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wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Obviously a typo, but yeah, that says +7.

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mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





The more I see of Dragonlance behind the scenes, the happier I am that we quit just a few modules in. We played 3 or 4 of them in 2e back in, oh, 1988. I have distinct, fond memories from several games run that year. Dragonlance ? Not a thing stuck other than a vague impression of sneaking past something scary to get to the end of the adventure alive, but missing out on a big chunk of XP and treasure. The GM called it when he did the math and decided that we'd either end up severely under-leveled by missing XP, or dead the first time we stood up to something with a breath weapon.

One of the other games that I do remember was another D&D game played concurrently with DL, and with the same players (having two competent GMs at once is a luxury I don't expect to ever have again). Mike was running DL from the modules, so he ended up reading us the blocks of text that the module said to read to the PCs.. Arthur sketched a treasure map on a sheet of paper, crumpled it up a couple of times, and added coffee stains. He didn't do much more prep than that. His descriptions came right out of his mind's eye and so were naturally more vivid and natural than poor Mike's.

I think there's a lesson there, beyond "DL sucks and was never really playtested".

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!


Oh yeah, one thing I've kind of glazed over in DL is how much canned text there is that you're supposed to read to the players(or in a few memorable cases, that they're supposed to read to each other).

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:



Please tell me you can see it now, otherwise I've had a stroke.


The adventure frontloads some of the dumber things, by which I mean like 90% of the dumb poo poo, and it improves somewhat afterwards. Generally the greater the proximity to elves, the worse the content, though the ending... hoo, well, we'll cover that when we get to the ending.

This is from my copy of the adventure:



Assuming you got this from Drivethrurpg, you might want to check your Library to see if there's an updated/corrected version.

There's a scene from the fifth season of Fringe where one of the characters captures one of the bad guys, who is basically a member of a super-intellient alien race (there's more to it, but I'm avoiding spoilers). The character tries something he's sure will wrongfoot the bad guys and it fails. At which point the captured alien tells the character, "You don't even know what you don't know."

There's quite a bit of that in this module series. It's not that we don't know the answers to questions about dragons so much as we don't even know the right questions to ask to get those answers.

Like that ridiculous "dragon anatomy" model. Most people have only the vaguest notion of how dragons really think or act, including the good ones.

I don't recall if there's a good illustration of Khardra's iron staff, but I don't think it's a trident if only because they'd have described it as a trident. I always envisioned the prongs as forming a triangle at the end of it though I'm not sure from where I got that notion.

BattleMaster
Aug 14, 2000



That +7 may have been from OCRing gone wrong.

90s Cringe Rock
Nov 29, 2006
:gay:


BattleMaster posted:

That +7 may have been from OCRing gone wrong.
Some nerd at WotC found out their DM was going to be running it and offered to get them a nice new POD copy so they don't have to mark up their original, oh, and I'll be playing one of the pregens, that's OK right?

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



DLE1: In Search of Dragons

Chapter 2: Dark Dreams



Unless the party's been thoroughly blinded and blinkered all through chapter 1, they'll have gotten plenty of clues to head north. Since the game starts in the SW quadrant of the game map, this takes them up into the NW quadrant which is mostly notable for having a lot of swamplands, the "Shadowglades." The three most notable locations here are Kwintter's Ranch, Tarligor's Lab(the guy who created Khardra) and, ugh, a Gully Dwarf village. More or less the instant the party reaches the zone, they'll notice the ranch in the distance and, for lack of anything better to do, likely head over there to investigate it.

It turns out that Artha, the level 9/9 Cleric/Mage demiggoddess(with a -7 AC, or -1 if that's another OCR error, and 160 HP) who can do three attacks of 2d20 damage worth each just in casual combat even before accounting for her spells, has, rather than just demolishing the ranch and taking whatever she wants, been "extorting" it instead, as though the generic NPC's there could in any way present any sort of danger to her that would make a frontal assault not worth it. For whatever reason, she's just been threatening the place with a bunch of her Eyewings(big flappy eyeballs with bat wings that weep toxic tears), human mercenaries and black dragons. Like, note that this isn't a minor city state, it's a loving ranch, they've got horses and goats. And of course they run up to the PC's and ask them to help deal with Artha if she shows up again.

Funnily enough, considering her absurd melee combat attributes that could annihilate the party in moments, as long as she sticks to spellcasting, they might actually be able to handle her.

Anyway, she shows up, goes "gnar har har give me money plox" and Kwintter goes: "nope! I've got some heroes here, they'll stop you!" She snaps her fingers, Flame Striking part of the ranch and setting it on fire, summons her minions, and then flaps away into the sunset to let them handle it. Her minions are as mentioned Eyewings(not too threatening, mostly the issue is that with 3HD they take a while to put down)... and two black dragons! Oh no, whatever w- hahahaha, okay, no, these two big lizards are thoroughly unthreatening. In 1e AD&D, their 32 HP a piece would have given them powerful alpha strike potential with their breath weapons, but those have now been reduced to a piddling 2d4 damage each. The main reason this fight is interesting at all rather than just a veteran adventurer party turning the dragons into gator sushi is that the farm is, as mentioned, also on fire, and both the dragons and eyewings are quite focused on loving up the farm animals, farmhands and structures, so the party will have to split their efforts between saving the farm(assuming they're not assholes) and battling the monsters. Even so, if the party's two arcane casters lead with fireballs, the battle's more or less over already and the fighters can clear up the eyewings while everyone else puts out the blaze. And this isn't even acknowleding that the party is backed up by six third-level Fighters(the farm employees) and Kwintter himself(a fifth-level Fighter). This battle is extremely trivial.

Saving the ranch and fighting there doesn't really contribute much to the module as a whole except for being an okay(albeit mis-judged in terms of power) set-piece that gives them their first look at Artha and what sort of a gross awful thing she is. They will, of course, also get a reward including some horses to take them to the edge of the swamp where their next stop will be Culeman's Lodge.

quote:

If the PCs approach the lodge, a woman appears in the doorway. She is about 40 years old with dirty blonde hair and a missing front tooth. She wears a work shirt and patched trousers and leads a crocodile on a leash.

Interesting idea setting the game in Florida. Anyway, Culeman is kind of a shady customer who's a bit of a scam artist and doesn't like dragons much, trying to sell the party a number of dubious items for hunting them with, insisting she's friends with the great dragon-hunter Khardra, etc.. On the other hand, she does know a decent bit of swamp lore, so if the party doesn't want to get poisoned wading through the dirty water, she can help them out there. The smartest way to go further into the swamp, by the way, is with a boat, since any amount of splashing around in the water instantly summons giant leeches. It's generally advisable to get in and out of the swamp as quickly as possible since the random encounter tables here suddenly include Wraiths(level-drainers) and Groaning Spirits(banshees with save-or-die AoE attacks). Thanks to these, the swamps are undoubtedly the most dangerous part of the module. Another thing they can encounter is swarms of mosquitoes that'll suck their blood for up to 6 points of damage if they don't find a way to ward them off or hide from them, implying that summer is loving horrifying for 0th-level NPC's on Krynn.

A side quest here is that if they hang around for long enough, they'll spot the headless gold dragon body belonging to the gold dragon head the vegan elves were keeping alive. If they send off a bee with a message about this to the elves, it'll pay dividends later. It also describes the bees, by the way, as "trained," so I suppose that puts paid to the idea that the bees are willing collaborators with the elves, rather than their poor, enslaved servants. Tsk tsk, elven hypocrisy.

Eventually they'll reach Tarligor's abandoned lab, which has been slowly sinking into the swamp for the last three years or so. The building has some minor magical treasures, the evil ghost of one of the Draconians that Tarligor blew up and, amazingly enough, the fourth Draconian prisoner is still alive, and still imprisoned, he's survived by eating rats, snakes and other vermin that got too close to his cell for three years and is not in a good condition. This prisoner is the main interesting part of the lab, since he can tell them more about what Khardra is, as well as suggest where the dragons might have gone, as they apparently have a mystical Dragon Graveyard farther up the coast(in the NE quadrant, Chapter 3). The Draconian will, actually, not attack the PC's on sight or anything similarly suicidal if freed, but will just want to get away. Oddly there's no accounting for, in the module, the PC's wanting to maybe nurse this poor, traumatized being back to health or in some other way be nice to him. It's a bit of a wasted chance to perhaps humanize the Draconians a bit by showing what his response would be to actually being treated like a valued being.

The two big takeaways from the lab, which is against mostly populated by vastly under-levelled encounters like rats, snakes and the occasional squealing and hissing malformed "survivor" of Tarligor's experiments at creating and manipulating life, are the location of the Dragon Graveyard and a hidden Dragonlance which will provide a decent weapon if the party ends up engaging any more dragons. While dragons have been downgraded in threat level, Dragonlances still do damage equal to the wielder's remaining HP, and without dragons' powerful alpha strike breath weapons, they often won't be able to de-power a fighter enough to prevent him one or two-shotting them with the lance as soon as he gets a turn.

Thus, if the party finds this lance, any draconic opponent is now rendered completely irrelevant. For context, if Pike wields the Dragonlance he could have done enough damage to kill both of the black dragons in the ranch encounter with one attack.

Once the party emerges from the shack, they find that a bunch of gully dwarves have destroyed their raft and now want to charge them for a ride out of there. It's either that or getting bogged down by wraiths, banshees and leeches, so the party really has no real choice but to accept, and the gully dwarves will charge them for the "pleasure" of being sailed back to their proud village of Prull. Not in steel or gold, though, see, the gully dwarves here have developed their own currency, which is completely useless for anything, anywhere else, being basically a system of vouchers.

quote:

If the PC asks for help, the gully dwarf says triumphantly, “Pay!” This gully clan is experimenting with a monetary system; all transactions require the exchange of special currency certificates. (See encounter 10 for details.) They accept no payment other than their official currency. If a PC offers any other form of payment, the gully dwarf shakes his head firmly. “You can pay later,” he says, and helps the PC onto the raft.

...

The gully dwarves help each PC to the raft, first asking each for payment, then sighing in disappointment if the PCs don’t have the right currency. “Pay later,” they say.

The gully dwarves offer the PCs a snack from their bucket of fresh leeches. “Come home with us,” says one. “Pay there. We help you.”

...

Bluh explains to the PCs that they must pay off their debt with Bluh Money, the official clan currency. Since it is unlikely the PCs have any Bluh Money, Chief Bluh gives them a chance to earn some by offering them their choice of jobs (see “Earning Bluh Money” section).

...

Earning Bluh Money

The PCs may do any of the following jobs to earn Bluh Money. They may do them as often as they wish. Roll on the Price Determination table to determine the wage. The wage may be different if a job is repeated.

1. “Move rocks.” (The PC moves 1d6 boulders from one hut to another. A Strength check is required if a PC does this alone; no check is required if he recruits help from a companion.)
2. “Clean hut.” (The PC sweeps out the filth; there is a 20% chance that the filth is nauseating enough to require a Constitution check. A failed check means the PC is violently ill for
1d6 rounds.)
3. “Babysit.” (The PC must hold an gully dwarf infant for 2d6 rounds. There is a 25% chance the infant bites the PC for 1 point of damage.)
4. “Pick lice off.” (The PC must pick lice from the back of a fat gully dwarf. No penalties, but disgusting.)

The gully dwarves do not, of course, actually have anything the players would want to buy with "Bluh Money" except for two things. Firstly, a new raft to get the gently caress out of Prull, and secondly the location of a dragon that "yells at the sky to make a city appear." The second part sounds like a Twitter shitpost, but I assure you it's actually in the goddamn module.

Chapter 2 Checklist: Save horses, find out where the dragon graveyard is, get dragonlance, pick lice off fat gully dwarves for fake money.

Chapter 3: Secret Sands



If the PC's were thorough, they probably arrive in the NE quarter with a gully dwarf guide who shows them the way to the lair of Thyron, an ancient bronze dragon who is at this time busy fighting off a bunch of ogre raiders. He's holding them at bay, but only barely, since he's clearly been horribly injured and blinded in the recent past. Undoubtedly the PC's will charge down the hill and carve the ogres into chunks, because this is yet another encounter way below their actual level of competence. One for one the ogres could trouble the party's fighters, but again a bit of magical artillery to soften them up as the party has the advantage of surprise will reduce the encounter to nothing. Saving Thyron earns the party, checks, his permanent derision and no help whatsoever, because he's an rear end in a top hat. If the party really needles him, he'll tell them that he got blinded because he saw Khardra and Artha loving. No, really, watching them go at it seared his eyes more or less right out of his skull.

The party can also hang around in the nearby hills to wait for the "dragon yells at sky"-event, which only happens when two specific moons are aligned, about every ten days according to the book(there's also a moon tracking chart which I don't entirely get), where Thyron waddles out of his cave and yells at the night sky, at which point a phantasmal city hovers into view above and then vanishes away. It's apparently a secret dragon city which hasn't been replying to Thyron, and its mystery remains unanswered in this module, I expect one of the following two will elaborate on it.

Saving Thyron is another one of those things that seems incidental, like the headless dragon, but which will pay off later in the game if the party helps rather than watching him get carved up by ogres.

Other places of interest in the NE sector include the town of Ohme, which is completely irrelevant, a minotaur warship(fighting the minotaurs on land is supposed to be an instant loss, but the party can sneak aboard the ship, ambush the maintenance crew and gently caress it up/loot it if they want). The minotaurs from the ship also show up as incidental encounters in a few areas, but again even an even number of minotaurs will get annihilated by a party with mage backup. Hell, even if it was even numbers of pure Fighters the party would probably win.

Mainly, the party right now has to find a silver dragon which they can encounter in a number of different ways. Either they can hear about it in Ohme, or they can find a ghoulish old lady who likes watching animals die(she calls herself a "naturalist") who tells them she's found a dying dragon and that the party should totally check it out. And they do, in fact, find a dying silver dragon. It's got the weird Silver Dragon Disease and has lost control of its polymorphing abilities, switching semi-randomly between human and dragon form, and begs the party to take it to the Dragon Graveyard. Saramber, as she's called, isn't much use, but also isn't an rear end in a top hat. So why not honour her dying request? All the party has to do is mangle a few minotaurs out hunting for her and they're home free.

This is a backup way of finding it if they didn't either save the Draconian in chapter 2 OR stumble across a mystery glowing crawling bone in a random chapter 3 encounter. Getting to said graveyard, ideally with the dying dragon in tow, is basically the most important part of chapter 3.

A foreboding encounter in this area is the Cursed Fisherman which is, well. Pretty loving metal, in fact:

quote:

Cursed Fisherman. This encounter occurs only if the PCs are on the beach. A ragged man stumbles toward the PCs from the east. His eyes are glazed and he gives off a faint green glow. It appears his bones are throbbing.

The man was unfortunate enough to be fishing near the dragon’s graveyard (encounter 9) when Artha was also there. For fun, she cursed him: his bones are animated and are trying to escape from his body.

If the PCs try to touch him, he pulls away. He is only able to mutter a few words about a “fat, stinking woman” who did this to him. “Don’t go there....” he says, but is unable to identify the location.

If a PC casts dispel magic or a similar spell, the man dies quietly. Otherwise, his agony continues. If the PCs stay with him, 1d4 hours later, his skeleton bursts free from his body, glowing green. The skeleton ignores the PCs and totters into the ocean to disappear beneath the waves.

Emphasis mine because holy poo poo that's horrible and yet awesome. It also somewhat prepares the party for what's to come at the dragon graveyard...

Basically, on all nights bar one with a lunar conjunction, the dragon graveyard is just another patch of coastal sand. But if they come there as-indicated by the gully dwarves or the draconian at the right time, or with Saramber who tells them the right time and begs them to wait there with her until it rolls around, at which point she asks them to guard her while she prepares the mystic rituals needed to gain proper admission to the dragon graveyard. Of course, this is where Artha teleports in and goes "hyee hyee hyee, ima villain!" She tosses some magic into the ocean which animates both a whole dragon skeleton and some scattered dragon bone parts, causing the party to get assaulted by biting dragon skulls, crawling dragon claws and tentacle-like draconic spinal columns. The big player, of course, is the skeletal dragon itself which has the coolest breath weapon ever:

quote:

The skeleton can also attack with its breath weapon, a cone of green fire 70 feet long with a base diameter of 2 1/2 feet. The fire feels ice cold and has the following effects:

* A PC struck by the green fire must roll a saving throw vs. spell. If he succeeds, he suffers 1d6 points of damage. If he fails, he suffers 1d6 points of damage and his bones throb inside his body for the next five rounds; his AC is increased by +1 and all attacks are made with a -1 penalty for that period. These effects can be negated by dispel magic or a similar spell, though the PC still takes the indicated damage.

* If a PC is struck by the green fire while his bones are throbbing (from a previous green fire hit), he loses an additional 1d6 hp; his bones forcefully expand and contract as if they are trying to burst out of his body. No saving throw is allowed. For the next five rounds, his AC is increased by +2 and all attacks are made with a -2 penalty. These effects can be negated by dispel magic or a similar spell, though the PC still takes the indicated damage.

* If the same PC is struck by the fire while suffering from the effects in the previous paragraph, he must roll a saving throw vs. spell. If he succeeds, he loses 2d6 hp and his AC stays at +2 and his attacks are made with a -2 penalty for the next five rounds. If he fails, he collapses to the ground. Unless dispel magic or a similar spell is cast on him, his skeleton bursts free from his body in the next round and totters into the sea.

Yeah, this poo poo loving de-bonerizes you in the most hardcore way imaginable. There's no explanation for why the skeletons really wanna go into the sea, though, or in fact of what Artha's plan with the place is at all besides being a huge rear end in a top hat. It doesn't really seem to jive with her general description of only being interested in loot.

If the party wins the fight, and honestly aside from the super cool breath weapon, one whap with the Dragonlance will finish it off, even if it doesn't count as a dragon it'll just take a few more rounds to clear it out, so they should win it if you're using the pregens or characters of equal power. If the party wins the fight, then Saramber explains the plot to them, telling them that the good dragons need them to believe in them and also to help them out, because they've found out who's loving with the moons and a group is planning an assault. If the party hoofs it, they can find the dragons and assist them before they take off to do the battlin'.

Now, two kind of obvious things pop up here. Firstly, what if Saramber eats poo poo or the players never find her? Then her FORCE GHOST shows up to tell the players about the metaplot to prevent the module from softlocking. Secondly... what if the players, who number a high-level cleric, go: "Hm. A sick dragon. I'm sure we can fix this."? Because they have access to Cure Disease, if Saramber's got an illness, and they've got Neutralize Poison, if she's been poisoned. If this is the case, the module tells them that Saramber just needs to go to the graveyard to pray, drops the plot info on the PC's and legs it into the ocean before they can ask her to actually help out.

Normally at this point, the party's cleared Chapter 3 and can run off to Chapter 4 and the ULTIMATE BATTLE of the module, but there's one important thing they absolutely have to check out first. See, there's a wizard's tower in the area, the owner of which was killed by Khardra. This wizard had a pet chimp. A pet chimp that he loving taught to use wands. If the party busts in and gently caress up the encounter, the chimp starts blasting away like a madman, but if they're not assholes they can also recruit the chimp and take it back to its home forest in Chapter 4. They do, of course, also get to pocket the wands if they do this.

Chapter 4: Magical Moons



Chapter 4 has more or less no incidental areas, it has some random encounters on the way to the dragon meeting place, but that's it. Firstly, the party has a chance to return the chimp to his people, for which they're rewarded with bananas and 5000 steel(gold equivalent) worth of ruby. Of course, again, in 2e AD&D money is by and large somewhat pointless unless you plan to settle down since there's no masterwork or magical gear up for sale, you kind of cap out at what normal gear you can buy after the first couple thousand gp, and even if you use the callback XP rules only rogues get extra XP for getting rich.

They can also get ambushed by some of Khardra's mercenaries or literal grass-skirt-wearing cannibals, more encounters that are pretty chump change. The only interesting random encounter besides the chimps is a Whitestone veteran from the War of the Lance who never heard that the fighting ended and is still hiding out in the woods, convinced that everyone he sees is a Dragonarmy trooper. He'll try to nail the party with crossbow bolts unless they can haul him down from his sniper perch and convince him the war is actually over, which he'll actually accept, at which point he'll head home to Ohme.

Now, the main problem with the start of chapter 4 is that the party is more or less left walking in circles in the wilderness until they get the right random encounter that'll let them continue the plot. In the grand tradition of gold dragons being assholes, the mighty gold dragon Aric(at least it isn't a lovely gold pun/reference this time) is hanging out, polymorphed as a deer stuck in a trap. If the players save him, he'll go "Y'ALL'RE PURE OF HEART. COME WITH ME TO MY SECRET LAIR." if they do anything else, like perhaps wanting to have lunch, he turns back into a dragon and chastises them for being impure and the players basically have to beg the GM for permission to continue the module by somehow demonstrating their moral purity.

Assuming the GM isn't hard set on hard-locking the module and preventing the players from having fun, they'll get hauled off to a dragon's lair by Aric, where there's a mighty DRAGON CONCLAVE plotting on how to deal with the Artha problem. Attendees include, if the players have done all the side quests/encounters they could:

Londell, a fat old coward dragon(Copper).
Aric, who's clearly an rear end in a top hat(Gold).
Thyron, who's still blind, despite the fact that the PC's can just hit him with a Cure Blindness or any other healing spell up to 4th level to fix it up. The module never seems to account for anyone doing him this extremely minor courtesy to improve his life(Bronze).
Karlox, Thyron's son and a huge screeching DRAGON SUPREMACIST who has no patience for the LESSER RACES OF KRYNN(Bronze).
Ky, the formerly headless gold dragon who isn't an rear end in a top hat and actually wants to help the PC's out(Gold).

Oh and the leader of the elven eco-terrorist cadre has also shown up.

The dragons have at this point tumbled to the fact that Artha and Khardra are responsible for what's loving them up, and want to blow them up. Unfortunately, as Thyron learned, they can more or less burn their eyes out at-will just by commencing the deep dicking in public view. Therefore, they need to fly into battle blind-folded with mortal riders to guide them, which is where the PC's come in.

Ky is obviously fully willing to help out the PC's since they helped put him back together, but the rest are less willing. If they passed his stupid moral test, then Aric is also on their side, but Londell is terrified, Karlox is a huge dickhead and Thyron mostly just wants to get back to Sky Dragon City. Still, as long as the PC's helped out Saramber, Thyron and Ky, they should be able to win the whole crowd of dragons over to helping them. Now, this is all generally an okay cool setup for a final fight and a good way to force dragons and mortals to work together but, uh, unfortunately it gets bogged down in simulationist garbage. With a full party and all the dragons on the field, just on the player side of the battlefield you have thirteen participants, and basically every move is going to have a bunch of additional checks to stay on the back of your dragon and etc. rather than only calling those in exceptional events like getting whanged real hard while riding.

Anyway, in addition to thirteen PC's, add fifteen Eyewings, five Black Dragons and fifteen guards. None of them organized as mobs or in any other way abbreviated or abstracted, and you've got 48 actors per combat round until some of them start getting wiped out. Now, to the game's credit, between all the artillery the party and the dragons bring, this should happen, uh, real fast. Also the black dragons explode into more skele-dragons if they die, with their bones literally tearing their way out of their corpses to kill again. Metal as gently caress.

Team Good Dudes show up while Khardra and Artha are "blending" at the top of a mountain, guarded by all their goons, and unless they completely flub their init rolls and the first round in general, they rapidly start laying waste to everything around them. To dissuade them from just sniping Khardra and Artha, the light they exude protects them from non-magical attacks and getting close to start hacking them up with swords means you start taking heat damage from the burning light. The battle has an exciting SECOND STAGE that activates once all the black dragons(and their skeletons) are killed or once Khardra loses half his HP.

Khardra then goes all Florida Man on the party, running naked and unarmed at them and trying to punch them out. They've got two rounds to ice him(with only 55HP and the aid of five dragons, that's not gonna be too hard), before a dragon tries to eat him and his bones, in true Draconian fashion, explode, nuking the dragon from the inside out(it "vanishes," leaving no corpse. But c'mon, you eat a stick of dynamite, you lose your head).

Then Takhisis appears in the sky and screams about how Artha has failed her before tearing her into five pieces and eating one piece with each head, then vanishing.

The good dragons then thank the PC's, more or less refuse to answer any of their questions, and run away to a city in the clouds while going "okay nerds, next time we have a problem that dragons can't fix, we'll come ask for your help. Until then you're on your own, lol."

So uhhhhhhhhhhh, that's DLE1!

Conceptually not a bad module, just some weird ideas in places, a general refusal to answer PC questions(there's no way to learn about the sky city or what's making the silver dragons ill, not even from Saramber, it's not even in a GM sidebar so he at least knows and can drop some clues of his own) and some wonky-as-poo poo encounter balancing. The module doesn't even have any hints for whether all eight pre-gens should be run at once or how big the party should be, or at which levels, I just assumed that all eight pre-gens would be on the table since that's the size of party the original DL line ran with for the most part. The final encounter is also a huge clusterfuck and would MASSIVELY have benefitted from some vague or hacky mass-combat rules, like aggregating the human warriors and eyewings into some sort of "mob" template and completely clearing out the chance-of-falling checks except as a "if you take over X damage in the saddle, make a save vs Petrification or you fall."

Definitely a better module than anything in the original DL line, though.

Kree! You just liked the Bonus Explodus spell, don't lie.

Okay yes that did do a lot to make me appreciate the module more. It was real loving cool.

Next up: DLE2: Dragon Magic!

PurpleXVI fucked around with this message at 18:06 on Feb 4, 2020

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

Dragonlance



DLE1: In Search of Dragons

Chapter 2: Dark Dreams


For my part our GM basically didn't allow Cure Disease or Neutralize Poison to work on Sarambar because Super-Speshul Magic Disease (figure if any cleric could just cure this poo poo, the disease wouldn't be that big a deal)

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!


Everyone posted:

For my part our GM basically didn't allow Cure Disease or Neutralize Poison to work on Sarambar because Super-Speshul Magic Disease (figure if any cleric could just cure this poo poo, the disease wouldn't be that big a deal)

See, though, that's some of the stuff I have a problem with. It's like giving the players a hammer, presenting them with the PROTRUDING NAIL OF FATE and then saying that no, they need a special hammer for this one. Like, why give players an ability if it can't be used for anything plot-relevant? Especially since diseases in particular pop up so rarely. It would be less egregrious if there were plenty of diseases around they could cure, so this one was a special case, but... no. Heck, sure, fine, let them cure it but say that because it's a SUPER disease it requires a sacrifice, like a permanent point of Con or it'll curse them with a permanent SOUL BOND with Sarambar or something. That would also be fine.

Like if there's anything their abilities should work on, above all, it should be the plot-relevant stuff, especially if it's a rarely-used ability in the first place.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


PurpleXVI posted:

See, though, that's some of the stuff I have a problem with. It's like giving the players a hammer, presenting them with the PROTRUDING NAIL OF FATE and then saying that no, they need a special hammer for this one. Like, why give players an ability if it can't be used for anything plot-relevant? Especially since diseases in particular pop up so rarely. It would be less egregrious if there were plenty of diseases around they could cure, so this one was a special case, but... no. Heck, sure, fine, let them cure it but say that because it's a SUPER disease it requires a sacrifice, like a permanent point of Con or it'll curse them with a permanent SOUL BOND with Sarambar or something. That would also be fine.

Like if there's anything their abilities should work on, above all, it should be the plot-relevant stuff, especially if it's a rarely-used ability in the first place.

I admit that losing a permanent point of Con would be off-putting, but getting soul-bonding to a bad-rear end silver dragon also turns into a hot elf girl would be pretty awesome. Not bone-splode awesome, but still awesome.

Speleothing
May 6, 2008

Spare batteries are pretty key.

That's the best breath weapon ever

slap me and kiss me
Apr 1, 2008

You best protect ya neck



This launched today!

Dav
Nov 5, 2009


PurpleXVI posted:

the mighty gold dragon Aric(at least it isn't a lovely gold pun/reference this time)

I may have some bad news for you: “auric” means “of or pertaining to gold.”

Baku
Aug 20, 2005

by Fluffdaddy


Everyone posted:

When it comes to the "figure poo poo out" stuff, the fighter's player gets as much of a chance as the wizard's player because it's the players doing the figuring out. Now, sure, in a rolling situation, the wWzard with his 18 INT is way more likely to figure whatever-it-is out than the Fighter with an 11 INT. But it's more satisfying to the players to do it themselves than to say "I subject myself to the coldly indifferent forces of probability in the hope that they will not humiliate me this day."

Yeah, uh.... letting people bullshit their way through intellectual or social challenges by being smart or charismatic players helps martial classes.

Whether or not it's good game design is a different matter, but it's one of the cases where one of most D&D tables' quirks actually serves as a check on one of D&D's issues.

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Dragonlance: 15th Anniversary Changes



So in the interim time between the final few entries for the Dragonlance Chronicles and my 3rd Edition Changes, I’ve managed to read all of Dragonlance Classics: 15h Anniversary Edition. Interestingly the 2nd Edition update had not one but two translations. The 2nd Edition DL Classics were originally a 3-volume set compiling the Autumn, Winter, and Spring arcs into their respective books. For the most part they’re straight translations of the original modules: they have the same encounters, art, and general plotlines but with some small changes here and there in word choices or stat blocks.

But TSR did something special during the advent of 1999. Marking the 15th Anniversary of the Dragonlance setting, it was dual-statted for both 2nd Edition AD&D and the SAGA System. But even moreso, the adventure received a complete overhaul in many key areas.

General Changes: The infamous railroading is considerably opened up in places, allowing the PCs to play the adventures out of order but in a still narratively plausible format. The party doesn’t even have to split up during the invasion of Tarsis, and the book has suggestions on how to handle that as well. Furthermore, a lot of the dungeons are shortened considerably: instead of room-by-room descriptions, most entries sum up important characters, scenes, and specific rooms with random encounters used as ‘filler’ material. Instead of using the 12 module titles “Dragons of X,” there are 36 different chapters based mostly on location. Each chapter has a side-bar for how things were done in the novels and how the adventure differs.

Not only that, 15th Anniversary has more of a “storybook” feel in places, with sample lines of dialogue for various NPCs; and not just during boxed text, but brief sentences or paragraphs which can trigger based on certain scenes. This is especially true for the DMPCs who join the party, and the book does a great job of bringing to life characters who were originally mostly lines of stat blocks. At times I wondered if such things were taken out of the novels, but this is present even for characters and events not in the book series: there’s sample lines for Aran Tallbow when the PCs are in Southern Ergoth. Aran’s the Solamnic knight companion of Derek Crownguard who actually dies early on offscreen at Icewall Castle in the novels, so this is more or less new territory.

I’m not going to be as exhaustive in listing changes as I was when doing my 3rd Edition posts. I’m going to sum up major stuff here broken up by the respective seasonal arcs. I will also note points of DIVERGENCE where PCs can skip ahead, do modules out of order, or changes to the plot which either excise material or add new ones previously not present.

Dragons of Autumn Arc



What better moment to summarize this series than with artwork of Verminaard’s iconic defeat?

Despair: The initial starting point at the Inn of the Last Home is expanded upon considerably, and the PCs have lots of moments to role-play with each other and various other characters. Some aspects are lifted from the novels, such as Kitiara’s messenger saying that she cannot make it, as well as a drunken Seeker who is meant to be set up as a strawman who gets into an argument with Goldmoon and Fizban over the worthiness of the true gods. Said Seeker also has a habit of arbitrarily arresting attractive women who “tempt others with lustful thoughts.” Ironically most of the points he raises (such as the Cataclysm and its destruction) are valid, and Fizban gets the party in trouble when the Seekers inevitably realize that the Blue Crystal Staff has magical powers. The wacky old wizard claims that the party’s in league with spirits of Evil.

quote:

Fizban continues to cry out and claim the heroes are in league with Evil spirits. If one of the heroes challenges him or tries to claim that he or she has nothing to do with anything Evil or the magical staff, he pulls that hero close and says, “I know that. You know that. But they won’t believe that. I think you’d best get yourselves to Xak Tsaroth. Be rid of the staff, and you’ll be in the clear. Now get. You all have a destiny to fulfill.”He pushes the hero away with a wink.

Paladine is a dick.

There’s also an encounter straight from the novels where Toede’s goblin soldiers chase the PCs across the trees of Solace, along with the constellations of Paladine and Takhisis vanishing from the night sky once they escape town. Furthermore, an interesting thing is that the Red Dragonarmy soldiers throughout this module include humans as well as hobgoblins and draconians. They’re rank and file and not just officers, clad in red chainmail Dragonarmy uniforms, but anything else about them such as names or their homelands are left unmentioned.

Xak Tsaroth is pretty similar, although the secret tunnels of the gully dwarves give the PCs a major advantage in ambushing and bypassing several encounters. Bupu in particular has several lines of dialogues for various rooms.

DIVERGENCE: It’s possible for the PCs to be captured and taken alive by the Dragonarmies. They’ll be taken to Pax Tharkas, meaning that it’s technically possible to play the rest of the Chronicles without having rediscovered the Discs of Mishakal. Although the module seriously advises that the PCs should head back to Xak Tsaroth eventually if only due to the power of having true cleric spells.

Flame: There’s more talk of Qualinesti and various elven NPCs interacting with Gilthanas and/or Laurana, particularly if one or both are being controlled as PCs. The city of Qualinost has a few encounters, such as spell-less elven priests who try to kidnap Goldmoon/Prophet in belief that the Gods of Good would never give divine magic to the lesser races, or shapeshifting sivak draconians who infiltrated elven territory. If Laurana is a PC, instead of being kidnapped another elven woman may be snatched by Toede’s wyverns and is in fact the daughter of a new semi-important character: said character is an elf named Brookland who plays some semi-important roles, such as liberating people from the slave caravan and can be met in Pax Tharkas’ mines. He forms a new refugee faction composed primarily of Qualinesti elves and half-elves.

Eben Shatterstone is excised completely from this adventure.

DIVERGENCE:The game acknowledges that PCs may wish to depart the railroad tracks and retake northern Abanasinia, and suggests doing various “guerilla warfare” style encounters before the Blue Lady (Kitiara) comes to aid Verminaard against the local uprisings at which point the region becomes “too hot” for PCs. The book acknowledges that this is beyond the scope of things even for them, and that if the PCs persist then there can be a massive jump past much of the campaign as either Silvara or Ladine Dralathalas (a Silvanesti elf who is a new DMPC in this version only) will come to the PCs and try to get them to visit Sanction or Silvanesti respectively.

PCs may also offer to help the elves escape to several ports full of ships departing for Southern Ergoth. This is an optional chapter of its own where the PCs have to dodge, outsmart, or fend off draconian soldiers and red dragons setting forest fires. The PCs can either choose to board the ship and head for Southern Ergoth (which jumpstarts the “Dragons of Winter” arc) or go back and help liberate the slaves from Pax Tharkas.

Dragons of Hope: The Seekers include a leader by the name of Locar, a contrarian idiot who thinks that Verminaard is a reasonable fellow and that the slaves should go back and seek his mercy. He has a variety of other awful ideas and it’s presumed that the refugees put up with him due to some cult-like devotion.

Dragons of Desolation: The vast majority of the Thorbadin stuff is cut. The Hammer of Kharas is already recovered by Arman, who meets up with the PCs while they’re exploring the dwarven halls. Instead of being under house arrest in Hylar or searching a floating tomb, the module more or less goes straight to the final fight with the giant pit in the Temple of Reorx. The Daergar clan of dark dwarves pretend to be friendly and escort Arman’s group and the PCs into the trap. Instead of Eben being present during the betrayal, Verminaard double-crosses the Daegar Thane by taking the Hammer of Kharas for himself. The Theiwar clan also hate the Daegar and side with Verminaard’s forces during the battle, with the Daegar being a third party in the free-for-all.

As is dramatically appropriate, Verminaard can intuitively sense if any PCs are divine spellcasters of the Gods of Good and will try to fight Goldmoon or an appropriate character in one on one combat.

Dragons of Winter Arc



“Umm Tanis, I don’t think we should trade Ansalon’s freedom for some lip and tongue action…”

DIVERGENCE: This is also during the Spring Arc of adventures, but is not keyed to any specific adventure. It is triggered pretty much anytime the PCs find themselves captured alive by the Dragonarmies or their allies. The Highlord’s Offer is a chapter of its own where Kitiara visits one or more captured PCs under heavy guard. Dressed as the Blue Dragon Highlord, she takes off her helmet to dramatically reveal her identity, and does a classic Vader “join me and we can rule Ansalon together” offer. She also talks down Verminaard, claiming that he was a brute and that the Dragon Empire will be more civilized under her reign. If the PC(s) refuses her offer, she will let them go, but with a warning that she will not hesitate to kill them next time if they remain on their rebellious path.

But if the PCs offer to join, they will be sent to the Solamnic frontlines. Their stay as officers in the Blue Dragonarmy will be short-lived, as Kitiara’s second-in-command Bakaris is jealous of the favoritism and will arrange to have their efforts sabotaged. Either Silvara, Ladine Dralathalas, or a nameless Solamnic spy will join up with the PCs and give them an opportunity to escape. Silvara will take the PCs to Sanction to recover the good dragon eggs, while Ladine will take them either to Silvanesti or Port Balifor to aid the local resistance cells there. The nameless Solamnic spy happens only after the Battle of the High Clerist’s Tower. Instead she will have the same hook as Silvara, but based on “insider intelligence” on a Dragonarmy secret program rather than a dragon’s-eye view of the Oath.

Dragons of Ice: The only mountain pass leading to the city being sealed up by Thorbadin’s dwarves shortly after the Cataclysm. This is the rationale for nobody from the north knowing about Tarsis being land-locked for three centuries.

The PCs meet up with two Knights, Derek Crownguard and Aran Tallbow, who are search for the Library of Khrystann in the city, and the party can help them find its location and learn of the Dragon Orbs from its texts. The PCs also meet Alhana Starbreeze during a meeting with the Governor of Tarsis, who attempts to arrest both parties to appease the Dragonarmies. The Knights help free the heroes, but the PCs are then faced with the dual choice of helping either Derek and Aran finding the Orb in Icewall Castle as detailed in the Library, or going with Alhana east to Silvanesti. Her griffons are in some local city stables and thus need to be freed when the Dragonarmies attack the city.

DIVERGENCE: There’s no big “split the party” suggestion besides the sidebar outlining what happened during the novels. In fact, both paths allow the PCs opportunities to potentially complete the other adventures depending on how things go.

Also, after killing Verminaard and spreading the knowledge of the true gods, the PCs’ exploits become famous and Kitiara in particular becomes obsessed with tracking them down. More so than in the 1st and 3rd Edition Chronicles, there are more opportunities that Dragonarmy officers will recognize the PCs’ faces.

The 2 Solamnic knights get into a disagreement over the dragon-rider encased in ice. As the only known dragons at this time are allied with Evil, Derek believes him to be a fallen knight, while Aaron mentions that during the last Dragon War knights rode upon dragons on the side of Good.

At some point during the adventure, Derek will reveal his less-than-ideal knightly status. Such as by fleeing during a hard battle. This will be the onset of Aaron’s disillusionment with Derek, and as such will begin to side more with the PCs during various disagreements.

It’s possible for Feal-Thas to survive, either via escaping or if the PCs never visit the Icewall region such as by doing Alhana’s Silvanesti arc. It is possible that he will remain White Dragon Highlord and be present during the final adventure in the Temple of Takhisis rather than Toede.

The PCs are also totally within their means of finding the frozen ships in Ice Mountain Bay without conquering Icewall Castle. The PCs can also depart from the knights and leave them with the Dragon Orb to head to the Whitestone Council by themselves; this is especially the case if the PCs either wish to go and help Alhana (where they’ll find her while wandering the Plains of Dust) or report back to the refugees in Thorbadin of developments.

Dragons of Light: There are two separate opening scenes based on whether the PCs are arriving on an elven ship from Qualinesti or a ship from Ice Mountain Bay.

The PCs can encounter Fizban as one of several hostages in a pirate ship. If freed he will just as much be a help as a hindrance, his magic causing collateral damage which will eventually sink said pirate ship. DIVERGENCE: If detained the PCs will be sold to the ogres in Daltigoth and have their valuables and Dragon Orb confiscated.

It’s possible that the PCs may have a letter of passage from Alhana if they helped her, or be with Ladine Dralathalas. However, the Silvanesti are still huge dicks and will presume the letter a forgery and attempt to place Ladine and the PCs under house arrest. When Theros and Silvara free our heroes, they will gain the unlikely aid of Dalamar who will use illusion and magic missile spells to force pursuing Silvanesti into a retreat. This is the only time Dalamar ever shows up in the Chronicles series of modules; for those who haven’t read the Legends trilogy, he eventually becomes Raistlin’s apprentice.

The silver dragon D’argent is Silvara in disguise; there are no other options and her personality is greatly expanded upon with bonus dialogue lines. She is a bit of a crybaby, especially when the knights (Derek in particular) initially do not trust her motives. DIVERGENCE: there will come a point when these personality clashes threaten to split the party. Silvara wishes to lead the PCs to the secret Dragonlance forges in Foghaven Vale, but Derek wishes to continue to Sancrist by heading through ogre territory in Thunder Pass. Derek can be convinced to stay if the PCs side with Silvara and if they gained Aaron’s earlier respect. When it becomes clear that Derek will be going by himself in this case, he reluctantly stays with the party.

If the PCs visit the Qualinesti refugees, a group known as the Youngbloods will try to persuade Gilthanas into siding with them in a coup. They feel that the current leader and heir apparent (who are Gilthanas’ father and brother respectively) are too weak and not taking enough action against the Silvanesti neighbors with which they’re feuding. The Youngbloods are a potential villainous faction for the PCs to deal with, but if the party sides with them they soon prove treacherous allies. They will seek vengeance upon Gilthanas when it turns out that most Qualinesti do not want an all-out war, for their plans appear to be in tatters.

Finally, the Ogre lands are detailed a bit more. The PCs may either be passing through with Derek, have gotten captured, or have to free said knights (and a possible absconded Dragon Orb) if they got waylaid. There’s a rather amusing encounter where a sivak draconian is trying to turn the ogres into a proper fighting force at a border checkpoint, but the PCs can bribe the ogres for a pittance to turn on and kill the sivak in exchange for passage.

While in Foghaven Vale, Silvara has the power to teleport the party inside the Stone Dragon’s chambers, but will only do so if the PCs are failing to find ways to get inside or if the knights and/or PCs visibly demonstrate that they do not trust her.

The Silvara/Fizban fight still happens, but has proper boxed text which casts the god-wizard in a more threatening light. If the PCs side with Fizban, he will scold them, saying that “she was, after all, only trying to help” before vanishing into thin air. The PCs will thus have to fight the white dragons alone at the end of the module.

Paladine was, and still is, a dick.

DIVERGENCE: The PCs can choose to take the Dragonlances to the Solamnic Knights in Sancrist. Or if they did not help liberate Pax Tharkas, have to visit Thorbadin to gain the Hammer of Kharas to ensure the forging of true dragonlances. At this point the PCs will either continue on the Dragons of Flame route and liberate Pax Tharkas, or Verminaard may have taken control of Thorbadin himself at the DM’s discretion.

Dragons of War: The Whitestone Council has its own chapter and more involved role-playing. Derek can be a foil as he portrays himself in as favorable a light as possible and takes credit for deeds performed by others when called upon to report past events. He’ll challenge any PCs who confront him to a duel, which will be defused by Gunthar. When the Council devolves into infighting over how to use the Dragon Orb, Fizban shows up and smashes it. Just about everyone is about to kill him, either the PCs or Theros Ironfeld interrupts this by dramatically revealing the Dragonlances. If the party hasn’t found said Dragonlances yet, Fizban does not show up and Gunthar tells them about the fables of the secret Dragonlance forge.

DIVERGENCE: There’s more discussion of the environs and personalities of Castle Eastwatch, where Lord Gunthar resides. If the PCs obtained a ship from Flotsam and sailed to Sancrist/Palanthas this way, Silvara and Theros will be among some Qualinesti Youngbloods who are hosts in the castle and got lost at sea. The quests regarding said various characters can be used here as pretext for the PCs to visit Southern Ergoth. Silvara will reveal a hidden passageway near the castle that leads to the Stone Dragon of Ergoth, while Ladine and/or Lord Gunthar may know of rumors of the Dragonlance forge as well. Lord Gunthar will be very cross if the party departs without due warning, as he’ll presume the worst and conduct a days-long search party across the island for them.

There’s a lot more to do in the city of Palanthas, albeit mostly in the vein of sidequests. They include such things as the PCs becoming overnight celebrities as bards’ tales of their exploits have spread far and wide, investigating an attempted arson at the local Knights of Solamnia chapterhouse with a corrupt city senator as the responsible party, helping restore a fallen temple of the Gods of Light to working order, and trying to gain an audience with Astinus of the Library of Palanthas to learn something or other.

DIVERGENCE: Additionally, the PCs can meet Ladine and the Silvanesti ambassador in Palanthas, where they can take a month-long voyage to the elven homeland to aid Alhana Starbreeze. She can accompany the party as a DMPC to Southern Ergoth and other places if they promise (or have already) aided her in finding an end to the Silvanesti Nightmare. This can take place before or after the Battle of the High Clerist’s Tower.

The Battle of the High Clerist’s Tower is similar to the other versions, although the knights take trespass upon this holy ground much more seriously: unless the PCs found some vital resources to turn the tide during the Battle they will be arrested if found out and potentially executed. PCs can gain the aid of the former High Clerist, Yarus, by helping him win the Khas (Dragonlance’s version of chess) against his spectral adversary: a priest of Sargonnas. There’s more backstory, where on the night of the Cataclysm said priest under house arrest seemingly befriended Yarus and had his agents infiltrate the Tower to free their master and kill the Knights. The Cataclysm hit before they could finish their mission.

But there is one bonus encounter, derived straight from the novels: at some point Kitiara will arrive masked on dragonback and engage Sturm in one on one combat. In the novels this was one of the most tragic moments, as Sturm died and the Heroes of the Lance realized that their former friend was indeed aligned with the enemy. However, the battle’s outcome is decided upon the dice...somewhat. Sturm can survive, although Kitiara will retreat when the Battle turns against the Dragonarmies.

Dragons of Deceit: There’s a chance that former allies and/or DMPCs the PCs parted ways with or thought dead will be found on the slave markets. Silvara will not be among them, as even in elf form she’s too powerful to be kept in captivity for long. Additionally it is noted that there are trolls among the Dragonarmy camps, but in comparison to the other monsters they are barely above animal intelligence and kept in pens; they must be fed a meat-heavy diet, and will break out and rampage if denied “treats” of humanoid slaves or not kept under heavy enchantment by local Black Robe Wizards.

This also applies to the later Spring arcs in occupied Eastern Ansalon, but the Dragonarmies are full of sexual predators and downright creepy dudes. Dragonarmy soldiers standing guard may catcall at attractive women, and female PCs who ask for lodgings or work will be given directions to the nearest brothel accompanied with perverse laughs and leers. In the city of Neraka the PCs can earn the gratitude and safe haven from a local shopkeeper if they save his teenage daughter from being abducted in broad daylight by draconians and minotaurs who have been stalking and making sexual suggestions at her.

There’s also a case of implied pedophilia where some Dragonarmy officers in Sanction sexually harass a girl who is actually a red dragon in disguise. If the PCs don’t intervene she makes short work of them with strength far beyond her mere form. Said dragon is Firestorm, Emperor Ariakas’ former mount who got demoted for being too unpredictable and secretly hopes to kill the Emperor herself. She has a lair connecting to the Temple of Luerkhisis, and eavesdropping PCs can witness her engaging in childlike behavior such as merrily skipping on top of lava and swirling it around with her toes while ‘playfully’ flinging at it with some priests of Takhisis who reflexively jump back. Firestorm is a very old red dragon, but her behavior and description makes her sound like a child.

But back to Sanction proper: there are some more encounters, such as a bard who is secretly working for the Dragonarmies pretending to search for ‘noble heroes’ or exhorting the mostly-frightened crowd into rebelling against tyranny. This is part of a trap to lead PCs into an ambush. There’s also an insane priest of Sirrion (god of fire, art, and alchemy) who ends up in a fight with a cleric of Takhisis over his blasphemy. There are a few opportunities where the PCs can run into Kitiara while here, and if she recognizes them they can be in deep trouble without some quick thinking.

PCs can arrange for distractions to lighten security around the temple containing the good dragon eggs. Suggestions include inciting riots in the army camps, letting loose the trolls from their pens, and/or making use of local rebel cells or the shadowpeople.

Instead of being teleported to the Dragon Isles, the PCs will need to manually escape the temple while one of the accompanying metallic dragons (Silvara or Cymbal) take flight to inform the rest of the metallic clans of the betrayal of the oath. The metallic dragons will dramatically arrive in Sanction to destroy the stationed Dragonarmies and take control of the Temple of Luerkhisis to save the remaining eggs. Tombfyre may be encountered and fought during the chaos, where she will transform into her dragon form if stopped during her reign of mayhem (“what, can’t a girl have some fun?”).

There’s a chapter after this one where the PCs can ride upon dragonback and meet with the Solamnic Knights’ leadership, and role-play out an alliance where the dragons join the Whitestone forces. It even has some kickass art!



Not to worry, the dragon leaders mention that they will be fighting as equals in spite of the knights’ initial obsequiousness.

DIVERGENCE: There’s an awful lot of ways that the “rescue the good dragon eggs” may be triggered, which in a way makes this the most variable opening quest/chapter. Silvara may not even be involved! While the 1st and 3rd Edition Chronicles have her meet up with the PCs in Palanthas after the High Clerist’s Tower, the party can also meet her upon the open road or even in disguise in that very city.

As for post-adventure DIVERGENCE, PCs may either go straight to Neraka, or they may head east to Khur instead for some reason. They can also take part in liberating the city of Kalaman with the aid of the metallic dragons, which is a new chapter in this book but has more suggestions rather than outright encounters.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 07:04 on Feb 5, 2020

Libertad!
Oct 30, 2013

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



Dragonlance: 15th Anniversary Changes, Part II

Dragons of Spring Arc



Although Dragons of Triumph combines both parties back into one for the campaign’s climax, the Dragons of Spring arc has more or less been the adventure path’s low point in terms of plot. The saving of Silvanesti is the only major thing of consequence, and the following adventures’ revelations lack the dramatic impact of the Winter arc’s high points. The 15th Anniversary Edition is quite adamant in making the PCs partake of the Winter arc’s most climactic moments, although it’s possible for PCs to play a more or less straightforward “Spring” arc. The only major difference is that the revelations at Sanction are heavily encouraged even if the PCs do not partake in the Battle at the High Clerist’s Tower, while both the Silvanesti elves and the rebels in Khur encourage naval passage to western Ansalon as rewards to put the party on the Winter path.

Dragons of Dreams: Much of this module is similar to the 1st/3rd Edition, although there’s more lines of dialogue and character development for Alhana. She is initially a snooty, racist princess that can grate even on Silvanesti PCs, but over time learns to respect the party’s valor and can possibly fall in love with a male hero. Additionally, the means of freeing King Lorac from the Nightmare are pre-determined rather than being generated randomly: Alhana must deliver a killing blow to her own father. She will be horrified at the result of this prediction, trying to find other means, but will eventually accept this price but even then the PCs must be moral support in order to carry out the deed during the battle with Cyan Bloodbane.

The capital city of Silvanost has a super-creepy map made of screaming faces:



Since the dreamvisions of characters from the Winter arc can be very well encountered by PCs who first went with the knights, seeing visions of people like Silvara have much greater meaning rather than just for the players to go “oooh what are they doing here?”

Waylorn Wyvernsbane never makes an appearance in this version of the module.

There’s additional explanation in regards to Alhana’s burial of her father. It was his dying wish, but Silvanesti custom believes that only evil beings bury their dead. She conducts the ritual anyway, which horrifies some Silvanesti but they do not prevent this. He is buried underneath a dying tree, and there’s a rather touching post-adventure scene where Alhana talks to the PCs of the good things that her father did in life and gives a speech at his funeral. The dying tree under which Lorac is buried starts to bloom to life.

quote:

“My father gave his body to the land so that Silvanesti might begin to heal,” Alhana says. “Whatever his trespasses, he did what he did for Silvanesti, and now—”

The crowd of elves gasps collectively, and all of them point to the grave behind her. She turns, and as the assembled heroes and characters watch, a tree near Lorac’s grave suddenly begins to straighten itself. The gashes in its bark close, and its leaves return to the vibrant green color they once had. It sways in the gentle wind, a splendid contrast to the black desolation of the forest around it.

“It lives,” Alhana says to the assembled elves, a tear of joy trickling down her cheek.

DIVERGENCE: After freeing Silvanesti from the Dragon Orb’s nightmare, the PCs have several options. Alhana will give them a letter of writ to present to the leader of the Silvanesti elves in exile, along with various documents of what she learned about the Dragonarmies. Alternatively, they can carry a message to Serinda Elderwood, a sailor and member of the Khurish resistance movement in Port Balifor. Finally, the PCs may also be tasked by Alhana with making contact with Ladine in Palanthas to learn if her message in securing aid with the Empire of Ergoth was successful or not. If Ladine was the one to bring the PCs to Silvanesti, she would suggest traveling to meet the Solamnic Knights at Castle Eastwatch. Regardless of their intentions, Alhana will inform them that obtaining a ship in Flotsam is the surest means of sailing to western Ansalon.

Dragons of Faith: Hoo boy, this got a major cut. The naval travel around the Blood Sea and the underwater ruins of Istar are completely excised in favor of land bound adventures aiding local resistance movements against the Dragonarmies. Kronn and Serinda are not found on the open road or engaged in combat, but instead are performers at a local tavern; PCs who put in a good word from Alhana or some other notable anti-Dragonarmy figure will earn their trust. Otherwise the patrons may start a bar fight to protect their favorite singer.

This portion of the adventure is actually rather light on content and open-ended. Several suggestions are made for how PCs can help the resistance, such as breaking into Port Balifor’s safehouse and replacing the steel coins with magically-disguised copper ones to turn much of the soldiers against the Dragonarmy when they realize they’ve been ‘cheated.’ Ones which directly lead into other adventures involve breaking into a local Highmaster or Highlord’s office and finding sensitive intelligence. Said intelligence can point to an unnamed magical project conducted in Sanction, or the Dark Queen’s return through the portal in Neraka.

Sevil Draanim Reev, or “Verminaard Lives” backwards, has a greater role to play in this version of the Chronicles. He still harbors some loyalty to Takhisis and seeks to covertly sabotage the PCs’ efforts. He will even accompany them or track them down to Neraka in hopes of proving his loyalty to Takhisis and Ariakas. There’s a bit of conflicting interests, as the Silver Fox and his rebels prefer Lord Toede as Flotsam’s ruler due to his incompetence, but Verminaard loathes the hobgoblin and puts much of the blame of his plots in Thorbadin and Abanasinian on his shoulders. He thus wants to depose him, and if the PCs side with Verminaard on this issue they will earn the enmity of the rebels.

There’s no Berem or Green Gemstone Man in this adventure at all, so the whole Kitiara scrying upon him and chasing him across the sea does not happen here. In fact, it is possible that if the PCs get captured and enslaved by minotaurs on the Blood Sea, then Kitiara may secure their release provided that they swear allegiance to the Dragon Empire.

Oh yeah. There's a bit of a retcon in this section of chapters: Salah-Khan is rather new in his position of Green Dragon Highlord. His predecessor was executed for his failures during the Silvanesti Campaign, and said ex-Highlord's name and identity is never mentioned elsewhere in the book.

DIVERGENCE: If Feal-Thas was killed, then Toede is now the White Dragon Highlord. He will receive summons to attend the Dark Queen’s arrival in the Dragon Empire’s capital. If the PCs are disguised as Dragonarmy soldiers or ostensibly accepted Kitiara’s offer, then they may march with a column to Neraka. A more standard route may involve departing Flotsam by ship to head to Palanthas and thus connect with the Winter arc of adventures if not performed yet. During that time they can also make a stop in Kalaman which may be under Dragonarmy occupation if the Battle of the High Clerist’s Tower has not been successful or undertaken yet.

Dragons of Truth: Haha, this is just a single optional encounter for the PCs while they’re traveling in the heart of the Dragon Empire. It is not even a proper dungeon or fight: the PCs find a hidden temple and meet Fizban, who being Paladine in disguise does the normal “divine inspiration” speech and grants them their blessings. Just like the resolution in Silvanesti, this version of the Chronicles has a pre-set ending instead of one randomly determined: a PC must cross the portal into the Abyss while wielding a Dragonlance to prevent Takhisis from entering into the world and thus sacrifice their life while doing so.

But instead of focusing on a dungeon crawl, the section on Kalaman gets a much larger emphasis. In fact, its detail is clear in the inspiration for the 3rd Edition conversion. The chapter of Kalaman is mostly a city-based overview with two entries detailing it based on whether it is under Solamnic or Dragonarmy occupation. If the latter, there’s discussion of enemy troop positions and how the Whitestone forces and their dragon allies plan to retake the city.

There’s a new encounter based off of a scene from the books. In the novels, Kitiara kidnapped Laurana by pretending to have Tanis as a hostage and offered to release him in exchange for her second-in-command, Bakaris, who is a prisoner of war. In this optional encounter Kitiara may use either a fake or genuine hostage to get Laurana or a high-ranking NPC to attend a prisoner swap in a grove outside the city. It’s quite clearly a trap, one which the PCs can talk the commander out of potentially. Kitiara will have bozak draconians accompany her, but Lord Soth and her dragon mount Khellendros will be hiding on stand-by.

We also learn through an encounter that elf characters accompanying PCs disguised as Dragonarmy soldiers will be commanded to be taken under arrest as there are plans to enslave all of the demihuman races once Takhisis manifests in Krynn. I don’t know if by demihuman they mean all nonhumans or just the “good-aligned” PCs races like dwarves and gnomes, but if the former this seems really stupid considering the large amount of monsters working for the Dragonarmies. That’s just asking for a civil war!



Fun Fact: A fair amount of official artwork for Emperor Ariakas has him getting pwned by Tanis or another Hero of the Lance. It was even the cover of the 1st Edition Dragonlance Adventures sourcebook!

Dragons of Triumph: So there’s not as much stuff to report in terms of differences; there’s many similarities to the original module, save that instead of 6 random endings the one where a PC must sacrifice themselves is the default. I feel that this is the most dramatically appropriate: one, it is an ending which has a proper “final battle.” Two, it is not mandatory for an NPC like Fizban or Berem to be the decider of the fate of Krynn.

The major changes here are that there’s a small optional encounter where the PCs can learn of Ariakas’ son hidden beneath one of the churches, which is a clear cameo to the Dragons of Summer Flame and Fifth Age novels which were being published at the time. Additionally, it is possible that Kitiara may inform the PCs of Emperor Ariakas’ defenses if she believes that the PCs (Tanis especially) are sympathetic to her cause. Like in the novels he is protected by a series of defensive magics, and she informs the spellcasters in the party to prepare Dispel Magic spells for such an event.

Additionally, Sevil/Verminaard will attempt to get the PCs arrested and eventually show up during the final scene to dramatically reveal himself. Firestorm can also be encountered here, hoping to watch the carnage and kill Ariakas and a Highlord or two once the poo poo hits the fan. But will not be helpful to any plans the PCs might have or actually show up during the final battle. Firestorm still wants Takhisis to come into the world, but isn’t fond of the fact that the Dragon Emperor and Highlords are humanoids and not actual dragons. The adventure even has dialogue options if a PC flirts with Firestorm in her human form, which is...creepy, to say the least given my outline of her in Sanction.

The final battle which takes place in the big audience chamber is more scripted and has a build-up, with the PCs possibly in disguise and may or may not be accompanying Kitiara. Emperor Ariakas has six layers of unnamed abjuration spells which automatically block any attack or hostile effect made against him. They can be turned off with Dispel Magic or once they absorb six attacks.

There’s a scripted event where Verminaard will show up as a PC is about to strike Ariakas, dispel his abjurations, or take his Crown. Verminaard, with the aid of Kitiara’s second in command Ettel, will take Goldmoon/Elistan or a cleric PC hostage at knifepoint and dramatically reveal who he is. When combat does erupt, it is a very chaotic scene of events. Kitiara will be revealed as a traitor via Takhisis’ telepathy, and her and her Blue Dragonarmy forces (save Ettel) will fight against the others as well as Lord Soth. The Black and Green Dragon Highlords, Lucien and Salah-Khan, will try to prevent any PCs from approaching the portal, while Toede if Highlord will cower behind cover. If Feal-Thas is still White Dragon Highlord, he will attack any elf characters present regardless of the situation; his hatred against his own race is such that he’ll continue doing this even if the portal’s disabled and the entire temple starts collapsing. Lord Soth will seek to kill Kitiara and claim her soul.

Another scripted event will occur once Ariakas dies: Kitiara will seize his Crown of Power and force all present to bow down to her. Each PC has 2 opportunities to make a successful saving throw to avoid mental domination, although Lord Soth may inadvertently save them as he comes for her, at which point she’ll plead for Tanis or another appropriate PC (such as Caramon or Raistlin) to either save her or kill her before Soth does to spare her an eternity of torment.

A Dragonlance-wielding PC must make 2 checks: a saving throw vs death magic to overcome the portal’s enchantments, and then a Strength check to push through the extraplanar membrane separating Krynn from the Abyss.

If the PCs fail in keeping out Takhisis, then Verminaard if still alive will become her chosen and instantly become a 25th-level Cleric, while Kitiara and all of her loyalists will burst into flames and die. Her five dragon consorts accompany her through said portal and eventually take control of each chromatic clan. The metallic dragons will be slaughtered down to the last, and all of Ansalon and eventually all of Krynn will be united under the Dragon Empire.

If the Dragonlance-wielding PC successfully passes through the portal, they will vanish along with the portal, and the Temple of Neraka will violently crumble and eventually explode. Surviving party members who make it out will have one final scene where Fizban congratulates them on a job well done.

quote:

Finally, six hours after the Queen was forced back, as the first rays of dawn fall upon Neraka, the Temple of Takhisis explodes.Moments before the explosion, Fizban appears seemingly out of nowhere, next to the heroes. “That was something, wasn’t it?” he says. “Nothing says ‘welcome to a brighter day’ like thwarting the plans of an Evil goddess.”

Whatever reaction the party has to his appearance, he says, “You have all fulfilled the part you had to play in this drama. I set the stage, but you wrote the script and performed it brilliantly. You have restored the balance to Krynn. The pendulum once again swings freely.” He tips his hat at the party. “We will meet again,my friends. Same reality, different story. Same story, different reality.We will meet again.”

The Temple explodes, casting flaming shards high into the air and causing even the bravest hero to reflexively duck.When they straighten themselves, Fizban has vanished again. But, overhead, the black gap that opened in the sky as the heroes fled Solace has closed: Paladine and Takhisis have returned to the heavens above Krynn where they once again watch each other warily, one always vigilantly keeping the other from gaining too much power in the mortal world.

That more or less concludes the 15th Anniversary Edition, and thus my final piece of addendums to PurpleXVI’s review of the original DL Series. I have to give mad respect to the writers for this version. They made the original adventure much less railroady and made it more open world. There are some cases where this isn’t ideal, notably 2nd Edition’s “you must be this level to play” which can screw up encounters if the PCs end up advancing too quickly. It is theoretically possible to skip over large portions of adventures and end up in Neraka without experiencing the most iconic moments of the modules. But all in all, it’s a drat shame that this version has not gotten enough publicity. Released in 1999, it would soon become obsolete in a mere year when 3rd Edition D&D hit store shelves. The 2006 conversion of the modules by Sovereign Press/Margaret Weis Productions are more faithful to the 1984 series than this one. But even then, some events, encounters, and NPCs have been borrowed from this for the D20 variant, which I do appreciate.

This is also going to be the final thing I write about Dragonlance in quite some time. Now I do need to get on that Al-Qadim review...

PS One thing I found neat was that in the write-up of the Taman Busuk/Neraka region, it mentioned that most of the human and hobgoblin tribes largely lived relatively peaceful lives as herders even if many of them are joining the Dragonarmies. Although the ogres are still crazed cannibals, I was reminded in the 3rd Edition conversion of the hobgoblin farmhand and the War of the Lance sourcebook detailing the goblin nation of Sikket'Hul living on good terms with neighboring kender and Ergothians. It's a rather nice juxtaposition of Dragonlance's evolution, where a lot of the evil/monstrous races are shown in later products to be capable of having non-oppressive societies rather than being that way innately.

Libertad! fucked around with this message at 09:03 on Feb 5, 2020

Aoi
Sep 12, 2017

Perpetually a Pain.


Libertad! posted:



“Umm Tanis, I don’t think we should trade Ansalon’s freedom for some lip and tongue action…”

Alternately: "Hey, sis, long time no see, but...priorities?"

(also, credit to this artist, this may be the only piece of art I've ever seen where Caramon and Raistlin actually look like twins)

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!


Goddamn, that dream-map of Silvanesti looks like a goddamn Doom 2 between-levels map.

Speaking of which, jumping into Hell to keep demons at bay forever also has a very Doom feel to it. It truly is the most metal option.

FoldableHuman
Mar 26, 2017



My favourite part of DLE1 is that it has that off-brand chaos, like it's just random generic D&D stuff with a couple Dragonlance elements present, that's a hallmark of a lot of Dragonlance products from '87-90.

Like, this is the same year that gave us Brothers Majere, the book where Caramon and Raistlin get into a shootout with cat demons armed with laser guns.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


Maybe I'm just drunk, but saving Thyron Nd seeing dragon city not pay off immediately is super disappointing

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!


FoldableHuman posted:

Like, this is the same year that gave us Brothers Majere, the book where Caramon and Raistlin get into a shootout with cat demons armed with laser guns.

Hold up, I'm going to need to know more about this.

FoldableHuman
Mar 26, 2017



PurpleXVI posted:

Hold up, I'm going to need to know more about this.

The Brothers Majere posted:

Lady Masak placed the cup of tea onto its saucer and reached under the table, pulling out a triangular roll of cloth, black and worn with age. Unfolding the wrap, she lifted a wand from its coverings, balancing the object with a finger. One end of it bent down from the line of its construction and was covered with sigla burned into the dark wood. The other end was surrounded by a band of metal, seamless and perfect—a ring that left the tip exposed, revealing a deep, circular gouge.

The Brothers Majere posted:

The woman raised the wand, pointed the metal-shod tip toward the portal, and concentrated. A bright red beam flashed out from the gouge, struck the door, and disintegrated the wood, sending smoke and dust through the air in a choking cloud.

They're called wands, but they don't require magical talent to use, are distributed en masse to a military, are shaped like a flintlock pistol, and shoot red beams.

four years before the War of the Lance Raistlin and Caramon thwarted Takhisis' plan to enter Krynn through a portal in a magical cat city that exists in both Krynn and the Abyss. They meet the demigod of cats, a black cat-man named Bast.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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





I'm just going to assume that Caramon and Raistlin are unable to identify the gender of cats.

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


Mors Rattus posted:



I'm just going to assume that Caramon and Raistlin are unable to identify the gender of cats.

Raistlin, maybe. But you'd think Caramon knows what boobs are.

FoldableHuman
Mar 26, 2017



Brothers Majere posted:

The second story, which I have titled “Brothers Majere,” is interesting for a number of reasons, particularly for the account of the mysterious and fascinating personage met by the twins. As you know, there has been considerable discussion among the scholars of the land concerning this “demi-god.” Is he real, or is he merely a creature of legend and myth? I remember discussing the subject with Raistlin, and I wondered at the time at the Shalifi’s knowing smile. True to form, he never told me that he knew, firsthand, the truth about “Bast.”

That Raistlin was interested in Bast himself is best indicated by the fact that he went out of his way to collect other tales concerning the dark-skinned “thief.” These can be forwarded to you when I have time to break the spells guarding them.

Edit: a detail hidden in Brothers Majere is that Takhisis' plan to enter Krynn through the cat portal is contingent on killing all the cats on Krynn. Since she is nearly successful, and this plan just about came to fruition only a few years before the war started up good and proper, presumably during the decade spent building up Neraka, Ariakas had a weekend task of going out and killing any cats he could find.

FoldableHuman fucked around with this message at 00:17 on Feb 6, 2020

Everyone
Sep 6, 2019


FoldableHuman posted:

Edit: a detail hidden in Brothers Majere is that Takhisis' plan to enter Krynn through the cat portal is contingent on killing all the cats on Krynn. Since she is nearly successful, and this plan just about came to fruition only a few years before the war started up good and proper, presumably during the decade spent building up Neraka, Ariakas had a weekend task of going out and killing any cats he could find.

Huh. Okay, if I ever run the DL series, I think I'll make Ariakas's death happen this way.

Moldless Bread
Jul 10, 2019


The Dark Eye 4.0

Character Creation

Character Creation in TDE is an 11-step Process.

TDE likes to call itself a free (classless) character generation, so we get a certain amount of Generation Points that we use to buy our characters basic building blocks (Race, Culture and Profession), our stats, advantages and feats.

The standard amount of Generation Points we get are 110 GP. This amount represents a character that is above the average NPC of the setting.
An Expert Rule allows the GM to decide on a different amount of GP to represent heroic or more experienced characters (up to 140) or lower the amount down to 90 to represent rookie heroes or adolescents. Those changes come with altered stat caps.
Obviously, all characters in group should be built with the same amount of GP.

So, those 110 GP? Are perfectly fine if the race/culture/profession/social status combo comes out around 20 GP or lower. Anything above that (including popular classes like professional fighters, wizards, priests and everything dwarvish and elvish) risk ending up with either crippled stats or are drowning in a sea of disadvantages that are used to pay off the negative GP. I personally like to start with 130 GP so those evergreens can be played normally while the cheaper characters get to take some of the more impactful advantages.

Anyway, the first step is the character concept. Some praise right up front, there are tables listing the building blocks, dis-/advantages, feats and abbreviated advancement table scattered around the character generation section, including GP costs and page references, so if you already have an Idea of what you want to play you don’t need to flip through the whole book.
And it’s the first step and we’re already referred to the ‘You can play that (but please don’t)’ chapter if we want to play a character out of the aventurian ordinary.
(That’s not what the chapter is actually called, but it kinda feels that way. It’s basically an essay about the difficulties some characters face in the official, phantastic realistic Aventuria)

Second step, there’s race. Pick one of the eight mechanically distinct human races, Dwarves, (Half-)Orcs, Goblins or Achaz (Lizardmen).
(Half-)Elves are options as well, but it turns out due to their innate magic they have been shuffled off to the magic box. I did not realize that (the elven sample character on the books cover is even called a huntress. Huh.). (Half-)Orcs, Goblins and Achaz refer us to the ‘You can play that (but please don’t)’ chapter.
Races are most likely to provide stat changes and include pretty significant modifiers for Hitpoints, Stamina and Magic resistance.


Choosing a culture the character grew up in is the Third step.
I legit like the culture step. I give the writers props for not making the races monocultural and recognizing some cultures as melting pots of different heritages.
Still, every Race has an list for usual and possible cultures, but the text allows us to diverge from those if we are experienced roleplayers and the GM allows us to. Because it’s incredible difficult to play a guy named Khalid when he’s blonde and a bit larger than his peers.
Mechanically, cultures contribute not as much to a character as race and profession do, but serve as a good guide for our characters outlook.

As the fourth step, we choose our profession, to represent what our character has learned so far in his life. Professions give out the most skill points and are a big part of the characters starting makeup.
They are also the point where the games classless claim wobbles a bit. GP are not granular enough to raise skills, so you cannot build a character completely from scratch, and leaving out a professions big (discounted) skill package would leave a starting character with a pitifully low skill array.
So if you have a certain character concept in mind that doesn’t really fit with the existing professions, you need to pick the one closest to your concept and work from there or straight up build a custom profession with the expert rules later.
Also, some character defining advantages (Academic Warrior, Academic Sage, Full Casters and Demi Casters) are technically hardcoded into professions and cannot be taken on their own, but that is easy enough to houserule.

Fifth step: Buying stats. The characters eight Stats (Courage, Cleverness, Charisma, Intuition, COnstitution, Agility, Fleetness (Manual Dex), and Physical Power (Strength)) can be bought 1:1 with GP. They all have to end up between 8 and 14 before modifiers.
We spend 100 GP on our stats - well, up to 100 GP, but since stats are incredible expensive to raise in play and the starting values determine the stat caps, we really want to spend all possible points here.
We also buy our SOcial status 1:1. Every profession has a SO requirement, and we have to buy the minimum for our job, which can be quite painful if you forgot to add that cost to the more prestigious professions when planning the character.
4.1, incidentally, gave every profession it’s minimum SO for free and folded those into the professions cost. Due to the way a professions cost get calculated, that made the highborn professions quite a bit cheaper.

Sixth step: Dis-/Advantages. You know the drill, buy merits and flaws until your GP amount to 0. You can earn a maximum of 50 GP with disadvantages, 30 of which can come from Bad Attributes (Character flaws running on a 5-12 scale that can get checked just like the normal stats can, like Violent Temper, Fear of heights or Curiousity). The automatic dis-/advantages baked into some professions do not count toward that limit.
If a combination would give an advantage twice, it either increases the advantage to the next step, or recoups half the cost of the advantage in GP. This can lead to some shenanigans if you’re a serious optimizer.
Finally there is an appeal to the players sense of narrative to not go overboard with disadvantages, because a character riddled with physical and mental flaws becomes somewhat silly and hard to play. But again, some of the higher cost characters kinda have to or they’re not even being able to buy their basics.

Step 6a: After the two pages Social Status rules we resume to buy feats, just like we would buy Advantages. All feats are listed here with their GP costs, which turns out to be 1 GP for 50 AP. This is the second of at least three exchange rates between AP and GP…

Seventh step: Skills. We add all the skill bonuses from our race, our culture and our profession(s) together to get the skill array of our character. After that, we get some Skill Generation Points (which might as well just be AP…) to raise our skills further or buy new ones (And yes, we’re ignoring the optional rules about learning methods here.) We have an amount of (CL+IN)*20 SGP to spend at once using the non-intuitive advancement table. I suggest a spreadsheet.
If the character has spells, they are raised here as well, using the same Pool of SGP.

Step 7a: Starting Age. Haha, I had completely forgotten about this.
So, we can pick or roll the starting age of our character, but the ranges are pretty low. Half of the human characters start between ages 16 to 18, the others even between 15 to 17.
Some Professions take longer and can push the age potentially up to the ancient age of 27, past that we’re referred to the ‘You can play that (but please don’t)’ chapter (Although I think that’s actually about old characters).
Sure you can Rule zero that, but it’s not explicitly called out as optional, so by RAW, I guess your character is a teenager.


Picture actually unrelated, as we are advised against even younger Heroes.
... You know, there used be a TDE hack specifically for playing as children and tweens. The rules were, of course overcomplicated and clunky, but the art and writing were adorable.


Step 8: Derived Stats. Calculate Hit points, Stamina, Basic Attack, Basic Parry, Basic Ranged Attack and Magic Resistance. Each stat is calculated by 3 Stats, divided by X, and has modifiers added.

Step 9 : Combat Stats. We have our combat skills and know our Basic Attack and Basic Parry, so we can distribute our combat stats.
Pick a combat skill, split the rank into two numbers, difference no greater than 5, and add one to the Basic Attack, the other to the Basic Parry to calculate our Attack and Parry values with this weapon class. This decision is final, we only add additional points when we raise our combat skill.
Repeat for all other combat skills we have at least one rank in.

Step 10: Shopping! Every Profession has a short equipment list our character gets, that usually involves the most important items (Clothing, travel pack, simple weapon…). Still, we get (SO*SO*SO) Copper pieces and are encouraged to spend half of it on additional equipment. The difference between a lowborn and a noble character is immense, but even High-SO characters have trouble affording armor or another weapon let alone anything magical, so I guess it’s balanced?
If we bought the Special Possession advantage we now can add our horse/masterwork weapon/portable writing desk to the character sheet as well.

Step 11: Last touches. Name the hero, Imagine his personality, answer the 20 Questions. We’re done.

Step 12: Go play! Now! That’s why I said there were only 11 Steps.

So, creating a character in TDE is not complicated, but it is busywork. Keeping track of your GP as you choose the building blocks, write down all the skill bonuses, stat changes, feats and dis-/advantages, balance all your Stats within limit of 100 points, juggle the flaws and merits. Then generate your AP Skill GP and buy up your skills with the advancement table. Pull out a calculator to determine your derived stats. And just when you think you’re done, you’re going over the item list to spend the half of the starting money.
And I guarantee, you forgot to buy or raise a skill that was important for your characters personality, so go back and recalculate!

Creating a character takes time, a lot of notes, and is best done outside of the actual gaming session. And for a system that sees itself as newbie friendly, it it definitely not something you can teach easily, or do without books.
And if you didn’t write out a proper backstory, the GM will be very disappointed and start to question your commitment to the hobby
(And no, there aren’t any Fate-points or a similar mechanic to avoid a certain death anywhere in the box, so after some unlucky rolls you’re all over this again. At the least the book is upfront that you can just give a Character X AP to have them catch up to the other characters).

I have created a character by hand exactly once, when I started the game back in 2002. Since then, my group and I have made regular use of the various character creators that popped up around the net. In fact, I’m going out on a limb here and claim people creating TDE 4.X Characters by hand are a huge minority, no matter how groggy their groups might be otherwise.

But for this review, I’m going to create a sample character by hand, for old times sake.

Does anyone have a character concept they want to see? Don’t feel limited by the cultures and professions I brought up so far, I’m kind of curious how resilient the system is when somebody just comes up with a concept without having the Aventurian baggage in their mind.

Besides, having to decide if you try to hammer a square peg into a round hole or tell the bright-eyed newbie that his concept just doesn’t fit into Aventuria is part of the TDE experience, really.


---

Culture Corner

The Amazon Castle culture is pretty small and consists only of the inhabitants of the last two remaining castles hidden away in the mountains. The castles resemble half a religious order, half the barracks of a cavalry unit, as they are devout followers of Rondra, seeing themselves as her chosen people. Their entire culture revolves around proving themselves worthy to the honorable and undaunted goddess of war.
The Amazons are women only, men are not welcome on the castles and any son born to an Amazon is given away to be raised by a nearby peasant or traveller as soon as possible.
Every girl raised in the castles gets taught the basics of fighting and riding, and most end up serving in the cavalry armies or as craftswomen in direct support of the warriors. The the traveling (read: PC) Amazon is an exception.
Travelers are either exiles, seeking to regain their honor and being allowed back, one of the survivors of the castles conquered or destroyed in Borbarads Invasion, or on the quest to find a men that is acceptable enough in the eyes of the goddess to (hopefully) sire a daughter. Even when traveling, they are easily recognizable by their distinctive armor (that’s a pretty good choice for a mobile fighter, rules wise).
Amazons are a rather pricey culture, but they get a free point in Constitution, counterbalanced by the automatic Bad Attributes Arrogance and Prejudice against men. They also get a very good bonus to the Bows or Javelins skills, as well as Physical control, Self Control and Riding, as well as several +2s in other combat skills, but a penalty to Streetwise.
Notably, most cultures until now allowed all or almost all Professions, but Amazons have limited choices: Amazon warriors, Priests of Rondra, Healers, Animal Tamers specialized on Horses, Blacksmiths, Carpenters and Leatherworkers.


No two Artists can agree on how revealing the Amazon armor actually is. The one seen here, with the gorget giving at least some protection above the bustline seems to be the most common interpretation, though.

Profession Parade

Members of a military Order aren’t actually in this book. This entry is just here to tell us that they exist and direct us to the not-yet-published Aventurian servants of the gods.
Most churches have their own military orders, and so most priests presented in the Gods and Demons Box have an unordained, martial variant we can choose, ranging from Praios’ Knights of the Banishing Ray (BURN THE WITCH!!!), to Borons Golgarites (grim undead hunters who fight their prey in total silence), to the Goose Knights (protecting the sacred hospitality of roadside Inns, helpful peasants and Travias Temples).
Personally I would have given a generic Profession focused on a combat and the Gods and Cults skill, but whatever.
Weirdly, Path of Heroes, the 4.1 character generation hardcover, compiled all published professions, including the clerical professions, yet they still included the little military order blurb in the combat professions. I guess they didn’t want to waste the picture…?


Spell selection

Eye of Limbo opens up swirling maelstrom that acts as a one way portal to the featureless connective tissue between the planes. Everything at the center gets hurled into the limbo right away, people outside of the center have to make a compared check of Physical Power to not get drawn to the center. The maelstroms PP depends on the Astral points the caster spent casting the spell, which is random. Well, 3d6 random, plus 3 points/meter for each increase of the centers diameter, but there’s no mention of how big the center ends up being. I guess the caster can choose it freely, but its not clear.
Anyway, floating around in limbo is very deadly very quickly for non-casters, and casters are safe for some time but probably don’t have a way to go back, so this isn’t really a spell you want to use on your players. The variant that hurls it’s victims straight into the Nether Hells is probably more playable. At least there’s stuff to do there.
The spell is incredible rare to begin with, and doesn’t get taught anymore after several ‘very regrettable accidents’.

Auroleus Golden sheen is an illusion spell that makes an object appear to be golden for a few hours. That’s it. It’s mostly used by court wizards to spruce up their lords audience hall or fairground illusionists showing off, although it is possible to run a con with your new golden figurine.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


The whole 'starting age of 16' kind of thing can get weird in some of these fantasy settings. Like when I was playing an 8 year veteran of the knightly circuit who was trying to act like an old veteran at the age of 24 back in Warhams.

I'm also reminded of how Hams 1e had the ideal PC starting age as 30 because it got you the most bonus skills without any drawbacks.

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!


The Goose Knights just sound like a heavily armed pub crawl.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


PurpleXVI posted:

The Goose Knights just sound like a heavily armed pub crawl.

That's the Knights of St. Benefarias, over on the North Docks.

Gun Jam
Apr 11, 2015


Moldless Bread posted:

We spend 100 GP on our stats - well, up to 100 GP, but since stats are incredible expensive to raise in play and the starting values determine the stat caps, we really want to spend all possible points here.
Does different point-buy for chargen and advancement works here, or it screws these who ain't experts in the system?

Moldless Bread posted:

Does anyone have a character concept they want to see? Don’t feel limited by the cultures and professions I brought up so far, I’m kind of curious how resilient the system is when somebody just comes up with a concept without having the Aventurian baggage in their mind.

A mercenary, who uses air magic to aid their martial skills.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Night10194 posted:

That's the Knights of St. Benefarias, over on the North Docks.

Legally permitted to carry a large edged weapon, to the annoyance of law enforcement.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

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


I want an Orc from Andergast and Nostria who is a wizard.

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I like the idea of a wizard con artist.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





PurpleXVI posted:





Oh and they get this art that looks uncomfortably like a Jewish caricature to me, but maybe I'm just being overly sensitive.



I actually know this piece of art! I think. It's reused from from the Lanhkmar sourcebook for AD&D as a portrait of Hristomilo from Ill Met in Lankhmar. While not disagreeing with you about how gross the possible (probable) anti-Semitic representation is, that's how he's described in the short story. Really weird that that came up in Dragonlance of all places. Unless it was the other way around? I'm too lazy to look up the publication history but I remember that picture from when I was a kid in the Lankhmar sourcebook cause I had a mis-placed youth and I discovered used book stores before I discovered girls and booze.

Also, Libertad!, I'm too lazy/busy/depressed to do full F&F's (hello my sad Torchbearer review), but I'm a pretty decent cook and would be happy to combine to do something on The Leaves of the Inn of the Last Home. I have the old one too so we could contrast. Although from what I remember the recipes are pretty drat sad. Like, Otik's famed "spiced potatoes" are basically just roasted potatoes with some rosemary or whatever. These amazing potatoes that the books will not shut up about are basically the most lame, white-bread attempts at doing something culinary where I wonder if the authors thought salt and black pepper were sinful. But it'd be short enough we could some kind of GWS/TG cross-over type dealy.

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!


Xiahou Dun posted:

But it'd be short enough we could some kind of GWS/TG cross-over type dealy.

I'd be real hype for this sort of content, not gonna lie, it's basically the perfect crossover between my hobbies of being fat and being fat with dice.

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





I'll look over my old copy and see how crazy the stuff is, and if Libertad! is willing to send me some recipes I'd probably be okay with doing that too.

(Barring anything seriously dumb like making me buy 15 squabs or whatever in which case you'll just get opinions on the recipe cause I live in a household that would never eat that.)

Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





O god I pulled out the book and these recipes are hilarious. Like, an incredibly sad chili that warns you it's gonna explode your tongue with two teaspoons of chili-flakes and nothing else, not even garlic.

And it keeps trying to be "medieval" but assumes things like bullion cubes even though it's written diagetically.

O and I'm sorry, I mis-remembered and the potatoes have "1 to 2 dashes of cayenne".

From a skim it is the most boring food that really suck at cooking so it would be mostly be me dunking on some random Midwesterners from thinking mayonnaise is a spice. Which I am very down to to if there's an audience.

They spent hundreds of words on how good those potatoes are, but the actual recipe is basically "make it in the same room as a spice rack and sometimes look at it longingly like your Mormon god hadn't forbid flavors".

If i do this the current draft would be some kind of Binging with Babish style thing where I mock the recipe and then fix it and post pics. Although skipping anything obvious cause you don't need me to teach you to make chili. It's chili.

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!


lol "spicy" potatoes indeed.

Hell yeah I'd be down for this.

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Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





The actual version would *makes something up as he's typing* harissa potatoes au-gratin with garlic and lemon, possibly then tossed in a cast iron pan or put under a broiler with some rosemary olive-oil to get crispy but I'm making this recipe up as I'm typing. And I still think it's better.

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