D&D General How Do You Fix a Campaign? (Rime of the Frostmaiden spoilers)

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
There's a YouTube channel I like called Lunch Break Heroes. I used several of their expansions to Curse of Strahd, and they've been working on expanding several of the locations in Rime of the Frostmaiden as well. Here's a link to their RofFM playlist:

 

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Here are some points that came up, which might be pertinent to what's going on.
1) A near-TPK in the first session took out some of the characters that had the start for some interesting backstory. To get the survivors to adventure with the replacement characters took some major suspension of disbelief, and the party personalities haven't gelled yet.

I realize that TPKs and near-TPKs are often a part of the overall D&D approach and appeal (and same for PF, OSR, etc.) but I honestly think they just wreck narratives in a super boring way. If I was running a game and most of the players got wiped, the campaign would probably just be over, or at the very least I'd have to reset and essentially start over.

But if you're going full retrograde, TTRPGs-as-MMOs, and TPKs are just a thing that everyone knows about and accepts, and there's a near-TPK at the beginning of a campaign....I think you have to somehow restart the narrative. Slow down, spend multiple sessions tossing in a whole bunch of other stuff to let the new PCs mesh with the old ones, and then maybe pick up what you had originally planned, or what was written.

Maybe this isn't useful for this specific campaign, since you're already past that point. But I think you can still at least address the past weirdness of dropping in new PCs by stepping off the written campaign for a while at this point, and giving them some sessions specifically designed to help the PCs bond. I don't mean just sitting around trading stories in-game, but some original side-quest that forces them to act as a team, and that ideally relates to some of their character backgrounds.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I recommending chucking it in the bin and starting something new.

Take a look at OSR adventures if you want to run something that is published. You may have to add a few statblocks, but the structure of the adventures are usually better and so is the layout and organization if you're running it straight from the book.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I don't know much about Rime of the Frostmaiden, but...

Have you tried talking with your players about it? A number of years ago, I was participating in a FATE game set in an alternate fantasy/ sci-fi Earth. Though we enjoyed playing together, we just weren't enjoying the campaign. So we took one session to sit down and redefine what we wanted to play. Guardians of the Galaxy had just come out, so we decided to shift to a space-faring style game in which we zipped around in a clunky little space ship from planet to planet, fighting against space oppression. It was a lot of fun!

Maybe your players have some ideas of how to inject more fun into the campaign?
 

Yora

Legend
I realize that TPKs and near-TPKs are often a part of the overall D&D approach and appeal (and same for PF, OSR, etc.) but I honestly think they just wreck narratives in a super boring way. If I was running a game and most of the players got wiped, the campaign would probably just be over, or at the very least I'd have to reset and essentially start over.
That's one of the things where 5th edition doesn't quite know what kind of game it wants to be? Is it a game about combat challenges, or a game about completing a story?
When you try to do both at the same time, you either end up with a game that hits dead ends, or combat challenges that you can't actually fail.

The typical and traditional solution to this problem is to design content that doesn't follow a script to lead the PCs to a predetermined outcome (or one out of three), but instead simply keeps rolling forward based on what just happened. Good modules should provide content that works whether the players succeed doing certain things or not
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
Whatever you decide to do - continue with RotFM or any other published adventure/campaign - there are a couple of things I think you need to do based on your descriptions of problems in your other Rime thread.
  1. Adventure writers love to include puzzles of some sort like the ones your players have had trouble with. It's a common trope in fantasy adventure games in general, so you're not going to be able to easily avoid it in the published options. You'll either need to rewrite these areas or be prepared to put more emphasis on the clues in the environment that will enable your players to solve the puzzle even if that emphasis isn't written into the adventure.
  2. You may need to emphasize clues that what they're doing isn't working when it isn't working. If beating on a problem isn't working, they need clues to retreat rather than keep hammering away uselessly until they TPK. I don't think you can assume they'll cotton on when the evidence seems to be that they aren't doing so. Some of the problem may be the medium of playing online since it changes interactions and you can't be certain of them picking up other clues in your communication.
  3. Make sure they know how to recover from a PC being dropped so that they don't let PCs with good backstories die in early encounters. That probably made a bad first impression of the campaign and, as you indicate, it may not have recovered.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
That's one of the things where 5th edition doesn't quite know what kind of game it wants to be? Is it a game about combat challenges, or a game about completing a story?
When you try to do both at the same time, you either end up with a game that hits dead ends, or combat challenges that you can't actually fail.

The typical and traditional solution to this problem is to design content that doesn't follow a script to lead the PCs to a predetermined outcome (or one out of three), but instead simply keeps rolling forward based on what just happened. Good modules should provide content that works whether the players succeed doing certain things or not
That's not a new problem. The question of whether D&D is more of a game or more of a story engine has been around essentially forever, and everyone has their preferences and will gladly tell you how you are wrong (myself included) for doing it your way.

If you want to tell a story, and you think you need character continuity for that, then take death and especially the TPK off the table. Choose a different consequence for failure. The DM holds all the cards and can decide that these bad guys decided to ransom the party, or these good guys showed up in time to save the day, or this deity intervened, or this devil offered a bargain, or whatever.

There is a lot of "the game playing you" in this thread and in the context of an RPG, it is kind of silly.
 


If you want to tell a story, and you think you need character continuity for that, then take death and especially the TPK off the table. Choose a different consequence for failure. The DM holds all the cards and can decide that these bad guys decided to ransom the party, or these good guys showed up in time to save the day, or this deity intervened, or this devil offered a bargain, or whatever.

There is a lot of "the game playing you" in this thread and in the context of an RPG, it is kind of silly.

I feel like this line of discussion is relevant to the OP, though, because the near-TPK was highlighted as an important factor.

But wait, I want to check on something--are there really DMs that aren't trying to tell some kind of a story? And how could character continuity not be a part of that? I'm not asking rhetorically, since there are all sort of games and ways to play them, but I always assumed that, even when running one of these extended published modules, the assumption is that you knit them into a story as you go, and one that relates to the characters. But do people play them as narrative-free sets of challenges to be overcome, the way you'd run through a new area in an MMO or videogame RPG?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
There's a YouTube channel I like called Lunch Break Heroes. I used several of their expansions to Curse of Strahd, and they've been working on expanding several of the locations in Rime of the Frostmaiden as well. Here's a link to their RofFM playlist:

They’re excellent, from what I’ve seen of their Curse of Strahd stuff.
 

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