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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


BC has a hilariously broken advancement system where your alignment to a God is determined solely by how much EXP you spend in their domain, which then sets your EXP costs for everything. I think the board here forgets about it because it's popular here to just houserule in declaring which God you follow, but it is just plain awful. They tried to cut out careers and the interim solution just wasn't great.

BC is like DW in that it's a better game than it has any right to be, and one of the best 40kRP campaigns I've ever run was in BC, but it's very much 'We're taking everyone to maximum gently caress, start up the power metal and let's go crazy'. Your PCs will be dueling Bloodthirsters and rocking out as they steal Khorne's chair and let their Sorcerer captain sit in it so they can use the resulting angry demonic revenge attempts for target practice, which is absolutely the appeal, but also everyone is going to be crazy overpowered and the system screams under the weight of their power ballads.

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PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

One thing that I only discovered recently about Deathwatch that pisses me off: Watch Station Midael. When you read the core book, it’s this lonely tower staffed by a single Deathwatch Battle-Brother who’s slowly but surely losing ground as he fends off xeno assaults over the years. If you look for more details in the supplements, the station has been wiped off the map entirely and no longer exists.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





PantsOptional posted:

One thing that I only discovered recently about Deathwatch that pisses me off: Watch Station Midael. When you read the core book, it’s this lonely tower staffed by a single Deathwatch Battle-Brother who’s slowly but surely losing ground as he fends off xeno assaults over the years. If you look for more details in the supplements, the station has been wiped off the map entirely and no longer exists.
Well, grim darkness, only war, etc. Do you mean they cut it off the edge of the maps or that it was explicitly destroyed?

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Cythereal posted:

In all my years DMing in different systems, I've never actually tracked EXP. Players level up when I feel it makes sense for them to do so - I usually have a loose (players will be players) plan for each campaign, with a schedule for leveling up that I can adjust as necessary.

This is probably the best way to do it if the system doesn't involve spending XP as you earn it on upgrades and stuff.

PantsOptional
Dec 27, 2012

All I wanna do is make you bounce

Nessus posted:

Well, grim darkness, only war, etc. Do you mean they cut it off the edge of the maps or that it was explicitly destroyed?

Explicitly destroyed. While I understand that sort of thing happens, it’s kind of weird to just erase a setting piece like that after planting the seed.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


EthanSteele posted:

This is probably the best way to do it if the system doesn't involve spending XP as you earn it on upgrades and stuff.

Which all the 40kRP and WHFRP systems do.

E: Did you just decide at various points 'You earned Mighty Shot or Speak (Eldar) or whatever'?

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 21:42 on Apr 6, 2018

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Night10194 posted:

Which all the 40kRP and WHFRP systems do.

E: Did you just decide at various points 'You earned Mighty Shot or Speak (Eldar) or whatever'?

If it seemed appropriate - I talked with every player specifically about what they wanted. Or I'd say "Here's X about of XP to spend however you like." But I'd do it whenever I as the DM felt it was appropriate.

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!


It's odd with the WFRP/WH40k RPG style of advancement... in most other games I don't mind a skill-based rather than level-based advancement, but in those games the advancement always feels so sluggish, and the advancements you buy at any given time generally so incredibly, demoralizingly minor, that it feels like you aren't moving anywhere. Maybe it's just a consequence of who I had for a GM and their XP philosophies, but where I started out always felt really insufficient and the path to get anywhere useful always seemed like it was going to take several years(real time) of play to arrive at.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Oh, it feels like that in most of 40kRP if you're doing EXP advancement at the rates they suggest. I think my accidentally doubling EXP rate for DH contributed a lot to my groups' enjoyment of it.

A big key to WHFRP is to give 100 Session EXP so everyone can minimum buy something each session, but then also objective EXP on top of it, which is one of the methods recommended in game. Also to advance people faster if you're only playing once a week.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 22:07 on Apr 6, 2018

megane
Jun 20, 2008





It doesn't help that a lot of 40K talents are of the "+5 BS when firing a las weapon in sunny weather on a Tuesday" type, and the ones that aren't often cost a ton and have prerequisites.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Which is also why when they opened things up to the Aptitude system all of a sudden every single character got built exactly the same because there were only some talents that were really worth the price and you had limited EXP to spend.

Lucas Archer
Dec 1, 2007
Falling...

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks – Second and Third levels
Sorry for the delay on the update, it’s been a crazy few weeks for me. Anyway, let’s continue.

After the monster of the first level, the second is much shorter. That is if the party has found a brown card or higher rank in their travels. When the party first enters one of the drop tubes and descends, they’ll notice about halfway between the opening they came in and the next one farther down, there’s a small hatch keyed brown. If the players are thorough, they should have a brown card or higher rank by now.


The entire area is unlit. Radiation areas, marked 13, are scattered around the level. The black dots are metal pillars. All of the cross-hatched squares on the map are dangerous machinery filled with electrical equipment. If a character decides to gently caress with them, there’s a 10% chance per round of a discharge of electricity which instantly kills the moron. If that doesn’t happen, there’s still a 10% chance of explosion which damages everyone within 10’ for 5d6 damage, save v. magic for half. That itself has a chance to set off a series of explosions on any other danger area within 40’. So, essentially, the entire middle section of this level is a giant deathtrap. Marvelous. Oh yeah, after the explosion settles a worker robot will show up to repair the damage. If not shown a brown, violet or gray card, it will summon some police robots to arrest the offenders.

So, right in the center, we have our first encounter at 1. And a doozy of one it is. An Intellect Devourer has made this place its home. “Impervious to most spells and weapons under +3 – lasers do no harm, but a blaster causes 2-8 (2d4) hp.; the ‘devourer can hide in shadows with 63% chance of success. The monster is trapped ‘tween decks, for the [dungeon’s] energy fields prevent it from becoming ethereal and even its great intelligence does not understand the concept of doors operated by color cards.” This is the beast that was referenced by the notes in the first level lounge. There is a chance it’s in a cargo hold on the third level when the adventurers arrive, but it will come to any explosion within 2-5 rounds. If it is in the cargo hold, it will return in 1-6 turns and sense the thoughts of the adventurers within 12 rounds. The hunt then begins.

At 2 is a small pile of bones with a laser pistol (4 charges left) in a skeletal hand. A victim of the intellect devourer when the dungeon was still populated, his security card (grey), is at the end of the dotted line marked by a small x. “The chance of spotting the card is 5% per person if a cursory examination of the area is made, 20% per person if a thorough search is conducted. Check separately for each individual.” That seems generous.


Devices called wheely sleds are scattered across the level, all marked by number 3. If the players can figure them out, they allow for quick movement around the level, going from 1” to 15” based on a level setting. Of course, go too fast and there’s a chance you get knocked off or run into one of those mechanical hazard areas.


At 4 (northeast quadrant) is a recharging repair robot. If a character displays a violet or gray card (and can communicate in the robot’s language), it will obey their orders and follow them for an hour before its batteries run dry. If it spots the party and they don’t display a violet, grey or brown card, it will summon some police robots.

You’ll notice a small jagged hole in the floor in the upper northwest corner of the map. This is a hole leading to the cargo bay on level III. When the devourer comes back up, this the hole it emerges from.
And… that’s it! The entirety of level 2! There are no random encounters on this level either. In fact, other than the decision to hunt the devourer, there’s really not much reason to come to this level. Not that the players would know that.

Since the first ‘tween level is kind of boring and light, let’s move right on to level 3!


Unless the players figure out a clever solution to descend the southern drop tube, they’ll most likely be coming in from the western or northern tubes (the ones that are fully functioning, with anti-gravity active). We’ll assume our party has descended the western drop tube and go clockwise from there. Just inside the drop tube room are thick vines that stretch out onto the walkway ahead.

Random encounters here aren’t as prevalent as on the first floor. 1 in 20, checking each turn.
1 police robot
2-5 nothing
6 lurker above
7 worker robot
8-11 nothing
12 green slime


When the adventurers step out onto the walkway, this magnificent view greets them. This should be a great wtf moment for the players, or at least that’s how I’d hope it would play out. This is also a moment where how much time the characters have been inside the dungeon matters. The lights on the fourth floor (where all that foliage is) are on a timer. For the first 14 hours the 4th floor lights are on, then they turn off for 7 hours. It alternates like that. Depending on how long the players dither about on the first few floors, they may not be able to see this, just a large dark area. But they can definitely hear it. The sounds of life are plentiful down below. But we’ll get there next time. For now, this is also a cool trap as well because lurking just on the other side of the barrier is a freaky plant monster.


These strangle vines at 2 are pretty nasty. They’re slow and easy to hit, but they have an “unlimited number of attacks”. Someone with better AD&D knowledge, please enlighten me on this bit of craziness. They don’t do a lot of damage, 1-4 per hit, but have a 10% chance to strangle a character to death. It is immune to regular fire, and electricity will double the plants growth and speed. They are attracted to light. I wouldn’t even want to fight this thing. Get away from it and move on – it only moves ½”.


Turning north, the adventurers will encounter vampire thorn vines at 3, the same plant that was growing inside the drop tube. These suckers have 4 tendrils every 10’ that can lash out up to 5’ away, sucking HP out of their victims – 25% of their maximum HP total per hit. Hit 4 times and death, no matter how much HP you have. That’s rough. A full 10’ length of vine with 4 tendrils has 44 HP and fire causes it to recoil. Electricity heals it. They creep for ¼” per round so again, I say move past it as quickly as possible.


Stationed at the angles of the walkway are these magnifying viewers (9). 1 in 6 chance for a character to figure out how to use them. If successful, they can zoom in up to 5 times closer. I like this natural preview of the next level, and clever players can get a good look at what’s coming up (including showing appropriate illustrations, the key says). They are not portable though. They can’t be removed without breaking.

Through the brown coded double doors, and then violet double doors, comes another possible entry point for the players if they went ‘tween decks with the hole in the ceiling. If they didn’t, there is a 40% the intellect devourer is here, checking each turn. Some empty and busted open cages are in here as well, with a blaster rifle (2 charges left) and an orange card underneath a skeleton. Putting it all together, this is where the intellect devourer was caged and then escaped. It killed a high-ranking person and took his form. Once others realized their leader was no longer their leader, they pursued the devourer into the ‘tween decks (blasting the hole in the ceiling in the process during the chase). The devourer then killed them. It also broke open the other cages to feed on whatever was kept within. However, there was one cage it did not open. At 6a: “After no less than 2 turns of careful searching the party will discover a wrapped crate – a transparent stasis cage with a black dial, which will free the cage occupants if turned. The cage holds 4 COUATL”. These are good creatures it seems and will both heal the party (if not attacked) and cure diseases. They will also kill the intellect devourer if it appears, with 2 casualties if the party doesn’t assist. I wonder how many parties would spend 20 minutes searching a single area. Anybody who’s played this – you find these guys?

Moving on, most of the other cargo holds are full of garbage that isn’t useful to the players. Building materials and fertilizer (another clue of the purpose of this place) mostly. Some of the cargo holds have lifts that if used correctly can be a quick transport to lower levels. They are easily broken as well, with chances for worker and police robots to show up.

As the party approaches another group of strangle vines at the north of the map, they could make a quick stop into 7. These robot stations are next to all the drop tubes (except south) and contain some worker robots and a police robot. Nothing special, and no loot in any of the rooms. After the strangle vines will come another ambush at 5.


Any observant players will notice a flock of these guys (3d12 of them) flying around the center of the level, above the forested area below. See that little hook on their chest? Remember that. If anybody gets within 40’ of one of the 5’s, the flock of webbirds will fly overhead and begin spinning webs to capture the party. The chance of this is determined with a D6 roll, adding 1 for every 6 webbirds.
Under 3, it’s an ineffective attack
3-5, they snare one character and they are held for 2-8 rounds
6-8, they snare 2-5 characters
Over 8, they snare the entire party. Everyone’s speed is reduced to 1” per round, and attacks are impossible until the web is destroyed. The webs are not flammable, but alcohol will dissolve them in one round. But for fun, let’s assume nobody gets free. Anybody caught will have 1-4 of the birds land on them. Here, I’ll let the key take it: “Their chest appendage is inserted into the immobile victims flesh, and the webbirds commence to deposit their eggs therein. These eggs will hatch in [1d4+2] turns, and thereafter the larva-like grubs will begin to devour the host, causing extreme pain and 2-8 hit points of damage per turn until the host dies and the webbird grubs can crawl out. Any disease curative will kill the grubs.” Gross. Super gross. They avoid flame and can be caught by hand and crushed easily (just requiring a to hit roll, no damager roll). Another monster I really like, and it continues the theme the vegepygmies started, with monsters infecting the characters to kill them and produce more monsters.

The lounge and kitchen areas are uninteresting, with tables, chairs, loungers, and other furniture still in good condition. There are more radiation areas on this level, all marked as 13 just like the first floor. Moving south now, right next to yet another group of strangle vines, is a green slime at 8. This poo poo will drop on 2 in 6, checking for each character, until 4 pieces have landed. Gross again. Moving farther south, the adventurers will find a dimly lit lounge that has a single occupant – 4. When they enter, a dining servo robot will approach and attempt to seat them and serve them food. “The substance in the dishes will be a decaying mush covered with nauseous blue-green mold. If any creature so much as tastes a drop of it, it will cause insanity in the next round as the blue-green spores attack the brain. Insanity lasts for 1-4 turns, and the person then dies.” Awesome. Even better, if nobody eats the food the robot will then try to force feed the closest person and will purse them if they flee (but will not leave the level). Purify food and drink doesn’t work on the food either. I love this encounter. Inside the kitchen to the south – 4a – is a pile of bones that hide a jet black card and a violet card, along with an empty needler and 3 expensive pieces of jewelry.

Continuing further south on the walkway, there’s another green slime (camouflaged as peeling paint) covering the railing at 8. “Contact with this substance turns exposed flesh into green slime within 1-4 melee rounds.” Quick question – is a “round” different from a “melee round”?

The last point of interest on the third level is at 1, near the southern drop tube. 3 ropers lie in wait here. I don’t know if these are standard enemies or not, so I’ll just list the stat block: “AC 0, MV 3”, HD 10/11/12, hp 47/50/62, #AT 1, D 5-20; 1-6 strands from 20’-50’, hits causing weakness in 1-3 rounds (lasts 1-3 turns); blaster damage as normal, but laser hits cause +4 hit points.” They look dangerous. They’ve also accumulated a bit of loot, including a fire extinguisher, platinum wire worth 1,600 gp, 2 explosive grenades (duds, because of course), and one more special item. An anti-gravity belt is kept here. With this equipped (and if you figure out how to use it), you can float up and down at 3” per round with up to 500lbs. It does require a power disc and drains 1 charge per turn. Per the key: “Note that this device can be used to make an object up to 500 pounds weigh only as much as a 1 pound object, but the mass will still be that of a 500 pound object.” Emphasis in original. That distinction has to be there because of some spell, right?

The rest of the level, the bar, cocktail lounge, dancing area, and nightclub are all either trashed and useless, or just plain empty. The only exception is the bar, which still has a single bottle of highly flammable alcohol. Good luck finding that in the pitch dark though, and given how barren some of these areas are, I’ll bet this bottle has very rarely been found.

That’s all for levels 2 and 3. I can tell these are just a buildup, anticipation wise, for the next level. I’m guessing some groups don’t even fully explore 3, and just go straight to 4 after seeing the giant open area full of trees and vegetation down below. That’s where we’ll pick up next time, and it’ll be a doozy.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012




Note the upside-down "EGG" at the bottom of the map.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





I recall enjoying Only War, but it's been a while.

Malfeas
Dec 11, 2017


I'm thinking about possibly doing a review of one of the Deadlands Reloaded campaigns. Should I include a brief overview of the savage worlds rules or can I just skip it and explain what things mean if they have to be commented on mechanically?

DNA Cowboys
Feb 22, 2012

BOYS I KNOW


Malfeas posted:

I'm thinking about possibly doing a review of one of the Deadlands Reloaded campaigns. Should I include a brief overview of the savage worlds rules or can I just skip it and explain what things mean if they have to be commented on mechanically?

If writing about raw Savage Worlds doesn't excite you, I suggest only mentioning the rules when they impact your review. Is a fight described in the campaign as "ridiculously challenging" but the enemies have a glaring weak point that the PCs would figure out in a second? Is there a situation that uses the rules in a terrible or exciting way? Focus on the high points.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Chatterist



Those aren't wings by the way, they're greasy skin-flaps. Greasy. Skin. Flaps. That's a fun thought. ALso, it screams, forever, all the time, even when sleeping. Just, screaming.

IT has a poison sting that paralyzes you, it can "Laugh" which paralyzes you in a DIFFERENT WAY, because this way has RANDOM TABLES.



He can do it once per day, save to avoid, but there is no mention of how it ends. So I guess you can just get a permanent -6 to all actions forever?

This monster is boring, and the stupid paralyses laugh is annoying and bullshit. Woo.

Colluder



I.... I don't really know what to think of this monster. Except its... a monster that literally exists to torment NPCs and there's no reason for the players to ever deal with it? And if they do and fall for what it does they're goddamn morons? Also it's gimmick makes no loving sense. OK so let's go through why this thing is loving dumb.

First, it's from SPACE. Like, outer space. We learn that space-dwelling creatures don't live on food. See, there's no food in space, so all space lifeforms have evolved to live on the suffering of others.



loving WHY.

Anyway, let's get to this things dumb gimmick. See, this monster can be summoned by MAGIC, and often time is mistaken for being a demon. It's... not, but I can't see any actual difference so why does that matter if it's from Regular Hell or Space Hell.

Anyway, the Colluder uses magic to trick and convince its summoner that they are some sort of destined Hero who has a great quest to go on and the Colluder will guide and help them on the quest but it's all bullshit guys and when they're old and wrinkled the Colluder reveals this and CRUSHES THEIR SOUL and EATS THEIR PAIN because:



Okay, so one: Why the gently caress would you ever listen to a being that you assume is a Demon from Hell!

Two: Its magic is all once-per-day stuff. Polymorph Object, Projected Image, Shape Change, and Veil. Not inherent, but once-per-day. So if you summon it to chat more than once it becomes incapable of tricking you anymore.

Three: THIS IS A loving D&D CLONE. There actually ARE loving HOLY SWORDS. There actually are SACRED GODDAMN QUESTS. This entire book is nothing BUT horrible monsters! IT tricks you into doing WHAT YOU DO ANY loving WAY. Like, it's not even cruel manipulation to convince adventurers to do an adventure that's fake! It's more annoying because it's fake! There's no actual danger! It's just an annoying waste of time! Did this fucker forget what game he was making these things FOR!?

Conceit



I... don't totally hate this monster. Well, the design is poo poo. Who the gently caress thought a billiard ball on ostrich legs would be a good look for a monster?

Anyway, its actual gimmick is pretty OK. It's basically a magical creation gone rogue. Originally designed to create Chimeras, it goes around using magic to warp living things into body-horror esque chimera monsters. It warps their bodies, combines multiple living things into one, and so on just for the pleasure of making new life.

If you fight it it fucks your body up in various horrible ways. Now, I do still HATE this because guess what? It's our old friend: Random tables that permanently reduce your loving stats!



Baaaaarf.

But it gets good again. It has a posse of deformed chimera mutants that travel with it. If you give it some animals or something to warp it does you a solid and gives you a 1d4 bonus to CHA, CON , or DEX. This only works once, if you try it twice it gets offended that you're "using" it and attacks.

So... not actually a bad monster. Change its look a bit, and jettison the goddamn random table of stat loss and you have the basis for a decent monster for a horror campaign.

Dactyl



From the same people that brought you the Ear-Ball, it's... Hand-Ball. Goddamn these things are the dumbest subcategory of monsters.

Okay so, appearently this disgusting finger-beast somehow can live in major cities and own it sown private art gallery. Why is a horrifying hand-abomination allowed to live in major cities and own property? Who the gently caress knows!

The disgusting thumb-orb likes to go around to art galleries and museums, and if it finds an artist it likes, it tracks them down and chops their hands off using a sword! IT then pickles the hand and puts it in their gallery.

Why is the creepy knuckle-sphere allowed to live in cities and mutilate famous artists and not be killed by the town guards immediately? gently caress if I know!

It attacks with a sword or one of several magic spells that all do piddly damage but gently caress up martials exclusively by making them suck at manual dexterity, weaken ranged attacks, and give to hit and armor penalties.

Oh wait, it fucks Magic Users too! Any spell cast at it becomes a random spell that hits a random target. Fun.

Next time: Evil Gloves, Weepy Ballsacks, Self-Harm Suezo, and an actually cool monster.

gradenko_2000
Oct 5, 2010

Ask me about mapping out all the best limousine routes in Moscow for you and the little miss ;)

Lipstick Apathy



Pathfinder Unchained

Revised Action Economy

This extensive set of new rules changes things so that each character has 3 "Acts", and then all possible actions simply take one, two, or three Acts to do.

An attack is one Act.
Combat Maneuvers are one Act.
Aid Another is one Act.
Moving your speed is one Act.
Taking a 5-foot-step is one Act.
Casting a spell or using an ability that normally takes a Swift Action is one Act.

Casting a spell or using an ability that normally takes a Standard Action is two Acts.
Charging is two Acts.

Making a coup de grace is three Acts.
Casting a spell or using an ability that normally takes a Full-Round Action is three Acts.

It's supposed to make the game simpler, and in some respects it manages to do that. For example, reducing a 5-foot-step to an Act removes all of the normal exceptions and special cases surrounding it. But in other areas, things are either more complicated, or at least still requires its own special set of exceptions.

One big example is making attacks. There are no more "iterative attacks". Instead, you can (just) spend multiple Acts on the Attack action, with each succeeding attack having a cumulative -5 penalty.
If you're dual-wielding, then on your first attack, you can attack with your main-hand and your off-hand.
If you have the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat, then you can attack with both hands on your first and second attacks.
If you have the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feat, then you can attack with both hands on all your attacks.
And then the same special case applies to Flurry of Blows, and so on.

Drawing and nocking an arrow is a free action. But reloading a crossbow is two Acts, and reloading a firearm is three Acts. So they still kept that particular wrinkle in the rules.

Haste gives you one more Act per turn, but that Act can only be used to make an attack action.

Now besides the "simpler or not" mechanical consideration of these rules, it also has some knock-on effects towards balance:

Martial classes no longer have iterative attacks, which means they actually lose the fourth attack at +16 BAB and up.
At the same time, characters can make 3 attacks per round beginning at level 1. The second and third attacks are likely to miss, but you can still fish for a nat 20.
At the same time, monsters can do this too, and it potentially makes the game a hell of a lot more dangerous at that level.

Because Swift Actions still count as one Act, it potentially screws over classes that heavily on them, such as Investigators. You may need to still give these classes their own version of "this takes no Action, but you can only do it once per turn".

quote:

As an aside, what we know from Pathfinder 2nd Edition preview content is that the game is moving towards this model as its standard rules. A couple of variations on the Unchained rules is that supposedly some weapon types and special abilities will allow characters to mitigate the effects of the -5 successive attack penalty, as well as spells taking 1 Act to per category of V, S, and M that they use.

It's wonky, and it's not actually simpler for anyone who's a veteran of d20 D&D, but I would absolutely use this to introduce the game to newer players. But for any game where you're all deep into the system mastery of Pathfinder, I feel like you'd spend too much brain power doing the conversions back-and-forth.

Removing Iterative Attacks

This seeks to streamline the process of rolling three or more attacks and their associated damage whenever someone takes a Full Attack action.

Basically, you only roll your attack once, at your full attack bonus and then:

* If the result misses the target's AC by 6 or more, then you miss completely and nothing happens
* If the result misses the target's AC by 5 or less, you deal a Glancing Blow, which is defined as "assume you rolled a one on all your damage dice, plus all modifiers, and then cut the total in half"
* If you hit the target's AC, then you hit.
* For every 5 points that you exceed the target's AC, you hit again, but with a cap on the extra hits based on your BAB (so you can't hit more times than you normally could)

* If you're dual-wielding, use the attack bonus of whichever hand is lower. For every hit that you score, you also hit with both weapons.

* If rolled high enough to hit multiple times, and you threaten a critical hit, roll to confirm. If the confirmation roll still confirms, then two of your hits will have been considered to have crit. If the confirmation roll does not confirm, then only one of your hits will have been considered to have crit.

Let's examine this in some more detail: assume a level 17 Fighter with a total attack bonus of +31, attacking a CR 17 monster with 28 AC.

code:
32 - the Fighter lands 1 hit (4 more than target AC)
33 - the Fighter lands 2 hits (5 more than target AC)
34 - the Fighter lands 2 hits
35 - the Fighter lands 2 hits
36 - the Fighter lands 2 hits
37 - the Fighter lands 2 hits
38 - the Fighter lands 3 hits (10 more than target AC)
39 - the Fighter lands 3 hits 
40 - the Fighter lands 3 hits 
41 - the Fighter lands 3 hits 
42 - the Fighter lands 3 hits 
43 - the Fighter lands 4 hits (15 more than target AC)
44 - the Fighter lands 4 hits 
45 - the Fighter lands 4 hits 
46 - the Fighter lands 4 hits 
47 - the Fighter lands 4 hits 
48 - if the Fighter had Haste, or some other way to obtain a 5th attack, they'd land 5 hits (20 more than target AC)
49 - the Fighter could potentially land 5 hits
50 - the Fighter could potentially land 5 hits
51 - the Fighter could potentially land 5 hits; and this would threaten a crit, and the crit would always confirm, so the Fighter would always land 2 crits.
So that's a 100% chance of landing at least 1 hit, a 95% chance of landing at least 2 hits, a 70% chance of landing at least 3 hits, and a 45% chance of landing the full 4 hits.

Compare this to rolling the dice the normal way:

code:
The first attack would have a 95% chance to hit (because a natural 1 is always a miss)
The second attack would have a 95% chance to hit (in this case, a natural 1 would plainly miss anyway)
The third attack would have a 70% chance to hit
And the fourth attack would have a 45% chance to hit
I suppose my illustration just came to the same conclusion in a roundabout way, but since iteratives take a -5 penalty per succeeding attack, then obviously giving you another hit for every 5 points that you exceed the AC would translate to roughly the same thing. If anything, the default rolling method is actually a little worse, since you still always have that 5% chance to miss on a natural 1.

From my personal perspective, I've been spoiled by roll20, so I can't see myself using this rule since it's easy for me to type "[[d20+31]]; [[d20+31-5]]; [[d20+31-10]]; [[d20+31-15]]" and get all my attack roll results in one go. Trying to do this on paper might yield a different experience. On the one hand, this alternative method requires less rolling. On the other hand, coming up with the "success margin" requires an additional bit of math that might take some getting used to.

It is nice though to have a rule where the math isn't hosed, and for that I give this section some credit.

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


quote:

* If the result misses the target's AC by 5 or less, you deal a Glancing Blow, which is defined as "assume you rolled a one on all your damage dice, plus all modifiers, and then cut the total in half"

That's just mean.

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


Wapole Languray posted:

Anyway, the Colluder uses magic to trick and convince its summoner that they are some sort of destined Hero who has a great quest to go on and the Colluder will guide and help them on the quest but it's all bullshit guys and when they're old and wrinkled the Colluder reveals this and CRUSHES THEIR SOUL and EATS THEIR PAIN because:

So... this thing tries to trick people for their entire lives? How does that even work? Like, either it tricks them into wasting their time on pointless errands, in which case they're probably going to catch on after a decade or so, or it actually guides them to real adventures, in which case they really are heroes.

I'm just picturing one of these things trying to reveal the 'truth' to some famous dragonslayer or something...

"Foolish mortal! There was no grand destiny! You merely achieved those things because I guided you!"
"Umm, yeah, you said you were my magical guide."
"No, but see, it doesn't count, because... ahh, crap."

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Yeah you're assuming this thing is thought out at all. It isn't. It's a monster that literally makes no sense in the context of a D&D style fantasy world. I mean, it specifically targets Magic-Users. It makes no goddamn sense at all.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Angry Salami posted:

So... this thing tries to trick people for their entire lives? How does that even work? Like, either it tricks them into wasting their time on pointless errands, in which case they're probably going to catch on after a decade or so, or it actually guides them to real adventures, in which case they really are heroes.

I'm just picturing one of these things trying to reveal the 'truth' to some famous dragonslayer or something...

"Foolish mortal! There was no grand destiny! You merely achieved those things because I guided you!"
"Umm, yeah, you said you were my magical guide."
"No, but see, it doesn't count, because... ahh, crap."

What's funny about it is that it's just a horror story that could theoretically be written in the general genre of sword and sorcery/high fantasy. Like, you can imagine an edgelord getting a kick out of writing a GRIM and NIHILISTIC story in which our idealistic hero is ultimately broken by the revelation that all they thought was Heroic Destined Adventuring was actually just a cruel feeding tactic by a an alien being.

A good example of the thing they're trying to ape would be, idk, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the anime where magical girls are being created and empowered by manipulative aliens who feed on the emotional agony of the whole deal in various ways. There, the revelation works pretty well, because it's static fiction, not a goddamn D&D-alike. PMMM is a lot better than this, to be clear, by dint of that and also being a competently written story with, y'know, themes and statements to make and the protagonists ultimately seize on things that matter to them.

Basically I think they've managed to both ineffectually copy a twist from fiction, into a monster for D&D, in a way that makes the fiction look worse and the D&D unplayable. Well done. It's really the height of design-for-grogs-to-read-and-chuckle-over. "Oh look, this monster makes players THINK they're heroic protagonists rather than useless puppets! That would be such an emotionally devastating way to frustrate my friends if our gaming sessions didn't just consist of replaying classic D&D modules while complaining about Kids These Days."

EDIT: One big giveaway about what they're doing is that they make a big deal out of it being an ALIEN, not a DEMON. It's supposed to be a 'surprise! There is no magic! the gods are alien monsters' twist, like hacks have been using since Cthulhu got popular again. It's a really weak iteration of the general cosmic horror theme, 'actually this thing you think matters is cosmically unimportant.'

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Even in Madoka's case, it works because the alien does actually live up to his end of the bargain (he just doesn't make it clear what all of the conditions are until asked) and pretty much relies on how teenage human girls will make life hell for themselves given a no-strings-attached wish and great magical power. It works pretty well for the history of humanity til one of the girls has the right combination of powers and motives to break the cycle with a feedback loop.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Alternately, the Colluder tells you you're a destined hero and then is incredibly miffed when believing you're a destined hero leads you to a life of power, magic swords, and fantastic riches. It appears when you're old and goes "BUT THERE WAS NO DESTINY!" and you say "I figured that out back at the third dragon, because who ever heard of being destined to fight 3 dragons." and then sincerely thank it for kickstarting your awesome career.

It then starves to death.

Everyone laughs and we freeze frame.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Hang on... if I'm the sort of person who's hobbies include summoning sadistic demons from (space) hell, how's it supposed to persuade me to be a hero?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


It has a really high bluff score, duh.

On that note, it's always hilarious when I see a game with talents and things that grant bonuses to prevent Charm, etc being used on PCs, or an adventure that suggests if PCs won't tell an NPC something they'll use an interrogation skill to learn it, because I don't think I've ever been in a group that wouldn't revolt over social skills being used on PCs the way they use them on NPCs (with good reason).

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





The Lone Badger posted:

Hang on... if I'm the sort of person who's hobbies include summoning sadistic demons from (space) hell, how's it supposed to persuade me to be a hero?
If this critter is actually just riding down the summon chute and convincing evil wizards and dabblers in meta-satanism to be glorious heroes - while informing them on their deathbed that the legendary destinies they fulfilled were in fact a creation of theirs -

That's not a demon, that's an angel!

Cassa
Jan 29, 2009


The quest might make more sense if it told your standard murder-hobo types that yes, the village is full of evil people mind controlled by a wicked wizard and are totes ok to be slaughtered and robbed. Or substitute other demi-humans as applicable.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Night10194 posted:

It has a really high bluff score, duh.

On that note, it's always hilarious when I see a game with talents and things that grant bonuses to prevent Charm, etc being used on PCs, or an adventure that suggests if PCs won't tell an NPC something they'll use an interrogation skill to learn it, because I don't think I've ever been in a group that wouldn't revolt over social skills being used on PCs the way they use them on NPCs (with good reason).

There's a good reason games like Apoc/Dungeon/etc. World completely segregate the ways players can interact with the world from the way the world can interact with players. Player characters are the stars and they are the ones who get to talk people into things, NPCs are there to be talked into things. If a PC is in a bad situation, it should be a consequence of what they did (or didn't do.)

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Wapole Languray posted:


Dactyl

From the same people that brought you the Ear-Ball, it's... Hand-Ball. Goddamn these things are the dumbest subcategory of monsters.

Since the dude did mouth-balls in Teratic Tome I'm just here holding on for the 'what if beholder, but noses?'

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





potatocubed posted:

Since the dude did mouth-balls in Teratic Tome I'm just here holding on for the 'what if beholder, but noses?'
I don't think it'd pass the sniff test.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



NS6: Plague in Trotheim



Unlike the last few adventures which usually had 6 to 9 months of interim time, Plague in Trotheim begins immediately after the end of the last one. It is suited for levels 10th through 12th. So far in the Northlands Saga we're 8 adventures in out of 12, but only 3 years out of the 16 year timeline. I guess after all the huge problems the PCs cleaned up, it's taking time for enemies to respawn.

So at this point in the Saga the low-magic chastity belt comes off and we start getting into High Fantasy territory. We've got valkyries, gods speaking through the mouths of godi, mythical disease-curing trees, dragons, kaiju trolls, and demonic prostitutes...wait, I didn't mean that kind of fantasy!

This adventure has some backstory that isn't exactly revealed through normal play. See, Wotan saw a dire premonition in the Northlands' future involving Hengrid Donarsdottir which can threaten the realms of Asgard and Midgard. The vision was incomplete, but he knew that great heroes were needed to save or defeat her. Sadly he couldn't find any heroes fitting this description, so he bade Loki to come up with an appropriate test to separate the wheat from the chaff of legendary mortals. Loki being Loki, he came up with the plan to spread a divine plague which could only be cured by the leaves of the legendary Ettielweiss Tree...which he also sent his agent to destroy. The Ettielweiss Tree's power also prevents the coming of the Fimbulwinter, a years-long unnatural winter which is also one of Ragnarök's precursors and thus the opportunity to replace Wotan at the head of the pantheon.



Loki figured that the best way to spread the plague would be to place a plage-ridden kiss on several trusted sexy devils known as lilins. They went to Trotheim and spread the plague as an STD by posing as prostitutes. With the arrival of many newcomers for the wedding, business was booming. Now before you ask how only six women manage to screw thousands of people into the plague, the adventure has an explanation for this. Being magical it quickly mutated from an STD to an airborne sickness as the primary vector. The plague's effect is such that it is a fast-acting wasting virus that eats away at muscles and tears away at the membrane of the lungs. Due to the weakening of strength, it quickly became known as the Straw Death.

What I Changed: The "mutates into airborne virus" seems like a means of maintaining suspension of disbelief, but the initial STD nature and seductive devils (who also are fought in a brothel) felt too much like the writer's masturbation fantasy. I still had devilish handmaidens enacting Loki's will, but they had a role more akin to "chemical weapon scientists." They initially tried to make the disease carried in the stomachs of cattle animals to transmit via consumption of many feasts, but that was not quick enough so they used magic and natural law to mutate it into a waterborne vector. They also used magical disguises to pose as false godi and spread misinformation about the plague's origin counteract the legitimate godis' prophecy. The PCs encountered the handmaidens not in town, but later on in the Andøvan Mountains.

Our adventure begins one day after Old Meg's declaration. Throughout the city divine spellcasters and nonspellcasting godi alike all proclaim the same message:

quote:

Pestilence creeps the sleeping streets.
Foul plague suckles on Trotheim’s teats.
Sheaves before sickle, we meet our doom
’til the brave arise to claim the bloom.

This can even trigger in the middle of sleep or combat and repeats on an hourly basis, and if no PC fits the above description the one with the highest Wisdom score will do. A Will save can suppress it, but otherwise imposes the dazed condition as their body is more or less taken over. This is the work of the Æsir and Vanir spreading hints for the cure: the Eittelweiss Tree. One week after the outbreak, the city is in shambles: trade has fallen, dead bodies are collected in ox carts, a huge pyre burns outside fed by corpses, people keep out of contact from even trusted friends and neighbors, and families hire masked men known as "mercykillers" to euthanize loved ones. Barring the PCs there are only four characters in the city capable of magically curing disease, and they're being stretched to their limits. The party, along with other prominent citizens, is summoned to the Thing where Trotheim's Jarl Gyrthyr makes a statement. He believes that the plague is from Hel, and that the godi's prophecy must be a clue. He appoints the PCs as temporary members of the city guard and to investigate a cure.

What I Changed: I made the jarl a woman named Annette to place more women as prominent NPCs in the adventure.

A City Under Siege



The first chapter of this adventure is a series of 8 linked encounters, 7 of which can be played in any order. They are meant to showcase the desperation of the city. A few of them are rather standard (a distraught woman who refuses to give up her love ones' corpses to the ox cart and risks getting sick herself), a torch-bearing mob angry at the Gods for forsaking them and causing destruction in anger, a desperate father tying his wife and youngest sons to a pyre as a sacrifice to the gods to stave off the plague, and a fire elemental coming to life upon the pyre outside the city. But three bare special mention:

The first one involves a pair of mercykillers being refused entry into a building by a spear-wielding huscarl. The pair were paid to put down a pair of young women, but mixed up the address and are at risk of killing the wrong people. The adventure mentions that this occupation is seen as regrettable yet honorable work in the city. PCs who take a diplomatic result can put a stop to things and investigate. The huscarl and women inside (the wife and oldest daughter of an absent jarl) show no signs of the disease. If no fighting breaks out the huscarl thanks the party with a greater horn of blasting with one use left, while the mercykillers reward the PCs with silver arm-rings...and go on down the street to the correct address. If the party doesn't intervene, Olaf kills one of the mercykillers before being killed himself along with the two women inside.

What I Changed: Hoo boy. Where to begin. I noticed that my gaming group was becoming uncomfortable with this so I sped up the encounter, although the witch used an enchantment to make the mercykillers wander off aimlessly. Personally speaking this whole encounter is kinda screwed up. Regardless of how you feel about euthanasia IRL, the mercykillers' work is not at the personal request of those suffering but family members taking the ultimate decision into their own hands. The adventure expects the nonviolent situation to be "oh hey wrong address" and no opportunity for pointing out that it should be in the hands of those suffering how to die as a moral diplomatic option.

The other notable encounter involves a group of Nûklander elves who Kidnapped a Godi known as Biornólfr of the Well. Jarl Gyrthyr approaches the PCs in a panic, asking them to find the godi as a first priority. The elves did this to demand that the priest cure their patriarch (who contracted the Straw Death) as well as any family members who will fall ill. As Biornólfr burned all his remove disease spells for the day, he's not going to be released anytime soon. The godi and elves are holed up in a longhouse in town. There's an awful lot of Nûk here: 14 combatants (a mixture of sorcerers, barbarians, and archers) and 30 noncombatant women and children.

What I Changed: I had this as the final encounter in town, and made it so that Biornólfr of the Well was the one who revealed the secret of the Eitwelweiss Tree to the PCs. I also allowed the PCs to negotiate with the Nûklander elves before actual combat, with the added complication of an angry mob outside the house barely held in check by city watch guards. The witch, having recognized the voice of one of her family members inside (who she was not on good terms with) opted to nonviolently disperse the mob outside. The rest of the PCs snuck into the longhouse via a chimney. Although combat started, the party used non-lethal damage and eventually talked some sense into the elves via the school of hard knocks.

The last encounter takes place when the Jarl triangulates the source of the plague with the help of a Monrovian diviner wizard. It is at a Brothel known as Jurda's Roof:

quote:

Jurda’s Roof (area 9) is well known in Trotheim as a brothel that has existed for many years. Some of the PCs may have even visited it in the past, though if so, they have fortunately not done so since the plague first appeared. It is easily located in one of the poorer sections of town near the southern end of Trotheim Island.

I prefer to let my Player Characters imply their own sexuality, thank you very much.

The interior of Jurda's Roof seems...normalish if a bit off. The diseased harpist mindlessly plays an off-key tune again and again, and the landlord counts the same stacks of hacksilver again and again. The lilins continue infecting clients the old-fashioned way as a group of men wait their turns in the common room. In fact the employees are harmless zombies animated by the devils. The lilins will fight to the death, being too arrogant to think mere mortals are a challenge. Aside from the +1 longswords the devils carry the landlord has a potion of gaseous form, a wand of see invisibility, and a scroll with a 9th-level spell on it (Astral Projection). Now how did a mere landlord get his hands on that?!

You might be wondering if any of these encounters were supposed to provide clues to the Eittelweiss, right? Nope! In fact, the revelation occurs via actions completely outside of the PCs' decisions. Erik the Wotanson and actual descendant of the god himself, sacrificed his last good eye in exchange for wisdom and received a vision.



At the next assembly of the Thing he explains how he saw a vision of an immense tree, with the walls of Trotheim at its roots. A great stormed swept through as it bloomed, causing flower blossoms to spread about. The town turned normal again as the flowers blew away, a new sense of peace. Erik, the Jarl, and the rest of the Thing feel that this tree is the key, and legends speak of the location of its vale somewhere in the Andøvan Mountains. After gaining a map the PCs are sent on a quest to find the Eittelweiss Vale.

What I Changed: I excised the brothel encounter, and had Biornólfr of the Well be the deliverer of the prophecy. Instead of at the Thing he revealed it directly to the PCs after they rescued him by performing a divination spell in a pool of water (graciously provided by the shield of the party's new dual-shield Fighter PC). I altered the vision so that the PCs saw it directly rather than being told, and made it so that the Ettielweiss fell among masses of warring battalions. When the battle cleared, a dwarf dug up from the ground like a mole and took some of the tree's scattered seeds.

The backstory in my games was that there was an Ettielweiss Tree in Midgard, but its legendary healing properties caused all manner of people to war over its ownership. The dwarves in their wisdom took the last seeds to safeguard its legacy in their kingdom of Nidavellir. The PCs learned of this and the location of the Vale via Knowledge checks and folklore.

Among the Andøvans



The second chapter's a relatively short one. It's a somewhat linear progression up the mountains with some set-piece encounters. If the PCs try to use magical flight to more easily traverse the path, a flock of continually respawning perytons attack the group every day. The adventure says that "it should soon become apparent that flying in the mountains is not going to help the PCs reach their goal any sooner or more safely" yet perytons are rather weak straightforward enemies who won't pose much of a threat to a party at this level.

The first encounter involves a village whose inhabitants are now fetch undead possessed by hellwasp swarms as part of Loki's machinations. The undead try to scare the PCs off with a dire message of doom and gloom how the gods are not their friends. The second encounter involves a herd of onyx deer territorial of a meadow the party must pass through, and the third encounter is a lead-up to a miniature dungeon. A two-headed cyclops known as the thrall collector is out hunting for slaves with some common giant minions, and figures the PCs would make for great unpaid labor. The thrall collector has his own 4 room dungeon full of more common giants and a captive cloud giant woman who is implied to have been raped (although the adventure does not state this overtly). If the PCs unshackle her she fights the rest of the giants with them. She will visit the party a month after the adventure's completion to grant them a stone mined from thunderhead clouds worth 60,000 hacksilver.

What I Changed: I had the hellwasp swarms be under the control of the lillins. One of the swarms flew off after sustaining heavy damage to report back, and the PCs followed it. Another fight broke out with the lillins, but the PCs interrogated one of them and learned of Loki's plans. The thrall collector and the cave lair was excised for time constraints as well as being a bit samey in the makeup of the giants (HP bags, melee attacks).

The Ettielweiss Vale



The Ettielweiss Vale is not on Midgard, but in fact blooms within an extradimensional storage space accessible only via a gate of dwarven make. Skrymir, a titan guardian, holds the key to the dwarven tree gate and will only let those deemed worthy pass. The PCs will notice the massive giant's presence long before they see him, as he's fond of playing loud yet pleasant melodies on his 70 foot tall harp. Fortunately he's one of the Chaotic Good ones and is quite happy for new company. He asks the PCs about their past adventures with compliments at the ready as well as the rules of the tests.

Each of the tests may be undertaken by one PC at a time, but if they fail another PC may take their place. They are allowed full use of any magical items during the test, and can use any buff spells before the tests proper. But spells cast during the test count as cheating, earning a slam attack to knock some sense into their heads. For the first and third tests he uses the heal spell to remove the negative effects (barring the curses). Winning a test on the first try causes the titan to grant a magical item as a reward (a frozen tear from his eye which is a staff of frost, a piece of jewelry in his beard that holds spells, and a wand of fireballs plucked from his ear) along with Experience Points. But if a PC fails they suffer a curse which is only lifted via powerful magic or curing the Straw Death (withered limbs reducing speed, becoming mute, or having their alignment changed respectively for each test).

The first is the Test of Trades where a PC and Skrymir exchange two blows each, one at a time and taking turns. If the PC is still up, or the titan falls unconscious, the party wins. But if the PC is reduced to 0 hit points or less, he loses. The next test, the Test of Wits, requires the PC to answer 2 riddles:

quote:

Riddle #1: By nature solitary, scarred by spear and wounded by sword, I am weary of battle. I see the face of war, and fight hateful enemies and sometimes even friends. In the midst of the spear-din all crave my company but will eventually abandon me. I am the boon companion of jarls and hirthmenn alike, yet I hold no hope of help coming to me in the battle before I’m eventually done to death.
Answer: A Shield

Riddle #2: Favored by men, I am found far and wide. I come from the woods and the heights of the town, carried to my home by the queen’s men. But men take me from my home, and I am bathed in a tub. For this I blind them and chasten them. I cast a strong young man to the ground, and sometimes an old one, too. He who struggles against my strength, he who dares grapple with me, discovers that he will hit the hard floor with his back if he persists. Deprived of his strength, he’s a fool who rules neither his mind nor his hands and feet. Freely welcomed by all and enemy to each, I am the reward and doom of many a great warrior, making slaves of the mighty and fools of the wise.
Answer: Mead

The Test of Cups is a good old-fashioned drinking challenge, save it is magical Elysian mead quaffed by titans and gods, and both contestants take gulps from Skrymir's giant-sized drinking horn. Each draught requires a Fortitude and a Will save, with the former save causing 1d20 wisdom damage on a failure and the latter causing a random alignment change. If the PC finishes drinking two draughts while remaining conscious, or Skrymir falls unconscious from Wisdom damage, the PC wins.

What I Changed: Role-playing a mute character is quite a challenge, so when the witch failed the second test I had her only be able to speak in Giant which only the troll-blooded barbarian/rogue understood.

PCs who pass all three tests are given a six-foot-long key, but otherwise they must steal it from the titan. Given that titans have constant True Seeing and +33 Perception along with every powerful stats, you should probably tone down those features in case of a loss.

As for the gate, it leads into an extradimensional demiplane. The entryway follows a long carved tunnel of dwarven make and the only time in the adventure path where being a dwarf provides an in-universe benefit: free success at a Knowledge check to recognize its make! The tunnel ends into a beautiful, vibrant valley which oddly has sunlight. But a massive tree over 500 feet high dominates the view: the Ettielweiss. Unfortunately the tree is under attack by Loki's forces: a pair of underworld dragons digging up the roots, 40 moss trolls with adamantine saws cutting off the branches, and three large patches of a supernatural black mold known as Helsmuth eating through the trunk.

Each of these three challenges is handled separately. The dragons are straightforward in taking out, but the helsmuth is immune to all damage save fire and cold (the staff and wand from Skrymir are perfect for this, as is Fellfrost) or a remove disease spell. However, damage causes the mold to explode into a 100 cubic feet of spores that cause Constitution damage and a long-term stun condition (4d4 rounds). The adventure also notes that the fey known as mites find Helsmut a delicacy, are immune to its effects, and can destroy 1 patch per minute. These creatures can be summoned via Summon Nature's Ally I, but the adventure provides no means of finding this last weakness out either in the adventure proper or by Knowledge checks.

Finally, the 40 moss trolls are scattered about the tree which requires climbing to find. They do not fight the party all at once, instead swarming several at a time every round. For once the adventure realizes how much this would be a logistical nightmare to run straight and instead represents the enemy horde via automatic swarm damaged based upon the number involved. Unfortunately the adventure still has killing them the old-fashioned way of one at a time or a bunch via area of effect spells. There's also detailed environmental description, where a falling PC can lessen damage by grabbing passing branches in time or how the foliage can be used for cover. The trolls retreat once 25 of their number are put down.

After saving the tree, the PCs are visited by a valkyrie astride a many-legged horse to congratulate the party, telling them of how even in Valhalla the PCs' fame has spread. She gives them an urn filled with the tears of Freyja to restore the trees' wounds and make it whole again. But the interaction doesn't last long as she must go back to her home plane. The urns however are valuable gifts, and one is a decanter of endless water. Gathering the blossoms from the tree is trivial now.

What I Changed: I was kind of miffed that the dwarves never played any sort of role in this setting beyond that one gate, so I had it so that the portal was an extradimensional way to Nidavellir, a realm beneath Yggdrasil's roots and home of the dwarves. I was keen on wondrous descriptions: a seemingly endless black sky from which mountain-sized roots hung, with villages and castles built upon them and giant branching leaves. The glint of Níðhöggr's teeth could be seen in the background as vast expanses of ivory white chewing on roots. The villages were home to dwarves, who lived and worked much like people in Midgard save their fauna was distinct. Giant beetles pulled yokes to till the soil, and blacksmiths pulled metal quills out of giant porcupine-like monsters to fashion into bladed weapons. The party was escorted to the king's throne room, which floor was a giant clockwork mechanism portraying the visages of the gods and famous figures. The figures were on a path all counting down to the foreboding landscape of Ragnarök at the room's edge.

The King of the Dwarves was willing to grant the PCs leaves from the Ettielweiss no strings attached before one of his advisers informed him of an immediate attack upon the castle and Tree by shapeshifted agents of Loki. I cut out the part with the Helsmuth and focused on the fight with (fewer in number) trolls and dragons. One of the dragons killed Aluki, causing our witch to fly into a murderous rage. Desperate, she brought her friend back from the dead after making a pact with her patron, who asked a favor: "when you kill a god, let me ascend to his place." She accepted, and although nobody but her at the time knew of this pact the magical power was for all to see. The King of the Dwarves was aware of the taint of dark magic and although grateful for them saving the Tree, he forbid the PCs from ever setting foot in Nidavellir again. At this point I felt was a good closing time for the adventure and excised the next encounters (save kaiju troll, which I incorporated into NS7).

The PCs have to make their way back to Trotheim. Loki is now desperate and pulling out all the stops. The first encounter are six blue dracolisks hunting them down, and the second is a valkyrie who fell for Loki's deception and is going to steal the blossom. She is disguised as the one the PCs met in the Vale, but if they see through her ruse she engages them in combat. If she gets the blossoms, she will mean to go to Trotheim, but forget and instead flies east into the mountains with one last chance for the PCs to catch up to her.

The final encounter is a nine-headed Jotund Troll rampaging towards Trotheim whose quaking footsteps can be felt long before it's seen. The guards cowardly abandoned the walls and only the PCs can put a stop to its warpath.

After the troll's defeated, the PCs must find a way to spread the blossoms' power. This is not via a skill check but rather several suggestions. The Ettielweiss' power is such that plucked petals regenerate and just about anything plausible can work: sprinkling them in the town's water supply, doling them out like communion wafers, or even burning them in incense for those to breath in the fumes. In 2 days' time the plague's influence will be gone for good. Erik Wotanson makes his way, blind and accompanied by an unkindness of ravens, with an ornate box containing rewards for the PCs:

Hurguð the Piercer of Scales and Sleipt the Awakener. The first item is a +3 adamantine distance seeking returning dragon-bane spear (that's a mouthful). The second is a ring which allows the wielder to cast meld into stone at will, but if they slay a flying monster of 10 Hit Dice or more its true powers awakens as a ring of elemental command (earth). The PCs are hailed as heroes although celebrations are muted on account of the many deaths suffered. To amend this loss of life Wotan blesses Storstrøm Vale with an abundance of herds and crops for the next 7 years.

Concluding Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this adventure. On the one hand when I personally ran it it had lots of exciting moments, particularly defending the Ettielweiss Tree, saving the godi taken hostage, and Skrymir's tests. On the other hand, I had to change parts of the structure, and the opportunity to travel outside of Midgard was kind of a letdown in the default adventure when the plane was an otherwise featureless Vale. The first chapter in Trotheim has unlinked encounters and some problematic elements (mercykillers and fiendish prostitutes) and the overall set-up feels more at home in the Forgotten Realms than a sword-and-sorcery low magic setting.

But that all pales in comparison to the next adventure NS7: the Return of Hallbjorn, which I more or less had to rewrite from the ground up.

By popular demand
Jul 17, 2007

IT *BZZT* WASP ME--
IT WASP ME ALL *BZZT* ALONG!




If I had a dollar for every time someone thinks that demonic prostitute is both a good and fresh thing to add to a roleplaying adventure.
Even Games Workshop realised that it's better to move away from this.

Simian_Prime
Nov 6, 2011

When they passed out body parts in the comics today, I got Cathy's nose and Dick Tracy's private parts.

The succubus lady looks like something that you’d see on a Spinal Tap album cover

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010


I can't get over the "infinite perytons until your PCs stop trying to fly" bit, that's such obvious railroading to no apparent benefit.

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised




Horrible Lurkbeast posted:

If I had a dollar for every time someone thinks that demonic prostitute is both a good and fresh thing to add to a roleplaying adventure.
Even Games Workshop realised that it's better to move away from this.

not enough angelic prostitute representation imo

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Ghost Leviathan posted:

not enough angelic prostitute representation imo

Reminder that the Forgotten Realms has a good-aligned goddess of sex and cats.

Skellybones
May 31, 2011






Fun Shoe

Simian_Prime posted:

The succubus lady looks like something that you’d see on a Spinal Tap album cover

Could be a coincidence but it's posed almost exactly the same as the original AD&D succubus, so that makes it an 80's metal reference by proxy.

Lucas Archer
Dec 1, 2007
Falling...

Selachian posted:

Note the upside-down "EGG" at the bottom of the map.

I did notice that. What's that about, or is it just an "easter egg" ho ho ho.

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FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Lucas Archer posted:

I did notice that. What's that about, or is it just an "easter egg" ho ho ho.
Are you familiar with E. Gary Gygax, noted game designer and writer of module S3 Expedition To The Barrier Peaks?

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