Introducing a New Character, and Sunless Citadeling

Meech17

WotC President Runner-Up.
Good morning EN World.

You all have been super helpful in all of my other planning, so hopefully you don't mind me calling on the Dungeon Master Brain Trust once again to help plan out my next session. If you don't care about the back story the TL;DR is that a cinematic moment may have killed a PC. I left that decision up to the PC and she chose to make a new character. Next I spit ball some ideas about dungeon design. If you'd like to help out with that skip to the first bolded section. If you're uninterested in dungeon building, but have ideas on how to introduce a new PC, skip ahead to the second bolded section.

My previous session ended with a moment I meant to be dramatic, but ended up being a little more extreme. My party is trying to get in with the enemy and infiltrate a mercenary company. They've already completed one mission for them, and are now being sent after the next macguffin. This works out great for the party, because it's a real two birds, one stone situation. They want the macguffin anyway, and this will build favor with the mercs. Win-win.

I'm putting them through The Sunless Citadel next, and am currently working on re-drawing the dungeon to condense it a bit and make it a bit more fitting for my party. At the end of the last session the Mercs led them to the ravine where the Citadel resides, and as they were climbing down the rope he says "We don't accept failures. You either come back with the gem, or don't bother coming back at all." And then cut the rope.

Our party's wizard happened to be the last one to climb down, giving them the furthest fall. The wizard's player also rolled some massive numbers, and went from full hp to 0 instantly. The player mentioned something about massive damage and instant death rules. I admitted that I wasn't sure what the official rules were, but I wasn't particularly worried about it. The party could heal their wizard up, and we could perhaps look at some lingering effects for flavor. After the fact however I was thinking back to it, and reading between the lines I recognized something. A bit of excitement in the player's voice. Like maybe some relief that their character may have died. I've been there. Sometimes you aren't happy with your character, and it's something that requires more than a simple ret-con. So I texted her recently and just asked straight up. I mentioned that I did want death to be something that was possible, but not from what was supposed to be a simple cinematic moment. Her wizard was essentially in Schrodinger's Coffin. He's both alive, and dead. If she shows up next week with his character sheet, then cool, he lived. If she shows up with a new character, than he's cooked. She said that she was hoping to maybe change things up, and had an idea for a cleric. I said "Cool beans, let me know if you need any help rolling up your new cleric."

ON DUNGEON DESIGN: Who came up with this thing?

We're doing Sunless Citadel which I'm modifying to fit my party. For instance I'm trying to re-build the dungeon in a Jayquaysian manner. Multiple entrances and exits, loops, etc. One thing that didn't make sense to me in the original design was how it worked for the factions. The Kobolds live in the top part. The Evil Druid lives in the basement, and the Goblins are sandwiched in the middle? How do the Goblins come and go from the dungeon? How do they go out to meet the towns folk and sell them the cursed apples?

Secondly, it's suggested that the PCs will get the choice to side with either the Kobolds, or the Goblins (Or perhaps neither.) However, they are going to encounter the Kobolds first, which puts them in the position of having to potentially side with the Kobolds, meet the Goblins, and if they don't go fight on sight with the Goblins they could potentially double cross the Kobolds? This is certainly possible, but I can imagine my party would stick to the Kobolds, if not attempt to broker a peace deal.. Which is something I hadn't thought of prior to this moment.

The dungeon also has an entrance to the Underdark. This seems to serve no purpose in the adventure. It's perhaps just a plug in point for a DM to tack on another adventure later. I was thinking maybe this can be used to add a loop to my dungeon, and fix my above issues. I'll stick a hidden door right near the front of the dungeon, and it'll lead to a cave heading to the underdark access, along with going all the way back to the Goblin portion of the dungeon. This is how the Goblins are able to get out to the ravine and back up to the surface, as well as how they are able to sneak up on the Kobolds and run raids on them. This will allow for multiple looping intersections, and it also gives purpose to the Underdark access tunnels. Lastly, it gives the PCs a chance to skip the Kobolds, and meet the Goblins first, which could provide an interesting dynamic.

I'd love any ideas or to hear what some of you may have encountered running this adventure. Did you add any additional entrances to the dungeon?

INTRODUCING THE NEW CHARACTER: Speed takes precedent over verisimilitude right?

So I want to introduce the new PC as soon as possible. I have a few ideas, and I'd like to have one for each possible option. First and foremost the Kobolds have a handful of prisoners. Goblins, and other adventurers. This would be an easy plug in option. New PC is trapped in Kobold jail. Second option was in the underdark tunnels. Perhaps if they PCs venture into my side tunnels rather than through the dungeon proper, they can run into her there. Maybe trapped in a cave in or something. The last thing I want to do is have my player stuck at the table waiting for half the session. I'm tempted to skip over the first couple of giant rat encounters that the adventure suggests in order to speed things along.

Thinking of the fact that she wants to play a cleric I could tie that in pretty easily with the story. Perhaps her church sent her to purge the evil remnants of the dragon cult? Maybe she's specifically tasked with killing the Failed Dragon Priest that's present in the dungeon. I left that in the beginning of dungeon like how it is in the module but maybe I should move it in deeper.

Does anyone have any tips for bringing in a new PC? Or any funny stories? Traps to look out for etc?

Thanks!
 

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Could the cleric be the sole survivor from the last party the mercenaries dumped in here?
Beat me to it. Gives her an obvious connection with the other PCs and a reason to wish the mercs ill after being abandoned, and lets her be a prisoner if desired, or a perhaps she's been hiding out dodging kobolds and goblins ever since her team was killed hoping to join the next group dropped in - since she'd know there'd be more coming, not having accomplished the mission herself. Whatever reason her team may have had for wanting to join the mercs is worth thinking about but largely irrelevant now.

Without knowing more about the character that's all I've got.
 

Meech17

WotC President Runner-Up.
Could the cleric be the sole survivor from the last party the mercenaries dumped in here?
Could be an interesting choice but I'm not so sure. The adventure as written has the party delving into the dungeon to track down a different adventuring party, who was the last group to enter the dungeon. I've placed the macguffin with that first adventuring party. The time-line doesn't quite work out with there having been a second adventuring party in-between the first one, and the PCs.
Beat me to it. Gives her an obvious connection with the other PCs and a reason to wish the mercs ill after being abandoned, and lets her be a prisoner if desired, or a perhaps she's been hiding out dodging kobolds and goblins ever since her team was killed hoping to join the next group dropped in - since she'd know there'd be more coming, not having accomplished the mission herself. Whatever reason her team may have had for wanting to join the mercs is worth thinking about but largely irrelevant now.

Without knowing more about the character that's all I've got.
I was thinking the obvious answer was to have her be part of the first adventuring party. She got separated, captured, whatever.

I'm also hoping I maybe get some more info between now and gameday that might inform how to tie her in. I agree it would be easier if there were perhaps some personal motivation to go off.
 

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