DDEX1-12 Raiders of the Twilight Marsh GM notes and discussion

Ricochet

Explorer
Originally posted by Kalani:


This thread contains spoilers for DDEX1-12 "Raiders of the Twilight Marsh"
I ran into a major issue this evening when running this adventure.

In the first encounter with the dragon, Velvet was attempting to flee after the trolls went down, and was unfortunate enough to fail his saving throw vs. Command: Grovel. This caused the slightly injured dragon to fall taking an additional 10d6 damage, then ending its turn immediately - with only 37 HPs remaining (the fall seriously hurt the dragon).

In an effort to allow the dragon a chance to escape (as per the encounter guidelines), I had the dragon fall into murky waters and sink, with the intention of having it swim away to its lair at the first opportunity.

Unfortunately, this left the party with one round of attacks against the submerged dragon before its turn came up.

I was thinking of having the dragon use a reaction to drink the potion and transform into a dracolich, fudging the plot slightly and say that it kept the potion in a small pouch about its neck.

Any other suggestions on how I should proceed, as the party "killed" the dragon before its next turn otherwise (but seeing as I was using the obscure death rules, the party is not yet aware of this fact).




Originally posted by RulesJD:


The range of Command is 60ft. The maximium possible falling distance (with the caster starting on the ground) would be 6d6 damage for the 60ft of falling damage. That's an average of 14 less damage.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


also why would they have to drop like a stone to Grovel? Surely Velvet on his turn could fly down to do so?




Originally posted by Kalani:


Tyranthraxus wrote:also why would they have to drop like a stone to Grovel? Surely Velvet on his turn could fly down to do so?
Command: Grovel - The creature drops prone and ends its turn.
It was brought to my attention that I misplayed this scenario. The command spell fails automatically if the action requested is directly harmful - as is the case for a flying creature dropping prone.




Originally posted by imaginaryfriend:


Falling out of the sky is "directly harmful" to Velvet in this situation. As such, per the spells explicit rules, command would have no effect.

(As a DM i would strive to give it some effect like having the dragon land, but thats just because iI think its a cool thing to try) (edit: I type to slow ;) )




Originally posted by OnlyNerdStuff:


As RulesJD (that's clever) pointed out, range is 60'. If he was flying 100' high he was out of range. If he was only 60' high he took an average of 21 or a max of 36 damage.

Moreover, the spell EXPLICITLY states that it has no effect if the command is directly harmful. Plummeting 60' is clearly harmful, even to dragons.

Further, I would go so far as to say the description of the 'Grovel' command uses "falls" not as a term of art for "moves in such a way to take falling damage as described on PHB p.183" (which does not occur through normal use of the spell and is not mentioned in the description of the command), but rather figuratively as a synonym for "drops" or "becomes".

In context the subject "falls prone", "drops prone", "lies prone" or "becomes prone" in similar usage as the line "fall on your knees" from the venerable Christmas hymn O Holy Night. At best, he would have flown to the ground at maximum move (80') and assumed a prone position.

Further still, the max damage for 10d6 is (obviously) 60. That plus the 37 he had remaining is 97, meaning he was already down at least 30hp before he "fell". That's not slightly injured, and it's remarkably unlikely that all 10 dice came up 6. Average damage for that 10d6 is only 35, suggesting that he was probably closer to 70hp before the spell. The notes indicate that he flees at 63hp or less.

What's done is done. The simplest way to fudge at this point might be to simply ignore further damage this turn and allow him to flee on his turn. If you're ignoring any penalties for firing at a creatre submerged in murky water you might simply note that the winces in pain as the brave warriors continue to strike improbably true, time and time again, somehow, against his puny 18AC, and when he finally gets his turn, he can fly away. Bada bing, bada boom.





Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


I think the game is done and dusted OnlyNerdStuff: Kalani is spot on and I really should have read the spell before I commented from memory. Taking 1d6 or 6d6 it does not matter: both are directly harmful.




Originally posted by Kalani:


OnlyNerdStuff wrote:As RulesJD (that's clever) pointed out, range is 60'. If he was flying 100' high he was out of range. If he was only 60' high he took an average of 21 or a max of 36 damage.

Moreover, the spell EXPLICITLY states that it has no effect if the command is directly harmful. Plummeting 60' is clearly harmful, even to dragons.

Further, I would go so far as to say the description of the 'Grovel' command uses "falls" not as a term of art for "moves in such a way to take falling damage as described on PHB p.183" (which does not occur through normal use of the spell and is not mentioned in the description of the command), but rather figuratively as a synonym for "drops" or "becomes".
Oh you misunderstand. The issue about falling out of the sky comes from another rule. Specifically, the following (I am not sure where this rule is in the PHB).


Flying Movement (Basic Rules p71)Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.
With that being said there were a few things that went wrong in this scenario.


  • The player was reading the spell's description, and asked me how high the dragon was (I informed them 100 feet). When they announced they were casting the spell, I assumed the dragon was in range and never confirmed it.
  • I knew how the grovel effect worked, and knew it would cause the creature to fall due to the above rule. However, I forgot that command doesn't work if the action is harmful and never looked up the spell myself (as I don't look up every spell description every time they are cast - especially if the PC has the page open and is reading from it).

I assume the player overlooked the entry about the spell being non-harmful, and also assume the player misread the spells range (the player is one of my weekly DMs and has proven themselves trustworthy, so I am giving them benefit of the doubt in this case).

In any case, what is done is done.
I am not the kind of DM who will retroactively undo a creative player's action (even in the event that the results were predecated on a misplay).

My issue now is how to move forward




Originally posted by imaginaryfriend:


Having the dragon turn into a dracolich sounds like a good plan. It should be possible to make it seem like they did kill it (for that YAY! moment), but that there was a provision for that contigency.

Of course with death obscured you could also just make him escape without further cinematics, but regardless of the rules, I would let them keep at least part of their win
smile.gif





Originally posted by Pauper:


Kalani wrote:My issue now is how to move forward
Sounds like you've got a classic option -- if the dragon's 'corpse' sank into the marsh, then the party would have difficulty confirming that the dragon is actually dead. Since black dragons can breathe underwater, and since I'm guessing the party wasn't able to deal enough damage to kill it outright under 5e death rules, there's no reason that the dragon couldn't barely regain consciousness after a suitable rest period and then decide that drinking the potion would be its best option.

If you don't see a corpse, then you can't assume the BBEG is truly dead. Classic trope.

--
Pauper




Originally posted by OnlyNerdStuff:


Kalani wrote:Oh you misunderstand. The issue about falling out of the sky comes from another rule. Specifically, the following (I am not sure where this rule is in the PHB).


Flying Movement (Basic Rules p71)Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.

My issue now is how to move forward
I'd intended to quote that rule as well, but it was unintentionally lost in late night editiing of my already long-winded response. My point was only that as the result of a Command, the prone position is "voluntarily" assumed, rather than forced by paralysis or a magical hand or an invisible piano and that the creature isn't "knocked".

I completely support the idea that the spell has no effect because the command would be "directly harmful", but I'd equally support the idea that a flying creature would swoop to the ground with flying move and safely lie itself prone and groveling at the caster's feet. The second option seems like more fun for the players.

Moving forward, I'd simply rule that they fail to inflict enough damage to kill the dragon outright (regardless of how much more they inflict this round) and that he slinks away to be healed back to half HP by the cultist as indicated for his next encounter. That seems to be the easiest way to keep the adventure on track. Especially if the players don't have meta-game knowledge of how durable the old fella is. If anyone calls you on why a dragon seems to have 500hp you can just shrug and claim the same reason that ranges are doubled and 1st level spells are hurtling dragons out of the sky at terminal velocity. Oops.





Originally posted by randl:


My party had a completely different problem with this Adventure. Velvet left the first encounter after taking 2 Fireballs and strafing the Sorcerer and Mage.

[More Spoilers to follow from above]

In the final battle, Velvet was sitting at 46 hp with only the Paly to go. I was planning on doing the cinimatic tranformation on her next turn, but got a Paly/Hazirawn crit for 60 damage on his first attack. I decided to run the text anyway. I have found that players actually do not like cut scenes very much. They wanted to be able to react to the cultest, then to the new creature slinking away. I'm thinking I should have worked the hit more into the text, so that instead of the potion, the only thing Velvet needed was to die before the transformation and leave the potion out of it. In the end, they also felt a bit robbed when they couldn't grap thier trophy (teeth) from the slain dragon.




Originally posted by Kalani:


FYI, on page 21 it clearly states that Velvet takes a reaction to eat the cultist. I would make certain to mention this to the party - as that way the cutscene is more believable.

The party will still feel cheated though, as the dragon effectively takes a ready action without taking a ready action.




Originally posted by Ainulindalion:


"Cultist minion, I tire of this existence! Bring the Potion before the heroes slay me!"

Paladin chops off the dragon's head as cultist runs into the room with giant potion bottle.

Cultist skids to a stop. "Oops. Ah... Nice heroes?" The cultist backs away slowly.


Oh wait, can't do that. Box text.




Originally posted by Kalani:


The only way this would work is if the DM says the box text within the scope of the rules. For example.

DM: It's Velvet's Turn.
Velvet: "Cultist minion, I tire of this existence! Bring the Potion before the heroes slay me!"
DM: Velvet readies an action. (Ready - Bite Attack when the cultist comes in range).
DM: The hidden cultist takes his readied action, and runs out toward Velvet, clutching a potion above his head in his outstretched hands. (Reaction - Move)
DM: Velvet takes her readied action and eats the cultist, potion and all..... (Reaction - Bite).

As per the text on page 21, the cultist allows this to occur, granting Velvet advantage on her attack.

This is the only way I can think of in which the DM can relate the box text without the players feeling cheated, as only PCs who have a readied action, or who are able to make an Opportunity Attack against the cultist can act.




Originally posted by randl:


Kalani wrote:The only way this would work is if the DM says the box text within the scope of the rules. For example.

DM: It's Velvet's Turn.
Velvet: "Cultist minion, I tire of this existence! Bring the Potion before the heroes slay me!"
DM: Velvet readies an action. (Ready - Bite Attack when the cultist comes in range).
DM: The hidden cultist takes his readied action, and runs out toward Velvet, clutching a potion above his head in his outstretched hands. (Reaction - Move)
DM: Velvet takes her readied action and eats the cultist, potion and all..... (Reaction - Bite).

As per the text on page 21, the cultist allows this to occur, granting Velvet advantage on her attack.

This is the only way I can think of in which the DM can relate the box text without the players feeling cheated, as only PCs who have a readied action, or who are able to make an Opportunity Attack against the cultist can act.
Actually, if you have the cultist on the same initiative following Velvet, you could have him disegnage, move through the party, and then get chomped. Disengage would not prevent readied actions, just AoO. Though, this doesn't help if Velvet doesn't live to see her turn.




Originally posted by BRJN:




Kalani wrote:My issue now is how to move forward
How big of a body of water is the dragon in? A river? A pond? A swimming pool? A knee-deep creek? Over the PCs' heads? A lake? Lake Michigan?
If the water is deep and murky enough, the dragon can blow some bubbles and let the heroes think it drowned. Wait as long as possible / necessary. QUIETLY scout out the surface, then head home when nobody is looking.

If you want to trick your players, come to think of it, have an alligator surface near where the dragon went down. The PCs might very well attack (and kill) it. A consolation prize, if nothing else.
 

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Ricochet

Explorer
More from another thread

Originally posted by Bold3Fold:

Spoilers ahead 
Part 5 The Ruins of the Black Bull
 
"It is important to note that the map of the ruins is not intended to be used in its complete form during play. It is provided as a reference for the DM in the event that the characters encounter a patrol. If a map is used during combat, simply use the map provided as a reference and reproduce the general area surrounding the characters when combat begins. "
 
 
There doesn't seem to be a map even though it says one is provided for gm reference.  Was there one and I'm just overlooking it?  Do they ever have errata for the adventure league stuff? This adventure seems to have a couple of errors to it.


Originally posted by Ainulindalion:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1g6wYyw972Thm0J2_wvOTDcdzmE02VLW6vfz7ttNIH_A/edit?pli=1
 
This is a link to the errata document.  You may offer suggestions there.  Nothing concerning your particular issue is mentioned that I saw.


Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:

I ran this and had an outside ruins area (which I did myself. The Black Bull main complex and then the lower level.
 
I didnt find any scaling stuff for the Half Dragon Troll or Velvet encounter so I scaled it myself for a Weak party.
 
Surrounding the main Black Bull complex I had a lot of smaller buildings inside the perimeter wall, they were all ruined. The party actually split up (I had 4 players playing at weak), so 2 players went down the sinkhole they found to explore it and the others stayed up above (and encountered the trolls). I did advise against it, but well.. they did it anyway.
 


Ricochet

Explorer
This is so long ago, that I don't remember. I think the Bloodhand tribe/clan are featured somewhere in the adventure season, but I might be misremembering.
 

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