DDEX1-1 Defiance in Phlan GM notes and discussion

Ricochet

Explorer
Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Hi,

(Please note if you are a player in expeditions, this thread is not for you)

This thread is for discussion of the first Expeditions adventure/s, Defiance in Phlan. I see it as a forum topic for us to talk what has gone right and wrong within the adventure, the combat tactics we use, the embelishments we made, the props we use and so on.

If you find links to maps, diagrams etc that you found useful when preparing to run this, please share them.

You will also find 2 other topics. One is for Sokol Keep the other Shadows over the Moonsea. Please keep in mind these arnt for players tales (unless one of your players broke open the scenario for you). They are purely for dm inspiration and discussion.

The reason they are in here, and not in the Dungeon Masters area of the forum is that, we really just want discussion here from AL DM's as we have a certain toolkit to work with which other Dungeon Masters do not.


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Does anyone have a map of Phlan? I was tempted to use the one from the 2e Moonsea product but have noticed that Phlan is now listed as being Prosperous which I think means that most of the slums/abandoned areas would not be anymore.






Originally posted by tjf:


Hello, I just want to confirm that a player can run a single character through all of the missions for this adventure getting xp and downtime for EACH mission played.

Thanks!




Originally posted by Skerrit:


Yes




Originally posted by Tscharod:


I have used the maps from the 4e adventure "Monument of the Ancients" in Dungeon Magazin 170. This shows the situation in the town in 1480 DR. You can also use the descriptions about the town, the Black Fist etc. The only changes I have seen right now, is the death of the Lord Protector and the destroyed temple of Bane (I don't know the reasons actually, but it seems to be a result of the Sundering). But I think this fits much better than the maps and informations in the Pool of Radiance/Ruins of Adventure times, albeit the titles of the Expeditions Tyranny storyline sound like PoR/RoA revisited.
wink.gif






Originally posted by HeresyDM:


Here is a really nice map of Phlan that I am using: http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110917070326/forgottenrealms/images/c/cb/Phlan(city).jpg




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Tscharod: Is Dungeon 170 for sale in pdf online?




Originally posted by HeresyDM:


Tyranthraxus wrote:Tscharod: Is Dungeon 170 for sale in pdf online?
That article is available in the Dungeon archive if you have Insider access (just go to the archive and search for Monument.) Here is a small version of the map: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vkvxkWHlK6E/S0HcUAxY_PI/AAAAAAAAADI/RiWvSoYjhSk/s400/Phlan.jpg , the one in the PDF isn't a lot larger and not very detailed.




Originally posted by Tscharod:


You can also take a look here:

http://my-realms.blogspot.de/2012/05/fimbulwinter-brainstorming.html

(the resolution is better)




Originally posted by Tscharod:


The map HeresyDM has proposed first looks to me like Phlan in the Pool of Radiance/Ruins of Adventure times. Of course, in the 2e adventure Ruins of Adventure you will also find a lot of informations, because it runs in Phlan and it's vicinity, but it shows the situation more than a century ago. Unfortunately the adventure I could not find in dndclassics yet. The maps in this adventure I don't like so much, because they are more or less copies of the maps in the 1990's (or 1-2 years earlier or later) computer game Pool of Radiance.




Originally posted by CarlT:


Is there assumed to still be a Temple to Bane in Phlan?


Carl




Originally posted by Skerrit:


CarlT wrote:Is there assumed to still be a Temple to Bane in Phlan?
The Lyceum still exists, though its partially ruined, and is no longer used as a temple to Bane (and no, there is no other one that sprung up for Bane). Indeed there is a lay priest of Lythander who is setting up a homeless shelter/free clinic in the ruins of the Lyceum. Bane is still quite a popular religion among the Black Fist, and likely some of the other powerful families of Phlan. The only active temple in Phlan is Kelemvor. There are also shrines to Umberlee and Auril. Phlan is currently not very involved in religion, though there are rumors of a lost temple to Tyr that might be around somewhere...




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Carlt: I dont know if Skerrit's reply precludes the possiblity of a Hidden Shrine to Bane though. One of the Black fists might be a very religous man who in a long lost room in the barracks or elsewhere has a Shrine to Bane. He might have a personal agenda to make sure the Lathander heathen gets whats coming to him for daring to use his Lord's house for such activities. Of course hed do this via Lawful methods
smile.gif
Zoning permits etc
smile.gif


RE the popularity of Bane. You have Zhentil Keep and Mulmaster (okay not as close) nearby, so Bane is going to be a factor.

Who knows what items the priests left behind in the abandoned Lyceum?
smile.gif





Originally posted by Vobeskhan:


Ok so I'm preparing to run this for the first time tomorrow, hoping to run 3-4 of the missions in the time we have.

In the fifth mission it mentions that one of the prisoners you rescue is a mad cultists which attacks but no stats are given for him - I plan on using the bandit stats without armour and an improvised weapon.

With running these mini-adventures "back to back" how would you suggest dealing with resting - is it assumed that players are "fresh" at the start of each one?




Originally posted by Skerrit:


You could have each mission happen the next day (aka it takes 5 days to play the adventure).




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


Vobeskhan wrote:Ok so I'm preparing to run this for the first time tomorrow, hoping to run 3-4 of the missions in the time we have.

In the fifth mission it mentions that one of the prisoners you rescue is a mad cultists which attacks but no stats are given for him - I plan on using the bandit stats without armour and an improvised weapon.

With running these mini-adventures "back to back" how would you suggest dealing with resting - is it assumed that players are "fresh" at the start of each one?
The stat block for a cultist are on p. 54 of the DM Basic pdf found here:

http://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/DMDnDBasicRules_v0.1_PrinterFriendly.pdf

I agree with Skerrit to run each episode as being one day apiece. If the PCs don't need any sort of rest, or maybe only a short rest, you could lump 2-3 of them into one adventuring day. In my group we did each one on a separate day and it worked pretty well I thought.




Originally posted by Lumenbeing:


I had a PC die in Encounters last night. He was a Zhentarim member. Thinking of having his body transported from Greenest to Zhentil Keep for revivication and then running a few Exped missions so he can catch up XP-wise. Then I just have to figure out how to get him back to Greenest to jump in when the rest of the party gets to chapter 3. The player is rolling up a new character which he will use throughout the rest of chapter 2.
Does that sound like a good plan? What other cool lore stuff would you add to minimize the handwaving of salvaging that character?




Originally posted by Vobeskhan:


Lumenbeing wrote:I had a PC die in Encounters last night. He was a Zhentarim member. Thinking of having his body transported from Greenest to Zhentil Keep for revivication and then running a few Exped missions so he can catch up XP-wise. Then I just have to figure out how to get him back to Greenest to jump in when the rest of the party gets to chapter 3. The player is rolling up a new character which he will use throughout the rest of chapter 2.
Does that sound like a good plan? What other cool lore stuff would you add to minimize the handwaving of salvaging that character?
Rather than send him all the way to Zhentil Keep, his fction could surreptitiously send a healer from Darkhold to revive him using the faction charity option.




Originally posted by Prom:


Vobeskhan wrote:Ok so I'm preparing to run this for the first time tomorrow, hoping to run 3-4 of the missions in the time we have.

In the fifth mission it mentions that one of the prisoners you rescue is a mad cultists which attacks but no stats are given for him - I plan on using the bandit stats without armour and an improvised weapon.

With running these mini-adventures "back to back" how would you suggest dealing with resting - is it assumed that players are "fresh" at the start of each one?
I simply assumed that as much time as players required had passed before the next mission. Although the group I ran this for, didn't want to hang around, and took very few rests.




Originally posted by lieumorrison:


Tscharod wrote:I have used the maps from the 4e adventure "Monument of the Ancients" in Dungeon Magazin 170. This shows the situation in the town in 1480 DR. You can also use the descriptions about the town, the Black Fist etc. The only changes I have seen right now, is the death of the Lord Protector and the destroyed temple of Bane (I don't know the reasons actually, but it seems to be a result of the Sundering). But I think this fits much better than the maps and informations in the Pool of Radiance/Ruins of Adventure times, albeit the titles of the Expeditions Tyranny storyline sound like PoR/RoA revisited.
wink.gif
I really like the look of this map from Dungeon #170 along with some of its updates (Like the whole new section spreading out from the mansions distirct.), but have reservations in regards to the scale used in comparison to previous maps from earlier modules. Especially within the city walls. Scale in regards to how city sections historically relate to each other and the notable / named buildings would be more spread out from each other.

There should still be plenty of areas of abandoned/collapsed/cleared buildings but this map doesn't seem to take into account that in the distant past the city was quite large but now only a fraction of it's area is now in regular use. Where is the urban blight! :D

And the Quivering Forest starts just a few hundred feet outside of town?
ohreally.gif



For reference, here is a map I haven’t seen posted in these forums yet that was from the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas CD-ROM, dated DR 1368 https://dc228.4shared.com/doc/c2av6k9Q/preview001.pnghttps://dc228.4shared.com/doc/c2av6k9Q/preview001.png Note I have my own critiques with this map too. (Thorn Island is too tiny!)

Yeah, I know I'm being anal and shouldn't be greatly attached to any kind of perception to any "canon" by previous works and editions.

But then again it was stated that participation in Adventure League could have the possibility of influencing the outcomes of future modules, right?

-lieumorrison





Originally posted by AlHazred:


I ran this last weekend. It was my second time running the module, and the first time the group hit all five mini-missions (we had plenty of time, it was a FLGS Game Day).


Mini-Mission 1: The Meeting at Deepnight -- Harpers
[sblock]This one was relatively straightforward. Complications can arise if the PCs decide to do a lot of reconnaisance of the barn prior to entering -- logically it should be possible to detect the broken-out section in the back where the Cultists have set their exit point, but I assume they have hidden it very well, having set up the barn days prior to the meeting. Another complication can occur if the players set a guard outside the door, as they should be able to spot the Welcomers approaching. I'd make sure to ratchet up the tension in the meeting -- nobody likes to split the party in AL.
All told, this is the easiest mission to run.


[/sblock]
Mini-Mission 2: Screams at Dawn -- Zhentarim
[sblock]Another straightforward mission. It's a little garbled at the beginning -- to clarify, I think the author intended that Millivent Moss has fallen from her wagon with her baby in her arms; the wagon, undirected but with horses still attached, is probably drifting down the road as the horses, tired from their panicked run, are ambling toward a watering trough.
The goblins appear to have the whole cave system rigged with ropes going through eyelets and pulleys, and holes in the walls. Everything leads to room 2B -- the idea is that a goblin in another room can just pull an alarm rope and close off the entrance the PCs used. The module implies there are other exits from the excavated goblin caves, not as finished as the one the PCs used. I described the rope-and-pulley system so that players could use it for roleplaying detail later in the module.


[/sblock]
Mini-Mission 3: The Dead at Highsun -- Lord's Alliance
[sblock]This one is a little weirdly-paced. It could obviously have been a full module, but has been cut down considerably.
Every group I ran had some wag who wanted to drink the potion in the lab. This is an insta-kill for every level 1 character and most level 2 characters; even your Con 16 level 2 barbarian is going to have 4 hp by the end (or probably dead if you roll it). You might take the opportunity to mention the new potion rules, where you can taste a potion to get an idea of what it does. Then, when they taste the nasty stuff in the blue clay pot, hit them with 3 (1d6) poison damage. "Now that you've tasted a sip, you want to drink the whole thing?" you say, eyeing the player and smiling.
When I ran this the first time, it was off of the draft version of the module. The undead in the last encounter were considerably tougher; each zombie regained 5 hit points (I think) at the beginning its turn until the rune controlling it was disabled. If your players are having an easy run and time is not an issue, you might consider using that to toughen it up.


[/sblock]
Mini-Mission 4: A Shock at Evenfest -- Emerald Enclave
[sblock]This one requires some prep time beforehand. The way its written out, you don't really have a lot of info on the NPCs in the inn. I'd make some NPC cards (or use ones you already have) and work up the personalities of the people. Set up the inn floor and put the NPCs around, then let Buhrell give his spiel. Then let the PCs figure out how they mingle. The module goes light on detail, so give some thought to the layout of the common room, where the tables are, and how the NPCs are presented. I like the following floorplans:
Flying+Pony.png

little_tavern__1st_floor__by_daceyrose_rpg-d67pt64.jpg

BarFightcopy_0274.jpg

When the event happens, you have to keep up the pressure on the PCs. Make it tense so that they're racing against the clock to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it "before time runs out."


[/sblock]
Mini-Mission 5: The Danger at Dusk -- Order of the Gauntlet
[sblock]Another good mission that might have been pared down from a full module. With some effort, this becomes really Lovecraftian, with the monster and monoliths in the strange room at the end, probably one of the deeper secret chambers of the former Temple of Bane. Savvy PCs should be asking themselves, "What the hell were they up to in there?"


[/sblock]My PCs had good times with the mini-missions. They had some serious luck at the barn, struggled with the goblins (remember they can disengage easy, assuming they survive the initial attack), and two-shotted the bugbear (two crits in a row).
The same roguish PC tried to steal the stuff from the throne in the crypt, then tried to hide in the secret compartment when he was attacked, then wanted to pour the potion into the cauldron, then drank the potion when he was prevented by the other PCs. It's a wonder he didn't lose two characters in that one mission.
Same player had his guy disguise himself as a Black Fist in the last mini-mission. This was a great idea until Yllivia shows up. I gave him opportunity -- without directly reminding him -- but he still didn't know why she shot him until I pointed it out.
All told, this is a great module that you can use to highlight the differing approaches and focus of the different factions. The Harpers recruit, but hoard the information. The Zhentarim prefer to lone-wolf it, but are at least mildly grateful when helped out of a jam. The Lord's Alliance prefer their pawns work in ignorance, but are willing to finance missions that need to be done. The Emerald Enclave sometimes half-ass it, but can be prescient about dangers others miss. And the Order of the Gauntlet charges in swinging and makes their apologies later (assuming they have any to make).




Originally posted by Uthrac:


Great review ...

Other than Mission 2 being a tough combat, this adventure is awesome as an introduction to both 5th Edition, Adventurer's League Factions, and Tyranny of Dragons Story Arc. Merwin did an, as expected, amazing job.

My advice for anyone running this with the same group is ...

Do missions 1, 3, and 4. Let PCs level up. Then do missions 5 and 2. This makes the more combat-heavy missions more survivable for new players.

My only complaint is that this adventure was not written as an evergreen adventure!

Want to fix my complaint? ... Please, for every future story area, start with something like this adventure. Something short and sweet to onboard newbies and introduce the new story lines.

From my point of view, DDEX1-1 as a set of launch-missions is the greatest success of Adventurer's League so far.
 

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Ricochet

Explorer
Paragon's note: Some other threads with numerous questions, not from the main thread follow here.
 
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Ricochet

Explorer
Personal Thoughts on the Expeditions 1-4 scenarios of the Tyranny of Dragons Season

Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:

Now that I have run all the Tyranny of Dragons 1-4 Tier scenarios I thought it was time (whilst the memory of these was somewhat fresh to go through them and state what I liked and disliked.
 
Before I do however I do have one topic first and foremost Id like to put above everythng else.
 
 
Maps. Whilst we do get some rough maps given to us at the back of most scenarios generally for the most part if we are using grid (like I always do) then we need to draw our own versions of these. Some of the maps however have scales that seem strange. Personally Id like next season to have more attention paid to the maps provided with the scenarios.
 
 
1.  Defiance in Phlan.
 
I have run this 3 times. The first time was my first experience running 5e. So it was kinda messy. I remember stuffing up the Harper mini mission quite well. Strangely I have never run the undead mini mission in the 3 times of running this. I quite enjoyed the Zhentarim mini mission.
 
2.  Secrets of Sokol Keep: I make no lie. Im a fan of contained environment scenarios. There are a lot less ways pcs can go off script and cause headaches. So once pcs get to Sokol Keep, then they are 'stuck' there until they find the Shrine and Temple to Dagon underneath the former Temple of Tyr (which was amusing revelation itself). I love call backs to the Phlan I knew from the Gold Box games.. and I do think its a shame that the next season isnt again going to get set in the Moonsea region is most likelihood.
 
Secrets of Sokol Keep was also the the start of a trend I noticed towards putting the combats towards the middle and end of the scenario as well as options to avoid some combats entirely. This is a great move (although you do have the player Brigade who worry on missing loot and exp)
 
3. Shadows over the Moonsea. Yes Ive read its based on a Lovecraftian tale. But I can be honest, I did not enjoy this one too much. Perhaps because my table started late, but I just found this one very long. Perhaps when I run it a second time I will leave out the pointless Wolf fight on the road.
 
4. Dues for the Dead. As to point 2 above I liked this one. It did run long on my table  and lots of people have pointed out its possible to avoid a lot of the underground complex. I have only run this once and my pcs were in no way going to get lowered down into a dark area by themselves. Player fear of the unknown is sometimes a gms best aid.  I quite enjoyed this one and the final fight could get very deadly.
 
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More to come.
 

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