speech. Recommend scripting one, complete with lots of cursing or whatever gives her personality.

- Amella won't try her luck at coral reefs. Ask anyone, that's suicide without knowing the exact lay of the water, which no one has. That's why she sets them on a beach a mile north.

- The Savage creatures have the party freaked. Converted to 5th edition, they're really nasty. Play up how relentless they are, the true savage nature. Monkeys attacking armored men?

- As noted in another post, you need to change some of the flavor text. Savage Creatures don't leave corpses. An "oops" moment if you don't.

Silver Crusade

Our Session #5 (Kraken's Cove):

- Not sure if it was my conversion of savage creatures, but they're really tough and nasty. As a result, a party might need to rest often.

- If they need to rest, you should have a timeline of what happens inside the caves with any survivors. What happens if the party takes 2 days or never goes to the back?

- One impetus is the knowledge that if even one of these creatures makes it to civilization, you're looking at epidemic. Refer to the movies 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later.

- Harliss' speech refers to "a day ago" but my party took 2 in reaching her due to having to rest after some nasty fights.

- In 5th, magic weapons don't come so easily. The damage resistance is very frustrating on savage creatures if no one has a magic weapon. However, they found a way, and there are going to be times when one character class shines and others don't as much. It might suck to be a fighter-type at this stage.

- Also be ready if the party attacks Harliss. It's not a fair fight - she's really strong. My party attacked her when she said she was wiping out the Vanderboren family (one player refused the fight, so some dissent in the ranks). If the party had been full strength, they might have taken her. But they weren't, and she took down 3, leaving the one who refused. She told her to pick one or all 3 died (she picked the instigator).

- Since they dissolve in acid sprays, consider what effect this has on equipment. If you really like the idea of finding Brissa and the locket, then maybe it fell off in the cave instead of still being worn, or having Brissa wander around with it, calling for her love.

Thanks for the session overviews. We are just starting this adventure path ourselves with me as DM. We still play 3.5 and have never really felt like going to anything else as we have all the books and they work for us just fine.

I'm hosting session 4 this weekend and it will be their second foray below Parrot Island as 4 of the 5 party members met their demise there last session. We do play rather long sessions of 10+ hours but you seem to be moving at quite a clip with your session 5 at Kraken's Cove. I suspect we might start Lotus Dragon Hideout this session 4, but it won't be done until session 5 or maybe even 6.

Actually, I take some of that back. I just remembered that I ran Funeral Procession as adventure #0 if you will. It lasted 1 1/4 sessions, so we might be more on the same schedule.

Looking forward to reading more and am appreciating the tips. Thinking about how to get Kigante Valeros involved, maybe a small encounter as the party is rowing their treasure back to town from Parrot Island.

The savage creatures were also nasty in 3.5. My group found them very scary. Do not forget to add some savage creatures later on in the campaign, as players tend to forget that plotline. I freaked my PCs out with a savage albatross when they were on the Sea Wyvern (and could therefore nicely foreshadow the shipwreck, since shooting an albatross brings bad luck of course).

Another good spot for savage creatures is in Chapter 11. Bodak T-Rexes sound bad, but give those demons savage T-Rex mounts instead (and feel free to leave the bodak death gaze in there), and it brings you back to the stakes involved.

You might also want to provide a few savage creatures in Scuttlecove.

If you've seen World War Z, the zombie attack on New York is an excellent visual reference for the fearless and psychotic attacks of a savage creature.

Silver Crusade

After a prolonged break due to real life, we're back in action.

Session #6 (Bullywugs in Sasserine)

- If it weren't for the urgency, the first two flavor encounters would be fun.

- My players didn't take a stilt-walker alive, so no conspiracy was unveiled. Loss of a political aspect to the campaign, but if you want to preserve, possible the guard or some other entity draws a connection between the Kellani family. Or, if you're angling this route, you can plant a clue on one of them (though a good assassin doesn't carry clues).

- This session was primarily a hack n slash fest, letting the party flex some muscle against lowly bullywugs. After the life and death struggle in Kraken's Cove, a nice change of pace for players, especially the melee ones.

- There's a strong temptation to loot Lavinia's house. The party rescued her first and she stated how to find her family's hidden armory. While she's probably not keen on them looting what little she has, this can be some reward besides bullywug spears. (3rd/Pathfinder balances this part with loot from the bad guys, but if you're in 5th, you'll want to consider something different as it's quite a bit different loot system. I put in some magical boots along with a silvered weapon and healing potions in the armory).

- Had the bullywugs break Liamae's fingers so she couldn't cast cantrips. If your party is pretty beat up by this point, consider whether she can aid them with a spell. Mine had a pack of 3 mastiffs tailing along (they were heartbroken when two died, and just as miffed the poor dogs were kenneled instead of running around the manor).

- Reading ahead is key. Looking back, I would have had the 3 dogs greeting the party at the door, and would have taken a bigger tour of the home when the party visited in the 1st adventure.

- They took the loss of Kora pretty hard. No more blueberry scones, or altering dresses. Next session I'm holding her funeral and likely Lavinia will ask the party if they have anything to say about her loyal seneschal.

- Our party didn't react quickly enough to save Lavinia from being sliced, but I had her go "down and dying," twisting aside at the last second. With the party there, the bad guy didn't have time to check his handiwork. As a major NPC, she's the crux of the campaign path. Not sure what Savage Tide would look like without her. Having been a DM for a long time, don't like "essential" NPCs. They seem death proof. In this case, just make it all plausible.

- Consider some alternative angle to her presence and adventure hooks if for some reason she can't be saved.

IMC the whole Vanderboren Manor situation was a bit of a cluster.

The party decided to sail the Sea Wyvern back from Kraken's Cove, theorizing that it was faster than the dingy they got there on. This led to a fun roleplaying encounter when the Sasserine Navy moves to interdict what they see as a Crimson Fleet pirate ship sailing straight for Sasserine.

The Wyrmfall Festival has some good encounters, which are really fun. The out of control wagon is the best. The stiltwalker got killed pretty fast.

When my party arrived at the manor they saw no signs of struggle outside it and no broken gate. They theorized (quite rightly) that the bullywugs must have come in through the basement and that Lavinia, if still alive, is probably barricaded as high up in the house as possible. This led them to enter the building and proceed directly up the stairs to the 2nd floor and encountering the Drevoraz encounter as the second encounter, after the atrium fight. When this fight is won, the party suddenly has a bunch of loot and (with a few shots of a CLW wand), 2 fully healed and pissed off Jade Ravens along with their gear (in the same room) and Lavinia, who has some combat stats.

They then went about ruthlessly slaughtering the remaining bullywugs, who were no match for the Jade Raven-augmented party.

SWW is really fun. I think one of the hardest things to do is to get the party to say "Eh, let's abandon Sasserine to go on a multi-month expedition to the Isle of Dread." So I would start, out of game, talking up the Isle of Dread to one or more of your players. If one of the group is really excited about going there, this can really sway the group. Otherwise you have to present, "Lavinia wants to go on this big long trip... there are really no other options."

Potsticker wrote:

I think one of the hardest things to do is to get the party to say "Eh, let's abandon Sasserine to go on a multi-month expedition to the Isle of Dread." So I would start, out of game, talking up the Isle of Dread to one or more of your players. If one of the group is really excited about going there, this can really sway the group. Otherwise you have to present, "Lavinia wants to go on this big long trip... there are really no other options."

This is when I (as a player) think I really started to lose interest in this AP. We were told that the Isle of Dread was a close-held family secret, but apparently everyone in the city was invited to go along (?). Then, our DM resorted to my NPC being framed for a murder, and the expedition seemed to come out of nowhere.

I had a player be an Olman character. Then the idea of going to the Isle of Dread was sold at character creation.

I had a player play as an Olman, he's been petrified during the original fall of the empire and reanimated by the PCs. Only one other PC could speak ancient Olman at the time.

Worked well until he got vapourised by Emraag. Good times!

Having an Olman PC is super useful. There are a bunch of times from The Sea Wyvern's Wake to The Serpents of Scuttlecove when having someone who speaks/reads Olman or knows some history and background about them is pretty important.

If you don't have one now, don't sweat it. In my experience you usually end up with an Olman PC at some point in the campaign because characters have the tendency to die on the Isle of Dread.

Silver Crusade

After a holiday hiatus, we resumed with Session 7, sailing to the Isle of Dread.

- Getting the Sea Wyvern is a pretty forced plot device. I told my players afterwards the story was wide open about how they got a ship: deception, theft, calling in favors, taking a loan, etc. But when you have a handout of the Sea Wyvern... in retrospect I'd skip the part where the party has to get a boat and a crew and just tell them Lavinia has lined things up.

- We had a roleplay about gaining the salvage rights, players used their respective factions to get some ideas of who to talk to.

- Avner rocks. By now he's been foreshadowed since Module 1 as an ass. Now he's got Lavinia in a bind. Not only is his family funding the lion's share of the journey, but I had him gain "courting" rights to her (though he mentioned at the 1st dinner if her fortunes didn't work out, she'd be below his station of the most eligible bachelor in town).

- The party didn't want to deal with Avner, and Lavinia had booked the ship tight on colonists. So I had him pay off everyone in the bunk room to sleep in the galley. Problem was there wasn't enough space. Per the law of the sea, "a deal is a deal." Creative solutions needed.

- Per some other posts here, created a visual table of the crew for the party with pics for the major NPCs (there's a Baldur's Gate II site of character portraits which are great for this). Because there's open space, you should create some interesting NPCs to fill up the crew. Not everyone needs to have an amazing story, but all colonists should have a one-liner about why they're headed to Farshore.

- Same with the Blue Nixie, in case the party interacts (which they might to investigate mystery sabotage).

- Created singing songs (just went to a medieval sailor website and modified for the fantasy setting). Made handouts for the group and after some prodding got them to sing along. The more ribald the better. In the old days, singing was essential to keep everyone in rhythm and it helped pass the time.

- Shipwrecks are a cliché. One player asked beforehand if he should bother buying plate mail. I'm thinking of working a method where the party's actions during the big storm affects how many are saved. A work in progress.

- You should find some sites about medieval sailing, superstitions, and incorporate these in. Find some nautical lore (e.g. the log to measure speed), then toss this in as background flavor.

- Create a timeline. Don't hold up the game by randomly rolling or flipping through events. It's a 90-day journey, so many days will be nothing unless the PCs want to interact with the passengers or crew. This way you can track major stopping points, events, etc.

- I didn't bother with getting lost. If the party isn't sailing the ship, seems pointless to tell them the captain got them lost. What are they going to do?

- Shore leave is great. Work up some planned NPC interactions.

- The day to day of ship travel is boring. The players will feel like they're sitting waiting for the next encounter to happen. Can't be avoided. A trip on a ship is supposed to be dull. So mix in singing, Avner shenanigans, and so forth to liven up the spots in between major encounters.

- The author suggests changing Father Conrad's religion if a party member shares the same. I say make it the same (by coincidence ours was), and have the guy memorize a few lines of dogma. Makes him a bit more interesting as a fraud.

- We stopped at the floating ooze battle. A nasty one by 5E standards. Players wondered if any of the crew would be helping out. Only one was skilled in ranged weapons (Skald), so made sense he'd stay back and help. You may want to play up that many in the crew are skilled in small arms to repel boarders but things like sea monsters and giant oozes are beyond their skill set.

- Did I mention Avner? You should be ready with many, many smart-ass comments on his part. For example, at the first dinner had him give Lavinia a locket (both sides of himself) so she can be close to his heart, and he warned her to keep it safe as peasants tend to have sticky hands and loose morals.

- Be ready if the party goes to the Captain of their ship or Admiral Lavinia to resolve issues. As a rule, a Captain's word at sea is law, and it'd be almost sacrilege to violate this. There needs to be some reason the party would be forced to make calls. For example, when Avner bought out the passengers so he could have more space, she told the party to figure it out and the above "a deal is a deal."

- Played up Lavinia's desire to weapon train and Tavey's hero worship. Unexpectedly, one of our characters has struck up a relationship with the handsome cook. The voyage is all about these NPCs. Because experienced players smell a cliché a mile away, it's a decent move to give more of them a chance to survive the storm. It'll make the trek through the Isle of Dread even that more interesting.

This module suffers, in my opinion, from two big issues.

1) The first is storms. The module text tells you specifically that Lavinia picks the best time of year for sailing weather, which is all well and good. However, the module scripts two storms and both have major effects on the PCs. The first separates them from the Blue Nixie and Lavinia and the second shipwrecks them on the Isle. By the second storm, as soon as you tell the players the clouds are looking heavy, they know they are going to get screwed. I personally feel that you should run some non-plot storm encounters, to get the PCs used to the idea that ship travel is dangerous, but they are not going to get owned every time there's a storm. Stormwrack has some good ideas for weather based encounters, or you could just run one of the two storm encounters in the module, but with lower DCs and without the major plot implications. I feel this helps to avoid some of the concerns the players will have with the second major flaw,

2) Railroading. Even a cursory review of the threads on SWW will find many discussions about the unavoidable shipwreck at the end, but there's also the Sargasso encounter (which is unavoidable and unnoticeable, the latter of which can really irritate PCs). In my experience, players don't, in principle, mind the shipwreck on the island -- it gets them off the boat, finally -- but the loss of agency and the feeling that no precautions they take matter ends up hurting the game. E.g., it doesn't matter how many ranks they put into Profession (Sailor) because they won't get lost in the first part of the journey even if they roll bad and they can't avoid the Sargasso or Reef if they roll amazing. To counteract some of that, I suggest having the Sargasso seriously damage their ship. Either in its death throes or earlier, have it rip off 2 of the 3 masts. Put a giant hole in the bottom of the ship that destroys a lot of supplies. Make them feel like they are barely limping away on a practically destroyed ship and that the sails and helm don't work well anymore. This way, once they encounter the second storm, it isn't as much of a stretch that they wreck no matter what.

Check out those same SWW threads for a lot of ideas how to solve this. At least you will find inspiration here for your own ideas.

My favorite SWW change many people have made is having the Nixie Wreck, and having the party try to chase Lavinia into the jungle, rather than having the Wyvern wreck.

Silver Crusade

Like the idea of the ship already being damaged before the storm. None of my players are sailors, so they're really at the mercy of the DM on this one, but still planning on playing it by ear to allow them a chance to save more than the core NPCs suggested by the next adventure.

Session 8, a short one and a player absent, to Tamoachan

- Avner makes the dull moments on the ship come alive. Although NPCs are fun, after awhile my players want to hack and slash something and explore a dungeon.

- My players loved a part where I had Tavey swear he spotted a ghost ship. This got the superstitious sailors riled up, and Avner attempted to put it all down by saying the boy is lying for attention and needed to be switched. He volunteered his body servant to do the switching.

- Later, during a calm (they happen, it's real sailing when you're dead in the water for a day or so), he blamed the lack of a switching as a sign of the god's displeasure, then got bored with the whole affair.

- Like other threads, if you've been playing Avner as the pompous cad he is, they should be entertaining ways of an untimely end. On the other hand, it should be stressed he's the financial backer and so on, a key cog in Lavinia's hope for a better future not just for herself but for every other colonist. Avner turning up dead would likely derail all the Meravanchi funding.

- I ran Tamoachan as written. In retrospect, I'd flesh out the dungeon a bit more. The inner chamber, sealed off (but now accessible due to an old earthquake, is something my players loved as a detail. Makes sense to have a "false" chamber and then an inner one where the good stuff is).

- As converted (5th), the finale battle followed by the will o wisp can be a really lethal combo if the party has had a hard time. We lost a party member (admittedly were a player short this week). Consider Urol calling upon his one favor in life to seek out the Druid for this area and the possibility of a reincarnation (I played the druid as more of a spirit of nature that appeared, took what it wanted in value for the spell, and created a ring of trees, urging a humanoid body to come forth from a tree).

- Alternately, the party could use one of Urol's salves to bring a petrified adventurer back if you need to replace someone.

- Since players are at sea so long, consider pulling a side dungeon that fits the theme to trek through. Add some ancient traps, some puzzles. Tamoachan seemed a little too short, and the solving of the only real trap too easy. Pilfering any small dungeon from an old adventure would work. Just keep the ruined city chamber and the access to the inner chamber.

- Finally, there's great flavor text about the Olman but the DC checks are really high. I'd generate a way to introduce this into the game. Maybe someone on the ship could explain later or Urol knows.

Silver Crusade

Our Session #9, Tamoachan to Renkrue

- It's a good idea to script out your passengers in a player handout, use some stock art from the net. One of my gamers thought the ship's cook was attractive and sought him out based on the pic; later Rowyn pulled her tricks and it made it all the more despicable. This adventure becomes one of the best with the NPCs. If you don't flesh them out, it gets boring (oh gee, another coastal fort...or oh gee, more dolphins swimming). I worked up a passenger sheet as well with a paragraph on major NPCs (e.g. a list of Captain Amella curses), and a line or two for everyone else. The adventure leaves it wide open and you should take advantage.

- Rowyn's shenanigans for the most part aren't lethal to characters of levels 5-6 except when she impersonates people. These have potential to be deadly. However, remember how crowded and tight a real ship is. There's little privacy.

- As written, the plot device of the storm stands to kill off many of the passengers, but consider how many are caught by earlier events. Hence the player handout. I've been marking a red "X" through those who died during encounters, such as swimming when the hydra attacked. It's hitting the party pretty hard when they see faces crossed off, and they learn the dwarf who was snatched by the ooze was going to open a quarry, a huge loss to the colony.

- I've worked up the backstories of the NPCs, using forum suggestions and other people's campaigns. For example, one family has a son who saved his younger sister from a fire in Sasserine. He's permanently scarred on one side but a hero. When the hydra attacked, that family was swimming, and the girl was killed (I random roll). Another passenger, Mr. Jask was swimming while his pregnant wife watched from the ship (the hydra got him too). 1-2 lines is all it takes.

- The point isn't to kill off passengers so much as to make the party care about these single random events. Killing the hydra was so much sweeter realizing not only did they save more of the crew, they saved future ships (after diving down).

- The Scarlet Brotherhood pirate attack is pretty pathetic. Ship to ship combat seems pretty "bleh" when your caster has a fireball.

- If you play this adventure right, your players are going to know the ship's NPCs, their quirks, who's pregnant, who's sleeping with whom, Captain Amella's favorite phrase and the weird look she gets in her eye when talking about her dead husband, and of course the cad Avner. I've slowed the hack n slash heavily because of this. Still, if your players need more of it, consider expanding the hydra into a cave system behind the waterfall, and so on.

- We stopped in Renkrue. Expanding the Avner "purchase" is golden. Details matter. Our party HATES him. Whether it's because he has his manservants get on all fours to make a human chair when the argument drags on, or because he is never wrong and has a retort (and a reminder this all falls through without him financially), you should have him fleshed out. But, keep him a tad human. Avner got somber when the hydra killed the kid. He's not a good guy, but he's not a monster either. This conflicts the party even worse because you hate the guy, but not enough to make him walk the plank. It's a good medium if you can achieve it.

- I borrowed some Avner retorts by reading other people's campaigns. When I need, I glance down at my "Avner" sheet for some one-liners, put downs, logic arguments, and so on. The guy's ego has no bounds, and he's never truly wrong. Lavinia is in a bind because her future is tied to his, for now.

Silver Crusade

Our Session #10, Renkrue to Shipwreck

- Recommend finding some nautical descriptions of the eeriness of leaving land and having the open sea for your passenger reactions

- Sargasso should be creepy. I envisioned vine horrors as corpses filled with the plants animating them, like loose shells, and the ground and other plants as mildly sentient, seeking to absorb them.

- I also used the Sargasso to invade the Wyvern, to explain a weakened hull (not detected at the time) that further complicates the later storm

- The trip to the "forest" section may take into the night, leaving the Wyvern open to attack. For every hour away (unless major precautions taken), I had that 1 passenger/crew would randomly get killed, excluding the 4 major NPCs from the next adventure. They're not immune; if the party is foolish they could all perish.

- When the Mother emitted her beacon call, I had it apply to all sentient creatures, including the party, so that they could tell where it came from but weren't affected. Rather, they were bombarded with hunger and hate. This has the purpose of (1) giving them an idea of where to go and (2) if at night a major time constraint as hundreds of the brood are heading back to the Mother.

- If on a timeline, consider having the treasure in the hold easily accessible/transported, such as already in a bag of holding, or in a single small chest, etc. The party has a big incentive to get out quickly later.

- The Mother could really be fought anywhere, adventure leaves it open, but I had her wait in the pit bottom, which I treated more like a living maw with her creepy brood. The Mother fight took place in knee deep water with a cacophony of voices from both her and the maw above.

- Shipwreck. This is a major railroad, didn't like that it seems the party's actions are largely meaningless. So here's my fix:

(1) The ship is going down in this storm thanks to the Sargasso damage, and even if not, the hurricane winds, but having spent several sessions with the NPCs (see earlier posts, created an entire crew and passengers, each with a little story), the party really cares about them.

(2) Using this forum, came up with nice descriptions of what it's like in a storm, and how a captain might try to weather it. The captain has a plan that might save them (drop anchor, try to turn bow into the wind), but when they hear the crash of water on the reef, it's near-certain death.

(3) If no one has sailing skills, I had a player who was sleeping with the captain make her rolls (a +6 vs. a DC 20, or whatever you see fit). She had 2 checks to steer the ship right. If a check failed, a random passenger (excluding the 4 NPCs from the next adventure) was lost in some way; failure by 10 lost 2. No matter how the checks turned, we move to the reef:

(4) 2 successes are required to use the wind and sails to get off the reef. For each failure, someone perishes as above. If the party has plausible ways to keep the mashers away (which in our case they did with a spell), anyone who went over might be saved. Below decks could be a hole in the ship, or battered so badly they died.

Once 2 successes are had (or the entire crew dies except the next module's NPCs), the ship goes off the reef. I had 3 more people perish as the ship begins to founder and everyone is on their own.

(5) If the PCs have a plausible way to save someone, they could focus on a particular person (one player had a Cloak of the Manta Ray). If that NPCs number came up, it could be rerolled, showing her attempts to save that person. One of our players was having a relationship with the ship's cook and was willing to risk much to save him.

By the end, we had about a dozen NPCs who survived, including 2 kids, 1 teenager, the major NPCs, and a handful of others. I used a printout of thumbnail faces (see earlier posts for ideas), and used red ink every time one perished. The party had gotten REALLY attached to the crew and had lost some earlier to monster attacks. Knowing they saved some, including a pregnant woman (who lost her husband to the hydra attack), the NPCs have become a cause.

SWW is one of the best chances for NPC interaction. I don't like the idea of just having them all killed off without a shot at saving them. If they can get the survivors to Farshore, it's all the more accomplishment. We'll see.

I put together an actual "Ghost Ship" encounter to replace the crimson fleet encounter. This was enhanced with really creepy mood music and a feeling that nothing they could do would stop the ghosts, until they board the ghost ship and find the Darkskull in the ship's hold that is causing the rapid regeneration of the ghosts. Once the skull is destroyed, the ship starts to discorporate which leads to a fun, race-back-to-the-boat.

Silver Crusade

Nice! As noted our encounter wasn't worth the page or two of print. Was over in 10 seconds with two fireballs. SWW only has one traditional "dungeon crawl" and a substitute allows for an adventure where resource management is an issue.

I'm currently running Savage Tide with a group of friends that I work with. I'd love to see how your campaign progresses.

The Scarlet Brotherhood ship encounter is supposed to be an easy encounter. James Jacobs says somewhere that he wanted to give the characters a chance to be badasses instead of being ground down by EL = Character level encounters.

If you've got over 21 people, that means they can't Create Food and Water their way out of the provisions problem. I also suggest establishing that Created Food and Water tastes really bland and pastey , to give the NPCs an additional thing to complain about.

Have the Terror Birds do a lot of hit and run attacks (the way raptor attacks are described in Jurassic Park). Also go in hard for the random encounter table. The jungle can be a little easy in the first part of the adventure.

Finally, have the pregnant woman give birth, peacefully, in Farshore. It's great to have built the suspense of her just about to give birth, possibly in Fogmire, and then just dispel it all.

Silver Crusade

Our Session #11, shipwreck to dark passage

- If the T-rex (or birds) go after NPCs, makes encounters that much more challenging. We lost two more crew (one to the T-Rex) and another when terror birds went after the children (the kids were saved).

- It's been a crusade for them to keep our pregnant passenger alive. She's slowing them down, can't climb well, but they're moving heaven and earth to make it happen.

- As a druid novice, I'd question why Urol isn't more accepting of the circle of life when terror birds go after a weak creature. He's supposed to whine about it later. Our party accepted it as the laws of nature and didn't interfere. Doesn't seem like a druid would get upset.

- Urol's attempt to show how edible the local fauna is turned out to be a pretty good icebreaker to a serious setback.

- Water became a major concern. With so many NPCs, there may be nothing to carry water in (our salvage found a lot of horse feed). A thirsty Avner complained why the Players are hoarding all the water in their skins. In the Dark Passage, getting some fresh water become a side quest.

- I find it a lot more interesting with a larger group, having to set perimeters at night, salvage for supplies, and so on. Make sure your NPCs are vibrant. For example, in a terror bird fight, I had Tavey leave the big group and run for his idol hero (he felt safer by him). Now the battle gets more complex, not just keeping the attention of the birds but making sure Tavey doesn't die.

- I've toned Avner down from 100% gripes (you've led us into a fine mess now, how many more of us are you going to get killed) into a buckle-down and get things done guy with griping on the side. He can be a bit more complex than an arse 100% of the time. But he's still 99% irritation. If played right, he's the most memorable NPC you'll have in the path (thus far anyways).

- Left the Dark Passage as is, except the water issues.

- As a final thought, DMs should be prepared if the party wants to "hexplore" the island (detailed more fully in the next module). The presence of a lot of passengers might dissuade them, and I had Urol mention once they've made it to Farshore, the party should check out the sights.

Session #4 - Back to Parrot Island

-Our lone surviving PC though despondent manages to gather a new party and back they go under Parrot Island where once again they have a hard time. One new PC goes down to the Heucuva before another PC decides Turn Undead is a thing and tries it to amazingly good results. Easy peasy after that.

-At this point all but one of the party havn't even met Lavinia and the one that had, mistrusts her deeply. Didn't see this coming. But some of the new PCs decide to go fill Lavinia in anyway.

-While asking about town regarding Lotus Dragons and Taxidermist's Guild a street urchin snags a PC change purse and runs. This is supposed to lead the PCs into some alleys where rooftop snipers will ambush them ala the movie Clear and Present Danger. However an immediate and well aimed arrow shoots the child in the neck flinging him over the side of a bridge and into the mucky canal. Change goes flying across the bridge and into the water with a bit of a rush by the poor to grab and go. A few Lotus follow up with some arrow shots of their own but the party runs them off easily as they return fire. No chase ensues as the party beats a hasty retreat to avoid any questions regarding a dead child.

-The next day at the Taxidermists Guild sees the party quickly get into an argument with Nemien when he demands they leave. As they are want to do, an arrow plunks Nemien just before he manages to flee through a door. Some illusionary animals coming to life later and Nemien escapes but the Party finds the hidden entrance to the Lotus Dragon Guild.

-They quickly make thier way to the barracks room while the Lotus are not on alert and manage to engage everyone there and kill them.

-end of session while they are thinking about where to go next with the scribbled map they found of the hideout.

The party was spotted by some Ixits before going to the barracks so next session will begin with a thief opening the door to the barracks to sound the alarm and then seeing the PCs discussing their next move. They party got the jump on them but the entire complex will be a bit more interesting once on alert.

Session #5 - The Lotus Dragons Hideout

-We start with the party spending some time determining their plan to proceed from the barracks when a thief opens the door and yells to get off your scurvy butts we are being attacked! They both realize simultaneously the situation and the thief wins initiative running for the secret door and making his escape. He of course warns the guild and everyoone takes their places.

-The party wind their away around the paths circling the Crucible counterclockwise bashing stuck doors along the way. They get ambushed from behind as the Lotus want them in the crucible and the party obliges as they chase all the way clockwise and then into the water. Sewer pipe on, portcullis up, arrows away. The party manages to take down the croc quickly and get out of the way of the arrows flying at them from all around the pool of water.

-Back to counterclockwise all the way to the observation room and many Lotus are mowed down.

-Off to figure out what "Kersh" is on the map. The hand drawn map I handed the party was really great. I could not have asked for anything better in getting them to actually explore in almost the exactly right order for me. I mean Barracks, Crucible, Kersh, then as you'll see Cruncher, Ixits, Rowyn. Perfect, I don't remember which post it was on here that pointed to their hand drawn map but it was great.

-Kersh works great as they fall for the ruse. He takes his chance and bull rushes a PC into the iron maiden, but actually fails the bull rush and the party takes him down.

-Next is the Kitchen and Churlte which works as written and they capture her locking her up in the pantry. Then the training room dummies also fools everyone and finally a semi-difficult fight ensues, but one enlarged PC manages to win the day. The party here decides to take their prisoners, Kersh and Churtle to the Temple of St. Cuthbert. Then rest.

-Returning the next day via the well into the crucible. They make their way to the rocky beach and cave to fight with some Ixits. Fully rested party handles them fairly well.

-Making their way towards Rowyn now they fight another Rhago and then a BB Zombie (another easy turn). Rowyn expects them of course and intimates she'd like to talk a bit if the PCs would be so kind as to lower their weapons and keep their distance. A couple of them do and just enter the room. The others do not and remain outside the room. She makes her offer and before anyone even has much of an answer one of the PCs enters the room with arrow at the ready and looses. Gut Tugger do your thing. But it's not too tough for the PCs as they kill Gut once and then again when he is undead. Rowyn drinks a potion through her tears and turns gaseous getting away.

-The party finds all of the loot and we end the session.

I have not decided what to do next. One PC is well into 3rd level, most of the others on the cusp and one last one just barely 2nd level. I'm considering running Fiend's Embrace as a side treck into the Amedio. I began the campaign with Funeral Procession and the party foiled the Graz'zt Cult there with their leader getting away. I like the idea of them chasing her down as she is off trying to get the Graz'zt Cloak in Fiend's Embrace. I'd likely shorten things a little but that tie in is nice for now and for the future as certain previous owners of the cloak and others who would really like to have it might make appearances.

Silver Crusade

I'd make sure your PCs are 3rd level before tackling the next adventure. Savage creatures can be really nasty (or at least they were in my 5E conversion).

Silver Crusade

Our Session #12 - Dark Passage to Fogmire

- If you have a lot of NPCs like our group, water becomes a major concern. No one washed up to shore with a waterskin. While the module says frequent rainfall suffices, spending hours walking in subtropical settings along a mountainous coastal path works up a sweat. My NPCs constantly complain, and the spell "Create Food and Water" needs a container to be carried. Also, Thunderstrike can't lift his head into the rain to drink that way.

- Used forum suggestions to make Olangru's acts more creepy. He wants the party to FEAR. This is key. I have the party roll a lot of the dice. 1d4 for whose night shift something happens, a Perception check (which means they spot something or nothing, difficult if your enemy is invisible or teleporting).

Night #1: Olangru teleports in and steals Thunderstrike. Our PC makes a check with enough time to hear a "snort." A mystery as his tether is still tied in a loop to his saddle. Avner wakes up and accuses the PC (a sorceress) of finally doing what she always wanted and killing off the horse. Now because of her petty revenge, they have no ride for our pregnant Penelope. (this worked great because our PC has REALLY been spiteful to him).

Night #2: Party's food supplies manipulated. Our PC notices just in time to see some vanilla wafers (from Create Food and Water) go marching cartoon style to the cliff and throw themselves off. Avner wakes up to Thunderstrike's leg (freshly ripped off at the socket) curled up against his back, spooning him. Creepy.

Speaking of food, the NPC kids are making it very well known they HATE the vanilla wafers. They play a game ("eating this is worse than....(insert a gross item, like Pete's socks"). If you're doing this and the last adventure right, your PCs will love your NPCs.

Suicidal Olman: modified it to be a native in loincloth who turns his face to the party. His eyes are gouged out. He takes a ceremonial knife, smiles at them, punches it in his gut, and topples over the cliff edge. Creepy.

Gargoyles: could have had them attack NPCs, but they are smart. They'll kill the shepherds first, then the sheep. I modified the chief into a barbed devil to shake things up.

Vine lift: Great spot for NPC concerns. I've been having Tavey try to impress his hero with dangerous cartwheels near the cliff edge, etc., and having him roll a check (20% for something bad). On the vine lift (it fell but party was testing its weight with a summoned horse anyways, no harm), the group used an immovable rod, grappling hook, and rope harness to haul people up. At the top, Tavey decided to impress his hero by playing "jungle boy" ("lookit PC NAME, I'm jungle boy, woohoo!") and leaping to a vine to finish the last bit. Player rolls and Tavey's stunt might fail, I had his save at a 50/50 chance.

One of my players later remarked her heart was pounding at the roll. They really liked the little guy. The save was made, and I probably would have allowed a heroic leap to try and save him if Tavey's grip failed.

Fogmire: Man, what's to adjust? This place is creepy. The zombie if you do the right voice is creepy. My players think they're in a dream. I simply had Urol vanish, his bedroll slashed, and under it written in blood was the word "mine." By this time, Olangru has had enough fear building. It can't get much higher. Throw in some freaky dreams (consider using an exact script for your dreams rather than summarizing, I had them fleeing the jungle from creatures that would rip them to pieces, eat them, and the ocean is a black pudding that will dissolve them).

- Finally, I mentioned making sure Avner isn't one dimensional. If so, the party might shove him off a cliff. He's an ass, he's scared, and he hides it behind bravado. I've been having his veneer crack at times, then back to his old ways (describing how the peasants need people to lead them, people with education and proper training). However, Avner has attracted a following from the impressionable passengers. It's not mutiny, it's just people who nod along to his complaining.

Touc wrote:

Our Session #12 - Dark Passage to Fogmire

- If you have a lot of NPCs like our group, water becomes a major concern. No one washed up to shore with a waterskin. While the module says frequent rainfall suffices, spending hours walking in subtropical settings along a mountainous coastal path works up a sweat. My NPCs constantly complain, and the spell "Create Food and Water" needs a container to be carried. Also, Thunderstrike can't lift his head into the rain to drink that way.

- Used forum suggestions to make Olangru's acts more creepy. He wants the party to FEAR. This is key. I have the party roll a lot of the dice. 1d4 for whose night shift something happens, a Perception check (which means they spot something or nothing, difficult if your enemy is invisible or teleporting).

Night #1: Olangru teleports in and steals Thunderstrike. Our PC makes a check with enough time to hear a "snort." A mystery as his tether is still tied in a loop to his saddle. Avner wakes up and accuses the PC (a sorceress) of finally doing what she always wanted and killing off the horse. Now because of her petty revenge, they have no ride for our pregnant Penelope. (this worked great because our PC has REALLY been spiteful to him).

Night #2: Party's food supplies manipulated. Our PC notices just in time to see some vanilla wafers (from Create Food and Water) go marching cartoon style to the cliff and throw themselves off. Avner wakes up to Thunderstrike's leg (freshly ripped off at the socket) curled up against his back, spooning him. Creepy.

Speaking of food, the NPC kids are making it very well known they HATE the vanilla wafers. They play a game ("eating this is worse than....(insert a gross item, like Pete's socks"). If you're doing this and the last adventure right, your PCs will love your NPCs.

Suicidal Olman: modified it to be a native in loincloth who turns his face to the party. His eyes are gouged out. He takes a ceremonial knife, smiles at them, punches it in his gut, and topples over...

Sweet Aunt Julie!!! This is GOLDEN!!! Can't wait to uses some of this!!!

This is such a great read. It brings back fond memories.
In my campaign Avner was eaten by the terror birds. The Island really intimidated the players. Later on, when their characters were higher level, they started calling it XP Island.

Silver Crusade

Our Session #13, Fogmire to Demogorgon Temple

- Horror is difficult to build when you've got a character sheet in front of you, a soda at your side, and a bag of snacks. But when you have NPCs that the party cares about...worrying about them adds to the terror.

Fogmire Early. The flora and fauna aren't right, and this unnatural fog isn't right. When someone tries to fly and the fog continues... I made Fogmire into a gradually shrinking realm, a "mini world" that could be traversed in 12 hours of jungle travel. Each captured NPC reduced that # of hours by 1-2, so that the world became smaller and smaller, as if ending. Combine that with a repetitive dream and we get some creepiness.

- For the dreams, on day 1 it's a dream about being unable to escape a terror in the jungle, fleeing to a shore where the ocean is a black pudding.

Each day, the dreams get worse. Eventually, the jungle itself is chasing them, crumbling behind them, leaving the option of an eternal fall into a never-ending Abyss or slow consumption by the black pudding ocean.

With a large group, each night, an NPC gets taken. Rather than bother with the Olangru mechanic, I made the fog itself the enemy. Since the "river of evil" and so forth from divination seemed important, Olangru uses the fog to kidnap NPCs. Evil currents run through and he collects those filled with the most terror. For my group, with around 9 NPCs left, this meant a random die roll. Even the most perceptive PC saw only a whiff of fog pass through. My party on Day #1 decided to try and move south to escape the fog. Didn't work. That night, a horde of fiendish baboons ran through the camp, making noise but touching nothing. When they passed, an NPC had vanished.

Fogmire Next. Day 2 led them back to the ruins. Because I was having them roll Survival checks, the party surmised it was possible they turned in a circle. However, when they returned by night to the same spot, they concluded dark forces were at play. This night, the fog currents took someone (random, our PC's significant other) as she was holding his hand. She felt a much larger hand squeeze hers, and her hand came away sticky with blood.

- The NPCs are freaking out. Not only are they scared, they are losing Wisdom each night from the nightmares. While PCs may make their saves, the NPCs are ill equipped. This leads them to say things they don't mean, to mutter incessantly. I played up their gradually loosening with reality. Even Avner's annoying commentary was sympathetic, as he was losing it. He tried bargaining with our cleric ("your gods, they protect. So they will get you out of here. You just need to pray harder, that's it. Pray them to grant you a spell"), and after the first abductions everyone began seeing inevitable doom. Captain Amella told her love interest to make sure he put something nice on her tombstone, if he got away and she didn't. Details.

- Finding a way out of Fogmire can be frustrating. Our party cast Detect Evil but failed to see the currents of evil. Eventually, our pregnant NPC, who was in pain as her child (8 months along) was suffering from the nightmares, succumbed to the drain. She decided to cut her child out with a dull rock and carry the body to the Demogorgon temple as an offering. Others saw her, subdued her. The party cast "calm emotions" to settle her, and she calmly explained her plan. They convinced her to wait until they arrived at "the altar" (you can't sacrifice someone without an altar, her dream told her that...the closer to 0 Wisdom one got, the more descriptive the dreams).

- After the session, I revealed (as I sometimes do) DM-only notes. I advised Fogmire had several ways out, and one possibility was that no one got out and the fog began claiming PCs. I don't like the feeling that the story is scripted and the players are simply along for the ride. Fogmire may have felt that way, but it could have ended any number of ways.

Fogmire Exit. Not much to adjust in the Temple. The candle/mirror room can be a frustrating nightmare. There is no clue how to solve it other than trial and error. After the session, I discussed the verisimilitude of such a puzzle (if the bad guys don't want people coming in who aren't in the know, why would they leave clues...) Everyone was cool with it. The only real clue is the duality of Demogorgon, that one side is always warring with the other, forced to be one, seeing the other side always. A long shot clue.

I was glad someone got the Religion check about the Demogorgon symbols. Otherwise, the constant "duality" encounters won't make sense. By the way, this section felt a lot like the Dark Passage, and having to retrieve "keys" (again) to open doors is a lot like a video game. Not everyone is a big fan, so if you know your group, do something to adjust.

We paused after finding one key. If your party is having an easy time of the battles (so far, they've been pushovers), consider a timeline if they dawdle to rest wherein an NPC (if you have several) gets flayed and left for the party to see. Olangru wants fear. On the other hand, he needs to wait for a cosmic aligning, so maybe that hasn't happened yet if your party is suffering.

Silver Crusade

Our Session #14 - Demogorgon Temple to Farshore

- We had the fiendish baboons left. I run a pretty adult campaign, so my gruesome factor on these things is pretty high. Same on the methods used by Olangru to build up as much fear in a creature before it is sacrificed.

- During the Olangru fight, I had him telepathically bombard those who dared to confront him with a variety of personal imagery. Again, I run an adult campaign, so fit to your needs. I took the worst inventions of medieval tortures (an internet search will suffice) and enhanced them, and personalized them. Even the worst of human actions is supposed to pale against the pure evil of the prince of demons and its followers. I want my party inspired when the time comes, many episodes later, to take out the Prince. I also want them a little freaked out.

- The winch probably needs more exacting description, so be ready. My party was pretty avid on finding a way to stop it.

- Don't forget the fire pit has a lot of ambient heat, so anyone near it should be taking fire damage. You should consider whether the fuel source is natural, demonic, or otherwise, if the party comes up with a way to put the big fire out. I went with natural fire, unnatural fuel, so as to make it burn bigger and hotter. If they'd had something like a cone of cold, might have put it out.

- Be ready to answer if the native Olmans knew about Fogmire. I assumed they did and avoided the evil mist.

- Consider the effects of demon torture, if you run an adult campaign, on the NPCs who were captured. My PCs are very sympathetic (one was a child) and it has become a side plot to be there for them.

- For the attack on Farshore, in retrospect I would have had a bigger town map. I used the 1/2 page online enhancement player map, but it's really small, and circled the hot spots described in the flavor text with red ink. I used a round-by-round timeline based off the events described; my party split up to help as much as they could. Without a map, there's no way they're absorbing all 6 major events at once.

- We stopped with a joyful reunion of Lavinia and the Jade Ravens, who were mopping up on the far side of town.

I haven't given enough credit to Vermilleo's postings and his campaign website, so here's a big THANKS once again.I've used several ideas off the forums and his campaign site to enhance our game immensely.

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