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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


I would think that the answer would be 'gaining levels is an abstraction anyway' and also 'if a PC elf can hit level 20, they're an unusual elf who learns faster than normal'. Putting a setting-wide cap on elf-learning to avoid elf dominance because of elf lifespans is a bit odd.

E: Like a world where a PC can get to level 20 as an elf doesn't change as a world, it just has a level 20 elf in it. You don't have to remove the cap setting-wide or whatever.

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Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

I gotta be honest, while I don't enjoy using level-draining undead, especially with no access to Restoration or similar spells, I actually think there's probably a good reason there beyond "lol Gygax was a prick," or at least a better one than that.

I mean, even if you don't agree with the end result, most stuff in 1E and 2E D&D actually have a reason behind them that implies that a rational human being thought about them. Like, take racial level limits. Seem like a lovely idea, probably most people houseruled them out, but they're actually there as an answer to "lol why isn't the world just full of level 20 elves everywhere since they live forever?????" which is kind of a legit question if you have a species with a much-longer-than-human lifespan. Why aren't they dominating the world? They even address, at least in the 2E AD&D DMG, that you might want to remove it, they just suggest that you consider what kind of world it might result in, compared to the default one.

For my games I just assumed that the gods of various long-lived races would "call them to higher duties" at which point they'd leave the world. Humans generally had a version of this called "death from old age." The "level limits" were the idea that a lot of folks in that race generally decided to step back and retire to quieter activities once they reached a certain "level" so they wouldn't get called up into some kind of godly forever war.

As for level-draining, I thought it was deeply stupid and just removed it. Instead I allowed undead to temporarily drain attributes (Con, Str, Wis) and permanently drain hit points. So, if a Spectre hits you, you'll lose 2 points of Constitution and 2 points from your hit point maximum (though restoration can heal all such damage). I also gave max HP at first level and instituted a half or above policy for other rolls. Your Rogue gains a level and rolls 1d6. On a 1 or 2 he still gets at least 3 hp for gaining a level. And yes, Con bonuses added to that.

Ithle01
May 28, 2013


PurpleXVI posted:

I gotta be honest, while I don't enjoy using level-draining undead, especially with no access to Restoration or similar spells, I actually think there's probably a good reason there beyond "lol Gygax was a prick," or at least a better one than that.

I mean, even if you don't agree with the end result, most stuff in 1E and 2E D&D actually have a reason behind them that implies that a rational human being thought about them. Like, take racial level limits. Seem like a lovely idea, probably most people houseruled them out, but they're actually there as an answer to "lol why isn't the world just full of level 20 elves everywhere since they live forever?????" which is kind of a legit question if you have a species with a much-longer-than-human lifespan. Why aren't they dominating the world? They even address, at least in the 2E AD&D DMG, that you might want to remove it, they just suggest that you consider what kind of world it might result in, compared to the default one.

From what I understand the reason was to create monsters that players would fear which is why monsters that are supposed to be scary have it and to simulate horrific lingering wounds that result from fighting those monsters. However, that's not the point so much as the point is that this is a really dumb way of solving that problem and thus its perpetuation through multiple editions of dnd is suspect. Much like racial level caps, it doesn't solve any questions about why the world isn't overrun with level 12 elves instead of level 20 elves.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

That's one of the reasons I always detested level drain: it was meant to scare the players, not the characters.

IshmaelZarkov
Jun 20, 2013



I always ran level drain as the spirits eating memories. Perhaps I grew up with too much Wraith, but there's something about the shades of the dead being envious of the lives of the living and wanting to steal those memories for whatever short-lived comfort it may provide... well, it appeals.

When a ghost latches on and suddenly you can't remember your parent's face, or the sensation of a lovers kiss, that's when players AND characters get scared.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Bieeanshee posted:

That's one of the reasons I always detested level drain: it was meant to scare the players, not the characters.

Honestly that's been a bit of an AD&D mainstay. When TSR put A1-A4 together into the supermodule, Scourge of the Slavelords the module included a scene (set before the adventure proper even began in terms of the A1-A4 modules) in which the PCs where captured by agents of the Slavelords and enslaved as rowers aboard a slaver ship. Within that scene is a bit where the slavers rifle through the PCs' equipment, taking the items they can use and toss others (like Good-aligned weapons, etc.) over the side of the ship to be lost forever.

Process that for a bit. Roll it around in your skull. This scene is the Big Motivator for the PCs - the thing that makes them really invested in taking the Slavelords down. And that Big Motivator is not "They kidnapped our friends!" or "They killed my wife/love/mentor/pet" or even just a basic "Slavery is vile and must be stopped!" Nope, the Big Motivator for this adventure is "They took our stuff!"

To be fair this module is one part of a supercampaign that potentially takes the characters from 1st level newbies all the way to being 14th level badasses. It starts with T1-T4 with The Temple of Elemental Evil (which finally expanded the village of Hommlet into a full campaign adventure story) goes through A1-A4 with Scourge of the Slavelords and climaxes with GDQ1-7 (Against the Giants; Descent into the Depths of the Earth and Vault of the Drow and then Queen of the Demonweb Pits) which has this cover:



Yep, just Lloth hanging in her sex club throne room with a couple of Fire Giant bouncers, two of her of BDSM Drow babes and a cool-rear end Illithid waving to the reader as if to ask "'S'up dudes?"

The upshot of all that is that after playing through T1-T4, the PCs would quite likely have ended up with some really good stuff.

Dragonlance had its problems and we'll see plenty of them for a while, but at the least it aspired to having players become invested in a story for reasons other than "They stole our poo poo!"

Everyone fucked around with this message at 02:26 on Dec 3, 2019

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Chapter Three: Eras of Legend



Eras of Time covers in detail three major historical incidents of Dragonlance along with notable people and adventure material, as well as a description of the Abyss and stat blocks for notable time-travelers. It’s no coincidence that said eras were visited in the Legends trilogy at various points, and thus has the most material from the book series. Alas we are sorely lacking opportunities for those wishing to visit Huma Dragonbane or the Dragonwars.

A Time of Dragons takes place after the War of the Lance, aka the main Chronicles series, and spans about 10 years. The forces of Takhisis fractured into ineffectual bands, with the Blue Dragon Highlord Lady Kitiara holding onto a narrow slice of mountains in Sanction as the veritable major threat. The return of the true gods and divine magic means that the continent of Ansalon is undergoing a major religious revival, and the pivotal role Raistlin and other wizards played in fighting the Dragonarmies means that said mages are more widely accepted in society. And the masters of the Tower of Wayreth are worried about what Raistlin’s up to ever since he went AWOL after the War of the Lance. The leaders of the Qualinesti and Silvanesti kingdoms politically unite when their leaders marry each other.

This entry heavily focuses on the city of Palanthas, the largest city in Ansalon. It’s got a big new shiny temple to Paladine, the head of the pantheon of good-aligned deities, and the spooky Tower of High Sorcery has been claimed by Raistlin where he and his apprentice are most surely up to no good. Adventure hooks for this era include mopping up Dragonarmy remnants, infiltrating Raistlin’s tower, tracking down a plague-spreading cult, and playing an escort mission for a Red Robe Wizard heading to Wayreth.

We get some stat blocks, but they mostly include major political power players of varying levels. We have mid-level people like the ruler of Palanthas or Raistlin’s apprentice Dalamar. At the higher end we have the Grandmaster of the Solamnic Knights who is 16th level along with the three leaders of the respective Robe Orders of High Sorcery who are perhaps the most powerful people on Krynn ranging from 17th to 20th level. Two characters from the Chronicles, Elistan the cleric and Tanis Half-Elven the ranger, get their own write-ups. The former is the religious leader of Paladine’s worshipers and has shaped up to be a sterling role model, while Tanis is at peace with his role as a renowned hero and traveling mediator of disputes.



Istar is the archetypical high magic fallen empire which your D&D setting compares itself to as it pines for times of greatness long gone. However, the supposed “golden age” of Istar became less fact and more myth as time went on when it veered from Lawful Good to Lawful Stupid. In fact, Dragonlance’s Istar is pretty much the culmination of all those online debates you’ve seen about alignment. Combine this with a pinch of “both sides” centrism which posits that having too much Good is just as bad as too much Evil, and you’ve got one of the most controversial aspects of the setting.

Brief History: The Holy Empire of Istar had its beginnings as a humble fishing village. In the aftermath of the Third Dragonwar the church of Paladine and the secular nobility combined forces to take over nearby provinces via economic exploitation and trade wars. It is very much a fantasy counterpart Roman Empire with Italian and Latin-style names and titles, and made heavy use of divine spellcasters to supplement public works projects so that even the worst-off citizens have a comfortable standard of living. But things started to deteriorate when increased war funding to vanquish evil wherever it lay in Ansalon taxed the people heavily and led to a brief civil war.

The gods of Good and Neutrality became increasingly disfavored with what the Istaran government was doing in their name and revoked their divine spellcasting privileges among many of them. The clerics interpreted this as a personal trial to instead be more zealous; the crowning of the next (and final) Kingpriest Beldinas stepped this up by doing a variety of controversial measures: declaring wizards of all alignments enemies of the state, reinstituting slavery for criminals, dwarves,* and the evil races, forming a secret police force to mind-read citizen’s thoughts on the streets for impure thoughts, and leading genocidal purges not just against goblins and monsters but also against kender and laying siege to all but one of the Towers of High Sorcery.

*dwarves worship Reorx, who is neutral-aligned.

The final straw came when Beldinas grew dissatisfied when the gods seemed not as bloodthirsty in ‘vanquishing evil’ as he was, and ignored a series of Moses-style warnings. When he conducted a ritual to enslave the gods, he failed and thus they punished him by shooting a mountain from space (aka a meteor) onto the capital city and bringing forth the Cataclysm. This apocalyptic event left millions dead, induced irreversible climate change affecting the entire planet, sent much of the eastern continent underwater, plunged several provinces into chaos and war, and the total loss of divine magic increased the death rate further from now-untreatable injuries and illnesses.

The lesson that Dragonlance’s writers want you to take away from this was that the gods were totally not at fault for the Cataclysm, that the Kingpriest and the Istaran government were not wicked men but people who were too Good-aligned for their own good in spite of all their atrocities, that the gods did not leave Krynn but that the “people left the gods” post-Cataclysm, and that Neutrality is the most tolerant of alignments.

But that’s not here or now. This section proper takes place on the final days of said Empire before the Cataclysm comes. Istar is a walled city with beautiful golden-white architecture, ample public gardens and clean streets with expansive welfare system that all but eliminated poverty and hardship among the non-slaves. It still has lots of foreign visitors and trade in spite of its authoritarianism, and the Arena is one of the most popular social venues. Made up mostly of slave-gladiators, the fights are not lethal but more akin to staged professional wrestling where armor’s lined with blood-filled animal bladders and the “pits of death” merely drop into padded sections of lower catacombs beneath the colosseum. Even so, gladiators can still die from injuries but the slave-masters tolerate this as the cost of doing business, and there’s an underground market of gambling, thrown matches, and poisoned weapons and performance-enhancing drugs.

The Great Temple of Paladine is the Kingpriest’s home and center of government in the entire empire. The Tower of High Sorcery in the city now stands empty, its occupants killed by the Kingpriest’s forces or having escaped via magic. Not one to let a good defensive fortification go to waste, it is now a place where the government houses magic items and relics of non-good religions as well as good-aligned ones which are ‘heretical.’

You might be wondering how Istar managed to penetrate the various Towers’ defenses? Well this is answered in the form of the sneaky Black Robe archmage Fistandantilus. He had lots of rivals among the wizards and figured that using fundamentalist patsies to take them out was a good idea, so he bred magical seeds which could wilt the magic of the Towers’ surrounding groves. Once all but Wayreth were destroyed, he revealed his evil master plan to Kingpriest Beldinas and asked to have a seat as his advisor in exchange for this grand favor. Instead of Smiting Evil or realizing he was manipulated into working for said evil, the Kingpriest honored this request in the belief of “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” Fistandantilus took advantage of this to create his own secret dungeon beneath the temple where he does secret evil stuff out of the church’s eyes.

So umm, are we really sure the Kingpriest isn’t actually evil-aligned yet, Weis and Hickman? Nope, Beldinas is still canonically Lawful Good and still has cleric spells to boot!

The adventure ideas include saving ‘heretical’ relics, escaping the colosseum as gladiator-slaves, finding a way to prevent the Cataclysm or save as many people in its wake, or even ensure it for some unfathomable reason. The stat blocks for this entry include the Kingpriest (a 20th level Dynamic Priest cleric), , a secret true cleric scribe preserving knowledge, several famous gladiators, and an arrogant elven ambassador because of course a dickish Lawful Stupid empire would be best buds with D&D’s other arrogant rear end in a top hat civilization.



The Dwarfgate Wars tops our three eras. Set a mere 40 years after the Cataclysm, it is a pretty major subversion of Dragonlance’s classic high fantasy themes of daring heroism versus utter evil. Even in this romantic world there are conflicts where there are no real good guys, where both sides have understandable motives and survival is top priority. Istar’s reign is remembered by the older generation, and besides some secluded wizards in Wayreth and monsters with supernatural powers it is largely a world without magic.

The Dwarfgate Wars are the name for an incident where the mountain nation of Thorbadin underwent a major food shortage from the Cataclysm’s destruction of supply lines, farming villages, and trade agreements. And so Thorbadin expelled its lower classes and barred entry to dwarves living outside who are now known as the Neidar clan aka hill dwarves. Human warlords and refugees sought Thorbadin’s resources, while the hill dwarves were angered at being denied access to their ancestral homes at a time when the surface world was more dangerous than ever. Add some factionalism and power-jockeying among Thorbadin’s nobility taking advantage of the power imbalance wrought by the Cataclysm and Solamnic knights oathbound to keep order among the humans, and it all quickly blows up into a series of wars beyond anyone’s control.

The time-traveling Raistlin, Tasslehoff, and Caramon end up involved in said wars as well, with Raistlin seeking Fistandantilus* to kill him and take his power as a means of eventually defeating Takhisis. As Takhisis is the head of the pantheon of evil deities and the true leader of the Dragonarmies in the Chronicles era, this is a mighty tall order.

*who allied with the banished hill dwarves only so he could open a portal to the Abyss.

We get some detailed write-ups of several places of relevance: Palanthas escaped the Cataclysm more or less unscathed, the fortress of Pax Tharkas is taken over by dwarves (was formerly joint-owned between them and the elves), the Plains of Dergoth are home to hill dwarves digging underground tunnels into Thorbadin, the kingdom of Thorbadin itself which is an expansive multi-leveled complex with several cities’ worth of inhabitants, and the forbidden Black Robe fortress of Zhaman which Fistandantilus occupied for a time before it blown up due to Abyssal portal mishaps.

The adventure hooks for this are perhaps the least diverse, most involve interacting with one of the faction armies, raiding Thorbadin or Zhaman, or taking the place of one of the warlords involved. The NPC stat blocks are appropriately all noncasting martials of various political figures and warlords of this time. The notable exception is Gnimsh, an outcast gnome ‘cursed’ to have all of his inventions work properly.* His Life Quest was to create a device which could allow extraplanar travel, and thus was manipulated into building a portal to the Abyss.

*for this leaves no room for improvement and additions to be made by the standards of Gnomish culture.



The Abyss is a bit of an odd entry out, but is important as it is a place ventured to in the Legends trilogy and also one of Dragonlance’s 3 Outer Planes (the other 2 the homes of the Neutral and Good-aligned deities). Dragonlance’s Abyss is not the same one of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms, but an immaterial expanse of blackness acting as a dark mirror to Krynn. The foundations of its regions are shaped by the Gods of Evil but can also change on a smaller scale to fit the minds and desires of mortal visitors. Space and distance are subjective and shaped more by the willpower of the dark gods and travelers, and is highly toxic to living creatures dealing 1d8 negative energy damage per hour. The plane’s subjective reality can be changed by a visitor via a Wisdom check, with higher DCs corresponding to greater environmental changes.

The only notable places detailed in the Abyss are the domiciles of the Gods of Evil: the disease-ridden Bronze tower is claimed by Morgion; Chemosh’s underground mausoleum is a prison for all those claimed by the god; the warlike Sargonnas’ Red Arena is host to a giant field of monsters and mortals locked in never-ending struggle; Hiddukel’s Shadowed Streets are a Silent Hill-esque city of pitch black, trash-ridden streets which bend in on themselves and the only non-monstrous inhabitants are wicked bands of criminals plotting petty vendettas; the Temple of Neraka is a warped reflection of Istar’s Grand Temple and the center of power for Takhisis; Zeboim’s Grotto is an underwater kelp forest home to monsters of the deep; and the hidden Vault of the Condemned holds souls deemed too dangerous to roam freely even within the Abyss.

Adventure hooks are non-standard on account that one does not simply Plane Shift into the Abyss and thus should be used sparingly. As such the hooks are appropriately epic, such as closing the portal hosting an extraplanar invasion of demons and devils, rescuing an important cleric or champion of Good from an archfiend’s fortress, taking advantage of the plane’s mutable nature to recreate a long-since-destroyed artifact, or an Abyssal incursion into Palanthas granting the wishes of all citizens in the most twisted of manners.



Travelers Along the River is our shortest entry and features the stat blocks of four major time-traveling figures of the Legends trilogy: Raistlin and Caramon Majere, Lady Crysania Tarinius, and Tasslehoff Burrfoot. Starting with Raistlin, he’s pretty much god-tier: he possesses 28 levels total in a mixture of Wizard, Wizard of High Sorcery, Loremaster, and Archmage with use of Epic Spellcasting rules from the Epic Level Handbook. His assortment of spells and possession of artifacts such as the Dragon Orb means that like all high-level wizards he can absolutely wreck a non-optimized party with the right set-up and enough planning. However, his weakly Constitution means that his mere 44 hit points and +9 Fortitude save are his clear weak spots, so in a straight-up fight it really comes down to whether or not he can get the drop on his enemies.

Poor Caramon Majere by contrast is a 14th level Fighter kitted out for melee combat and can’t really do much else. Lady Crysania Tarinius is an up and coming priestess of Paladine who Raistlin manipulated in his quest for power, and is an 11th level Cleric and 3rd-level Noble (PC version of Aristocrat NPC Class). Her spells are geared towards defensive allotment with a few offensive light and smiting spells for good measure.

Finally we have Tasslehoff Burrfoot, who has 5 levels in Rogue and 9 levels in Handler which is a prestige class from another sourcebook. In short, it’s a legendary kender explorer archetype who trades out Sneak Attack in exchange for more defensive measures like adding Charisma to saving throws, picking up various tales like Bardic Knowledge, and can more easily steal items from targets even in combat among other things. While Tasslehoff has some mad skill bonuses in various rogue things, his pitiful 3d6 Sneak Attack means that he’s not going to be punching in his weight class for a 15th-level character.

Thoughts So Far: I enjoyed the write-ups on the eras, although they’re rather narrow in scope. Time of Dragons being set after the Chronicles means that the stakes feel a lot smaller and not as much to do that doesn’t involve one of the setting’s existing major figures (Kitiara, Raistlin, etc). Istar’s brimming with adventure potential against an authoritarian government, but is the crystallized essence of everything wrong with D&D alignment and thus its implementation can be controversial. The Dwarfgate Wars, while instrumental in the Legends trilogy, are a clear departure from Dragonlance’s typical high fantasy. I did like the write-up for the Abyss and the rules for its weird reality-warping nature. The stat blocks for the major Legends characters at the end will see limited use in a campaign: Raistlin’s pretty much a villain at this point, while Caramon and Tasslehoff will be underpowered and boring to play as or alongside if you hitch a time warp ride with them. Crysania is a rather ho-hum Goodly Good Cleric.

Join us next time as we cover my favorite chapter in this book, Alternate Krynns!

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 05:35 on Dec 8, 2019

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


Libertad! posted:

...leading genocidal purges not just against goblins and monsters but also against kender.

Well, I guess that explains why he still counts as Good aligned.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Y'know, if you were to ask "how could be such thing as too much good", "it could lead to genocide!" is not the answer I expect.

Libertad! posted:

leading genocidal purges not just against goblins and monsters but also against kender

As far as the meme goes, the moral question here - is it worth it to sacrifice the goblins, just to get rid of the kender?
(on a more serious note, "not just against"... oh, so if they stopped here, it'll be okay?")

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Yeah the big issue with these two-axes alignment is, you can totally see how an excess of Law or Chaos would be bad. It is difficult to argue that good is not good, because it's a tautology. You could make some kind of claim that you have to have some moderation and tolerance for the imperfections of the mortal world and trying to push past that means you start slipping off the Good hill, but I don't think that is the case being made here.

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006
:gay:


Too much good is nazis, what, how dare you accuse me of saying the Nazis are good, I'm just saying that you people trying to "do the right thing" are going too far and just as bad.

D&D is a land of contrasts, full of enlightened centrists and rabid ancaps and also genocidal monarchists.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Nessus posted:

Yeah the big issue with these two-axes alignment is, you can totally see how an excess of Law or Chaos would be bad. It is difficult to argue that good is not good, because it's a tautology. You could make some kind of claim that you have to have some moderation and tolerance for the imperfections of the mortal world and trying to push past that means you start slipping off the Good hill, but I don't think that is the case being made here.

In the case of goblins and such at least, it's at least something that makes sense from a "good man gone too far" perspective. Wiping out a species known for evil, ends justify the means, that sort of thing. Basically the racial equivalent of execution for moderate crimes like sentencing a petty thief or an adulterer to death.

Basically, seeing Good as existing in opposition of Evil, therefore actions that reduce the amount of Evil are good (rather than actions that increase the amount of happiness or satisfaction of good people).

I suppose the evil equivalent would be going to unreasonable and cartoonish lengths to cause corrupt or destroy Good, even if it's to the person's disadvantage. Like Palpatine at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Zandar
Aug 22, 2008


The weird thing is that D&D already had the "Lawful and Chaotic are just factions" thing back when it was one-axis. 1E Dragonlance kept that one axis but made it good/evil, while saying that too much good can be inflexible and quick to condemn, things that most people would probably already associate with being overly Lawful.

rodbeard
Jul 21, 2005



I think the Salem Witch Trials are the perfect example of Lawful Good gone too far. People followed what they thought was the correct legal actions to combat what they thought was an evil existential threat.

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!


rodbeard posted:

I think the Salem Witch Trials are the perfect example of Lawful Good gone too far. People followed what they thought was the correct legal actions to combat what they thought was an evil existential threat.

That's not so much "good going too far" as it is "good intentions but wrong information," which is very assumptuous about the "good intentions" part.

If you wanted "good going too far" you'd kind of have to look at it, in my mind, from a freedoms vs responsibilities angle. Like, no one can go through life without, intentionally or not, slightly inconveniencing someone else simply by existing or surviving. Good going "too far" would be something like even the slightest inconvenience to someone else being regarded as an "evil" act that you needed to atone for or be punished for. Because almost any other interpretation isn't so much about being "too good" or having too good intentions, but instead about being too Lawful(some sort of good-aligned dictatorship or following the law rather than the spirit of the words) or doing outright evil poo poo(like genocide) and going "but we're assuming that they're bad people! so it's okay!"

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

Night10194 posted:

On one hand, I'd like more of an outline on these things, but on the other I actually quite like those elements being very 'left open'.

Still, if I wanted a specific sequel game, I'd like to be the gnolls fighting the aelfir. You could keep to the 'standard throwaway D&D bad guy fighting the shining high elf paladins, except they're no longer dehumanized' thing.

So from hanging out of the RR&D discord, there's at least one more Spire sourcebook coming that's going to focus on the Order and Religion Domains, and two planned games ala Heart that are codenamed Dust and Cross. Dust is vaguely hinted to be about the gnoll war, and Cross may be human-related, but they're both described as years off.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


unseenlibrarian posted:

So from hanging out of the RR&D discord, there's at least one more Spire sourcebook coming that's going to focus on the Order and Religion Domains, and two planned games ala Heart that are codenamed Dust and Cross. Dust is vaguely hinted to be about the gnoll war, and Cross may be human-related, but they're both described as years off.

This is basically all good news to me.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


jakodee posted:

It kinda accurately reflects two knights in full suits of plate armor trying to kill each other with swords, so long as neither knight ever gains more than their first level of hitpoints.

I don't think that's true. IIRC, knights in plate are hard to kill, the fight might devolve to guys grabbing swords by the blades to use them as maces (your hands are armored, you don't care) and you probably want a mace or a pick anyways.

The dumbest thing about DnD fights is calling it a to-hit roll when mechanically it's more of a bypass-armor-to-wound roll.

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!


JcDent posted:

The dumbest thing about DnD fights is calling it a to-hit roll when mechanically it's more of a bypass-armor-to-wound roll.

Well, it also does include dexterity in Armor Class, so it's not entirely wrong.

I agree that it's probably oversimplified, but I'd rather have a system too simple than one too complex. In the opposite direction you have systems that have separate to hit, damage reduction and dodging rolls.

Tylana
May 5, 2011



Pillbug

It kind of gets into the "What philosphies do you actually want to tie the the axises?" question. The mostly functional framework I've seen is Law/Chaos is very means vs end. My brain interprets it as ethics vs morals but it's actually like... deontological vs consequentialism.

And then Good/Evil mostly becomes a matter of selfishness. Or basically how big the side you are on is. So many villains are only out for themselves, or their immediate family (or sometimes one loved one, kill the world to save your daughter/wife kind of affair). As opposed to valuing everyone highly on the other end. With the usual spectrum between. Which then makes it very hard for Elves to be Good because they are usually racist pricks in fiction. Which makes me happy because pbbbbbbttt to elves.

So like a Good gone too far (especially with access to communication to the judge on the matter, or if it is a different criteria Detect Good) kingdom might take a bunch of the charity laws of older texts even further. It's illegal to buy a second shirt if you don't give your first one away. As long as you aren't starving all the food you have must be freely offered to anyone nearby, etcetcetc. All systems are gamable of course so it'd go hilariously wrong. I think I see it ending up like theoretical Communism (and not how Communism has ever occurred in our world). Although if it's via divine right that's possibly deeply brain breaking.

EDIT : I forgot my other Good too far idea, which is where you go all utilitarian and horrible enslave the world to make a happier place for all future generations so the maths puts you positive.

Which then reminds me of a great setting idea of as Devils are fallen angels (more a 4e thing, obviously not compatible with Planescape Outer Ring) they look the same as angels, and there are evil gods and evil angels anyway so when you get a message from the heavens you can never fully trust it.

Tylana fucked around with this message at 13:14 on Dec 3, 2019

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Bieeanshee posted:

That's one of the reasons I always detested level drain: it was meant to scare the players, not the characters.
see also those worms that burrow into your brain if you try listening at a door

naturally, once they figured out what was going on players started purchasing tubes with a fine mesh the worms couldn't get through ahd putting those against the door to listen, making these just a system mastery trap. or a "Reading your DM's brain" trap

Libertad! posted:

You might be wondering how Istar managed to penetrate the various Towers’ defenses? Well this is answered in the form of the sneaky Black Robe archmage Fistandantilus. He had lots of rivals among the wizards and figured that using fundamentalist patsies to take them out was a good idea, so he bred magical seeds which could wilt the magic of the Towers’ surrounding groves. Once all but Wayreth were destroyed, he revealed his evil master plan to Kingpriest Beldinas and asked to have a seat as his advisor in exchange for this grand favor. Instead of Smiting Evil or realizing he was manipulated into working for said evil, the Kingpriest honored this request in the belief of “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” Fistandantilus took advantage of this to create his own secret dungeon beneath the temple where he does secret evil stuff out of the church’s eyes.
*squint*

so, let me get this straight. Evil Wizard Dude, without talking to Lawful Good Due, weakens the defenses of the Towers. Without realizing this, Lawful Good Dude takes advantage of this to murder wizards by the truckload (while remaining Lawful Good), and then when this guy shows up and says "Hey, I, without talking to you or you knowing about what I'm doing, did a thing that helped you, a Lawful Good guy. I am openly evil! Give me a position in your Lawful Good government." And then Lawful Good Dude goes "sure okay", when there's no previous relationship between them

and Lawful Good guy remained Lawful Good until the Lawful Good gods got SO pissed at him they caused massive, massive planetwide disasters to kill this one guy. (and they also remained lawful good.)

...

:tizzy:

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


In general, D&D Good is terrible, especially the D&D Good Gods, primarily because of the whole 'faction jersey' element of D&D alignment. When it's primarily about who it's okay to kill, it leads to bad places.

Angry Salami
Jul 27, 2013

Don't trust the skull.


Dragonlance makes a lot more sense if you replace 'Neutral' with 'Good', 'Evil' with 'Neutral', and 'Good' with 'Evil'.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Still, D&D alignment's entire root is 'who will potentially talk to you/hire on vs. kill you' with no real consideration of anything beyond that, and then it grew from there. That's part of how you get all this 'what if too much Good=Kill the Orc Children!?' stuff, because that's the root.

Never play with anyone who seriously considers that any sort of dilemma and you'll go far.

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!


Tylana posted:

It kind of gets into the "What philosphies do you actually want to tie the the axises?" question. The mostly functional framework I've seen is Law/Chaos is very means vs end. My brain interprets it as ethics vs morals but it's actually like... deontological vs consequentialism.

I always considered Chaos vs Law to be more of an individualism vs organisation thing, as well as a guide to whether the character does things that work in the moment or attempts to make systems that will work for all broadly similar situations down the road.

A Chaotic Good character who sees an injustice picks up an axe handle and brains the guy committing it, then sets out to hunt down the rest of his group, perhaps organizing a small posse if there's a lot of braining to do. When all the braining is done, they disband, shake hands and go on with what they were doing. A Lawful Good character who sees an injustice attempts to find a system-based solution, potentially involving creating a permanent organization for braining the unjust with a strict legal code.

A Chaotic Evil character breaks a window, steals the money and runs off before the braining posse can catch him. A Lawful Evil character sets in on the system-making committee and suggests that they should have a reliable supplier of axe handles and then makes sure to suggest a supplier that he controls several steps removed, thus making himself rich by abusing the system.

A Chaotic Neutral character gets killed and thrown in a ditch by the party in session one because no one wants to put up with that kind of bullshit. The Lawful Neutral character doesn't join the party because he's too busy doing quality control on axe handles.

oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




I suppose a more "real" version of "Good but Too Much" would be the total unwillingness to do anything for the self. You give away every scrap of food you have. You refuse to expend the slightest resource on your own health or comfort. You would not harm someone under any circumstance, regardless of the cost and their maliciousness. You refuse to pass judgement or even give advice in order to avoid hubris.

Basically, living like a aesthetic, contemplating good vibes and pursuing no goals or ambitions.

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!


oriongates posted:

I suppose a more "real" version of "Good but Too Much" would be the total unwillingness to do anything for the self. You give away every scrap of food you have. You refuse to expend the slightest resource on your own health or comfort. You would not harm someone under any circumstance, regardless of the cost and their maliciousness. You refuse to pass judgement or even give advice in order to avoid hubris.

Basically, living like a aesthetic, contemplating good vibes and pursuing no goals or ambitions.

That'd be the self-focused "good but too good." The society-focused "good but too good" would be not even permitting the chance of evil. Mandatory thought screenings for antisocial thoughts, mandatory drug regimes to suppress antisocial impulses, pre-emptive punishment/treatment/incarceration for the mere potential of acting hostile to someone else. Which, to be fair, Istar does actually get somewhat close to the latter definition: "let's screen you for thought crime and then kill all these species that we consider to have an inclination towards non-good."

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




PurpleXVI posted:

I always considered Chaos vs Law to be more of an individualism vs organisation thing, as well as a guide to whether the character does things that work in the moment or attempts to make systems that will work for all broadly similar situations down the road.

A Chaotic Good character who sees an injustice picks up an axe handle and brains the guy committing it, then sets out to hunt down the rest of his group, perhaps organizing a small posse if there's a lot of braining to do. When all the braining is done, they disband, shake hands and go on with what they were doing. A Lawful Good character who sees an injustice attempts to find a system-based solution, potentially involving creating a permanent organization for braining the unjust with a strict legal code.

A Chaotic Evil character breaks a window, steals the money and runs off before the braining posse can catch him. A Lawful Evil character sets in on the system-making committee and suggests that they should have a reliable supplier of axe handles and then makes sure to suggest a supplier that he controls several steps removed, thus making himself rich by abusing the system.

A Chaotic Neutral character gets killed and thrown in a ditch by the party in session one because no one wants to put up with that kind of bullshit. The Lawful Neutral character doesn't join the party because he's too busy doing quality control on axe handles.

the Neutral Neutral character is just here to go into dungeons and kill things and take their stuff while eating pizza

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


This is why I always dumpster the good/evil and lawful/chaotic labels and replace them with something more appropriate thematically for the campaign. For example, when I ran a short campaign about being explorers on a Land of the Lost island, the two axis were Preservation vs. Destruction ('take nothing but drawings, leave nothing but tracks' vs bringing back taxidermied creatures) and Selfish vs. Selfless (are you doing things for personal gain or the benefit of knowledge).

No one should play a chaotic evil explorer, but a selfish destructive explorer fits in just fine and can have meaningful disagreements in the party without anyone smiting each other.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Alternately you could just dump alignment systems since they very rarely add anything to begin with.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Kwathi posted:

Write what you find interesting, probably someone else is interested too, even if they don't post.

AKA me with Degenesis. There are some sunk costs at this point, but there be lore in that character section, and some people (quietly) appreciate it.

I just have difficulty finding time for Degenesis these days!

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!


JcDent posted:

AKA me with Degenesis. There are some sunk costs at this point, but there be lore in that character section, and some people (quietly) appreciate it.

I just have difficulty finding time for Degenesis these days!

I've always enjoyed the Degenesis review, I just wanna say, I just don't always have something to add because half the time it's such a mess of Proper Nouns that I know it's weird, but it's too weird and confusing for me to have an opinion on other than "wow that's some weird poo poo."

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Characterizing the Salem Witch Trials as "good intentions gone too far" is, uh, some ahistorical bullshit. Pretty much everyone with good intentions in there wanted them to stop, the actual trials were pushed by a bunch of people going after their enemies and scapegoats and whipping people into hysteria.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Mors Rattus posted:

Characterizing the Salem Witch Trials as "good intentions gone too far" is, uh, some ahistorical bullshit. Pretty much everyone with good intentions in there wanted them to stop, the actual trials were pushed by a bunch of people going after their enemies and scapegoats and whipping people into hysteria.

One of my favorite witch trial related documents comes from the Spanish Inquisition, with an Inquisitor named Salazar writing a long, detailed condemnation of the Inquisition being used for witch trials on the basis that it was a mixture of popular hysteria and people going after their enemies to take their property. He also concludes that magic most certainly isn't real, in the style the witches are said to be doing it.

Being a Spanish Inquisitor, he naturally ends with 'More importantly, this is taking away from time we could be using to do our holy work and persecuting Jews.' (look, it was the Spanish Inquisition, their entire original purpose was being used to terrorize Jews)

But still, one of the Inquisitors absolutely saw through the real purpose of the whole thing during the Basque Witch Trials, let alone anything in Salem.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Zereth posted:

see also those worms that burrow into your brain if you try listening at a door

naturally, once they figured out what was going on players started purchasing tubes with a fine mesh the worms couldn't get through ahd putting those against the door to listen, making these just a system mastery trap. or a "Reading your DM's brain" trap

loving Ear Seekers. THey actually statted those little ear-prophylactics in the 2E Thieves' Handbook. Gave something like a +5 to Hear Noise, because it was like holding a glass up to a door.

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 Despair: Lost City of the Ancients



Welcome to scenic Xak Tsaroth! It's a swampy shithole, though at least the random encounters should stop once being eight a goddamn day once we've actually gotten this far. We're informed that 1d6 times per round, the player characters spot broken and useless garbage in the underbrush which is like, am it expected that I, the GM, announce this every time it happens? Why not just write in the descriptive text: "Sometimes you see some old garbage lying around, indicating this place was inhabited once."? You also better stick to dry ground, because 2 out of 3 times you touch any of the water in the area, a random encounter bursts out at you.

Note that these encounters can be some stompable generic snakes, loving black dragon hatchlings, more level-draining undead or just a loving Catoblepas, a creature that has a save-or-die gaze attack. Those are the only four options for what can come out of the water, so just loving stay out of the water, Jesus Christ.



As you can see from this map, there are bridges between the various patches of dry land and oh wait any time you cross one you need to make a dex check to fall in and if you fall in you provoke a random water attack just as if you'd tried to go through the water. Also the wording is "whenever anyone enters the water, for whatever reason" for triggering the attacks, so technically if anyone jumps into the water to try and help you out, they trigger yet another random encounter. Better just let whoever ends up in there die and then be Plot Deviced back to life a few steps farther down the road. Maybe he wasn't tasty and the baby dragons barfed him back up.

We start at 44a and want to make our way to 44k to continue the plot, everything in between is really just an excuse to get ambushed by enemies or fall in the water and get stuck in fractal random enemy attacks. About the only things of note otherwise is the Temple of Baaz(44f), where a bunch of draconians worship a great wicker black dragon. It notes that its possible to crawl inside the dragon and yell real loud and it'll panic the draconians, but then there's a good chance the wicker dragon topples forward into a bonfire and you're stuck in there burning to death until you pass a successful dex check. Funnily enough, the random encounters are almost universally more dangerous than the actual placed encounters in this area.

Anyway, let's assume that our Brave Protagonists manage to make it through the swamp, it's impossible to do so without any fighting as there's a forced encounter at 44d, and circumventing that requires splashing through the water between 44a and the dry area to the north of it, triggering an almost guaranteed random attack, but if they manage to not fall off the bridges, that forced encounter with some draconians and then going northwest is probably the only sane way to reach 44k. I'll note that none of the battles, even with the draconians at 44f with their wicker dragon temple, have any rewards whatsoever.

quote:

Emerging from the dense jungle, a broad cobblestone street runs south and north among the ruins. A roadway branches to the west. Here, the fluted columns and relief carvings of buildings sag wearily. A large cobblestone courtyard lies to the east amid crumbling buildings. Beyond the courtyard are four tall free-standing columns: no trace remains of the building they once supported. In front of these pillars, a huge well plunges into the earth.

Vapors rise from the well. To the north of the well, a single building stands whole, although time and the weather have worn its outer walls.

And when you get there, you're told in no uncertain terms that the only thing to do is head inside the temple at the far end of the courtyard which has large, solid doors to close behind you. If you dilly dally, Khisanth, an ancient black dragon, leaps out of the well to chase you inside.

This reminds me a lot of the Dark Sun module "City by the Silt Sea," which is also about exploring a ruined city on the edges of a sea(albeit not a sea of water), except there, rather than just a straight line in and out that you gotta obey, you're given a map of the area, and there are dozens of interconnecting ways and routes down from the surface into the caverns and ruins below. I gotta say that the more story a module has, the worse it tends to be, since it tends to railroad the party more. If it's just a scene set, for the players to walk on to and do what they want with it, that tends to work out so much better.

Anyway, Khisanth attacks! And she kills everyone. No, really. If she attacks and everyone doesn't instantly loving run for it, they're dead, because her breath weapon will rake them for 64 points of damage prior to a saving throw which can at best reduce it to 32.

Tanis has 35 HP, Caramon has 51 HP, Raistlin 8 HP, Flint 42 HP, Tasslehoff 15 HP, Sturm 45 HP, Goldmoon 19 HP, Riverwind 34 HP. Generally the members of the party have a 1 in 4 chance of making their save, and everyone who isn't a Fighter-type class will eat poo poo anyway even if they make it unless they've spent so long grinding infinitely respawning draconian encounters on the way that they've levelled up and gotten more HP. So loving book it the hell out of there, is the point. Generously the game points out that Khisanth will spend her first round in the air figuring out what the gently caress these loser invaders are doing in her ruined city before she starts letting rip with spells and breath weapons from the safety of being airborne.

If anyone's still alive after four rounds of that, Khisanth gets scaredy and dives back into the well to hide.

Amazingly, with that, we're already past part 2 of Dragons of Despair. Let's have a brief musical interlude.



Descent into Darkness



Slamming the huge doors shut behind them, the party is safe for now, at 46a. Another way to get down into Xak Tsaroth's interesting parts is to just plunge down the well that Khisanth attacks from. This would probably be a bad idea as A) no one would survive the 900-foot drop(100 feet of well and then below that, 800 feet of free air down to the cavern floor) and B) then they'd be in Khisanth's lair, and there she's definitely not going to give them even the slightest hint of mercy or quarter. So probably better to just use the temple of Mishakal as your entryway like the good devs intended.

quote:

Golden doors open into the central chamber of the temple. A tremendous dome rises high above the delicate tile floor. It seems as though time has stilled in this room. In the center of the circular room stands a polished statue of singular
grace and beauty: the delicate form of a woman, draped in flowing robes. Her hair cascades about her shoulders and neck, which is adorned by a detailed amulet. The look on her face is one of radiant hope tempered with sadness. A feeling of warmth and love abides in the room.

Mishakal, who is for some reason statted here, like anyone in the party is going to be ready to challenge 355HP worth of divine avatar, tells the party that they've got a good job but because she's an rear end in a top hat she's not going to start letting Goldmoon have her class features until they've hauled rear end into the bowels of Xak Tsaroth to recover the Disks of Mishakal, a bunch of platinum wafers with the commandments of the Good gods on them.

The rest of the temple contains only two interesting things, a small Draconian ambush(these draconians will actually surrender if almost killed, unlike basically every other enemy, ever, being willing to trade information for not being cut wide open) and a bunch of gully dwarves trying to dig through the solid rock walls with their hands for treasure.

quote:

“It’s the lords, mates!” shouts the leader. All the dwarves drop like sacks to their knees. Faces pressed against the slimy floor, they grovel out, whimpering, “We didn’t mean nothin’ by it, your lordship!” and join the line of other gully dwarves (47b).

If the PCs stop them, the Aghar beg for mercy. If the heroes promise to spare them, the Aghar draw a very crude map that shows the way down into the cavern city. They advise: “Go visit our king, the great Phudge Highbulp. He’ll help you right straight!”

There's also a room with a risk of death if you don't have a dwarf along(you'll have it if you have the canon party, but if not...) since the floor is unsafe, which only dwarves will know innately, and for anyone else if they weigh too much they have a 65% chance of taking a 500-foot drop on to a hard surface.

At the bottom of the temple are the crypts(with barely any lootable corpses, even, what is this crime of a module?) where the draconians have a gully dwarf-powered elevator into the ruins proper(it's powered by using gully dwarves as counter weights to either raise or lower the elevator part that's full of draconians needing to go one way or the other), which is a reasonably fun set piece. The draconian commander will try to leap into the elevator to get down and raise the alarm, but if too many PC's jump after him, the elevator will start going down at an alarming pace, potentially killing everyone on board. And the side of the elevator coming up has more draconians in it for anyone staying behind to deal with. It's also a combat encounter that has no dick moves in it, though so far these can be summarized as any combat encounter where the players are dealing with draconians, because all the rest have been some hot bullshit so far.

In the book, though, the protagonists don't use the elevator to go down, instead they find a slide at point 48. Either branching leads them to a couple of minor encounters(either some ghosts that just try to chase them out of the room or a single, weak giant spider) and nothing of any actual interest other than the fact that one will dump them in an old bakery store room still containing flour, and it's mandated by the book that if anyone gets covered by the flour, anyone they encounter is required to ask them why they've got flour on them until they get it off. 54b has a ghost sage who will try to answer any questions the players have, though considering that he died like 300 years ago mostly all he can do is explain the layout of the place further. There's also a treasury the players can try to break into, but it requires crossing a swift stream that is basically a save-or-die as the players have to risk getting swept off the falls at 56 if they flub multiple checks in a row, eating something like 20d6 damage from the drop.

Joke's on the players, though, because the only things of worth are either the treasury's steel doors(remember, steel has replaced gold as a valuable currency on Ansalon) which are too heavy to carry, or the ancient currencies inside the treasury... which are just clay tokens and thus fiat currency and completely useless. If only the ancient Xak Tsarothians had adopted the steel standard..............

Anyway, having taken the slide, it's near impossible to get back up it again, and the players can either climb down vines next to the waterfall(risking 20d6 damage if they slip) or another route that involves climbing ancient curtains, jumping from curtain to curtain, and the risk of falling(3d6 damage) into a bunch of snakes(weak if you get the drop on them, ha ha, but their poison does 3d4 damage so if you eat multiple hits and aren't Caramon, you're probably dead).

All those potential deaths and completely pointless rooms(it's amazing how many of them are only a chance for the GM to describe how much mold there is in the place) and we're still only around point 60/63 depending on which save-or-die we decided to risk!

But believe it or not, that was part 3 of our exciting adventure. Meeting some hobo dwarves and risking death like ten goddamn times.

Lair of the Dragon



The goal here is to get to the large, circular room in the lower right, Khisanth's lair, to recover the Disks of Mishakal, and then getting the gently caress out. This level primarily contains off-guard draconians who are squabbling over ruin loot, or drunk, and a good few of them can at least be bypassed just by not kicking in every door and screaming "DIE, SCUM!" some of the drunker ones will even mistake the players for fellow draconians and give them clues before passing out. Along the way its also possible to rescue a captured kender, though parties of primarily Good alignment will likely help the draconians kill him instead, a custom-made Chaotic Evil party might decide to side with the kender. Comically enough, while armories and treasuries will contain nothing at all of interest to the party, a random pantry will have a bunch of high-quality weapons in it(well-crafted enough to be magic-equivalent in terms of attack and damage bonuses).

There's also a tribeswoman prisoner on the loose who's hiding from draconian and gully dwarf patrols, one of the only other survivors of the barbarian encampment that the party found burned to the ground way back in part 1. Generally the module has a good amount of random people who might temporarily join the party, but they're universally pretty useless and not characterized at all.

A small section of these lower ruins are controlled by the gully dwarves, who've actually managed to capture a single drunk draconian who will tell the party nothing, even if charmed or threatened, except that Khisanth holds the next plot ticket, and I think any party of idiots could and would have that figured out by now. The gully dwarves are mildly belligerent, but will run away if threatened, and if actually engaged in battle will die effortlessly. The worst danger is being hit by any of their food("made by throwing just about anything dead or near death into a pot. The stuff stinks violently, and keeps on stinking") which literally forces the rest of the party to make Con checks to be anywhere near you and causes all attempts at sneaking or ambushing to automatically fail.

The gully dwarves will, if pushed enough, offer to show the party a secret way into Khisanth's lair, in part because they're annoyed that the draconians have made Xak Tsaroth much too clean and orderly, just so we know what sort of wacky, gross creatures the gully dwarves are.

I seem to remember from the books that Raistlin befriends a gully dwarf named Bupu(who crushes on him somewhat and offers him dead rats and sticks and etc.) in this part of the story and she has a minor-but-important part in things for a while, but either I'm misremembering which story she shows up in, or she's not actually part of the adventure.

If the party doesn't find out about the secret entrance or get the gully dwarves to guide them to it, they instead have to charge into Khisanth's lair head on. This means dealing with multiple draconian patrols and an alarm trap. If they trip it, Khisanth sticks her head out and slams them with the breath weapon which, as we already know, would probably cause an instant TPK.

Either way, assuming the party makes it into the lair... a mystery voice tells them to grab the discs and then bop Khisanth with the staff. Just a small snag: If Khisanth hasn't used up all of her breath weapon blasts and spells for the day yet, first thing she does is flap into the air and hit the party with that, TPK. If she's already used her breath weapon, the party is already TPK'd. So a bit of a catch-22 there. She'll only stay on the ground if she's out of ranged options. At this point, you have to hope that Goldmoon or whoever has the staff can land a whack on Khisanth before she kills the party the conventional way, because she's got low AC, plenty of HP and can slam someone in melee for up to 24 damage(5 to 24, to be exact), which after eating the rest of her bullshit is probably enough to kick someone down.

If someone DOES manage to land a hit with the crystal staff, though, Khisanth gets one-shotted. Actually landing this hit is somewhat complicated by the fact that Goldmoon, the canonical carrier, is a cleric and not a fighter, and the fact that Khisanth has a magical ring creating a constant field of Darkness that makes it hard to whack her or see what she's doing. Whoever manages to hit her also gets destroyed by the LIGHT EXPLOSION that kills her, this is canon, even happens in the book, and everyone is real sad about it for like two pages until whoever did it turns out to not, in fact, have made a heroic sacrifice, and is in fact safe and sound back up top in the Temple of Mishakal.

Khisanth also turns out to have been a load-bearing boss, every ten minutes the PC's spend in the caverns they run a 15% chance of eating 1d12 damage worth of rubble falling from the ceiling, as well as the water slowly rising below them which comes with a handy risk of drowning if they don't get out fast enough. Even assuming they've cleared out every other encounter and have a clear run of it, those 1d12 damage drops could easily kill half the party, especially if they've taken some damage, before they get anywhere near the surface. Hell it might kill them before they even get a chance to score any of the only real loot in the game, which is in Khisanth's minor hoard.

One problem is also that doing the one-shot staff kill againts Khisanth loses the players the crystal staff, which is a potent source of free healing and a decent blunt weapon for LG clerics and mages besides, which is a bit of a dick move. At the very least this point, Goldmoon gets her divine magic to make up for it, thanks to the Discs of Mishakal. Let's just hope the right person picks them up, though. Why? Because much like the Crystal Staff, anyone not LG or NG who picks them up(like, say, Raistlin, or Tasslehoff) will get roasted for 4d6 damage. Now, most of the canon party, outside of those two, are LG or NG, but if you're rolling with a custom-made party that's a real assfuck of a surprise. "Yaaay we killed the dragon and the the d-" "sorry joe you're insufficiently good for the gods, you're dead now, roll a new character."

Anyway, divine magic is back, hooray! And no one died because the canon heroes are functionally immortal, hooray! But oh no, oh wait, as we leave the swamps, stuff is on fire out west, the place we came from! What disaster could this be?!

To be continued in.................

DRAGONS OF FLAME

Kree! Save-or-dies in random encounters are bullshit! Never send in an un-telegraphed save-or-die!

Skeleton warrior brings us true GM'ing wisdom.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



I like the bit where the PCs have to go get the tablets of Joseph Smith Discs of Mishakal.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




PurpleXVI posted:

So I think it's less of a cultural matter, more just that there are some very simple forces that make violence easier to work with both mechanically and presentation-wise than arguments or investigation.

Plus, to be fair, most large-scale ideological conflicts in the real world do eventually tend to come down to people shooting at each other, too.

i think some of the issue also comes down to having to model what a character can do vs what the player can do, and having to be able to mechanically differentiate between those two things. players want to be able to play a character smarter or more clever than themselves, but how do you model someone being able to solve a fictional problem that the actual player might not be able to solve in real life?

"i dunno jeff, your priestess has 18 INT, i guess roll an ability check and if you succeed then we'll just assume she can come up with the answer" is a lot easier than having the game drag to a standstill because nobody at the table can solve the totally-not-illogical riddle the DM came up with this time.

then you extrapolate that problem across the entire spectrum of people that might be playing your game, and having a mechanically simple (albeit narratively unsatisfying) solution is better than potentially putting players into a situation where they can't complete some objective because they can't figure out the correct Mother May I phrasing to satisfy their jackass DM.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Freaking Crumbum posted:

i think some of the issue also comes down to having to model what a character can do vs what the player can do, and having to be able to mechanically differentiate between those two things. players want to be able to play a character smarter or more clever than themselves, but how do you model someone being able to solve a fictional problem that the actual player might not be able to solve in real life?

"i dunno jeff, your priestess has 18 INT, i guess roll an ability check and if you succeed then we'll just assume she can come up with the answer" is a lot easier than having the game drag to a standstill because nobody at the table can solve the totally-not-illogical riddle the DM came up with this time.

then you extrapolate that problem across the entire spectrum of people that might be playing your game, and having a mechanically simple (albeit narratively unsatisfying) solution is better than potentially putting players into a situation where they can't complete some objective because they can't figure out the correct Mother May I phrasing to satisfy their jackass DM.

I tend to do both. If a player is bright/intuitive/whatever enough to figure the problem out in real life, that's cool and she maybe gets some minor bennie/reward for pulling that off. But if she or no one else can, than I fall back on "Okay, roll your Intelligence/Riddles/Evidence Analysis/Figure poo poo Out ability."

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Freaking Crumbum posted:

i think some of the issue also comes down to having to model what a character can do vs what the player can do, and having to be able to mechanically differentiate between those two things. players want to be able to play a character smarter or more clever than themselves, but how do you model someone being able to solve a fictional problem that the actual player might not be able to solve in real life?

"i dunno jeff, your priestess has 18 INT, i guess roll an ability check and if you succeed then we'll just assume she can come up with the answer" is a lot easier than having the game drag to a standstill because nobody at the table can solve the totally-not-illogical riddle the DM came up with this time.

then you extrapolate that problem across the entire spectrum of people that might be playing your game, and having a mechanically simple (albeit narratively unsatisfying) solution is better than potentially putting players into a situation where they can't complete some objective because they can't figure out the correct Mother May I phrasing to satisfy their jackass DM.

There's also just the fact that D&D has very loose out of combat rules at best. So any of this is usually left to the individual gaming group.

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