My mistake. : )
Not a bug, a feature. I LOVE that they don't have names. It lets the DM add names that fit into his/her world. The names of NPC's in Farune are different from those in Iron Kingdoms, which are different from those in Kalamar. He/She can also put in specific 'family' names and build a truly believable bunch of people that the Players will remember because the DM will remember. It teaches a begining DM to either get good at coming up with names on the fly (my forte...), or develop his/her own list to choose from.Most of my complaints are the same as ones I've read online recently although I probably have a new one or two to add. For starters, the fact that neither the keep nor any of the many NPCs that live there have names is pretty off-putting.
It has a 'name', which is referred to as Castellan Keep. But mostly it's just referred to as "The Keep" by people living there, or the full name of "The Keep on the Borderlands" by those living outside. Again, this is a GOOD thing! It lets the DM, once again, come up with his own name if he/she wants too.ParanoydStyle said:A complaint I haven't heard from others that I'll throw in is that the "Keep On The Borderlands" is actually a medium sized town. See, on my initial skim of the module years ago, I kind of got the impression from the text about the PCs using the Keep as a base of operations that it would be mostly deserted except for the PCs and the PCs could customize the keep as they saw fit but of course once I got into translating it was clear that that was REALLY REALLY not the case. With a bank and a guild hall and an inn and a tavern and multiple shops along with a seriously sizable army of defenders, the "Keep On The Borderlands" is actually a medium-sized or large town by D&D standards. Which actually makes it even weirder that it doesn't have a name.
Again, this is a GOOD thing! It's not trying to "tell the DM what's going on"...it's showing the DM "hey, there are all these different monsters living here; do something with it, for example, the orcs are squabbling with eachother, the goblins have an 'understanding' with the ogre, and everyone just stays the heck away from the minotaur". This little bit of "friction" between a handful of tribes/creatures SHOULD get the creative juices of the DM flowing! The DM can then decide what and how the Caves are running. This is very much in the style of teaching a new DM what being a DM is about; creating stuff yourself for you and your group.ParanoydStyle said:And finally, and this is a complaint I've seen before, it feels like a nonsensical quagmire of anti-logic how literally 8-10 tribes of demi-humans/monstrous humanoids have chosen to live right on top of each other tenement slum style in the Caves of Chaos when they have the entire surrounding wilderness to find lairs in where they're not tripping over each other. Then there's the fact that they are all completely passive: largely, each tribe of humanoids is just there in their caves waiting for the PCs to come in and try to kill them.
All this is a veritable smorgasbord for the new DM's hungry brain. Does the DM like funny/comedic stuff? Ok, here's "Bob the Orc...he's the tribes builder" (insert parody of children's Bob the Builder cartoon). Does the DM like 'WoW' orcs? Ok, we have "Chief Tharg Bloodbane". Or maybe the DM has an idea for orcs more like Star Trek Klingons, so we get "Mor'tah of House Ghal". The DM is the one deciding the bit's and bobs that will make this adventure his/hers.ParanoydStyle said:The two semi-warring orc tribes are a baby step in the right direction but the fact that neither the tribes or their leaders have names is sort of a roadblock to the roleplaying possibilities. There's a real lack of enemy variety as while there are at least five or six varieties of monstrous humanoids to fight, there really isn't much difference between fighting orcs and hobgoblins, between hobgoblins and gnolls, between gnolls and orcs, between kobolds and goblins, etcetera.
Whoa...that totally came out of left field. Don't even know how to comment about that, so I won't.ParanoydStyle said:And finally, yes, it really does seem to amplify some of the gross and racist underpinnings of early D&D, explicitly stocking these caves with non-combatant females and children, and then encouraging you to go in and make widows and orphans of them which is perfectly okay because they look different than you do.
I never liked KotB much - the Keep is good except for lack of names, but with a couple hundred soldiers it doesn't make sense as a low level base; it should have cleared out the Caves of Chaos long ago. set it up as on the Borderland of a mid-high level zone, with eg G1 Against the Giants as the threat (at least 2 days' travel away), and it makes a lot more sense. I always found the Caves a bit lame anyway; the endless hordes of humanoids are a bit boring - the 'specials' like the owlbear minotaur & evil priests are ok.Another one that I've used more than a few times in that way is actually B3 - Palace of the Silver Princess. Most recently for 4th edition - I took the basic idea but turned it into a battle between two of the Archfey - with the assault and occupation of the palace and the kidnapping of the Princess and her consort as "political" maneuvers between them. It worked out really well, even if I did basically have to scrap the lower level nonsense map and replace it with something more sane, the basic framework was solid enough to use it as a basis for the adventure.
It depends on what you mean by "preparation". I tend to overprepare for any game that I run - though that has changed as I've gotten older and have less time For the last time I ran X2 I basically scanned through the adventure to pull out the NPCs and noted their personalities and figured out stats that I could reskin as them rather than build full monsters. I also went through and noted which encounters I thought were hitting the right tone and which ones were just dungeon-crawly nonsense that wouldn't work with what I was going for and made a few notes to skip over those things (there were fewer of those than you'd think - even the garden, which I thought I'd have to just throw out and have to replace entirely - was able to be sufficiently creeped up with a few changes). Beyond that I mostly improvised.That's the sort of thing that (as per my post upthread) I've not worked out how to do!
Another possible difference, but may be not - with B2 I've always been able to (re)work it during the actual course of play. Did your treatment of X2 require preparation? It sounds like it did, but maybe not.
Thinning out the number of occupants or combatants in the Keep, which honestly a medieval keep should not have too many retainers anyway, seems like an easy fix though.I never liked KotB much - the Keep is good except for lack of names, but with a couple hundred soldiers it doesn't make sense as a low level base; it should have cleared out the Caves of Chaos long ago. set it up as on the Borderland of a mid-high level zone, with eg G1 Against the Giants as the threat (at least 2 days' travel away), and it makes a lot more sense. I always found the Caves a bit lame anyway; the endless hordes of humanoids are a bit boring - the 'specials' like the owlbear minotaur & evil priests are ok.
By contrast I like orange cover B3 Palace of the Silver Princess a lot, in fact this is making me think about adapting it to Primeval Thule...!
LOL I am pretty well familiar with the population of the keep. The last time I DM'ed KotB the party was evil, killed/intimidated/recruited/etc. monsters from the caves, and led them to overthrowing the keep at set it up as a base of operations in the area, leaving the minotaur eventually in charge when the moved on.All this talk of the Keep's population is making me think I need to go back and look at it again. I don't think it's something I've ever paid much attention to in the past.
Well, first of all, most of us here saying that it sucks have much more complex reasons than "because it doesn't have everything fleshed out". For one thing, that's a nonsense complaint - no adventure or rules set has everything fleshed out - not even the longest, most linear, most detailed adventure path has everything remotely fleshed out. Every adventure requires preparation work because no adventure is remotely complete. Every adventure requires adaptation, both to suit the tastes of the GM and to suit the tastes of the players. It's just normal for an adventure to require fleshing out.DMs who say KotB sucks because it doesn't have everything fleshed out are sucky DMs.