Interlude

TL;DR version after the Fortress of Despair. The formatting of this post is a little weird because I’ve lost patience with the paragraph/address switching and my surface’s autocorrect is slightly to the right of Church Lady when it comes to sweary words.

I had a ton of fun playing Talisman, what with Noe being in the weird position of knowing all the rules and no-one (me) believing her, the auto-erotic orienteering Druid (“I don’t know where I am,… but I’m almost there!”) and basically a whole night of table trash talk without having to keep a record of anything.

 

We have a good chunk of the current module to go (both on length and quality) and then… I’m not sure. I was drawn to this Adventure Path because the first module, Faffing Around On An Island, is the kind of game I like to play. The second module is close to the type of game I like to run. The third module, unfortunately, is the type of game I like to play on XBox.

The third module (I don’t think I’m giving too much away here) involves a city and the exploration thereof, which makes it quite similar to the last portion of the Rise of The Runelords. Not the same; I think it would be more interesting because rather than tying up a campaign, it provides some springboards for the rest of the campaign. It’s just that ‘loosely structured, setting based adventuring’ isn’t my bag at all. Again, the city and its descriptions are cool, but I don’t buy (indignant customer voice) authored modules to open them and read “it would be pretty cool if something like this happened, in this cool place, right? Yeah, you figure it out.” There isn’t a right way and a wrong way to play D&D, both sandbox and railroad area fine ways to play the game, but for adventure paths (it’s there in the name, for fuck’s sake) I think there should be more direction that set design. There are other types of books produced by Paizo that do set design wonderfully well. But I think an AP should show me the author’s storytelling ability and the good ones I’ve read so far have.
 
So I don’t know what to do about the third installment. One lengthy fix for me is to take all the mechanical things that have to happen – encounters, gear drops, clues, setups for future encounters – and write them into a new setting. Basically dungeonize the story into something more structured, and more easily run, with clear goals for the players, who, I think they’d concede, are not the greatest notetakers in the world. That would get over the hurdle that would stop me from finishing the campaign. But Christ, that’s exactly why I tried to stick to APs so that I wouldn’t have to try to write anything.
 
That seems like a bunch of work and I’m not terribly motivated to do that. Not just now anyway. So I’ve been scanning the horizon for other possibilities.
 
There is a delightful series of stand alone modules that can be linked together easily that are really old school D&D setups: really classic feeling core-of-the game adventures. Those could be done in sequence or I could just pull whatever level appropriate modules I thought looked cool.

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There is a new AP that looks good, set in not-Egypt, concerning a necropolis and maybe magic pyramids. The free downloadable Player’s Guide is here. One benefit of the AP that shouldn’t be ignored is that if someone misses 3 weeks, not that much of the overall story has actually been missed. Miss 3 weeks of a module and you’ll wonder what the fuck is going on, briefly.

And then, lurking in the distance… The Emerald Spire Superdungeon. Here’s the blurb:

A hardcover 16-level mega-dungeon designed for characters level 1–13.

Discover the ancient secrets of the Emerald Spire, a gigantic dungeon brimming with incredible danger and phenomenal mysteries! With 16 levels designed by a who’s-who of gaming legends—including best-selling author Ed Greenwood, gaming icon Frank Mentzer, and Paizo’s most prominent veterans—the Emerald Spire takes players on a deadly delve into the depths of this mysterious dungeon, its ancient levels each impaled by a mysterious green crystal. Starting at 1st level, novice adventures will rise from facing goblins and deadly traps to high-level battles with the clockwork soldiers of a lost empire and even a forgotten master of creation. Designed to be a complete dungeon-delving campaign, Pathfinder Module: The Emerald Spire Superdungeon features seven new monsters, a detailed description of the nearby settlement of Fort Inevitable, and the history of the Spire and the surrounding territory…

The superdungeon is actually everything I want from a Pathfinder module to run. It has a door at the front, a finite number of rooms, a sense of ever present danger and a decent theme running through each level. You know when you are done, because you have a door leading down and everything on your side of it that isn’t you is dead. You can expect fights and loot and traps and problems behind every door you open. And what’s better is that when you get good writers on that stuff, you end up with good stories running through this series of connected rooms and passageways.

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In summary, TL;DR: I’m putting Serpent’s Skull on ice once we complete the second module. It isn’t done or written off, I might get around to dungeonizing it. Anyway, the way I see it, we have a couple of different options. I’D BE INTERESTED IN FEEDBACK as all of these seem interesting to me, to various degrees.

A) We kill time with beer and pretzels, maybe the occasional stand-alone module while I dungeonize SS#3.

B) We play whatever standalone modules I think would be good for the foreseeable future.

C) We start playing the Mummy’s Mask AP.

D) We play the Emerald Spire Superdungeon when it gets released at the end of June.

E) CURVEBALL. When 5th edition D&D gets released, we pick up some 4th edition stuff for cheap and give it a test.

Although I’m a fan of Beer and Pretzels and have a basement full of unplayed games, Thursday Night Is Pathfinder/Fresh Wok/Dick Jokes At David’s House is a formula with which I am reluctant to fuck… for a start, it works and further is a simple reliable thing I look forward to throughout the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments on “Interlude

  1. Here are my thoughts:

    First and foremost as a parent and failed high school DM I’m down with whatever helps you keep your sanity in the trying months ahead. That includes saying fuck it and chucking stuff if it is making your life suck.

    Second, I really like the first book of Serpent’s Skull. I’m a little frustrated with the second one. It feels a bit like we’re pawns in someone else’s great game. Why do the Pathfinder’s need us to trail blaze if they’ve already got Nekechi and what’s his face that we’re supposed to meet at the Shrunken Head who’s already been to Tazian? Why can’t I just hang out with Eero and then ride a cart to Tazian to watch the smart PCs decipher stuff? If the next books require a bunch of time, which you’ll be short on, then I’m fine with it shortly reaching the inevitable conclusion of TPK from a chain of back stabs.

    Mummy’s Mask seems awesome and is the most interesting, to me, of Paizo’s adventure paths. Jade Regent seems fun if you’re not bored by FantASIA. Really they all seem fun to me except Iron Gods which I don’t think is even released yet. Basically I’m down for whatever.

    Emerald Spire seems okay but I like a balance of roll/role play and I’d wonder about that with a super dungeon.

    4th edition doesn’t interest me much but I didn’t move to Canada when Bush got elected so…

  2. SUPERDUNGEON.

    Besides being my favorite new word, I like the idea of a long excursion into dungeon adventuring.

    The Mummy’s Mask looks like fun, too.

    D&D 4th edition isn’t exactly something I’m champing at the bit to try, that being said I don’t think there is a version of D&D I wouldn’t try. I mean, I may prefer Popeye’s to KFC, but I love fried chicken so much I can overlook not getting my preference.

    Oh, and can I just say Jakeeno’s has really broken my heart. Their little wings are good, but damn, those jumbo wings was the stuff of legend.

  3. If it helps get a grasp on why the Pathfinders and the other factions wanted you to trailblaze, the salt mine is a good example: a team of competent, talented adventurers shaved 3 days off the Pathfinder Society journey, giving them a massive Headstart when/if they get to Saventh Yhi. Think of the party as the cattle catcher on the front of the train. They needed people who can solve hard problems and kick ass at the same time, i.e. they needed a party of adventurers.

    I suspect the Superdungeon will have more roleplay than one might typically expect of a dungeon. The reason they brought in the brightest writers from their stable (and some outsiders) was to really let them go to town making creative levels. Yet there is a story that threads through the whole dungeon. I’ll reserve judgment until I read it, but I’m optimistic. If it doesn’t, many members of this group seem to work well when they have their characters have a distinct agenda.

  4. Man, when you download the new Pathfinder PDFs they give you a 5 page booklet of all the maps, with GM controls that allow you to hide the room numbers and notes. A simple addition, but really useful.

  5. Going old school is intriguing. I am down for whatever makes you happy. I do like the idea of being able to come back after a few weeks without much penalty, there is a period here where Ben and I both might be out or we might have to trade off, which sucks. I’m not so interested in board games each week.

  6. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m more interested in trying 5th than I am playing 4th. The 4th edition requires like 6 books to play instead of one so for one it’s a big money grab. I have their PDFs, I’ve read them, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise I’m fine with all of the ideas above.

    I’d like to add a few possibilities to our list too.

    I could run a random-table based low-level sandbox campaign. I have about 4mb worth of random tables in an offline web app on my phone that I’ve been working on for a few years, so it would be a very big sandbox. I’m working on a blog post to describe the tool, since I think it will actually drive some traffic to our site and maybe someone will click on that ad.

    Alternately, if we want structure, we could do pathfinder society adventures. We don’t have to run them officially, but there are a ton of solo-modules, and it could fit our current backstabby profile. There’s not a lot to running those so I’m pretty sure any one of us could GM that. I have a couple hundred of those society adventures.

    We could run a blend of the two as well.

  7. At $50 a 5e book for PH, DMG, MM I’m not going to get invested in that. The starter kit they release might be alright though, as these things go.

    Running Pathfinder Society modules is an excellent idea as they’re designed for 4 hour sittings (so two weeks of our play) and often have threads that run throughout the season for those that want something more narrative focused. A lot of the structure of the PFS stuff assumes that when you are dead, your night is done, see you next week. All the rewards and risks are based on that, as far as I can tell. But in general to add variety to modules, I think PFS is a great possibility.

    That said, I have no interest in playing a module anyone other than the GM has read. A little Pierce Hawthorne goes a long way in ruining everyone else’s night.

  8. I don’t think I have a preference beyond not fucking with 4E. You know I’ll try anything, but that’s probably the thing I’m least interested in.

    Superdungeon sounds fun and very straightforward.

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