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5E A truly horrifying Age of Worms

Vaslov

Explorer
Going back to the OP's ask to make the worms more impactful perhaps leverage one of the horrifying mechanical pieces of 5e. Exhaustion. If you get worms you get a level of Exhaustion. Even if Lesser Restoration removes the worm disease it cannot remove the level of Exhaustion. Worse exhaustion builds up over time if you get worms multiple times over the course of the day it could get scary very quickly with no quick fix. Even Greater restoration only downgrades exhaustion by 1 level. This would make the game tougher for certain Barbarian's paths so you might need to warm players of this. Some 5e tables dislike the exhaustion rules so only use if you think they will enjoy. At higher levels giving them means to rest magically might be an option if you find it too much.

I ran a 3.5 Age of Worms campaign. It was quite tough for the players even once they could deal with the worms, especially once they reached the Spire of Long Shadows. Retelling of certain campaign events still occur at the table over 10 years past. Hope it gives your table great memories as well. Enjoy.
 

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Coroc

Hero
I agree, if the players are into it, it's fine. But, only if that's the theme of your adventure or it makes things more fun. This isn't a "Let's have a one-shot Halfling Musketeers adventure!" which would be a restriction for both theme and fun. It isn't the theme of the adventure here. He's going it for perceived balance reasons, not fun reasons or theme reasons. That's why I was wondering why he's choosing that method.
That is why I suggested to him a different approach. I never played Age of worms, nor did I analyse the adventure. From what I get it is very similar to the "The Strain" TV- series (which came out far later). For that reason I suggested not to reduce clerics (or pallys or other classes e.g. my ranger can cast it also twice a day at level 6) number of lesser restorations a day, but rather make the Worm Zombies not undead at all but rather puppets/eidolon/animated kind of like a swarm intelligence, so the turn undead would not trivialize.

If @OP still does not want clerics or divine casters in his campaign to get the right feeling and mood he intends, it is totally within his rights to do so.
But it won't imho resolve the balance problems he perceives, at least not in an elegant way.

Age of worms is a campaign set e.g. in ?greyhawk? correct me if I am wrong, but generally to be put in a setting where clerics absolutely should exist one way or another. So the resolution has to be to alter the mechanics for the wormzombies, not to ban divine. Tbh. if a cleric cannot do much (aka turning)versus a creature perceived as "undead" on the first glance, and instead runs out of spell slots for his lesser resto casts then I would consider the horror level much higher, than if you just ban clerics anyway.
 

Late to the game, but question: is there a full 5e version of this campaign somewhere, or is there just the fan-made conversion document?
There is and its on this forum somewhere.

I ran this AP in 5E over 3 years, doing conversions myself. The PCs reached 20th+ level by the end.

Sadly I dont have any of the notes with me.

What you absolutely MUST do, is keep each part of the AP on a Doom clock.

For the Whispering Cairn, have the PCs find out that the rival adventurers are planning on raiding the same dungeon in 2 days time, or (even better) have another Child from the town go missing (he was sent on a dare by other kids from the villiage), and have the PCs hired to save him from the Cairn. He wont last more than a day or two without food or water...

Once they get cursed by Alistor Land, have the the Curse do something horrible to them at the end of every Long rest after that point until they put his spirit to rest.

When they find out about the Temple of the 3 evil gods under the town (while dealing with Filge in the Observatory), have it so they uncover that the Faceless one is nearly finished a dark ritual (that does bad things... summon the Threefold aspect in a much more horrific form?) at the end of the Winter solstice (in 3 days time).

When they finish with the seige at the keep, the PCs find out that the NPC woman (whos name I forgot) has been kidnapped by the Lizard folk. They have only two days to find the lair, and save her or else she will be eaten by the Lizardfolk.

Etc, etc, etc.

The arena fights should be altered to 3 fights per day (with one short rest between each fight).

I found all the adventures accommodate a Doom clock super easy.
 


Interesting decision, @TheSword . As an aside, I ended up removing turn undead from clerics in my home game. Only paladins can turn undead, although at their full level. I would recommend that you have some surgical (feat?) or alchemical means (permethrin / ivermectin analog?) of addressing worm infestation.

Enjoy!
 

TheSword

Hero
That is why I suggested to him a different approach. I never played Age of worms, nor did I analyse the adventure. From what I get it is very similar to the "The Strain" TV- series (which came out far later). For that reason I suggested not to reduce clerics (or pallys or other classes e.g. my ranger can cast it also twice a day at level 6) number of lesser restorations a day, but rather make the Worm Zombies not undead at all but rather puppets/eidolon/animated kind of like a swarm intelligence, so the turn undead would not trivialize.

If @OP still does not want clerics or divine casters in his campaign to get the right feeling and mood he intends, it is totally within his rights to do so.
But it won't imho resolve the balance problems he perceives, at least not in an elegant way.

Age of worms is a campaign set e.g. in ?greyhawk? correct me if I am wrong, but generally to be put in a setting where clerics absolutely should exist one way or another. So the resolution has to be to alter the mechanics for the wormzombies, not to ban divine. Tbh. if a cleric cannot do much (aka turning)versus a creature perceived as "undead" on the first glance, and instead runs out of spell slots for his lesser resto casts then I would consider the horror level much higher, than if you just ban clerics anyway.
Yeah I really liked your suggestions. I’m not sure if you saw my post where I said I’m keeping clerics and Druids in and having the more powerful undead be aberrations instead.

Removing Paladins because I think they will overshadow other PCs because of the combination of powers and it will just annoy my players who do want to play them if I make the quantity of changes needed. Paladins don’t fit for me, but I think there are good arguments for balance at higher levels why clerics and Druid’s do need to be there. However I’m keeping the increase in casting cost for divine magic but making sure PCs find an item that will protect them from that in the first adventure.
 

TheSword

Hero
Interesting decision, @TheSword . As an aside, I ended up removing turn undead from clerics in my home game. Only paladins can turn undead, although at their full level. I would recommend that you have some surgical (feat?) or alchemical means (permethrin / ivermectin analog?) of addressing worm infestation.

Enjoy!
Battlefield surgery will definitely be a more gory version of trying to extract the worm before it starts chewing the persons brain. My intention is that it takes 1 round to prep a person for this kind of surgery and then a DC 15 medicine check to extract it. The worm will take 1d4+1 rounds to wiggle it’s way to the brain and thereafter deal 1 point of intelligence damage a round - cured by heal or greater restoration. Which will be out of reach early on in the campaign.

It’s a fight to kill whatever is producing the worms and get the victim stable before the worms make a meal of their brain.
 

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