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GimpInBlack
Sep 27, 2012

That's right, kids, take lots of drugs, leave the universe behind, and pilot Enlightenment Voltron out into the cosmos to meet Alien Jesus.


EimiYoshikawa posted:

Ironically, I read Dragonlance stuff before I was exposed to D&D's Drow, so when he recalled having been wounded in his duel with a 'dark elf', 10 year old me took it as...a metaphor for this elf being a particularly evil dude, like, enough that he got kicked out of the other elvish societies. You know, like 'the dark lord' would tend to make you think of an evil guy, not someone with a lot of melanin.

...did they actually make this unnamed dark elf...an actual drow? Like, skin and hair and all that jazz? Because...like you said, there aren't any drow on Krynn. ...though I suppose they could've wound up there after Spelljamming or something, given that DL explicitly welcomed (if also dicked over) non-native characters from other mortal planes/crystal spheres/settings/whatevers.

It just seems kind of...

...eh...

Nah, pretty sure that was just the writer not realizing that "dark elf" isn't a synonym for "drow" in Dragonlance unlike a lot of other D&D settings and using the wrong term.

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MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


In Dragonlance a Dark Elf is just supposed to be an elf that got kicked out of Elvish Society right.

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

MonsterEnvy posted:

In Dragonlance a Dark Elf is just supposed to be an elf that got kicked out of Elvish Society right.

Yeah. The most common reason for this is being the priest of a non-good god or joining the wizards as anything other than a white robe (not this includes neutral gods and red robes). Dragonlance elves are literally white supremacists

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



Chapter 16: The Honor of the Hylar

I just want to point out that "Chapter" 14 was literally just eating breakfast and having a dream, and Chapter 15 was essentially opening one door.

Anyway, now that the Dwarf Cops are in charge, it's literally a railroad as the party is shuffled along the dwarven kingdom to to the Court of Thanes. In fact I'm not even sure why we have a map of the kingdom considering that almost everything that goes on in there is under the auspices of heavy-handed railroading, really just a chance for the GM to hand out descriptions of how cool and majestic the dwarven underworld is. Also dwarf kids will laugh at them for being weird tall topsiders along the way.

The party could dodge, kill or escape the dwarf cops, but we're basically told not to because either dwarf farmers have them arrested by yet more dwarf cops or they get ambushed by triple-digit numbers of dark dwarves(Theiwar or Daergar, i.e. Derro or Duergar) who might well not kill them, but will certainly bore the players to death around the 80th identical dwarf ambush.

quote:

If the party should depart the North Hall of Justice on the Second Road, they encounter a war party of 1d10 Theiwar led by a 5-HD commander after 1d4 turns. Each 1d4 turns thereafter, they encounter another party, each with 1d6 more Theiwar than the previous one, until they turn back, are killed, or are captured.

Basically every "wrong" choice just ends in "until they are killed, surrender or are captured."

Eventually the party is taken to the dwarven capital, carved out of a titanic stalagtite above a massive underground sea.

quote:

If the characters should commandeer a boat and try to visit any of the other cities that line the Urkhan Sea, they are attacked by a dragon turtle.

Holy poo poo what is wrong with whoever wrote this?

On arrival, the party gets either luxury accomodations(if they helped the cops) or prison cells(if they did anything else, essentially), until the Thanes are ready to see them. The Thanes themselves are kind of unimportant, because they're basically split between Normal Racist Dwarves and Evil Racist Dwarves. For whatever reason, the dwarven civilization tolerates the Theiwar and Daergar, groups of dwarves dedicated to being evil berserkers and/or magic-using highway bandits, as part of their ruling council. Also currently the lord of the Theiwar is simultaneously plotting with, and mind controlled by, Verminaard.

The good racist dwarves listen to the party's asylum request politely until the lord of the Theiwar starts in on a racist screed about inferior hill dwarves and humans and how they should all be beheaded and burned for fuel. The ultimate fallout is that the council tells the party they need to recover an ancestral hammer from their tomb valley or they won't give the refugees asylum. Failing to accept this quest gets the party thrown into jail to rot indefinitely. Also the party has to leave someone behind as a hostage, which just so happens to be Eben, the traitor. In return they get a Dwarf Cop along for the adventure, the same one that arrested them as soon as they arrived in Thorbardin.

quote:

If the heroes do not agree to the quest, they are imprisoned in the dungeon on level 17 of the Life-Tree, and left to rot.

They mapped out 28 levels' worth of their half-assed Dwarven City Blocks for a place that only exists so the cutscenes have a place to happen.

Chapter 17: Kalil S'rith



Real talk, fantasy authors should be kicked in the head any time they use an apostrophe in a made-up word or name.

Anyway, the party wanders into the dwarven tomb valley which only exists to give the GM a chance to drop some more random encounters on the PC's while they walk down a straight path. They walk down the path, rebuild an ancient portal from some scattered stones and eventually figure out that the password is carved into one of the stones, thus taking them to a giant floating tomb where the adventure continues. If the party gets stuck, the dwarf cop tells them what to do. Everything else is just more cutscene fodder and random encounters of zero interest except for one thing, one decent random encounter along the way.

quote:

"A rotting figure limps down from a large tomb. Its arms are outstretched and it is mumbling. Behind it trail dwarven undead."

This is the mummy of Rathkar, who cannot rest until forgiven by 77 men who listen to his entire life story. He has been forgiven by 31 so far. Rathkar’s story takes hours to tell, and he mumbles. His “terrible” sin was that he never told his wife that he loved her.

Keep in mind the party is still under somewhat of a time limit before the dragonarmies murder all the refugees outside Thorbardin, because the mountain dwarves are huge assholes, just like the elves. So this actually has, gasp, a choice for the players where they can either politely listen to accelerate this guy being freed from his curse, or fight him and his undead entourage, which are quite defeatable.

Anyway, the party reconstructs the dwarven Stargate and it teleports them to THE FLOATING TOMB



So the Floating Tomb has no random encounters, it only has traps, shitloads of traps, and one rear end in a top hat inhabitant. The party arrives at 24 on the map and he's after them every step of the way.

quote:

Evenstar is basically a peaceful, though world-weary dragon, amused at the heroes’ struggle. He enjoys confusing people by changing shape when not observed. He does not reveal that he is a gold dragon until noted in the text, only that he is the guardian of the tomb. He does not use his powers to cause death.

He stalks them invisibly or in various polymorphed guises, not "causing death," just shoving the party into a variety of traps that can cause between 1d6 and 10d6 points of damage, ostensibly to test their worthiness and non-assholishness. Despite that essentially none bar one of the tower's traps are in any way moral or ethical tests, they're just tests of raw strength and dexterity. Also there are some traps that will just plain drop people off the floating island into the burial valley below which A) deals 10d6 damage(basically killing anyone short of Caramon) and B) means they have to deal with the random encounters down there solo, which include undead level drainers! Oh boy!

For instance, check area 42. It's full of randomly swinging invisible logs that, if they hit you, will knock you down to 35 for undefined damage(falling between levels appears to be about 3d6 in other examples). Then in 35, you may need to make a dex check to avoid being thrown down to 50, again for some unclear falling damage, probably another 3d6. 50 is just an empty room with a single rope crossing it. If the GM is nice, you manage to grab hold of it on the way down, but even then it takes a dex check to make it to either side. loving up your checks in room 50 drops you out of the bottom of the floating tomb, 10d6 damage on splashdown.

In other words, gently caress Evenstar, a smart party stabs him in the brain the first chance they get, dogpiling him and blitzing him down, since his magic is powering 90% of the dangerous traps in the place. In part because he's also the person maintaining this lovely effect:

quote:

Every time the heroes choose a direction, they may (50%) move opposite the way they think they are moving.

Mmmmmmmm yes I want Wizardry 1 spinner squares in my pen and paper RPG. This is more like a loving BDSM session than a D&D session, Jesus Christ.

Aside from that Evenstar also stuffed the place full of spikes, blades, giant rolling boulders, flamethrowers, falling ice, spiked pits, etc. but he's a good-hearted soul who doesn't want to kill, honest.

gently caress. Evenstar.

The place does at least have some rewards in terms of magical items, some plain +X stuff, but also scrolls and some spectacles that allow the wearer to see thorugh illusions. The only thing Evenstar warns the party not to steal in any sort of polymorphed guise is the spectacles, probably because they'd see him in his true form and realize he's the rear end in a top hat dragon causing all their problems. Most rooms, though? Just traps and bullshit, almost all based entirely on random chance, none on clever problem-solving.

I had a problem reading through this place, though. See, the party's here for the Hammer of Kharas, and nowhere does it say: "This is it. Here's the Hammer of Kharas. Congrats guys, you found the thing you needed." So I read it more closely and...

quote:

The room is hot, lit with a sanguine light streaming through crimson windows. Only a narrow balcony thrusts over the shaft that opens to the distant lake below.

Hanging from a slender thread, a mighty bronze hammer swings back and forth. Every hour it strikes one of the gongs thrusting out from the walls.

Evenstar casts an invisible cylindrical wall of force over the swinging Hammer. The Hammer may then only be retrieved by finding some way to sever the cord and catch it; climb beneath and up to it, or by waiting for the end of the spell.

Except for the capital H on the Hammer in the last line, you'd never know this was the Hammer of Kharas. In fact, I don't even know if it is. I just think it is, because it's the only reasonable thing it could be, the only thing that's actually explicitly called a hammer in the place.

Eventually, presumably, the party, after wishing they could stab the game designers, figure out that the only hammer in the place has to be the one they're looking for, and limp back to the exit, carrying their severed limbs and stapling Tasslehoff's head back on... stumbling right into a cutscene.

As they march out on to the platform to teleport back down, Ember glides in going all: "GNAR HAR HAR, I WILL KILL ALL THESE LOSERS." and Evenstar goes "ehhhhh, you shouldn't." and Ember goes: "YEAH BUT I WILL" and attacks, and this time he holds back no punches. It's straight to breath weapons and spell bombardments to TPK the party for multiple rounds before gliding in for melee. And what does Evenstar, polymorphed to look like a dwarf, do? loving nothing. This ancient gold dragon rear end in a top hat just watches as the party gets incinerated unless they can somehow catch him in the blast from one of Ember's attacks.

Being made by a species of absurd dickheads, the Hammer of Kharas will also specifically allow the party to use none of its artifact powers in this fight. Again, dragon breath against a tightly packed party with no way out. Almost certainly the first blast will kill or incapacitate everyone in the party who's a caster, bows will do negligible damage against Ember and the melee combatants won't get to do anything for multiple rounds, leaving Ember several rounds to kill everyone. Unless the GM intentionally pulls punches or de-powers Ember, I can't see any way, outside of absurdly lucky rolls, where the PC's would survive this fight.

Evenstar's only contribution is to suggest that the party use a nearby flagpole as a lance, except it also says in the book that Ember can't be hit with it if he can see it. How the gently caress are you going to stealthily use a flagpole as a braced spear against a dragon? Idiot book. Afterwards, Evenstar goes: "Gosh, good thing you won, this hammer is really important and you should guard it!" And then whips up a bunch of magic flying horses for the party to ride down to the ground and back to the dwarven city, a trip during which they're harried by multiple smaller red dragons(Ember's kids) and draconians.

Chapter 18: Dark Realms



So, unless the party gets back to Thorbardin fast enough, they get hit with encounters underground every two in-game minutes. Their speed getting back is entirely random as every ten minutes outside the party has a 10% chance of getting attacked, digging into their surplus time getting underground. At most, collapsing the path behind them buys them another hour, consider that this is a party that just fought a dragon after a real dickhead dungeon, they're almost certainly low on HP and spells, and are going to be hosed by even casual encounters unless they have a chance to take a rest. But the game won't give them one.

Unfortunately, even if the party avoids the dragonarmies, they're fleeing into a part of Thorbardin controlled by the Daergar, evil berserker Duergar. They've "captured" Eben, whom the party is meant to find in a Daergar prison, along with an old guy named Beren who is extremely metaplot important, but otherwise just some ancient ranger dude with a bit of dementia. The party has no reason to believe Beren matters in any way, at this point. The party can either A) follow Eben who claims to know the way out but will lead them into a trap, B) escape on their own which will lead them into a trap or C) keep fighting until they get defeated at which point they're captured and delivered into the same trap.

quote:

If characters try to go in another direction, they encounter parties of Daergar and draconians that fight to either capture them or force them into the final encounter.

It's stuff like this that honestly makes me skip through a good bit of the side stuff, because it's always just a brief description and then "now get back on the path, scum."

Anyway, they encounter Verminaard next to a ceremonial pit and he's of course decked out in items and enchantments that make him immune to attack, so the players have to stand there and listen to him, even if they weren't brought there as prisoners. He also has, like, 200 Daergar hanging out as buddies to assist him if the players are really persistent.

quote:

Verminaard speaks again. “Word has reached me that Ember has been slain! For that you will surely pay! You thought to best me by gaining the Hammer of Kharas, but I was in control all along. I permitted you to retrieve what I could not. Now I have you and the Hammer, and with it I shall command the dwarven kingdoms. To show you how futile has been your struggle, one of your own will bring the Hammer to me."

Hold on there buddy. You knew where the gently caress it was, because you were ready to ambush the party. It being in the sky wasn't a problem because the puzzle to re-assemble the portal wasn't really a puzzle, just "slap these rocks together" and besides you have dragons that could just have shovelled hundreds of dudes on to the flying tomb. What prevented you from just grabbing the loving hammer yourself, rear end in a top hat? In fact, what does Verminaard even need the hammer for? The hammer's only special attribute is that it allows forging Dragonlances. If no one has it, good is already losing. Evil doesn't need it to gain an advantage, they just need to prevent the forces of good from claiming and using it.

quote:

His gaze sweeps over the party members. Ask each player in turn if he will voluntarily take the Hammer to Verminaard. If all refuse (as they should), Eben Shatterstone reveals himself as the traitor. Take Eben’s Character Card back from the player and have Eben tell the party that, indeed, he works for Verminaard. If Eben is not with the party, Verminaard can attempt to telepathically control anyone with a wisdom of 10 or less. The person he attempts to control may make a save vs. spells to resist. If all resist, Verminaard has his personal guard retrieve the Hammer.

Anyway, the hammer mind controls whoever was bringing it to Verminaard and bonks him for a ton of damage. Then Verminaard casts spells at the hammer wielder, knocking him down and slowly executing him on the edge of the big ol' Chekhov's Pit in the middle of the room. Meanwhile the Daergar are in religious ecstacy over seeing the Hammer of Kharas do its thing and are just watching like a cheering crowd, not interfering. If Verminaard is allowed to finish off the traitor, he summons a Fireshadow(totally not a balrog, guys) to help him, and if the players sat through the dream cutscenes at the start of the module, Elistan's force ghost shows up and blesses them all while cursing Verminaard.

Once the party has Verminaard close to death, he jumps into the pit, killing himself just to deny the PC's the chance to loot his body, and the dwarf cop that's been accompanying the team since they entered Thorbardin dies no matter what. He's been poisoned by some random event during the fight and nothing can save him. Not sure why the game gives the players LOST DIVINE MAGIC and then seems to prevent them from using it meaningfully as often as possible.

Anyway, this fight would normally be relatively fair except that Verminaard has a bunch of ettin and ogre bodyguards who help him out, and the party still hasn't had a chance to rest up since fighting Ember. They will be at minimum HP and completely out of spells. The Hammer of Kharas does a lot of damage and certainly helps, but a couple of lucky hits from Verminaard and his lackeys will finish the party off. Not letting them have a chance to heal up between those two fights is a terrible design decision. Also if Verminaard manages to summon the Fireshadow you might as well just tell the party they get TPK'd, there's no way they'll be able to survive.

quote:

If the heroes defeat Verminaard and recover the Hammer of Kharas, a party of Hylar dwarves led by Hornfel Kytil arrives shortly after Arman Kharas’ death. He asks the heroes to give him the Hammer.

If the heroes give Hornfel the Hammer of Kharas, he hails them as saviors of Thorbardin, and grants them and all their companions safe passage through the kingdom. Each character who survived is made an honorary War Leader (equivalent to a knighthood), and a citizen of Thorbardin. If the heroes refuse, the Hammer uses its powers to take over its wielder, and gives itself into the hands of Hornfel. Hornfel treats the heroes the same as if they gave him the Hammer voluntarily.

I still can't believe that after four modules the only meaningful choice the party has had is whether to listen to a mummy ramble about his wife for a couple of hours or not.



Anyway, the party still has to get back and actually fetch the refugees, during which they keep getting attacked by more loving draconians. Holy poo poo guys cool it with the random encounters.

If the players took too long, by the time they get back to the refugees they're all dead, except for Laurana, Elistan and like twenty injured guys. Turns out Elistan woke up from his nap immediately after the party killed Verminaard and... I don't even know what the loving point of that entire thing was. Why did Elistan have to be a force ghost to aid them? He could just have busted in along with some dwarf warriors during the end fight and cast some buffing and healing spells, restoring the party to fighting capacity no matter how injured they were, just so the fight wasn't a total wash.

Anyway, the party now has a dwarven knighthood and are rid of the loving refugees. They get to keep Elistan around, though, heading south to the city of Tarsis to arrange an escape fleet for the refugees to sail away to safe lands in... even though the refugees are already safe. That was the point of the whole last two modules, getting them safely ensconced in dwarven lands somewhere the dragonarmies won't soon each them. Wasn't it? I don't know. They've also gotten the less-blatantly-evil mountain dwarves secured as kings of all Thorbardin through ownership of the Hammer of Kharas, which gives them the authority to tell the Daergar and Theiwar dwarves to stop murdering random visitors and other dwarves.

Kree! You still have another eleven modules to go, jackass!

You suck, Skeleton Warrior.

Next up: DL6: Dragons of Ice

megane
Jun 20, 2008





Did anyone actually play this nonsense? It sounds utterly miserable, even ignoring the inevitable TPK every 5 minutes.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


megane posted:

Did anyone actually play this nonsense? It sounds utterly miserable, even ignoring the inevitable TPK every 5 minutes.

Every time I read some big pre-made campaign it makes me wonder how the hell anyone stands these things. It always feels like you'd have to do so much work to make things fit your group that you might as well just write your own campaign anyway.

Like the mechanics aren't even going to save you any time! They're terrible! There's no element of 'the plot might suck, but I can rewrite that and these encounters are well balanced and fun to run' or anything.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



There's actually one option in the final scene the writers never thought of, and I know it because it's the one my players chose when we ran these adventures.

Namely, when Verminaard is demanding that you hand over the Hammer, say "You want it? Go chase it!" and throw it in the convenient bottomless pit.

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!


Night10194 posted:

Every time I read some big pre-made campaign it makes me wonder how the hell anyone stands these things. It always feels like you'd have to do so much work to make things fit your group that you might as well just write your own campaign anyway.

To be fair, Dragonlance is some incredibly bottom-of-the-barrel poo poo, though. Like, there are pre-made campaigns out there that actually account for varied player actions and stuff, like I seem to remember someone in this thread reviewing a pre-made 3.x or PF campaign for evil characters that was reasonably robust and well-made.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Mambo de La Luna


The Moon, now called Luna, was settled before terraforming really became a thing, but attempts are underway. Right now Luna has a very thin atmosphere, breathable only in the deepest craters and even then only for an hour or so (not taking into account temperature.) Basically nobody bothers, everyone lives in domes. There are 172,00,000 Lunarians, all living in enclosed cities.



Luna is the Switzerland of this setting, neutral ground for everyone (and full of banks.) The Lunarians are very fiercely independent, dating back to a conflict with the old System States Alliance- when the SSA tried to flex their muscle by crashing an iceteroid into the Sea of Tranquility for “terraforming purposes”, the Lunarians blew it out of the sky and then pelted Earth with rocks via mass drivers. Since then they have claimed absolute sovereignty over the Moon and the space around it, and while people from all factions of the Solar System are welcome to visit and do business, they won’t hesitate to shove troublemakers out of an airlock. Should any planet attempt to drag them into war, they’ve still got those mass drivers.

So, life on the Moon. It has sort of a 70s sci-fi TV show aesthetic, everyone’s described as wearing jumpsuits in shades of gray and brown, just about everyone is armed with bullet pistols (“dumb” projectiles which presumably won’t puncture anything important if misfired) and/or knives. Most of the cities are built in the walls of craters, with domes covering- there are spindly silicate buildings spiraling up in the low gravity, but most Lunarians (don’t call them, well, anything else) have a bit of a fear of open spaces and prefer living in the walls. Travel between cities is done either by rovers on the surface or subway tunnels below. Lunar neutrality also extends to their banking; they’ve got the most stable currency in the system and will trade with anyone. They’re all very businesslike and professional.

The Solar Alliance makes its home on the moon, and it’s described in a bit more detail here. It’s basically a descendant of the SSA, which was completely torn apart by the losing war with RAM in the 23rd century. RAM wanted to keep up the appearance of a democratic government, though, so formed the Solar Alliance, which is housed here because Luna is neutral territory. (Though the Alliance tries not to make any decisions which would make the Lunarians unhappy.) The Solar Alliance refuses to admit it’s a RAM puppet, but the most active part of it is the Solar Alliance Protectorate, which RAM created to oversee Earth; it’s a ten-member panel, but all the work they do is implemented by RAM employees.

Luna is basically a good Casablanca/Mos Eisley kinda place; a dense cosmopolitan area where you’ll rub shoulders with allies and enemies alike. I imagine it being a good campaign hub.

Next, we will finally get our asses to Mars.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


PurpleXVI posted:

To be fair, Dragonlance is some incredibly bottom-of-the-barrel poo poo, though.

So, naturally, it's one of the more well-known/popular settings (I think? Not top 3, tho?)


(Also, nice new avatar. How come?)

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Selachian posted:

There's actually one option in the final scene the writers never thought of, and I know it because it's the one my players chose when we ran these adventures.

Namely, when Verminaard is demanding that you hand over the Hammer, say "You want it? Go chase it!" and throw it in the convenient bottomless pit.

I remember reading a run through and a player just tackled him over the edge.

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!


Gun Jam posted:

So, naturally, it's one of the more well-known/popular settings (I think? Not top 3, tho?)


(Also, nice new avatar. How come?)

https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?noseen=0&threadid=3891653&perpage=40&pagenumber=37#post500670490 This LP. People don't seem to appreciate my genius-level strategic acumen.

Also Dragonlance is kind of forgotten these days, mostly it was the multimedia assault that made it big, I'm pretty sure, the books and all that getting people into the setting.

MonsterEnvy
Feb 4, 2012

Truly Cursed


Lets not forget the terrible movie.


Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that

MonsterEnvy posted:

Lets not forget the terrible movie.

Please, please let us forget the terrible movie

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



MonsterEnvy posted:

Lets not forget the terrible movie.




So they tried to make the Dragonmen in terrible CGI?

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


EimiYoshikawa posted:

Ironically, I read Dragonlance stuff before I was exposed to D&D's Drow, so when he recalled having been wounded in his duel with a 'dark elf', 10 year old me took it as...a metaphor for this elf being a particularly evil dude, like, enough that he got kicked out of the other elvish societies. You know, like 'the dark lord' would tend to make you think of an evil guy, not someone with a lot of melanin.

...did they actually make this unnamed dark elf...an actual drow? Like, skin and hair and all that jazz? Because...like you said, there aren't any drow on Krynn. ...though I suppose they could've wound up there after Spelljamming or something, given that DL explicitly welcomed (if also dicked over) non-native characters from other mortal planes/crystal spheres/settings/whatevers.

It just seems kind of...

...eh...

Honestly, the least believable part of that whole scenario isn't that the drow elf was there, but that Raistlin actually knew what the loving thing was. Getting it there? I mean, come on. There's an entire Trope called "A Wizard Did It." Is it really that hard to believe that one of these gently caress-off powerful wizards (including 23rd level Fistandantilus) couldn't have just elfnapped this rear end in a top hat out of Greyhawk (Forgotten Realm was yet to be a thing) to stick in this test?

And as for Raistlin knowing what it was, maybe they covered Other Planes during his time as an apprentice in rear end in a top hat Hogwarts. Or maybe if they ever do Dragonlance: Boy Were These Chronicles Hard to Find we'll hear about that time when Lloth decided to gently caress with Krynn at some point. Those Demonweb Pits go everywhere...

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





GimpInBlack posted:

Nah, pretty sure that was just the writer not realizing that "dark elf" isn't a synonym for "drow" in Dragonlance unlike a lot of other D&D settings and using the wrong term.
I don't know why these people seem so steadfastly resistant to elves etc. of color, at the risk of a poor turn of phrase. "Here are some elves. They are black. There are no other meaningful changes beyond adjustment of verbiage in elf-poetry." There you go.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



One would think that every fantasy species would have multiple ethnicities, but D&D seems to hate doing this.

(Oddly, the Dragonlance dwarves are an exception; the various clans are all different ethnic groups of dwarf, and their intermixing is neither rare nor commented on except to the degree that Daergar or Theiwar blood may result in needing some form of sun-shade due to light sensitivities. The Dwarven Nations trilogy is legitimately good and the only Dragonlance books I recommend...though even they are sadly plagued by the awful, awful poo poo that is the Gully Dwarves/Aghar; these are not treated as the result of miscegenation in the books, but rather as just a naturally stupid tribe of dwarves, and it's still super gross mockery of developmental disability.)

e: I would also note the Neidar are not an ethnic group. Neidar/Holgar is an ideological split among the dwarves - in their own words, those who prefer to live on the mountain's back as opposed to in its belly. They do form political interest groups because Thorbardin, the capital of Krynn's dwarves, is an undermountain city of Holgar who sometimes end up ignoring the needs of the Neidar outside.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Nessus posted:

I don't know why these people seem so steadfastly resistant to elves etc. of color, at the risk of a poor turn of phrase. "Here are some elves. They are black. There are no other meaningful changes beyond adjustment of verbiage in elf-poetry." There you go.

It's kind of hard to know how to put this, but my sense is that a lot of this comes out of how elves are usually coded as incredibly white. Like, white beyond white. Whether that's a racist view going 'man look at these awesome elves' or something else going 'look at these arrogant, lovely, vain colonialists', it's a major part of how elves tend to be deployed in fantasy.

Which is why I like Spire's take on reclaiming the drow as people of color struggling against an oppressive white colonialist regime. Especially since it also recontextualizes the whole 'cursed people' bullshit as the exact racist nonsense it's descended from.

E: Effectively, Spire works because it takes the racist nonsense that was the origin of the drow and then draws it into a more realistic one, while making the exact racist arguments and things that underlay the original metaphor the propaganda of the lovely villains.

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 22:13 on Dec 10, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



The dwarf thanes/ethnic groups as defined by the Dwarven Nations books, btw:

1. Calnar/Hylar - A bunch of dwarves from somewhere outside Kal-Thax, the dwarven 'homeland.' They split into the two named groups as a result of a human attack that left them with two opposed philosophies on how to deal with their sudden loss of safety and trust. They're tall and mostly dark-haired. (By dwarf standards.) Also the Hylar are notable for having a tradition of knightly horsemanship after their founders received training from a human knight who would go on to help fight Xak Tsaroth.
2. The Daewar - Largely blonde, with a cultural tradition of gold decorations. Notable for a tradition of excellent tunnelers but poor miners.
3. The Daergar - Mostly dark-haired, pale-skinned and unable to see in bright light. Excellent mining tradition, noted for a cultural emphasis on avenging themselves bloodily on traitors and for wearing iron masks to block out the light.
4. The Theiwar - Noted for long arms, gray eyes and brown hair. They often wear mesh masks to block bright lights, but can see better than the Daergar in it. Noted for a long tradition of trapping and ambush.
5. The Klar - "Wild" dwarves, noted for long hair and sometimes dreadlocks. Often berserkers and with a tradition of caveworm-taming, and the thane most frequently plagued by drug use. (Specifically, "tamex, the false metal," which is mercury.)
6. The Aghar - gully dwarves. eurgh.

And then any of those can be Holgar or Neidar, but Neidar tend to be mixed-thane more often than Holgar because Thorbardin was originally built with different neighborhoods for each thane.

e: I don't believe skin tone comes up much outside the Daergar, and I think they're mostly assumed to all have white skin tones, because of course they are.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Dragons of Desolation: 3rd Edition Changes

I forgot to link my blog post for the preceding chapter Dragons of Hope, so here it is.

Here's the blog post for Dragons of Desolation.

1. Although duergar and derro were the "dark dwarf clans" of the original adventure, further Dragonlance supplements had them go the way of the dodo and made the Theiwar and Daegar their own unique subraces. No psionics or inherent insanity, they're pale dwarves who have light blindness and an inclination towards stealth. As to why the other dwarf clans tolerate them, I presume it's the fact that an all-out war (until the Chronicles) would be disastrous for both sides; another factor is that the dark dwarf kingdoms are just as talented in dwarven craftsmanship but are under a trade embargo by the "good dwarf" clans who also control the major roads into the surface. This means that the Theiwar and Daegar don't have as much economic pull, which the setting uses to justify them grabbing for power in treacherous and deceitful ways.

2. Verminaard doesn't try to pull a Vader "join me and we can rule the world!" thing.

3. The evil derro/Theiwar guide who leads the party into the ambush of 75 evil dwarves is instead a Daegar who leads them into a nest of four umber hulks. The guide can be caught and interrogated about the political situation in Thorbadin (with a pro-Daegar bias of course)

4. One of the rooms which contained a pair of ropers now has just one; likely on account that they're quite powerful in 3rd Edition (CR 12 IIRC).

5. One area where the PCs leave Northgate with Arman is the North Hall of Justice. The PCs must sneak through here in order to get into friendly territory. The 3rd Edition version calls for Move Silently checks every two minutes until a total of five failures is accumulated. If the PCs fail a sixth check (Hide or Move Silently) they are attacked by a small contingent of 22 dark dwarves. Which is manageable in comparison to the 250-strong battalion which they can face (and face 40 automatically with presumably no chance to hide).

6. There's more detail on what happens if PCs go off the beaten path and explore the section of Thorbadin built around the Life-Tree, such as 5 Hylar guards being summoned for every round of combat which happens if the PCs don't surrender and accept an escort to the Hall of the Thanes. But it's still just as rail-roady.

7. During the meeting with the Thanes the PCs have a chance to realize that the Daegar Thane is being telepathically dominated by Verminaad due to similar speech and mannerisms. In the 3.5 version this is excised, and instead a Sense Motive check realizes that he seems to have well-rehearsed his speech and knows several things he shouldn't know, like expecting the PCs' arrival in the kingdom.

8. The adventure dispenses with the extensive maps not relevant to combat areas.

9. An additional encounter with dire wolves infected with super-rabies (and have a "bloodrager" template to reflect this) can be fought in the Valley of the Thanes, aka the undead-infested place with the floating island holding the Hammer of Kharas.

10. The motives of Evenstar is described less as moral tests and more to confuse and misdirect intruders. He also will not use any of his powers to cause death (although some of his pranks like greasing up a staircase can cause 1d6 or 2d6 damage and the swinging invisible logs 3d6). In the room with the magical truth-seeing glasses he will warn the party against theft when disguised as Kharas but not try and force them to stop (last part is added in the 3rd Edition version).

11. The Floating Tomb has four wyverns which can be fought in the upper courtyard. They are advance scouts for the Dragonarmies, and one of them will immediately fly off to warn Ember about the location of the flying tomb (Ember comes regardless, though).

12. Evenstar will join the fight against Ember and attack if the big red dragon somehow harms Evenstar or does collateral damage to the nearby towers (this happens in both versions). Evenstar is a stronger dragon than he, and the Hammer of Kharas' power can be used against him. Furthermore, the PCs have the opportunity to cause Ember to impale himself on the pseudo-Dragonlance with a Bluff vs Sense Motive check like a matador taunting a bull. He has a +27 Sense Motive, so he's almost never going to fail on this. The fight is still just as lopsided save for one trick: DRAGONS HATE HIM; STAY AT HOME WIZARDS DISCOVERS ONE NEAT SPELL TO ONE SHOT SMAUG!

It's Shivering Touch from Frostburn, which is a no-save 3d6 Dexterity damage spell which requires a melee touch to connect. Just about every True Dragon in 3.5 has a score of 10 Dexterity, and Ember's no exception.

13. Neither Verminaard nor the Hammer will control the PC's actions. It will even leap out of a PC's hands to be grabbed by Eben, and Eben hesitates due to an internal dilemma. It will then be taken by Rance, the Daegar Thane, who will then betray Verminaard by throwing the hammer at him in a "I WILL CONTROL THE DWARVEN REALMS NOT YOU!" speech. The Theiwar and Draconians end up fighting the Daegar, and then Rance is paralyzed by Verminaard's Hold Person as Eben moves to kill him. During this chaos the PCs can break free and retrieve their equipment. In the AD&D version it is Eben and Eben alone who does the dramatic triple-cross turn against Verminaard; instead of Hold Person the Red Dragonarmy leader casts Spirtiual Hammer and hits Eben for maximum damage every round.

14. In the AD&D version Elistan will fill the PCs with hope and vigor via special dream magic, granting them bonuses on various abilities. In the 3rd Edition version this goes not happen, but 5 rounds in Takhisis is dissatisfied with how Verminaard's handling things and strips him of all of his divine spells including any active buffs. It is possible to kill Verminaard before he falls into the pit, but he will fling himself into it if he believes he is at risk of capture rather than defeat. Verminaard's Dragonarmy soldiers in the AD&D version suffer penalties on to-hit and damage rolls if they witness their leader dying; in 3rd Edition the loss of morale is merely descriptive in that the fighting quickly dies down when most of the bad guys either flee or or die.

15. The Hammer does not try to mind-control any PCs who try to keep the weapon for themselves. But it would be a huge dick move for them to keep it, so I presume the adventure presumes the PCs do not do this.

16. If the heroes return too late and the refugees are slaughtered, random baaz draconian patrols will spawn if they stay around for too long. In the 3rd Edition version such encounters are excised.

General Note Stuff

This covers things which aren't in specific adventures or changes, but the Dragons of Autumn arc as a whole:

Safe Passage: This isn't a change, but highlighting one of PurpleXVI's questions: Thorbadin's Thane grants the refugees permanent residency within their lands until darkness lifts from Krynn. Even so, Elistan and the refugee faction leaders want to find passage to other lands free of menace because reasons.

Songs: Canticle of the Dragon, Riverwind and Goldmoon's wedding song, etc all have verses in both versions. But only the AD&D version has a musical sheet to accompany the lyrics.

Gully Dwarves: Given that the Chronicles were published before a major "setting book" could be made, stat blocks for draconians, gully dwarves, and brief descriptions of elves are present in every AD&D sourcebook. However, there are some things in the Chronicles' gully dwarves which is not present in others. For one, although Chaotic Neutral, it is described that they're willing to do anything, "no matter how mean," to survive. Gully dwarves also belief that all forms of magic are hoaxes which deserve to be exposed. In later publications it was a force they were fearful of and didn't want anything to do with most of the time rather than a refusal to believe in its existence.

Sturm's Sword: In the AD&D version Sturm has a +3 two-handed sword. In 3rd Edition it is a unique magic item all its own, the Brightblade: it is a +2 bastard sword which deals 2d6 bonus damage vs creatures of chaotic alignment. It will shatter and bestow a curse upon its wielder if said wielder attempts to use it in the furtherance of evil acts.

Dagger of Magius: 3rd Edition Raistlin has one more artifact as his starting equipment. It's a +3 Dagger which cannot be detected by magical or mundane searching of any kind when carried by a mage. This is rather nifty on account that Raistlin could use it to smuggle said weapon into places and will not be found on his person if the party's captured.

Character Cards: As AD&D stat blocks are far smaller, the original versions had sample two-sided cut-out pages for each PC and DMPC. They even came with a drawing of said character's face. We did not get such things in the 3rd Edition version, meaning that some characters such as Eben Shatterstone and Derek Crownguard never get proper pictures in the revision.

And in case people are wondering, here's Eben's handsome mug along with Elistan's and Laurana's:

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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



Libertad! posted:

1. Although duergar and derro were the "dark dwarf clans" of the original adventure, further Dragonlance supplements had them go the way of the dodo and made the Theiwar and Daegar their own unique subraces. No psionics or inherent insanity, they're pale dwarves who have light blindness and an inclination towards stealth. As to why the other dwarf clans tolerate them, I presume it's the fact that an all-out war (until the Chronicles) would be disastrous for both sides; another factor is that the dark dwarf kingdoms are just as talented in dwarven craftsmanship but are under a trade embargo by the "good dwarf" clans who also control the major roads into the surface. This means that the Theiwar and Daegar don't have as much economic pull, which the setting uses to justify them grabbing for power in treacherous and deceitful ways.

In Dwarven Nations, the Daergar and Theiwar were not treated as evil clans (except insofar as the Daergar had a distinct tendency towards bloody vengeance when harmed). Actually, several of my favorite heroes from those books were Daergar or Theiwar. They were just "dark-seekers," which is to say, light-blind to vairous degrees. The Daergar were acknowledged as literally the best miners of all the dwarves and thus providing much of the raw materials for Kal-Thax's top industries. The Theiwar, on the other hand, handled a lot of the underground farming and ran a lot of the administration of Kal-Thax.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

It's kind of hard to know how to put this, but my sense is that a lot of this comes out of how elves are usually coded as incredibly white. Like, white beyond white. Whether that's a racist view going 'man look at these awesome elves' or something else going 'look at these arrogant, lovely, vain colonialists', it's a major part of how elves tend to be deployed in fantasy.

Which is why I like Spire's take on reclaiming the drow as people of color struggling against an oppressive white colonialist regime. Especially since it also recontextualizes the whole 'cursed people' bullshit as the exact racist nonsense it's descended from.

E: Effectively, Spire works because it takes the racist nonsense that was the origin of the drow and then draws it into a more realistic one, while making the exact racist arguments and things that underlay the original metaphor the propaganda of the lovely villains.
That makes sense. My interior mental map mostly came out of Tolkien and while that is its own kettle of fish it is not the same as the standard D&D meta-conception. The "D&D image of things" is really its own sort of numinous thing, isn't it?

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Nessus posted:

That makes sense. My interior mental map mostly came out of Tolkien and while that is its own kettle of fish it is not the same as the standard D&D meta-conception. The "D&D image of things" is really its own sort of numinous thing, isn't it?

Very much, and one with more influence culturally than people think.

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Just look at the history of the D&D kobolds through the various editions. They went from "little annoying dog people" to "little annoying lizard-dog people, also lots of traps" to "little dragon minions who can turn into deeply scary sorcerers with the right splatbook"

That's massively different from their mythological namesake's root as some kind of invisible spirit critter.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



The second adventure in Age of Ashes (the current Pathfinder adventure path, and the first one for PF2E) has the players meeting and helping out a clan of dark-skinned elves who live in whatever the not-Africa part of Golarion is called. It's decently handled, from my reading.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Night10194 posted:

It's kind of hard to know how to put this, but my sense is that a lot of this comes out of how elves are usually coded as incredibly white. Like, white beyond white. Whether that's a racist view going 'man look at these awesome elves' or something else going 'look at these arrogant, lovely, vain colonialists', it's a major part of how elves tend to be deployed in fantasy.

Which is why I like Spire's take on reclaiming the drow as people of color struggling against an oppressive white colonialist regime. Especially since it also recontextualizes the whole 'cursed people' bullshit as the exact racist nonsense it's descended from.

E: Effectively, Spire works because it takes the racist nonsense that was the origin of the drow and then draws it into a more realistic one, while making the exact racist arguments and things that underlay the original metaphor the propaganda of the lovely villains.

D&D was created by Gary Gygax. So was AD&D. Gary Gygax wrote quite a few of the modules for AD&D, including this "supermodule" version of GDQ1-7.



So soak that in a little. Check out the "elves." The "dark" elves. The dark elves whose skin is medium brownish and whose elvish ears are completely concealed by their white, kinky hair. Not much else is. Lloth is wearing a skintight leotard. The one sitting at her throne's seems to be wearing a "push up" chain mail bra and skirt. The one one the right is wearing an honest-to-God chain mail bikini with her "gently caress me" booties. These are all heavily sexualized black women. In a live-action movie, any one of these gals could be played by Halle Berry.

And remember. The drow are an evil "subrace" of elves, distinguishable from surface elves by their dark skin, white, kinky hair, the fact that they worship a goddess and that their females are the rulers of their civilization. So a civilization ruled by black women. That are evil. So you and your fellow Good, white-skinned heroes need to fetch along your long, hard, phallic symbols so you can fight them. For Law. For Good. For-

Hey, you think they'll let any of us gently caress them? Maybe the hotter one in the bikini? drat. Probably better get my sword ready. Just gimme a second, guys, I gotta go whack off behind that rock.

I kind of miss the WTF? D&D thing that Zack Parsons used to do with "Steve." Because really Gary G., What the loving gently caress? When our "heroes" get back are they going to be made Knights? Of the Order of the Ku Klux Klan?

Everyone fucked around with this message at 06:04 on Dec 11, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Gary Gygax was pretty up on race wars, polearms, and terrible writing.

FMguru
Sep 10, 2003

peed on;
sexually

Night10194 posted:

Gary Gygax was pretty up on race wars, polearms, and terrible writing.
And different kinds of trees!

DAD LOST MY IPOD
Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case





I have a terrible habit of getting distracted with other poo poo (RTTTOH took me three years to finish) but I am putting on my Good Boy hat and planning to chug through the rest of this adventure at a brisk clip.
The Great Modron March Part 10: Way Under the Mountain
It's been more than a year since my last update, so to get people caught up: the modrons (the cute little robot-people who occupy Mechanus, the plane of ultimate Law), every 289 years, march out in a vast horde and tromp around the Outer Planes. Nobody knows exactly why, but nobody questions the regularity of the March-- you could set your watch by it, the modrons are so precise.

Until now. This March is different. This March is early, and nobody knows why, or what it might mean. The PCs have gotten entangled with it, and in the course of helping the modrons complete their odyssey, they might find out some information they don't really want to know.

Anyways, when we last left our heroes, they had been summoned to the Abyss by the tiefling wizard Taraere Illsmiser to protect her in her quest to loot a demon fortress. That went about as well as could be expected, but fortunately the spell binding the PCs wore off and sent them home before anything really bad could happen to them. By then the modrons had moved on, from the Abyss to the chaotic evil/neutral evil plane of Carceri, and they've left that plane behind too. Therein lies the rub... because a lot of people are very, very keen to find out how they did it. Carceri's not known as the Red Prison for nothing. It is very, very hard to leave, probably the hardest of all the planes, and a gigantic swarm of modrons must have found one hell of an exit. They see everything and record everything, so of course they have the dark of portals every other berk's long forgotten. This could be very profitable, and it's attracted a lot of attention. The PCs should have no shortage of rich patrons willing to pay handsomely for this information. The Fraternity of Order very badly wants to know, at least, for their portal compendiums, and they won't just pay handsomely-- they'll tell the PCs about a portal to Curst, the gate-town to Carceri in the Outlands, potentially saving them a hell of a trip.

The adventures opens (beyond this initial hook) by saying that the PCs should quickly make it into Carceri from Curst, foregoing any description of the town, which is a bit of a wasted opportunity, but it's described elsewhere and I guess you could people it with some color and encounters if you wanted to. Arriving in Carceri is rather unpleasant; the PCs show up in a stinking swamp full of trampled corpses. They have no way of knowing this, but these were petitioners of Carceri who were hoping to follow the March to freedom (they don't like the plane any more than visitors do) and were either mistaken for attackers or just trampled. The trail of bodies and modron tracks goes on for a mile or two and stops. See, Carceri's layers are made up of massive orbs hundreds of miles apart, and (many) modrons can fly. This information should be pretty obvious to any planar-knowledgeable PC.

Course, they're poo poo outta luck as far as tracking the things is concerned. That is, until a voice speaks up: "Hey berks, you lookin' for modrons?"

The speaker is Aach, a 14th-level human thief and member of the Revolutionary League. Of course, what she really is is a top-shelf cony-catcher looking to run a peel on some clueless sods, but the PCs'll do in a pinch. Aach is charming and affable, and while she'll read as evil to a detect spell, she'll try to pass that off as background effects of the evil plane they're all standing in. She'll ask for 200g to lead the PCs to the modrons, half up front. She claims she knows where they went and has transportation ready, and those things are both true. Of course, she's nowhere near as altruistic as she seems-- she's been sent by the League to foil the Fraternity's plan to learn about the portal. The Revolutionary League headquarters are on Carceri and they don't fancy other factions learning too much about the plane's secrets. (As a side note, I like that the Revolutionary League embodies the darker, more violent and destructive side of revolution, with the Free League representing Bakunin-style anarchism). In keeping with the Revolutionary League's particular idiom, though, Aach has no intention of seeing their plan through, either. She plans to turn stag on her erstwhile faction and sell the information she's got in Sigil to set herself up nicely. She'd like the PCs as backup to investigate the portal the modrons used, and hopefully she can strand them on the other side of it.

extremely trustworthy

Aach's "transportation" is a hot-air balloon made of petitioner skin (ew) that can easily hold the party, and while it's a bit slow, it can cross the gap in about five hours. Aach will be friendly enough, gently probing the PCs for information (so she knows who to sell the knowledge to when she makes it to Sigil). She leads them to a huge pool of quicksand, which the modrons obviously used; hundreds of tracks lead to it. The gate is keyless, and anyone who jumps into the quicksand will pass through...

...to Undermountain.

Some of you might be nodding along at this point. For those who aren't, Undermountain is a massive megadungeon on the world of Abeir-Toril (here just called Toril). A mighty (and mightily crazy) archmage named Halaster excavated a dungeon complex because he was a shithead wizard and that's the sort of thing they do. He opened tons of portals to the Lower Planes to stock it with fiendish foes, bound a bunch of them with magic, and then left the portals open.

this image is never not apropos

Most everyone forgot the barmy wizard and his portal, but not the modrons. They, as has already been established, don't forget anything. And while Toril isn't Outland, it's a hell of a lot easier to escape from than Carceri.

The portal spits the PCs out in the lower levels of Undermountain. Halaster implemented all kinds of enchantments here to make sure pesky adventurers couldn't cheese his dungeon, so teleportation and like spells (dimension door, passwall etc.) don't work. Scrying magic like ESP and Locate Object can't penetrate the walls, floors, ceilings and doors. And given how much background magic suffuses the place, Detect Magic is useless.

Here, have a map. The book notes that this adventure is almost a typical "dungeon crawl," which Planescape PCs would not be familiar with (dungeon crawls not being a typical feature of Planescape campaigns). It's an interesting idea. I like cross-genre play.



The PCs arrive in Location A, next to a nasty archway carved with gehreleths (the fiends native to Carceri). It's keyless and two-way, so they could retreat to the Red Prison, if that was something anyone anywhere wanted to do. Area B is a similar gate to the Abyss. Going through this gate is a tremendously bad idea, not just because it leads to the loving Abyss, but because on a 1 on 1d6, passing through it gets you hit with Feeblemind. This works in both directions and explains why no demons show up on this side.

The gates marked C are Charm Wards that Halaster set up. They're undispellable wards, and if you fail them you get hit with a charm spell if you fail a saving throw, but the only effect of the charm is to make you think Halaster is a pretty cool dude and want to do what he says. Since he doesn't show up in this scenario, there's no actual effect unless the PCs get trapped here. But it's a nice bit of flavor.

Area D leads to, you guessed it, Baator. There are guards on it (two red abishai; at the PCs' current level, presumably 6 to 9, these should not pose too much of a threat), and while they saw the modrons pass by, they're not gonna volunteer that information. They're bickering now about whether to explore the dungeon, but they'll attack on sight, fleeing back through the portal if things go against them.

The central area marked H is the Pillar of Gates, a gigantic pillar 50 feet wide that slowly rotates. Its segments all rotate in different speeds and different directions, except the top two, which have ceased. Muddy footprints lead to a stone door set in the bottom of the pillar. The whole thing is a tremendously powerful magical artifact that's basically impervious to harm. PCs can explore it, but Aach reminds them that they still don't know where they are, and their mission was to find out where the Carceri portal led. So no leaving yet. Plus, they don't know how it works.

As you can see from the map inset, you enter the hollow pillar through a door on the bottom. Each of its ring-shaped segments has a portal on it, leading to a different lower plane. Narrow staircases connect the levels and come up through gaps in the ceiling. The only key for the portals is the rotation of the pillar-- when a level stops rotating, its portal deactivates. As you might surmise, climbing between levels can be hazardous, and it's only possible when their rotation brings stairway and hatch in alignment-- which only happens once a minute or so, and only long enough for a couple creatures to get through (this held up the modrons for two whole days).

The pillar may be magical, but it's not totally indestructible. It's slowly winding down; levels 6 and 7 no longer work at all, and levels 3, 4 and 5 are getting very close to ceasing their movement (the adventure says that Aach realizes this, but I don't see how). Apparently canny PCs who study the pillar for a few minutes can figure this information out with a -12 Int check, but Aach's Int is only 14, so I guess she rolled really well. When the rotation stops is up to the DM; the adventure says to wait until the PCs have the chance to explore and get the chant on how it works (from an NPC to be named shortly) before it happens. The modrons, as it happens, went up to level 4 and passed through into the Grey Waste, and if PCs somehow figure out to do that, they can see the March if they haven't dawdled too much.

The upcoming shutdown isn't the only problem with the pillar. One of Halaster's curses turned an adventuring wizard named Cryvistin into a vampire, and the archmage impressed him into his service to act as Guardian of the Pillar. He's supposed to watch over the portals and prevent them from being used as an interplanar highway. He couldn't stop the modron march, but a small band of PCs is more his speed. He'll watch the PCs in gaseous form to assess their capabilities; his first move to approach someone alone and charm them to act as his spy, but he'll flee if this doesn't work. North of the pillar is a hallway leading to Cryvistin's sanctum, and the floor is trapped (he can fly, so who gives a poo poo). Activating the trap releases a swarm of 100 bats, who mob the characters and distract them while a time-delayed trapdoor beneath them drops them 30 feet into a huge pit. A dex check at -10(!) can avoid this, but if you fall, you end up trapped (after taking 3d6 falling damage) when the trapdoor swings closed. This summons a tiny energy sphere into the pit that seeks out living bodies, attacking randomly once per round at Thac0 12. It does 1d10 cold damage and drains a level from anyone it hits. The ball cannot be destroyed or dispelled in any way.

"When it came to traps, Halaster was no piker," the book cheerfully informs us.

This is a bastard of a trap and not one I'd feel comfortable springing on PCs, since 2nd Edition level drain was serious loving business. The vampire's lair is past the trap and has some loot, plus a really disorienting "thick black curtains plus everything inside is painted blood red" decor that inflicts a -1 to all die rolls by all living creatures while inside. Also Cryvistin's coffin is cursed, and anyone touching it who fails a save will be hated by anyone he or she meets. The loot listed is pretty typical of a vampire, but not at all worth the nasty trap and the difficulty of actually battling a vampire. If for some reason the PCs explore around here, Area G is where Halaster puts the many, many paintings (all blood red, natch) he creates in his centuries of free time.

Cryvistin is just in charge of the pillar. This region of the dungeon is under the control of Paellistra, a drow priestess. She doesn't work for Halaster, but she came here to see if the portals might be of use to the drow, and she bribed Cryvistin to let her stay with an amulet of protection from turning (a fact which the PCs might not be thrilled to find out).


diterlizzi is a treasure

She's a level 9 priestess, and while she's no slouch in a fight (partially thanks to fact that she's festooned with magic items) she's not openly hostile to the PCs. To get to her, though, the PCs have to either pass through area M or area J. M is a high-ceilinged chamber full of "crushed bones and feces" and home to two harpies, who act as Paellistra's guardians. They'll prefer to use their magical song to charm those who hear it, but if you have powerful missile attacks or some way to force them into melee, they'll mix it up. Paellistra's bound them magically, but she doesn't really like them (their singing is annoying, we're told) and won't be mad if they're killed.

If the PCs would rather avoid the boids, they can pass through hallway J. Halfway through, PCs must save vs. spell. Failure means the PCs are pulled down the hall the rest of the way as if by Strength 23, into the marked room. Once they're inside, the door slams shut and hundreds of magically animated iron hooks attack. Each hook has a Thac0 of 15 and inflicts 1d6 points of damage, and 1d6 attack a given target each round. The hooks have AC 2 and 20 HP each, but destroying them all really isn't feasible before you're torn to shreds; escaping the room is a much better option. Assuming the PCs do that, they can reach Paellistra's suite. Room K is her boudoir, a lavishly furnished room with some valuable jewelry and typical Drow Priestess stuff (fancy clothes, nice furniture, drugs, torture implements, etc.). Paellistra herself is in Room L, sitting on a swiveling iron Supervillain Chair. She's polite and nonhostile, but not particularly nice; fortunately, she doesn't have any reason to hurt the PCs and will be very susceptible to flattery and charm. She'll answer any questions they have (especially about Halaster and Undermountain) though she won't say that the pillar is winding down. In return for this help, she'll want the PCs to fill her in on some things she doesn't know: the strange clockwork people, Sigil, the planes, that sort of thing. Refusing her would be kind of rude. Paellistra is perfectly willing to be civil, but threats, rudeness, aggression, or carrying around bright lights and refusing to douse them will arouse her anger. She can be a very dangerous opponent, so... don't provoke her, and you should be fine. She's also got five giant spider servants lurking around the ceiling in case PCs try anything.

Anyways, once the PCs learn about the pillar from Paellistra, they'll know what they needed to know to complete their mission: yes, there's a labyrinth full of portals under the Prime world of Toril; no, it's not really a good highway (too full of monsters and magic). Aach has learned all she needs to, and now she just needs to give these berks the laugh and make it to the Cage. She suggests they follow the modrons into the Gray Waste to see where the portal lets out. She has figured out that the pillar is about to stop rotating, trapping anyone inside it (when it no longer rotates, the staircases will no longer be navigable and the portals will close). Aach will stall the PCs on level 4 until she feels the pillar grinding to a halt, then dive through the access hatch with a "So long, rubes!" Only very quick thinking (and acting) can prevent this, and Aach is slippery, doing whatever she has to do (up to and including violence) to avoid being trapped. She's very dangerous and totally capable of killing a PC or two. If she makes it down to level 3, she's good to go, as levels 1 and 2 are still rotating. Anyone stuck on 4, though, is trapped. There's one hope for escape: level 5 spins a little longer than 4, and PCs can climb up there and take that portal before it closes. Being stuck on Gehenna is no fun, but it sure beats starving in a teleportation-proof pillar.

If the PCs don't make it before level 5 shuts down, merciful DMs might decide that Halaster shows up to fix his precious pillar and set them free, though he'll surely extract a price (and they might already be charmed to obey him). If they do make it out, the portal takes them to a gully by the River Styx in Khalas, the first layer of Gehenna. This place is a sulfurous, volcanic hellscape that can inflict environmental damage from heat. If PCs have no magic that lets them escape Gehenna, they can wait around until a marraenoloth (a yugoloth boatman) shows up to guide them down the Styx to the lower plane of their choice (or the Astral) though the price is steep... and there's a chance the marraenoloth just takes them where it wants to go. The PCs might explore Khalas, but they're close to the realm of the evil power Sung Chiang, and they'll likely be accosted by a pair of hydroloth thugs. This is the home plane of the yugoloths, after all, and they don't take kindly to outsiders round these here parts. They won't attack unless the PCs do something really stupid, but they'll only guide the PCs to a portal in exchange for a magical item or an oath to aid them later (and frankly, I'd rather just fork over the magic). Also, the key is a pained scream from someone losing at least 3 hp, and boy do the hydroloths love "helping."

So you can wrap up the adventure here. Aach will take some time to make it back to Sigil, so the PCs might be able to beat her there and claim the reward. Course, she won't like that, and might vow revenge... but of course, they probably want revenge on her as well. She's gone into hiding, but she's out there, biding her time. She's a dangerous foe, but the Revolutionary League has by now figured out she's turned stag on them and might approach the PCs to find someone to scrag her...

And of course, the March goes on.

One thing I really love about this campaign is how many hooks there are embedded in it. Like Taraere Illsmister, Aach might show up later, looking to work out her grudge against the PCs. Paellistra, on the other hand, might be an ally, or at least a contact, if the PCs want to go on a planar adventure later. The Great Modron March is designed to be threaded into a longer, running campaign, and I love how many opportunities it provides to flesh out a campaign setting with characters, settings and plots.

Next time: the return of the Tacharim! (See parts III and V for the skinny on these chumps).

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Maxwell Lord posted:



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century

Mambo de La Luna


Just a note on the Lunarian mass drivers: Mass drivers are not given stats in the XXVc box set, but the expanded equipment guide does stat them. They are a rocket or ground installation weapon, the one-mile version of which will ruin your day unless your rocket has a way to take 5,120 damage and not explode. So you can see how Luna manages to deter the PCs RAM and NEO from using Lunarian space as a battlefield!

Not surprisingly, thanks to how vehicle-scale weapons work on humanoid characters, taking a direct hit from a one-mile long mass driver projectile will immediately blow your character into blood pulp (unless, of course, you can somehow survive 51,200 damage.) But that requires one sick mofo of a DM to do that to you.

Midjack
Dec 24, 2007





Snorb posted:

Just a note on the Lunarian mass drivers: Mass drivers are not given stats in the XXVc box set, but the expanded equipment guide does stat them. They are a rocket or ground installation weapon, the one-mile version of which will ruin your day unless your rocket has a way to take 5,120 damage and not explode. So you can see how Luna manages to deter the PCs RAM and NEO from using Lunarian space as a battlefield!

Not surprisingly, thanks to how vehicle-scale weapons work on humanoid characters, taking a direct hit from a one-mile long mass driver projectile will immediately blow your character into blood pulp (unless, of course, you can somehow survive 51,200 damage.) But that requires one sick mofo of a DM to do that to you.

Go out like Chewbacca did in the books before the current trilogy!

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


Midjack posted:

Go out like Chewbacca did in the books before the current trilogy!

I dunno, I think you would need an impossible-level Dexterity check to have enough time to shout "MOTHER OF GO--" before getting utterly flattened by the mass driver bolt in this case.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Snorb posted:

Just a note on the Lunarian mass drivers: Mass drivers are not given stats in the XXVc box set, but the expanded equipment guide does stat them. They are a rocket or ground installation weapon, the one-mile version of which will ruin your day unless your rocket has a way to take 5,120 damage and not explode. So you can see how Luna manages to deter the PCs RAM and NEO from using Lunarian space as a battlefield!

Not surprisingly, thanks to how vehicle-scale weapons work on humanoid characters, taking a direct hit from a one-mile long mass driver projectile will immediately blow your character into blood pulp (unless, of course, you can somehow survive 51,200 damage.) But that requires one sick mofo of a DM to do that to you.
Prismatic Wall stops it. If Red and Orange don't, Violet will.

1994 Toyota Celica
Sep 11, 2008

by Nyc_Tattoo


Nessus posted:

Prismatic Wall stops it. If Red and Orange don't, Violet will.

This raises a really interesting question for me. How seamlessly could you integrate stuff from the rest of AD&D into the Flash Gordon stuff? It all runs on the same system as Dragonlance at the core, right? And if that's the case how, mechanically, does the magical approach stack up against Flash Gordon future tech? Can AD&D Elminster or one of the Sorcerer Kings from Dark Sun walk into Flash Gordon's solar system and wreck things, or would they get owned by some guy with shiny hair and a rocket pistol?

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Nessus posted:

That makes sense. My interior mental map mostly came out of Tolkien and while that is its own kettle of fish it is not the same as the standard D&D meta-conception. The "D&D image of things" is really its own sort of numinous thing, isn't it?

Tolkien's elves should basically be understood as human beings without Original Sin (although they can be and frequently are huge loving assholes entirely of their own volition), and make zero sense outside of an extremely Catholic context.

D&D isn't that context.

Snorb
Nov 19, 2010


1994 Toyota Celica posted:

This raises a really interesting question for me. How seamlessly could you integrate stuff from the rest of AD&D into the Flash Gordon stuff? It all runs on the same system as Dragonlance at the core, right? And if that's the case how, mechanically, does the magical approach stack up against Flash Gordon future tech? Can AD&D Elminster or one of the Sorcerer Kings from Dark Sun walk into Flash Gordon's solar system and wreck things, or would they get owned by some guy with shiny hair and a rocket pistol?

Direct quote from the Characters and Combat book here:

"Buck Rogers XXVc: Characters & Combat posted:

While it's not impossible to transfer a character from an AD&D game world to the XXVc game universe, we don't recommend trying it. This game uses far more deadly weapons and requires many more skills than the average AD&D game character would have access to. Without the aid of magical armor and weapons-- which don't exist in the nonmagical world of the 25th Century-- a hero from the AD&D game would find himself made short work of by even a moderately skilled warrior of the 25th Century.

To be fair, though, XXVc assumes that said AD&D characters are going to entirely use their weapons, as opposed to having the wizard drop Meteor Swarm on RAM Corporate Headquarters. (XXVc's mum on whether magic will actually work in our solar system if you and the gang decide to take a little trip out of Faerun.)

I'm assuming that my fighter will want to pick up a monosword on this little side trip to this strange realm before we get back to our fantasy campaign!

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Snorb posted:

Direct quote from the Characters and Combat book here:


To be fair, though, XXVc assumes that said AD&D characters are going to entirely use their weapons, as opposed to having the wizard drop Meteor Swarm on RAM Corporate Headquarters. (XXVc's mum on whether magic will actually work in our solar system if you and the gang decide to take a little trip out of Faerun.)

I'm assuming that my fighter will want to pick up a monosword on this little side trip to this strange realm before we get back to our fantasy campaign!

And also that prior to going to Buck Rogers, the AD&D folks would first make an Expedition to the Barrier Peaks to pick up some of the gently caress-off powerful alien weaponry there. "Aw, too bad, Martian guy. Looks like you brought a monosword to a Black Ray Rifle fight."

Everyone fucked around with this message at 10:50 on Dec 11, 2019

Seatox
Mar 12, 2012


Could a Spelljammer outfly a rocketship? The high-end spelljamming helms had some pretty decent maneuverability... the XXVc ships would have the weapon advantage, though, Spelljammer craft (apart from the *actual* Spelljammer which had a Sphere-of-annhilation projector weapon) only have ballistae and catapults.

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Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

DAD LOST MY IPOD posted:

The Great Modron March Part 10: Way Under the Mountain

Oh god the modrons remember random wizard bullshit! That was the only reason most wizard bullshit wasn't dangerous!

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