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Critical Role Call of the Netherdeep playthrough commentary [spoilers]

The book describes the passage being opened by the death of the shark. There are many ways the encounter could reasonably end without the shark dying. It's a flaw. The shark could be taken out with a sleep spell, or pacified by magic, etc.

The writers describe the rivals claiming the jewel if the players refuse to touch it or if the rivals kill the shark and get in there first, but as written the story would dead-end if the adventurers, say, charm the shark or just take the prize off it and leave - or even if they lure it into another area and kill it there, which they can potentially do even before the rivals reach the final area.

The DM can fix it, but even a casual read will spot the problem.
It's not really a problem. If the Party leaves without it, you just say the rivals find it.
 

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Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
No cause it already says that happens.
If the shark is not killed in area E10, does the adventure, as written, provide any way for any character, player or NPC, to access E11 or E12 and therefore the entire rest of the adventure?

The answer to this question is “no.” That is a design flaw.

Yes, there are a hundred ways to solve it, all beginning with “The DM changes it so that…”

And yes, the DM always should and must modify and add and adapt an adventure for their table. But there is a difference between that and writing a fairly basic and simple and avoidable plot-stopper like this into the first dungeon of the campaign.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
For my money... if there are a hundred ways to solve it by having "the DM changes it so that"... then that is a net positive. Because you are teaching DMs to actually solve issues (with apparently very easy solutions if there are hundreds of them) for when the stuff they have written down in front of them are not able to cover the problems that arise by the players doing something unexpected.

If the DM can just run a module with no thought whatsoever, then they might as well not even be there. A computer can run the adventure. Forcing DMs to actually consider issues that crop up and solve them is what teaches them to become better DMs.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
For my money... if there are a hundred ways to solve it by having "the DM changes it so that"... then that is a net positive. Because you are teaching DMs to actually solve issues (with apparently very easy solutions if there are hundreds of them) for when the stuff they have written down in front of them are not able to cover the problems that arise by the players doing something unexpected.

If the DM can just run a module with no thought whatsoever, then they might as well not even be there. A computer can run the adventure. Forcing DMs to actually consider issues that crop up and solve them is what teaches them to become better DMs.

There’s plenty of moments like that in this adventure, as there are in all adventures. This isn’t one of those. It’s a simple design screw up, not some condescending attempt to teach DMs some sort of lesson by writing an unnecessary dead end into the starter dungeon.

The book is good, by the way. Betrayer’s Rise is among the best mid-size dungeons I’ve seen for 5E. But man, the lengths people will always go to claim incidents of bad design are something other than bad design.
 


If the shark is not killed in area E10, does the adventure, as written, provide any way for any character, player or NPC, to access E11 or E12 and therefore the entire rest of the adventure?
Yes. There crack is already visible and mentioned in the description text: "The water here is a little warmer, and a gentle current pulls you toward a crevice in the south wall that emits shimmering golden light." The adventurers (PC or NPC) will just need to find another way to widen the crack without the shark's help. For example, there is a (soggy) scroll of Thunderwave in the dungeon.

NB, the shark is far too big to leave the chamber (huge creature). I don't know how it got in there in the first place! Maybe the elders used another potion of diminution, or magically enlarged it?
 
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Anyway, a report on the game.

Chapter One
The players had a whole lot of fun with this! The bought into the critical role playstyle and created eccentric characters who spent most of the time bantering amongst themselves whilst playing silly games. The tortoise wrangling was probably the unexpected highlight! As expected, the druid attempted to establish communication with the shark, but this was spoiled by the murderhoboing orc fighter and a deadly fight ensued. We ran out of time mid-battle, so we haven't reached any of the potentially troublesome decision points yet.

They established a positive relationship with the rivals (currently unimaginatively known as Ayo's Team) and just beat them to the shark cave.
 

Session Two.

Chapter One conclusion
Ayo's team arrived and killed the shark, thus earning themselves the moniker "The Kill Stealers". The party won the competition and found the McGuffin. I'm not exactly sure what the deal with the glowing spear was meant to be - something that got cut?

Chapter Two start
Big lore dump and a cross county hike. The only point of potential rail-jumping was when the party contemplated traveling by ship. The players found this less interesting than the fun and games of chapter one. But then none of us are keen on hex crawls. The two parties set out together, which turned out to be a good thing, when the party attempted to save a heard of mammoth from a marauding beast, which KOed and flew off with the bard. Ayo managed to shoot it down (again) and Maggie the ogre caught the falling bard. Did you see the movie The Other Guys? I think the PCs are starting to feel like them. But the party has expanded to 14, including the mammoths.
 
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