Age of Worms General

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I'm thinking about running Age of Worms for my group, and I've tracked down PDFs of each of the adventures (beginning with Whispering Cairn), the Campaign Overload from Paizo, and the Backdrop: Diamond City. As if all that wasn't enough, I'm actually really hoping that someone here knows of a Player Packet or something that I can give them instead of me having to explain the whole backstory of Diamond City etc etc. I've started typing out a history thing for it, I'm just wondering if anybody knows of any alternatives.

So, aside from  that, any experiences with Whispering Cairn and Age of Worms? Advice? Did you take any deviations from the story? How should I address the plethora of NPCs?

I'm super excited for this.
Thanks in advance. 
Currently DMing a 3.5e AoW game one night a week. Players are almost through Three Faces of Evil. If you are considering beginning this campaign using this edition, I can help.
I grab modules from the internet for my use all the time.  I am also known for rewriting them (sometimes even scanning the maps into my computer and redoing them).  Part of the rewriting is necessary to adapt the game into my system of play (I once had amazing success with some non-dice RPG scenarios, and even got compliments from modules from the Hercules and Zena RPG that use strange dice), and part is necessary just to fit the module into my campaign.  Using something as it is thus almost never happens, and would often be silly.

Paizo runs such a munchkin'd system (in my opinion) that their modules often have to be completely rewritten by me, but I have bought and used some just because they can get creative and bizarre <*cough* *cough* WotC *cough*).  What I usually need is inspiration, and I appreciate it from wherever it comes.  I have not done Whispering Cairn or Age of Worms, so cannot provide advice.  However, if the scenario pleases you, do what you feel necessary to make it fit.
 

I’m just about to wrap up a six-year campaign that had the Age of Worms at its core.  Adapting and changing the modules was so much fun.  What a marvelous canvas to build upon.  The group named themselves the Diamond Hawks, and the campaign was set in Faerun along the Sword Coast near Waterdeep. 


I added the following modules to my Age of Worms campaign:


-Dymrak Dread: I ran this first, before "The Whispering Cairn." It was the Diamond Hawks' first official "adventure" as a group.


-Sons of Gruumsh: I ran this after "Encounter at Blackwall Keep." Some Blackwall Keep prisoners were handed off to orcs in exchange for food, weapons, poisons, etc. PCs tracked this, met up with soldiers from Daggerford, organized a raid on the stronghold, and attacked. In the victorious aftermath, the heroes were attacked by Illthane the Black.


-"The Menagerie" from Dungeon #126: On the very day that the Diamond Hawks first entered Waterdeep, I threw this module at them.


-“Blood of Malar" from Dungeon #126: I started the “Vampires of Waterdeep” adventure path prior to Hawks’ participation in the Champion's Belt games.


-Dragons of Despair (DL1): I dusted off this classic Dragonlance module to act as Illthane's lair.  This module replaced “A Gathering of Winds,” which I did not use (though I didn’t ignore the module… Allustan went back into the Whispering Cairn himself).


-"City of Broken Idols" from Dungeon #145: I thought "Spire of Long Shadows" could use something extra, so I put Kuluth-Mar in the middle of Taboo Island, which was set in Lake Luo in Faerun's Chult jungle.


-"Dungeon of the Crypt" from Dungeon #127: The “Vampires of Waterdeep” adventure path resumed as soon as the Hawks came back from Chult.


-"The Fireplace Level" from Dungeon #128: The adventure path ended with the Hawks either destroying or driving off the vampires of Waterdeep.


-Ruins of Undermountain box: The Hawks entered Undermountain on a number of occasions.  The first was after their victories at the Champion’s Belt games.  Durnan of the Yawning Portal joined them on a brief romp through level 1.  Then the Hawks wound up in level 3 after triggering a teleport trap in the Fireplace Level.  Their last time in Undermountain took them to Vanrakdoom (see below).


-Expedition to Castle Ravenloft: I merged this with “Prince of Redhand” and heavily augmented both modules.  In short, the Hawks followed vampires who fled Waterdeep into the Savage Frontier, which also took them to Lashonna. 


-Vanrakdoom (Champions of Ruin Web Enhancement): Due to the Hawks’ “meddling” in Undermountain, Halaster decided to employ them in the “relocation” of Vanrakdoom’s inhabitants. The Hawks had no choice but to agree, as Halaster deposited them into Vanrakdoom with hardly a warning.


-“The Storm Lord’s Keep” from Dungeon #93: The Storm Lord was angry about the Diamond Hawks’ unprovoked attack upon The Citadel of Weeping Dragons (from Kings of the Rift), but he really wanted pieces 4 and 5 of the Rod of Seven Parts (which the Hawks had found by this time). The Storm Lord was in possession of pieces 1, 2, and 3, fused into the hilt of his sword, and it drew him to the Hawks’ castle.


-“The Dragon Peak of Palanthus” from World of Krynn: This served as Brazzemal’s lair, found amongst the Dragon Aeries at Wormcrawl Fissure.


-A Paladin in Hell: The Hawks went on an insane mission to save the souls stolen by Lashonna and her cohorts during the course of the campaign.  They escaped the Hells with their mission incomplete but with their own souls intact.


I've also used some of the other resources in Dungeon. For example, I used the "Sewer Stronghold Map" at the back of #128 as a Shadow Thieves hideout beneath the streets of Waterdeep. I used Girddrez, the "Critical Threat" article also from #128, as a unique foe/NPC, a higher-up in the ranks of the Blue Elk Tribe in Waterdeep's Dock Ward. I also used The Marshal from #133 as a reoccurring NPC. For one last example, I used the "To the Games" article at the back of issue #132 to spice up the "Champion's Belt" experience


 

SPOILERS BELOW:

A great resource for running the Age of Worms is the Paizo forum.  Search by the name of each module and you can find all kinds of advice.  

My experience:

Whispering Cairn works great by itself, though the swarms are deadly if the players are inexperienced.  I suggest spending time in town, as it is a great resource with a lot of depth.  Instead of just telling the PCs that they are at the mouth of the dungeon, play out the arrival of Auric and company as bigger adventurers.  Let them experience the arrogance first hand.  Definitely apprentice a player to Allustan if you can.  

Three Faces of Evil needs some work.  Its three dungeon crawls in one dungeon, and really should be split up.  The Hextor area is super lethal against players who dont like to think.  Awesome villains though, who should be given every chance to escape.  

Encounter at Blackwall Keep: The module expresses that the amount of lizardfolk at the keep is too great for the PCs to tackle head-on.  This is incorrect.  The lizardfolk have very little chance of hitting the PCs, so its a sort of a cake-walk, but after TFoE, it made a nice change for the PCs to smack some heads around.  I had a different twist on Marzena which I think worked much better than as written - she hadnt been kidnapped, but she was infected with a slow worm from her visiting with the lizard folk shaman.  THe PCs were tasked with rescuing kidnapped soldiers.  By the time they had returned, Marzena had succumbed to the worm and transformed, attacking soldiers.  (There was no spawn in the cellar before this).  On the advice of the Paizo board, I ran a fight between Marzena-spawn and four soldiers, with the PCs playing the soldiers.  The players had a lot of fun being scared and it had a real 'zombie-movie' feel.  Plus it made them fear the spawn, so when the PCs arrive at the tower, they are afraid to go into the cellar.

Hall of Harsh Reflections:  Use the dopplegangers as much as possible.  The paranoia was great.  The octopus is deadly.  Zyrxog's mind blast is wrong as written. The CD should be 20, not 23.  His SR is correct, as is his CR.  

That's as far as we got. Good luck!

 

My Homebrew Website: www.freewebs.com/thyatia/

"It was a great tactic, and our GM applauded us. Sadly the Werewolf burst free in only two rounds, and killed everyone but the Sorceress who teleported away with only one arm." - Tetsuoh

"Having absolutely no ranks in any knowledges, my beloved Ric Flair based monk/rogue took off running immediately and attempted suicide by jumping off the bridge we were fighting on." - spitewrathhatred

"He asked me how old my character was (I said 82), and then rolled what his maximum age was. Because the number he rolled was less than what I had said, he informed me that my Bard was dead, and that I needed to make a new character." - King_of_the_Pudding

First off, thanks for the replies! Crust, I can tell you incorporated a lot more than I'm planning to, as our campaign is likely going to be pretty much by the books. Thanks a ton though, great checklist.
Whispering Cairn works great by itself, though the swarms are deadly if the players are inexperienced.  I suggest spending time in town, as it is a great resource with a lot of depth.  Instead of just telling the PCs that they are at the mouth of the dungeon, play out the arrival of Auric and company as bigger adventurers.  Let them experience the arrogance first hand.  Definitely apprentice a player to Allustan if you can.  


Way ahead of you. My players wanted me to make the backstories for them, giving them a six month period of time to experience Diamond Lake in all it's filthy glory. One of my players will indeed be Allustan's apprentice, and the adventure will begin in the Feral Dog when all the adventurers meet together for the first time, and hear Auric boasting in the background. I'm glad you and I are on the same page: makes me feel accomplished!
...the Hextor area is super lethal against players who dont like to think.  Awesome villains though, who should be given every chance to escape. 


I sense extrememly frustrated players in the future... thanks for the heads up.
After doing some reading I realised that the Diamond Lake Backdrop pdf I have is actually missing pages 58-60 for some reason. Random request I know, but if anybody could shoot me a couple screenshots of those pages in the off chance somebody has a copy I'd be eternally grateful.

Phrennzy, or anybody else who ran Whispering Caves, how did your players/group do with all the factions in Diamond Lake? There's so many different motives and possible interactions it would be a shame to not use it. Share some experiences. 
Currently DMing a 3.5e AoW game one night a week. Players are almost through Three Faces of Evil. If you are considering beginning this campaign using this edition, I can help.
I would suggest that any cleric is a cleric of Heironeous.  That blends nicely.  Our cleric chose Pelor, but he's a violent half orc, so he is buddy buddy with the more militant Heironeons.  The party was helped early on by Childramun, the old Heironeon priest.  I made him the potion/scroll maker, and the party dealt with him.  Unfortunately, the PC cleric made a comment of something odd going on at the Dourstone Mine, and that maybe Childramun should check it out.  Since the old priest made regular trips there to aid the sick, he went, and was captured by Grimlocks, who ate his leg.  The PC cleric, upon learning of the disappearance of the old priest, had tremendous guilt, and rushed everyone to save him.  

I would also suggest introducing Kullen's gang early.  They are a mean bunch.  When our group tangled with them in the saloon there was a fatality, as the thug-mage was knocked into the dog pit and torn asunder!

Oh, I just remembered - the zombies in Filge's lab are really tough.  (especially if your priest has a Cha score of 9).  


I had a great deal of fun with the shopkeepers and doing voices.  Tidwoads was awesome, as he rants about the PCs ripping him off, while Ebberly wanted to be everyone's friend.  He sold the Vandak's Claw to the PC cleric, who was excited that it was forged in demon blood.  Its not magical, but he doesnt' know that.  I'm planning on having it serve as a map (etched in the crystal on the pommel) for another adventure.  Mabye the Tomb of Horrors...

Big tip:  Don't say Age of Worms.  And definitiely do not refer to the spawn of Kyuss as the spawn of Kyuss.  Let the suspense build.  

I really urge you to check out the Paizo boards, as there are pages and pages of old threads filled with tricks and help.  

My Homebrew Website: www.freewebs.com/thyatia/

"It was a great tactic, and our GM applauded us. Sadly the Werewolf burst free in only two rounds, and killed everyone but the Sorceress who teleported away with only one arm." - Tetsuoh

"Having absolutely no ranks in any knowledges, my beloved Ric Flair based monk/rogue took off running immediately and attempted suicide by jumping off the bridge we were fighting on." - spitewrathhatred

"He asked me how old my character was (I said 82), and then rolled what his maximum age was. Because the number he rolled was less than what I had said, he informed me that my Bard was dead, and that I needed to make a new character." - King_of_the_Pudding

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