Questions about the Encounters Sessions (DM only)

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Ok, my game store is really late in the game.  I just got the module and will be doing Session 0 with my players this Wednesday.  After going through the module, I have found a few things that I don't quite get.

First, in the session 1 encounter Gate Crashers, why do the townsfolk want the players to close the portcullis?  It's not like any more Xivorts show up.

Also, the Xivort Darter's power Dream Venom Dart has the poison keyword, but it doesn't say it doesn poison damage.  (It's the same in the MM3).  I'm guessing that's something that was just missed.

Second, how exactly could Soryth use the power of the island to exact her revenge?  The power of the island is self enclosed, so wouldn't it be only useful there?

Third, in the session 13 encounter, Soryth Returns, under the tactics section, it states that Soryth has an aura benefitting her allies, yet in her stat block there is no aura.  Was that meant to be that way?

I'm sure I'll have more questions as I go through the module more carefully, but that's what has stood out to me so far.  Thanks for any help I can be given.
1a.  The townsfolk don't know more Xivorts won't show up.  They're taking precautions.

1b.  In this case I believe the damage is from the physical dart.  If you compare it to the Dart attack they do the same.  The "poison" in the attack dazes the target.  So a Dwarf gets it's +5 racial bonus for the saving throw because the attack has the poison keyword.

2.  From what I understand the island is in the Feywild.  The Archfey created storms around the island to hinder access.  So maybe once Soryth has control over the island's magic she can stop the storms and begin her revenge.

3.  I'm not sure.  Could be the aura was accidently left out or maybe the wording is wrong.  A power was left out of the stat block in Encounter 8 that is mentioned in the tactics section.


Is your group planning on doubling up sessions to get on schedule?

@feetz_grande on Twitter

Thanks for your insights Feetz.  I don't plan on doubling up encounter's sessions because: this is my first time DMing and I don't have more than 2 hours to play.
Second, how exactly could Soryth use the power of the island to exact her revenge?  The power of the island is self enclosed, so wouldn't it be only useful there?



Designer note:

In the initial draft I wrote, she wants control over the Fountain All Heal, which is said to cure all ills and grant wishes to the person who commands it. If the witch gains access to a magical wish-granting fountain, the sky's the limit as far as what lengths she can go to in order to further her revenge. I imagine her motive is similar in the print version, but I don't have it with me at the moment to double check.
Thanks for your input, Steve.  I did read what you had written in the Session 6 Notes.  I may incorporate some of those ideas when I begin running the game.

According to the module though, the Fountail All Heal grants wishes but binds someone to the island.  So that doesn't help, unless we want to say the hag can break that part of the deal as Uma does for the PCs at the end of the adventure.  It's just a bit convoluted for me.
Indeed!

I think the best course is to use your own best judgment in this case, especially in places where ideas seem to clash.  Your own version of Beyond the Crystal Cave will likely be better for the players than any other, even if it requires a few story tweaks here and there. 

Though I tend to be a homebrew guy, several years ago I ran The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde in an attempt to "run 3.5 exactly by the book." The highlights of that adventure ended up being the ones where we went "off book" and started playing around with the setting (which the adventure did encourage). Although Encounters is a vastly different animal, I'm impressed with the level of creativity I've seen on these boards so far--especially the DMs who have let their players try anything during a given session. If you have a tweak to the Encounter or background story of the adventure that will make you and your group happy, by all means go for it. And then post here to tell us how awesomely you succeeded. Wink
Thanks for the input, Steve.  This has given me an idea of how I want things to be explained in the first place.  I'll post my ideas when I have them solidified.
Steve -

I am a very big fan of "let the players try anything".  Gaming should be about the players, not the module, or even the ruleset.
Totally!
I played an organized play event last year where all of us felt chained to the plot-as-written. We didn't understand why the advenutre worked the way it did or what we were doing in it. So we tried to change the way things were going, and what was designed as a standard encounter where we were supposed to fight a bunch of monsters (we didn't want to fight anyway) ended up as an improvised, adrenaline-infused heist where we split the party and changed our circumstances in a meaningful way. All of this was to the credit of a flexible DM who accommodated us in our madness and seamlessly tied our choice into the rest of the adventure. Before that encounter, we were all pretty low energy, people were playing with their cell phones, etc. But once we felt like we had control of our circumstances, everyone sat up in their seats and leaned forward at the table. We had no idea what was going to happen next. That was one excellent DM. I remember thanking/congratulating him profusely. 
Ok, ran my first session.  It went alright, but my players enjoyed it (they are quite forgiving, given that I am new at this).  After the time I spent preparing, I found I still didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted to.  Of course I have modified the story to fit the player characters.  I only have 3 players, but that seems to be fine.  I have fit their characters into the module to give them skin in the game.  I may have time in the future of what changes I made, but I'm still in the process of things.  We only made it through the battle when it was time for things to end.

Kalbon is going to have a bigger role in my version of the story.  I don't understand his existence in the adventure other than for the 2nd to last battle.  Seems kind of more like a random encounter for the most part.

Looking forward to next week, but a bit stressed as well.  I think the mist was a cool concept, but for my first time DMing, it was an extra element that was difficult for me to keep track of... (though, if I had more prep time...)

I think I could have used a week after character creation as more time for me to prepare.  I guess my presentation isn't going to be the typical encounters style.  There will be a bit more role playing and not just battling.