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And there's now been a review of my friend's module on someone's blog. He gave it a 3/5, praising the artwork and the detailed NPCs, but disliking the amount of reading required and thinking that the adventure, while branching, was too linear in that it always led to one of 2 endings. You can read the whole review at https://dmlevelup.com/module-review-the-coven-creek-horror-josh-shahan-3-stars/

 

I'll stop stumping for it now, at least for a little while until I get the chance to read through it all myself and write my own review.

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Is anyone else really bothered by this whole Spellplague/Time of Troubles/Second Sundering stuff? The Second Sundering is supposed to have taken place just a few years before the events of the official 5th Edition modules, so the time gods walked the earth and magic was unreliable should be pretty present in living memory.

Yet it's completly (or mostly, dunno if someone finds some line somewhere) missing from the current 5th Edition books. So much so that we build all our characters oblivious of the fact those events ever happend, with some backgroundstorys that seem impossible/not consolable with that lore.

I got really confused looking at wiki articles in the beginning, because there things like the Spellplague are constantly mentioned, and a lot of the time the drastic changes are almost completly reverted. I have decided for myself to just dump all those events for my own version of the Realms, but my players still get confused. "Wait, I'm playing a Dragonborn so we just arrived on this world one generation ago?!" 

I guess I don't really have a question, I just need to vent about a lore event that should be pretty important in every character's past but get's mostly ignored (which is fine), but still being canon somehow.

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Meh. I think they're trying to brush a lot of that stuff under the rug in a big way, because 4e was such a failure and they're trying to undo as much of that damage as possible. And my understanding is that most of those changes were part of the 4e time skip.

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Yes, and of the 4e "streamlining" of lore/religion. The whole mass-deicide should also be more of a big deal. Even if a lot of those gods came back later, it would influence your religion greatly and possibly split it/change it forever.

It's just a birch to deal with, if you really try to keep it in the world and make sense of it. Somehow their try to make the FR lore easier just made a big dumpsterfire of complications out of it.

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Forgotten Realms is a bore.

 

They're so dependent on "iconic" characters they gave em all forms of immortality so they can still linger about these centuries after their introduction (which is why Artus Cimber is a thing in Tomb of Annihilation).

 

They're so determined to protect them they made that doofus Jarlaxle more powerful than Mordenkainen, a CR15 character with an AC of 24 and oodles of magic weapons and buffs in an adventure meant for characters levels 1-5 (Waterdeep: Dragon Heist). Plot armor at its finest.

(for those not up to speed on 5e mechanics, your character at levels 1-3 usually has at best a +5 to hit on their rolls, so they need a 19 or higher to hit that dork for most of the adventure.)

 

 

I wish there was more official D&D stuff that manages some semblance of setting neutrality.

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I don't care that they're doing a bunch of setting specific stuff, because just about every major RPG has its canon setting.

 

What sucks is how they're doing it, because as you've said they're just taking all these characters and making them immortal just so they don't have to do anything new while still claiming things are happening. Sure, they're happening, but it's all the same people still. It's one of the problems I have with certain comics, too. Batman has been a nebulously 40-ish year old Bruce Wayne for 80 years. In that time, other characters in the books have gone from being like 12 years old to being fully fledged adults who have graduated college. He doesn't age, but people around him do. And it makes it boring. The best "recent" Batman series, in my mind, are the Batman Beyond cartoon and comics, and the Batman: RIP comics. And it's because in both, someone else is taking over the mantle, letting the story actually move forward.

 

Magic The Gathering did it well, I think. The novels focused on Urza for the first few, establishing the world. Then they focused on Gerard and his crew, with Urza taking a still relevant but side role. Then it put the two of them together in a "final" arc that shattered the world. And the very next book took place a couple decades later, with all new characters, but with a few recurring references to old characters. And you had a story that moved forward. Then they ran out of ideas, so they moved to whole new worlds for a while until they thought up something new for the original world and decided to return to it.

 

If they can't move the Realms forward without using the same characters, then they're out of ideas. Switch over to Greyhawk, Planescape, Eberron, or any one of your other worlds that you have already. If you don't want to leave the realms, then explore somewhere other than the same places. Go to Kara-tur or Al-Qadim instead of focusing on the Sword Coast region. Do something different...

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On 9/30/2018 at 11:20 AM, BlazingTornado said:

 

They're so dependent on "iconic" characters they gave em all forms of immortality so they can still linger about these centuries after their introduction (which is why Artus Cimber is a thing in Tomb of Annihilation).

 

Maybe I'm more okay with the Realms since I have no idea about it's novels and older products, so they're not the same old characters to me or my players. At least OotA (which I'm currently running) doesn't seem to be overflowing with super-powerful characters there to steal my players' thunder. Yes, they can meet members of the Baenre family, and I took a look, Jarlaxle is one of them.  It kinda makes sense for elves to linger, though, and none of them seem so integral to the story that I couldn't switch them out with another character of similar function. I'm probably going to play them all wrong anyway. :lol:

 

I like DMing in the Forgotten Realms because there is so much stuff out there for inspiration. I don't particularly enjoy drawing maps or finding names for 1001 places and shops, or naming months, coins and inventing celebrations. I know, you don't have to have all the details in place, but I like having those little details in my backpocket to answer questions if they come up.

What I do like about DMing is creating characters, conflicts and storys/hooks, and using a pre-written world allows me to short cut all the stuff I don't care about and get right to populating that world.

 

-------------------------

Speaking about conflicts, I tried a sort of murder mystery with my group for the first time. It took up all of yesterday's session, and the way they are overcomplicating things right now I feel like this might take a good chunk out of the next one as well.

They were investigating a problem in the cellar of the Necromancy department, where the bodies that are donated for scientific purposes are being kept under strict security regulations. There is a department for each school of magic at my Silverymoon Lady's College, but the Necromancy one got the short end of the stick, is more there to research history and culture of Necromancy and are under severe restrictions in regards to any actual research involving rasing dead. Therefore, Necromancy is seen as a dead end (ha, pun) for a wizard's career.

Anyhow, all the bodies in storage have suddenly animated at once, and the Necromancy prof is kinda scared it will be seen as her fault. The party killed all the undead, most of them with a single "Destroy Undead!" by the cleric.

They found a tunnel to an older part of this basement, and in it a stone carving of Orcus' skull with 2 glowing red orbs in the place of the eyes, guarded by two spellcasting undead. They defeated those as well and one person decided to try and take the red gem-eyes, which a deep voice informed them wasn't a good idea.

 

This is were our current session started.

 First, the bard decided to also take the second eye, since "if Orcus already wants to kill us, we might as well". They identified the two bodies of the spellcasting undead as a former Necromancy prof (elven, female) and her daughter (half-elfen, female) easily enough, both died 375 years ago, the mother died to poison ca. 6 months after her daughter died of old age.

Now, my idea was that the mother struck a deal with Orcus because she couldn't deal with that whole half-elven daughter ageing and dying and not even having an elven soul thing. She then installed the wand carving and was instructed to make herself into a Lich, with the promise of getting her daughter back on a similar non-mindless level. She failed the Lich ritual and the whole thing got swept under the rug and forgotten, until Orcus himself arrived at the Material Plane and sent some of his artifacts here into overdrive, which made the wand carving raise people. It's not really a stretch considering my party has already encountered two Demon Lords running around in the Underdark, a place they know don't belong. This whole arc was just supposed to drive the fact home that no place is safe from Demon Lords, unless they are back home in their Abyss.

 

The party really didn't think in this direction at all. They questioned the dead bodies, establishing that the carving was created in the time frame between the daughter dying and the mother dying, they learned that neither of them knew of an Orcus cult, but somehow they came to completly different conclusions. 

Right now the working theory is that either the current Necromancy prof is lying and behind it all, or that there is a cult in the city who broke in and somehow found the "on" switch. Also, the old prof was poisoned after uncovering an Orcus cult. They came to this conclusion pretty quickly, which is probably why they stuck with it, even though I've been trying to quite heavily hint that there is no larger Orcus cult. So heavily in fact, that I couldn't be implementing a cult at this point in time without completly scratching the last session.

 

They plan on reactivating the carving and talking to that omnious voice next session though. This will be fun.

 

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1 hour ago, Nunae said:

 First, the bard decided to also take the second eye, since "if Orcus already wants to kill us, we might as well". They identified the two bodies of the spellcasting undead as a former Necromancy prof (elven, female) and her daughter (half-elfen, female) easily enough, both died 375 years ago, the mother died to poison ca. 6 months after her daughter died of old age.

Now, my idea was that the mother struck a deal with Orcus because she couldn't deal with that whole half-elven daughter ageing and dying and not even having an elven soul thing. She then installed the wand carving and was instructed to make herself into a Lich, with the promise of getting her daughter back on a similar non-mindless level. She failed the Lich ritual and the whole thing got swept under the rug and forgotten, until Orcus himself arrived at the Material Plane and sent some of his artifacts here into overdrive, which made the wand carving raise people. It's not really a stretch considering my party has already encountered two Demon Lords running around in the Underdark, a place they know don't belong. This whole arc was just supposed to drive the fact home that no place is safe from Demon Lords, unless they are back home in their Abyss.

 

The party really didn't think in this direction at all. They questioned the dead bodies, establishing that the carving was created in the time frame between the daughter dying and the mother dying, they learned that neither of them knew of an Orcus cult, but somehow they came to completly different conclusions. 

Right now the working theory is that either the current Necromancy prof is lying and behind it all, or that there is a cult in the city who broke in and somehow found the "on" switch. Also, the old prof was poisoned after uncovering an Orcus cult. They came to this conclusion pretty quickly, which is probably why they stuck with it, even though I've been trying to quite heavily hint that there is no larger Orcus cult. So heavily in fact, that I couldn't be implementing a cult at this point in time without completly scratching the last session.

 

They plan on reactivating the carving and talking to that omnious voice next session though. This will be fun.

 

 

How is the party supposed to figure out the bold part at all?  I mean, the mechanism at play is spooky action at a distance (e.g. Orcus' artifacts gaining new powers/potency simply due to his presence on the Material Plane).  Have you been including foreshadowing that a Demon Lord on the Material Plane supercharges stuff associated with that Demon Lord?  Did the corpse tell them about her "become a Lich" plan and it's subsequent failure?  Does the party know that Orcus, specifically, is present on the Material Plane?  Is Orcus taking a direct hand in this whole thing, or is this a situation that's just happening as a result of his presence?

 

Do you care if the party get's the "right" answer?  Is it cool with you if they falsely accuse, or frame, the Necromancy professor?  Will there be strong words in the staff room?  Will accusations fly?  Or how about if they start an inquisition to root out "Orcus cult heresy"?  Get an un-Silverymoon Activities Committee investigation going where people are selling each other out and getting blacklisted from the wizard community? 

 

"I've heard the Enchantments department is full of Orcus cultists!  I'm sure there's evidence somewhere; your team should investigate." 

 

:devil:

 

 

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2 hours ago, VitM said:

How is the party supposed to figure out the bold part at all?  I mean, the mechanism at play is spooky action at a distance (e.g. Orcus' artifacts gaining new powers/potency simply due to his presence on the Material Plane).  Have you been including foreshadowing that a Demon Lord on the Material Plane supercharges stuff associated with that Demon Lord?  Did the corpse tell them about her "become a Lich" plan and it's subsequent failure?  Does the party know that Orcus, specifically, is present on the Material Plane?  Is Orcus taking a direct hand in this whole thing, or is this a situation that's just happening as a result of his presence?

 

Do you care if the party get's the "right" answer?  Is it cool with you if they falsely accuse, or frame, the Necromancy professor?  Will there be strong words in the staff room?  Will accusations fly?  Or how about if they start an inquisition to root out "Orcus cult heresy"?  Get an un-Silverymoon Activities Committee investigation going where people are selling each other out and getting blacklisted from the wizard community? 

 

 "I've heard the Enchantments department is full of Orcus cultists!  I'm sure there's evidence somewhere; your team should investigate." 

 

The idea was that it was less of a mystery session and more of a talk-to-the-bodies thing, were they solve the case by talking to the deceased. Some similarities can be found between those two and the relationship between our half-elf wizard and her elven dad, so that might have lead to some character moment or RP.

 

The 'Speak with Dead' spell in 5e works as follows: you get to ask the deceased 5 questions, they don't know what happend after they died and "Answers are usually brief, cryptic, or repetitive". They did not ask the kinds of questions I had anticipated at all. They established the carving was build in the short timeframe of 6 months between the two women's deaths. They did not ask the mother if she had anything to do with it. They did know she died to poison, it wasn't in the paperwork what kind of poison, which was pointed out as odd, but they didn't ask her if she knew who killed her/had enemies or a suspicion. They instead wildly speculated about how it would be helpful to know who killed that woman.

They DID ask her if she knew who the Orcus cultists were, to which she answered that there was no group, just a desperate mother looking for her child, which felt like hitting them over the head. Like, okay, I could have said "Me!" but I didn't think it was necessary to spell it out, and hey, the spell says cryptic.

 

They can still solve this by following different hints, but ofc also can come up with their own stuff:

- Talk to NPCs who were alive back then. They have acknowledged the fact, that some races have members who live to be centuries old and might have been alive back then and still are today. They did that in fear of one crazy elven mama bear running around for 375, but hey, they know elves live that long. Aforementioned elven father to our half-elf wizard is over 500 and at the university, so they could ask him (and I'm open to having him know stuff about back then).

- They do know the wards in the Necromancy tower were build shortly after the incident back then, and they know by whom. They talked to his student (a grandpa dwarf) who has assured them they never malfunctioned and there would have been a greater power to get the runes deactivated without the stonework being disturbed. They could go through the notes of the wizard who build those runes to find out why it was deemed a necessity.

- They could investigate the zombies from the first room, who were magically kept in a state of non-decay to find out when the magical wards failed/they started rotting. (I must confess, that's a bit far fetched now, but I'm open to working with creative ideas like that!)

- The cleric could use Divination (talk to your godess spell) for a hint.

- They could identify the spell on the wall carving and the eye gems, they are aware there is a powerful necromantic energy on there.

- And ofc, what they plan on doing now, they can try to put the whole thing back together and get into contact with Orcus personally, which hey, why not? :lol:

 

Also, the witch hunt has already started, grandpa dwarf did ask why they were so interested in the security of the Necromancy tower and they told him. He was very much against having Necromancers around already, and feels embolded by this and is SURE the mousy, shy Necromancy prof did it, because that's what they do, you know?

 

The Necromancy prof will be in hot water anyway, since she didn't report the incident appropriatly and instead hired outside help.

 

But hey, even though it wasn't intended my player engagement was high this session even with the less RP-enthusiatic players. And they are talking about it in our chatgroup, which is unusual. So success I guess.

Edited by Nunae
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5 hours ago, VitM said:

Will there be strong words in the staff room?  Will accusations fly? 

 

Not unless the Professor's name is Sting.

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6 hours ago, Nunae said:

Maybe I'm more okay with the Realms since I have no idea about it's novels and older products, so they're not the same old characters to me or my players. At least OotA (which I'm currently running) doesn't seem to be overflowing with super-powerful characters there to steal my players' thunder. Yes, they can meet members of the Baenre family, and I took a look, Jarlaxle is one of them.  It kinda makes sense for elves to linger, though, and none of them seem so integral to the story that I couldn't switch them out with another character of similar function. I'm probably going to play them all wrong anyway. :lol:

Well if it's just a cameo that's not too bad but Jarlaxle is one of the antagonists of Dragon Heist and basically you're not even going to be able to touch him.

 

6 hours ago, Nunae said:



I like DMing in the Forgotten Realms because there is so much stuff out there for inspiration. I don't particularly enjoy drawing maps or finding names for 1001 places and shops, or naming months, coins and inventing celebrations. I know, you don't have to have all the details in place, but I like having those little details in my backpocket to answer questions if they come up. 

What I do like about DMing is creating characters, conflicts and storys/hooks, and using a pre-written world allows me to short cut all the stuff I don't care about and get right to populating that world. 

I run my own setting. And I steal. Broadly. Shamelessly. I don't think I've drawn a single map last campaign, I'll happily use Pelor and Vecna and Tempus as baselines for gods in my settings, hell I'll even use Sokar from Reaper.

I don't think I've ever drawn a map in all my campaign. Since I run on Roll20 I always seek out nice colorful battlemaps, and usually just hit the Googles or the Roll20 Marketplace with whatever relevant keywords I can think of.

It's just for my own little game anyway.

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On 9/30/2018 at 4:13 AM, Unruly said:

Meh. I think they're trying to brush a lot of that stuff under the rug in a big way, because 4e was such a failure and they're trying to undo as much of that damage as possible. And my understanding is that most of those changes were part of the 4e time skip.

I don't think they expected the plummet in novel sales that accompanied 4e.

 

4e did a lot of damage, across multiple integrated lines - the miniatures game, the novels, even the online game.

 

Which did more damage than the drop in sales from the game itself - the novel line was a much more consistent money maker than the RPG. And, suddenly, the books just weren't selling.

 

The Auld Grump - 4e was a fumbled Profession [Marketing] roll much more than a failed Profession [Game Designer] roll.

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On 10/1/2018 at 11:56 PM, BlazingTornado said:

I run my own setting. And I steal. Broadly. Shamelessly. I don't think I've drawn a single map last campaign, I'll happily use Pelor and Vecna and Tempus as baselines for gods in my settings, hell I'll even use Sokar from Reaper.

I don't think I've ever drawn a map in all my campaign. Since I run on Roll20 I always seek out nice colorful battlemaps, and usually just hit the Googles or the Roll20 Marketplace with whatever relevant keywords I can think of.

It's just for my own little game anyway.

Oh, I also love all the battlemaps one can find on the internet. I have a few people I support on Patreon, other stuff I google and download whenever offered. We do play on a table though, so color printing of often very large maps can be a pain. I used to be super particular with copying the maps from the module I was running, down to counting squares and getting the perfect edge shape for caverns. I'm definetly not that person anymore.

 

 

Since we have such a good hivemind going on here, does anyone have any brilliant ideas on what could happen at a Sorcery Safety Test? Again, in "my" Silverymoon, people with sorcerous talents are either taught to control their powers at a specialized institution, or, if already adults and not from around there, detained and tested on their self-control and the safety of their abilities before being released, banned from the city, or, in extreme cases, detained for good. Seemed logical to me, as every sorcerer player I have met has some element of "I blew up and killed a number of farm animals and/or family members by accident" in their background story. :lol:

 

One of my players will be changing his character to a Dragonborn Sorcerer, and from what he has described to me this far, it seems very likely to me that he will be in a testing situation. I'm pretty sure there will be an interview involved, but I'm short of any sort of practical test. He is focussing on lightning, if that helps.

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On 10/4/2018 at 11:50 AM, Nunae said:

Oh, I also love all the battlemaps one can find on the internet. I have a few people I support on Patreon, other stuff I google and download whenever offered. We do play on a table though, so color printing of often very large maps can be a pain. I used to be super particular with copying the maps from the module I was running, down to counting squares and getting the perfect edge shape for caverns. I'm definetly not that person anymore.

I play on Roll20 so I have the luxury to be able to just save locally and upload and just make sure the grid's aligned and then take way too long setting up all the dynamic lighting.

 

 

 

Two players this week again so we went back to the Rules Cyclopedia.

 

The player who had the magic-user last time made a dwarf this time. Two hit points. Made sure to get plate mail and a shield.

The player who hadn't made it to a previous session got to learn a bit about D&D basic. Made a Mystic (monk) with completely cruddy charisma thanks to some less than stellar rolls. His snowflakeness started cracking through as he insisted his character was "a Rakasta that passes for human" and also that "Rakasta look more like Shifters in MY setting" and you know, I don't really restrict a lot race-wise in the 5E campaigns so you'd think you could indulge the "human with classes or a demihuman" of Basic just this once...

 

They got adventure hooked by last adventure's surviving halfling, who skedaddled after the magic-user died. They found the ambush spot again, this time with the magic-user's looted corpse dragged out in the middle of the road again. A javelin dinged off the dwarf's platemail harmlessly and they readied themselves for battle. Another javelin struck the mystic without killing her, and the goblins were otherwise ineffectual. Two died, two failed their morale checks and fled.

They took the goblin ears in for rewards and decided to rest for a day before proceeding onwards. So I guess next time we go back to this, it'll be about finding the goblins' lair.

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2 hours ago, BlazingTornado said:

His snowflakeness started cracking through as he insisted his character was "a Rakasta that passes for human" and also that "Rakasta look more like Shifters in MY setting" and you know, I don't really restrict a lot race-wise in the 5E campaigns so you'd think you could indulge the "human with classes or a demihuman" of Basic just this once...

 

I hate those people. My campaign is not your campaign. If I say that this list of playable races I have in my hand is all you can choose from, because that's all that exists in my world, then that's all you can choose from. And no, you can't say "I'm an X, but everyone should just act like I'm a Y." I know that it's a cooperative game, but if I'm the one putting in all the work to make the world then you're gonna have to make some compromises, at least in race, for your character to actually exist in it. Now classes? That's a different story. The only restrictions I'll put on classes, so long as they're official, will be social/RP ones. Like arcane magic being legally restricted or something.

 

 

Of course, when you're running an organized play game you have to follow their rules. But even then, his whole Rakasta thing wouldn't fly because Rakasta don't have an official release. He could play a Tabaxi, if he's got Volo's Guide in his possession, but then he'd probably also want to play some subclass that isn't in the PHB and from my understanding the AL limits you to PHB+1 for character sources. Because that's my experience with people like that...

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