Questions for Erik Scott de Bie, author of Season 6

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Hey all. Erik will be stopping in to say hi and answer any questions you have about the next season. Post up any questions you have for him here.

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Hey all. Erik will be stopping in to say hi and answer any questions you have about the next season. Post up any questions you have for him here.

Okay, me first!  Is this season going to expand on the "less-railroady" features that were in Season 4 (Ghost Tower of Inverness)?  Will there be any new lore introduced in the season that is not covered by the Neverwinter regional book, or is this primarily a showcase for that supplement?  How does this tie to the video game?  Have you coordinated or been contacted by LFR admins regarding the LFR tie-ins/follow-up to this coming season?  (As a way to help lead new D&D players from Encounters to organized LFR play?) 

Most importantly, does this mean we can look forward to more regional FR books like Neverwinter in the future?  (Moonsea North / Vaasa / Narfell, please!)
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
EDIT NOTE TO ALL: See my applicable website post or the Boon Powers thread here on the boards for a special, optional tweak I handed out at GenCon. They're little "creator boons" that give a PC a non-game-breaking power usable once per chapter.

Also, I am of course always available to answer questions, either here in the thread (which I check frequently), by direct message, or by email (erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com).


Thanks, Trevor!

A couple notes going forward:

1) This Thread is both Player and DM friendly

I intend this thread to be ok for both players and DMs. Someone (myself, Trevor, another DM, etc.) will open specific "how do I run this mechanic on this encounter?" threads for individual sessions. For this "Ask the Author" thread, please mark any spoilers, secrets, etc, as such, so that players know to steer around them.

I suggest using the spoiler tag: [ spoiler ] insert spoiler text here [ /spoiler ] (without the spaces).

Also be especially careful not to give away spoilers in quoted text. Sometimes spoiler tags can mess up in quotes, so err on the side of *not* quoting the spoiler.

2) My opinion isn't your game

I will gladly give you ideas and suggestions, but you need to do what's best for your table. If something I suggest seems weird or impossible, then do what makes the most sense to you, in the broader expanse of the story.

3) Core DMing rule: Make it Fun

Make it fun. If your table's not having fun, you're doing it wrong. If your players are getting frustrated because the monsters keep hacking them to pieces, fudge some die rolls. If vice versa, and your players are bored, do the same. Feel free to substitute things as you see fit. I will not take it personally and will instead offer mechanical insights on alternative monsters, etc.



Well, kick it off with LOTS of questions! Here we go:

Is this season going to expand on the "less-railroady" features that were in Season 4 (Ghost Tower of Inverness)?

I did intentionally put in "less-railroady" features (IMO) into this season, and there's plenty to do that doesn't directly matter to the actual story. How the PCs get to different places can also vary, as well. 

Will there be any new lore introduced in the season that is not covered by the Neverwinter regional book, or is this primarily a showcase for that supplement?

Oh, I've never crafted an adventure, article, or supplement that doesn't offer a little bit of extra lore. There are indeed some nuggets (some particularly valuable, IMO) in the adventure that don't appear in the Neverwinter Campaign Guide, including a LOT about the various involved factions. 

How does this tie to the video game?

I have worked with the Neverwinter CRPG designers a little, though not directly (my notes were conveyed to them through WotC as an intermediary). I can't comment for sure on the game, as it's still in development, but I do know that my design was definitely taken into consideration along the way.

Have you coordinated or been contacted by LFR admins regarding the LFR tie-ins/follow-up to this coming season?  (As a way to help lead new D&D players from Encounters to organized LFR play?)

Nope, but I'd like to be? 

Most importantly, does this mean we can look forward to more regional FR books like Neverwinter in the future?  (Moonsea North / Vaasa / Narfell, please!)

Wow, that would be awesome, huh?

I can't say definitively (for NDA sorts of reasons), but I will suggest that if the NCG does really well, that will certainly point to the potential success of more regional Campaign Guides, wouldn't it? Also, no doubt loud advocacy on the boards or in letters to WotC might prove effective to this end.

Cheers
Have you coordinated or been contacted by LFR admins regarding the LFR tie-ins/follow-up to this coming season?  (As a way to help lead new D&D players from Encounters to organized LFR play?)

Nope, but I'd like to be? 

  Thanks for the quick response!  I agree about FR fans needing to buy and play with new products when they come out to encourage production of more of the same; otherwise the Forgotten Realms will be sorely neglected in favor of further rules-revision and sub-class creation.  I was asking about the LFR tie-in because of what was recently posted on www.livingforgottenrealms.com:


LFR at Gen Con 2011! (04-07 August)


Information about the LFR events being offered at Gen Con 2011 can be found in this blog post on the LFR Community


We are actively recruiting DMs for LFR at Gen Con - visit the Baldman Games website to sign up!


Gen Con is also the home of the D&D Neverwinter Game Day on August 6th. We are planning an LFR tie-in with both the Game Day adventure and the ensuing D&D Encounters season, Lost Crown of Neverwinter (details to follow)!


So there you are...

-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
Nope, I don't know what LFR has in store. But I'd recommend checking out the following page for more info:

exploreneverwinter.com

Cheers
This upcoming season is going to be Essentials+ for the character creation rules correct? (Meaning Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, and the Neverwinter Campaign Guide, plus associated Dragon magazine articles.)
I ask because at least of the character creation Theme cards for the Neverwinter Game day has reference to character classes and races outside these rulesets. I assume that it is because the class and race prerequisite text was copied directly from the Neverwinter Campaign Guide.
I believe that you're right, Kelvor. Everything I've heard suggests that this season of Encounters uses only HotFL, HotFK, NCG, and Dragon articles that support the Essentials builds. If the character creation theme cards reference other classes, it's probably straight out of the NCG, which I know references primal classes and I think psionic classes in general, as well as individual classes that may not have received an Essentials treatment.

What you do at your own table is obviously entirely up to you, but them's the rules as I understand them. 

The NCG is obviously Essentials friendly, but I think it also supports everything that's come out in 4e D&D thus far. For instance, there are references to Monster Manual 2 creatures in there, as well as stuff from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and Player's Guide.

Cheers
I believe that you're right, Kelvor. Everything I've heard suggests that this season of Encounters uses only HotFL, HotFK, NCG, and Dragon articles that support the Essentials builds. If the character creation theme cards reference other classes, it's probably straight out of the NCG, which I know references primal classes and I think psionic classes in general, as well as individual classes that may not have received an Essentials treatment.

What you do at your own table is obviously entirely up to you, but them's the rules as I understand them. 

The NCG is obviously Essentials friendly, but I think it also supports everything that's come out in 4e D&D thus far. For instance, there are references to Monster Manual 2 creatures in there, as well as stuff from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and Player's Guide.

Cheers



I will confirm this

I've enjoyed the twitter buffs that were being used this last season. Do you get to come up with any of these, or put any input into them?

Encounters is a wild beast of a program with some unique restraints on it, which can make it really fun. I was wondering how you balance the challenge level of an encounter, keeping in mind the players may be brand new or have more experience? Do you write with an experience level in mind for Encounters?

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. 
So for clarity, Heroes of Shadow material won't be useable in ths season, despite being an essentials book?
So for clarity, Heroes of Shadow material won't be useable in ths season, despite being an essentials book?



Heroes of Shadow is not an Essentials book.  That should answer your question.
Erik,

First let me say that I'm really enjoying the story you've written. It looks like it's going to be a great season. However, there appears to be a contradiction in the description of the Crown between the Gates of Neverdeath and the Lost Crown of Neverwinter.


[spoiler]
Here's the description of the Crown from Neverdeath:

"Legends hold that an unworthy heir of Neverwinter who dons the true Crown of Neverwinter will awaken its warding and die in a torrent of fire and ice. However, nothing happens if a character dones the crown, suggesting that either the crown or the legends are false...the heroes can attempt to identify the crown during the sea voyage. They can determine that the crown has a power of cold and fire."

And here's the description from Lost Crown:
 
"Legends hold that an unworthy heir of Neverwinter who dons the true Crown of Neverwinter will awaken its warding and die in a torrent of fire and ice. Although this crown is a fake, it does have a similar property. If anyone other than the Lost Heir wears it, that creature takes ongoing 10 cold and fire damage while he or she wears it."[\spoiler]

So which is it?
- Rico
Erik, thank you so much for participating in these discussions. As a player, I have always avoided them because I assumed they were full of spoilers--which so far does not really seem to be the case.

In any event, one question that I have, as a first time Encounters DM is 'How do you speed things up'? I am looking for your personal strategies as a DM--and as the author where you think I should be focusing my time at the table.

Encounters starts at 6:00 PM & Brookhurst Hobbies closes at 8:00 PM, so I am really going to be working with a two hour hard stop.

I am a big believer that fun at the table includes players getting to know one another, telling jokes, catching up on life, setting out snacks, talking to players at other tables, creating character identity through player humor [if you know what I mean (and I know that you do!)], and etc--which generally eats at least 30 minutes off the start time--so now I have 90 minutes to run the encounter.

If I spend time on recap at the begining & impact at the end, which I think is crucial to build a meaningful story [preventing encounters from becoming mere hack and slash]  I am likely closer to 60 minutes.

Historically, I have seen ~25% of  the time spent in 'pre encounter roll play' and the rest in combat, which is just not a lot of time to do anything but math [roll, add, modify, announce, remember the thing you forgot, & move the next player]. The 'colorful combat description' DM Skill I have been building my entire life will not really have time to shine! Also, often combat is cut short by the store closing, which prevents the DM from setting up any sort of Cliff Hanger type situation [which I think is often a key hallmark of good story telling].

So, how would you change these numbers? I am looking for advice on how I move things along more rapidly, while still giving every player his spotlight, without the players feeling rushed, and somehow at the same time letting new players find the creativity in D&D? Thanks, David S.

 
So for clarity, Heroes of Shadow material won't be useable in ths season, despite being an essentials book?



Heroes of Shadow is not an Essentials book.  That should answer your question.



What defines "Essentials" books then? I thougt is was just everything put out since Heroes of the Fallen Lands and that followed that mechanical style?
So for clarity, Heroes of Shadow material won't be useable in ths season, despite being an essentials book?



Heroes of Shadow is not an Essentials book.  That should answer your question.



What defines "Essentials" books then? I thougt is was just everything put out since Heroes of the Fallen Lands and that followed that mechanical style?



Here is a list of the line of 10 Essentials products:

D&D Fantasy Roleplaying Game – Starter Set
D&D Rules Compendium
D&D Player Essentials – Heroes of the Fallen Lands
D&D Player Essentials – Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
Dungeon Master’s Kit
Monster Vault
Dungeon Tiles Master Set: The Dungeon
Dungeon Tiles Master Set: The City
Dungeon Tiles Master Set: The Wilderness
D&D Roleplaying Dice Set

In any event, one question that I have, as a first time Encounters DM is 'How do you speed things up'? I am looking for your personal strategies as a DM--and as the author where you think I should be focusing my time at the table.

Encounters starts at 6:00 PM & Brookhurst Hobbies closes at 8:00 PM, so I am really going to be working with a two hour hard stop.



Obviously, I'm not him but as a couple month old DM for Encounters and longer player, my best advice would be to make sure you start at least within 15 minutes of the planned start time. And maybe sweet talk the owner of the store in case things go a little long... we sometimes have long encounters because of group makeups (low damage but ridiculous healing), role play (someone actually took up Vontarin's offer in the last finale and allowed him to use the player's body - he did excellent with that role), or any number of things. As a DM (and look to the organizer for help) make sure the game doesn't get too rushed because of pregaming.

What defines "Essentials" books then? I thougt is was just everything put out since Heroes of the Fallen Lands and that followed that mechanical style?



Check out the covers of the Essentials books. They have Essentials directly under the D&D logo to differentiate themselves.
re: Rico's post regarding the crown

I do not have the "Lost Crown of Neverwinter" yet but my guess as to why this is:

Show

the crown has been cursed (in "Gates of Neverdeath")

re: Rico's post regarding the crown

I do not have the "Lost Crown of Neverwinter" yet but my guess as to why this is:

Show

the crown has been cursed (in "Gates of Neverdeath")



All4four, I thought of that. However:

Show

The crown has the fire and ice properties before it's cursed, and the curse, as it's detailed in Lost Crown of Neverwinter doesn't have anything to do with that. It causes the person wearing it to go insane basically.
- Rico
So for clarity, Heroes of Shadow material won't be useable in ths season, despite being an essentials book?



My understanding is Heroes of Shadow is not an Essentials book, so it is not (officially, at least) to be used in this season.   
At Game Empire in San Diego, CA, we are allowing classes/races from all sources (PH1, PH2, PH3, FRCG, HoS, and even Eberon) along with Essentials. The characters we are presenting as pre-gens are all from Essentials (which will most likely go to new players) but we do not want to limit the fun of established players that might want to play, say, a minotaur monk or a genasi swordmage.

Since Essentials characters are generally higher powered than their "regular" e4 counterparts (at the expense of choice) the newer players are very unlikely to feel slighted because of their limited choices (and they have the option to create a character of their own at any time if they want).
Hey Erik,  I plan to play this season at Dtwenty Games in Burien/Normandy Park.  Can you visit us one gameday?  That would be really fun. 
Wow! Lots of questions accumulated while I was gone at GenCon. I'll try and answer them, though some might have been answered in my absence. If so, defer to those more officially informed than myself.

I've enjoyed the twitter buffs that were being used this last season. Do you get to come up with any of these, or put any input into them?

Nope, I am not involved in generating the twitter buffs. Nor do I help make pre-generated characters (which is a common question I get). Those come out of in-house playtesting at WotC, of which I am not an employee.

Encounters is a wild beast of a program with some unique restraints on it, which can make it really fun. I was wondering how you balance the challenge level of an encounter, keeping in mind the players may be brand new or have more experience? Do you write with an experience level in mind for Encounters?

It's kind of a tough balance to walk and relies a lot on DM judgment. For my own campaigns, I am well aware of what the PCs can and cannot do and plan accordingly, but the Encounters seasons try to appeal to an extremely broad range of experience levels, strategies, and optimize-fu. Mostly, my operating assumption is that every character should be able to participate materially in every encounter, whether he/she has been in the previous ones or not. So a 1st level character can still be part of the last encounter.

This skews it a little toward the easy side for really experienced/powergamers, so the DM will have to improvise a little to challenge those players. I think this is the right way to do it, however, as the Encounters program sets out to recruit newbie players as one of its primary goals.

So for clarity, Heroes of Shadow material won't be useable in ths season, despite being an essentials book?

I don't know that for sure. I'll defer to more informed posters here in the thread?

Cheers

From what I can tell on the module (awesome work again Erik!) it is for the Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and Forgotten Kingdoms and I believe the Bladesinger, once it goes live in the CB just before Wednesday.   Though the Heroes of Shadow does say on the back of the cover it is for use with the essentials line (no indication of 4e, though that is implied as essentials is usuable with).  

The feel of the storyline and from what I've read of the module is 'geared' towards a more heroic sort of character rather than a dark hero type.   I would imagine that whether it is allowed to be used would be up to the individual DM.   I'm very much looking forward to getting to run this and it will be my first Encounters as well.   I've got a group of new and inexperienced players that have had in the past, negative initial introductions to D&D but are willing to give it a go based off what they know so far of the story as it is unfolding.  Again great work Erik!  

As a complete off topic question to you Erik, how did your adaptation of Tomb of Horror work for Forgotten Realms that you were working on a while back for your players?
there appears to be a contradiction in the description of the Crown between the Gates of Neverdeath and the Lost Crown of Neverwinter.
[snip]
So which is it?

The function of the Crown was changed a little in development, and its efficacy truncated in Gates of Neverdeath because it was assumed the heroes would never actually put it on, and dealing with its powers would distract from what is supposed to be otherwise a smooth and quick con-delve. Follow the parameters set forth in Lost Crown.

Also:

Show
In case it's unclear, the Lost Crown version of the Crown has BOTH the ice/fire warding and the mental instability effects. The warding was put on by its creators (whoever those were) and the madness comes from Tolivast's ritual.


Erik, thank you so much for participating in these discussions. As a player, I have always avoided them because I assumed they were full of spoilers--which so far does not really seem to be the case.

Indeed! And thank you for reiterating the call to use the spoiler tag to hide spoilers.

In any event, one question that I have, as a first time Encounters DM is 'How do you speed things up'? I am looking for your personal strategies as a DM--and as the author where you think I should be focusing my time at the table...[snip]
So, how would you change these numbers? I am looking for advice on how I move things along more rapidly, while still giving every player his spotlight, without the players feeling rushed, and somehow at the same time letting new players find the creativity in D&D?

I am very sympathetic to this issue, as combat in D&D (4e especially) can drag on a lot. A few suggestions:

1) Focus on the RP and the story: It sounds like that's where the fun is for your players, so give 'em that. The combat shouldn't be the focus if its just distracting everything.

2) Feel free to skip combats entirely or give the PCs a chance to skill challenge their way out of them. That's much faster and frees you up to talk about the story more. You can also reduce the number of monster through judicious skill checks (usually bluff, intimidate, stealth, or your characters might come up with some cool things you didn't anticipate).

3) Reduce monster hit points about 1/4 to 1/2. If monsters have less staying power, combats will go quicker. I usually counterbalance this with "increase monster damage by 25%", but I wouldn't recommend that in the D&D Encounters season. Only do such a thing if your PCs aren't being challenged and are growing bored.

@gold_piece: That sounds fun! I'll do my best to make it out one of these weeks. Blue Highway is only every other week, so maybe an off-week? How would Aug 17 do?

Cheers
there appears to be a contradiction in the description of the Crown between the Gates of Neverdeath and the Lost Crown of Neverwinter.
[snip]
So which is it?

The function of the Crown was changed a little in development, and its efficacy truncated in Gates of Neverdeath because it was assumed the heroes would never actually put it on, and dealing with its powers would distract from what is supposed to be otherwise a smooth and quick con-delve. Follow the parameters set forth in Lost Crown.

Also:

Show
In case it's unclear, the Lost Crown version of the Crown has BOTH the ice/fire warding and the mental instability effects. The warding was put on by its creators (whoever those were) and the madness comes from Tolivast's ritual.


Erik, thank you so much for participating in these discussions. As a player, I have always avoided them because I assumed they were full of spoilers--which so far does not really seem to be the case.

Indeed! And thank you for reiterating the call to use the spoiler tag to hide spoilers.

In any event, one question that I have, as a first time Encounters DM is 'How do you speed things up'? I am looking for your personal strategies as a DM--and as the author where you think I should be focusing my time at the table...[snip]
So, how would you change these numbers? I am looking for advice on how I move things along more rapidly, while still giving every player his spotlight, without the players feeling rushed, and somehow at the same time letting new players find the creativity in D&D?

I am very sympathetic to this issue, as combat in D&D (4e especially) can drag on a lot. A few suggestions:

1) Focus on the RP and the story: It sounds like that's where the fun is for your players, so give 'em that. The combat shouldn't be the focus if its just distracting everything.

2) Feel free to skip combats entirely or give the PCs a chance to skill challenge their way out of them. That's much faster and frees you up to talk about the story more. You can also reduce the number of monster through judicious skill checks (usually bluff, intimidate, stealth, or your characters might come up with some cool things you didn't anticipate).

3) Reduce monster hit points about 1/4 to 1/2. If monsters have less staying power, combats will go quicker. I usually counterbalance this with "increase monster damage by 25%", but I wouldn't recommend that in the D&D Encounters season. Only do such a thing if your PCs aren't being challenged and are growing bored.

@gold_piece: That sounds fun! I'll do my best to make it out one of these weeks. Blue Highway is only every other week, so maybe an off-week? How would Aug 17 do?

Cheers

Hey Erik,
I am in the Army and after a long week of stuff. I got the chance to go to game day. I have never been to one, and it was fun. I wanted to say the material in the game day adventure was great. I wanted to say thanks for putting it out. Can you also do me a favor and tell the DnD staff thanks for me as well?
there appears to be a contradiction in the description of the Crown between the Gates of Neverdeath and the Lost Crown of Neverwinter.
[snip]
So which is it?

The function of the Crown was changed a little in development, and its efficacy truncated in Gates of Neverdeath because it was assumed the heroes would never actually put it on, and dealing with its powers would distract from what is supposed to be otherwise a smooth and quick con-delve. Follow the parameters set forth in Lost Crown.

Also:

Show
In case it's unclear, the Lost Crown version of the Crown has BOTH the ice/fire warding and the mental instability effects. The warding was put on by its creators (whoever those were) and the madness comes from Tolivast's ritual.


Erik, thank you so much for participating in these discussions. As a player, I have always avoided them because I assumed they were full of spoilers--which so far does not really seem to be the case.

Indeed! And thank you for reiterating the call to use the spoiler tag to hide spoilers.

In any event, one question that I have, as a first time Encounters DM is 'How do you speed things up'? I am looking for your personal strategies as a DM--and as the author where you think I should be focusing my time at the table...[snip]
So, how would you change these numbers? I am looking for advice on how I move things along more rapidly, while still giving every player his spotlight, without the players feeling rushed, and somehow at the same time letting new players find the creativity in D&D?

I am very sympathetic to this issue, as combat in D&D (4e especially) can drag on a lot. A few suggestions:

1) Focus on the RP and the story: It sounds like that's where the fun is for your players, so give 'em that. The combat shouldn't be the focus if its just distracting everything.

2) Feel free to skip combats entirely or give the PCs a chance to skill challenge their way out of them. That's much faster and frees you up to talk about the story more. You can also reduce the number of monster through judicious skill checks (usually bluff, intimidate, stealth, or your characters might come up with some cool things you didn't anticipate).

3) Reduce monster hit points about 1/4 to 1/2. If monsters have less staying power, combats will go quicker. I usually counterbalance this with "increase monster damage by 25%", but I wouldn't recommend that in the D&D Encounters season. Only do such a thing if your PCs aren't being challenged and are growing bored.

@gold_piece: That sounds fun! I'll do my best to make it out one of these weeks. Blue Highway is only every other week, so maybe an off-week? How would Aug 17 do?

Cheers

You're always welcome Erik.  Aug 17 is as good a time as any.  I recently discovered DTwenty Games but it looks like a very cool place to play and I understand they have three tables going each Wednesday.
From what I can tell on the module (awesome work again Erik!) it is for the Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and Forgotten Kingdoms and I believe the Bladesinger, once it goes live in the CB just before Wednesday.   Though the Heroes of Shadow does say on the back of the cover it is for use with the essentials line (no indication of 4e, though that is implied as essentials is usuable with).  

I'm pretty sure that's the intention. I won't, however, say that you as the DM should not allow people to use Heroes of Shadow; I happen to really like that book, and one of my best Encounters experiences was when the DM allowed me to use an assassin from the DDI playtest. It was pretty awesome.

I think by the open play rules as written, Heroes of Shadow is excluded, but it's a valid question that you should ask in the main area. I will also check with some of the powers that be and try to get an official answer for you.

The feel of the storyline and from what I've read of the module is 'geared' towards a more heroic sort of character rather than a dark hero type.   I would imagine that whether it is allowed to be used would be up to the individual DM.   I'm very much looking forward to getting to run this and it will be my first Encounters as well.   I've got a group of new and inexperienced players that have had in the past, negative initial introductions to D&D but are willing to give it a go based off what they know so far of the story as it is unfolding.  Again great work Erik!  

Thanks! And I hope it goes well. The key in D&D, I think, is to make it fun. As long as you're doing that, you're doing it right.

I happen to love dark heroes myself, as anyone who reads my novels can probably tell, but yeah, this mod intentionally appeals to the heroic types. Then again, you can also play it with darker heroes, who use the intrigues in the city for personal gain/etc. That's one of the design principles in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting--to provide a campaign site rich with politics and intrigue that can go many different ways. Heroic PCs may be out to make life better in the city, but do they do that by supporting Lord Neverember (the stabilizing force that's out for his own personal gain) or by supporting the rebels (legitimate Neverwinter heirs who cause a lot of havoc)? Unaligned PCs might be more interested in the wealth there is to gain in the unstable city, while evil PCs might ally with one of the many evil factions in Neverwinter (pending a sudden but inevitable betrayal, of course).

As a complete off topic question to you Erik, how did your adaptation of Tomb of Horror work for Forgotten Realms that you were working on a while back for your players?

They've gone through the first chapter of the four, with ups and downs in its execution, but it integrates pretty well into my campaign plans. More behind the cut, and also for those who don't know what I'm talking about. My actual players should NOT look at this spoiler:

Show
I'm converting the 4e Tomb of Horrors super-adventure for use in my home 4e FR campaign. Instead of Acererak, I'm using Larloch as the chief antagonist--though it would be an oversimplification to call him the "villain." He's doing exactly what Acererak is doing in the Tomb of Horrors and gathering soul power in his bid to become a god . . . a very specific one, that is, the new god of magic. This is going to be particularly cool in chapter 4, with all the dead gods there are in 4e FR . . .


Hey Erik,
I am in the Army and after a long week of stuff. I got the chance to go to game day. I have never been to one, and it was fun. I wanted to say the material in the game day adventure was great. I wanted to say thanks for putting it out. Can you also do me a favor and tell the DnD staff thanks for me as well?

Thanks, and I'll see what I can do.

You're always welcome Erik.  Aug 17 is as good a time as any.  I recently discovered DTwenty Games but it looks like a very cool place to play and I understand they have three tables going each Wednesday.

We'll see what happens!

Cheers

Between Session 1 and Session 2 I do not see it stated if the characters are allowed a short rest or not.  Since the action for Session 2 really starts right as Session 1 ends.  I know the encounter for Session 2 will be rough and looking forward to challenging the players with this one but not sure if it is intended to be extra rough since they would have had no rest.


I may decide at the time if they get the rest or not depending on how easy Session 1 goes.  Interested in your intent for the encounters.

Between Session 1 and Session 2 I do not see it stated if the characters are allowed a short rest or not.  Since the action for Session 2 really starts right as Session 1 ends.  I know the encounter for Session 2 will be rough and looking forward to challenging the players with this one but not sure if it is intended to be extra rough since they would have had no rest.

I may decide at the time if they get the rest or not depending on how easy Session 1 goes.  Interested in your intent for the encounters.


Yes, the PCs should get a short rest between Sessions 1 and 2.

Show
That is the primary design intent of the pre-battle size-up/willpower showdown between the Lost Heir and the Dragon. While the Heir and the Dragon are facing each other down, the PCs get the benefit of a short rest. Sorry if that isn't clear!


As you'll notice, most or all of the sessions have RP/out-of-combat time built into them (usually both before and after). It is assumed the PCs should be able to rest during these times, and they should always have their encounter powers and the chance to spend healing surges before each encounter.

As to your suggestion about playing it by ear, if at your table you have particularly awesome PCs who mopped up the first battle without too much trouble, then by all means, hose them by not giving a short rest. But DMs should do this VERY rarely, as it disrupts the intended mechanical balance of the game. It's also really bad for newbie players, who may immediately go "OMG this is harsh!"

Cheers
Erik, couple of quick questions for you...

1. When you are designing the actual combats/encounters, are you free to come up with your own maps or does WotC provide you with maps first and then you work them into the story?

2. Do you playtest the encounters with a home group, or R&D guys, or is that a seperate component all together?

3. Did you use any pop culture (movies, video games, etc.) as inspiration for any of the villains or monsters in Neverwinter (either in the main book itself or in the Lost Crown adventure)?

Thanks!

As you'll notice, most or all of the sessions have RP/out-of-combat time built into them (usually both before and after).

Cheers


Erik, I have to say that that is one of my favorite things about this adventure. It really adds to the depth of the story. Also I really like the fact that you included options for resolving encounters without combat. So often in past seasons of Encounters it has seemed like the players were railroaded into combat, no matter what actions they took. If players want to engage in combat, that's fine. But when the choices you make don't make any difference to the outcome, it isn't fun. And finally, I really appreciate the way you built in flexibility for where the players start in a given encounter. I'm really hoping to use that to great effect in the first encounter. IMAGE(http://bestsmileys.com/evil/6.gif)

Kudos!  
- Rico
Erik,


Another question about Session 1.

Show

 The module states:
Second Wave: At the start of the third round, eight more plaguechanged maniacs surge form the sewers. They appear in unoccupied squares adjacent to the manholes and can take only a standard action during their first turn.


Did you really mean to limit them to a standard action? Is there a reason they can't move on that turn? Depending on where the PCs and any remaining townsfolk are, it's entirely possible that they won't even get to take that standard action. And so they would skip their turn. As it is, with them appearing at the start of the round, but not acting until their turn comes up in the initiative order, it's likely that they'll be eliminated by a Controller's area effect spell anyway before they can even act. That makes them pretty much useless, and removes the threat they represent. Unless their only purpose is to get the Controller to use up an AOE power.

I'm inclined to have them appear on their turn in the initiative order, and to count climbing up out of the sewer as only a move of two spaces. So, they could still move up to four more spaces and then attack if there's a target within range. This would allow them to spread out right away, and really be a threat to the party.

What do you think?
- Rico
Gimper - my opinion

Show
I would assume that they have a separate turn from the other maniacs (and that turn is when they come up from the sewer (a move action). Thus they could charge around and cause more havoc and chaos. This is how I'll be running it at least since the initial maniacs should mostly be dealt with or soon dead.
Thanks for the kind words, everybody! I hope you enjoy.

More answers!

1. When you are designing the actual combats/encounters, are you free to come up with your own maps or does WotC provide you with maps first and then you work them into the story?

I build the maps myself. Usually I build them *after* I design the encounters, but make some tweaks to the encounters based on how the maps turn out.

2. Do you playtest the encounters with a home group, or R&D guys, or is that a seperate component all together?

The playtesting is generally done in-house, though I occasionally playtest versions of my encounters with my home group or a one-shot that I put together. The last encounter of chapter 3 I ran through with such a group, and it was instrumental in making some significant fixes.


3. Did you use any pop culture (movies, video games, etc.) as inspiration for any of the villains or monsters in Neverwinter (either in the main book itself or in the Lost Crown adventure)?

Interesting question! The general answer is, "probably," as I draw lots of creative energy from lots of different things. Two sources of inspiration in particular, however, were:

1) Lord Dagult Neverember: While I didn't design him originally (that credit goes to Ed), Lord Neverember got a little design love from me, particularly in his role in the city. It would have been easy to make him a benevolent ruler out to do good things for the city, but I took a shadier approach inspired by a certain type of adversary in fantasy literature, as typified by, say, Teryn Logain of Dragon Age: the merchant-noble who is a stabilizing force but also out for his own best interests. There are reasons to support him and reasons to work against him, and its up to the PCs to figure out the best course.

2) He isn't a villain, but the Harper Agent character theme comes a little from Burn Notice's Michael Westin: the notion of a burned spy, betrayed by his former handlers for a crime he didn't commit, who has to rely on his own wits and resourcefulness.

Cheers
Erik,
Another question about Session 1.
Show

 The module states:
Second Wave: At the start of the third round, eight more plaguechanged maniacs surge form the sewers. They appear in unoccupied squares adjacent to the manholes and can take only a standard action during their first turn.


Did you really mean to limit them to a standard action? Is there a reason they can't move on that turn? Depending on where the PCs and any remaining townsfolk are, it's entirely possible that they won't even get to take that standard action. And so they would skip their turn. As it is, with them appearing at the start of the round, but not acting until their turn comes up in the initiative order, it's likely that they'll be eliminated by a Controller's area effect spell anyway before they can even act. That makes them pretty much useless, and removes the threat they represent. Unless their only purpose is to get the Controller to use up an AOE power.
I'm inclined to have them appear on their turn in the initiative order, and to count climbing up out of the sewer as only a move of two spaces. So, they could still move up to four more spaces and then attack if there's a target within range. This would allow them to spread out right away, and really be a threat to the party.
What do you think?

I think you're right, sir! The mechanic was built in to keep them from being an overwhelming danger. A charge will probably effectively get them where they need to go, but it's very situational. This is one of those situations where you'll need to exercise DM judgment on the spot: I'd just ignore the no-move altogether or else do it like you suggest.

Gimper - my opinion
Show
I would assume that they have a separate turn from the other maniacs (and that turn is when they come up from the sewer (a move action). Thus they could charge around and cause more havoc and chaos. This is how I'll be running it at least since the initial maniacs should mostly be dealt with or soon dead.

A valid suggestion as well!

Cheers
Erik,
Another question about Session 1.
Show

 The module states:
Second Wave: At the start of the third round, eight more plaguechanged maniacs surge form the sewers. They appear in unoccupied squares adjacent to the manholes and can take only a standard action during their first turn.


Did you really mean to limit them to a standard action? Is there a reason they can't move on that turn? Depending on where the PCs and any remaining townsfolk are, it's entirely possible that they won't even get to take that standard action. And so they would skip their turn. As it is, with them appearing at the start of the round, but not acting until their turn comes up in the initiative order, it's likely that they'll be eliminated by a Controller's area effect spell anyway before they can even act. That makes them pretty much useless, and removes the threat they represent. Unless their only purpose is to get the Controller to use up an AOE power.
I'm inclined to have them appear on their turn in the initiative order, and to count climbing up out of the sewer as only a move of two spaces. So, they could still move up to four more spaces and then attack if there's a target within range. This would allow them to spread out right away, and really be a threat to the party.
What do you think?

I think you're right, sir! The mechanic was built in to keep them from being an overwhelming danger. A charge will probably effectively get them where they need to go, but it's very situational. This is one of those situations where you'll need to exercise DM judgment on the spot: I'd just ignore the no-move altogether or else do it like you suggest.

Gimper - my opinion
Show
I would assume that they have a separate turn from the other maniacs (and that turn is when they come up from the sewer (a move action). Thus they could charge around and cause more havoc and chaos. This is how I'll be running it at least since the initial maniacs should mostly be dealt with or soon dead.

A valid suggestion as well!

Cheers



Thanks Erik! I think this is going to be a great first encounter.
- Rico
For everyone running the adventure, check out the blog for Designer's Notes (which I wrote as well): community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons...

At the moment, it contains info on setting up the adventure and the first session, The Mysterious Heir. I believe the plan is to update it with info for each of the sessions, week by week.

Cheers
I'm sure everyone's dying to know this but are all just too shy to ask. So I'll bite the bullet.











How do we pronounce your last name?
de Bie or not de Bie, that is the question.

Cheers
Erik,

I just read the Neverwinter Redeemers Character them in Dragon 402. Since any Dragon articles supporting the NCG are legal for the current season of Encounters, can you offer any advice for including a character with the Son of Alagondar theme into the campaign? I could see it being a real problem with session 3, and it would somewhat change the later session involving the SoA (session 11 I think).
- Rico
Erik,


Just out of curiosity, where on the map of Neverwinter do the first two encounters take place?  
- Rico
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