DDEX1-2 Secrets of Sokol Keep GM notes and discussion

Ricochet

Explorer
Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


For DM only discussion of Secrets of Sokol Keep




Originally posted by johndakar:


Ran this module this afternoon at my FLGS (Valhalla's Gate in Columbia, MO). I haven't DMed in 25+ years so I was worried that I'd be a bit rusty but it was written so smoothly that the party flew through it! Here's the stats:

Party- 1 Half-orc Barbarian, 1 Dwarven Cleric and 1 Lightfoot Halfling Rouge. The cleric and rogue were pre-gens and were played by players that had not read the PHB nor the Basic Rules yet (but both had experience with 3.5 and 4e). The barbarian was well acquainted with her character and all three players rocked it out both in combat and roleplaying wise. They only rarely broke character for rules guidance which to me is a sure sign that 5E is written well.

Play time- 2 hrs. 45 minutes (yeah, this one moves fast).

Part 1- The barbarian tried to Intimidate the dockworkers into backing down but missed by 1. The party sided with the mercs and made quick work of the dockworkers. They then were alert enough to take the hint that they needed to get to the Black Fist HQ and Sokol offices asap and from there headed straight to the island. The NPC advice was spot on and to the point for all though I didn't use the bartender as much as I did the waiter (but I also worked for 25 years in the foodservice industry so I'm a bit biased!)

Part 2- So I really like the way this part was written as far as the speed of play. Having the groundskeepers greet the PCs (and yes, I'll admit to playing up the hysterics in regards to the spooky noises and such- I kept hearing Scooby-Doo sounds in my head the whole time I was portraying them) was perfect- the PCs never felt completely railroaded but there was enough direction to keep them headed towards the West Tower basement so that we were clocking our time perfectly. I re-wrote the journal page handout to make it look a bit more realistic (and hard to read). The side quest of speaking with Harae was not as easy for me to pull off and I felt it was a little lacking as it really didn't affect the overall adventure much. Maybe with a bit more time to run the game the atmosphere could be worked a bit more but again, the PCs didn't notice anything missing so kudos to the writer for giving different types of DMs different options.

Part 3- The animated armor combat was a bit tough and I allowed a short rest before they headed to the sinkhole room. Both the barbarian and the rogue slipped into the pit but made it out easily. The empty cells were a nice red herring and the cleric and barbarian had fun taking turns breaking the doors down! The showdown in the idol room was a bit easier as I forgot to include the ghoul (only 1 would have been appropriate for the reduced party strength and even then it only had 15 HP (I roll HP for all of my monsters hence the animated armor encounter being a bit tougher)) but both of the cleric's spells were exhausted as were the barbarian and rogue's Hit Dice. The barbarian decided to go after Grim in the final room but the rogue talked her out of killing the rest of the guards so they turned them in to the authorities and the curse was lifted from the beacon.

Each PC ended up with 435 XP, 45 GP (12 each from the pouch on Igan's body and 33 each from a split of the loot sack from the final room), a chunk of jade worth 50 GP as well as the usual 10 downtime days and 1 renown point. The cleric took the wand of magic detection from the pool (FYI- the module says the item description is in the PHB but it's not- the spell description is and the item allows the user to cast the spell at will (no expenditure of charges required). I took home 300 XP, 10 downtime days and a bag of holding (I am a sucker for bags of holding!) All in all a great little module for our first experience with 5E and my first re-experience with DMing. I can't wait to start LMoP with my homegroup this week and I look forward to next month's Expeditions.




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


We just finished this adventure yesterday. It was pretty fun, and I enjoyed the layout of the keep. I don't think we actually explored everything, so I'm looking forward to DMing it myself after getting a chance to read through the text later. The armor gave us huge problems as well, as we rolled pretty low for a while. The final battle was really rough, except that my cleric saved the day with the Light Domain channel divinity and I rolled very high on damage (15 on a 2d8) which killed half the enemies outright. We nearly lost our ranger though.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Thanks for the report John.

How did the scaling work for you? I think Im gonna have the same 3 people (2 barbarians and a Paladin) for Secrets who played in Defiance. They are agonisingly (20 exp) short of level 2 after that so im guessing Ill need to be running 'very weak'. How did you go with that? Did they still feel challenged?




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


We had three level 3 PCs and one level 2 PC for the end of Sokol Keep. I think if it had been four level 2 PCs we could have TPK'd pretty easily. Level 1 would be super difficult, and level 2 a solid challenge, with level 3 being a challenge still. Three level 1 PCs... I'd do some XP award at the beginning encounters of Sokol Keep and let them rest to level up before tackling the majority of the story. Three level 1 PCs will probably TPK IMO. Doable, but level up to 2 first. Even then it will be a challenge.

[edit]
I belive Defiance in Phlan awards 100xp per PC, per mission. You could try tackling one of them before starting Sokol Keep. Not sure why you'd skip the starting adventures, but there is that option.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


I havnt skipped. I ran Defiance last Saturday. I was trying to run 4 in 4 hours, but we started late and they were roleplaying.. so time flies. I ran mini mission 2, 5 and then 1. 1 was screwed up by a very bad persuasion /deception roll when negotiating for a certain item. So they got not a lot of exp there, in the end 80 exp (so between the 75 and 100 on offer. So 280 from defiance in phlan.

So they will still be level 1 for Secrets. This is why I was asking what the scaling is like. If you dont know, monsters are scaled in Expeditions based on the APL of the group.




Originally posted by Sherman:


OK, definitely does not scale for level one characters. Had a four players with level one characters (three of them it was their first time ever playing an RPG). I had to drop the AC to 16 on the Armor and never took them off disadvantaged attacks. Also dropped the ghouls entirely and had to pull a couple punches with the two zombies and two skeletons. They had the entire party take a short rest right before the final encounter (the sinkhole was awful) because two were unconscious from the sinkhole. The final encounter saw a near TPK with one character rolling a 20 for a death save to come back and save the day right as the last character standing was knocked out.

I was tempted to have Grim murder her since the rest of the party was unconscious, but that seemed rude for a person's first game. Instead, a large group of Kuo-Toa showed up, summoned by the idol's awakened power. They gave her a 200gp amulet, threatened to kill everyone if they told anyone about their presence, and hauled the idol into the sea.

Tyranothraxus, consider giving them another 20xp for role-playing. No one is going to have fun trying to do this adventure at level 1.




Originally posted by Uthrac:


johndakar wrote: I took home 300 XP, 10 downtime days and a bag of holding
For reference, the DM rewards that come in the kit are for running ENCOUNTERS, and not EXPEDITIONS adventures.

Expeditions rewards are limited to what is listed at the end of the adventure.




Originally posted by johndakar:


Re: scaling- I ran the adventure as written for 5 (aside from the aforementioned ghoul situation) since I had it prepped for 5 and my players did fine. The barbarian ran low on HP 3 times and the rogue once so they definitely felt the burn but came through well. I should add that the cleric rolled four critical hits (1 during the armor and 3 during the final fight) so the dice were definitely on their side.
Re: DM rewards- I'll DM an Encounters session next week so I feel that I have earned my BoH. Cheers!





Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


So... now that I'm done playing Sokol Keep I've finally had a chance to sit down with the adventure. The very first intro section says that it is designed for 3-7 first level characters. I can't imagine success with any less than 6-7 PCs, as it is very difficult at the end. The intro also mentioned being optimized for five 2nd level characters, which I believe is much more realistic. My playthrough was just as a trial run at home before running it for my public gaming club. I'll definitely only be running Sokol Keep for level 2 PCs, with maybe a straggler or two at level 1.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


i wont have a choice unless some people use their encounters characters there, or I gain a few more characters. I actually assumed with all the advertising I had done locally Id get at least 4-5. I had 4 sign up and 3 showed up. So Im running under the assumption Ill have 3 for the next adventure. Its not optimal sure, and I hope I do get more.

But this gets back to my original point on 'How does it scale?'. Im reading player comments here and that dosnt look good, but players always think they are getting it rough.
smile.gif
Ill have to run things on very weak by the looks of things.




Originally posted by Uthrac:


Tyranthraxus wrote:But this gets back to my original point on 'How does it scale?'. Im reading player comments here and that dosnt look good, but players always think they are getting it rough.
smile.gif
Ill have to run things on very weak by the looks of things.
There are scaling options based on number of PCs, level of PCs, and a little more wiggle room for how experienced/strong the players are.

The really tricky part of scaling are things like ... "Undead encounter vs. Turn Undead." If the party has access to turn undead (Clerics and some Paladins), these encounters sometimes become trivialized. On the flip side, without turn undead, some of the encounters I've seen (including this adventure) become extremely deadly.




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


Things are very swingy in 5e based on character builds and optimization. 4-5 highly optimized level 1 PCs could tackle Sokol Keep. I could probably power build 3-4 PCs and beat it at level 1. However, random groups with players that don't have much experience with 5e will find this episode a challenge at level 1. It was one of the more enjoyable adventures out of the initial release so I strongly recommend it. You will just need to pay close attention to how things unravel in play (as a DM) towards the end.




Originally posted by Thurazor:


I'm going to have to be running this one tomorrow night and after reading this thread I am worried. If we only have 3-4 players tomorrow (which is possible), then I'll try and convince the players to be playing their level two characters instead of making new ones like they might consider doing. Otherwise, what else can be done to scale down the encounter?




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


Thurazor wrote:I'm going to have to be running this one tomorrow night and after reading this thread I am worried. If we only have 3-4 players tomorrow (which is possible), then I'll try and convince the players to be playing their level two characters instead of making new ones like they might consider doing. Otherwise, what else can be done to scale down the encounter?
Check page 3 of Sokol Keep. You can run the adventure for level 1 PCs, but it will be really hard for them at level 1. Figure out if their group is Average, Weak or Very Weak and adjust as needed throughout the adventure. Check out page 18 of the adventure. It tells you specifically how to adjust the encounters down for weaker groups of PCs.


In general, you can modify any 5e combat encounter using HP and number of creatures. Add creatures and/or HP (eg. up to max) to increase difficulty. Remove creatures and/or lower HP (eg. cut in half) to reduce difficulty. If you have an encounter with a mixed group of creatures, try to leave at least one of each type in order to retain flavor. This applies to the Sokol Keep finale.




Originally posted by Thurazor:


Gotcha. As well, if someone starts with Level 1 characters (or even characters who are rank 1 of the Harpers faction), do they have access to the Harper mission?




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


Thurazor wrote:Gotcha. As well, if someone starts with Level 1 characters (or even characters who are rank 1 of the Harpers faction), do they have access to the Harper mission?
Yes. For AL, a new level 1 PC can join any faction from the moment they are created. Also, the Harper instructions are at the top of p. 10, and any Harper PC can trigger the mission before part 2. On the last page of the adventure, you will find that the PCs get 1 renown point for success, and any Harper PCs get a second renown point.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


This has me a little concerned guys. If an adventure can be tailored for 3-7 players then it needs rules within it SO it can be properly tailored for 3-7 players. Im seeing that wih the : v-weak, weak, average and so on). But Im also seeing people saying this would be very hard with level 1 characters. The tier for this is 1-4. If a Level 1 character cannot properly compete and hope to survive in this adventure then there is a serious issue with encounter design/ scenario design.

Now I had 3 players for my last weeks Defiance in Phlan. Whilist I would love more, I run this on a Saturday as its the day I have available. That might be denying me more players.. Im not sure. Im not going to change it as Its my time to control . Im more concerned with Wizards putting out a 2nd scenario which is far too deadly for a party which they allow to be played in the scenario.




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


The control is built into the adventure. My earlier comments were for running the adventure as written. It is pretty clear how to make the adventure easier or harder to suit. I really enjoyed playing it and am looking forward to DMing it myself. However, if a DM has a chance to bump his PCs up to level 2, I would really recommend it. I would rather throw a strong challenge at a party than to have to tame things down a bit. Anyways, my previous comment shows where you can read the adventure and see how to balance it.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Thanks , yeah I saw that a while back.

Im also saddened by your use of words like power built and optimised pcs. They are words Id hope Id never hear again in 5e.




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


Eh, it's a game. I try to have solid characters that are fun to roleplay. Sometimes when I run a second PC I will powergame them a bit because I tend to only focus on roleplaying one main character. As a DM, I'm constantly examining builds and creating NPCs and stuff and I guess it's second nature for gaming for me. Also, I tend to avoid playing pure roleplay builds that have little to offer in combat if I'm in a group that needs solid PCs or is on the small side. A large group of PCs can handle a few unoptimized builds. A small group of 3 PCs should be pretty well built IMO, no matter which edition you are playing. That might vary based on your DM/campaign though if it is primarily intrigues and such.

If you go into Sokol Keep with a few weak but fun RP builds at level 1, it will probably be pretty ugly. But if you have a tank, a solid healer and some damage dealers it will be a much easier time with things. This goes true for all of the 5e stuff I've played so far. But Sokol Keep really caught us off guard at the end and it was our second "Oh ****" moment in 5e (the first being the dragon in LMOP). Maybe we just had terrible rolls, but the ending was the first real challenge for me that I wasn't expecting. At least I knew that the dragon could be difficult in LMOP. Anyways, there is some helpful advice for DMs in the adventure. Dumping creatures will make things a lot easier. Our party didn't start off most combats with very good rolls and we nearly wiped. Fun times.




Originally posted by Uthrac:


Tyranthraxus wrote:If an adventure can be tailored for 3-7 players then it needs rules within it SO it can be properly tailored for 3-7 players. Im seeing that wih the : v-weak, weak, average and so on). But Im also seeing people saying this would be very hard with level 1 characters. The tier for this is 1-4. If a Level 1 character cannot properly compete and hope to survive in this adventure then there is a serious issue with encounter design/ scenario design.
The tailoring takes into account BOTH the number of players AND the level of players.

Introduction (top of page 2, in bold): This adventure is designed for three to seven 1st-level characters, and is optimized for five 2nd level characters.

In bold again on page three: ... optimized for a party of five 2nd-level characters.

Figure out party level (APL = 1, with all level 1 characters) and party strength is determined by the number of players. Using the chart on page 3 ...


3-4 characters, APL less than 2 ... Very Weak.


So, you should run the adventure for three first level characters with the "Very Weak" adjustments provided throughout the adventure. (With 3 instead of 4, you may need even a bit more adjusting - such as reducing the hit points of creatures further or removing a skeleton from the final encounter, in addition to the suggested scaling.)





Originally posted by TheGimper:


I haven't run it yet, but am prepping to run it at my FLGS end of the month. But all I can say is this thing is seriously in need of a copy editor. Wowser! Not only is there redundant text in some of the room descriptions, the read aloud text for the final battle doesn't agree with the encounter description, and the section about cleansing the altar after the combat doesn't match what happens during the combat. It's a complete muddle. Also, I think there is tremendous opportunity to really play up the efforts/actions of the spirit that would make this adventure very memorable. I have some ideas, but was disappointed that the module is sadly lacking any meaningful suggestions.




Originally posted by lieumorrison:


There is a part of this module that I'm having difficulty in suspending disbelief as a legitimate deterrent from preventing players from wanting to take a specific type of action.

"Travelling to Thorn Island [Pg. 11]

Swimming. The island is three hundred feet from the shore and will take a swimmer 2d4+2 hours to reach."

While the earlier paragraph does mention strong currents and dangerous rocks as the primary reason as why such a swim is very difficult... but a minimum of 4 hours to swim that 300 feet is far fetched. Consider that an average non-practiced / non professional swimmer can swim a mile (5280 ft.) in about 45 minutes. (Abet with no obstacle, but still...)

The negative consequences listed in taking the attempt is exhaustion. Wouldn't a better deterrent be damage from crashing waves on sharp rocks? And/Or nasty aquatic predators?

-lieumorrison





Originally posted by Mind_Flayer_Monk:


lieumorrison wrote:... but a minimum of 4 hours to swim that 300 feet is far fetched.
Haha its about the same speed as moving the boat in Fitzcarraldo.





Originally posted by TheGimper:


lieumorrison wrote:There is a part of this module that I'm having difficulty in suspending disbelief as a legitimate deterrent from preventing players from wanting to take a specific type of action.

"Travelling to Thorn Island [Pg. 11]

Swimming. The island is three hundred feet from the shore and will take a swimmer 2d4+2 hours to reach."

While the earlier paragraph does mention strong currents and dangerous rocks as the primary reason as why such a swim is very difficult... but a minimum of 4 hours to swim that 300 feet is far fetched. Consider that an average non-practiced / non professional swimmer can swim a mile (5280 ft.) in about 45 minutes. (Abet with no obstacle, but still...)

The negative consequences listed in taking the attempt is exhaustion. Wouldn't a better deterrent be damage from crashing waves on sharp rocks? And/Or nasty aquatic predators?

-lieumorrison
Yeah. That's just one of the many problems I've noticed. If the current is that swift, ot's white water rPids, and you're not crossing on a ferry either.


Originally posted by obsid:


So to me this seemed like a fairly tough fights module. I just got through playing a diffrent adventure which was crazy wimpy that lasted like all of 2 rounds per fight and barly used our dailies. So to me the extra difficulting was good. The shambaling armor thing seemed to have VERY high AC (but then again, they are armor), that was a tough fight and blew through 70% of our dailies. And then we got to the last fight without even taking a short rest
sad.gif
. Lucky we had 2 clerics which helped (although the turns were not that effective because of the enviromental effects but still nice). Then the ghouls came out, and that can be nasty. One good ghoul attack paralizes a person, then all the skeletons/zombies get advantage and free criticals on the guy. Very hard fight to do without a short rest. If I had to make a recomendation, it would be to add something that encurages a short rest between the armor fight and the final fight.




Originally posted by DM_HEEGZ:


that sounds very similar to our experience. it was pretty tense!




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


Hi I'll run DDEX1-2 Secrets of Sokol Keep this weekend and during preperation i came upon a section that raised questions. Harae is said to typically be in the East Tower, but may help the PCs in aera 4 and answer any questions. Is area 4 refered to the one called 4. The Sinkhole in the Jaded Temple? I ask because it makes no mention of Harae apparances there and seems odd to see her show up here....



SoSK12 Harae The Spirit:
Harae is typically in the East Tower, and upon the characters entering it, she immediately takes an active interest in them...If she recognizes that the characters are trying to figure out what happened to Igan and she is friendly towards a majority of the characters, she helps in area 4 and answers any questions posed by characters that she is friendly to.


Originally posted by Tscharod:


For my understanding Harae can accompany the PCs in the whole dungeon of the Jade Idol, and therfor help also at the sinkhole. The east tower is more or less the place for the first contact. When I run the adventure, my group invented some kind of yes/no communication and explicitly asked here for joining and aid. This also gives some oppurtunity for support while the fight at the Jade Idol.




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


Thanks, weird if so as i wonder why if Harae follows the party that she'd only accept to help once they are in area 4?

Another question i have with 4. The Skinhole, what's the 3-foot-wide circular opening on the eastern wall? Is it a passage leading to room 7 or just an empty alcove? I don't understand the map doesn't seem to feature it...




Originally posted by KippleSnacks:


Plaguescarred wrote:Thanks, weird if so as i wonder why if Harae follows the party that she'd only accept to help once they are in area 4?

Another question i have with 4. The Skinhole, what's the 3-foot-wide circular opening on the eastern wall? Is it a passage leading to room 7 or just an empty alcove? I don't understand the map doesn't seem to feature it...
Map and Area 4 don't specify, however the description for Area 7 mentions that they considered using that passage. So I would conclude that Area 4 and 7 link.




Originally posted by Plaguescarred1:


KippleSnacks wrote:
Plaguescarred wrote:Thanks, weird if so as i wonder why if Harae follows the party that she'd only accept to help once they are in area 4?

Another question i have with 4. The Skinhole, what's the 3-foot-wide circular opening on the eastern wall? Is it a passage leading to room 7 or just an empty alcove? I don't understand the map doesn't seem to feature it...
Map and Area 4 don't specify, however the description for Area 7 mentions that they considered using that passage. So I would conclude that Area 4 and 7 link.
Oh yeah they definitly mention a "tunnel to area 4" Good catch thanks!


Originally posted by SteveMND:


Tyranthraxus wrote:Im also saddened by your use of words like power built and optimised pcs. They are words Id hope Id never hear again in 5e.
That, I'm afraid will never happen, as that's not the issue with the system, but rather with the players. A powergamer will try to game the system on tic-tac-toe given the opportunity
smile.gif


At least 5e has seemed to curtail some of the more egregious issues of powergaming common in earlier editions. i've noticed a lot of rules and posts and descriptions that specifically counter certain 'legal but leaving a bad taste in your mouth' scenarios I had seen in earlier editions.





Originally posted by SteveMND:


On an unrelated note, since I saw another thread lamenting the lack of maps in Encounters, I figured I might as well post this here: Being the graphics guy that I am, i decided to make some nifty little print-out room grids for use in the various Expeditions mods as i run them (and have sufficient time), since our group likes the whole tactical-grid stuff. They're available here if anyone would like to use them -- they should in theory print out at one-inch-square grids on a standard 8x11 sheet (I'd recommend borderless setting). The textures, items, gewgaws and such used on them are stuff I've collected from the net, etc. over the years, and I typically added the max number of stuff like dead bodies, etc., we were likely to come across, and i just use those as a starting point as needed when stuff lurches to life, etc. I also didn't bother doing the rooms where combat was unlikely to occur. Anyway, if someone can find use with them, be my guess. If people seem to be interested, I'll add any other I may end up doing to their relevant threads later on.




Originally posted by Pauper:


Plaguescarred wrote:Thanks, weird if so as i wonder why if Harae follows the party that she'd only accept to help once they are in area 4?
There are a couple of places outside the Jade Temple where Harae can help if she is friendly to the party (or a particular PC):



Show
[sblock]- In the East Tower, if nobody has a high enough Investigation check to find the hidden door to the shrine of Tyr, Harae can knock over a piece of furniture, revealing it.
- If a character is reading either Igan's journal or the Book of Moonsea Cults, a friendly Harae can flip the pages of the book to exactly the correct page for the knowledge the PC needs. (This isn't expressly mentioned in the adventure, but is reasonable based on other events Harae is known to have done.)


[/sblock]
But it does seem that the lion's share of help from the friendly spirit will happen in the Jade Temple.

--
Pauper




Originally posted by Pauper:


So, we ran this mod on Saturday with a full table of 7 -- one of the players showed up with his 13-year old son, whom we've played LFR with before. The adventure started smoothly, with the party making something of a beeline for Thorn Island, then visiting just the two towers, splitting up to do so, so that by the time the group who'd scouted the West Tower got back, the East Tower folks had already figured out how to get in.

The big win for the party was the bard (the father of the 13-year old), who had the Healer feat and was thus able to pass out a bunch of additional healing via his Healer's Kit. The group was still in excellent shape when entering the idol room, and when the undead awoke, the party cleric stepped forward, confidently turned undead, and got all but 2 of the creatures despite the idol's influence.

Then the ghouls showed up from behind...

One of the ghouls ended up with a clean shot on the 13-year old's rogue, and dropped him. Then, in the next round, the rest of the party was still busy, so the ghoul was standing over the unconsious form of the rogue. I remembered from Libris Mortis that ghouls were driven by hunger and a desire to devour the living, so I gave the ghoul a Wisdom save to resist his hunger and press on to another party member. The ghoul failed, critted the rogue, and killed him. I kinda felt bad about that, but decided not to pull the punch, not wanting to give the wrong idea. To his credit, the player took the death well.

However, once the fight was over, I immediately said, "Lawrence <the name of the rogue>, you wake up to see the rest of the group still fighting in what looks like slow motion. You look down and see your body lying at your feet, and a young woman standing next to you. She says, 'I'm sorry you died.'" Harae, finally with someone to talk to, told the rogue the whole story, and later, when the party was trying to figure out if Grim's story checked out, Lawrence decided to try to possess one of the other (exhausted) Black Fist guards. I gave him an opposed Wisdom check, which he won, and he then relayed the story to the rest of the party via the Black Fist guard, at which point the party immediately set upon Grim, subdued him, and prepared to drag him off for a trial. Harae took Lawrence with him to the lighthouse and lifted her curse, and the rest of the party saw the lighthouse re-light as they boarded the ferry to return to Phlan.

All in all, a pretty good run. Thanks to the author for providing a situation where a dead party member could prove to be the most important member in the story.

--
Pauper




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Pauper: He refused Faction Charity? Or was he factionless? (I have a devout factionless who plays in one of my games. He refuses any coercion into joining any faction)




Originally posted by Pauper:


Well, you can't take faction charity during the adventure (and the party was already basically finished with the mod, so that was moot anyway).

There was a thought that perhaps the other six party members could scrape up the gold to get him raised, but it didn't end up happening. We'll see who he plays next month.

--
Pauper




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


Pauper: Huh? At the end of the scenario , he uses his faction for the Faction Charity raise from the dead, following the rules as laid out in the Players Guide to Tyranny. He wouldnt be dead, he just wouldnt of got much at all out of the scenario.

Did he take Faction Charity at the end?




Originally posted by Pauper:


He didn't want to, because he didn't want to lose the XP for playing the mod (the ALPG notes that a character taking Faction Charity "forfeits all XP and rewards from that session (even those earned prior to death during that session)" (ALPG, p.11)), so we went through the process of figuring out if the party could afford to pay to have him raised. The party did have enough, but two players didn't want to bankrupt their characters doing so, and since the ALPG specifically says that players can't be obligated to help raise another party member from the dead ("Other characters are under no obligation to spend their funds to bring back a dead party member." p.11), we went with that.

I did offer, if he retired the character, to have Harae escort him to the Fugue Plane to dwell in Tyr's domain, but the last I heard from the player's father, he decided to take Faction Charity. He's got a heck of a story to tell, if nothing to show for it.

--
Pauper
 
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Ricochet

Explorer
Originally posted by AlHazred:

I ran this a few weeks ago, and realized I forgot to put my input in the thread.
 
My group managed (barely) not to start killing people in the bar-fight -- I think a lot of the 4E groups I ran have become accustomed to solving their problems that way. The funny thing is that the group consisted of: wood elf ranger, tiefling warlock, dragonborn sorcerer, human cleric, human rogue, and human fighter. Half the party had great Charisma scores and skill in interactions -- once they got out of the "fight" mindset (when they realized the bar-fighters were using their fists only) they easily talked the situation down. I think even groups with all 8s in Charisma have a good chance of talking the rowdies out of the fight, which is something I like to see in modules. It should come down to player choices, not character optimization, to create solutions.
I played the island as spooky, trying to give it a creepy feel. I played the groundskeeper for laughs, having him be startled and knocking over his campstove each time a PC came back from exploring to ask him a question. They eventually discovered the secret shrine and the means to opening the deeper caverns. The animated armor fight has hard because of the high AC, but I played the armor without any tactics and that helped -- I recommend encouraging players to use Help actions, and actually describe HOW their character is helping. Describe the location in detail and don't be afraid to put stuff in the room that wasn't in the description, so that players can have their characters do swashbuckly or clever things to help out.
The ghoul fight was also extremely hard for my group. I was surprised I didn't kill off any characters in it, but it was because the heavily-armored paladin made some lucky die rolls and didn't drown. Compared to that fight, the final fight was easy, though the ghouls arriving from behind gave them a nasty surprise.
My group didn't even really understand that there was a ghost at all. Without the ghost compelling my players overtly, I realized they were probably going to let the Black Fists go, because they hadn't made the connection with the beacon outage. Fortunately the cleric was a cleric of Kelemvor, and once I reminded her of that, she took steps to bring Grim to justice.


Originally posted by SteveMND:

AlHazred wrote:My group didn't even really understand that there was a ghost at all. Without the ghost compelling my players overtly, I realized they were probably going to let the Black Fists go, because they hadn't made the connection with the beacon outage. Fortunately the cleric was a cleric of Kelemvor, and once I reminded her of that, she took steps to bring Grim to justice.
 
Nor did mine; that said, however, the whole 'knife in the back of the guy slumped over the altarstone' certainly gives strong pause to even the most oblivous of characters that something untowards happened, and even more so if you drop subtle- and not-so-subtle hints that the dagger was one used by a Black Fist (I make sure to note it as being a new, clean dagger, as opposed to the coroded, older weapons used by the skeeltons, it having a black-corded hilt, be the same type as the rescued BFs have, and make it apparently to anyone who happens to be looking for it, that Grimm happenes to have an empty dagger scabbard at his side).  Most parties so far have put 2 and 2 together and brought him to justice -- with or without a fight -- and as such, the lighthouse resumes operation regardless of whether or not they knew exactly why.
 
My only problem with the module has been the fact that if the lighthouse is so important, why has no-one official bothered to head out and invetigate before the players get involved?  Clearly, it's been enough of a hassle that the dockworkers and sailors are getting upset  that they are losing business, and while it mentions that the BFs and House Sokol are bickering over the responsibility of the issue, I have a hard time justifying why no-one hsa bothered to just go out there.  I mean, it's barely a bowshot out from the dock, and not like it's some isolated outpost that we lost communication from weeks ago or something.  I've been covering for that aspect by really playing up the bickering and red tape involved between the two groups, but it seems awkward still, unless I missed something in the background to explain it away?


Originally posted by Tscharod:

I have played it in a way, that house Sokol and the Black Fist were blaming each other doing nothing. Also I played both group's representatives in a way of incompetent to take the lead. More difficulties I had to convince the players to do something without any kind reward like gold etc. because nobody really hired them.


Originally posted by Uthrac:

Tscharod wrote:I have played it in a way, that house Sokol and the Black Fist were blaming each other doing nothing. Also I played both group's representatives in a way of incompetent to take the lead. More difficulties I had to convince the players to do something without any kind reward like gold etc. because nobody really hired them.
 
This ...
 
PLUS ...
 
We weren't under any time constraints, so I had each PC get contacted by a representative of their faction to check things out, on behalf of the faction, and report back anything they learn. As a happy coincidence, the two Harper PCs had no interest in participating in the bar fight, which provided the perfect distraction for an NPC to say, "Psst ... over here."
 
In any case, this was a great follow-up to the DDEX1-1 adventure flavor of "In Expeditions, you're generally doing stuff to help the factions." Renown was a trump to gold, in that players felt motivated enough to help their faction (to gaine renown/prestige), even if none of the locals offered coin.


Originally posted by AlHazred:

SteveMND wrote:My only problem with the module has been the fact that if the lighthouse is so important, why has no-one official bothered to head out and invetigate before the players get involved?  Clearly, it's been enough of a hassle that the dockworkers and sailors are getting upset  that they are losing business, and while it mentions that the BFs and House Sokol are bickering over the responsibility of the issue, I have a hard time justifying why no-one hsa bothered to just go out there.  I mean, it's barely a bowshot out from the dock, and not like it's some isolated outpost that we lost communication from weeks ago or something.  I've been covering for that aspect by really playing up the bickering and red tape involved between the two groups, but it seems awkward still, unless I missed something in the background to explain it away?
The groups I run for have already decided that the Black Fist, whatever greatness it used to have, has become a nest of lazy, entitled jerks. After all, they mostly ignored a farmer's goblin issue in DDEX1-1, essentially saying, "Eh, you handle it." It's GOBLINS. Immediately outside the CITY. Don't they want advance warning if goblins are about to invade? 
And then the Sokol family is in dire straits, financially. I figure everyone competent is busy, and the people left who could be sent are basically menials and spear-carriers, not suited to handle anything unusual, which the beacon going out definitely is.


Originally posted by Pauper:

Goblins? Invade? Heh. Nice one.
 
I wish I had pointed it up a bit more when I ran the mod, but this is a good module to point up that the people having problems generally don't have the power to fix them (the dockworkers, the halfling merchants in the inn), while the people who do have the power don't really see the issues as their own problems (the Black Fist pointing out that House Sokol administers the lighthouse, while House Sokol points out that the Black Fist protects it).
 
It'll also help foreshadow some of the other meta-plot things happening later, such as the factions becoming more active, and the guilds looking for political power.
 
--
Pauper
 

Andrew McClain

First Post
I know this post is years old, but I'm about to run this module as a one-shot and I can't figure out:

What stat block do you use for the mercs (Keria and Aravele) in the bar fight? It's not specified in the module.
 

Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
I know this post is years old, but I'm about to run this module as a one-shot and I can't figure out:

What stat block do you use for the mercs (Keria and Aravele) in the bar fight? It's not specified in the module.

They don't have stats listed in the adventure. I've ran this a couple of times and never needed their stats. The group has always either defused the situation or sided with them. When that happens, I just have all of the commoners attack the PCs rather than the NPCs so I don't need to worry about their hitpoints or AC.

Since the point is for the PCs to fight the battle, I generally don't worry about any attack from an NPC to an NPC at all. I'll assume they either miss or their damage doesn't actually count (I'll describe hits but won't reduce any hitpoints).

If you need stats for them, the guard stats in the adventure are probably most appropriate.
 


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