Session 12

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
It seems like this module has had more than its share of badly written or problematic encounters. The map for session 9 was very difficult to interpret per the encounter write-up. Session 10 required a complete rewrite. Session 11 was clearly written with the assumption that the party would move in and engage the drow in melee, yet the terrain actively encouraged the party to simply stay back and use ranged attacks. Thus, rendering anything but the minions largely ineffectual.

And now there's session 12.

Show
It's clear from the introductory text that the party enters from the northwest corner and peers around the corner to the south, where they see a drow driving a svirfneblin slave onward. It then says, "As the svirfneblin is sent down the corridor, the drow retreats the way he came." The only exit out of this area is right past where the party is standing. Yet somehow he doesn't notice the party (because he's not included in the encounter at all) and they apparently don't bother to take out the lone drow in the area as he moves past them. I know that Wizards make these maps from digital versions of the dungeon tiles, but is it too much to ask that the maps make sense and match up with the encounter text?

Then there's the issue of the Pendant of Ashaba (or as Mortaine is fond of calling it, the Maguffin). I get that the drow broke it into two pieces. But considering that Valan wants the pendant, because he plans to draw it's power out of it, why is one half of it hanging on the belt of one of the torturers in the last session and the other half inside the web golem in this session? What possible use does the torturer have for it and who thought giving half to her (especially since it's possible for the torturer to get sucked down to the abyss with the demon thus removing any chance for the party to recover it or Valan to finish his plan) and stuffing the other half inside the web golem (which is just a guardian for the area) was a better idea that delivering both halves to Valan? This is just plain stupid! 

Lastly, and thi is fairly minor compared to the above problems, there's the campfire in the southwsest chamber. Under illumination in the Features of the Area it states that the area is filled with bright light from this campfire. How exactly does a campfire that far away, fill the entire area, around a corner no less, with bright light? It even states that a creature that starts its turn in this fire takes 5 fire damage. There's absolutely no chance that any of the combat is going to take place in that area.


The drow are a great enemy and they deserve better than this. 
- Rico
Show

Since both of the torturers *and* one of the party members at my table was sucked into the Abyss, and having a double-Maguffin makes my heart hurt, I think I'm going to have this encounter take place in an Abyssal pocket, in which the web golem has eaten the torturer and has the pendant, and the party has to get it back.

Why would they bother doing that? Well, this week marks the return of the party members allied with Team Drow (the players are back from vacation). Naturally, Valan is pissed that the Maguffin is now in the wrong dimension. Go get it and prove you are worthy to stand among my people when we claim our rightful place in Shadowdale!

This has the added benefit of possibly bringing back the only guy working for Team Good Guy. Khara can rejoin the party in the final session, or she can be in the Abyss, about to be eaten by a spider or something.
It seems like this module has had more than its share of badly written or problematic encounters. The map for session 9 was very difficult to interpret per the encounter write-up. Session 10 required a complete rewrite. Session 11 was clearly written with the assumption that the party would move in and engage the drow in melee, yet the terrain actively encouraged the party to simply stay back and use ranged attacks. Thus, rendering anything but the minions largely ineffectual.

And now there's session 12.

Show
It's clear from the introductory text that the party enters from the northwest corner and peers around the corner to the south, where they see a drow driving a svirfneblin slave onward. It then says, "As the svirfneblin is sent down the corridor, the drow retreats the way he came." The only exit out of this area is right past where the party is standing. Yet somehow he doesn't notice the party (because he's not included in the encounter at all) and they apparently don't bother to take out the lone drow in the area as he moves past them. I know that Wizards make these maps from digital versions of the dungeon tiles, but is it too much to ask that the maps make sense and match up with the encounter text?

Then there's the issue of the Pendant of Ashaba (or as Mortaine is fond of calling it, the Maguffin). I get that the drow broke it into two pieces. But considering that Valan wants the pendant, because he plans to draw it's power out of it, why is one half of it hanging on the belt of one of the torturers in the last session and the other half inside the web golem in this session? What possible use does the torturer have for it and who thought giving half to her (especially since it's possible for the torturer to get sucked down to the abyss with the demon thus removing any chance for the party to recover it or Valan to finish his plan) and stuffing the other half inside the web golem (which is just a guardian for the area) was a better idea that delivering both halves to Valan? This is just plain stupid! 

Lastly, and thi is fairly minor compared to the above problems, there's the campfire in the southwsest chamber. Under illumination in the Features of the Area it states that the area is filled with bright light from this campfire. How exactly does a campfire that far away, fill the entire area, around a corner no less, with bright light? It even states that a creature that starts its turn in this fire takes 5 fire damage. There's absolutely no chance that any of the combat is going to take place in that area.


The drow are a great enemy and they deserve better than this. 

At least in previous modules, we had the original author to ask questions like this.  It usually ended up being something written intelligently, that had to be altered before production.

This season, we're all on our own, so it's MakeStuffUp time.

Show

"We broke the Pendant so we can put it back together again!"
Apparently Logan Bonner, author of this season's adventure, joined Piazo as a Developer. That likely explains his absence from the forums and why we've had to take things into our own hands this season.

www.enworld.org/forum/pathfinder-rpg-dis...

Visit Dungeon's Master.com – The D&D Resource Blog For DMs and Players.
http://dungeonsmaster.com
Follow me on Twitter @ameron_dm

I've been filling in for the regular DM who usually takes care of the "kids" table. This is a table of mostly kids 10 and under, and maybe a teen or two occasionally. Of course the two sessions I take over are the stalactite session and the "get through the maze by taking spider damage" session.

For the stalactite session, I didn't know I was DM'ing that day so I hadn't read the encounter very thoroughly. I misinterpreted the column on the top level as a hole (because I was trying to figure out how the party could see the drow templar on the middle level). One of the kids had his assassin jump down the rabbit hole and the encounter ended up being one of the most fun I have run so far.

Cue terribly written encounter about mazes, unavoidable spider damage, and drow patrols that attacked the party and then disappeared. I ended up skipping most of what the encounter said about rolling for encountering patrols and doing spider damage for each "step", instead opting to have the spiders deal damage only when the kids spent too long arguing about what to do. It made more sense to me, and I think it imparted more of a sense of urgency to an otherwise bland non-skill check, non-fighting whatever-this-nonsense-was-supposed-to-be. The kids found Tharinel and then proceeded to have an argument over killing or saving him (2 for killing, 2 for saving, 1 never made up his mind). I broke up the argument by having the patrol show up ("you were arguing too loudly and for too long") and Tharinel managed to limp to safety.

And now everything I've read about the Drow Torturer encounter here is making my head hurt trying to figure out how to make it work better.
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
Dardor,

Does your store play with the Renown program and fortune cards?

At our shop, we have enough under-15's that we added a renown category called "Moment of Mercy." It works like Moment of Greatness, but only the DM can award it, you can only get it if you are under 15 years old, and you only get it if you do something merciful or heroic, like saving an innocent person or protecting the weak. Especially if doing so means you have to give up an action or take a penalty to do so.

Moment of Mercy solves questions like the one about Tharinel pretty easily, because the kids know that they'll be rewarded in the real world for choosing a heroic outcome. 

You might bring it to your coordinator and ask if you can implement it at the kids table, if you're going to be running them on a regular basis. 
Unfortunately we don't actually do renown tracking anymore. Our store has been regularly getting 24 or so participants per week, so we just have a big party at the last session where swag is handed out.  I have been trying to do as much "bad in-game decisions lead to bad things for your characters" as I can though.

For example, in those previous sessions, both times the assassin rushed off into battle without really thinking (no stealth, even...), so I just basically finished off his character (unconscious, not dead). Since none of them play as a healer, he ends up sitting the rest of the encounter on the sidelines wishing that he hadn't made a mess of things. At the end of the encounter I point out what he could have done instead of just thinking that a high-damage Striker can finish off the opposition without backup.

I do have hope for them though. There is a decent amount of constructive creative thinking that the occasional terrible idea thrown in isn't so hard to take.
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.
 
At least in previous modules, we had the original author to ask questions like this.  It usually ended up being something written intelligently, that had to be altered before production.

This season, we're all on our own, so it's MakeStuffUp time.


Yeah. But if I wanted to write my own adventure I would do that rather than run Encounters. The original idea behind Encounters was not just that it was to introduce players to D&D. It was also supposed to be possible for inexperienced DMs to sit down at the table and run the adventure with a quick read through. No chance.

- Rico
Apparently Logan Bonner, author of this season's adventure, joined Piazo as a Developer. That likely explains his absence from the forums and why we've had to take things into our own hands this season.

www.enworld.org/forum/pathfinder-rpg-dis...


But if he's a freelance writer, even if he's working for Paizo, I don't see why he couldn't contribute here. He still wrote the damned thing, and it would help to be able to ask him questions.
- Rico
The more I look at this encounter, the less I like it.
Show
A) The svirfneblin have mapped out escape tunnels. B) There are no drow guarding the svirfneblin. C) The only thing guarding them is a creature that is vulnerable to fire, and they have a campfire.

Why are they still there? They would have escaped a long time ago and gone back home.


- Rico
It's like the Stanford prison experiment. People who have been enslaved/imprisoned often feel that it is their role to continue in that state.

Show
Also, about the map, in Escaping Zazifeirryn it notes that if the adventurers only have the map, it's actually not as accurate as it would seem. The only reason the adventurers make it out ok with a svirfneblin guide is because, quoted from the Compendium/Dungeon Survival Handbook, as a svirfneblin, "you know the depths better than anyone. You know your way around the Underdark. [...] Even if you don’t know the exact path, you know the ever-changing landscape of the Underdark. It is a living entity to you, and you understand how it lives, breathes, and operates."
Wizard's first rule: People are stupid.