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Author Topic: Crown of Shadow Revisited: Chapter 1  (Read 2753 times)
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Spell Energy / Taint +22/-0
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,118

Whisper's Will

« on: January 13, 2007, 03:18:10 PM »

Okay, first thing is, if you are a player, head back and out of here, this is a Dm's Corner thread, you don't want to spoil your own possible fun. With that sorted out, let us go to more interesting subjects. those who are old enough to have seen the old site know how well modified crown of Shadow was, how Crash Beedo was responsible for a great effort in making this adventure into an even better and more epic tale.

We can't get them back right now, though I still hoep future holds some surprise for us all. So, by reviewing many of my own notes on my game through this adventure I have decided to start a new thread on this site on the adventure and changes made to it, you sure as hell can use all the encounters in it in different adventures too, and they do a good job in making that possible, but if you want to use it and not just bits of it, then start helping us make a good change on this.

This is a thread for the very first chapter, possibly the most railroading one in the whole thing, but still, there are a lot of good things in there. Since we are doing this with hammer, Fury, Under the Shadow and soon Destiny on our hands, and Midnight 2nd edition too, we might as well attempt to make those books change the adventure in what way they can, making it updated and reloaded.

The very first issue one finds on the adventure is that humans are not a strtaight fit, elves are even worse, but after going through it i can say a few things, first you should enforce at least one dwarf or dworg character, other than that let them be whatever they want. Dorn players can be refugees among the dwarves, living with them, erenlanders and sarcosans might be members of Wendell's group, possibly of his crew, elves should be apprentices to the emissaries, sure this may strike as odd, but given the war state spies are always hard to train, they could have been taken in this mission for the invaluable knowledge they will get on erenland, the kaladruns and also, the state of things.

For Halflings and Elflings, they can be rescued slaves who the elves helped and now stick around them, either that or they are with Wendell, going to Durgis rock to live there or as his crew too. In my game I have also made one elf be a slave to a legate's family for the last hundred years, he was captured in his childhood and grew as a slave, the Durgis dwarves released him a little before the emissaries arrived, he was being transported to his master's base as part of the war effort of the Kaladruns. I don't really think this was the best route, but it worked well, and the elf too has the wonders of seeing Erethor when the final chapter comes into play.

This chapter is pretty straight forward, the best route a master can take with any group is to make them get fond of NPCs, if you have a mixed group, some coming with the emissaries and others coming with the dwarves, making separate sessions would be a grea thing, make them like some of the NPCs (the emissaries, Wendell if he is going to die, and the dwarves of Durgis Rock). I did not make this and  regret that, the end result is that i can't contribute with NPCs for this bit myself, not ready ones, but I can make a few if they are needed.

When they are attacked at the trading post, be certain to never call any of the creatures by the name, naming them goblins will probably make the group too bold and face them with pride, something that will make them kiss the floor with the golem, I have described the creatures and the statue, and threw a single hobgoblin into the lot to make things a little tougher ( I took out 2 goblins though), but my players work well together and I ahve a player who rolls critical hits most of the time (truly).

I added some bit of knowledge and interest into this by making the tower feature inscriptions on its inside, the only one they can actually read more than a few sentences is a story about the passage to the after life: When death comes to a dwarf his soul refuses to let the war go, they still want to fight, but their bloodlust is not directed only against former enemies, but allies as well, that is why every dwarf is entombed and then a large stone is set above his body, one that is not heavy enough to crush his body, but heavy enough to hold him in place. Above those stone slabs a single gargoyle is positioned, usually something the dwarf made himself before he died, guarding his body until his soul understands that its time is past this gargoyle is the one responsible for taking the soul to the after life, to join either the sun or the moon.

On the Trading Post I also palced a few asks of beer on the storage below, some are not fit for consume anymore but a few could give any character a good time during the night, until the attack comes.

When the battle comes to them, let them know they are outnumbered, use the goblins well, make them keep telling the golem what to do, sometimes with contradicting orders, this will make a PC tremble when it is coming to them only to have a voice call and it turn away from him, use spells they know are high level and not scratch the golem, make the goblins work well as a team and if you use a hob goblin, make him use the others to get flanking advantages and then take advantage of that (no rogue levels are needed, the attack bonus makes a good advantage already).

If you believe the characters are not very anxious to leave, make noises nearby, add some horns in the not so far distance and make howls be heard. If you spread those across the battle and make them know theya re getting closer, they wil not want to stay to behead anything,also, keep in mind that the goblins can use the golem and will probably not wander too far from it, using ranged weapons as possible, this makes sure their bodies are all close to the golem and that none would like to stay, whenever you see a spot they can slip on, even if the goblins are not yet killed, make the elves talk to them, one goes ahead, one stays to cover, the other stays in the middle of the path, in the heat of the battle this served me well too.

Whatever you think can be added, throw in. Wink

"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."
 - Attributed to Herman Melville.

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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 09:35:11 AM »

A few extra goblins may work out if the group tends to hold their ground well in a fight. And the only way of finding out early on is to confront the group with an early "random" (right) wandering encounter with a small number of goblins.

I FULLY DISAGREE with the naming avoidance for goblins. This is Midnight, any dwarven (or related) character knows goblins and orcs VERY well, and anybody else (elf, human, etc) has had to travel to the Kaladrun and thus, MUST know these. The "walking stone" for the golem is perfect, but otherwise, it sounds awkward.

The golem will collapse the bridge. The riverbed is bedrock. Very stony area. These are headwaters, with falls. The narrow channel of a river belies the depth of it.

My players were excellent in using the building (quasi) ruins for cover, and even as weaponry. Two went up to the upper floor of the Trading Hall, not with goblins in tow but rather as a vantage point for firing missiles. When the goblins approached, the players collapsed part of the outer walls onto the foes below.

Depending on the character mix, there are hundreds of possibilities in this unusual little set-up.

For spell use, Rhiann could let the players (if any are spellcasters) know that the presence of the animated creature masks almost anything from astiraxes.

REMEMBER the possibility of an INSTANTANEOUS rising of the dead as Fell (a 1 on DC 12 Will Save). Applies to the goblins (though it did not happen). Applies to the orcs we're about to encounter in Chapter 2, etc...
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 10:46:49 AM by Xo » Logged

Normally, my campaigns see Spontaneous Halfling Combustion as a standard. I make an exception for Midnight, but no one dares...

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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 09:38:26 AM »

Someone needs to explain WHY the Durgis clan at Durgis Rock hardly has warring folk, and where are the Dworgs? Or other non-dwarves adopted into Durgis? This is the mixed clan, and CoS fails to demonstrate this adequately.

The Dorthane Woden (we never DO get his stats) lies on the floor, heavily wounded and bleeding from four Deathblade (DC 20, d6 Con, 2d6 Con) poisoned javelins. If any character actually took the Healer Heroic Path, Woden may well survive. Let alone the dwarf's toughness against poison and a likely high Fortitute Save. "Last moment" scenes play badly in D&D and tend to look and sound contrived or railroaded.

He and 14 dwarves (they lie dead) took out 18 orcs while 7 orc recruits confront the PCs. Really... ADD a minimum 10 to 20 more dead orcs in this chamber, choosing the lower numbers if many troopers or worse lie on the ground. Does the chieftain of a clan hold surround himself with dwarflings? ADD 7 corpses of Durgis Dworgs and about 20 orc corpses outside near the entrance.

Would it not make sense for some orc to still have poisoned javelins or a poison container?

How does the Dorthane still hold the case in hand? This rather conspicuous 30" long item should have garnered some interest from the orcs... 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 10:43:11 AM by Xo » Logged
Insurgent Spy

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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 01:26:16 PM »

I have to agree that most people will know what an Orc and Goblin is.  Not because they are "old time D&D'ers" but because a lot of the PCs have grown up in a world that is taken over by these races.  The Orcs have invaded most the land, and most people are enslaved to them.  They would know what an Orc is, and what an Oruk, Ogre, Goblin etc is.  I think children would have been taught this since they were old enough to understand.

A person (human) has a greater chance of knowing what an Orc and Goblin is over knowing what an Elf is...


"We are gonna need total luck this time! ...Don't worry, luck is one of my skills."
"Yes, that is my name in the M2E playtest credits..."

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Posts: 2,118

Whisper's Will

« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 11:04:01 AM »

I usually use different names for creatures people might recognize by the name just to make sure they allow themselves to know it before judging its power and danger, since I did not have anyone with an at least warring background I did not name them at all, they did not bother to get Knowledge (Kaladruns) which just made me set my mind on that.

In Kane's article on the goblins or erenland he named the golbins 'Frankach', for example. Reasoning I take for this is that I made very clear how different an orc is on Midnight, not the same with goblins, though i made clear everything is not exactly the same as they are in D&D.

I would advise making descriptions, and then you have a choice based on the group style of play and your own liking, either check if they should know it due to background and the like, if you like asking for die rolls, make those without obvious knowledge roll, if you don't see the need (a s I don't), you can just give them a name, making the description before giving them a name works very close to how not naming them does, I usualy take this kind of thing like:

"The humanoid figure stands about 2 and a half meters tall, its clothing is made of fur and pelts, he carries an oversized wooden club on one hand, even using it as a walking stick at times, his other hand holds what appear to be an unconscious human woman, dressed with southern garbs, mostly in the red and black colors, as you keep looking the creature looks around, as if smelling something is odd, his face is gruesome, his teeth are yellow, some missing, his eyes are of a deep blue color, scars cover his face and one of his ears is missing."

Suppose they all should know this is an ogre, I let them digest that for a little time and then say: "You know this creature, despite not meeting them before you heard tales of their size, brutality and strength, the ogre keeps moving away, he does not seem to have noticed you".

This was how I introduced a new PC to the game when the characters where going from Durgis Rock to Silver Vein on my own camapign. Wink

I never said not to elt they know what the creature is and that their character know it from tales or first hand, but calling them goblins make them default to D&D goblins, which is a thing i tend to avoid. I do agree that the whole scenario can make a lot of things come up in different ways, my own players went up the tower too, with one of the elves as well, i ahd the goblins stay behind the golem and tell it top crush the tower, given its power and size, plus the state of the construction i gae them 2d6 rounds before it would collapse, they did not when too, so they took a few rounds before fleeing the scene.

Astiraxes detect channeled magic, specialyl in 2nd edition, so unless you are making golems be made by that kind of magic they should not trouble any astirax at all, and even if it does, each effect has its own area to be detected, the mroe you have close to one another the higher their own areas will be, due to magical interaction. I have also made the elves unwilling to give away their own presence in the area, so they wanted all goblins killed and get out the fastest they could, all without casting spells, this made the players quickly realize that at times magic should not be employed, even if would mean victory instead of running away.

Also, i did not make it exceptionally difficult for the golem to get out of the river, despite it being a rocky riverbed rivers do have shallower parts and for a creature of its size it won't be such a trouble, I asked one round for it to get out of the bottom and another for it to get out of the river entirely, any character who could swim could get out of the river in a single round, provided they had movement for that.

By putting a sense of urgence in leaving on the elves i made the players feel the same, with the hrons and howls i made them feel like others could be just nearby too. And Xo, second edition Midnight changed the Will save thing a bit, the 1 result means the dad comes back as a lost, in a few weeks, in a failed save of result other than 1 there is a 10% chance of it rising immediately (and I do check those).

The Durgis Rock not having warfare bit was not a big issue before we had all those supplements, Durgis rock is actually one of the many cities of the so called Durgis clan, the name is somewhat misplaced though, but I just made this a very small settelment that lives isolated on the kaladruns, totalling to about a few dozen inhabitants and the only refugees and dworgs I placed on the city were those in the group, which meant a human and a dworg. I agree this could be made better too, thought the book size would not allow that to happen.

I personally like the way they find Woden and how the events with Rhiann unfold on the city groundds myself, but that is not really chapter 1, but chapter 2, soon to come. Wink
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