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Author Topic: Alternative Crown of Shadows  (Read 3548 times)
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roccojr
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« on: October 31, 2009, 05:06:11 PM »

For a variety of reasons, there's a BIG delay before I can start my Midnight campaign... so my players and I are doiung a lot of talking, prepping and setting info transfers before we play our first game.

I had them make 1st level characters with nothing but basic information about the Midnight setting. I then fed them more info about the setting based on the various choices they made and had them produce backgrounds. we interacted on those for a while to make sure they fit the setting and fit the desires of the players.

Then I told them that circumstances were such that they relocated to Durgis Rock and allowed them to come up with reasons. We interacted again to make sure everything stayed true to the setting... and that's where I hoped to start.

Well... things didn't go as planned and, in the delay, they continued to talk and each one of them COMPLETELY expects that Durgis Rock will get destroyed in the first adventure. With well over a century of gaming experience between them, I'm not surprised they sniffed this out. But, as their DM, I feed duty bound to surprise them.

Rather than leave all the visionary capacity to Aradil, I plan to make the Dorith of Durgis Rock a progressive, forward thinker. It is at HIS OWN prompting that he is offering the secret of forging Mithral to the elves. He has recognized that the dwarves are fighting separate battles against the dwarves and that each of them is defensive. As they slowly lose, bits and pieces of the whole of dwarven culture are disappearing forever. Because the dwarves have had centuries of paring down skills and arts to only those that serve the war effort, the very capacity to bind themselves together has been lost. The Dugis of clan Dorith realizes that the only hope for the dwarves is to come together... and to do that, he is enlisting Aradil's help.

Aradil has kept several varied elven cultures together for millenia. No one would know better how to bind the dwarves into a single allied force and hold them together. He plans to entice her with the secret of forging mithral to send emissaries to Durgis Rock to aid in the process. He plans to use the PC's to deliver the offer since they're all human and they have the best chance to get all the way across Eredane to Erethor on their own.

Little of the mission changes except Durgis Rock gets a (perhaps temporary) reprieve. For now, I want the PC's to end up feeling attached to the place and the people. I want for it to become a genuine symbol of hope... THEN nuke it.

Has anyone else let Durgis Rock survive through CoS? What other changes did you end up making? And based on anyone's  experience with the adventure, what problems do you forsee me encountering, if any?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2009, 05:15:36 PM by roccojr » Logged
Bihlbo
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 11:47:09 AM »

I had them make 1st level characters with nothing but basic information about the Midnight setting. I then fed them more info about the setting based on the various choices they made and had them produce backgrounds. we interacted on those for a while to make sure they fit the setting and fit the desires of the players.

I think this is the best way to get players into the Midnight setting. I found that in our long-running group, one of the biggest problems was waay-hay too much player knowledge. Some of the most fun came from sheer ignorance. Myself playing a channeler who never described a spell by the spell name in the core rules (I actually slipped notes when I cast something), I created a lot of fun for some of the others who had no idea what my character was really capable of pulling off, magically. Midnight is a game and setting that benefits immensely from secrecy, ignorance, lies, and mistrust. So, great instincts starting the game that way.

Quote
Well... things didn't go as planned and, in the delay, they continued to talk and each one of them COMPLETELY expects that Durgis Rock will get destroyed in the first adventure. With well over a century of gaming experience between them, I'm not surprised they sniffed this out. But, as their DM, I feed duty bound to surprise them.

One of the best things that my old GM (-kev-) did was to keep his mouth shut and listen to our rambling paranoia. Nine times out of ten our suppositions and speculations gave him ideas for how to either confirm our guesses with a twist. Far less often he would do an end-run around our collective plot detection skills, and I think he made the game better for it. Don't be afraid to let their assumptions be true, whether that was your original plan or not. It doesn't make the game less fun if the players figure things out ahead of time - sometimes it offers you greater opportunities than you would have had otherwise.

To that end...

Quote
Rather than leave all the visionary capacity to Aradil, I plan to make the Dorith of Durgis Rock a progressive, forward thinker. It is at HIS OWN prompting that he is offering the secret of forging Mithral to the elves. He has recognized that the dwarves are fighting separate battles against the dwarves [orcs?] and that each of them is defensive. As they slowly lose, bits and pieces of the whole of dwarven culture are disappearing forever. Because the dwarves have had centuries of paring down skills and arts to only those that serve the war effort, the very capacity to bind themselves together has been lost. The Dugis of clan Dorith realizes that the only hope for the dwarves is to come together... and to do that, he is enlisting Aradil's help.

Aradil has kept several varied elven cultures together for millenia. No one would know better how to bind the dwarves into a single allied force and hold them together. He plans to entice her with the secret of forging mithral to send emissaries to Durgis Rock to aid in the process. He plans to use the PC's to deliver the offer since they're all human and they have the best chance to get all the way across Eredane to Erethor on their own.

Little of the mission changes except Durgis Rock gets a (perhaps temporary) reprieve. For now, I want the PC's to end up feeling attached to the place and the people. I want for it to become a genuine symbol of hope... THEN nuke it.

My suggestion:

Don't plan to nuke it. That is, confirm the players' fears somehow, because after all they are right about the outcome, if not the timing. Let them shape events as they can and will. Leave it all in their hands. If the greatest symbol of hope in the East gets destroyed, make sure they know that it's because they did not stop it from happening. Not as a twisted mind screw to the players, but as a genuine chance to change the outcome of fate. Plan for the possibility that Durgis Rock survives and thrives, and screw the adventure path to the wall.

And by the way, I love the idea that the dwarves recognize that Aradil's unique ability to unify the elves could be used to unify the dwarves as well. That's very well-done.
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roccojr
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 05:36:31 PM »

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement.

And I agree with everything you've said. I definitely use the "listen to the players and use their predictions" tactic. Sometimes they come up with better stuff than I do... but they're also VERY jaded and need to be surprised by having their expectations end up completey wrong from time to time. If you could hear how they were talking about Durgis Rock (the over/under on the town's survival is 2 sessions) you'd know exactly what I mean. I love them and they're my best friends... but they're smug SOB's!  mrgreen
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Bihlbo
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2009, 10:56:43 AM »

Sounds like I need to introduce you to the Shadow Conspiracy. That will throw them for a flippin' loop!
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kerux83
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2010, 02:51:02 AM »

Hi Roccojr,
your approach to Midnight is one of the best things a GM can do in order to keep the dark and desperate mood that imbues Eredane.
If I can make a suggestion, if you either don't want to twist the plot and you want to save Durgis Rock, maybe only for a while, you can follow the events of CoS until the PC returns to the city with the emissaries of Erethor. When they arrives near Durgis Rock, they find the city occupated by the forces of the Shadow, but they may discover, or maybe they can already suspect, that the population fleed in a fortress hidden in the deep of the mountain, protected by some secret passages. They have the problem to rejoining with the dwarves avoiding the occupation army, in order to obtain the dragon chest. When they try to enter, or better when they leave Durgis Rock, you can prepare the set for the departure of the elven emissaries with an ambush or a casual encounter, leaving the humans isolated by the dwarves, but conscious of the (maybe only temporary) safety of the city's population.
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