Crypt of the Everflame (2e conversion) - GM Livgins Campaign Journal (SPOILERS)


This is the first chapter of a larger journal where I am running the Everflame arc as the parties backstory to lead into the Fists of the Ruby Phoenix adventure.

The primary purpose of this thread is a place to order my thoughts and keep a journal, however everyone is welcome to post here, add comments, and join the conversation. Ideally this will be a useful reference for others and at the worst just a journal.

Lets get started.

I did most the prep for this module back before the delta wave as I was excited to get playing again after the 3rd wave passed...

Last weekend while sheltering with my cohort we decided to play 2e on impulse. There was only three of us. This wasn't the group I prepped this adventure for. I was GMing off my phone working off prep notes I hadn't looked at in months. It was great.

The 2e Conversion.
This adventure converts fairly well, for many encounters I was just swapping 1e skeletons with 2e skeletons. So instead describing the conversion for every encounter I'm just going to discuss where there were hurdles and headaches. If anyone is interested I'll post a link to my conversion notes.

My group was a Giant Instinct Barbarian and a Cleric of Nethys (magic missile!). They came from Holgast's Home for Homeless Children, the local orphanage. It was a quick way to make any ancestry and background local to Kassen.

Part 1, First Fight.
This is the illusionary orc encounter. I used the Illusory Creature spell and GM fiat'd it so there would be 2 or 3 orcs. In this session a player opened with a 3 action magic missile hitting all of them and ending the encounter on the first turn. Anticlimactic but it worked. This didn't need to be a full encounter and it worked well to introduce the mystery that something was not right.

Part 1, Eyes in the Dark.
Wolves passed their stealth so no early warning of the attack (other than the howling) and no chance to avoid the attack. Used 3 weak wolves for 2 players. It went well, endless knockdowns.

Part 1, Unfortunate Bandit.
I'm trying lay the groundwork for the next chapter (Masks of the Living God) with the hints here with the age of the corpse and the coins. But I'm worried that it opened too many mysteries at once? Na, players are smart, they will figure it out.

I changed the loot from a masterwork weapon to a useful armor. Because I wanted limited magic weapons going into the shadow encounter.

Part 1, Treacherous Hillside.
For this I told the players that because everyone was trained in athletics they navigate the slopes safely. No rolls required. Was trying to reward skill investments by allowing being trained to be an auto-succeed.

Part 2, Crypt of the Everflame
Upper Level. Entry + 1. Entry Hall.
The fresh corpses at the entrance were helpful to let the players understand that these bodies and the lake body are not directly related. No one was trained in social so no one figured out that these were villagers.

I used skeletons but added no special abilities. None of them felt right.

2. Maze of Pits
This one worked really well with secret rolling. They only walked into one trap which worked well for revealing the pillows, and explaining the pillows they found earlier.

I was concerned about 2e non-lethal being a problem but it worked well, that there is no way falling 20ft isn't going to hurt (pillows are only so good), but it won't kill you.

It is here that I saw the first hints of a challenge with this group of players. After it became obvious that this room was full of pit traps, they did not try to improve their chances of finding them with clever solutions. No using the brooms to poke ahead or similar actions. They did use the rope as a grab line after falling in a pit trap the first time.

I decided against balancing the three switch puzzle for two players and left all three switches in. They tied the rope to one of the switches to pull all three at once.

3. Wailing Survivor
The group failed their diplomacy to calm Roldare down and did not attempt to intimidate him. But the cleric in the group made good use of his ramblings to try to figure out what kind of undead we was going on about.

One of the characters recognized his crossbow (through the cracks in the door) as one his mentor had made. Still no one coming out and saying "These are our villagers".

I made sure to let that character know that it was a +1 potency crossbow. Incase it came up with the upcoming shadow...

4. Hungry Beetle
Only level -1 or 4 beetles in the bestiary right now. So there wasn't an easy single beetle conversion. I added flash beetles until I had an appropriate challenge. With a larger group a normal/weak stag beetle is an option.

5. Shadowy Shapes
This is the encounter I was really worried about during my original prep. That a weak shadow might be too much for a 4 player party.

I used a double weak adjustment on the shadow. Ham-handed, but whatever. I also really played up that it was tied to the shadows the dagger was casting from the fire and that it was flinching from the light cantrip that the cleric has on their staff.

A few hits and a magic missile won the battle. I'm glad I really reduced the shadow's damage, because when I run this with 4-6 players I expect the shadow to drop 2-3 characters.

I made the dagger +1 striking.

6. Key Pool
This is a puzzle based in 1e mechanics. That there are 100 keys but the correct one is magic. I simplified the puzzle, having only one key at the bottom of the pool and making it magic so that detect magic tells you it is down at the bottom of the pool.

I was happy with the simplified version, but will continue to thing about how to add one more step.

7. Room of Reflection
The three part arc, Everflame - Masks - Golden Death, does not have really strong narrative ties from one chapter into the next. This is something I'm really trying to add because I am doing this as a three part arc. So I spent time describing their amulets, and did a simple sketch that showed that they were each about one third of a whole.

They used the bench from this room as a swimming anchor in the key pool... disrespectful...

8. Gauntlet
They easily found the pressure plate and jumped it. Some suspense as they wondered if they spotted all the pressure plates. This room did well as 80% narrative and 20% trap.

9. Shield Guardian
This was the weird encounter of the night.

When the players first encountered it, they looked at everything in the scene and thought it was a puzzle. They tried yelling at it, guessed different command words, and decided they hadn't found the hints for this puzzle yet. Then they backtracked to explore the rest of the crypt.

I used animated armor and added the weak adjustment for 2 players. I removed the Grab ability and gave it the ability to raise its shield.

After exploring the rest of the upper levels they returned to the golem. In their first attempt the barbarian went down the stairs and the cleric stayed on the elevated platform. With no one on the stairs the ramp trap never caught anyone. The golem won initiative, critically hit the barbarian and took them from full health to zero in one hit. The cleric was able to drag them up the stairs and heal them. This really sapped the player's fun, it was a bad experience for the barbarian to go from full to zero in a single hit.

After I encouraged the players to continue (we had been playing for 4 hours) they attempted again. They didn't attempt to cheese the fight by attacking it from the upper level which surprised me at the time, but this was from a combination of past experiences where cheesing constructs was unproductive and with it being late they didn't want to waste table time on unproductive paths.

In the second attempt the group was able to beat the golem with a simple approach of being more lucky. The barbarian didn't get crit and a combination for melee hits and magic missiles brought the golem down.

As for the puzzle aspects of this encounter. The group was aware of the key hole on the back but was wondering where the 3rd key was. Next time I'll ensure that the correct key is engraved with double shields. The group didn't suspect that disarming the shields would disable the golem, but I'm alright with this being a hidden solution. With the animated statue's fort save two successful grapples are unlikely, so I'm thinking about different options for using key to disable it. 2e's disarm rules also makes disarming the shields challenging, but more practical with a larger group and it's low reflex save, I'll leave the disarm as is.

10. Supply Vault
I added a +1 potency weapon for the barbarian (oversized) and a wand of magic missile for the cleric of Nethys. The wand might be a little too valuable for the location, two lvl 2 scrolls might be better, and scrolls give them some big guns going into the second level if needed.

11. Pillar of 1000 Arrows
I used the spear launcher hazard from the Core Rulebook. It one shot the cleric and missed, or wounded (I don't remember) in round one. I may tone down the damage slightly in the future.

I made sure the party knew that the door in was one way, that it had a 'fire close' on it so it would close if unattended and not propped open, and when they entered the room I described the arrow column starting to activate giving each character 3 actions before the trap acted at zero initiative. But I rolled initiative for them so the players were not certain when the trap would start. Cleric tried the exit door and cast the shield cantrip. Barbarian inspected the trap (failed) and then took cover on the floor. The cleric went down in the first volley. After some consideration on trying to run or saving the cleric the Barbarian retrieved the grapple hook and rope from his bandoleer, set the grapple hook securely, and rolled into the pit at the center (crawled). I thought it was cool. After finding the pit disappointingly empty (pillows at the bottom) they waited out the trap. I was worried that the 9 rounds of non-lethal damage hitting the cleric would remove the suspension of disbelief, but the group seemed to be entertained by the the descriptions of the violent beating the Barbarian could hear happening about him but could not see.

The party had seen but not fought the golem at this point, using the shields did not occur to them. Even if using the tower shields as full cover would be fiat in 2e, the players didn't know that tower shields could provide total cover in 1e.

12. Chamber of the Bloody Dead

Encounter went well. 4 bloody skeletons for 2 players. with the skeletons having 4 hp the bloody ability did very little. I did not carry over the 1e rule that they return to life after an hour if not sprinkled with holy water.

At this point we found out that the Cleric did not know that a 'basic' save meant something extra. So there was some disrupt undead damage we were missing earlier.

Thoughts and Feelings

So ya, not sure how I feel about puzzles that have solutions inside the game mechanics. Either the players know that mechanic, or you explain it as something there character would know, or you just don't use that solution. However, most these puzzles failed forward well with alternate solutions. And I like using the game mechanics, and I liked these puzzles as a player in 1e.

This was a fun dungeon crawl, and the players mostly liked the combat (golem being the outlier). With two players most the enemies were weaker than the characters, so combat felt really rewarding as their actions often succeeded. For the next level I'll keep that in mind and error on my encounter conversions towards more enemies, not stronger enemies.

I did try a MICE analysis on this chapter in an attempt to tie it into the bigger arc better but that will wait for another day.

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