Magic Items Should be Magical

Once again, Creighton Broadhurst has made a post that has touched on one of my complaints with some Role Playing Games.  Magic Items aren’t magical anymore.  This is one of my many complaints about 3E and 4E D&D (see paragraphs 4 and 5).  Magic items in these games become tools, like those that one may purchase at a hardware store or thrift shop.  Magic items become less magic al because there is nothing “magical” about them.

When all magical items can be codified and cataloged and any relatively aware person can look at a magic item and know its workings, then such things become no different than the often glossed over pitons and rope at the bottom of an adventurers backpack.  Magic items should have an air of mystery about them, a mystique that make even hardened adventurers and their players just a tad wary of them.

Way back in the days of 1E, I often played fast and loose with magic items.  You probably didn’t find much more than potions before you reached 4th level, but after that, watch out!  I loved weird magic; things that the Players wouldn’t expect.  Instead of dropping a ring of invisibility into a game, I’d drop a cap of invisibility or a sword of invisibility.  My players might find a ring of fireballs, instead of a wand of fireballs.  One of my favorite magic items was the lightning stone.  It was an electric blue crystal that would build up and discharge a blast of lightning ever 500 turns (a turn was time unit equal to 10 minutes in those days).  It could be discharged early, by throwing it against a hard surface, resetting the build up time.  If my Players went several days in game time without discharging the lightning stone, I would start counting down from some random number under 20.  They would panic and start shouting at the Player whose character was carrying the stone, “Throw it!  Throw it!”  Magic Swords, I loved magic swords with unreasonable powers.  Once I gave a player a sword that could cast a 100 d6 fireball that was a mile in diameter; the catch…ground zero was the sword.  Then there was Narnfriend, a dagger that could be used to cast a power word: Kill spell.  The only problem is that the caster had to make a Saving Throw or die, too.  Magic items were fun in 1E and 2E.

Magic items lost much of their fun after 2E.  In my 3E and 4E games, most magic items were nothing more than stat enhancers.  With Feats and Skills that allowed PCs to craft, modify, or completely remake magic items based on their spell selection, 3E made it very hard to make “magical” magic items.  The rules didn’t even, really, allow a GM to make items that had curses or quirks.  There were exceptions.  Raven Al’Bari, a PC in my Divlos campaign, crafted a series of Rings that had non-standard powers.  I let a Player get a Red Cap’s red cap.  So you know, a Red Cap is a type of murderous fairy; after it kills its chosen victim, the Red Cap soaks its cap in the deceased blood.  In my game, a red cap also granted a special form of invisibility called fairie invisibility, but for the cap to retain its power, it had to be regularly soaked in the blood of the wearer’s victims.  That made for a slightly morbid scene from time to time.  That cap reappeared in my 4E game with an additional power that allowed its wearer to phase thorough material objects.  It could be done, but the rules didn’t encourage it.

My 5E games are proving more “magical” than my previous games.  The characters in my Zentlan campaign have reasons to slay the fey lord Doresh, Lord of the Fading Dream, but to do so, they need a special sword.  The crippled storm giant Gormagon forged them a sword that can damage Doresh, whether he is in Dream or in Reality.  Last game, the aquagith swordsmith, Ja’Ruhl tempered the blade so that it is silvered and does psionic, as well as, slashing damage.  The characters will need to continue to seek out famous smiths and get them to enhance the weapon until it is truly a blade worthy of fighting a Lord of the Fae.  I, also, dropped a load of items of adaption on them, but what they are going to do with those rings, torcs, and bracelets, I’m not sure.  In my Bazarene Circuit game, my Players have found a slew of elemental crystals.  They are not magical in themselves, beyond their soft glowing, but they are useful ingredients in various magical spells and items.  They have also found two Masks of the Smoke Dragon; they may need to be wary of them.

A Mask of the Smoke Dragon grants its wearer darkvision and makes him or her immune to the effects of smoke and other airborne contaminants.  It’s not too powerful of an item for a 2nd level character.  It will let a PC move through a darkened room filled with poisonous gas without any inconvenience.  End of story, right?  I have a few questions for you all, Dear Readers.  1) Who made the masks?  2) Why were the masks made?  3) What is the Smoke Dragon?  4) Is the Smoke Dragon a real entity or a magical effect?  5) What were/are the aims of the Smoke Dragon and/or its creators?  6) Are there additional enchantments on the masks that the PCs do not know about?

Until next time, Game On!

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C is for Coin

Adventures rush to loot the dragon’s bed, after the dragon is dead.  Heroes, they may be, but they all run toward the demon cult’s treasury.  Before they save the princess from her fate, they must, the fee, negotiate.  Why, because money is the grease that lubricates the gears of a civilization and it is part of the Players’ reward for their PCs succeeding. (2015.04.16) (2015.05.28)

In many ways, gold (also called gold pieces, g.p., GP, or gp) is simply a score card for D&D.  The more money the PCs have, the more “magic stuff” (magic armor, enchanted weapons, raise dead spells) they can afford.  David Noonan, in a D&D Insider podcast, once said that there was no real economy in a Dungeons and Dragons Game.  The silver pieces given to the NPC baker for a loaf of journey bread are not then given to the NPC miller, so that the NPC baker can get more flour.  This is true in any Player/GM encounter.  Coin only appears in a game when the PCs have it.  (I do not count treasure listed in monster/NPC write-ups to be “in play,” since their only purpose to tell the GM what to give the PCs, if they “win.”)  It is a counter and nothing more, but it doesn’t have to be... (2015.04.16) (2015.05.28)

Each version of D&D has had a monetary system that consisted of coins of various metals and denominations.  Each version of D&D has used the gold piece (gp) as the standard unit of measure for wealth, but the rates of exchange between coins have changed.  In 1E, there was the copper piece (c.p.) which was valued at 1/10 of a silver piece (s.p.) which was equal to 1/10 of an electrum piece (e.p.), which had a value of ½ of a gold piece (g.p.), which carried a value of 1/5 of a platinum piece (p.p.).  Thus (to lift the example from page 35 of the first edition of the Players Handbook):  “200 c.p. = 20 s.p. = 2 e.p. = 1 g.p. = 1/5 p.p.”  In 2E, the ratios between the coins remained the same, but the abbreviations for the coins changed to CP, SP, EP, GP, and PP.  Money in 3E was simplified.  10 cp was equal to 1 sp, 10 sp equaled 1 gp, and 10 gp was worth 1 pp.  4E numismatistics gave use a new currency: astral diamonds (ad) and changed the conversion ratio between gold and platinum.  1 pp was, then, equal to 100 gp, while an ad was equal to 10,000 gp.  4E, clearly, saw the PCs running around with LOTS spending cash.  5E has also had its hand in fiddling with the value of a gold piece.  Now, 100 cp = 10 sp = ½ ep = 1 gp = 1/10 pp.  Sweet mercy, this is a boring paragraph.

Despite the obvious snooze factor in the previous paragraphs, coinage does not have to be simply a scorecard or boring.  Coins do not appear ex nihilo, they are products of the civilizations and cultures that produce and use them.  They are artifacts that can be used to tell stories of a lost people or give PCs clues to possible dangers in the area where the coins were found.  Differing monetary systems between neighboring nations could offer Players roleplaying opportunities.  I have tried and will try again to put such devices to use in my games.

During my 1E days, Lewis Pulsipher, in Dragon #74, suggested changing from the sometimes arcane D&D gold standard to a decimal-based silver standard that dropped electrum coins and changed the size and weight of coins, so the number of coins went from 10 to pound to about 216+ to a pound.  I changed to a silver standard and decided that there were 100 coins to pound.  Mike Magee (Gareth Eybender’s Player and designer of Elethar) took this idea and created a currency system for the elven kingdom of Elethar.

Base currency: Pyramid (silver piece)

Coinage:  1 argentel Gareth = 10 platinum Castles = 100 gold Crowns = 1000 silver Pyramids = 10000 copper Tenthmids = 100000 steel Centimids (often referred to as “cents”)

 

Eletharian currency is noted throughout Rilmorn for its purity. Counterfeiting is a capital crime in the Kingdom, and Elethar’s Intelligence Service works diligently at home and abroad pursuing those who would forge or debase the kingdom’s currency

Robert Hegwood provided some images of coins used by the Empire of Xshathrapat.  I’m going use some of those images (slightly altered) in my Pellham campaign.  I don’t know if I will attempt a return to the silver standard, since my present players seem fairly attached the standard system, but I am going to start making coins from different countries unique and attempt to use those differences to improve the feel for each region and give more depth to my setting. (2015.04.16)

I am not the only one who works on making their world’s coinage more than a counter on a scorecard.  D. at Fluer de mal has a post about currency on his world here and here and here.

Do any of you, my good readers, make use of coins to spice up your games?

Game On!

So, You’re an Adventurer (or What Makes You so Special?)

A while back, D. over at Fleur du mal linked to Rick Stump’s post Monsters of the Id on his site Don’t Split the Party.  Rick’s post begins with a digression about how many people never read the entirety of the rules set and uses an example of how he guest DMed and brought low a party of 3rd to 5th level PCs with a standard patrol encounter.  This, along with D.’s post on High Men – a subset of humanity in his game world, set me to thinking about how “heroes” became “heroes” in Rhillmoran.

I admit that until I read Rick’s post I had not read all the random encounters section on the 1E DMG and was not aware that 5 in 20 encounters in Inhabited Outdoor Areas were with patrols of fighters or rangers on horseback led by a 6th to 8th level Commander, seconded by a 4th to 5th level Lieutenant, or that these patrols included a 2nd to 3rd level Sergeant, 3 to 4 1st level men-at-arms, and 13 to 24 soldiers (See page 182, Dungeon Masters Guide © 1979).  Also, there will be either a 6th or 7th cleric or a 5th to 8th level magic user with the patrol.  This got me to reexamining other Random Encounter Matrices.  The City/Town Encounters section (pages 190-192, 194) of the DMG showed me that City Guard and City Watch encounters included fighters, clerics, and magic users and that a randomly encountered cleric could be 11th level and have 5 attendant clerics of 4th level with him or her.  Clearly, the PCs weren’t the only members of society to have adventuring classes. (2016.04.29)

In Greyhawk Adventures by James M. Ward © 1988, there is a section on beginning your campaign with 0 (zero) level characters (pages 117-126).  Using this option, nobodies can work their way up to somebodies of importance.  This is, clearly, a take on the idea that it is not one’s social class or bloodline that makes one a hero; it is one’s actions and choices that makes one a hero.  This seems so at odds with 4E and its emphasis on Epic Destinies and minions.  I seem to recall a passage about 4E fighters that said even a veteran of multiple wars would only be a 1st or 2nd level fighter (I can’t find a reference for that passage at this time).  In 1E, adventurers are defined by what they do, not by what they can do.  In 4E, adventurers are defined by what they can do; they are inherently different than the hoi polloi of the rest of creation.  What changed and why and what does it say about how I am going to develop NPCs and societies on Iolta and Thrain? (2016.04.29)

Clearly in 1E, the PCs weren’t the only people with adventuring classes, but they were the main ones going out and “adventuring.”  I don’t really know what was going on in 2E, since I treated everything as if I was still running 1E.  3E made a distinction between PC classes and NPC classes and 4E PCs were a separate breed entirely.  Ever since the implementation of the CR system, there has been a growing distinction between the PCs and everyone else.  I don’t know if that distinction still applies in 5E or not.  I still haven’t picked up the 5E DMG, so I don’t know what it says, but my reading of the DnD Next Playtest rules, the Players Handbook and the Monster Manual, I suspect that the distinction is extremely lessened, if not completely removed.  If that is not the case in D&D Official Settings, it is Rhillmoran.

For many years, I had players that assumed that every orc encounter was with an orc that had class levels.  Why because I believed that if a PC could do, so could an NPC.  The reverse is also true anything an NPC can do, a PC can learn to do, as well.  If the super evil wizard boss can cast 25 hit die fireballs, then the PC wizards who take her down can learn how she could do such magical feats.  If the PCs don’t want to make a pact with Mephistopheles, then they don’t get cast 25 hit die fireballs.

Having adventuring classes among the clearly non-adventuring populace says all sorts of things about how D&D societies work, but I am going to ignore those things for now.  What I want to focus on is why the PCs are adventurers in the first place.  Why do people with very little in common gather together in commando style groups and set out to loot ruins and do daring do?

They’re misfits, also known as Red Nose Reindeer Syndrome.  Adventurers are people who do not fit into the rest of society.  They have something in their personalities that make them outsiders in their own communities and/or even families.

They are laggards, also known as I want to Win the Lottery Syndrome.  The PCs are folks who are looking for the big score.  They will go out of their way and do more work than necessary, just get out of work.  They enter each dungeon with the hope that they will escape with a dragon’s hoard and never have to work again.

They are thrill seekers, also known as Adventurer Syndrome.  Everyday life is boring.  There are only so many cliffs one can use to base jump before base jumping gets stale.  Dungeons provide so many more thrills.  One can face horrible monsters, deadly traps, and grueling self-torture.  It’s awesome!

They are heroes, also known as They are Heroes Syndrome.  The PCs are adventurers because they are the ones who stand up and do when things need doing.  They may clothe it in terms of mercenary greed or proving one’s self or fulfilling destiny, but the PCs go into the dungeons, slay the dragons, and rescue the princes because they are the ones that will do it; they are heroes.  When the call to action has been sounded and others cannot or will not, the PCs rise and do or die trying.  The queen may be a 15th level fighter.  She may stand with her generals and soldiers and defend the city gates, she isn’t an adventurer. She isn’t going to sneak into the orc encampment and assassinate the orc cambion warlord leading the Horde.  The PCs will, because they are heroes.  It is what they do.

Game On!

 

An Epiphany of Time (or Does Gregory Know When the Prophecy Will be Fulfilled?)

On this the Twelfth Day of Christmas, I want to talk about my attempts at cosmology and calendar keeping.  Before I get to that, I would like you, dear reader, to drop over to Falling Toward Mythopoesis and check out Sarah McCabe’s commentary on Christmas and time keeping.

When I started creating Rilmorn, I decided that Rillmorn had two suns, three moons, and twenty-six hour days.  I did this mostly to be difficult, but soon those features of my game.  My Players and I soon began discussing what would the effect of three moons be upon lycanthropes.  I told my players that Rillorrn was at the apex of triangle formed by the two suns and Rillmorrn and that they all orbited around a central point and that led to all sort of questions concerning the three body problem and how the axial tilt of the world affected the apparent positions of the suns based on the seasons.  I gave the three moons orbital cycles of 4, 9, and 38 days and using those numbers, I created a three-year perpetual calendar that covered the times each moon was full.  While my Players and I often forgot what day it was supposed to be in the campaign, I often got to use those 36 pages to set up important ceremonies and planar openings in game based on which moons were full and were they fell in the seasons.  Over time I added a wandering star that appeared ever 26 years, “God’s Eye,” a comet with a 27 year cycle named the “Dragon’s Tear,” and Mondham, a city that appears for a year once every 7 years.  I never successfully added those cosmological events into my calculations.

Given all this information, I should be able to pinpoint the date of Llywelyn’s Return, but after the Cataclysm that precipitated transition from 2E to 3E, the suns named Mercy and Justice were no longer in synchronous orbit with Rillmorn.  With that, I have too many variables to track.  Fortunately, my friend Thom made me a website that can.  Using this calendar and the information that I created to fit the Prophecy, I know that Llywelyn is prophesied to return 1 Aris 2029 Age of Wyrms.  This stuff makes it much easier to work out prophecies and track celebrations and holy days.  Do any of you have similarly complex calendar/cosmologies?

Game On!

The Monster Mash (or Guess what Book Gregory Got for Christmas)

I know I am late to this party, but I just got this great book four days ago.  Now, my first idea was to write up a glowing review of why this is a really strong monster manual, but there are enough of those already out there.  So, I’ve decided to write about monsters that may play a defining role in my Pellham campaign, how the 5E Monster Manual will help or hinder use of those monsters, and My Plan on their use in my games.

Fomorians: In myth and legend Fomorians are among the great foes of the Tuatha de Dannan.  I’ve not used them much at all in my games, because earlier editions of D&D presented them as weak, deformed giants, not as foes worthy of rivalling gods.  This all changed with 4E and at last here were foes worthy of heroes!  Since I am running a Celtic-style game in my Pellham campaign, Fomorians seem like natural choices for opponents.  While I am thrilled that many of monsters in 5E have returned to previous versions of themselves, I am saddened by the Fomorians demotion to lesser giants.  My Plan: Ignore the 5E version of Fomorians and use my 5E conversions of 4E Fomorians.

Hags and Dryads: I’ve used dryads for years as oracles and sharers of knowledge.  Hags have played similar roles in my games, but in more sinister ways and often as villains meant to fought and destroyed.  While hags often come in my games in packs of three, dryads only recently gained that particular feature.  When my wife and I took a trip a few years back, we saw three trees grown together at the edge of a small river.  Looking at those trees I saw a set of dryad sisters and immediately placed them in Rhillmoran.  5E gives me strong descriptions of dryads and hags and cool rules for hag covens.  My Plan: Introduce my PCs to Kirke, Medea, and Trakiya of the Coven Tree, expand on the stories of Oak, Ash, and Thorn, and place a couple of hag covens around to cause trouble.

Blights: Never used blights in any of my games, but they are going to appear in days to come.  My Plan: Integrate blights into N2: The Forest Oracle.

Shambling Mounds: I’ve used shambling mounds as the big bosses in more than one swamp or garden-gone-bad.  The 5E version contains enough information to run a solid encounter or three.  My Plan: Enter the Fens and face the terrors within.

Looks like plants are the big monsters in this campaign.  What monsters are likely to show up in your games?

Game On!

Curses! Foiled Again! (or Gregory Should Quit Rereading Modules)

Gripe!  Gripe!  Whine!  Whine!

I been rereading some of my old modules and have discovered a GREAT way to blend C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness with UK4: When a Star Falls and blend it with the Galen and Cataclysm event from the established history of Rhillmoran.  Hellfire and Brimstone!  I may end up in Castle Timeless after all. (2014.12.23)

Another great and terrible thing about all of this is that I can use the NPCs to expand out the people in Brie and place an established, back story NPC into a role in The Ghost Tower of Inverness.

I may have finally learned how to use modules after 30+ years of gaming!

Game On!

Post Script: It occurred to me that I need to give credit where credit is due about this post.  If D. from “Flower of Sickness” had not commented and suggested I see about adapting U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, then I wouldn’t have been looking through old modules.  Thus it is my pleasure to curse him and thank him for helping me expand and  improve my game.  If you have not checked out Fluer du mal, please do so; he’s got a really good blog. (2014.12.23)

Reoccurring Themes (or Gregory, Don’t go There Again)

I’ve been working on where I expect or hope my Pellham campaign is going and I’ve found myself looking at some familiar territory.  There are types of stories that I like.  I like alternate dimensions stories.  I like time travel stories.  I like Faery stories.  I like to use them in my games, too.  I like them a lot.  In addition to ideas and themes for my games, these stories also connect to places in Rhillmoran; places I have used again and again.  My Pellham campaign has seeds of these stories it and they are leading me back to my favorite, but possibly overused, stories and places.  I wonder if I need to break away from my favorite stories.

Castle Timeless has been a staple of my games since the 1980s.  It has been a rare campaign that did not see at least one trip to Castle Timeless.  During the Giants in the Earth and the Tasque Elzeny campaigns, Castle Timeless got a makeover.  I’ve been thinking about using Castle Timeless, because of a few throw away lines and plot point in the backstory of C5: Llywelyn’s Bane.  It, also, doesn’t help that C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness (one of the other modules slated for use in the Pellham campaign) has an often missed time travel component.  Going to Castle Timeless certainly places Pellham in Rhillmoran, but it opens up a whole can of wyrms in that it will tempt me to run a time travel mini campaign and I’ve done that time and time again.

Faery locales are going to be part of this campaign.  I’ve already placed Ardenmore in Adran Silverleaf’s back story.  So, how do I keep from retreading old ground?  My fey folk and fey realm should be different than they have been before.  This is going to be hard, since I like my fey to have a Celtic sensibility and Pellham is a Celtic-style setting.  It doesn’t help that I’ve got a “Hollow Hills opening on the Night of a Full Moon” idiom running with this, too.  I guess I’ll just have to turn these fey “up to 11” and go full bore with them.  Make them the Fey of the Fey and play it for all that it is worth.  They are capricious, enigmatic, and dangerous benefactors and patrons.  They are brave, valiant, and noble allies and villains.  Their plans and their beliefs are not easily understood by mere mortals, even if those mortals are their elven descendants and cousins.  It should be great fun, if I can play it right; I’ve misplayed this style of NPC multiple times before.

I don’t see how I can get away from alternate dimensions in this campaign.  If the PCs follow through the entire plot as devised by the modules, then they must enter an alternate dimension.  I’ve did a lot of development on this alternate dimension for a failed campaign (outside forces pulled Players away), so I may be able to make this work for me.  The provided storyline only has the PCs there for a relatively short time and the alternate dimension is completely unlike the rest of the setting, so this could easily work to my advantage.  I’ve got an “alien,” but not lethal environment into which the PCs can adventure.  It plots well and is part of the module collection, so if I use it and it alone, then I should not get caught up in a plane hopping campaign, which can really be fun.

Having covered my “big” flaws in the previous three paragraphs, I must now move on and discuss a harder drive in my gaming themes.  I want to connect this game to other games that I have run.  I’ve been thinking about placing a connection to the Shadowfell Road in Pellham or Inverness; this would open up a connection to Moytonia and I would be tempted to pull things from Barovia and the Walking Wood into Iolta and that might dilute this setting.  I really want to place a connection to Castle Timeless and I’ve already explained why that is a bad idea.  While I have not yet designed them, I know there are magical trees in Pellham and they could easily be connected to the Quan.  Even though this campaign takes place over a thousand years after Giants in the Earth and Tasque Elzeny, a connection to the Quaan would let me access Feldspar, E3 Trading Company, and Spellguard.  While a link on Thrain to the World of Terah would allow me to bring threats from the Caves of Chaos and possibly connect the PCs to the Isle of Celestia and the Dreamers, it would be bringing in alternate dimensions.

Want to know what reeks in all of this; writing out this post has given me a half dozen or more ideas that I now am interested in dropping into the Pellahm campaign.  What do you think I should do?

Game On!

Plots and Prophecies (or Gregory Learns Something About Running Modules)

We gamed our second session of the Pellham Campaign on December 6th and it went off without a hitch.  It was a joy to run and seemed to be a hit with my Players, too.  I got to run with my PCs goals and use ideas from the modules that I picked as the basis for this campaign.  In running this game, I may have discovered the best way for me to run modules.  It was great!

Two things came into play from the Players’ side of the table.  Firstly, I got to introduce part of James Andari’s work on The Prophecy.  Before James (Adran’s Player) had even seen a copy of the Prophecy, he came up with five ways the Prophecy could be fulfilled.  They are 1) Llywelyn could simply reappear, 2) Llywelyn could return through a blood relative, 3) Llywelyn could return in the form of someone who shared a similar history and ideology, 4) someone raised outside Pellham would come take the throne just as Llywelyn was and did, and 5)Llywelyn could be stored to “life” by a powerful druid or necromancer.  I used this framework to introduce a Claimant to the Throne.  Secondly, the “Sons”…I mean the “Soldiers of Anarchy,” took out their first target.  The SoA is a movement (started by Vadis Mal and Stone (played Brandon Mokofisi and Steven Goff, respectively) dedicated to freeing slaves and punishing slavers.  The Soldiers of Anarchy took on and eliminated their first target, a kidnapper and pimp named Joshua.  Cool things.

On the GM’s side of the table, I got to expound a bit on a landmark in the city of Widdershin (the Pillars of Nimra) and hint at a future plot line (Stephen, heir of Llywelyn).  I had a blast dropping new NPCs into the game, but I am still bad at giving them names (ergo: Thug and an unnamed dwarf).  I, also, discovered a few things that help me run canned adventures and this should be the bulk of my post.

Firstly, I need to look for modules and adventures that can be easily sandboxed.  Since C3: To Find a King was written as competition module, it comes in easily separated sections and each section details a completely different area.  I can place those sections where I need them in my setting and use them, when the Players reach them.  This gives me set pieces which I can build around.  Throne of Evil is a historical romance turned into a D&D game.  While the adventure itself is nothing more than a dungeon crawl with a single wilderness encounter and an espionage paint job, it is filled with historical backstory and little bits of lore scattered through the text.  By blending the backstory in Throne of Evil with the backstory of To Find a King, I can fill in blanks in both stories and use them to better fit into my world.

Secondly, using two or more canned adventures gives me a better way to foreshadow events and expand my Players’ view of the world.  In To Find a King, the PCs have to chase down “The Evil Party” who has bought their prize out from under them.  In the module, there is no reason given for why the Evil Party (while the NPCs have names, they are listed in the NPC section as “Evil Party”) wants the keys.  With the information from Throne of Evil, I could provide a reason.  My Players already didn’t care for Lord Mortimer, a member of the Sovereign Council, because of his sudden discovery of a lost heir of Llywelyn, but when they found Robert Mortimer’s seal upon Blackleaf, a member of the Evil Party, they knew he was a villain and are waiting for the day to give him pay back.

Thirdly, doing everything I can to make the module personal to the PCs and their Players gives it depth and allows for actions not covered in the modules.  Vadis was sold into slavery after his family was betrayed in a power grab in the city of Krell’s Gate.  Malcom Evinter, Lord Krell, was the one who betrayed Vadis Mal’s parents.  While Vadis believes his parents got what they deserved, he won’t trust Lord Krell.  The elf Blackleaf becomes Adran Blackleaf, childhood rival of Adran Silverleaf, thus a member of the Party has a reason to fight from the word “Go” or a chance to parley with a known “frenemy.”

Fourthly, by using the ideas of the various encounters instead of the written encounters, I can make these events seem more organic.  The encounter with Lord Krell is very complicated and involves delaying tactics and traps, but when I ran it, I used it as a roleplaying opportunity.  I kept all the pieces; I just used them for different tasks.  It really is all about stealing and adapting.

So, my readers, do you have any suggestions for me on this topic?

Game On!

NPCs for Iolta and Thrain

Persons of Interest

  Being a Limited Listing of People and Beings In and Around Pellham

  Persons One May Find in Widdershin

Amena – proprietor of the Blue Lantern

Antha – owner of the Flower Shop, her florists moonlight as                Green Gowns

Argus – secretary and valet

Aspen – member of the Sovereign Council

Caleb – runs the Amorous Congress for discreet ladies and                 gentlemen

Gwidon – Seneschal of the Sovereign Council

Morgance – owns the Bunny House, a drinking                                          establishment that holds rabbit races and offers                      companionship for lonely gentlemen

Nessa – Priestess of the Temple of the Tuatha

Robert Mortimer – Lord Marcher and member of the                            Sovereign Council

Silvern – keel boat captain

Thug – half-fomori mercenary enforcer

Travis – riverside merchant

Valentrue – member of the Sovereign Council

People in Dun Daegal

Adric of Clan McMurdock – Ri of Dun Daegal

Pwyll mac Adric – Adric’s heir

Connor mac Cormac – farmer

Dairmaid mac Owen – vintner Donnall mac Airt – farmer Gallar Garmson – skald

Jon Kelsogson – blacksmith

Lughdal mac Dughal – farmer

Markus – Priest at St. Brendan’s Kirk

Njal Merrikson – brownsmith

Paulus – Priest at St. Brendan’s Kirk

Yorik Gimnerson – whitesmith

Sidhe of Ardenmore

Eldarlieth, Lady of Castlerock

Gramine, Lord of Castlerock

Ardlanth, Oracle of Thoan

Dvegar of Durvandell

Balin – Prince of Durvandell, Lord of Ormhall, Master of                   Clan Uldra

Alvis Allwise – Balin’s First Councilor

Wanderers

This is a list of NPCs my Players have encountered or have reason to know about.  It will be an ongoing work-in-progress.  Unlike my other posts, when I update this list, I won’t use a green font to denote corrections, updated material, or additions.

Slow Beginnings (or How do I Mix my Plot Lines and my PCs)

So, on Sunday, November 09, 2014, I ran the first game of my Iolta and Thrain campaign.  While it was not my first 5E game, it is still significant, because it is the first game in a campaign created using plot lines from a selection of modules.  I’m going to have an interesting time of mixing my planned plot lines with my PCs’ goals.  Let me attempt to explain my dilemma.

Provided Plot Lines (Taken From my Modules)

Restore the Monarchy – includes prophecies of reborn kings and pretenders trying to claim the throne

Get Help from the Druids – includes an overland journey and diplomacy

Defeat the Risen Evil – your standard stop Cthulhustyle story with ancient artifacts and dungeon crawls

These are all doable plot lines and would not require to much tinkering to build into a campaign arc, if I so chose.  Enter my PCs.

The Player Characters

Vadis Mal – male, human paladin – His family was betrayed in a power struggle and he was sold into the slave pits of Thulsa Set in Inverness.  During his time in the slave pits, Vadis was possessed by Spirit of Cernunnos and learned it was the Horned God’s will that all be free.  Vadis escaped; now, he and a fellow escapee have begun a campaign of punishing those who would enslave others (slavers, pimps, evil nobles, corrupt governments, etc).  (2014.11.14)

 

Stone – male, human barbarian – Captured as child, Stone was sold into slavery in Inverness.  He met Vadis in the slave pits of Thulsa Set and watched over him when the Spirit of Cernunnos came upon him.  When the revolt came, Stone fought alongside Vadis and now follows him in his quest to bring Vengeance upon those that would enslave others.

 

Ravah Rothardotter of Clan Uldra – female, dwarf fighter – Ravah was the last of four daughters born to Rothar Bloodaxe and his wife.  After her mother was killed in a fomori raid, Ravah was raised by her father alone.  He taught her to fight and named her his heir, since he had no sons.  Ravah served in the Dwarf Crown army and was recognized for her achievements; she reached the rank of sergeant before her father died.  While the clan elders recognized her as her father’s heir, they did it out of their respect for her father, not because they believed she was worthy.  Incensed, Ravah gave her holdings to her eldest nephew as a wedding gift and left the Dwarf Crown.  On her way out, she helped two escaped slaves flee Inverness; they were Vadis and Stone. (2014.11.14)

 

Winguard – male, elf/human bard – Found on the steps of the Brotherhood of Brie, Winguard was raised by the scholars and minstrels dwelling there.  He grew into a young man who believes that everyone should be responsible for his or her own fate.  Winguard seeks to establish a new political order based on one’s own personal responsibility.  He joined Vadis and Stone, after Vadis journeyed to Brie to find a bard to immortalize their campaign against the enslavers in song and verse and to promote the ideals of freedom. (2014.11.13)

 

Adran Silverleaf – male, elf wizard – Born and reared among the Shadow Crowns of Thrain, Adran came to Pellham 300 years ago to study the collected works of the Brotherhood of Brie.  He is beginning to master the arts of divination and is much intrigued by the Prophecy of Llywelyn’s return.  Adran left Brie before he was forced to choose a side as various groups debate the meaning of the Prophecy.  He is traveling with Winguard and the others for reasons that he has yet to reveal.  (2014.11.14)

So, here is what I done so far:

     1. Created or shifted game world elements to fit proposed backgrounds.

2. Couldn’t find my revised copy of the Prophecy of Brie and didn’t give my Players any info on it in game.

3. Added two new characters to the Sovereign Council.

4. Added monsters from a previous campaign to the swamp near the Mad Druid’s home.

5. Altered the personality of the Mad Druid.

6. Hand waved the knowledge of the “Hand of Loring” because I forgot to give the Prophecy of Llywelyn’s Return.

7. Created 3 dryad sisters, Oak Ash, and Thorn.

8. Added hell coin carrying fomori minions working for Thulsa Set which were sent after Vadis and Stone.  (2014.11.14)

So, now my question is, “How close do I hold to my provided plots and how much do I build on my Player’s plans?”  I expect I’ll do much more of the later and once again prove that I am poor at using modules.

Game On!