Questions for Erik Scott de Bie, author of Season 6

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But also, for such delicate matters I liked the way Eriks response was done. "The Heir" instead of "name" - makes it even more obscured just in case someone still does read a couple words on accident.


In some cases I can see where that might work, but I don't think it would have helped in the case of my question. 1) My question wouldn't have been very clear. 2) Even if I left the names out, anyone reading the spoiler would easily be able to put 2 and 2 together and figure it out.

The solution to this problem is that players should not read any of the spoilers. Period. Do not click on them. It's like the published modules that say, "The following information is for the DM only. If you are planning to play this adventure, do not read any further." Anyone clicking on a spoiler is not "accidentally" reading something they shouldn't.

- Rico
The problem as I said earlier with the thought about spoilers is that everyone on this forum uses them. No one seems to use [ sblock ] instead of [ spoiler ] so even our Field Reports are filled with spoilers. Anyway, that's enough side tracking. I'm looking forward to the next week. Just wish I had proper minis for it.
If you're DMing session 8 of Encounters next week, you need to read THIS THREAD about the pretty much ludicruous RAW skill challenge before the battle.

Cheers
I have to repeat how awesome this adventure is for creating unorthodox sessions. I think no other D&DE season has provided such a great adventure module.

Last week they group completely avoided combat with Charl through appropriate role play, appropriate dice rolls, and good decisions. Last session, they continued their immense distrust of Seldra with appropriate role play, appropriate dice rolls, and good decisions. I nearly wanted to skip the combat just because of how awesome it was.

some tantalizing details

The party was finishing a few hours of rest at the Ho1000F when a harper agent arrived with two wood elves (new players' PCs) and a bundle that he gave to Theryis and Toram along with a bit of whispered rumors and news.

Toram wasn't pleased, but Theryis laid out the bundle with two healing potions as she told them the rumors of an upcoming civil war. They got to ask her a few questions until Seldra arrived. (this is the group that had the drow following her after the fight at the wall)

She was not quickly accepted when stammering to ask if the party knew of a halfling named Charl that could arrange a meeting between herself and the Lost Heir. They started to interrogate her pointedly about her business and her motivations. They also found out that she is fluent in Thieve's Cant - they could keep no secrets from her.

With some failed insight checks and successful diplomacy and intimidate checks, she began to tell of her family and motivation to leave a better legacy than her great-great-aunt Aribeth Tylmarande. This was made especially more fun in that only three PCs succeeded at history to recognize the family name. The wood elf with a 13 knew only that it was indeed an elven family, though Seldra was clearly a half-elf. He snorted in contempt at her using the family name. The other two at least knew about the true infamy of Tylmarande and the war with Luskan.

Something that she said left the drow angry and he drew his blade, but Theryis quickly intervened placing her hand on the table within immediate striking distance of the dagger and splaying her fingers wide. She spoke in elven, "There is no need to be violent." I told the player that this was drow sign--the splayed hand represented the web of Llolth and the words were a cultural idiom. The entire act represented that she was saying, 'Rather than see her harmed, I offer you my hand. I would risk being stabbed to avoid her coming to injury.' Our haper agent PC asked if he also recognized the gesture; with a good religion and history I explained that the phrase was canonized doctrine of Llolth's scripture (not spoken by Llolth, but one of her priestesses in an effort to end bloodshed between two houses).

Of course, he wondered where Theryis learned it, but figured that if he were somewhat culturally aware and well travelled, she very likely also was culturally aware and well travelled.

So Seldra was able to continue explaining herself and twice implored them to pledge support to the Heir before she was allowed to leave them. She explained that she had been assigned by Neverember to infiltrate the Sons of Alagondar and had been engaged in that attempt for several months. Trust comes slowly among them, especially to allow a half-elf among them.

Since Jarvy is still clinging to her dwarven savior, the HA wrote a full report of the entire exchange and sent her to Neverember and Gen Sabine with the letter. The PCs of several absent players volunteered to escort her back to the Hall of Justice.


Because this adventure module has suich a rich backstory and deep character motivations, it is so easy to create these great character interactions. I think my players all know and respect that the adventure has some railroad, but they are certainly able to take their own actions about how to fulfill the steps along the way.

Thanks so much for such a fantastic adventure. It is by far the most engaging I've run of all the seasons (i've run them all).    
I couldn't agree more! Charl decided to throw his lot in with a certain Drow Hexblade in ours so he's a companion character that came in quite handy for my smaller group.  The pair are plotting already.
Cool guys! I'm glad it's going well.

Also @Gimper: While I'm glad you asked that question in this forum in case others have the same question, in general, don't hesitate to PM me. If it does occur that I get overwhelmed on PMs, I'll let y'all know.

Cheers
DanTracker: THAT is what I want my home group re-run to be like. Details may be recycled then Innocent

I defintely have to agree about the narrative opportunities of this season. As new players have been coming for the school year (we have a college within 4 blocks of our store), we've been able to expand more and more on the written material. The second DM I've recruited is also a WoD Storyteller, so he has all the necessary experience to "go with the flow" narratively. 

With the original group split up due to unfortunate personal incidents between some of the players, it will be interesting to see what the end dynamics settle as on the RP-Dicechucking scale. 

Thanks Eric, for being so responsive to the community! I have to say, this season has made me look seriously at FR when I never have been interested before. 
Any recommendations on adjusting session 8 to four or six players?
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The Descent: Add or remove skill checks? Or have the (4 or 6) players handle exactly five checks?

Sewer Sentries: There are no level 2 creatures in this encounter (EL2) to add/subtract... and then there's the optional specter to consider as well... 

Edit: Looks like gnomish just did +/- a dire rat... do you think that's too much for 4 players and too little for 6?

Thanks!
@Demon42: You could do what you're suggesting, or find another level appropriate monster (level 2) to add to the encounter.

Odds are that by this point your PCs are probably level 2 anyway, so you should not worry about throwing too much against them here. Add two more of the level 1 monsters, and you probably have a fair fight.

I suspect it's still a fair challenge against 4 2nd level PCs as written, but be a little easy on your players if things look bleak.

Cheers

So I don't really have a question, just more praise.

I am a brand spanking new DM (I started half way through the last season), and I just wanted to thank Erik for such a dynamic adventure. It has exposed me to the flexibility and storytelling capabilities of the system that I hadn't experienced before. I just wanted you to know that your great work is appreciated and I am extremely excited to see how this season goes.

Also, thank you so much for being such an active participant in your adventure. My players and I really appreciate it.


 


Anyway, thanks again ^_^  



You're welcome, KH, and thanks!

Cheers
I'd like a small bit of advice about this past week's session and how to move forward. Please view my blog of this past two weeks' sessions
Wow, that's a tough situation. It sounds like your player was getting seriously out of line, and while you tried to accomodate him, it still ended up not going well.

This is not unusual. PCs break games all the time. Unfortunately, it compromises the fun for everyone else.

Also, using metaknowledge (or in this case metaguessing, as the player was wrong about the rebels being meant to attack) is way not ok at the table. Or, to be more accurate, it needs to be closely supervised by the DM, and if a player does too much of it, you need to tell that player to knock it off or go play somewhere else. D&D is a group activity, where everyone is supposed to work together with the facts that are presented.  

I want to say one thing about railroading: This is D&D Encounters. The nature of the beast requires a certain amount of railroading, whether it's obvious things that I as the writer do or things the DM improvises to get the PCs from encounter to encounter. This isn't a sandbox kind of game, as that isn't possible to do with thousands of people all over the world. If the player doesn't want to accept that premise, then Encounters is not the right thing for him. He should go play a home game, or play in Lair Assault, or whatever.

My primary suggestion is talking to the player. He sounds frustrated (and not entirely without reason) and I'm sure you can come to an equitable solution.

Cheers
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Also, using metaknowledge (or in this case metaguessing, as the player was wrong about the rebels being meant to attack) is way not ok at the table. Or, to be more accurate, it needs to be closely supervised by the DM, and if a player does too much of it, you need to tell that player to knock it off or go play somewhere else. D&D is a group activity, where everyone is supposed to work together with the facts that are presented.  

I want to say one thing about railroading: This is D&D Encounters. The nature of the beast requires a certain amount of railroading, whether it's obvious things that I as the writer do or things the DM improvises to get the PCs from encounter to encounter. This isn't a sandbox kind of game, as that isn't possible to do with thousands of people all over the world. If the player doesn't want to accept that premise, then Encounters is not the right thing for him. He should go play a home game, or play in Lair Assault, or whatever. 



Amen and amen!

- Rico
I'd like a small bit of advice about this past week's session and how to move forward. Please view my blog of this past two weeks' sessions


That's why I don't like minions. It encourages that sort of metagaming. Personally, I'd have killed his character, and every time he does that going forward, I'd do it again. 

- Rico
I'd like a small bit of advice about this past week's session and how to move forward. Please view my blog of this past two weeks' sessions

That's why I don't like minions. It encourages that sort of metagaming. Personally, I'd have killed his character, and every time he does that going forward, I'd do it again.

Harsh. Not that I disagree. Though I tend to be of the "talk first, throw lightning bolts later" school of DMing.

Metagaming like that is ok in a tactical situation (i.e., controller, please fry those minions, kthx, while the striker goes after the big guy, ftw), but trying to second-guess the story being presented by the DM on the basis of "can we take these guys?" is dumb. One of the best solutions is to send much higher level minions against them. Your 3rd level party might be confident before they start fighting the 12 10th level minions, but they'll stop that around round two.

That said, I won't deny that there is a certain perverse pleasure in inverting player expectation in the form of "OMG, I thought these guys were all minions, now we're all dead!"

Cheers

I'd like a small bit of advice about this past week's session and how to move forward. Please view my blog of this past two weeks' sessions

That's why I don't like minions. It encourages that sort of metagaming. Personally, I'd have killed his character, and every time he does that going forward, I'd do it again.

Harsh. Not that I disagree. Though I tend to be of the "talk first, throw lightning bolts later" school of DMing.


I'd explain to him aftwards why I killed his character. 

One of the best solutions is to send much higher level minions against them.


One of the things I like to do, and it worked extremely well for me in this encounter, is to have the minions be 2 hit minions. It makes the minions more of an effective threat.
- Rico
One of the things I like to do, and it worked extremely well for me in this encounter, is to have the minions be 2 hit minions. It makes the minions more of an effective threat.

I call those "elite minions" and use them often in my own games.

Cheers
thanks all. I didn't feel quite as badly about the metaguesing on the potential combatants except that he voiced it loudly. The other party members were clear in their refusal to engage in combat.

I like using two-hit minions too. It might have worked well to sub in two-hit, high-level minions instead of a group of skirmishers. It would certainly keep the hp tracking down.

I'd say that I'm part of the 'talk first' style as well. I'm just making sure that I approach with a reduced level of anger and personal investment. It felt insulting that he brought up railroading. I've been very honest with my gaming friends that even in private campaigns, I do not build sandbox campaigns; I build railroad campaigns. I hop they end up as something like the DC metro with lots of rail lines that overlap, criss-cross and stop at multiple locations.

In regards to Arlon Bladeshaper, I imagine him expressing a no tolerance policy on being assaulted. Also, this PC was not actually among the heroes fighting at the riverside market--he might feel this guy to be of little value and worthy of death. 

I had the thought of injecting a higher ranking member of Bregan d'Aerth that is deeply imbedded with SoA that gives very clear and assertive instruction to toe the line in the name of the guild or face punishment from Jarlaxle. It would have to occur after an out-of-game talk, but would give a very clear indication of why the open hostility was such a breach of cover and of good sense.    
Since the character is a Bregan d'Aerthe spy, you might give him the chance to talk his way out of death as well, claiming that he was acting on the orders of the guild, but that he wasn't supposed to succeed, or something like that.

Generally speaking, trying really hard to force an anti-railroad player onto the rails doesn't work well. D&D PCs are a remarkably self-centered lot--it's like the world revolves around them or something.

Cheers

Erik,

In the first part of session 12, you state that the party can take a short rest, but if they do, it has consequences for the next encounter. However, I can't find anything in the text for the next encounter that discusses that ("If the party chose to take a short rest before this encounter, X happens"). I'm guessing something got deleted. Can you tell us what you envisioned?

- Rico
Erik,

In the first part of session 12, you state that the party can take a short rest, but if they do, it has consequences for the next encounter. However, I can't find anything in the text for the next encounter that discusses that ("If the party chose to take a short rest before this encounter, X happens"). I'm guessing something got deleted. Can you tell us what you envisioned?

I came here to ask that very question.

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I believe my original intent was to give the monsters an advantage in the second encounter, as they've had longer to run amok before the PCs get there. If you want to simulate this yourself, then consider one or more of the following:

1) The monsters automatically surprise the PCs.

2) Add a dozen dead townsfolk, who've been killed in the delay.

3) Four more PCMs are on the board already.

In the interest of heightening the difficult, you also might consider making at least the initial PCMs elite minions--i.e., they take two hits to die.

Cheers
I believe my original intent was to give the monsters an advantage in the second encounter, as they've had longer to run amok before the PCs get there. If you want to simulate this yourself, then consider one or more of the following:

1) The monsters automatically surprise the PCs.

2) Add a dozen dead townsfolk, who've been killed in the delay.

3) Four more PCMs are on the board already.

In the interest of heightening the difficult, you also might consider making at least the initial PCMs elite minions--i.e., they take two hits to die.

Cheers



I had thought of doing something like that when I run it. That or place everything on the board as presented if they have a short rest, then in turn one, that many come from the gate which just opened because they didn't take a break. Although I'm liking #2 in that list there *evil grin*. I've always been one for killing townies. Must be from running Call of Cthulhu...
Erik,

In the first part of session 12, you state that the party can take a short rest, but if they do, it has consequences for the next encounter. However, I can't find anything in the text for the next encounter that discusses that ("If the party chose to take a short rest before this encounter, X happens"). I'm guessing something got deleted. Can you tell us what you envisioned?

I came here to ask that very question.



Ha ha. I beat you to it. Tongue out Laughing
- Rico
Erik,

Am I evil. Note that this was for a mature table. At the beginning of Chapter 4 and as the characters walked through town to their meeting with the Lost Heir, I had the adventurers note the following two things. First, they noticed that a lot of dogs were running wild throughout the Blacklake District. Second, I described a wagon with the name of Waterdavian Orphanage moving down the road with Mintarn guards around it. The wagon stopped at an abandoned house and the guards quickly went inside. Soon they came out dragging two "orphans" and they tossed them in the back of the wagon where the party saw a half dozen other children. The wagon then continued down the road toward the Winged Wyvern Bridge. We then played encounter 11 and also half of 12. As they arrived at the bridge they saw the wagon upturned. With all the kids in close proximity to each other, the spellplague had a globberish effect which the players saw.

Note: My players found this bridge encounter vastly more dangerous than the ecounter 11. They were surprised to hear it was Encounter level 1 and the other was EL2.


Note: My players found this bridge encounter vastly more dangerous than the ecounter 11. They were surprised to hear it was Encounter level 1 and the other was EL2.


My group hasn't played encounter 12 yet, but I suspect that it will be much tougher than encounter 11. This week's encounter was a total bust for me, and this encounter did not prove to be a challenge at all for the PCs.

I'll detail it in the after-action report section. 
- Rico
Erik, Am I evil. [snip]

That's some seriously messed up DMing. I approve.

Note: My players found this bridge encounter vastly more dangerous than the ecounter 11. They were surprised to hear it was Encounter level 1 and the other was EL2.

Well, one should be careful about reading too much into the Encounter Level, since that's a function of how much experience is on offer. The enemies aren't just 1st level; they intentionally pack kind of a punch.

@Gimper: Don't worry if the PCs wiped out the enemies in session 11. That was just a warm-up. The gauntlet of session 12 will harry them a little, and then there are two tough fights thereafter.

I will be posting ideas for heightening the difficulty in Session 14 (the final battle) just in case.

Cheers

@Gimper: Don't worry if the PCs wiped out the enemies in session 11. That was just a warm-up. The gauntlet of session 12 will harry them a little, and then there are two tough fights thereafter.

I will be posting ideas for heightening the difficulty in Session 14 (the final battle) just in case.

Cheers



To be sure, my players had fun. Sometimes they just need to be able show how stud-muffinly they are!

I'm looking forward to seeing your ideas.

- Rico
Gimper, I tried to respond to your private message, but it won't let me friend you for some reason, so that I can send you a message. Try emailing me instead: erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com

Cheers
Gimper, I tried to respond to your private message, but it won't let me friend you for some reason, so that I can send you a message. Try emailing me instead: erikscottdebie AT yahoo DOT com

Cheers


Stupid system. IMAGE(http://bestsmileys.com/movingeyes/5.gif)  Will do.  
- Rico
Anyone running the last few encounters should check out this thread right here for some wicked ideas:


community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons...(DM_only)_Important_notes_for_Sessions_12,_13,__14

Cheers

I am finishing up tomorrow night Erik and want to thank you for all of your WEEKLY updates and suggestions. These conversations are wonderful. Could you pass the word on to the next writer, if it isn't you, to do the same. You turned a good adventure into a GREAT one!
I am finishing up tomorrow night Erik and want to thank you for all of your WEEKLY updates and suggestions. These conversations are wonderful. Could you pass the word on to the next writer, if it isn't you, to do the same. You turned a good adventure into a GREAT one!



Here here! All of my players have had great fun with the sessions so far, and pointers, original intentions, and descriptions of certain aspects from the author himself have been a blessing to all at the table. Hope to see more great works coming from your pen soon.
I am finishing up tomorrow night Erik and want to thank you for all of your WEEKLY updates and suggestions. These conversations are wonderful. Could you pass the word on to the next writer, if it isn't you, to do the same. You turned a good adventure into a GREAT one!




Absolutely! I can't say enough about how great this has been. Erik, you've set the pattern for others to follow. I hope Wizards is paying attention. 
- Rico
Hey Erik,

Thank you for all your input on this season. It has been helpful and amazing.

Will having this opportunity to interact with all the players/dms of what you have written affect how you write in the future? 
Aw, thanks guys. That means a lot.

@Clayfun: Absolutely it will. Every time I write an adventure, and particularly when I get such good feedback, it shapes how I write future adventures, sourcebooks, novels, etc. Which leads into my next point, which is . . .

@All: Thanks as well to you guys for all your feedback, questions, praise, criticism, etc. It's all been very helpful and made the season very fun and instructive for me.

Go forth and slay PCs . . . er, I mean, dragons!

Cheers