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 Post subject: DCC 28: Into the Wilds (fixing... everything)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:01 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 3:32 pm
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I posted this on forum.rpg.net, and felt that it really belonged here too, where I suspect most people will come to find information about the module. This is a comprehensive list of things that could be changed (at DM's discretion) with the D&D 3.5 module, Into the Wilds. I've tried to combine every problem & resolution from the 4 threads here, as well as the forum.rpg.net topic (which was 28 pages about all the DCC modules, and it was really hard to sift through). Hopefully this one post is all a DM needs to run a tight module. Not every change here is required -- you may find that you like a certain part of the module as-is, and if so, feel free to pick & choose.

Baron Kaldal, should never have been born
The module asserts on page 4 and later pages that the curse kills the barons before they come of age. So how did they manage to produce offspring and keep the family line going for 100 years? Revise rumor #12 on page 4: "The young Baron of Wildsgate is sickly and near death. It is said that the men of family are cursed, and that all die soon after coming of age."

Kaldal's enemy gets a shrine in town?
Zamuk stole the artifacts, and this has caused baron Kaldal's line to be cursed to an early death. It will kill Kaldal shortly. Yet rumor #1 on page 4 asserts "The corrupt citizens of Wildsgate worship the memory of Zamuk, and have even built a shrine in his honor!" Really? The barony is so inept that citizens can erect a shrine to honor the family killer, as if spitting in the baron's face? Granted, not everyone knows what Zamuk did, but some do and the baron certainly does. I removed that part of the rumor. Then I flipped to area C-10 and gutted it, leaving only a description of the shrine: "This is a shrine to the goddess of sailors, Osprem."

Lady Aborn: multiple-personality disorder
Lady Aborn has 3 conflicting projects in this module:

  • Page 5: allow the baron to die, retrieve the heirlooms, triumphantly assume the title of baroness.
  • Page 20: appear "generous and kind" so as to throw off anyone suspecting her of treachery.
  • Page 38: planning a coup.

Solution: don't interpret page 38's coup to imply a military overthrow, as that would make it kinda obvious to the citizens that she was not generous and kind. Instead, page 38's coup refers to page 5 -- her plan to take over by simply allowing the curse to kill the baron.

In my game, I was pressed to preserve Lady Aborn's good reputation by having her implore the PCs to save her half-brother. That's a mistake as it sends the PCs right out to the Spires to kill her troops. Much better is to have Sodersund (page 19) give such a quest, as he's loyal to the baron, may have an idea that Lady Aborn is embezzling (page 20), and is evil enough to hire PCs who might just cut a swath through the troops.

Police state
If you add up the guards listed as serving Aborn & Kaldal, it's over 70 soldiers in a 12-building town with about 200 or 300 citizens in the outlying farmlands. The taxation to support a quarter of the population as guards would be absurd. I removed random patrols to pare down the numbers. Even if you do the same, be careful of the numbers. My players were heavily suspicious of why citizens would stay around to support that. If a group of guards is taken out, let the number of guards be seen to visibly reduce. They are not infinite!

Map error: hallways shown that don't exist
On the inside cover map, area 2-5 shows a hallway on the west wall. That hallway is for the secret trap door, so it should be shown as a wall until the secret door is opened. Also, area 1-1 shows an opening connecting to 1-1B. Don't draw it on your battlemat as that opening is a tiny hole 12' above the ground. Read area 1-1 description for more info.

Map error: road named after Wildsgate citizens even though they don't use it
On the Goodman Games forums, it was noted that the wilds are supposed to be played up as incredibly dangerous, and an area where no one from Wildsgate would normally travel. Yet the road through the wilds is called "Hunter's Way," implying that citizens go hunting there. Harley Stroh (the author) says, "Hunters Way is blunder on my part. You are right to play it that no one from Wildsgate normally crosses the river to the north." Best to leave the stretch of road unnamed.

Map errors in scale
There are 3 gridded maps in the module, but 2 have no scale. And it turns out, the one map that does have a scale should probably be changed, as it sizes things far too huge for the module's content. Solutions:

  • Map of town, page 53: Harley Stroh said that he meant each square to equal 10 feet. This makes the town about 300' wide.
  • Map on inside cover: Harley again says each square equals 10 feet. This makes the pool below the waterfall about 130' wide.
  • Map of wilderness, page 56: The scale shows that 1 square = 100 yards (or 300 feet). This doesn't work at all -- that makes the town twice as wide as the other map depicts, makes the waterfall pool more than twice as wide, and makes the ford at area W-2B about 600' across, even though page 9 says it can be crossed in 2 (!!!) rounds. Solution: halve the scale, so 1 square = 50 yards; and declare the river to be only about 180' wide (so on the map it'd be a little bit thinner than what is actually shown). Suddenly it syncs with the other maps, mostly.

Area W-2, the Saedre river
Although we just corrected the map errors, the description on page 8 still doesn't quite match up. Four swim checks implies that the river is only 60' across. Twelve would be needed to match with the maps, but let's assume that swimmers can use the river flow to double movement speed. So, 6 checks to cross. Since the DC for each check is 20, you must make it clear to players that swimming across very likely means death.

Don't forget that if the check is missed by 4 or less, they don't drown they just don't make progress that round.

Perhaps append this sentence to the read-aloud text: "The rapids appear to be extremely dangerous for anyone unlucky enough to be caught in it."

Area W-2B, the ford
Change it as follows:

  • for a character at 30' movement, it takes 5 rounds to cross the rope bridge safely (DC 10) or 3 rounds to cross in a hurry (DC 15)
  • for a character with 20' movement, it's 7 rounds safe crossing (DC 10), or 4 rounds in a hurry (DC 15)

If a character falls into the river, don't bother determining where they fell in -- just set them halfway and ask for 3 swim checks (DC 20, as in area W-2).

In the read-aloud text, perhaps change the phrase "dark waters" to be "deadly waters." It may prompt players to take extra precautions.

Area C-8 & C-9, locksmith & moneylender
At DM's discretion, Kolgot may know about area 2-5, as Lady Aborn might have hired him to pick the locks (and failed). And he may have told Sergio. Neither should know much more, as investigating would anger Lady Aborn. But this would mean that they are sources that know Lady Aborn isn't all pure & innocent.

Area C-11, the flophouse
The tiny town has been declining for years and yet it manages to maintain two inns. This was too much for me, so I simply took this flophouse to the next level -- it's no inn at all, just a place for poor squatters.

Area C-16A, tower of the white lady
Problem: Lady Aborn is a wizard, but her spellbook is never listed anywhere.

Solution: Put the spellbook in with the 4 hidden strongboxes that contain the gold. Make sure it contains at least the spells she is listed as commonly using, but do not add the Knock spell, for reasons spelled out below.

Area 1-2, common room
The goblins in area 1-2 are just 20' away from the goblins in area 1-1, and there are no barricades between them. However, area 1-2 says that "if the goblins have been warned by the guards in area 1-1, they are armed and prepared to defend their home." That "if" is difficult to imagine -- unless the PCs managed to sneak past everything, these goblins must have heard (and seen!) the action right next to them in area 1-1. Assume they set up a hurried ambush, and maybe they've sent a runner to other areas as a warning.

Area 1-11, the lord of blood
Azubal is listed as being undead, yet is given a Constitution score of 10. Undead do not have Constitution scores. Change the 10 to a dash (Con -), as per a normal vampire.

Also note that Azubal, even in a weakened state, is still an almost-guaranteed TPK for 1st-level characters. If there is a way to entice the players to tackle other areas until they've leveled up, it would be a good idea. I made sure to give out rumor #9 on page 4 early in the game, and then put silver weapons into area C-6 (Bolo's smithy -- even had him loan a weapon to them, for the cause).

Area 2-5, hall of heroes
Any competent rogue will simply use the Open Lock skill to unlock the 3 locks on the pedestal, potentially bypassing the entire module. Or Lady Aborn would have simply cast Knock and retrieved the prizes herself, making the module irrelevant. Solutions:

  • Don't put Knock in Lady Aborn's spell book.
  • Since no DC is given, set it at 40 for each lock. This is incredibly high, but it is also appropriate for a dwarven stronghold of the best quality. This solves not only the problem with the PCs bypassing everything, but also with Lady Aborn bypassing everything. You see, if the DC is low enough, she would have long ago simply recruited Kolgot at the Broken Manacles (Area C-8) to use Open Locks for her, and retrieved her prize.

Area 2-6, the lift
The lever to raise/lower the lift is built into the lift. Yet once the players take the lift down, according to area 2-14, "If the PCs tarry in the room for more than 2 hours, a troupe of 5 men-at-arms (with identical stats to those shown below) return from patrol." How can they return from patrol if the lift, and the lever to move it, is no longer at the entrance, but instead down with the players who have used it? Solution: put levers at the top & bottom of the lift.

Or do as I did, and remove the extra patrol guards entirely.

Area 2-15, the planning room
Liath is described as a "slender drow" yet her stat block refers to her as an elf. Simply describe her as an elf and it will match her stat block.

Area 2-11, smithy of kings
In his review on forum.rpg.net, demiurge1138 said it better than I can, so here's the quote: "There’s also a lesser salamander encountered whose feats are all wrong. He has Exotic Weapon Proficiency, but it doesn’t specify the weapon. He also has Multiattack, which he doesn’t qualify for. I’d swap out Multiattack for something like Two-Weapon Fighting to give him a two-bladed sword, or take out Alertness for Combat Expertise, swap Multiattack for Improved Trip, and give him a spiked chain or whip."

Final notes
These aren't real problems, but I would note that I felt that single low-level cleric for all the militia and citizens in this dangerous place was probably too little. I added a couple of adepts. Also, 3 giant warehouses (area 2-12) for such a small town? I converted 2. The one by the docks is now for ship repair and has some hammocks for dock-hands. Another warehouse I converted to be a home for a husband/wife team that is a tailor & cobbler, making almost all of the worn materials & bedding for everyone there. I left the 3rd warehouse as a warehouse, but if I had a better idea of what a small town really needed, I'd convert the third, too.

It's a lot of stuff to fix, and some of it is rather painful, such as gutting entire areas in the module. However, I now have a module that can stand up to player scrutiny and inventiveness. It works. My players are almost done with it, and we've had a lot of fun. Thanks!


Last edited by aboyd on Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: DCC 28: Into the Wilds (fixing... everything)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:19 pm 
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Cold-Hearted Immortal

Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 6:02 am
Posts: 1787
Location: On the run.
Thorough! This is a fantastic compilation – thank you for the edits. I hope the adventure played out well for your group.

.. there is also a thread on 3-D art for Wilds, but I'm having trouble finding it. It seems like it recommended some changes ....

[edit]
Success! Check this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1324

//H

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 Post subject: Re: DCC 28: Into the Wilds (fixing... everything)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:51 am 
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Tight-Lipped Warlock
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Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:26 am
Posts: 892
Location: the Towers of Carcosa
aboyd wrote:
Area C-11, the flophouse
The tiny town has been declining for years and yet it manages to maintain two inns. This was too much for me, so I simply took this flophouse to the next level -- it's no inn at all, just a place for poor squatters.


Another solution, depending on the age and maturity of your players, is to make it a whore house.

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Enigma-Judge Narzill Tanntos (armorer Cleric of Amun Tor 4); Strength 15; Agility 10; Stamina 14; Personality 14; Intelligence 8; Luck 16; Neutral; AC 16 (banded mail); HP 24; missing three fingers from left hand.

Please, call me Master Jenks while we're in the Sign of the Three Rats flophouse.

"Will somebody please call all the ambulances?"


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 Post subject: Re: DCC 28: Into the Wilds (fixing... everything)
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:01 am 
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Cold-Hearted Immortal

Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2002 2:41 pm
Posts: 2690
Location: San Jose, CA
I think you must have some really smart players. When I ran this module, my group didn't pick up any of this stuff!

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 Post subject: Re: DCC 28: Into the Wilds (fixing... everything)
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:03 am 
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Cold-Hearted Immortal

Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2002 2:41 pm
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Location: San Jose, CA
Also - I have added this link to the errata thread. Typically we fix errata in future printings. Of course we're not reprinting 3E modules but the feedback is still valuable for future DMs running the module.

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 Post subject: Re: DCC 28: Into the Wilds (fixing... everything)
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:05 pm 
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Tight-Lipped Warlock
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Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 1:26 am
Posts: 892
Location: the Towers of Carcosa
goodmangames wrote:
I think you must have some really smart players. When I ran this module, my group didn't pick up any of this stuff!


To be fair, neither did mine--two medium-experience players and a n00b.

Heck, even as DM I didn't catch 98% of the above items...!

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Enigma-Judge Narzill Tanntos (armorer Cleric of Amun Tor 4); Strength 15; Agility 10; Stamina 14; Personality 14; Intelligence 8; Luck 16; Neutral; AC 16 (banded mail); HP 24; missing three fingers from left hand.

Please, call me Master Jenks while we're in the Sign of the Three Rats flophouse.

"Will somebody please call all the ambulances?"


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