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5E Help Running Amber Temple CoS (Spoilers)

maceochaid

Explorer
My characters have entered the Amber Temple. Their loving the sarcophagi, but I'm starting to get a little concerned about how much power they are drawing from them. I've limited the sarcophagi to only giving their gift to one party member, but do the sarcophagi power them up too much? If people say they've done it and it was fine I'll let them keep going for it, but if someone found it completely unbalancing I will strip the power away from them.
 

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The thing to keep in mind is that their power comes at dark costs. First, accepting gifts have the chance of making your character outright evil (which may not fly with some classes like Paladin and Cleric), and they each come with drawbacks, some of which are debilitating. If you feel each individual drawback is not bad enough vs the boons they grant, you are well within your rights to make them more severe. Likewise if they try to take on multiple gifts. Do NOT sugarcoat the drawbacks. Enforce them ruthlessly. Curse of Strahd is intended to be a horror tale. The players may not win the campaign at all, or even if they do, they may end up horribly scarred from their time in Barovia. Corrupting goodness is kind of the Dark Powers' thing.
 

CydKnight

Explorer
The thing to keep in mind is that their power comes at dark costs. First, accepting gifts have the chance of making your character outright evil (which may not fly with some classes like Paladin and Cleric), and they each come with drawbacks, some of which are debilitating. If you feel each individual drawback is not bad enough vs the boons they grant, you are well within your rights to make them more severe. Likewise if they try to take on multiple gifts. Do NOT sugarcoat the drawbacks. Enforce them ruthlessly. Curse of Strahd is intended to be a horror tale. The players may not win the campaign at all, or even if they do, they may end up horribly scarred from their time in Barovia. Corrupting goodness is kind of the Dark Powers' thing.
Yes, I think you need to be sure you emphasize the harmful effects as much as the benefits to the players. If they don't heed the warnings then it can be a good lesson for them in playing with cursed magic/items/effects so make sure to "enforce" the downside(s) as much as the benefits when the appropriate time(s) come.
 
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xanstin

Explorer
Also note in the side bar

[sblock]I believe non-evil PCs have to make a Charisma Save DC12 for each power they obtain. If they fail the succumb to evil and become an NPC. You as DM then determine if they can continue. If playing an AL game they have additional restrictions covered in an addendum [/sblock]
 

maceochaid

Explorer
The corrupted characters are actually something that has been a selling point of the campaign. One of my players did a brilliant job role playing a typical Do-Gooder Paladin who has turned into an Oathbreaker Werewolf, and it is going just amazingly. It would be tricky at this point to enforce DM control and not seem arbitrary. Another character is an Egyptologist flavored Warlock (we're playing it in a kind of Gothic Earth), and I reflavored the Amber Temple have a Pharonic Egpyt feel. She blasts through all the DC's with her high Charisma, and it is very in keeping with her character. So I'm really just curious about game-breakyness and if I need the powers to start to fade.
 

xanstin

Explorer
The Adventurers League solution then may be the one for you....

[sblock] A character may accept and be affected by only one dark gift. If a character with a dark gift attempts to accept another from a different vestige, their requests go unanswered. [/sblock]

Obviously from what you said they have more than one, but keep in mind you are the DM. You can decide at any point when this happens, your not a computer running a pre set program for the players.
 

If you've been going the corruption angle anyway, you gen I say go ahead with what the Amber Temple has to offer. I would just make sure to keep the repercussions in mind. I'd also probably start to have any attempts at heroism by the party begin to fail...things just don't seem to work out when they try to do good.

I would paint a picture for them of the cost it is having, and how they cannot use dark gifts to do good things.
 

GlassJaw

Hero
I haven't run CoS but I've read it quite a bit as I'm planning to send my group there after LMoP.

I love the Amber Temple...except for the dark gifts. It's an interesting concept for Ravenloft (undecided good or bad) but my main concern is that it has a very Deck of Many Things vibe in that it can instantly disrupt the campaign. I don't want a player to totally instantly screw their character without a lot of warning ahead of time, and to be honest, I generally don't like module design that "takes" a player's character away from them.

I've heard some people skip this section altogether but it's such a cool dungeon I definitely don't want to do that. Undecided....
 

I haven't run CoS but I've read it quite a bit as I'm planning to send my group there after LMoP.

I love the Amber Temple...except for the dark gifts. It's an interesting concept for Ravenloft (undecided good or bad) but my main concern is that it has a very Deck of Many Things vibe in that it can instantly disrupt the campaign. I don't want a player to totally instantly screw their character without a lot of warning ahead of time, and to be honest, I generally don't like module design that "takes" a player's character away from them.

I've heard some people skip this section altogether but it's such a cool dungeon I definitely don't want to do that. Undecided....

I wouldn't skip the entire Temple. No need for that. If anything, just alter how the vestiges seem...don't make it obvious that they offer such gifts or make it vague what gifts they do offer. Or you could remove the offerings and simply have these ancient remnants of evil rant and threaten and cajole and ramble at the PCs however you saw fit.

The vibe of the place can be really cool if played right. The dark gifts aren't really necessary for that.
 

maceochaid

Explorer
If I could do it all over again I would grab the "Players Companion" for "Adventures in Middle Earth" and use the rules around Shadow and Corruption in my campaign. The book came out after we started, but it would have done a good job giving a feel that Barovia was slowly corrupting the characters.
 

GlassJaw

Hero
If I could do it all over again I would grab the "Players Companion" for "Adventures in Middle Earth" and use the rules around Shadow and Corruption in my campaign. The book came out after we started, but it would have done a good job giving a feel that Barovia was slowly corrupting the characters.

I love this idea! I would definitely try to incorporate the effects of Shadow and Corruption level at various points. Maybe the players get more insight or are more susceptible. Seems perfect to address the concerns with the Amber Temple.


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jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Bumping this thread because I'm having a similar issue in my current game.

I'm planning to adopt an approach from the Ravenloft AL season: Players who have been "touched by the mists" (accepted Dark Gifts) will take extra damage from certain enemies. Including most of the big ones.

I'm more concerned about what to do with those who fail their charisma saves and become evil, though. I don't want to force them to become NPCs, but I also don't want the deicision to be consequence-free.
 
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Retreater

Legend
The sarcophagi in the Amber Temple instantly disrupted/ruined my Curse of Strahd campaign. Players actually were getting mad at each other, and the more lawful characters tried to kill the ones who took the powers. Ultimately, I backtracked the whole encounter and told them "it didn't happen." Otherwise, that would have been the end of the campaign, and possibly the gaming group.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Otherwise, that would have been the end of the campaign, and possibly the gaming group.
I'm not worried about that, for my personal situation. I am somewhat worried about certain of the group going nuts with Dark Gifts and subsequently roflstomping everything in their path, though.
 
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maceochaid

Explorer
You know something that occured to me as I read this is they could also trade off the dark gifts for the talismans from the Tarokka deck. Those are also very powerful, but maybe the Ally refuses to work with a party that has accepted more than one of the gifts, the icon or the sunsword could fail in the hands of someone who has accepted a gift. Let the heroes get a power high, but then Madame Eva or someone could give them this knowledge. That could make a meaningful choice, that you could then spin into the result of the adventure, they kill Strahd with Artifacts of Ravenloft, the curse is ended! They kill Strahd with the Dark gifts, then they have freed Barovia, but unleashed the elder gods upon the entire world!!!!! (Or something else)
 

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