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 Post subject: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:59 pm 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:59 am
Posts: 124
Okay so if your one of my players scram, read any further and you may blow the story for yourself.



Alright I really want some opinions of some other DM's. I have been running Sailors over on the Unseen servant forums for a while now and I had been trying to stick with everyone staying 0 until the end of the adventure. I am beginning to regret this a little bit but I wanted leveling to feel more realistic.

The issue is due to a few drop offs and mainly deaths were down to 9 0th level members and because they have managed to mostly avoid the robes and they crushed all the skulls they look headed to an almost certain TPK if I don't step in and level them up. I'm curious what you other DM's think, part of me thinks "well you make the bed and you lie in it" is the best approach for the party and they will pay for not making the best choices in regards to this last encounter. Part of me thinks it would be better off to let them level and start using exp as per the book and not worry about it being realistic. I'm sort of stuck in the middle so I thought some folks with experience might help.

Thanks,

AQuebman


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:41 am
Posts: 1889
Hey.

I went by the "You level when you get the XP" in the rulebook, and it worked well. The mundane classes just got the benefits of "Hey, I can actually do this" that is the difference between a Thief, a Warrior, and a wannabe. One of my players actually said it was like, after facing the C.L., they realized that they were actually competent.

Clerics become clerics via spontaneous election. I.e., the god reaches down as much as the cleric reaches up, so I had no problems there.

Wizards and elves don't actually know any spells they can cast without 1 week study per spell level and a roll, so there was no problem there. Elves know Patron Bond, but I didn't think I had to worry about the party stopping for a week at this point.

Having run SotSS for more than one group, the C.L. seems to be where most people level IME, and no group I have run it for has voiced any sort of cognitive dissonance at levelling in this manner.

BUT.....They avoided the robes and crushed the skulls, so in a manner of speaking, they made their bed, not you. If there is a TPK, I would recommend letting the dice fall where they may. Players generally deserve to experience the results of their decisions, for good or ill, and even TPKs in DCC need not suck. Ask them to roll up new 0-levels, and then open the scene a year later, where the funnel is escaping the growing shadow of the newly-arisen Chaos Lord.

Not using XP per the book was your decision, though, and you may wish to ameliorate the effects of that somewhat. You can consider having the sacrificial victims provide some aid, and you can even go so far as to have some Power of Law shine down upon them as battle is about to be joined, upping the hit points of the Lawful by 1d6, the Neutral by 1d3, and the Chaotic by 1. Whether these are temporary boons or permanent increases is up to you.

Remember, too, that if they recovered the band of fire, anyone can make a spell check using 1d10, and you might be more generous to wizard's apprentices and suchlike.

The one thing that I would NOT do is change the rules in mid-play because the players are not doing as well as expected. If they know you are not levelling in mid-adventure, and you change your mind, the implication will be that you are protecting the party. IMHO, that robs victory of its sweetness ("We won because the judge pulled his punches"), and makes the sting of defeat far worse ("Why didn't he save me this time? I guess he just likes Sue better."). I encourage you not to do this.

Best of luck with it.

_________________
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:22 am 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:59 am
Posts: 124
Raven_Crowking wrote:
Hey.

I went by the "You level when you get the XP" in the rulebook, and it worked well. The mundane classes just got the benefits of "Hey, I can actually do this" that is the difference between a Thief, a Warrior, and a wannabe. One of my players actually said it was like, after facing the C.L., they realized that they were actually competent.

Clerics become clerics via spontaneous election. I.e., the god reaches down as much as the cleric reaches up, so I had no problems there.

Wizards and elves don't actually know any spells they can cast without 1 week study per spell level and a roll, so there was no problem there. Elves know Patron Bond, but I didn't think I had to worry about the party stopping for a week at this point.

Having run SotSS for more than one group, the C.L. seems to be where most people level IME, and no group I have run it for has voiced any sort of cognitive dissonance at levelling in this manner.

BUT.....They avoided the robes and crushed the skulls, so in a manner of speaking, they made their bed, not you. If there is a TPK, I would recommend letting the dice fall where they may. Players generally deserve to experience the results of their decisions, for good or ill, and even TPKs in DCC need not suck. Ask them to roll up new 0-levels, and then open the scene a year later, where the funnel is escaping the growing shadow of the newly-arisen Chaos Lord.

Not using XP per the book was your decision, though, and you may wish to ameliorate the effects of that somewhat. You can consider having the sacrificial victims provide some aid, and you can even go so far as to have some Power of Law shine down upon them as battle is about to be joined, upping the hit points of the Lawful by 1d6, the Neutral by 1d3, and the Chaotic by 1. Whether these are temporary boons or permanent increases is up to you.

Remember, too, that if they recovered the band of fire, anyone can make a spell check using 1d10, and you might be more generous to wizard's apprentices and suchlike.

The one thing that I would NOT do is change the rules in mid-play because the players are not doing as well as expected. If they know you are not levelling in mid-adventure, and you change your mind, the implication will be that you are protecting the party. IMHO, that robs victory of its sweetness ("We won because the judge pulled his punches"), and makes the sting of defeat far worse ("Why didn't he save me this time? I guess he just likes Sue better."). I encourage you not to do this.

Best of luck with it.


Thanks for the thoughtful post. I went back and forth with the leveling thing and have kept an open dialogue with my players so I don't think that will be problematic and as you said that seems common where most groups level up right about there. I am not going to pull punches as you said it's not fair to the players or the story. They will suffer the consequences of not handling the robes, skulls etc.. very well. They also didn't get that band of fire due to poor rolls on the search so they are going in pretty naked but again that's their problem. The decision not to do XP from the beginning was a poor decision on my part but it's easily fixable, party still has to live with their decisions as they will find out soon. My biggest issue is that I wrote down I was going to level mid adventure and somehow I got in my scatter brained head that I wasn't going to do that so really im just going back to what I decided to do originally. Hopefully the players don't have an issue but I will have to live with that if they do.

It's the melee classes that are harder to explain to me as far as leveling up but I guess you can explain experience in a million different ways. Wizards and elves absolutely need a few weeks to study so I don't think that will be a problem. I also already planned on letting commoners who were freed help the party if they made a morale check first. I do appreciate the advice and I already had an introduction of Klazath the Lawful War God so I may take your temporary boon of HP idea. They still haven't figured out how to bypass the C.L. anyways so things are still pretty tenuous.


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:24 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:41 am
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More hit points is just more confidence....less willing to believe that they can do nothing = less likely to just blunder into an attack. Even the warrior Deed Die is just doing what they were already doing, but better. I would assume the same with the thief. A character who walks that path has already been taking steps along it for a long, long time. As with the magic feather in Dumbo, the ability to fly was in them all along. It just took extraordinary circumstances to bring it out.

If your players are on board, then by all means let them level. Pointing out a pit trap does not mean you need step into it, and sometimes exploring it more thoroughly means finding the secret door at the bottom! :D

My advice is only advice. Go with your gut.

_________________
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:09 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:00 pm
Posts: 57
This will sound like heresy but hear me out.

Just leave out the leviathan. Either just the monster (they cross the starless sea unhindered) or the entire starless sea area, lets say going downstairs from the keep just takes you down into hallway that leads to a big tiered sacrificial chamber (the last encounter), depending on whether they have seen the sea yet.

I know Harley has written an amazing adventure, and changing it might sound like sacrilege, but the funnel is there to serve a purpose - winnowing down the random 0 levels. I don't think repeated wipes in the funnel is an endearing feature to new players, especially those from D&D land.

Ease 'em in - let them experience a bit more of the game before getting completely flattened.

Plenty of other funnels to destroy them in later after they have turned their first wizard into a squid :D
(and you can re-use the chaos leviathan in a future adventure).

EDIT: Oh - and the last encounter is easy to scale to however many mooks happen to be left. Just go with 1-1 ratio of beast-men chanting/unaware of their surroundings until attacked, and get rid of the shaman's guards if necessary. You can make encounters harder as the players become more cunning.


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:00 pm 
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Location: On the run.
Maxinstuff is 100% right. The adventure should always always always serve you and the group.

//H

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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:09 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:44 am
Posts: 319
AQuebman wrote:
Okay so if your one of my players scram, read any further and you may blow the story for yourself.



Alright I really want some opinions of some other DM's. I have been running Sailors over on the Unseen servant forums for a while now and I had been trying to stick with everyone staying 0 until the end of the adventure. I am beginning to regret this a little bit but I wanted leveling to feel more realistic.

The issue is due to a few drop offs and mainly deaths were down to 9 0th level members and because they have managed to mostly avoid the robes and they crushed all the skulls they look headed to an almost certain TPK if I don't step in and level them up. I'm curious what you other DM's think, part of me thinks "well you make the bed and you lie in it" is the best approach for the party and they will pay for not making the best choices in regards to this last encounter. Part of me thinks it would be better off to let them level and start using exp as per the book and not worry about it being realistic. I'm sort of stuck in the middle so I thought some folks with experience might help.

Thanks,

AQuebman


@ AQuebman> My 2cp worth...

I only got this module in the mail yesterday, but it sounds like events are unfolding as one would expect. The second paragraph of the introduction says that out of 15 0-lvl characters only 7-8 are likely to survive. As long as each player manages to keep hold of one character by the end of the module you're golden. 8) I just finished running Tower Out of Time last Saturday, and of the 4 second level characters, 3 died as a result of playing this fantastic module. Two of them made their recover the body rolls and all of the players seem (if anything) even more keen on playing more often! Paradoxically, several players expressed a desire to play a funnel game session when next we meet... so DCC#67 is next up on our play-list. Based on what you're saying and what I'm reading, I think I may start them off with 4 or even 5 zero-lvl PCs for a total of 16-20 targets... I mean Potential Characters. :wink: My theory has always been that a well crafted (or at least interesting) character death is as vital as an interesting character history. :D

in general...
I'd be the last person to say that changing-up a module is sacrilege :lol: and I totally agree with others that the adventure serves the group. However, I wouldn't even consider removing big monsters and such, especially near the climax of the story arc. I just go into running the adventure with several contingency plans. If (for example) there is a TPK in area 1-4 (map 2), maybe the characters dragged into the deep are actually taken to another realm/dimension where you can start-up new adventure with the survivors. By no means is this a global solution to anything; but I've found that with a TPK event if you can bust out with one of these contingency plans fast enough, the players think it's all part of the show and they keep following along with whatever you keep putting in front of them as if it were part of the module. If you don't tell them... they'll never know. :mrgreen:

As far as realistic training... unless there is some time between the end of the funnel and the leveling up to allow for it, then it can strain credulity for some players. FWIW I too find that it is the warrior training that is most difficult to justify/explain to the satisfaction of players or myself. For me this seems to be caused by the fact that ever since 2nd edition D&D, the fighter class has generally been explained as an expert in many types-styles of combat; which logically should take a fair bit of time to learn - which needs to be accounted for in the story if it can't happen 'off camera' as I like to call it. Running DCC games has reminded me that there is another kind of warrior. The kind that dons their armor, grabs their kit, and charges off to meet their fate. Surviving by their wits and instincts born of the knowledge that failure = death. This second type of warrior is IMO more in line with the Appendix N meme. It has the added bonus that since the warrior character knows nothing about the finesse of combat unless they were a Squire or something similar with access to training and the leisure time to study the multitude of fighting styles available: the player can make a quest out of searching for great warriors to study with.


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:53 pm 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:59 am
Posts: 124
I agree changing up the module is certainly a possibility. Now at the time of me posting this question I had already introduced the leviathan. Now i've been a little bit nicer because I felt that by default the module didn't really hint at how to appease the beast so i've been keeping it open and letting the players choose how they handle things but using the leviathan's tentacles to indicate it's clearly waiting for something etc..

Granted my players swam out to the boat got attacked and lucky for them only lost 1 character. Then another player lit the Menhir and I decided 'perhaps because I was feeling nice' that the moving ship and lit menhir would subdue the creature out to the middle of the sea but have it impatiently awaiting something to appease it. It's felt more like a slow investigation which I find interesting and hope my players do as well. Overall it's been a fun module and I don't feel bad either way when it comes to leveling I just think as I said before I made the mistake of not just handing out EXP as we went and so plan on rectifying it. That is if my party can break the menhir compulsion from their shaman companion. He's already killed one and might kill more party members in the name of Chaos! :D

Thumbs up Harley!


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:46 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:00 pm
Posts: 57
Tortog wrote:
As far as realistic training... unless there is some time between the end of the funnel and the leveling up to allow for it, then it can strain credulity for some players. FWIW I too find that it is the warrior training that is most difficult to justify/explain to the satisfaction of players or myself.


I feel like the primary cause of this is when the eastern tropes of warrior-nobility and special fighting styles that take 'years to master' are applied to fuedal european settings :)

Really it amounts to bonking people over the scone until they die from it. Not much mystery to it. A fit person can get the basics of the longsword down in no more than a few weeks. They wont have much finesse - but they will know where the pointy end goes.

Most lengthy, ritualized training regimens are actually meant to weed out people without the nerve for killing things or putting themselves in harms way. Mastering some imaginary secrets is mostly bollocks. I think if they have made it through the funnel it is safe to assume that they don't freeze in fear when someone wants to murder them in the face.


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 Post subject: Re: Sailors on the Starless Sea Help
PostPosted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:15 am 
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@ maxinstuff> While I fully agree that fancy combat styles are much more common in an eastern setting, I have no problem adding them into the mix because not everyone likes or wants to play their games in Feudal Europe (900-1400ad). And, I also agree that most of the fighting was just thumping on the other guy until one of them falls over dead or wounded. However, that had more to do with the fact that 95% of the foot soldiers in this time and place were using hammers, maces, and spears because they were cheap and used miniscule amounts of very expensive (poor quality) steel - and because kinetic weapons like maces and hammers render armor (even platemail) nearly useless. The only folks to use swords were the ones who could afford to keep replacing them every three or four battles. The aristocracy and the merchant class could afford the time and the extra expense for the fancy training; especially by the 1200-1300's when the age of chivalry and tournaments was at its zenith and after all the wealth and knowledge started flowing north into Europe with the armies returning from Crusades. Swords didn't fall into common use until the late 1300's when swords became stronger and cheaper to make.
----
Sooo... I ran SotSS this afternoon.... :|

Out of 16 zero's (4 players): 10 made it to the second map, but only two survived... and one of those was due to a spectacular display of cowardice on the part of the only dwarf. He ran away with the other villagers when they got rescued and never actually made it onto the second map. This character was played by the same person who killed off one of his other PC's for being too pathetic; so that player only took 1 character onto the second map. I had a second player who simply refused to take any chances with their characters, and stood back and let everyone else do the fighting, so the character's of the other two players did most of the combat and took most of the losses. I also watched as they would send one character off to investigate something like a lab rat... if they didn't die instantly then others would wander over to investigate further.

I will freely admit that some of the lethality was due to the fact that I used mutations from the CCD for the beastmen, and while some of the mutations made their attacks better, few of them ended up with greater hit points. Though one type of the beastmenn had a second head that projected a charm aura that actually slaved one of the characters to the forces of chaos... for a little while. :twisted:

The really strange thing is that they had several of the items stashed about the map, and never bothered to use them. They had an alchemist with a 15 INT who managed to figure out what the incense was for, and they found armor and such, but they never even bothered to put it on... they just kept going. They even figured out what the skulls did: and I'd decided earlier that the weapons from area E would have similar properties to the skulls... but they didn't stay in the room long enough to take anything but the small chest one of them found on the way out (the rest were too busy running from danger). Though this module seems to be considerably more dangerous than the other 0-lvl "Portal under the Stars"; I think the players were so freaked out by the situation that they just fell apart. A lot of the trouble was their complete lack of coordination, but AQuebman may be right... The next time I run this one there will probably be a level-up half way through unless there are 5+ players.


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