D&D 5E Baldurs Gate CRPG as an intro to Descent into Avernus

TheSword

Legend
GUY AND RYAN STOP READING NOW!

So I found out to my amazement that none of my gaming group (aged 30-50) have played the Baldurs Gate CRPG or any of the sequels. Which is kinda crazy when you think how influential it was.

That got me thinking how good BG1 would make as an intro to Descent Into Avernus. Particularly if Elturel was ignored completely and replaced with actual Baldurs Gate as the city would suggest.

The Dead Three cults in DIA’s early chapters are really weak and have next to no relevance to the adventure. The Vampanthur family sections are also pretty poor.

My first thought is to set Caelar Argent and the shining crusade in the past of BG1 and have her be a child of Zariel. Belhifet is replaced with Bel and the Party can find out about this past through clues scattered across the land (also in the Zariel Flashbacks when in Avernus) the portal to Avernus is still there in Dragon Spear Castle.

The cultists in Durlag’s tower are actually cultists of Zariel and have been manipulating Saverok with promises of power. I will have it so that the only weapon that can kill Saverok for good is the dagger from Durlag’s Tower. When the final blow is struck this triggers the city to be ripped into Avernus. The PCs then travel to Dragonspear castle and enter Avernus starting the hell part of DIA.

The party then gate to try save the city they already know with NPCs they’ve already met from the fiends and make the experience more dynamic.

That’s the story any way. What are people’s thoughts? I’ll comment on structural changes later on.
 
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Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I started the BG1 TTRPG campaign before Covid hit with my table. I actually intended to run them through the whole Bhaalspawn Saga (either as a single campaign or 2-3 shorter campaign). The sandbox itself and the plot would be perfect for your idea, I think.

If you planned on keeping the NPCs, I'd suggest thinning the herd a little and choose only the ones you prefer.

The party will be higher level when entering Avernus though, but nothing too bad. Anyway Avernus should not be a place adventure-able for PC of less than 7-10 levels at least.
 

TheSword

Legend
I started the BG1 TTRPG campaign before Covid hit with my table. I actually intended to run them through the whole Bhaalspawn Saga (either as a single campaign or 2-3 shorter campaign). The sandbox itself and the plot would be perfect for your idea, I think.

If you planned on keeping the NPCs, I'd suggest thinning the herd a little and choose only the ones you prefer.

The party will be higher level when entering Avernus though, but nothing too bad. Anyway Avernus should not be a place adventure-able for PC of less than 7-10 levels at least.
Yes. My plan would be to re-use a lot of NPCs and even have some NPCs the party defeat re-appear as petitioners in Avernus. Combining them.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
What's the ending level of Descent? You could even go with the following games to extend the game to lvl 20. Just change the Bhaal-spawn to Bel-spawn wanting to take their father's place once Zariel is redeemed and Bel is still disgraced.
 

TheSword

Legend
Baalspawn

So to expand the idea, there are some elements that work well in a computer game that just don’t translate well to 5e TTRPG.

I definitely don’t want high power campaigning - that just shortens the lifespan of the campaign I find.

All PCs will be Baalspawn. However instead of getting 6 spell like abilities, they will get one 1st level spell after reaching Nashkel they can cast per day. I might make the spell improve in spell levels as chapters progress.

I will also have 5e healing - long rest/short rest be something that applies to Baalspawn healing. All other characters and NPCs heal with HD only.

Hopefully this will keep the Baalspawn fun but not OP
 

TheSword

Legend
Prologue

I’ve no desire to have PCs killing rats, fetching bolts, and antidotes… in fact I intend to avoid fetching and carrying quests altogether where possible. So I’ve decided to replace this section with PC background work. Each PC will be given a mentor/friend/companion in the library fortress. A short conversation at the start of the first session can involve these friends providing aid or challenge, knowing that they need to prepare for the journey. They will be able to get a few low level scrolls, healing potions, weapons, and a few little bits through these interactions. The prologue will culminate with a single assassin fight with a few NPCs as a single encounter to illustrate the danger.

The Battle in the Woods with Gorion will then be narrated rather than played out in combat rounds… just as in the game. PCs have a habit of throwing themselves into combat and I don’t want a TPK with an overwhelming foe. There will no doubt be a “fly you fools choice” but hopefully this can send the message that this is a sandbox and not all foes will be level appropriate.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
May I suggest the Dark Gift/Heroic Gift from Theros/Ravenloft? Depending on the character alignment for the innate powers?

Or the same mechanic as Eberron's Aberrant Dragonmark, but with the alignment-based bonus spell from the Divine Soul sorcerer lvl 1 feature.

Or, should you want to put a lot of work into alignment (since they play a huge part in Avernus), use Alignments like you would Piety or Faction points, gaining spellcasting depending on your rating in Law/Chaos/Good/Neutrality/Evil
 




Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I've been saying for a while that not releasing the BG campaign as regional gazetteer + low-level campaign is a weird choice for WotC. The quests, the maps, everything is mostly already done!

I ran two table through the story of Icewind Dale 1 in the past and it also makes for a pretty cool adventure (IMHO better than Rime).
 

TheSword

Legend
The Wilderness

Anyone who has played this game will know there are hundreds of encounters in the Wilderness. While this works well in the game as you explore 200m x 200m blocks of darkness to find the secrets, it isn’t so simple in a free form TT version.

I’ve therefore decided to slot encounters into three categories

Locations

These include The Friendly Arm Inn or The Excavation Site. They will have an encounter map and be explored normally by moving around and the DM narrating what they see. I don’t include towns like Bereghost, or Baldurs Gate in this as they are too big to fully explore. Nashkell probably will be entirely plotted on a map.

Fixed Encounters

There are some encounters which need to happen for the story to progress or are so iconic you really want them to happen… Saverok’s ambush, meeting Xzar and Montaron for instance. Or Elminster’s various interactions. These will be dropped in as they should occur.

Random Encounters

The majority of encounters on each map are almost random and not keyed to a location. They’re just wandering around the woods or hills. This is best simulated by random encounters I think. Some random encounters may link directly to locations though to provide clues to the wilderness locations. Plenty will be helpful or at least certainly not aggressive. Hopefully it will give an impression of a dynamic world.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
You dont happen to have an open slot at that table? I've been trying to get back to BG 1 this past week, and I find it hard to go back to the simplified 2nd edition rules when playing and most youtubers lose me after a time because they seem to either dont know the game that much (not understanding how THAC0 or AC work) or do stupid min-max stuff.

Anyway, you seem to be set for a splendid time for that campaign. I only fear that the players will have way more fun in the BG1 sandbox than the more structured Descent campaign! :p
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Sounds really cool.

My understanding is that the low level part was originally going to be Eltruel, with the players getting sucked into Avernus with everyone else, but they wanted a Baldur's Gate tie in so shifter things around.
 

TheSword

Legend
Sounds really cool.

My understanding is that the low level part was originally going to be Eltruel, with the players getting sucked into Avernus with everyone else, but they wanted a Baldur's Gate tie in so shifter things around.
That’s interesting. Didn’t know that, but it makes a lot of sense.
 

TheSword

Legend
What do you think the best way of sharing the notes and progress is. It will be a lot of work and it would be nice to get feedback on it.

I have Obsidian Portal so I was thinking of building the campaign on there?
 
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