Season 13: Ask the Author, Erik Scott de Bie

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Hail and well met, all,

I'm Erik Scott de Bie, author of Season 13: Storm over Neverwinter, as well as its prequel Season 6: Lost Crown of Neverwinter, and the very first Encounters Season 1: Halaster's Lost Apprentice. I'm an author, a gamer, and a Realms junkie.


(Check out my stuff: erikscottdebie.com/bibliography)

Ask me your questions about life the universe and everything--but primarily about the adventure story, concepts, potential fixes, etc--and I'll see what I can do to help make this season that much more awesome for you!


A caveat about D&D-Next: I did not design the D&D-Next conversion of the adventure, so my expertise there is somewhat limited.


Cheers

Erik,

Thanks for another great adventure!

I really like the the Taverns Tales.

I like how it looks like you have used past D&D Encounter seasons, D&D Lair Assault, & D&D novels. I am betting you might have put some clues about the up-coming MMORPG.

The only Tale that I have not really figure out is #7, not sure who is War Chief Fensi is...

I like to understand all the little details, maybe sometimes too much. LOL I have been bugging my fellow DM picking her brains on who is who and what is what!

I love the cast of NPCs in the tavern 

Once again you used people that a lot of us know and will want to know more about. Maybe we might have further adventure with some of these NPCs in future Encounter.

I am big into the role-playing aspect of D&D and with your NPCs I can really get into character. I really want to know about Sedge! ....Muln Horan...and Theron & his crew!

And this is only the 1st Session! Who knows who we will met or what will happen!

~Rob H.

P.S. I will have some more questions....later.

 
You are very welcome, my friend.

A couple notes:

I really like the the Taverns Tales.
I like how it looks like you have used past D&D Encounter seasons, D&D Lair Assault, & D&D novels. I am betting you might have put some clues about the up-coming MMORPG.

Oh indeed, quite a few of those Easter Eggs are references to other things elsewhere in the Realms. I like doing that sort of thing--putting in something that sounds totally natural, but someone who has read the other thing will pick up on it.

The only Tale that I have not really figure out is #7, not sure who is War Chief Fensi is...

There are indeed orcs in Neverwinter. Ask your DM to check the Campaign Setting, specifically in the factions section.

I love the cast of NPCs in the tavern 

Once again you used people that a lot of us know and will want to know more about. Maybe we might have further adventure with some of these NPCs in future Encounter.

I am big into the role-playing aspect of D&D and with your NPCs I can really get into character. I really want to know about Sedge! ....Muln Horan...and Theron & his crew!

That was very much the plan.

If you've read any of my recent FR work, then I'll bet you can guess who my favorite NPCs are in the tavern.

And this is only the 1st Session! Who knows who we will met or what will happen!

~Rob H.
P.S. I will have some more questions....later. 
I wish you great enjoyment, and I will be here to answer said questions....later. If I can, of course. []

Cheers

The only Tale that I have not really figure out is #7, not sure who is War Chief Fensi is...

 
There are indeed orcs in Neverwinter. Ask your DM to check the Campaign Setting, specifically in the factions section.


LOL...One bad thing, I am the DM. But i checked the NeverWinter Campaign Setting book again and saw the section you mention. Could Fensi be Vansi? Then I got a quick read and be ready for the game tomorrow. 

Thanks,

~Rob H.

 
I love the cast of NPCs in the tavern 
Once again you used people that a lot of us know and will want to know more about. Maybe we might have further adventure with some of these NPCs in future Encounter.
I am big into the role-playing aspect of D&D and with your NPCs I can really get into character. I really want to know about Sedge! ....Muln Horan...and Theron & his crew!


That was very much the plan.
If you've read any of my recent FR work, then I'll bet you can guess who my favorite NPCs are in the tavern.


I will be very BLUE if I don't see your favorite NPCs in an upcoming Encounter Season!

Here's hoping for you to write another one soon,

~Rob H.
Heh. No doubt plenty of people will think the "Fensi" vs "Vansi" thing a mistake, but really that's purposeful. The halfling has simply got her name wrong.

Easter egg #1!

Cheers
The blue-haired wizard and her bodyguard seem very familiar, hmmmmmm?
twentyfootradius@gmail.com Alton - @TwentyFoot 20ft Radius - 20ftradius.blogspot.ca
Heh-- it's funny, because the blue-haired wizard and my blue-haired suspect (see the handout I posted) have similar descriptions. Muahahaha. My PCs did not take the bait last night, though.
I used your hand-out and boy did my players take the bait. If it weren't an encounters game I would have been able to spend several sessions just on them running her to ground after she and the bodygard fled the bar during the combat. 
For the record: Lily the Wicked is a former PC-turned-NPC who made her debut in Season 6: Lost Crown of Neverwinter, when she burned down the Beached Leviathan (among other crimes). I put her into this season as a background character, but she may make an appearance in a later session as one of the followers of Asmodeus (she has the Devil's Pawn theme, so it works).
Erik,

A couple of questions regarding chapter 2:

*) The safehouse is an interesting choice. How difficult was it to come up with that as a location and what influenced you there?

*) The reaction of the Evil Bad Guy when the party approaches is interesting. Is a particular reason you chose this rather than the 'surprise' alternative?

Find a new Dungeoncrawl www.tenfootpole.org

Yes indeed--Myrin and Kalen are characters from my Shadowbane series.

I used your hand-out and boy did my players take the bait. If it weren't an encounters game I would have been able to spend several sessions just on them running her to ground after she and the bodygard fled the bar during the combat. 

Not that I want to discourage that impulse (no reason you can't do that), but seeing as Kalen and Myrin are both at least 10th level at this point in time, that could be a little dangerous for your PCs.

Cheers

I assume you mean session 2. Chapter 2 is sessions 5-8.

*) The safehouse is an interesting choice. How difficult was it to come up with that as a location and what influenced you there?

Blacklake and the Docks are notably shady locations, and "under the boardwalk" seemed like a neat place to make terrain relevant and show off the persistent storm (thematic!). 

*) The reaction of the Evil Bad Guy when the party approaches is interesting. Is a particular reason you chose this rather than the 'surprise' alternative?

Well, I can't have the PCs burst in and kill the main villain in session 2, can I? This way they might catch a glimpse of him, which is really just foreshadowing for later in the adventure.

Cheers

 Not that I want to discourage that impulse (no reason you can't do that), but seeing as Kalen and Myrin are both at least 10th level at this point in time, that could be a little dangerous for your PCs.



Yeah-- I kind of missed the description of Myrin in the module when writing up the handout. Lily's a PC-turned-NPC, so I really had no say in her description.

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I'm going to stat her out as a monster and suggest to my DMs that she can replace the Adept in session 5. Lily was a druid to start out, but with the devil's pawn theme, she's always been a little close to the infernal side. She's also disturbingly naive, so having her working for the bad guys without really understanding why kind of works for this character.
Well, I can't have the PCs burst in and kill the main villain in session 2, can I? This way they might catch a glimpse of him, which is really just foreshadowing for later in the adventure.



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I agree. I really liked this idea, giving the PC's a look at the bad guy. However, the way the safehouse is set up and the location of Zan, etc..., most likely, that glimpse is not going to happen before The Tormentor exits. Because of that, I think I'm probably going to merge those two color paragraphs into one mental barage, just to make sure they get to see who they're dealing with.


Here's a question:

When the characters level up after Session 2, do they get their Dailies back?

Or will they start at 4th level having used/marked off the daily powers they've already used?

Thanks for any help,

~RH
Here's a question:
Or will they start at 4th level having used/marked off the daily powers they've already used?
~RH



That's the way I'm playing it. On page 2 it says they get an extended rest after chapter 1. If they get the benefit of an extended rest every other encounter it will cut back significantly on any challenge. Do what works best for your table.

@feetz_grande on Twitter

That's the way I'm playing it. On page 2 it says they get an extended rest after chapter 1. If they get the benefit of an extended rest every other encounter it will cut back significantly on any challenge. Do what works best for your table.



Yep, thats how our groups have agreed to play it, gain the hp increase on their current hp and the maximum values (to recalculate bloodied and surge values) and any new powers are then available, but spent powers and action points remain spent until the extended rest.

When my players questioned this I told them that basically the action takes place over the course of one evening and its following day therefore only the one extended rest. After that they got used to the idea.

"Well that encounter was easy....er, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

Follow me on Twitter @Vobeskhan or check out my blog http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/

Here's a question:
Or will they start at 4th level having used/marked off the daily powers they've already used?
~RH



That's the way I'm playing it. On page 2 it says they get an extended rest after chapter 1. If they get the benefit of an extended rest every other encounter it will cut back significantly on any challenge. Do what works best for your table.

As written, the characters get only one extended rest during the entire adventure: between chapter 1 (sessions 1-4) and chapter 2 (sessions 5-8).

If you feel the need to give the PCs more extended rests, that's fine, but chronologically, chapter 1 takes place in the space of a single evening, and chapter 2 is basically one extended battle sequence.

Here's a question: When the characters level up after Session 2, do they get their Dailies back? 
Or will they start at 4th level having used/marked off the daily powers they've already used? 

Leveling up and taking an extended rest are not the same thing. Daily powers generally only recharge when you take an extended rest, and there's only the one extended rest.

So yes, they'd be 4th level but still be missing whatever dailies they used previously, at least until they can rest and recharge.

Cheers 
Why did Captian Horan had to die? Can the encounter go on with the party saving him?

What level was he?

I stated him as a level 5 Leader/Controller with HP 60 bloodied 30 using Constable Ruskal of hommel from last  encounter season found on page 19. I told the party that Horan was a little bit wosrt for wear from dealing with the trouble in Neverwinter that night. I made him Blodied or under bloodied less then 30 HP. He was hit by the Blue Devil with a Crit with Ice Prison doing 30 HP of damage and he was uncon & dying inbetween the 2 Dom. Ruff's.

I am now looking over the rest oft eh season to see how to work it with a live Horan.

~Rob H.

You know, it's funny how differently people react to characters. Some people love Horan, some people hate him. It's the same in novels, TV shows, etc. Sometimes the character is important, or the character might just be a totally random minor character. Doesn't matter--people love what they're gonna love.

*I* love it when people ask me why I did something in a story. So here's me explaining:

Why did Captian Horan had to die?

I did kill him purposefully, indeed. And here's why:

1) Occasionally people die. It beggars belief that you have this action-packed fantasy setting where good people never suffer and die. If it was between killing this minor character or killing a PC, who would you pick?

2) Death needs to be a real, tragic thing. I killed Horan for the same reason Joss Whedon killed ___ whoops, SPOILER ALERT (though I wasn't cruel enough to make everyone love him first): because the heroes need to know their allies, friends, and loved ones can die. If no one they care about ever dies in a game, the PCs start to think they're invincible.

3) It's shocking. No one expects that. It just happens. And that's what death is like.

4) It sets a tone for that encounter and the rest of the campaign. Now the PCs know who and what their enemy is: a vicious killer. Now they are fighting to avenge their fallen friend. And when they finally get their hands on the monster responsible for killing their friend, how much more cathartic is the experience of finally defeating him?

5) Tragedy is a powerful story device. Why can we name more of Shakespeare's tragedies than his comedies? Why can I say the words "Oedipus Rex" and you know what I'm talking about, but I can't say Aristophanes without drawing a blank look? Why is the end of Game of Thrones so powerful, and we're hooked on the story like we're riding a bus that can't be slowed down and is careening toward certain doom?

Ask yourself: Is your game a drama or a comedy?

6) Finally, statistically, PCs hate NPCs. They're annoying, mouthy, and they keep giving out nonsense quests that get in the way of the story. At best, they completely forget about the NPC and move on with their own story. And this makes him memorable and significant, rather than letting him peeter out and become "oh, y'know, what's his name?" So in that sense, I killed Horan to honor him.

Can the encounter go on with the party saving him?

Sure, why not? If you don't find any of the previous points compelling, or your players really need him to be alive, then by all means, keep him alive.

What level was he?

Well, since he exists entirely for plot reasons, I never actually crafted stats for him. Your suggestions sound quite reasonable.

I am now looking over the rest oft eh season to see how to work it with a live Horan.

Well, if your PCs like him (as they seem to), I'm going to go ahead and suggest one or more of the following concepts:

1) He delivers them the message about Helm's Hold needing help for session 5.

2) He gets sent to Helm's Hold for "treatment," only to be re-encountered as one of the prisoners.

3) At the beginning of session 5, he has been dispatched to Helm's Hold but no word has come back from him. He might be dead, he might be enslaved, or he might be a prisoner.

Cheers

I like your #2 Concept for "Mostly dead/Slightly alive" Horan.
In the NW theme book it states that victims of the Blue Devil suffer from chills for the rest of their lives. 
They send off Horan to Helm's Hold for "treatment".
I like that.

Ask yourself: Is your game a drama or a comedy?

Music playing "Comedy Tonight..... Tragedy Tomorrow!"

If you know where the phrase: "Mostly dead is slightly alive" is from then you are remembering a Great Comedy & Love Story.

My games are very comedy and fun.

The Beached Lev. serve the best meat pies in Neverwinter! "Not like that Mrs. Mooney. She uses cat."
The zany cook (think Swedish Chief from the Muppets) served the Clerics and Paladins some. "It's priest. Have a little priest...always leaves you wantin' more! Trouble is, we only get it on Sundays."

Also they sell their house special, BL's famous cheese plate. 7 different kind of cheese that you can throw at Black Lake muggers, who are most likely Dead Rat Gang.
I have 1 player who stock up on the cheese and has it recorded in his supplies on his PC sheet! 
I wonder if he might be using that cheese very soon..... (Darling, no spoilers.)

~RH

Then it sounds like you're making the right choice for your table.


As a DM, that is your prerogative. Indeed, you HAVE TO adapt the material to suit your table. Otherwise, fun is diminished, and the point is to have fun.


I really don't get why DMs sometimes complain that something happens they don't like. If that's the case, just ignore it or make something else happen. As long as the story you're telling holds together and provides the right level of fun and engagement for your players, do whatever feels right to do.


It's your game. It's your Realms.


Feel the power!


Cheers

Erik,

I have some quick questions for Session 4 for the Roleplaying/Skill Check:
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What does the girl mean by "I think they meant to kill someone at the docks, but you did their work for 'em." Also is she a Were yet or still human? 


I have some quick questions for Session 4 for the Combat/Encounter:
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What are the tactics for the Ashmadai Thugs? The same as the Branded Zealots? Should we try to use the same kind of tactics that they used before in the 1st half of the chapter?
Re: Darla:
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What does the girl mean by "I think they meant to kill someone at the docks, but you did their work for 'em." Also is she a Were yet or still human? 

I can't answer this definitively, since I didn't create Darla--she was added in development, and I only know as much as you do about her. That said:

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My best guess regarding this particular passage is that she's trying to be cryptic to get the PCs curious about whether someone is manipulating them. I don't think the Ashmadai actually intended to kill anyone that the PCs have killed in the previous encounters, but that doesn't mean the PCs won't start wondering if maybe they *did* do so. Enemies may be nameless, but any one of those cultists might have been a traitor to the Ashmadai or a spy or just incompetent. I think Darla is totally making this up, but it's the sort of thing that might get the PCs interested. And it's a neat little side piece to tie everything together.


Re: Tactics:
I have some quick questions for Session 4 for the Combat/Encounter:
Show
What are the tactics for the Ashmadai Thugs? The same as the Branded Zealots? Should we try to use the same kind of tactics that they used before in the 1st half of the chapter?

Yeah, not entirely sure why there's no tactics entry for them. The thugs here are basically just extra muscle. They attack whoever hits them, whoever looks weak that they can realistically get to without exposing themselves to too much danger, or the nearest character. They try to team up on enemies, which aids with their thug tactics ability.

The enemies aren't accustomed to this environment, so if there are terrain effects, they're likely to be taken by surprise, at least the first time they go off.

Cheers
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