DDAL running DDAL5 as a home campaign; also, getting players to a desert oasis
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  1. #1
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    running DDAL5 as a home campaign; also, getting players to a desert oasis

    So I've decided to run the tier 1 DDAL5 modules as a mini-campaign for a group of new players. I've been doing some prep and considering a couple of ideas:

    1. The Black Road says it's optimized for 5 3rd-level characters. Since this will be an inexperienced group, I want to start them at level 1. So I've been considering a good intro adventure or 2 to get them up to level 3.

    This also leads into #2:

    2. How do I get the players to an oasis in the middle of a harsh desert?

    The Black Road starts in an oasis in the Anauroch Desert in FR. I don't want to simply plop them in the oasis out of the blue and kick off the campaign. I feel that might be a bit jarring to new players expecting a tavern in a small village next to a forest.

    So any ideas for getting the players to an oasis in the desert that makes sense, and at the same time, getting a few levels under the belt? Note that I'm not interested in staying true to FR at all.

    I'm considering running The Sunless Citadel. It's easy enough to place anywhere. To get the players to the oasis, I would have the Hucreles give the players the task of delivering something to the oasis (maybe one of the apples). Or a member of the Harpers takes notice of the party's deeds and tasks them with the journey to the oasis for some reason.

    Any other ideas?

  2. #2
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    You all meet at a tavern …
    One guy in the corner is talking to the local 'gossips' - not the old biddies, but the barber, a blacksmith, the owner of the General Store - telling them that he is hiring caravan guards w/ no experience needed.

    This gives the PCs a chance to get in some fights with monsters, explore a bit, social interaction (with the boss and the 'other shift') and have a backstop for the plot: if the PCs blow a scenario, the experts step in and save the day. Give them XP for overcoming natural challenges like sandstorms and finding water; let the players narrate and describe what they do to protect the caravan's equipment and the goods. They can be L3 when the caravan arrives at the oasis.
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  3. #3
    You have identified the big, gaping plot hole in The Black Road—one I have rarely seen mentioned when the Black Road is discussed. The desert is dangerous to cross, the trip from the oasis to the goal point is supposed to introduce them to the challenges of traveling in the desert, and yet somehow they got through the desert to get to the Oasis in the first place.

    I ran the entire first tier of season 5 a couple of years ago. What I did was have the quest giver (the Seer) send them one-time use only magic rings that transported them to the Oasis. A bit of a kludge, but I was running a drop-in game with a hard stop time; I didn’t have time to add a travel to the Oasis section without risking splitting the adventure over two sessions.

    My solution likely won’t work for you. But Eltab’s suggestion sounds like a good one. Remember that there are also guidelines for adjusting the adventure for lower/higher level parties in the Black Road. So even if the party is “only” level 2 when they reach the Oasis, the adventure should be workable.

  4. #4
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    Sunless Citadel could be the reason to go into the desert. The PCs are outside the desert and hear rumors of the citadel located near the oasis. It could be more of a secret and the PCs hear about it or one reason the oasis exists, even if few travelers go to it and more caravans use the oasis.
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  5. #5
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    Shift the location of the oasis from "the middle of a desert" to "the edge of a desert", which the party then needs to cross. That's what I did, anyway.

    Note: if you start the tier one AL5 adventures at level 3, the characters will hit level 5 well before you finish the tier one adventures- unless you slow level advancement way down (which often annoys players).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArwensDaughter View Post
    You have identified the big, gaping plot hole in The Black Road—one I have rarely seen mentioned when the Black Road is discussed. The desert is dangerous to cross, the trip from the oasis to the goal point is supposed to introduce them to the challenges of traveling in the desert, and yet somehow they got through the desert to get to the Oasis in the first place.
    Exactly. It's the first thing I noticed. None of the provided hooks actually involve getting to the oasis.

    My solution likely won’t work for you. But Eltab’s suggestion sounds like a good one. Remember that there are also guidelines for adjusting the adventure for lower/higher level parties in the Black Road. So even if the party is “only” level 2 when they reach the Oasis, the adventure should be workable.
    Hmm, true. I like Sunless Citadel but it would be commitment to run and certainly delay starting The Black Road.

  7. #7
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    Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)

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    Use the very weak encounter adjustment for level 1.
    What plot hole? I forget the direction but just because travel to east part of desert on the black road is difficult; it does not mean the road come from west part of the desert to the Oasis was difficult. Or your pcs done there got dump and have recovered from their travels too the Oasis. Or I am totally okay starting the pc in a difficult spot. OR pity for Peter the PC. Never could get the 4 GP for desert clothing and was too proud to join the Zhentarium. Now Peter is on a never ending quest to find a way home. If you have water and can find him, he maybe able to help you. (Insert A-team opening theme music).

  8. #8
    If the Black Road is played in sequence as part of AL Season 5, and the characters involved have played the previous adventures, they are starting out at the ending point. They have been helping out in a small town (whose name escapes me at the moment) and now are tasked with accompanying an important shipment leaving from the Oasis and headed back to this same town. Thus to get to the Oasis—where the adventure starts—they have to travel the very same (dangerous) route that they will travel (now back) as part of the adventure itself. Yet the assumption of the adventure is to handwave getting to the Oasis, and to totally ignore that they would have encountered at least some of what is spelled out in the adventure on their way there. That’s the plot hole.

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