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Author Topic: Crown of Shadows - Modifying the Start [Spoliers!]  (Read 3550 times)
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Heepa-Heepa


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« on: December 19, 2006, 05:16:59 AM »

I am considering running Crown of Shadows, but would like a less heavy-handed start (plus any notes from experience in general). I don't like that the start has the uber-NPCs doing their thing while the PCs gape in owe, nor the "dying speech" bit as the rules don't support it.

My idea is to have the initial party essentially be asked to escort the party they meet to the dwarf's hold once they ensure that they are safe and what they appear to be. I shall strengthen the initial encounter with the goblins to make it more challenging, and will change the second encounter to have the PCs orchestrate the release of the captured dwarves.

I will simply have to make sure the elven envoy, which will not be the queen's avatar, will die in one of these two encounters. The party will be tasked with conveying the secrets of mithral-smithing to the Queen by the chief's son as a way to honor his dead father's agreement, as the queen's emissaries did bring with them the thing that they were paying the chief with in return so held up their end of the bargain.

There would be no golems. Perhaps ogres or some other powerful-enough stuff to raise the ante, but no unbeatable foes.

I'm also sure there are probably better ideas for things the queen wants to bring from the mountains to her court besides mithral-crafting lore. I just haven't managed to think of any.  oops  Again, I'd welcome any ideas.

Any better ideas? Any other pitfalls that may annoy me later-on I might want to think over?
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Nifelhein
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2006, 06:07:04 AM »

I have runend through CoS and have a good da fo thigns you can add and change, i will have to check my notes and post lots fo things from there, but I haven't the time right now, i wil return later to the thread with what i can do to help. And be patient, december is always a slow month on the site, this year this true, even more than usual.
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"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
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Glacialis
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2006, 11:34:39 AM »

Why no unbeatable foes? Why no characters more powerful than the PCs? Why no Queen's avatar?

Unbeatable foes: It's part of the setting. Don't coddle them and they'll grow smart and wise in avoiding these things. Grin If they see a golem and think, "The DM wouldn't throw something like that at us! It must not be what we think it is." then they're using both out of character information and expecting a typical D&D dungeon crawl.

Powerful characters: The PCs do not exist in a vacuum, especially in Midnight. I don't recall "uber" NPCs, but that's probably because I'm not intimately familiar with CoS. I had my 1st level PCs terrified of orcs, especially since orcs rarely travel anywhere by themselves. Once they escaped that town, they've had the opportunity to fight orcs and at 3rd level, they're still extremely cautious when fighting them.

Queen's avatar: Aradil would never entrust such an important mission to an envoy she couldn't directly monitor. It just wouldn't happen...if she had a choice. Maybe this envoy had been harried and pursued and either hadn't had a chance to meet up with the avatar, one just wasn't available (we're talking dire circumstances here), or another type of loyal servant was employed. Aradil's Eyes are spies who are not directly possessed by Aradil, though they are indeed empowered by her. Those could work much better than an avatar, yet still be extremely skilled and very mortal.
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2006, 04:19:05 PM »

Why no unbeatable foes? Why no characters more powerful than the PCs? Why no Queen's avatar?
Well, having an occasional unbeatable foe is fun and all. Perhaps it is a good way to begin the Midnight adventure, give the PCs a feel for the Shadow's power. I don't think an arcane golem is the best choice for my low magic variant of Midnight, but perhaps it would be a good idea to replace it with something (like... a stone-that-walks!).

I don't like having undefeatable foes as a "random encounter". If the PCs go up against the dragon (or legate, or orc army) - yes, that's unbeatable, congratulations on committing suicide. If the PCs meet a stranger that whoops their ass on the road, that's just annoying. Bad guys like that need to have foreshadowing, to allow the PCs to gauge their strength and circumvent them - or flee - instead of charging forth. That's my taste, anyways.
The golem in the first encounter of CoS does serve the goal of getting the PCs in the mood of "Shadow forces aren't out bitches" though, which is certainly a good reason to keep it.

Regarding uber NPCs, as I read it the avatar and elven emissaries in general are really uber NPCs, the BBEG's of the second encounter are there just so they could fight them while the PCs do something else since they can't possibly help. Not good, and not needed. Replacing the avatar with an "eye" as you suggest and having him die in mid-action will serve the same storyline needs without confining the PCs to be helpless spectators passing on the popcorn while the big boys fight.
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Glacialis
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2006, 08:53:14 AM »

Good thoughts.

On the golem, if I recall correctly it is rather unstable, and the legates don't have complete control over it.

As to Aradil's Eyes, if you don't have Fury of Shadow then this link might help. The fluff is missing as is standard for open content, but it should help anyway.

http://darknessfalls.leaderdesslok.com/prestige_aradils-eye.htm
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 08:57:19 AM by Glacialis » Logged
Nifelhein
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2006, 10:56:27 PM »

In my game I used the NPCs from the book against the golems from the book and the characters did not even see anything, they were too busy doing soemthing else, which would be saving whoever they could from the clan, which happens to be their clan, it is mostly a narrative situation and not really one meant for them to be spectators, they saw the results of the fight and could picture them well enough in their heads.

And Aradil's Eyes apeared on Against the Shadow first, and they never were on Fury of Shadow. In any case it won't change much on the level of the character, you can just use it as is without much trouble if you make sure there are =enough orcs inside and survivors, making the PCs trust the elves could handle the big threat and then going to where they feel they are needed, only to find a dying elf and two dead ones and no more big bads out there.

Any attack that could have only opponents on a power curve the PCs can go against would make the situation feel stupid, imo. You can always change the golems to oruk bodyguards and an oruk warchief though, if they fear orcs they would rather avoid those too. You can also lower all the elves levels, give Riann 7 channeler levels and the others 5 levels, this might even let you have a character elf there, an apprentice or even a close family member of one of the others, he goes inside because he was asked to secure the trade part of the dwarves, only to return and find the other of his people dead. He would also tske the palce of the gnome from th adventure, since he knows a way of going back, it would probably make the encounter with the Avatar of Aradil in baden's luff a little problematic, but you could make that one be an actual person who was captured and killed shortly before they get to the place, they learn of his fate oncee they get to Caradul too.

In the excellent beedo's CoS additions he suggested adding a dragon flight when the character are heading to Durgis Rock, this adds suspense, drama and an urge to the game, they find it burning of the dragon's fire. There is much more, I do have a lot of things on my notes, but I have to go through them and post as i can, tomorrow i have a D&D game so it won't be happening until friday.
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Glacialis
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2006, 08:02:42 AM »

Whoops, right you are on the location of the Eyes. Now in core 2nd ed. Smiley
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