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Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Mors Rattus posted:

Yeah, as a CYOA it’s fairly innovative, I was just reading it as some heartbreaker at first.

I should note that there's a free Java-based version of the Fabled Lands gamebooks available here. I think there's also an Android version floating around out there.

The biggest catch about Fabled Lands is that it's only half finished. The creators intended to publish 12 books, but only six were printed during the dying years of the gamebook fad. The seventh got published through Kickstarter last year. This, of course, means that you will occasionally find yourself on quests that try to send you to books that don't actually exist.

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Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Selachian posted:

I should note that there's a free Java-based version of the Fabled Lands gamebooks available here. I think there's also an Android version floating around out there.

The biggest catch about Fabled Lands is that it's only half finished. The creators intended to publish 12 books, but only six were printed during the dying years of the gamebook fad. The seventh got published through Kickstarter last year. This, of course, means that you will occasionally find yourself on quests that try to send you to books that don't actually exist.

The JAVA game is a little broken. It adds the Combat bonuses of weapons to Defense.

As you noted, the FL series is actually up to seven main books with the release of The Serpent King's Domain a year or so back as a double-sized book with Paul Gresty as the writer. Dave Morris also rewrote the old Fighting Fantasy book, Keep of the Lich Lord to work under the Fabled Lands rules. Meanwhile, there are real plans to Kickstart Book 8, The Lone and Level Sands perhaps next year with Paul Gresty as the writer. There's also another remastered book by Paul Gresty that has been rewritten and mostly edited which could see publication at any given point.

While it was in a deep coma for a good long while, the Fabled Lands series is still very much alive and progressing, if slowly.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

Gave the java client a try as a Warrior. Did pretty well, until I got a mission to cross into a new book and immediately got my rear end kicked. Was fun though, and the first volume is only like 8 bucks, I think I'll try the actual book form

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Dragonlance



Dragons of Flame: Part 2, The Burnination

Chapter 9: To the Walls of Pax Tharkas

So, to recap, the closest thing the heroes have to a home town/home base has been burned down and occupied, they got captured, got rescued by dickhead elves, sat through a shitload of cutscenes including descriptions of how beautiful a "childlike" elf was and then said elf was kidnapped in the night, and no one gives a gently caress because finally they're going to get to raid the closest thing this module has to a dungeon, at least the module shouldn't be able to railroad them once they get there, right? So spirits high once more, they set out, now with Gilthanas and Tika added to the original party tally.

(As an aside, I forgot to point out that the party failing to heal Theros Ironfeld, the injured blacksmith that got tossed into their wagon, back in the earlier part of the module, would have caused considerable damage to the Dragonlance time continuum and storyline, but for some reason the game doesn't prevent you from doing this. So I guess it'll be your one act of rebellion for the module)

Onwards they trudge, to the SLA MORI, some sort of weird secret elven path into Pax Tharkas, but before they're even halfway there, BOOM! They walk into a glade full of corpses, one of the corpses turns out to be just a wounded guy who yells out "aaaaargh draconians aaaaargh" and then the party gets ambushed by Draconians, presuming they prevail, this turns out to be a wounded guy(Eben Shatterstone) they can actually save. He coincidentally has no where else to go, no pressing mission or lord he's serving, because he's not actually a wounded guy the draconians had wounded, he's an evil traitor out to betray the Heroes of the Lance, conveniently put right in their path.

So either the Dragonlord Verminaard knew exactly where they were going and put just one guy and pile of corpses in their way, and thus you have to wonder why he didn't block their path with, say, a spare dragon instead, or maybe one of his infinite supply of draconians, or he just happened to drop piles of fresh corpses and traitors all over the countryside to gently caress with random adventuring dickheads that might interrupt the Red Dragonarmy's part of world conquest. If someone stabs him, the corpse gets lost, presumably so he can fulfill some vital cutscene purpose later. Gilthanas encourages the party to stay on the railroad and bring this extremely suspicious guy along.

quote:

The sun has almost disappeared in the west; the imposing fortress of Pax Tharkas is nearer still. The tops of its two mighty towers rival the mountain peaks for control of the sky. Between the towers, a massive wall closes off all passage through the mountain gap. A single gate, 30’ tall and 20’ wide, seems to be the only entrance.

Suddenly, the massive gate swings open. Even before it finishes moving, after column of armed troops march out. Rising clouds of dust soon obscure their exact numbers, but surely several thousand pass from the fortress onto the plains. The road they follow leads to Qualinesti.

“The Dragonlords’ power,” says Gilthanas grimly. “The time has come.” The elven warrior points to a narrow vale leading into the mountains just east of Pax Tharkas. “Here lies the approach of the Sla-mori. We must move carefully: this valley is sometimes not a safe place.”

Gilthanas is pretty correct, as the party is forced into a scripted encounter with three Trolls. Trolls are pretty scary fuckers, the equivalent of sixth-level fighters that constantly regenerate hit points and can do upwards of 28 damage a round to a given target if they land all their hits, the sort of thing that can annihilate weaker party members in one blow. The only thing that puts down D&D trolls permanently is fire or acid damage, so unless you put them down far enough that you have time to build a bonfire and toast all their parts at your leisure, you need a mage with fire or acid damage options. Neither Gilthanas or Raistlin are high enough level to have much of this, so this is a serious slugfest that actually has a decent chance of dumpstering the party on pure numbers, even considering the party's numeric superiority, not needing to rely on Draconian paralyzing poison to do the job. If the trolls drop just a couple of party members(like, say, fragile Tika, Gilthanas, Goldmoon or Tasslehoff), they might win the damage race handily.

Assuming the trolls don't end up using the party's ribs for toothpicks, Gilthanas then kicks open the gate to the Sla-Mori...



It's a dungeon, it's a proper dungeon, it even has some degree of branching paths, hell yeah!

It also begs the question of why a famed fortress has a handy secret back door dungeon, if the elves and dwarves are so smart. Also it turns out someone's been there before, so the players don't have a dungeon all to themselves. If I remember right, the party canonically heads towards area 28 first, which only exists to give the party a free two-handed sword +3 that also does double damage to draconians and dragons, coincidentally the main enemies of this entire module series. This is an extremely generous reward, though outside of 100+ appearances, draconians, while the most numerous enemies of the module series, also tend not to be the most dangerous enemies so far.

Not having a spider sense, the party will then probably want to check out that door to the south... oh man is it gonna make them wish they had a spider sense, because it hides a giant slug. I mean, ha ha, right, a giant slug? What danger is that gonna be? Joke's on you, fucker, in D&D, giant slugs aren't just gross big things, they happen to be huge slabs of HP(thankfully with terrible armor class) that can vomit acid. It does a decent but not horrifying 1d12 damage by slamming and biting things, but 1d32 damage vomiting acid on them. I know that in 2e AD&D this acid spit has a limited daily use, at the very least, but there's no such note here or in the 1E Monstrous Manual.

I mean, sure, with the trolls, the party could wall off the weakest party members in the back and leave them to safely sling stones, arrows and spells, but not against the slug. It might just randomly 360 noscope Raistlin and melt him into a pile of goo and fizzing red robes on the first round of combat. How are you going to explain that one away, Dragonlance? Does he just get better? Does loving Fizban taxi him in later when he's vital to the plot? Maybe keep him in a little jug until he heals?

Best thing? That room has no treasure or any reward at all. It is 100% just a "gently caress you" to the players that has no purpose, and there's no warning that there might be a slug behind the doors, either.

If the players go into the other tunnels, they get such fun adventures as being ambushed by a wraith(another level drainer! This adventure really loves those.)

Hey, you want even more of a gently caress you? Let's say the players realize that this place is a loving death trap and send someone no one will miss, or at least someone who can sneak, like Tasslehoff to scout ahead. Well, see that looping tunnel at 31? It's kind of a soft lock/dead man walking situation, because the moment someone reaches the X down below, the door at 31 closes. It cannot be opened from the outside, only the inside, but it requires a combined strength of 50 to open. This means that a single party member, or even a group of party members, could just be permanently lost in there.

And no, neither Raistlin or Gilthanas know Knock or any other way to bypass this "gently caress you"-door which is either trivial or condemns half the party to death by starvation.

But let's say that, seeing the wraith and realizing they want none of that poo poo, the party runs on down to 32 instead. Huffing and puffing they enter a room full of closed doors and non-hostile zombies that just lie there. If they're curious and open a door? Zombies attack, the book does not describe if there's anything behind said doors that contain anything of interest, so presumably no. The wraith chases them? Zombies rise and attack. Cast any spell, perhaps for knowledge or to check for horrible "gently caress you"-traps? Zombies attack. Open the doors at the end? Zombies attack. Hope you like mass combat with 40 mooks at once, or that the players aren't too bloodthirsty to just leave by the doors at the south end of the room and just close them and agree to never go back.

Room 33 contains nothing, room 34 only contains a trap that does 3d6 damage by dropping you into a pit if you check it out.

The centerpiece of room 35 is a truly titanic chain stretching from the floor and upwards, someone sufficiently small and thiefy(i.e. a kender and no one else) could climb it and thus have a secret entrance into Pax Tharkas. In the book, Fizban and Tasslehoff climb it and Fizban pretend-dies in the room which leaves Tasslehoff heartbroken. So far in this module Fizban has only appeared as one of the "STAY ON PATH, PLZ" NPC's in Dragons of Despair, though un-named to the players. Presumably he had a larger role in the books because the canon party needed him to keep them on track.

Room 36 on the north side of the room is a secret vault full of gold... which is nigh-worthless on Ansalon so gently caress you for bothering to scout around, dickheads.

Presumably after sending Tasslehoff up the chain and hoping he dies there alone and suffering, the party continues to point 37 which is Pax Tharkas proper.

Chapter 10: The Tharkadan Towers





Any kender or other small-sized thieves sent up the chain arrive at area 61, everyone else who stays clustered tightly together and shellshocked by the bullshit they just dealt with(note again that NO COMBAT ENCOUNTERS have anything of value, only staying out of combat and restraining your curiosity extremely will reward you during the trip through the Sla-Mori) arrives at area 38.

Oh and, of course, we're apparently supposed to still have random encounter checks in most of the Sla-Mori and loving Pax Tharkas itself. At least inside Pax Tharkas it's just piles upon piles of pointless Draconian encounters.

Anyway! At 38, the party hears a young woman being menaced behind the door to 39. Obviously they kick it down, stab the draconian and oh joy of joys, it's Laurana who was about to get hauled off for some unspecified abuse. If the players bang off for a smoke break instead of saving her, she dies "an obscure death" but returns in a later module? Then why even say she dies, just say she vanishes or... whatever. gently caress this module. She doesn't become a PC yet and she doesn't serve any real point except presumably to make whoever plays Tanis feel either real uncomfortable because he's supposed to roleplay an awkward attraction to this poorly characterized teenage-equivalent elf.

Rooms 40, 41 and 42 are full of women prisoners, essentially, whose children are being kept locked up with Flamestrike, a red dragon, to make sure they and their husbands stay compliant. I'll note that I would NOT be unable to keep from playing this for comedy. Just imagine a loving mature red dragon having to deal with like close to a hundred rambunctious kids. "Keep your hands off that hoard!" "Stay away from those magical artifacts!" Hating it but not being able to incinerate them because they're the insurance policy against a slave insurrection, and I imagine the kids would soon realize they're the ones in charge, leading the dragon begging the heroes to rescue it when they finally arrive.

Anyway, guess who else is here? It's Elistan! Yeah, that guy that showed up for all of one brief sentence earlier in the module. You know, one of the other prisoners in the slave caravan. That the elves just told to go gently caress off. Whoops. Guess we know where those slaves ended up now, huh, guess most of them are probably dead, huh. loving elves. Anyway, Elistan got injured in the mines, so presumably whoever's playing Goldmoon gets the hint and heals him, which makes him go: "drat, son, guess the good gods are rad. I'm converted now." And he instantly becomes a low-to-mid level good-aligned Cleric of Paladine. Assuming the full canon party, and counting Laurana, Elistan and Eben, the party's currently at 13 characters. Poor loving GM managing this herd.

quote:

The women also send a group of 12 up to the mines to feed the men every night. They wear heavy shawls and robes to protect against the autumn chill, and the guards pay little attention to those in either feeding mission,

Thus, any characters concealed as these women would be able to move about the fortress fairly safely, as long as their movement could conceivably be one of these feeding missions. If the heroes do not think of this, Maritta suggests that armed men, disguised in women’s robes, could enter the chamber where the children are kept and rescue them.

If the PCs decide to make a rescue attempt in this way, Maritta has the following advice about Flamestrike:

"You must try to pass the dragon quietly, she sleeps very deeply. I don’t think she would normally harm the children-in fact, she seems very fond of them-but do not attack her, even if she should awaken. She is half mad, and there’s no telling what she might do if aroused.”

Yeah, I would absolutely play this dragon as just as much of a victim of the war as everyone else, just a cranky old grandma who wants to be left alone and maybe watch the children play.

With that sorted out, room 43 is just a Gully Dwarf Comedy Zone where a bunch of them run around like bad stereotypes of people with brain damage or Down's, and can be bribed for info on the fortress since while the draconians are keeping them around as guards(loving WHY, though? They're useless. At least in Xak Tsaroth they could be used as literal dead weight which is about all they're good for) they don't actually like the draconians in any way or form.

Room 44 is a storage room that mostly just contains a bunch of oil as well as rules for arson if it's used to cause a horrible smoke inhalation death for a large part of Pax Tharkas. The fire doesn't spread through doors, but assuming that not every door is closed by default or that some enemies might open doors to see just what the gently caress is causing all the black smoke to seep through the keyhole, there's enough smoke inhalation damage to, I kid you not, depopulate most of the fortress of everything that isn't intentionally hiding or a dragon unless they clear the gently caress out fast.

Marching upstairs, the party arrives in room 45.

quote:

This hallway is furnished with great care, creating an atmosphere of comfort and luxury. A plush purple carpet blankets the floor, and many tapestries of rich red and golden colors decorate the walls. Each of the several doors is made of dark-grained vallenwood and has golden rivets, hinges, and latches.

At closer examination, however, the luxury begins to wear thin. Great, dark stains blot the carpet in many places, and a wide muddy trail mars the center of the floor. Some of the tapestries, depicting pastoral woodland scenes, have been defaced: charcoal has been used to add a beard and mustache to an elven princess, and long slashes ruin a scene of elves and dwarves in council.

I'm sorry but this doesn't make the draconians seem like awful evil art vandals, it just makes them seem like giggling teenagers who have no idea what sort of damage they're actually doing.

Many of the rooms here mostly contain a chance for the players to not be sociopaths, a lot of the draconians and hobgoblins around the place won't specifically attack unless the players charge in going: "HO HO! FOUL CREATURES! FACE SMITING!" and are instead just chilling out, relaxing between duties and getting mildly drunk. Just about any gully dwarves the party encounter will eventually encourage them to go save Sestun who's being held captive in room 50(the gully dwarf cooks will also, I'll note, imply that Verminaard wasn't planning to torture Laurana, he was just planning to have dinner with her, which makes him sound a bit less like an evil mastermind and slightly more like a very desperate incel). If freed, Sestun creates some unspecified trouble around the place and then legs it, but generally the PC's will probably want to save him just because he helped bust open their cage when the slave caravan was attacked by the elves(I missed that little bit in the dense prose, my apologies). Generally PC's will tend to form a pretty warm attachment to any NPC that helps them out or just generally isn't a belligerent rear end in a top hat for no reason, i.e. any NPC's that aren't elves.

Room 51 contains a boss battle with Toede, Verminaard and Verminaard's red dragon, Ember. Generally this is not a fight the party has a hope in hell of winning, and they should just keep clear. As with Khisanth, Ember using his breath weapon is essentially a TPK scenario right away. If the party scouts before entering there, they'll know it's not a fight they can deal with, most likely, and they'll go next door to 52a, b and c, which are Verminaard's private quarters. There are a few minor magical items there(potions and scrolls) and a couple of traps including a save-or-die poison trap and a sleeping gas trap that will almost certainly get the entire party's throats cut by Verminaard when he comes back to change his giant work pauldrons for his giant pajama pauldrons. The PC's can also snoop on Verminaard's conversation with Toede in Room 51, to give Verminaard a tiny bit of character other than "bad, evil mans, terrible fashion taste."

After looting Verminaard's underwear, the party will probably come around to 55/56/57 which is where Flamestrike and the children are.

quote:

Flamestrike jooks every bit: as awesome as is usual for her kind, but a close look reveals that this dragon suffers some of the ill effects of age. Many of her teeth are blunted or broken (accounting for her lessened bite damage), while one of her eyes is cloudy and apparently blind. Long scars mark her weathered flanks, and she looks unusually slender, perhaps even scrawny.

Flamestrike lost her brood of young to an unknown enemy years ago, and this tragedy has deeply scarred her personality. She is a very careful guardian of the children, and would never harm one of them under any circumstance. She deals harshly with those she believes threaten “her” children.

Sadly, all that's accounted for here is the players either killing Grandma Dragon or further ruining her life by sneaking "her children" away from her a second time while disguised as women. I think it's a crying shame, and slightly heartbreaking, that there's no accounting for talking Flamestrike down. I mean, I think it'd be a pretty cool moment to have Verminaard gloating over the players astride Ember, preparing to incinerate them as soon as he's done cackling, and then they get blindsided by Flamestrike who might not be as strong as Ember any longer, but has age and experience to make up for it. It'd be the sort of thing that would be both narratively cool, and would allow the players the pleasure of fighting Verminaard on even ground while his dragon mount is getting suckerpunched by Flamestrike in the background.

They didn't completely miss the mark but... we'll see.

Flamestrike will wake up when the players are sneaking away with the kids, but not in time to stop them, just in time to get real pissed, and of course she can't vaporize them with her breath weapon on account of the kids.

Presumably the party then returns the children to their mothers, rather than hauling a caravan of scraggly children around for a while.

59 through 62 are primarily foreshadowing that Dragonlances exist to make dunking dragons trivial(via a cutscene where the party stumbles upon a bunch of paintings telling a tale about them and Pax Tharkas) and a chance for the party to get TPK'd. You probably noticed the dragon drawn next to point 43 at the lowest level, in the room with no doors. Room 60 lets you access said dragon and also lets said dragon access you by flying/crawling up and annihilating you. Do not go in room 60. 61 and 62 are about a mechanism that completely and for about a month's time blocks Pax Tharkas' primary gate, it's not explicitly spelled out, but the party's meant to lure out Ember and trick her into melting the giant chain with dragonfire to activate the mechanism, which prevents the army from Pax Tharkas(which has mostly moved out to gently caress up Qualinesti) from re-entering the fortress and either giving chase to anyone heading further south or from rooting out any freed slaves that remain in the fort to give them trouble.

Of course, we haven't actually gotten far enough to free the slaves yet.

63 through 70 are mostly just distractions, store rooms and kitchens and a few more prisoners that don't have any real narrative purpose, until the party reaches areas 71-73 which are the mines where the male slaves are kept.

The "win" condition for this module is essentially to bring the women and children to room 73 un-incinerated, at which point the male slaves butcher their guards with relative ease, Elistan starts organizing the slaves and the cutscenes take over...

quote:

If the heroes have rescued the women and children, Flamestrike will be battering against the barred doors, the men will have rushed down from the mines, and the thousands of troops that marched out of the fortress to the north will be rushing back to answer the alarms. The mass of people, around 800 of them, should be collected on the southern side of the great fortress.

...

Suddenly, with a splintering crash, the double doors holding Flamestrike fly outward. The great beast slithers out of the tower toward the crowd of prisoners.

“My children! You shall not have my children!” Her voice is shrill and strained. "Leave me my children!” she demands, lumbering down the gradual slope.

Now another great crimson shape appears, flying. Bellowing a challenge, a second huge red dragon lands on the mighty Tharkadan wall. On its back is the imposing figure of the Dragonlord Verminaard, still concealed by the fearsome mask. His voice booms through the valley. “This is the final insult! I have tolerated your impudence far too long.. .slaves are cheap and plentiful. Now you pay for your foolish daring!” As the people scream and turn to flee down the valley, his evil voice picks up more power: “Now, I destroy you! I destroy your wives! I destroy your children!”

As Ember leaps from the wall, Flamestrike pauses in her advance. Confusion shakes her as she looks from the children to the great engine of death above her. Suddenly, her dim eyes take on clear focus as she makes a decision.

Curling her long neck upwards, Flamestrike sends forth a horrifying spout of fire, straight at the flying dragon and the Dragonlord. With a scream, Verminaard is engulfed in the glowing cloud, and his dragon-steed bellows in pain. Quickly, the two dragons lock in a fearsome melee, thrashing their mighty bodies across the valley and bringing boulders tumbling from the mountainsides.

So the players get to cut down dozens upon dozens of mooks, but don't get to actually fight the big boss who's instead incinerated(though not actually killed, the module specifies that he survives) by a somewhat-sympathetic NPC that the players don't get a chance to help out but who quite possibly gets maimed or outright killed. In fact outside of fighting the giant slug, assuming the PC's actually put up with that hell of a fight, or the three trolls, this module has no actually memorable fights, just endless waves of draconians and hobgoblins from unspecified sources.

Anyway, the cutscene ends with the PC's and the slaves legging it south and hiding out in a small valley. Tired and hungry, but free, the challenge of surviving the next few days being a problem for the next module...

Kree! If Flamestrike was my grandma I might not have turned out to be a skeleton warrior! I could have become a skeleton doctor instead!

You said it, Skeleton Warrior. Waste of a good NPC.

PS: No, I didn't forget about Eben. Even though he could have annihilated the party and saved Verminaard at a number of points by just making sure they didn't escape Flamestrike or alerted Ember, he's not supposed to actually betray the party until DL3 where I presume it'll be part of something involving an infinite number of enemies if the players don't stay on the railroad tracks.

Next Up: Dragons of Hope

DisgruntledFerret
Aug 27, 2013


PurpleXVI posted:

Not having a spider sense, the party will then probably want to check out that door to the south... oh man is it gonna make them wish they had a spider sense, because it hides a giant slug. I mean, ha ha, right, a giant slug? What danger is that gonna be? Joke's on you, fucker, in D&D, giant slugs aren't just gross big things, they happen to be huge slabs of HP(thankfully with terrible armor class) that can vomit acid. It does a decent but not horrifying 1d12 damage by slamming and biting things, but 1d32 damage vomiting acid on them. I know that in 2e AD&D this acid spit has a limited daily use, at the very least, but there's no such note here or in the 1E Monstrous Manual.
I didn't know until just this minute, but there apparently is such a thing.


Look at this. This is what the hubris of mankind looks like.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


The heck?

Verminaard gets merked in a cutscene?

The whole Flamestrike vs whatsisname thing did happen in the books, too, and that's cool, hey, great, the dragons nullify each other, which left Ferminaard to fight the heroes. Given that he was a fairly high-level cleric with a magical mage and armor and all that jazz vs fairly low-level characters, he put up a good fight, but eventually went down in somewhat dramatic fashion.

That seems, uh, way better than the cutscene death.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Wait, Ember is a red dragon. Red dragons are immune to fire, why did she scream in agony when Flamestrike used her red dragon fire breath attack on her?

Who wrote this drat cutscene?!

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


EimiYoshikawa posted:

The heck?

Verminaard gets merked in a cutscene?

And then gets back up again once the PCs are at a safe distance. Don't forget that bit.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


PurpleXVI posted:

And then gets back up again once the PCs are at a safe distance. Don't forget that bit.

Oh, I guess I did miss that. ...of course I did.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Seatox posted:

Wait, Ember is a red dragon. Red dragons are immune to fire, why did she scream in agony when Flamestrike used her red dragon fire breath attack on her?

Who wrote this drat cutscene?!

Oh, that's easy: like everything else in 1E, red dragons are not immune to fire. They don't even resist it. You can light fire elementals on fire in 1E; the rules don't care. Works in the Gold Box games, too.

Prism fucked around with this message at 23:24 on Dec 6, 2019

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


For a setting with Dragon in the title, Dragonlance really doesn't use dragons very well as characters, does it? They're treated as giant, scaly flying horses, despite the average adult red dragon being a supergenius super-powered supervillain by the Monster Manual. "Let's just shove a pair of red dragons into a dungeon for fresh characters, I'm sure they can handle the TPK breath weapon dice."

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Prism posted:

Oh, that's easy: like everything else in 1E, red dragons are not immune to fire. They don't even resist it. You can light fire elementals on fire in 1E; the rules don't care.

ha. That explains it. They're "born immune to fire" by the time 2E rolls around.

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


Seatox posted:

For a setting with Dragon in the title, Dragonlance really doesn't use dragons very well as characters, does it? They're treated as giant, scaly flying horses, despite the average adult red dragon being a supergenius super-powered supervillain by the Monster Manual. "Let's just shove a pair of red dragons into a dungeon for fresh characters, I'm sure they can handle the TPK breath weapon dice."

Dragonlance definitely doesn't make its dragons into super-beings beyond their size and flight and toughness and ability to breathe fire and be as smart as people would naturally make them.

A lot of the 'dragons are all super geniuses and have class levels and multiple hundreds of hit points and immunity to most attacks and so forth' stuff really didn't exist before 3e, even with the Council of Wyrms (do I have that right?) campaign setting buffing them up.

They're still super strong and scary, but, you know, comparatively to other high hit dice characters, rather than being on a whole other level than a really high level fighter or even a magic-user in 1e/2e. To be fair, this was kind of the case in most campaign settings, not just Dragonlance, but the fact that they're right in the name didn't make them an exception to this does stand out a bit.

They're still super powerful (by mortal standards), thus making literal god-granted magical lances the only way to handle large numbers of them, but they aren't all supervillains, per se, just...villains (or heroic, such as the metallics go in DL).

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013




I think I prefer that to be honest.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!



Dragons of Flame, Part 2: 3rd Edition Changes

1. Eben Shatterstone is considered to have rolled a high enough Bluff result that the Sense Motive results are set in stone. A 28 or higher is required to find out that he's not being entirely forthright, and only a DC 35 or higher result (nearly impossible at this level barring a very high roll and min-maxing) indicates that something's wrong with him and not to trust him. There's no question of what happens if the Prophet/Goldmoon uses a Zone of Truth as a prepared cleric spell to get an answer out of him.

For anyone wondering, both modules made his alignment Chaotic Neutral so he won't show up on a "Detect Evil" spell.

2. The trolls are not as tough to deal with on account that they are weak to fire as well as acid. Fire-based spells such as Scorching Ray, Burning Sphere, and Fireball are much more plentiful in 3rd Edition, with the latter most likely having been learned by the Sage archetype/Raistlin on account of how many mook hordes are in these modules. 3rd Edition Wizards automatically learn 2 spells every level increase without the need to find existing scrolls or spellbooks, which mitigates the relative lack of fireball scrolls in the module.

3. The giant slug's pretty tough, but its acid spit does middling damage at most, but unless washed off with water continues dealing damage in perpetuity. The real problem is its paralyzing secretions and bite attack. The slug can also burrow through the ground, albeit very slowly. It's tough, but not one-hit kill tough unless the party's stupid enough to get within melee range after noticing it paralysis attack.

4. Gilthanas' spellbook contains the Knock spell and his stat block has it as one of his prepared spells, so the sliding door trap can be used to get around this. Additionally thanks to the wonders of skill checks a rogue can disable the trap via a DC 25 Disable Device check. A trio of gargoyles will try to kill any party members separated in the trapped corridor.

5. The zombie horde will not be triggered if someone uses a spell-like ability, but spells and magical items will do so. For those not in the know, a spell-like ability (SLA for short) is some innate magical power someone has, usually a monster or virtue of one's race or a Paladin's at-will Detect Evil. It's not something you gain in most classes, so the only time it may come up if one of the PCs is of a monstrous race with a fancy Level Adjustment.

6. The treasure vault no longer has gold ingots, which were long looted by thieves. Instead there's actual useful treasure in the form of a pair of boots and cloak of elvenkind, +2 Gloves of Dexterity, a masterwork shortsword, and a Charm of Animal Transformation which is a new magic item which can transform you into a specific animal form (in this case a fox).

7. In the AD&D module Laurana will cower in the corner while the PCs fight the draconians, but in this version she will grab a weapon if one's available and join in the fight. She has the stats of a Level 6 Noble, a rather underpowered class but she is far from helpless.

8. There's a rules system for general levels of "ALERTNESS" for guards in Pax Tharkas. The place is ordinarily big enough that individual clashes will not cause the entire complex to go on alert, but fleeing Dragonarmy soldiers and guards near the alarm systems may trigger one of two rope and bell systems on the big central wall area. Once rung, random encounter patrols increase, and 30 draconians in groups of 5 will begin scouring the complex in search of the PCs or any other suspicious characters. Said centarl wall area is guarded by Galang, a hobgoblin monk who's notable for the fact he prefers not to fight with weapons or armor (monks are quite rare on Ansalon).

9. The storage room makes no mention of using the lamp oil for arson purposes.

10. PCs watching Verminaard verbally berate Toede in the Throne Room have a chance to hide from Ember's gaze rather than being auto-spotted. But as Ember is an honest to god Challenge Rating 20 Old Dragon his +36 Spot check is almost impossible to dodge barring magical invisibility. FLamestrike is also similarly-powerful, although she has a special quality in her stat block of aging poorly reduce her abilities and features across the board, such as spellcasting loss and lower weapon damage.

11. Verminaard's private quarters no longer has a sleep gas trap. Instead it has a magical Glyph of Warding which triggers a Bestow Curse spell of an undefined nature, which is more of a debilitating debuff that must be magically healed than a potential TPK. His private dining room, which had a save or die poison needle trap, now merely does Strength damage instead. In fact this is a pretty significant change from AD&D overall, where almost all poisons were save or die by default.

12. PCs can engage in some social skill checks to convince Flamestrike that they’re Maritta, the head of the women prisoners, and also to convince the children to quietly follow them out of the room. Even if successful, a six year old as one of the last will call out “goodbye Auntie Dragon!” causing Flamestrike to be confused and then angry. In the original module she wakes up after a few dozen of the 180 children are out rather than nearly all of them.

We get black and white artwork of Flamestrike:



13. The dragonbattle cutscene goes just as it does in the original Chronicles, but with the aforementioned fire immunity being a thing in 3rd Edition it doesn't make sense.

14. I linked it earlier, but in my blog entry for updating the Chronicles I turned the Ember/Flamestrike into a boss battle of sorts where the PCs took control of Flamestrike while they lead the prisoners down a now-quaking mountain pass fighting Dragonarmy soldiers on the ground. To simplify things I had a list of moves for Flamestrike to use, and the residual dragonbattle in the sky could cause collateral damage on the ground.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 00:14 on Dec 7, 2019

Ultiville
Jan 14, 2005

The law protects no one unless it binds everyone, binds no one unless it protects everyone.



ChaseSP posted:

I think I prefer that to be honest.

"Super smart" is really hard to turn into an interesting character trait, so I agree.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Ultiville posted:

"Super smart" is really hard to turn into an interesting character trait, so I agree.

And "super smart" as an incidental to your entire species of giant min-maxed combat monsters makes it even harder. That's D&D ability scores for you. 3rd edition dragons don't even need it for their spellcasting (it's keyed off charisma, because sorcerers), they just get "you're a giant nerd AND a super-lizard" because reasons.

Also, here's a fun thing out of the OD&D Rules Cyclopedia about dragons and their immunities:

quote:

Dragons are immune to the effects of their:
own breath weapon type. Further, they automatically
make their saving throws against any attack
form that is the same as their breath weapon . For
example, a red dragon suffers no damage from
(and usually ignores) flaming oil, and suffers only
one-half damage from a fireball spell .

So, you could fireball basic D&D red dragons, but they no-sold their own breath attacks (meaning Red vs Red would be a badass contest of claws and teeth, not some sad standoff zappy fight)

Seatox fucked around with this message at 01:10 on Dec 7, 2019

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Kaza42 posted:

Gave the java client a try as a Warrior. Did pretty well, until I got a mission to cross into a new book and immediately got my rear end kicked. Was fun though, and the first volume is only like 8 bucks, I think I'll try the actual book form

The books are better than the JAVA, especially after the first one. Random encounters of sorts tend to be a thing in Fabled Lands and they tend to break down to Roll 1d6 or 2d6. On a 1-2 or a lower number, X happens. On a 5-6 or higher number z happens. On a 3-4, etc. there's no encounter and you proceed. And while in some cases the low number is a thing to fight and the high number is a useful item (even in the you can sell for shards sense), a lot of the encounters are flavor and/or informational. And you'll find yourself going through quite few of the same areas as you travel. So, once you've heard from the "wise friar" and know all the stories that Storyteller has, there's no reason not to just skip ahead via the "no encounter" section. Which is where you end up after the encounters are resolved anyway. Except that the JAVA program will not let you do that. You have to roll, have to go through whatever it and only then do you get to move on.

Also, remember the "personal agency" bit. You choose what quests you want and when you want to pursue them. The books don't care when you do them. Though if you go back to somebody who's issued you a quest without having fulfilled it, you will eat some version of "Why the gently caress are you here? Get back out there and get my poo poo done!"

Also, money/shards are very, very useful in this series. You can buy better equipment. You can also buy Blessings which give you re-rolls on failed Ability checks. Or protect you from the effects of something. Safety from Storms is nice, though traveling in a Galleon with an Excellent crew is almost as good. But Immunity to Poison/Disease is a literal godsend. And Luck lets you re-roll any other roll. Emphasis any. That enemy that just tagged you for a bunch of damage? Re-roll. It's expensive by really nice. Also, Resurrection Deals. Finally, there are potions. Potions can be drunk right before a roll or combat to add +1 to a specific ability for that roll or combat. And they add to the Ability. So drink a Strength (Combat +1) boosts your attacks and you Defense by 1 for that fight. Finally, potions can be used at any time - even during a fight. And there are healing potions too.

Prism
Dec 22, 2007

yospos


Seatox posted:

Also, here's a fun thing out of the OD&D Rules Cyclopedia about dragons and their immunities:

(...)

So, you could fireball basic D&D red dragons, but they no-sold their own breath attacks (meaning Red vs Red would be a badass contest of claws and teeth, not some sad standoff zappy fight)

That part isn't in the AD&D Monster Manual (I just checked) though it makes a lot of sense. Did they just... forget?

They did give them a (very small) bonus to saving throws against certain damage types, depending on what damage type their breath weapon was, and very good saving throws in general.

Prism fucked around with this message at 03:35 on Dec 7, 2019

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Prism posted:

That part isn't in the AD&D Monster Manual (I just checked) though it makes a lot of sense. Did they just... forget?

They did give them a (very small) bonus to saving throws against certain damage types, depending on what damage type their breath weapon was, and very good saving throws in general.

Presumably for the 1ed AD&D they decided that dragons weren't immune to their own breath weapon effect - so that hitting a red dragon with a lit torch could still do damage. For 2nd ed they went full tilt the other way. Fire/heat does nothing to red dragons (and gold dragons), etc.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

The old grey Forgotten Realms box had a page or two on how much more terrifying dragons are on Faerun, and those rules got folded into 2E by default.

Dave Brookshaw
Jun 27, 2012

No Regrets


PurpleXVI posted:

Don't forget btw that Elminster gets to Ed Greenwood's living room from his personal death star battle station orbiting the same star as Faerun(or is Faerun the continent, and Toril the planet? Whatevs.).

Faerun is the continent, Abeir-Toril is the planet. I wish I didn’t know that.

Dave Brookshaw fucked around with this message at 11:13 on Dec 7, 2019

Moldless Bread
Jul 10, 2019


The Dark Eye 4.0

The rules proper

The next pages recap how the Skill check works (Reminder: Succeed the three associated Stat checks, pay Skill ranks to lower rolls 1:1 and succeed if you have leftover Skillpoints .), what happens if your skill rank ends up negative due to penalties or starting values before the roll (apply the negative value as a penalty to ALL Stat tests) and how to deal with modifiers - penalties lower your skill rank, bonuses raise it. The fact that the notation for modifiers is inverted hits peak absurdity here when we are straight up told to Subtract +X from the skill rank and add -X.

Possible reasons for Modifiers are listed, which include injuries. We get referred to the basic rules for these despite those modifiers being right over there in With Flashing Blades.
Finally there is a table that suggests modifiers for relative difficulties (and examples of those difficulties for climbing). 0 is supposed to be routine work (Which, please note, you cannot succeed at routinely unless you have Stats and/or Skill ranks fit for High-Level heroes).
Bonuses go up to -7, Penalties go theoretically down all the way to +25.
There text also points out that not every action needs a roll, but the justification is that some things are too hard or too easy to meaningfully test, not if there are good reasons for the flow of the game. But, fine, these are purely rules.

So far for the basic rules, now we’re presented with optional ones - and start with half a missing sentence. Great Editing.

Open Checks are used when the binary pass/fail is not detailed enough. Instead the amount of SP* determine the quality of the check. Examples given are:
Determining the Quality of a crafted Item
Extended Checks where you roll multiple checks over a long time (with a very rough outline, details for these checks are usually given in the specific subsystems)
Using the quality to determine how far characters travel in a chase or on a map
If you’re not under time pressure and there are no consequences for failure, you can just take half your skill rank as quality without rolling. That’s neat, I didn’t know that.
Bonus modifiers, by the way, don’t count towards quality, only for changing the rolls.
The text actually mentions two more examples of open checks: One is voluntary penalty to Improve quality or save time - So you add a basic modifier to improve in quality/speed and then roll the check to determine SP* for a different axis, I suppose?.
The next example mentions comparing quality in a contest to determine a winner. Which is a reasonable mechanic, but, uh…

Compared Checks are next, and they don’t actually compare. Instead, the quality of one Check acts as modifier to an opposing basic check.
We then get a sidebar on how to decide if we use an open or a compared check. Compared checks are supposed to be for one skill countering the other (Perception for Sneaking, Read People vs persuasion etc.) while open checks are used to find out who did it better without confrontation (Song contest, higher quality Item), which is arbitrary as gently caress.

You might think I’m nitpicking here (And I kind of am), but the sidebar mentions (yes, in german, too): If we want to compare two skills, we use the open check, if one skills counter the other, we use the compared check, and, I mean, come on!

The next optional rule are critical failures and successes on skill checks. If you roll two natural ones (0.71% chance, the book tells us), the skill checks succeeds automatically with all Skill points remaining, regardless of the actual math, double twenties are equally an automatic failure. You also get a special experience, another layer of complexity added to the advancement system that we’ll get to later.
Triple ones and twenties (0.0125%) are exceptionally spectacular successes and failures that also produce additional positive or uncomfortable side effects, details are up to the GM.
Triple ones also raise the skill immediately, no EXP necessary, while triple twenties are justification to put a character in a life threatening position (but should not be lethal on its own, we’re helpfully told)

The last rule points out that the associated Stats can be changed at the GMs discretion.

So those rules I just summarized take up three and a half pages. Now, TDE posits itself as beginner friendly game, so I understand you can’t just throw out a bunch of jargon without explanation, and a decent part of this length are examples on how to make those checks (wordy ones with attached narratives, but clear enough examples).
But there is no summary. No reference chart for quick overview, no TL;DRs at the end. Every time a newbie wants to clarify a ruling or just remind themselves on the procedure, they have to read the whole text, including rationalizations for rules, slightly flowery language and half-serious comments directed at the reader with a wink to make sure they don’t miss anything..
And that’s not that bad here, because these rules are actually kinda concise. It gets worse later.

Next Time: 21 pages of skills. Don’t worry, I’ll summarize... a bit.

---
Culture Corner

The Foundland in the northeast of the continent gets described as a vast, harsh place with endless forests and long winters, only made bearable by copious amounts of Meskinnes brandy . The serfs are old-fashioned and superstitious, but good natured and treat their local Bronnjar (noble) with absolute, almost deifying respect, despite them being hinted to be cruel despots, even though some of them are just as poor as their serfs.
Bronnjars gather each 5 years to elect a Marshal, the de facto ruler of the foundland. They also use this occasion to have an enormous, several day long feast where many guests drink themselves to death.
Clothing wise, the serfs are only allowed to wear fur from cats, dogs and rats, while the Bronnjars like to wear ‘proper’ fur, including the obligatory bearskin cap.
Foundland names have strong eastern european/russian sound to them: Dunjascha, Salwinja, Bosjew, Pedder...
The culture costs 0 GP and gives a pretty nice selection of +1s all around. Some skills even get a +2 (including carousing, naturally). Variants are living on the coast, in smaller towns (for Festum we’re advised to take the Garetia culture), and of course the Rural noble, if you want play someone who is considered an utter rear end in a top hat even by other nobles.

Profession Parade

Ensigns are (the lowest rank of) officers in the standing armies of the Middle Realm, Horasia, Al’anfa or Arania. Since they are expected to lead the troops, they aren’t actually great fighters but get a lot of social and knowledge skills in return.
Ensigns come predominantly from noble or rich families and are expected to serve for several years in the military after they finish their training, but PC Ensigns are expected to have buggered off in return for a generous donation - All Ensigns start with the In Debt disadvantage. The text points out we could also play honorable discharged veterans instead of paying the money, but doesn’t give any help in resolving the mechanical clusterfuck of replacing a disadvantage with an advantage.
There are three sample schools that get a full writeup and then 13 statblocks for other schools.
The Imperial Warkhome Academy for Strategy and Tactics trains staff officers for all possible military branches. It brings its cadets to their physical limits, teaches warcraft as well as Social skills and theory and drills their students in absolute discipline. A warkhomian doesn’t make embarrassing mistakes, indeed. Except, of course, for training Helme Haffax, the Aventurian Sun-Tzu that joined Borbarad’s demon invasion as his field marshal.
Mechanically, they are rather pricey (17 GP), get decent to good skill arrays in all skill groups except nature (but few characters will ever use the breadth of their weaponskills), armor proficiency for chainmail for free and several basic discounts for feats. Like all Ensigns, they start with a code of honor and a lot of debt.
The Horas-Imperial cadet institution for education and preparation of young officers belonging to the Fleet for preserving Order and civilization on the sea from Grangor has a name that is longer than the writeups of some of the more mundane professions later on and trains naval cadets. Aside from the general warfare and etiquette lessons, a large part of the education is naturally concerned with seafaring, before the cadets spend some years on a training ship. A lot of graduates leave the navy to work on merchant ships, instead.
Rules wise, graduates from this school cost 20 GP and are pretty similar to the others, save for all the naval skills and feats and being only trained in rapiers and siege weapons.
Keshal Hashinna ai Baburin (Fortress of the brave in Baburin) is an Aranian academy and trains cavalry officers to lead their troops and fight with sabers, lances and bows. It was created during the Mid-realm occupation, but leaned hard towards Tulamidian traditions when Arania became a sovereign state. This school is closely affiliated with the church of Rondra and one of the few places to teach the outdated art of chariot warfare, surprisingly without mentioning Rondras divine chariot even once.
Mechanically, they are a bit cheaper than most other cadets and there aren’t many surprises in what you’re getting.
The entry ends with the stat blocks (and the occasional very short description) of the other academies around the continent, none of whom have any novelties (aside from there not being a proper writeup for an infantry school).



Spell selection

Dread shape enchants a single person and makes them see the caster as a terrible creature summoned from their own subconscious, so any phobia disadvantage makes the spell easier to cast. It takes a weirdly long time to cast, though and has a very suspicious gesture (doing the “Frankenstein walk” toward the victim), so I’m not sure in what situation it’s useful? It also works a bit weird in that the victim is frozen in fear for a number of combat rounds dependant on the quality of success, and then has a chance to pass out afterwards. Definitely effective in locking someone down if you manage to land the spell though. And if you’re mean, you can give them lingering nightmares with this.

Analys Arcane structure is the identify spell that almost every wizard knows. It takes some time (At least 5 minutes, can be extended to several hours) and gives a scaling result based on the checks quality, starting with some vague guesses at 0 SP* and ends being able to identify the individual caster of the spell at 8 SP*. That’s actually pretty low for full information, but the book expects there to be penalties from unfamiliar Traditions or deception spells.
Identifying potions and magic Items is apparently more complex and we get referred to the respective chapters in With Knowledge and Will.

Soothe fears is a witch spell that - well, soothes fears and allows a character to re-roll a failed courage or successful fear check with bonuses. Can also be modified to counteract fear spells.
Other traditions are also decently familiar with the spell.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



ChaseSP posted:

I think I prefer that to be honest.

From what I remember in the 1E days, there was a general feeling that dragons were too weak for what were supposed to be some of the most fearsome enemies in the game. Even the mightiest huge ancient red dragon had "only" 88 hp, and dragons were subject to special subdual rules that other monsters weren't. This led to many variant rules intended to power up dragons, particularly adding more attacks (tail lash, wing slap, etc.), and eventually to 3E's supergenius caster-dragons.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


The resolution system for TDE is like...this is why I'm happy WHFRP just uses a straight percentile.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

I'm working on the next Legends of the Twins post, but for those interested I set up a thread on RPGnet for people to vote for their favorite Alternate Krynn.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Dragonlance



Dragons of Hope

Alright guys prepare for-



Oh my God what's wrong with your faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

Ahem, Dragons of Hope. It's the next exciting installment in the original arc of Dragonlance modules, and keep in mind we're still in the first book so far. To recap, first the players rediscovered proof of the true gods and reintroduced divine magic on the side of good to Krynn. Just to gently caress things up, the Dragonarmies serving Takhisis attacked shortly after, conquering and burning most of the heroes' homelands and known regions, occupying what they didn't destroy. The heroes were captured and rescued by elves, who needed the heroes as a sick commando squad to distract one of the armies headed for their homelands and force them to fall back, so the elves could escape. The heroes pull this off with the help of a heroic (and slightly insane) dragon grandma who bravely gave her life for the sake of saving a bunch of kids, despite ostensibly being a Chaotic Evil red dragon, and are now leading some eight-hundred refugees south away from the pursuing dragonarmy of Verminaard.

We're given some rules for how fast these refugees will die, and we're meant to not let all of them bite the bucket. If they have to sleep out in the open, if they're without food, if they're camping but not going anywhere(????? are they sharkfolk or something?) or any time a situation causes them to rout and panic.

There are also some kludgy and half-assed rules for adjudicating whether the combat-capable refugees(about some forty Fighter-equivalents) die like mooks or rout the enemy if they're used to deal with large numbers of bad dudes, as well as rules for Refugee Politics. Immediately after first making camp, the refugees set up five political blocs just to make themselves problematic for the players, each with their own leader. Elistan(former Seeker, now a Cleric of Paladine) leads one group and generally works with the PC's(70% of the time). Locar leads the still-faithful Seekers(even though it's literally just been proved their supposed faith was a crock of poo poo with no divine power) and will actively spite and vote againts the players any chance he gets(supporting them only 10% of the time). Briar leads the surviving Plains Barbarians and is "good and friendly" but still fucks over the PC's 70% of the time just because. Brookland is another good person, the leader of the elves and half-elves among the refugees, and just spites the PC's 60% of the time because he's a dickhead elf. Eben Shatterstone is a literal traitor who's snuck into a leadership role among the refugees and will gently caress them over only 50% of the time, which means that this literal traitor is more reliable than Briar and Brookland, despite them being good and sympathetic.

Now, of course the refugee council doesn't just vote on straight percentile rolls, no no. They have a bunch of modifiers to gently caress over the PC's. Every dead refugee, for instance, is a -1, so once 1/8th of the refugees are dead, the PC's can no longer command the refugees at all. Each day, and each time they've broken camp, are also a -5 each, so welcome to a -10 penalty for each day. Literally the only ways for the PC's to improve the chance of the council agreeing with them is to find a bunch of food or to reach a specific location on the map.



Sorry for the poor map quality, I had to staple it together from eight separate images, none of which actually lined up correctly. The following map may be slightly more readable:



Chapter 11: The Way

The players start at the X(marked in red) and are meant to escort the refugees to Area 21(also in red) where they can finally dump them off safely, after which point they're meant to find the ancient lost dwarven kingdom of Thorbardin so they finally have a place to hole up for a while. For maximum helpfulness and ease of use, the map starts out the PC's and the refugees right next to areas 4 and 22, rather than, say, areas 1 and 2. Good design, module, good design. The module assumes that the players get attacked right off the bat, but if they collapsed the gates of Pax Tharkas with thousands of tonnes of rubble in Dragons of Despair(as the party did, canonically), Dragons of Despair explicitly says this delays pursuit by several days. Dragons of Hope does bring this up later, but still has you eat a flood of draconian attacks as your fun introduction to the adventure.

Then the refugees camp for the first time, the five faction leaders tell the PC's to eat a dick and they're running this show now, but still demand that the PC's feed them and find them safety. They do at least indicate to the PC's that they should be looking for the entrance to Thorbardin and that the necessary clues for access are rumoured to be hidden under a mountain shaped like a skull, once the fortress of the evil mage Fistandantilus.

You'll also constantly be dealing with Verminaard's dragon army in hot pursuit. They take over one "encounter area" every four hours, apparently chosen at random or by the GM, starting with one bordering Pax Tharkas(the X) and then occupying something else adjacent to something they already occupy every time. Since the dragonarmy doesn't advance in hexes, this means that their advance, depending on the size of the area they march into, can be very slow or extremely rapid. Since there are only 30 "encounter areas," this also means that after five days, they'll have claimed the entire map.

Every 6 hours there's also a 10% chance that Verminaard and Ember(who survived, RIP Flamestrike, you were a good girl) swoop out of the sky and just incinerate 1d6 refugees or launch a full-on attack on the PC's(again, dragon breath, TPK, etc. I've pounded this drum enough, it's a loving stupid encounter and should never happen). Worse yet, there's a chance the party might run into Fizban who's standing around arguing with a tree or something similarly idiotic and instantly glues himself to the party and the refugees. Fizban is, as has been mentioned before, Paladine, who will cheerfully stand by acting like an old man with Alzheimer's while a red dragon is incinerating them inches away, rather than, you know, smiting it with holy power or otherwise saving anyone, thus suggesting that "Good" on Krynn is a very relative term.

quote:

A strange, ragged old man is just ahead of you. He wears a long beard and a floppy hat. He seems to be deeply involved in conversation with a large tree. The tree does not seem to be responding. As you watch, the old man gets very frustrated that the tree is not answering.

Running down the clock means that we get the usual failure state of "endless draconians attack until all PC's and NPC's are dead."

The outdoors encounters are generally not exceptionally exciting, and little seems to indicate that Area 21 is a safe place to stash the refugees, so either the players will have to haul that whining mob through Skullcap mountain with them, or they'll be wandering at random with refugees dying left and right and drowning in bogs like unattended children until they randomly bump into the safe zone. Most of the combat encounters, presumably to account for the PC's having 50-something low-level henchmen along, tend to involve large numbers of monsters, like an entire hive of giant bees(rip cute bees, but the PC's need your honey to feed the refugees) or an entire village of hill dwarves that the PC's can fight if they're dumb assholes. In other places, Fizban's brand of slapstick comedy ends up causing up to 6d6 damage to every PC as his magic drops them into a crevice in a glacier, potentially killing up to 10 refugees as well. Any party that doesn't crucify him and leave him to the dragonarmies are raw sociopaths.

quote:

The highlands end in a precipice that drops into a steep canyon leading southwest. On the northern edge, an ancient cobblestone road runs straight into a sheer cliff face in one direction and onto a large bridge in the other.

The bridge is weathered, its stones loose. Great arches rise out of the glacier. The bridge leads to a road on the other side. The span of the central arch has given way-a gap of 30 yards blocks passage over the bridge.

The glacier drops 50 ft. and levels off. The glacier is very smooth; a climber could easily slide into the canyon and the unknown lands beyond.

“Stand back!” Fizban suddenly cries, acting as if somebody just woke him up. He stares out across the bridge and then spreads his arms wide, his sleeves flopping over his hands. “I see the way! Behold!”

His hat topples over his face. “The powers I . . . uh . . . powers I . . .” He crosses his eyes at the tassle that swings in front of his face. “Uh, oh . . . yes . . . powers I bring forth!”

With a flurry and rustle of loose sleeves, the strange magician looses his spell. Improbably, a bridge span appears to cover the gap, bathed in brilliant light and apparently made completely of silver and gold.

Fizban’s triumph is short-lived. Moments later, the bridge collapses completely on both sides, taking the ground on which you stand with it. Fizban falls first, quickly disappearing into the canyon below. Uncontrollably, you slide down the glacier chute. The last thing you see as you slide off at breakneck speed to the southeast is the golden span, still floating high overhead.

gently caress. Fizban.

Other places spawn infinite numbers of escalating-in-size ogre squads until the PC's leave, for no clear reason. All of two places the PC's can actually find any food supplies to help keep the refugees alive, these places are easily missed, and without food, the mounting deaths of refugees(and lacking the bonuses from finding food) will find the council voting against every plan and suggestion the PC's have. At this point the GM is effectively in charge of where the PC's go, or the refugees sit around sniffing their own farts until the dragonarmies murder them.

Technically this isn't a failure state but the adventure assumes the PC's give a poo poo about the refugees and also that Elistan survives, so likely the PC's should try not to get them killed.

Generally this entire section feels like it would be greatly improved by having the pursuing dragonarmies as more of a narrative thing than an actual mechanic for them, since the mechanic for them is mostly just "if you go to any of these places by accident, you get ded by many dragon lads, do not go there." In general the mechanics seem to harm this section considerably, and it feels like it would be helped a lot if it was more focused on the refugee politics. Rather than keeping track of individual units of food and blankets, and exactly how many refugees are dead. Just have it as more of a balancing act whether the party wants to play peacemaker or just stick with the councilmembers that support them primarily. Hell, maybe give us some opinions that the councilmembers would have on their quest to seek refuge with the dwarves, rather than just "this guy will be an rear end in a top hat 90% of the time just to gently caress with you."

The refugees can travel 12 hexes per day without stuff like tossing the sick and injured off a cliffside to speed themselves up, so unless you know exactly where to find food ahead of time, starvation scenarios are more or less guaranteed, especially since both places the PC's can find more food are relatively northerly and thus pretty likely to be rapidly gobbled up by the Dragonarmy once they get on the move.

Ultimately this section is pretty dull and there are only two places that really break it up. One is, obviously, Skullcap, the other is the optional Outpost Mines.

Chapter 12: The Outpost Mines



Look at this loving spaghetti mess of a map. Sure are a lot of rooms. And areas.

Shame they're all loving pointless.

All it contains is some ogres to fight(no loot, no real story relevance), more loving gully dwarves(stupid, annoying, useless) and a talking monolith full of ANCIENT WISDOM... that it can use to dispense some exposition about Fistandantilus and nothing else.

Basically Fistandantilus went: "Har har! The Cataclysm has occurred and I am a masterful genius of magic! Clearly, any day now, the world will appreciate me and my kind. We will rule all with our mega-intellects. ANY DAY NOW." [hundreds of years pass] "Any... day... now... gently caress this poo poo, I'm gonna go conquer some dwarves." And then he gathered an army of refugee dwarves that Thorbardin had not let in, waged war on Thorbardin, and when he lost he got so salty about it that he blew himself and his fortress up in a giant magical explosion.

He's, uh, a very nuanced character, you see.

No he's not, I'm lying.

Chapter 13: Skullcap

So, you know, if you're a GM, just hide the map, give the players vague instructions and move them in the right direction rather than loving them over with the bullshit that the game actually wants you to visit on them. The players put the refugees into daycare at area 21, and then find Skullcap just mere moments later, a great big literally skull-shaped mountain ruin rising over a cursed swamp that occasionally attacks the PC's with ghosts. If I remember right, a large part of Dragons of Hope, if not all of it, wasn't actually in the books, it was just sort of a casual timeskip from Pax Tharkas to the end of DL4. I loving wonder why, possibly because not even the world's greatest author could make this poo poo interesting. Maybe Stephen King, though, I could see this being a grim horror novel about players trapped around the table by some sort of demonic dungeon master forcing this on them.


"gee Raistlin where did the rest of the module go" "we lucked out and the guy playing Tasslehoff stole half the pages off the GM, it's better this way, trust me"



Skullcap is a relatively large dungeon, at least in terms of areas. It contains exciting things like more dragons to murder the players(A Shadow Dragon, to be exact. It says that it'll talk to anyone it hasn't killed yet, but says nothing about whether or not it'll attack at random like just about every other creature in these modules. The difficulty of Skullcap depends a lot on where the players go first, since in the Armory(area 61) they can literally recruit an adult Brass Dragon who's been frozen in time for hundreds of years, he'll cheerfully accompany the party as long as they're not the world's hugest dickheads and they can use him to help fight the Shadow Dragon if they want to raid its treasure hoard, though that seems like a pointlessly dickish thing since the writing seems to mostly imply that the shadow dragon will just chill out unless the players attempt to do just that, raid its hoard.

There are also some incredibly sick treasures to find in here, like a loving Vorpal Longsword +3, for those not learned in D&D Lore, Vorpal Swords have a chance to just one-shot any enemy they hit, lopping off their enemy and icing them no matter how much HP they happen to have. The majority of the rooms though are essentially just empty space, unless your GM is a sociopath who uses the random encounter tables verbatim, which means that in Skullcap there's a 10% chance per 30 minutes that enemies will randomly show up and attack. And of course, in Skullcap that means multiple chances of level-draining undead as well as, randomly, a bunch of Kender prisoners that could just happen to be there. What are still-living Kender prisoners doing in a loving fortress that's been abandoned for hundreds of years? Most of the fixed encounters are just more level-draining undead, too. There are, of course, also some classic wacky wizard traps like "room that shoots 10d6 damage fireball at you and TPK's the loving party lol."

The primary goal here, except for collecting those pieces of sick magical loot and your friendly brass dragon, is to reach area 92 or 93 where you'll finally get told where Thorbardin is as well as how to find the entrance(though finding both would be preferable, 92 has a small PLOT DUMP and 93 has loot).

93 just has a map to Thorbardin, 92 instead has a magical helmet that makes anyone who puts it on be temporarily possessed by the spirit of an ancient dwarven prince who tells them about the war against Fistandantilus as well as how to find Thorbardin. Either counts as the information the party needs to get to the finish line. Access depends on having either the right spells or finding the right keys around the place, the party can also stumble across Fistandantilus'(gently caress I'm getting tired of writing out that name) Demilich remnants which will just watch them spookily, neither communicating nor attacking unless the party attack it first.

In general Dragons of Hope could have had a lot of potential, players leading the desperate refugees from Pax Tharkas into the wilderness and protecting them, but Skullcap feels like a very pointless side trip there just to make sure the module has a dungeon. Just have them know where the isolationist kingdom of Thorbardin is and focus on the hardships of the route... like so many other things about Dragonlance, it feels like a missed opportunity. The GM would also have to really provide most of the roadside conflicts, since the module does almost nothing to suggest them or provide any pre-made other than "the refugee leaders will pointlessly and spitefully tell the players to go hosed when they suggest a course of action or destination."

At least it can only get better in...

DL4: Dragons of Desolation

Kree! You know that's a lie, coward, unless they canonically shove that fucker Fizban off a cliff!

C'mon, Skeleton Warrior, language, there might be kids reading this.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Wait, so Paladine is actively killing off his own worshipers through negligence and monkeycheese antics?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Seatox posted:

Wait, so Paladine is actively killing off his own worshipers through negligence and monkeycheese antics?

You know my general theory that D&D gods are idiotic, murderous parasites was founded by Forgotten Realms and all, but it just keeps happening!

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Selachian posted:

From what I remember in the 1E days, there was a general feeling that dragons were too weak for what were supposed to be some of the most fearsome enemies in the game. Even the mightiest huge ancient red dragon had "only" 88 hp, and dragons were subject to special subdual rules that other monsters weren't. This led to many variant rules intended to power up dragons, particularly adding more attacks (tail lash, wing slap, etc.), and eventually to 3E's supergenius caster-dragons.

I "loved" the subduel rules. "Yep, I'm gonna make this evil, centuries old engine of fiery destruction into my flying horsie by spanking him with the flat of my blade."

As for DL3, in terms of the novels, you finished the books in DL2. The books had a pretty decent final fight with Verminaard and had Flamestrike sacrifice herself to kill Ember. Cut to Book 2 and some southern city near the Krynn South Pole? that I don't remember and the refugees are safe with the party splitting up to do other poo poo.

Everyone fucked around with this message at 01:59 on Dec 8, 2019

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

You can have the last word, but I'll have the last laugh!

Seatox posted:

Wait, so Paladine is actively killing off his own worshipers through negligence and monkeycheese antics?

Imagine seeing the healing miracle of Goldmoon's divine magic, converting after realizing you were wrong all along and that "The Gods did not leave Krynn, Krynn left the Gods."

Then when all seems darkest and you die at the hands of a whacky wizard, you go to heaven and find out that whacky wizard is your god.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Libertad! posted:

Imagine seeing the healing miracle of Goldmoon's divine magic, converting after realizing you were wrong all along and that "The Gods did not leave Krynn, Krynn left the Gods."

Then when all seems darkest and you die at the hands of a whacky wizard, you go to heaven and find out that whacky wizard is your god.

That kind of rates a "gently caress you! gently caress YOU! Send me to Hell, you unbelievable deific oval office! Hell is better than eternity with you!"

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Night10194 posted:

You know my general theory that D&D gods are idiotic, murderous parasites was founded by Forgotten Realms and all, but it just keeps happening!

The worst bit is that Paladine is a lovely knockoff of Bahamut the Platinum dragon, who in every other setting is a subtle god of protection, mostly against evil dragons, yet here's Fizban just letting a Red Dragon strafe the refugee caravan. No subtle "inexplicably, none of the refugees were injured, despite all the dragonfire", "you wake up in the morning to find a whole bunch of dead draconinan soldiers something killed in the night" or other hints that the Old rear end in a top hat Magician is actually The Patinum Dargun (legally distinct from the Platinum Dragon). No, he's just a loving millstone around the already hosed over party's neck.

Crucifying him as a distraction for the dragonarmies is being merciful.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

You know what's even worse?

They reused the fucker for their Death Gate novels. Only they called him Zifnab.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


It would be so easy to have the silly washed up old conjurer along with the party and have their antics just keep 'happening' to help save refugees and help out, instead.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


I'm sure they're going to lean on some kind of "oh putting up with all of Fizban's idiot murderous antics were a TEST! OF YOUR WORTH AS HEROES!" crap at some point. That's loving abuser logic, Hickman, you hack.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


Seatox posted:

Wait, so Paladine is actively killing off his own worshipers through negligence and monkeycheese antics?

It's almost like a significant part of DnD canon was written by socially maladjusted rear end in a top hat GMs who got off on power trips or something. Probably because those are the only people who were emotionally invested enough in their games to obsessively compose novel series out of them because that is not something a normal human being would do. The emotional investment required to write module after module for chump-change is also the same sort of thing that sane people don't put up with and explains a lot about fantasy heart-breakers in general.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Bieeanshee posted:

You know what's even worse?

They reused the fucker for their Death Gate novels. Only they called him Zifnab.

Oh god...I read both of those and never noticed. There must have been too big a gap for it to leap to mind.

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


Yeah, the books basically skip 90% of this nonsense. They especially don't have the party recruit a dragon, since it's a big surprise later on when they find out there are good dragons...

(What happens to your brass dragon buddy? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume the later modules don't bother taking into account that you might have a full sized dragon with you...)

(And if they're cool with having the party recruiting dragons this early, why couldn't Flamestrike join the heroes? RIP Mad Aunty Dragon.)

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Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Seatox posted:

I'm sure they're going to lean on some kind of "oh putting up with all of Fizban's idiot murderous antics were a TEST! OF YOUR WORTH AS HEROES!" crap at some point. That's loving abuser logic, Hickman, you hack.

Nope, not even a little bit - in the modules, anyway. I think in the novels Fizban didn't come off as quite as much of a "Tom Green with funny Alzheimer's" but I could be wrong.

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