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 Post subject: Into the Dragon's Maw
PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:17 am 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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I just got my free copy of "Into the Dragon's Maw". I'll be running it at my FLGS for Free RPG Day. Can someone point me to the free download for the pregenerated characters?

After briefly browsing the adventure I am getting super excited about it. EPIC monsters and EPIC loot! The adventure seems pretty straight forward (an A+ in my book).

I'm looking forward to hand drawing large versions of the very visually interesting player maps. I'll post the pics here when I get done. I plan to read the adventure more thoroughly tonight. I really like using props in my adventures, any suggestions?

Can hardly wait!

#EPIC!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 6:14 pm 
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Wild-Eyed Zealot

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Jason

Glad to hear you enjoyed the first read through. I really enjoyed designing the module and during the playtest we really put it through the wringer. But then again my players all have 30+ years experience playing rpgs, so it was expected. I had to make several adjustments.

The pre-gens will be posted on the website soon.

Can't wait to see the maps. After the session, please post on how the game went!

Chris


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 5:54 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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I am also very eager to get the pregens for the adventure.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:54 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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Just browsed over the pregenerated characters. I was quite surprised by the large amount of magical gear.

I am fully expecting that on free RPG day that most the players at my table will probably be using these pregens. Most of the players in our D&D League don't have character above level 10. I'm a little concerned that a party consisting of all pregens (with all of these powerful items) might find the adventure a cake walk. During play testing, were these pregens used or were regular players' character used? Since the characters are pregens, I feel that the players will be much more likely to "use up" any and all consumable magic items/ charges whereas player character tend to only use those items/charges only when absolutely necessary. But therein also lies the rub. Using powerful magic items is fun.

I can already tell that I will need to recreate the character sheets to be more user friendly (i.e. include brief descriptions of the feats, and class features). I was a little disappointed that the characters didn't have any role playing personality traits, character portraits, or brief back stories (preferably ones that somehow tied the character to the adventure).

Another unexpected part of my DM prepping process for this adventure will include making quick reference trading cards (using a MTG Card editor) for all of the magical gear.

I'll keep you updated.

p.s. - In regards to the Pregens; as I am recreating the character sheets I keep noticing numerous but minor errors. Little things like a con bonus not being applied to a Con Saving throw, etc.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:52 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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Allton the Brown has four magic items that require attunement. A player character can only use three at a time. I suppose we could let the player choose which three they're going to use.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:04 am 
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Wild-Eyed Zealot

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They were indeed the Pregens used for the playtest (except for the arcane trickster: we only had 5 players). Magic items were selected by the author and tweaked by the players. I apologize for minor errors and not fully fleshing them out regarding backstory, portraits, etc. But they are free, and we did not have an art or editorial budget. The thought process was to provide high level PCs in case folks did not have any PCs of the required level, and we wanted folks to play the adventure at stores during Free RPG Day. By all means create new PCs or modify these to suit your particular needs!

Chris


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:18 am 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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I appreciate them being available. Even using them as a starting point, they will save me some time.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:59 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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No complaints here. Just wanted you to have the feedback. :)

Not that it matters, I noticed the unusual Totem Spirit for Vanek the Barbarian. While I am aware that you can change/rename the Barbarian Totem spirits, normally you can't change the totem spirits abilities. I'm assuming this is a homebrew?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:15 am 
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Yes, homebrew all the way. I'm a big fan of armadillos, plus they fit the xulmec (aztec) theme of the adventure setting.

Chris


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:20 am 
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Where can I get the module and the pregens? I've kickstarted for the Free RPG day module, but don't recall any downloads.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:41 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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http://www.goodman-games.com/downloads/ ... regens.pdf

It's hidden in plain sight on the front page. Took me a couple tries to find it too. Haven't seen a link for the module itself, which is too bad. It would be very nice to be able to print off the maps.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:53 am 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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I was concerned about the addition of magic items so I had 5 of my friends help me with a test run of the adventure. It should be noted that this was a last minute decision on a late Friday evening and alcohol was involved...

I told them repeatedly to bring out the big guns, don't hold back, be agressive! I wanted to see if these pregens were going to cake walk through the adventure as I had expected. To be honest, I was most worried about Alton the Brown and his Ring of Shooting Stars and Staff of Frost. The players opted not to take the healer. It should be noted that my friends prefer "role-playing" over "roll-playing". I had to remind them numerous, numerous times to be agressive, push these characters to the limits. No Go. The late night and alcohol might have had something to do with it. The adventure went pretty much like this;

During the initial encounter the party nearly got wiped by the large amount of failed saving throws for poison breath weapons from the wrymlings. Sylpheria cast water walking which helped a lot. They eventually took down the wrymlings but no one would use their high level items or spells. They used what little healing they had to mediate some of the damage.

I also noticed that players were not utilizing their character's abilities as effectively as they could have been. Because they were not familiar with thier characters' abilities, I helped them out numerous times by making suggestions as what they could do. Aside from the standard fun "role-playing" that our group always does, it felt more like I was running their characters for them.

The dwarven ghost and coutal went as expected, making allies. They didn't catch the hint about the bone pile and didn't search it or just forgot about it.

The medusa was very nasty using her legendary actions and firing volleys of arrows at them as they traveled up the levels to get to her. They took several rounds to get up to her, but what fustrated me was that they had items, abilities, and spells that could have helped them reach her faster or slow her down but didn't use them. Vanek the barbarian basically took her down mostly on his own once he got his hands on her.

The encounter with the efreeti was fun! They actually rolled the three wishes.

  • Wish 1 = I wish you (the efreeti) were my best friend. (Efreeti gains permanent friendly status with the player)
  • Wish 2 = I wish you would kill the dragon for me. (Efreeti gladly offers to kill the dragon for the player when they find it)
  • Wish 3 = I wish you would love me forever! (player gains Efreeti companion until the day she dies)

The final encounter went exactly as predicted. They didn't realize the dragon was an illusion, took several rounds to figure out the illusionary terrain (longer than I had hoped, probably should have made it more obvious). By then they were all critically low on hit points. They barely killed the dragon, mostly because of the damage resistant barbarian. A couple of the characters went uncouncious/dying but were brought back up before death. To be honest, I totally forgot about the dragons lair actions. Had I remembered about that, I have no doubt that the encounter would have ended with a TPK.

Afterwards, I inquired about why they didn't use thier "big guns", especially on the first two encounters (wyrmlings & medusa).

Responses included;

  • Just wasn't familiar with playing characters that high level
  • Overwhelmed by the amount of options
  • I forgot I had magic items (even though I reminded them several times!)
  • They were tired & a little inebriated (one player was also just getting over the flu)
  • Tried to save as much resources as possible for final big boss battle (This is standard procedure for Pathfinder Society and D&D Adventure League play)

Regardless of how frustrated that I was feeling; this test run did help me out a lot. Some things that I will implement upon my next session;

  • Modify the intro to include a "dragon war council" meeting to discuss tactics with the groups benefactor/mentor (an elderly dragon hunter), before they actually go into the dragon's lair.
  • Review each character with the player to help them get comfortable with what the character can do.
  • Use miniatures (placed on the map) to help represent the items/places on the map they should probably investigate.
  • I will definitely leave the magic items in.
  • I will strongly encourage that someone take the Cleric pregen.

I'll keep you guys updated as I prepare for Free RPG day. :)

-Jace


Last edited by Jason Raper on Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:27 am 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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Thanks for the report. I will definitely make sure we spend a chunk of time reviewing the characters before the session starts. I've also included details regarding the magic items on their own page for my pregens. I hope that will help.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:24 pm 
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Wild-Eyed Zealot

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Jace

Wonderful report. The fact is even almost a year into 5e, folks are not experienced with high level 5e play. My payers had similar issues. Too many options and not familiar with all the nuances with the rules. And they held back with the big guns too. They were convinced the coatl was allied with the dragon. When the lair actions startedflying they almost attacked the coatl!

Chris


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:04 pm 
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Gongfarmer

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Hey there! I noticed some people in this thread mention some things about the unusual amount of magic items in the pregens? I noticed your pregens do not follow the starting equipment chart on p38 of DMG.

I made a list of rarities of each magic item for each pre gens: http://pastebin.com/3UscE3xE
This doesn't include the fact that one of the pregens has 3 magic items that require attunement.

You can see that some characters have way more magical "oumph" than others!

My point is that people making their own characters using this rule will have a serious disadvantage vs the pregens.

Any tips?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 3:24 am 
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arlanni wrote:
The fact is even almost a year into 5e, folks are not experienced with high level 5e play. My players had similar issues. Too many options and not familiar with all the nuances with the rules.
I agree. I've been running a 5E game in the local store since September and the characters are only level 7-8, so we have the same issues. It's hard enough to run high-level characters when you work them up from level one, and even then my players often forget they have cool powers, so jumping right into level 12 is not something they are typically prepared to do successfully.

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"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:15 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

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The session went well. The event could have been better attended. I'm really glad that I prepared handouts for all of the possible NPCs. By the final confrontation with Chlorothra, there were nine extra characters in play including a fire elemental. With all of the extra help the dragon actually went down pretty fast. The whole adventure took the group six hours.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:40 am 
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Wild-Eyed Zealot

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Sounds like they were effecient group. The important part: Did the players (and GM) have fun? That is what its all about.

Chris


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:53 am 
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Gongfarmer

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Couple of thoughts about the module and the pregens after running it in the "second slot" at my FLGS for FreeRPG Day yesterday:

The Pregens

I got some feedback about inefficient or questionable build choices, particularly regarding the Ranger/Druid. That player is a little more experienced than the rest of my table was with 5 (they had all played, just not higher levels), and frankly more of a Pathfinder style power-gamer when it comes to his builds according to what I've heard, but he did mention a couple of interesting things. Basically, it was an archer without Hunter's Mark and a couple of other things to make the build more coherent. Basically your standard "power gamer that is playing a pregen" type complaints. Nothing game breaking.

I know the pregens were built kind of on the fly and without much internal support, and if I had had the time prior to the event I could have made more changes, but I frankly didn't think it was that big of a deal.

The Module

First, I'll say that I love that you guys (Goodman Games) support the event so well. A full length free module that isn't half taken up with advertisement for and rules for the game it supports is pretty great. The quality was just as good as the two paid 5th Ed Fantasy modules I own. So kudos and thanks for that.

My main issue with the module is that there is no way you can run it well and do it any sort of justice in the type of event at which it was given out. It's nifty that you put out a module at high level to give people a chance to play up there, but as with any D&D edition, the higher the level the longer everything takes. The module was simply too "high" to complete in a standard 4-5 hour con-style gaming slot.

I realize that you probably weren't "required" to make sure it could be completed in a con slot, but I feel like a little more awareness of how and where this module is being given out is in order. I ran the module, and at hour 5 they had just killed the baddie in the second "act." The store owner was by then making rounds asking people to start wrapping up. So running a module about defeating a dragon...and they never even got to face the dragon.

Now, again. If I had tons of experience running at high levels, maybe I would have known to just completely skip act 2 and gone on to the whole point of the module. But I don't, and it sounds like you guys knew when you designed it that most people don't.

So, cool module, we had a blast playing it, but it was a pretty big let down to have to just stop in the middle due to time constraints. Maybe next time stick to levels lower than 10 for a module that's clearly going to be played in-store in a con style slot.

Thanks again, and I can't wait for the next 5eF modules.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 12:58 pm 
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It was okay. Too much information to manage though. I think a less experienced group would find it overwhelming, but these guys were all grognards from wayback. If I run it again, I may actually back the PCs down to 10th and cut back on the available magic items. Either that or beef up the villains a bit. Even with all of his lair and legendary actions, Chlorothra was out in about four rounds.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 10:20 am 
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Here's how it went down. I hadn't explicitly promoted the adventure being for "12th" level characters on our meetup/sign-up page,(didn't realize it at the time). I did go back an edit it in about a week before the event, but I'd already had people sign up. Everyone who signed up were D&D newbies and the highest level character any of them had was 3rd level D&D Adventure League characters. Knowing this I made adjustments to my DMing style. Again, I want to point out that running a pre-event test game with my buddies really help make this session go more smoothly.

The adventure was to start at 11:00am. I live an hour away from the game shop. The shop opens up at 10am. I woke up early and gathered all my supplies and left my house at 9am. I grabbed some breakfast on the way to the game and arrived at about 10:30am. As I brought in my supplies, I realized I left my maps at home. If I tried to go back it would have been 12:30 before I could get back. I was soooooooo angry with myself. I put a lot of time on those hand drawn maps and didn't get to use them. I like to use theater of the mind for everything but combat. As a player and as a DM (with OCD) I find it very frustrating not to know exactly where the enemy is, my allies are, what terrain I can utilize, keeping up with range and movement, etc...

I introduced the adventure hook; the party members were urgently summoned to the Xulmec's Tribe to meet with the partys benefactor/mentor/father figure and who also happend to be a famous dragon hunter. They learned that he while he was exploring and gathering information about a nearby dragon's lair, he unknowingly contracted a rare "dragon's rot" disease that was quickly eating away at his body from the inside out. The tribal healer estimates that he has about a day to live. This rare disease was immune to magical cures and could only be treated with the rare herb "dragon's leaf". The tribes elders were aware of the dragon's leaf, but that the last of this rare herb was known to be in the possession of the ancient Tribal Shaman who left the tribe 100 years ago to stop the dragon Clorothra in his lair.

I included a link to the maps that I made: http://www.meetup.com/Ettin-Games/photos/26210320/#438891446

The players consisted one family of a mother/father/teen daughter and one family of a mom/teen son/teen daughter. I spent the first hour getting everyone acquainted with their characters, reviewing the features and magical items of each character. I was supposed to have two other players, but they overslept and no showed. The party consisted of Altonia (wizard), Dirkin (fighter rogue), Selpheria (ranger druid), Maidania aka "Mayday" (cleric) and the brother sister duo who both played Corinthia (rogue arcane trickster). We just renamed the brother - Fillion. Having recreated the characters sheets on a form fillable D&D character sheet PDF, I copy/pasted all the details about the features and magical items so they wouldn't need to look them up in the book. That part went really quickly with the exception of the wizard and cleric. Both of them had spell cards, (I had my own as well), the problem was that they were not familar with any of the higher level spells (3rd level and higher) and spent most of their time trying to determine what spells to prepare. In the future, I will choose the "prepared" spells for them and give the players an option to change the spells before the adventure begins. I finished up the intro by holding a war council with the famous dragon hunter who gave them ample loads of advice such as;

  • You HAVE to assume the dragon is there, even though he hasn't attacked the tribe in 100 years.
  • Fighting a dragon "inside" his lair is more challenging that "outside" his lair. If you enter his lair, and he is there, he WILL know.
  • Scout ahead! Use magic like arcane eye, or a very stealthy rogue, to prepare for any dangers that lie ahead, and to avoid surprise attacks.
  • Use your protections and magic before you enter the lair, not after you first encounter danger.
  • Dragons protect their treasure and usually have very tough challenges intended to weaken adventurers before they get to his inner sanctum. Be agressive, strike hard, strike fast, and overcome the challenges as fast as you can. The faster you end the battle, the stronger you will be if an when you face the dragon.
  • Based on the oral histories of the tribe, you believe Clorothra is a green dragon and thus likely will be poisonous.
  • Dragon's are "Legendary" creatures! They attack more frequently than normal creatures. They also have more defenses than regular creatures so you must weaken them first before dealing your massive damage spells and magic.
  • Dragon's inspire fear, prepare for it and ready ranged attacks if you do become frightened.
  • Dragon's Fly. Have ranged attacks or a way to bring him down or some method to challenge him in the air. Think ahead.
  • Dragons have breath weapons, stay together but spread out! It's better if only 1 or 2 take damage than everyone taking damage.
  • You need a combat healer, otherwise the difficult challenge of surviving increases!
  • Use the terrain to your advantage when possible, take cover behind a rock, cause a stalagtite to fall down upon your enemy, push the enemy into a lava pit, etc...
  • Dragon lairs contain a wealth of magic weapons/items, find them and use them!

This last part of the introduction really helped the adventure. They actually listened and implemented the advice!

Encounter One: Wizard used arcane eye and noticed 5 green dragons dive into the water as the entered the cavern, and thus avoiding surprise. They also cast water walking before hand to prevent getting knocked into the water. They stayed spread out but close enough to rush to each others aid if necessary. They did not get suprised and quickly dispatched the dragons. I occasionally made suggestions as what they might want to do. I tried to give them more than one option when I made suggestions as not to appear as if I was running their character for them. They found the items in the bone pit, the dwarven fighter rogue befriended the dwarven ghost, but the party was scared that the Coutal was a trap. Eventually they got up the nerve and freed the Coutal. I loved seeing the expressions on their face when he shape shifted into the blind shaman. They got really excited.

Encounter Two: This battle took a lot longer than it should have. I mostly blame my DMing skills, I'm not sure I adequately described the layout of the Medusa Chamber. I had a particular hard time describing where the ledge was in relation to the terraced levels. I had to repeat the room description several times. Not having a map, I found it hard to keep up with where everyone was and I had to keep track of the action. I believe they enjoyed the action even though I was struggling to keep track of everything (in my mind). They were ahead of the curve because they had used arcane eye to discover that they were fighting a half green dragon/medusa. I loved seeing their "holy crap" expressions when I showed them the picture! I continued to offer suggestions, to try to help move the combat along. The battle was also slowed up by the teens, who I could tell were overwhelmed by playing characters they were still trying to figure out. They finally ended the battle when the cleric used the mirror shield against the medusa which turned her to stone. I did notice how the parents of both families used teamwork while the teens were just kind of along for the ride... I purposely didn't exploit the blinking ability of the medusa's armor to help speed up the combat which was dragging on. They did not identfy the trap and the dwarven fighter rogue fell victim to the poison dart. Luckily they had the cleric to cure him. The game was running a bit longer than I had planned so I just allowed the efreeti to grant 3 wishes. The players did not know how wishes worked in D&D, but know that usually it's a trap. Just to be safe, they finally decided to just wish the Efreeti to help them fight the dragon.

Encounter Three: Here, I was in a dilema. Even though we started at roughly noon, it was now 4pm. I had plans for that evening and needed to leave at around 5pm. I knew with this group, that if I didn't make some on the fly adjustments, the battle would take forever. I wanted to make the battle short, action packed, but interesting. They knew something was up because of the advise of the mentor, they knew the dragon must be pretending to sleep. Again, I had trouble accurately explaining the lay-out of the dragon's den and keeping track of where everyone was. The party wasn't used to dealing with Cloudkill but the wizard wisened up and successfully cast dispel magic. As with the first time I ran this adventure, it took the party longer than I wanted to locate the dragon. I finally got the ranger to follow some tracks that led up the wall. The party was split up in the carvern, the two rogues were at the treasure horde fighting the "treasure golem", The wizard and cleric were near the entrance using ranged spell attacks. The dwarven fighter/rogue was in melee with the dragon in the alcove, the ranger was outside the alcove calling down lightning and using ranged attacks (gotta love that trifold arrow!). I'm pretty sure I goofed up the Lair actions and accidentally incorporated them into the Legendary actions. Basically, with the exception of the three automaic saving throws, I allowed the heroes to deal more damage than they probably should have while allowing the dragon to miss frequently but deal massive damage with the few attacks that hit. I really played up the narration of the combat. Had I just let the dice fall as they may, I'm pretty sure it would have been a close battle, but the dragon probably would have won.

Overall, eventhough I was frustrated with myself at times, I had a great time and the newbie players seem to enjoy themselves. Some of them mentioning that they can't wait to get their own characters up to 12th level!!!

I don't have time right now, but I do have some feedback/suggestions about the pregens as well.

-Jace


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:54 am 
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theimp wrote:
It was okay. Too much information to manage though. I think a less experienced group would find it overwhelming, but these guys were all grognards from wayback. If I run it again, I may actually back the PCs down to 10th and cut back on the available magic items. Either that or beef up the villains a bit. Even with all of his lair and legendary actions, Chlorothra was out in about four rounds.


I'd really like to hear how this played out in 4 rounds. Could you provide more details? I'm interested in how they determined the Dragon was an Illusion, how they dealt with the Cloudkill, Necklace of fireballs, and lair actions (while the dragon was hiding behind the illusionary wall).

Or did you mean once they discovered the dragon's true location that they took him down in 4 rounds? I'm assuming that the Effreeti, Coutal, and other conjured allies (like the elementals) probably played a large part in taking him down so quickly.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:28 pm 
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Jason Raper wrote:
theimp wrote:
It was okay. Too much information to manage though. I think a less experienced group would find it overwhelming, but these guys were all grognards from wayback. If I run it again, I may actually back the PCs down to 10th and cut back on the available magic items. Either that or beef up the villains a bit. Even with all of his lair and legendary actions, Chlorothra was out in about four rounds.


I'd really like to hear how this played out in 4 rounds. Could you provide more details? I'm interested in how they determined the Dragon was an Illusion, how they dealt with the Cloudkill, Necklace of fireballs, and lair actions (while the dragon was hiding behind the illusionary wall).

Or did you mean once they discovered the dragon's true location that they took him down in 4 rounds? I'm assuming that the Effreeti, Coutal, and other conjured allies (like the elementals) probably played a large part in taking him down so quickly.

One of the people they chose to free from Dracusa's statuary garden was the wizard that cast the programmed illusion spell, so they pretty quickly bypassed it. We were also running into the sixth hour at this point, so I cut to the chase. Cloudkill is unsurprisingly useless against targets that are immune to poison, such as the warforged cleric and the monk, and Xitlacotle cast Protection from Poison on the other three. That also made the dragon's fog attack useless against all but a couple of the NPCs. The big damage sources were the fire elemental summoned by Sultana Sulphura, the gold dragon's fire breath, a fireball launched by Allton, the monk's flurry of blows enhanced by Thorovar's weapon possession. The killing blow was delivered by detonating the necklace of elemental might. It did not help that I had given the monk a decanter of endless water, which she used very effectively to knock the dragon prone, twice. The group had spread out early, so I didn't use the necklace of fireballs right away. I was about to, when they gathered up around the prone dragon; but then they blew him into dog food.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:55 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

Joined: Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:06 am
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I like how you used the an NPC wizard to give them a heads up about the Illusionary wall. Next Time I run this and I'm short on time, I'll throw that in there. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:32 am 
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Gongfarmer

Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:36 am
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One other thought that I forgot to mention.

On the Medusa:

I'm fairly certain, based on the intended tactics of her "blinking" up to her vantage point, that she should have had a Breastplate of Dimension Door. Blink would only allow her to "teleport" 10 feet from her original position, whereas Dim Door would let her go from melee to her perch.


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