DDEX1-8 Tales Trees Tell GM notes and discussion

Ricochet

Explorer
Originally posted by Pauper:


This is a delightfully creepy module, so much so that I'm regretting not trying to put together a last-minute group over Halloween weekend to run it.

One important point, though - the permanent magic item description in this module no longer matches the one in the DM's Basic Rules:



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[sblock]The Cloak of Elvenkind in the module is described as having an endure elements-like effect, while rev3 of the DM's Basic Rules describes the Cloak of Elvenkind as granting Advantage to Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide, and imposes Disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks made to see the wearer.[/sblock]
I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?

--
Pauper




Originally posted by Skerrit:


I will double check that.




Originally posted by akaddk:


Glad for that change. A Cloak of Elvenkind with an endure elements-like effect was pretty lame.




Originally posted by cowleymen:


is there a link to the module your talking about? i would love to read it, i love creepy aventures!!!




Originally posted by Skerrit:


You can only get the adventure (and all the expedition adventures) via the secure order site for stores and conventions. It is not publically posted.




Originally posted by Skerrit:


Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.




Originally posted by Oraibi:


How far is it to Greenhall? Three days or two?


Originally posted by Skerrit:


Oraibi wrote:How far is it to Greenhall? Three days or two?
I believe it was two.




Originally posted by Oraibi:


It has both values in the adventure.


Originally posted by Pauper:


Finally got the chance to run this over the weekend.

On the whole, it was a well-received adventure. Suitably creepy, and the party was sufficiently cowed by all the references to Jeny Greenteeth as an ancient, powerful evil that they decided to go full-on diplomatic when they finally encountered her...



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[sblock]which is actually the better option from an XP perspective! Nice to see that 'kill it and take its stuff' isn't always the best solution to a D&D problem.[/sblock]
The confusion over whether Greenhall was two or three days from the ranger's house wasn't a big issue -- we played up the 'ancient fey forest' angle, and knowing that very few humans had journeyed into the forest over the past century or so meant that maps weren't going to be wholly reliable. (It's actually an open question if the locations in the forest even stay where they 'are' from era to era -- it's not unusual in faerie stories for time and distance to vary wildly in fey realms.)

There were a few places where I should have done a bit of editing myself before launching the mod -- the corpse with a half-dozen arrows in his back, described in one sentence as carrying no weapon, then in the next sentence describing the shortbow in his hand and the longsword at his hip was the most egregious example -- but I don't know that the inconsistency broke up the flow of the adventure. (The group was much more concerned with the monsters attracted by the dead body!)

The party was also charmed (though not literally) by the imp Pipyap -- to the point where the dwarf cleric spent some time looking at the find familiar spell to see if he could persuade the creature to come over to the light side!

On the whole, a nicely atmospheric adventure that could use a bit more editing and polishing before being presented.

--
Pauper




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


I too enjoyed running the Scenario. I had a lot of fun with 'Grandma Jenny' offering everone some drink and food. Players were freakin out telling me 'But its poisoned, you are trying to kill us!'. I had a Monk go off in a huff because some people in the party didnt want to just straight out attack Jenny. People generally thought that she was a VERY powerful Creature akin to a Dragon even if her stats didnt relfect that at all. After a while adopting the Grandma voice does start to strain my own though
smile.gif


I ran a Dragonlance game years ago and the Elves in that particular game were VERY similar to the Elven villagers in this one. Very xenophobic and shoot first ask questions later. Armach Elves.

I also enjoyed the Displacer beasts. I have some guy who gets very cocky with his combat rolls and it was nice to take him down a peg for a while.




Originally posted by RCanine:


I know I'm late to the party on this one, but I DM'd it over the weekend and although I really enjoyed a lot of the flavor, there were some mechanical things that I really didn't like, that I think the authors can take feedback from for future adventures.

1. Hidden treasure. This adventure relies on PCs either knowing treasure exists, and actively seeking it out, or forces them to actively use perception everywhere they go, which isn't fun.



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[sblock]
  • In the cabin, the PCs don't really have any reason to believe that there is something hidden, and what is hidden is just treasure—not essential to the story.
  • There is no real indication that the displacer beasts have a lair. When I played through this, my party completely missed that, and even though I had the DBs steal one of the party members' backpacks, they didn't think to try and track them down either. Again, there's no way a party is going to pick up on this unless you push them to it, or they've read the adventure (not to mention that that fight is so tedious that I was happy my players didn't go after them—I couldn't handle another hour of a constantly-missing snoozefest.
  • The magical nature of the pin may be intended to be a PC-gotcha mechanic, but there's little indication (especially for PCs without Detect Magic) that the party should be concernd.



[/sblock]
2. Punishing the PCs for talking. I hate when my PCs want to engage with the adventure but are afraid to say anything because they're not a charisma-based character. This adventure punishes non-charisma-based players quite a bit.



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[sblock]
  • Every non-combat encounter (Pipyap, Serelis, the Elves and Jeny) requires persuasion checks to succeed, and some of them are quite difficult. PCs should be able to use other skills to successfully complete the adventure.
  • Several of them contain auto-fail or disadvantage mechanics (bringing pipyap to Greenhall or showing the elves/serelis Jeny's pin), but the players don't have great ways to know.



[/sblock]
3. Meaningless combat. Combat is challenging at low levels because the PCs don't have a lot of things they can do, so if each side's only goal is to reduce everyone to zero, they get to be boring roll-offs pretty quickly. Great combats have a goal, which the monsters intend to prevent the PCs from completing.

Beyond these points of feedback, I think this adventure was incredibly well-written with interesting characters and a great, creepy feel. Great job!

EDIT: added one.




Originally posted by Nozareem:


I hope we have more mods like this with the dark theme. It's fun to play a pg13 or close to R rated mods that are like this. I hope the writer for this mod writes more mods like this one in the future.




Originally posted by Pauper:


It's funny, because I appreciated this adventure, in part, specifically because of the reasons listed here:



RCanine wrote:
1. Hidden treasure. This adventure relies on PCs either knowing treasure exists, and actively seeking it out, or forces them to actively use perception everywhere they go, which isn't fun.
Having run far too many LFR mods where the adventure ends and you as DM hand out the silver platter with the treasure bundles on it, it's a nice change of pace to say that a party didn't get a treasure because they didn't bother looking for it. (With that said, it's easy to forget where all the treasure is hidden, which is why a DM should take extra time to prepare those sorts of mods to avoid depriving characters of treasure the DM wasn't aware of.)

2. Punishing the PCs for talking. I hate when my PCs want to engage with the adventure but are afraid to say anything because they're not a charisma-based character. This adventure punishes non-charisma-based players quite a bit.

So somebody needs to make a character who is good in social situations instead of just focusing on being a murder-hobo? Sounds great to me!

3. Meaningless combat. Combat is challenging at low levels because the PCs don't have a lot of things they can do, so if each side's only goal is to reduce everyone to zero, they get to be boring roll-offs pretty quickly. Great combats have a goal, which the monsters intend to prevent the PCs from completing.

Actually, nearly all of the combat in this module is skippable, if the party gets lucky or knows what they are doing:



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[sblock]- If the party doesn't bring Jeny's pin to the ranger's cottage, she can't animate the scarecrow and twig blights and there is no combat there.
- If the party doesn't choose to fight Pipyap, there's no combat there.
- If the party doesn't bring Pipyap to the elven village, there doesn't have to be a combat there (and if they bring the ranger, they'll be aware that the fight isn't winnable if they do fight)
- If the party deals peaceably with Jeny, she doesn't have to fight them and can even earn the chest of treasure in her lair without a combat.

The only fight that the party can't really avoid is the displacer beast fight, and that one is meant to be tough, to suggest that the party might well be out of their league.
[/sblock]


Beyond these points of feedback, I think this adventure was incredibly well-written with interesting characters and a great, creepy feel. Great job!
Agreed, it was a fun module to run, and the players seemed to enjoy it, too. I don't think I've ever run a group Persuasion check that felt quite so epic.

--
Pauper




Originally posted by CzarCascade:


I played this last week and had a great time.

It was different from the "socilaizing with a hag" perspective.

We also missed some treasure but as a seasoned adventurer, I blame myself for not considering searching for lairs.

The pin was awesome...especially when we asked to examine it for value like we do any item that is provided. Once we investigated it a little, it changed our perspective on the event timing.

I did like the roleplay and the moral dilemma of bartering for a good thing from something inherently evil. Over and over I kept asking our lawful good palladin (as he saw the fingers in the soup)...just give the word. Alas, it never came...

And of course the event was rounded out by our warlock deciding to switch to pact of the chain and take the "homeless" imp as a familiar...




Originally posted by TheBreen:


Pauper wrote:
2. Punishing the PCs for talking. I hate when my PCs want to engage with the adventure but are afraid to say anything because they're not a charisma-based character. This adventure punishes non-charisma-based players quite a bit.
So somebody needs to make a character who is good in social situations instead of just focusing on being a murder-hobo? Sounds great to me!
The adventure says:
Despite the shaky alliance that exists with the elves of the Quivering Forest, they do not suffer trespass in their realm lightly, especially from
common folk from nearby Phlan. A woodworker’s recent blunder into the forest might set off a diplomatic incident. Can you help find him and
mollify the aggravated elves? A four-hour adventure for levels 1-4.

Why woud you go on a sensitive diplomatic mission with very grave consequences for failure without a "charisma-based" character? My 18 Charisma bard with expertise in persuasion turned the big bad boss fight into a nice little chat, and earned some sweet loot (to go along with his sweet lute). But for the fighter types (murder-hobo? really?) there's no reasoning with displacer beasts.
wink.gif


At our table, this adventure was fun, and creepy, for the whole party.




Originally posted by Tyranthraxus:


I totally agree with The Breen on this.




Originally posted by RCanine:


TheBreen wrote:\Why woud you go on a sensitive diplomatic mission with very grave consequences for failure without a "charisma-based" character?
Because this is organized play and you do not get to choose your party. Also,



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[sblock]Every encounter relies on Persuasion, only. You cannot use Deception or Intimidate. You cannot use non-social skills to gain bonuses to the social ones. A bard could complete this adventure without anyone else in the party.[/sblock]
...that might be fine design for a home campaign, but it's not good for OP.




Originally posted by imaginaryfriend.inv:


RCanine wrote:
TheBreen wrote:\Why woud you go on a sensitive diplomatic mission with very grave consequences for failure without a "charisma-based" character?
Because this is organized play and you do not get to choose your party. Also,


Show
[sblock]Every encounter relies on Persuasion, only. You cannot use Deception or Intimidate. You cannot use non-social skills to gain bonuses to the social ones. A bard could complete this adventure without anyone else in the party.[/sblock]
...that might be fine design for a home campaign, but it's not good for OP.
I agree that alternatives IN the text would have been a good thing, but


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[sblock]There is and was nothing stopping you from allowing Deception, Intimidate or something else creative to take the place of Persuasion. While this sounds like a little too much reliance on DM flexibility in this adventure. Al adventures do rely on the DM to adjust for one-sided/no-social-skills/etc. parties.


[/sblock]




Originally posted by RCanine:


imaginaryfriend.inv wrote:Show
[sblock]There is and was nothing stopping you from allowing Deception, Intimidate or something else creative to take the place of Persuasion. While this sounds like a little too much reliance on DM flexibility in this adventure. Al adventures do rely on the DM to adjust for one-sided/no-social-skills/etc. parties.[/sblock]
I don't disagree. I just like to make sure these things are brought up so that future writers don't make these mistakes.




Originally posted by abanathie:


Skerrit wrote:
Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.
Unfortunately, I know two DMs that have ruled that what is on the certification is what you get. Period. End of story. It gives you endure elements and nothing else. I'm glad I lost the roll to gain the item due to this inability on the AL's part to communicate their "intent".




Originally posted by Nozareem:


Ok I gotta know can you get the imp as a familiar for a arcane character in the mod? I tried but the DM told me it was not a option in the mod to give thevimp as a familiar to a players?




Originally posted by RCanine:


Nozareem wrote:Ok I gotta know can you get the imp as a familiar for a arcane character in the mod? I tried but the DM told me it was not a option in the mod to give thevimp as a familiar to a players?
No. If you take the Warlock pact of the chain, you could always choose an imp and RP that it's Pipyap, but there are no awards (that I know of) in the AL that increase your character options beyond those in the PHB (except one cert that provides the ability to be a Death Domain cleric).





Originally posted by TheBreen:


There was another thread about imps as familiars, and I don't think they're allowed. With Find Familiar your familiar is always a spirit, but it can take on different forms. To get an actual imp, you have to make a contract that's outside the bounds of what AL can handle.

Note: If people don't agree, please don't argue here. Just go to the original thread(x) and go ahead and argue there instead.




Originally posted by Noon:


Nozareem wrote:Ok I gotta know can you get the imp as a familiar for a arcane character in the mod? I tried but the DM told me it was not a option in the mod to give thevimp as a familiar to a players?
No. But if he likes you, he may just follow you around - as like a sort of friend (or frenemy), rather than a familiar.

"Those cows I killed? ... They probably deserved it!"

I love that quote from him!




Originally posted by Coredump00:


abanathie wrote:
Skerrit wrote:
Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.
Unfortunately, I know two DMs that have ruled that what is on the certification is what you get. Period. End of story. It gives you endure elements and nothing else. I'm glad I lost the roll to gain the item due to this inability on the AL's part to communicate their "intent".
Have you tried telling them that one of the top AL admins has explicity stated that the cloak has both effects?





Originally posted by Skerrit:


abanathie wrote:
Skerrit wrote:
Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.
Unfortunately, I know two DMs that have ruled that what is on the certification is what you get. Period. End of story. It gives you endure elements and nothing else. I'm glad I lost the roll to gain the item due to this inability on the AL's part to communicate their "intent".
That will be sad for your group, since several of the adventures list additional effects/quirks that items have that are no printed on the cert. If there is an item you want, for you its almost better to not have the certificate, since you;d get what's actually printed in the adventure.




Originally posted by abanathie:


Skerrit wrote:
abanathie wrote:
Skerrit wrote:
Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.
Unfortunately, I know two DMs that have ruled that what is on the certification is what you get. Period. End of story. It gives you endure elements and nothing else. I'm glad I lost the roll to gain the item due to this inability on the AL's part to communicate their "intent".
That will be sad for your group, since several of the adventures list additional effects/quirks that items have that are no printed on the cert. If there is an item you want, for you its almost better to not have the certificate, since you;d get what's actually printed in the adventure.
To me, it's sad that an official communication, i.e. an item certification, from the staff would cause this situation to begin with. There are alot of different types of DMs out there. In "my group", there are four core DMs. Two of those are legalistic, with one of them not being very good at it. When a item does not function the same between each DM in an "organized" setting, it leads to a less than enjoyable game. If I were to attend a different set of DMs at a different gameday, I'm pretty sure that there would be a similar potential for this situation. Personally, I would like for the staff to take these situations into account when making certifications. Even a statement that this item functions as item X with the additional benefits of x, y or z would have fixed this issue before it became a problem. To me, it doesn't seem to be a outlandish request, but I have been called crazy in the past. So... it might be a completely crazy idea...




Originally posted by Skerrit:


abanathie wrote: So... it might be a completely crazy idea...
In season one, it wasn't doable. The certs were printed by WOTC before the adventures were written and at the time HQ's thought was to make the certs generic (see the DMG for rules), so all the description went into the adventure (since the DMG wasn't written yet either). I'm not sure why a DM would assume an adventure which is written at a later date and occassionally has its file updated is automatically inferior to the piece of cardboard. Either way, I have requested HQ put a clarification in the PG that adventures always take priority over certs. Please note that the Admins can control the adventures, we have no control over the certs.

Greg Marks
Associate Resource Manager, DnDAL




Originally posted by ZHDarkstar:


I think expecting the Admins to have control over the certs is beyond reasonable expectations anyways. However, perhaps a high enough Persuasion check could influence the printing process in future seasons, as it would align with 5e's value of streamlined design. ;)

Edit: I assume that WOTC decides the list of magic items each season. I would imagine that the creative process for seasons 2 and beyond will be more efficient, as all of the core books are available. Hopefully that will allow time for the Admins to add their input before the certs go to print.




Originally posted by RCanine:


Skerrit wrote:I'm not sure why a DM would assume an adventure which is written at a later date and occassionally has its file updated is automatically inferior to the piece of cardboard. Either way, I have requested HQ put a clarification in the PG that adventures always take priority over certs. Please note that the Admins can control the adventures, we have no control over the certs.
To be fair, copy editing errors on these adventures sometimes slip through. Plus, for the last five years everything had to come from published books, so I think a reasonable DM that doesn't read this thread could infer that it was probably a copypasta error or something that squeaked in from the playtest material, and that the published book is the source of truth. For something to be similar, but different, it really needs to stand out. Big bold text that says "hey, this something special, beyond what's on the DMG," would not be inappropriate.




Originally posted by abanathie:


Skerrit wrote:
abanathie wrote: So... it might be a completely crazy idea...
In season one, it wasn't doable. The certs were printed by WOTC before the adventures were written and at the time HQ's thought was to make the certs generic (see the DMG for rules), so all the description went into the adventure (since the DMG wasn't written yet either). I'm not sure why a DM would assume an adventure which is written at a later date and occassionally has its file updated is automatically inferior to the piece of cardboard. Either way, I have requested HQ put a clarification in the PG that adventures always take priority over certs. Please note that the Admins can control the adventures, we have no control over the certs.

Greg Marks
Associate Resource Manager, DnDAL
In other words, HQ made a decision that has a negative impact on a (small) number of tables. I would suggest forwarding a request to HQ to keep that from happening again. Even if they just list the item along with a page reference in the DMG, it would go a long way to alleviating this. Adding two words, "In addition", before the additional powers would even go further. The problem with just listing something in the Player's Guide is that some DMs won't have access to past adventures; they will just have a cert that states X. They'll just rule that X on the cert is what is available and is the table's ruling; since, they cannot access a particular adventure. You would have to list every "augmented" item in the campaign to properly correct this situation, and it won't prevent a situation where adventures are released between Player Guide updates and aren't listed in the Player Guide.




Originally posted by Nozareem:


Yeah I played this mod at Winter Fantasy and got the cert for the cloak and it states right on the cert item in DMG for the reference. Thank god for that. It sucks I guess for those who played the mod before the DMG.




Originally posted by TheBreen:


Skerrit wrote:
Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.
This conversation (eventually) got me to make my own custom item certificates for my own use. I print them on 5"x8" card stock. When I also have the official certificate, I keep that in my faction folder, and have my versions out at the table for ease of use. For example, here's the one I did for the Cloak of Elvenkind from Tales Trees Tell.

[ATT class]/modules/file/icons/application-pdf.pngCloak of Elvenkind.pdf(x)[//ATT]

I find these kind of fun, so I thought I'd suggest them here. I do something similar for my character at conventions. I make one of these that has a picture of the PC, his name, my name, and a few important game stats.

It's important to realize that these are not "official" in any way; refer to your original certificates or logsheet entries if you need to "prove" validity or trade items.




Originally posted by ZHDarkstar:


TheBreen wrote:
Skerrit wrote:
Pauper wrote:I assume the version in the DM's Basic Rules is the version to use?
I double checked the intent. That particular elven cloak is special. It behaves as a normal elven cloak (as per the DMG rules) and also has an Endure Elements effect on top of that.
This conversation (eventually) got me to make my own custom item certificates for my own use. I print them on 5"x8" card stock. When I also have the official certificate, I keep that in my faction folder, and have my versions out at the table for ease of use. For example, here's the one I did for the Cloak of Elvenkind from Tales Trees Tell.

/modules/file/icons/application-pdf.pngCloak of Elvenkind.pdf(x)

I find these kind of fun, so I thought I'd suggest them here. I do something similar for my character at conventions. I make one of these that has a picture of the PC, his name, my name, and a few important game stats.

It's important to realize that these are not "official" in any way; refer to your original certificates or logsheet entries if you need to "prove" validity or trade items.
I love your cert idea and would like to see something like that as the official certs. See my recent post in the AL rant thread for how something like this would work perfectly with my idea to envision certs as trophies instead of rules/currency.

Another thing I've noticed is that all of magic items have a creator/minor function/quirk from the DMG. Perhaps the magic item descriptions in the adventures could cite which chart was used in the DMG to add a level of legitimacy to their appearance.




Originally posted by janosicek:


I have a question about long-term effects of this adventure.

I have read all remaining adventures and found no mention of the Quivering Forest fey pact and any consequences of one of the three possible results of this adventure. Is it true?
Was it all for nothing? No change in the later events in the Phlan? That seems like a huge oversight to me




Originally posted by Skerrit:


We do not release critical events until the who season finishes (so they should be soon), because we don't want to spoil those that are still playing. However, you can see the effects of the this adventure very clearly in 1-10.

Spoiler
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Based on reposnses to the critical events survey, the pact was broken but the fey did not ally with the CotD. This allowed DDEX1-10 to occur as it did.




Originally posted by TheBreen:


Skerrit wrote:We do not release critical events until the who season finishes (so they should be soon), because we don't want to spoil those that are still playing. However, you can see the effects of the this adventure very clearly in 1-10.

Spoiler
Ah, as I expected my bard's results were not typical. I'm still keeping that fancy cloak the nice old lady gave me, though. Never attempt an important diplomatic mission without an 18-Cha bard with expertise in Persuasion.
wink.gif


Speaking of atypical, my ranger's party also saved Aleyd Burral with a well-timed Tear of Bahamut before we rescued her boss. And he now keeps Spernik's head in a sack. (He hates that guy!)

I'm pretty sure neither of those things are going to make it into campaign canon, but it sure was fun!




Originally posted by Kalani:


My party killed Spernik in a previous adventure instead of bringing him to justice (1-5 IIRC). In order to make 1-10 work properly, I said they killed someone using alter self to look like Spernik. The deception was not uncovered until the following day when Spernik was captured trying to flee the city. Yes it slightly undermined their success, but it caught me by surprise that he would return when the PCs were given the opportunity to kill him (and took it). I thought ressurection magic was cheesy, and so went for something slightly off-key.
 

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