D&D General Let's review and prep... a wizarding school game (spoiler for Sot And Strixhaven)

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Hi,

Recently, @!DWolf made a very interesting post contrasting the first parts of Strixhaven and the Strength of Thousands Paizo adventure path. It convinced me to get the AP, as I was interested in running a wizarding academy adventure, with more grown-up heroes than Hogwarts, and both WotC and Paizo put out material in this vein. My group, without consultation, got me Strixhaven for Christmas, so I am back to my original idea of making a mish-mash of the two to get a longer running campaign. It's as much relevant to Paizo (especially the first few posts I intend) than WotC, but I needed to chose, so here it is.

I thought some might be interested to read my musings as I peruse the products and start preparing and arbitrating things (I have ample prep time as I'll play instead of run in the next few weeks). It will also cover the convertibility of university experience from a European point of view.

It will of course be spoiler-plentiful.

Part 1 : reading Kindle Magic (SoT part 1, chapter 1)

I will largely echo what !DWolf wrote in his thread regarding the impressions I have for this part. I will add a few elements. First, there is an overview of the whole series: over the course of six adventures, the PCs will go from level 1 new students arriving to take their first lesson to save the world. Which is great, but I I have a worry about the pacing. First adventure is describe as the PC having "new student" status and have them engage in adventure and student life, but the second adventure have them at "conversant" status, where they have a side job as university representative to the city next to it. While it's not unheard of in real life to hire students, it happens only when they are at thesis level, not second year. And starting at the third adventure, they are full professors. I know people who waited 20 years to get a tenure, OK PCs are heroic but that's happening pretty fast. From reading just the overview, I see the AP seems more to be a university-centered campaign than a student campaign. Which is great, since it leaves room for expansion, between/parallel to the first episode of SoT, to dwell on these topic and make the players more invested into the setting. For regular players in the Mwangi Expanse area of Golarion, it's not a problem because they'd connect to the area. But if your players, as in mine, have never set foot there, I feel that a single episode devoted to discovering the university would be short. It hasn't the same emotional charge than saving Sharn or one the nations we've been playing in, on and off for decades (litterally...)

The speed is confirmed by the pacing of levelling: the PCs reach level 2 at the end of their orientation week, then level 3 after a period of community service, and their 4th level at the end of the adventure. It's... quite quicker than my usual pacing -- even though I recognize that the first levels go by quickly. This is addressed in a sidebar, though (saying it's a design goal, which is cool, but doesn't address the quick responsabilities increase...)

The adventure start with the welcoming speech by a teacher. Who obviously has never met a real-life first year student, since he finds in them "intellect, passion, and judgment", even before offering them a few chalenges in creativity, that are kicking off the adventure, where PCs are given a little opportunity to explore before embarking into a public service quest. The heroes are told from the opening speech that with great power comes great responsability, so they are expected to do some chores (bringing chicken from a market, getting a storeroom rid of gremlins, gather a few magical components from live creatures, delivering mail, and recounting their adventure. Each is supposed to rely on the qualities emphasized by the school's colleges. While the task can be fun to play, more than the description I made of them, it's... quite mundane and does more feel like service to the school than public service, except the mail delivery one. I am wondering if the task wouldn't be more fitting as a series of challenge part of their, hum, how does that translate? Hazing seems a little rougher than what we have: the time where young students are tasked with time-honored tradition to gather money, usually by mendicity or selling absolutely stupid rubbish like old exam copies to passers-by, in order to buy alcohol for the get together party, or have silly accomplishment to do like "every team starts with an egg, you can only exchange it for something else, the winning team is the one who bring the best item at the end of the day -- strong alcohol is a very great item"). -- I guess there might simply not be something like that in the US where the drinking age is 21. Since the gremlins disposal incurs a potentially deadly retaliation from the gremlin boss (and a hint about the adventure bad guy), it would be unwise to have faculty let this task on young students (ie, nearly children by our standards...) while a goofup from elder students is more credible (even if the teachers don't now about the BBEG of the adventure).

The second part is intertwined with a few terms of dowtime as students attend school, which will prompt me to read the relevent chapter next.
 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Academic life is structured around choosing two of the five fields of study, and levels in these fields depends on adventuring level. It advances as the characters take "downtime activities" to study, improving field level by up to +2, cram when you fall behind (to study both fields at the same time) at the cost of fatigue. Raising this level gives benefits (feat, skill bonus.). The rest of the chapter is dedicated to other students.

Two remarks:

1. The benefits are enticing (free kewl powerz) but it's hard to get them. The standard DC by level as advised by the book make it going from 14 (at level 0) to 40 (at level 20). While I can see specialized characters succeeding often, it's by no mean easy to keep up with your studies. Cramming can help, but are you ready to spend a whole level fatigued (even if the skill check is very easy)?

2. The students (and staff) are detailed and loveable. They are interacted with naturally (ie, there is no specific rule handling them) and there is enough information for the GM to run them. However, that's a pretty small cast for a university, especially one that gather students from the whole world. Sure, the other students can be kept in the background, there are two dormitory building, apparently having enough to house 30 at best (there is also a mention of an unmarked on the map so far "star dormitory", so maybe 50) students. That's a class, not a university, especially if students are supposed to be divided into 5 fields of studies. I'd certainly emphasize the selectiveness of the school. The PCs must have a patron to enlist, so they'd need someone to vouch for them. But that's still very low to create a "campus-like atmosphere".

The second part of the adventure intertwine that with a series of fetch quests, a jousting opportunity, participating in a ritual... mixed with NPCs student involvement. And then a ceremony that ends up with a giant fight against insects. Seems sound at this stage and reinforce the idea that they are part of class -- I tend to imagine more a high school class than a university class when reading the adventure. Of course, it's because our own university experience is in the age of mass access to university, but even in the middle age a worldwide institution attracted more than a thousand student... In a few places former tasks got the PCs knowledge useful to ease their challenge and that's good. Maybe more of that should be possible, it reinforce the interest of those extracurricular activities.

The last part of the adventure is devoted to looking into the bug's origin by investigating tunnels; The PCs are at a real risk and it's well managed by a believable plot exposition. It ends, however, strangely with a big fight (and the heroes assisting a teacher to repel very strong opponents). I am not sure it will fit the pacing correctly. It might work better as an in medias res introduction to the next adventure, or done differently... maybe stalling griffons until the visitors they protect run for cover/teacher's assistance? The trainer seem to be awfully underlevelled for being in the best wizard academy in the world and not cast a high level spell to begin with (he doesn't have better than 2nd level spells, the most offensive of which is Glitterdust...) It's also strange that wards powerful enough to disintegrate inadvertantly a 1st year student throwing a tamper don't do anything to protect visitors from being eaten by monsters.

All in all, I think the adventure can be used with very few modifications. THB it evokes more high school experience than university, the setting is appropriately tropical and it's reminded often enough to be imparted to the GM preparing the story - rice and sweet potatoes, no fries. Will it fit with the transition to the next book or will my fear about the quick advancement in responsabilities be right?

Note: at the end of the story, PCs are supposed to reach level 4. They have one downtime opportunity in chapter 1, 1 (up to 3 at the GM's determination) in chapter 2, and none in the third chapter. That's 2-4 study opportunity to succeed 6 study checks if you want to keep up with both your primary and secondary field. One would need both the GM to be generous AND two criticals to keep the pace with their studies.
 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Onward to reading Strixhaven at this point. Digesting it will be more complicated.

Let's start with the player facing part, the character creation rules. Two remarks.

Owing to being a multiverse nexus, any race can fit in Strix. There is a very disappointing one page race (and I am generous), the owlin (think EQ2's Hooluk or anthropomorphized owls), with only rules. No roleplaying tip about what it is to be a humanoid owl, how does it make you forge a worldview or to make anything distinctive. Owls uses the same orifice to eat food and excrete undigestible part of their food (since they can't chew). I am pretty sure it would affect society and culture of owlin and the question of their table habits when sharing with other humanoids would have been welcome. Or at least, anything cultural to make them distinctive from other humanoids. I don't want to turn this thread into a criticism of how they handle players species, but this one entry is very short and disappointing and I hope not the way it goes forward. I guess that with Tasha and Owlin, having a fly speed will be common (30 ft fly or walk, darkvision, stealth proficiency, floating ASIs with reference to a "Quick Build" section that seems missing...)

College-related background are given, including the free initiate feat for each. I was in the habit of giving a free feat at level 1, or a freebie power that would be a half-feat, as long as it was explained in the character backstory (as an incentive for players to actually write a backstory...) so I am not surprised but glad to see this as a source of inspiration). It also includes free spells added to the list -- generally logical, sometimes odd (I am an archeologist, so I get to cast Legend Lore, Locate Object, Identify, Speak with Dead... (all good) and Flame Strike (because... reasons?)

Then to the campus description...

It's a four-year curriculum (and odd-choice in the 3/5/8 LMD world... Are four-year college the norm in the US? While SoT seems to be extremely quick but fuzzy so far, Strix starts with a clearly defined length... and the difference with the US starts page 1 still ;-) ) around the five iconic college of the MtG setting.

Strix is located... wherever the GM wants. This is unhelpful. While the Mwangi Expanse books in Pathfinder can help depicting the world outside the Magaambya (too bad if you don't know it...) there is a resource. The advice here is "put it where you want in your game world"... but since it's supposed to be a campaign for a starting group, they might as well start on Arcavios proper, as they have no reason to interact with elements of their proper setting. Each setting brings its peculiarities that will not necessarily fit with the story being told (a subject touched by Keith Baker on his blog article about where to put Strix in Eberron, which suggested a number of definitely plot-altering elements that would Eberonize the experience (so it's worth saying that it is in Eberron proper). I found this blog article very useful, but it takes KB's mastery and knowledge of the setting to write that quickly... putting it elsewhere might require some work.

Here becoming part of faculty is described as a lifelong endeavour. Characters are supposed to be learning a trade (history, art, physics and maths, writing and eloquence, biology) supplemented by magic, allowing any class to be part of the campaign, constrasting with the Magaambya where they are supposed to get a spellcasting archetype as druid or wizard. The university is presented as a large place (hundreds of administrative staff, legions of constructs, ten deans, numerous teachers...) The place is large, with six campuses needing half an hour of walk to cross. Contrast to the SoT school which fit an island of 500m radius, so 0.8 km2.

The description of the college left me puzzled. In SoT, they examplify a quality the faculty seeks to extoll among students, and it's linked to skills. It seems a strange way to classify students, but, after all, why not, they are all going to be spellcasters, and be taught to use your power in a kind of benevolent public service function in the end so it's not like realism is needed. I felt that the practical approach of the Strix colleges fitted better... in a world of wide (not necessarily high) magic, this magic should be used for a gainful employment... adventuring isn't a job for most people, so students need to learn to do something with their wizarding. It's a really different take. I wanted to like Strix's distinction... because it evoked the university experience better. You don't take a camaradery degree or a creative thinking degree, you get a physics degree. However, the need to tie those college to the color of magic felt strange to me.

College / topic / dichotomy / rationale

Lorehold / history / order & chaos / history repeats itself vs history is chaotic
Prismari / art / intellect & emotion / technique vs improvisation and feeling
Quandrix / hard sciences / substance & theory / dunno... it might echos realism vs nominalism medieval debate about universals
Silverquill / eloquence / radiance & shadow / seems to be panegyrists vs satyrists, but at some point you start summoning weapons?
Witherbloom / biology / growth & decay / basically the two process from the dichotomy...

From the list, you can see the problem I have with Quandrix and Silverquill... I love the way Witherbloom mixes druids and necromancy into actual jobs all needing to have biology and natural processes lessons, I have some doubt about some of the carreers given for Lorehold (where there is a lot of case the principle doesn't seem to relate specifically to the job proposed as an illustration) and Prismari, and I am at loss with the last two, Quandrix and Silverquill -- especially Silverquill. The idea has merit, but I execution lacked halfway for me, because I failed to understand Quandrix and Silverquill didn't click at all. I might want to make it work (it's 3 out of 5 done) but it's a lot to rewrite into something... that maybe the players won't have any interest in, if they choose other colleges or don't involve themselves in their philosophies.

And finally an "academic life chapter". Students, parallel to adventures, are welcome to join two clubs (up to two, but there doesn't seem to be any benefit not to have these extracurricular activities -- like, as in real life, actually concentrating on your studies instead? Some stereotyping happens (a RPG club, a cheerleading squad...) Or hold a job, gaining 5 gp a week. That's actually as much as skilled labor, while most of the jobs are unskilled (graffiti eraser, litter retriever...) where are the legions of automaton servants if they must resort to pay heftly the students to do that? On the other hand, money in 5e has little use and I'll keep an eye if 150 gp a year are really making a difference. Especially since it means abandonning the +1d4 bonus to a relevant skill honed while being a member of a club. A mechanics we're seeing often and that I like (even if 1d4 is a small benefit, it helps differentiating PCs and the pleasure of throwing that additional d4 is visible even on grognard's faces (and I inspire you... and I pray for guidance beforehand... and I...)

Exams are more abstracted than in SoT, since all college specific stuff is kept in the background and the rules provided focus on general topic exams all the characters pass. The exam is split into two phases: study (where you can get a reroll on the next phase if you beat the DC of the exam's topic, using apparently your best skill (as long as you can naughty word the GM into buying your explanation on why Nature is helping your to memorize equations, I guess that sipping herbal tea makes you better at studying?), or you could gain two reroll at the price of exhaustion (so in Strix, like Maabangya, you can study to death...), or studying together with grant advantage instead of a reroll. Then comes the Test phase, where they need to do two ability checks, modified by the result of the study phase. Passing gives a student dice in the relevant skill, acing gives two, failing means losing the ability to enjoy a club as you're forced to take remedial courses. Unless I am mistaken, since exhaustion grants disadvantage, having more rerolls at disadvantage is still worse than simply having advantage from group study...

Interacting with other students will move a tracker of relationship points, providing small (often cosmetic) (dis)advantage when befriending or offending the named NPC. If you're friendzoned, you can then become Beloved at the next interaction and you gain inspiration for each Beloved relationship. They make sure fraternity bonds are totally good for Beloved status, if not, the adventure would be crowded with Casanovas getting inspiration :)
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
All in all, I am thinking the relation rules are too mechanical to work and I'd probably drop them, not because of players being uncomfortable but because... they are bad. While I like the idea of student dice for extracurricular activities and an incentive to actually pass exams, so I might keep them, I think the incentive to keep relationships at rank 3, which are not limited in number, will result in PCs gaming the system "let's be a goody-two shoes and be nice to each and every moron in the school so we get daily inspiration from them as soon as possible".

Onward to adventure 1...

The campaign consists of 4 adventures, each taking place during a study year, taking characters from level 1 to 10. It incorrectly claim to use milestone advancement, but is using story advancement -- a common mistake even in published products, confirming the "Nobody reads the DMG thread! :). The first adventures goes from 1 to 4, mirroring the rhythm of Kindled Magic in SoT.

It starts with a part called Orientation. The use of the exact same name in Maabyanga and Strixhaven, planes apart, means that... it's a thing in US universities :) [not that it's a bad thing, I remember when I arrived in university being a little lost as it was much less structured than high school...] The university holds many more students... at any given times, there are scores of them in the café or study areas.

The adventure itself, on the other hand, has a very strong high school vibe to me:
  • at no point the character are in danger, as if they flunk a battle, something that might very well happen at low level, a faculty member will save the day and imbibe them in healling potions ;
  • the task they are given feel targetted at teenagers more than young adults ;
  • PCs being dared... to get near somewhere spooky... and steal a confiscated item from its storage -- ok, high schoolers, maybe, they'd be given a pass, but adults doing that? They might get expelled and charged with breaking and entering, theft, especially if they damage things with abandon... a reasonable student would... warn the administration that something, potentially dangerous, will happen, rather than taking part in it ;
  • the other students centers of interest... "let's organize a frog race before the teachers find out we've smuggled frogs on campus..." would fit more in a high school dorm than in a university ;
  • the café won't sell them anything other than tea and coffee...

The first exam is about slaads, then otyugh and owlears. Characters get to learn lore about slaads. Yet, there doesn't seem to be slaads in this adventure. Actually having the topic become relevant at some point to provide further incentive to ace tests would have been great. With owlbear, they can get advantage, but it's unrelated to the lore they got.

Travelling on campus is also risky, since you might encounter an hostile basilisk at level 1. I guess that's why teachers carry this much healing potions! It's also very railroady, as character at no point in the adventure can get the opportunity to act on the clues they get about he mysterious substance that links the various bad events that happens.

I am probably rating this part better than other, because I think some scenes can be cannibalized, but I feel it wouldn't be that fun to run as written.
 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Interestingly, while I felt that Strix was better at conveying a university setting while SoT was evoking more a high school sized place, the adventure that takes place here are evoking the things in reverse, wich characters in Strix expected to behave more like (turbulent) schoolchildren.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Let's stay in Strix this time.

The second adventure is the heroes second year, and one high point will be a tournament of not-quidditch (a kind of ctf). The adventure says "as Strix student, characters are familiars with the game". Sure, but... why wasn't it introduced during the first adventure? At least so they could relate more to the setting and not have a sporting tournament arriving out of the blue at the beginning of adventure 2 and being the current craze -- despite not being mentionned at all. There isn't even a Mage Tower club (you can join their cheerleaders, though)... and yet the characters are even expected to... take part in the event. Why not, but I'd integrate it more if I were to keep the event.

The events of the year sounds repetitive in structure. Basically, characters are invited to take part into some kind of prank/recreative activity, which is resolved as an ability check by everyone doing something, tallying it and declaring the result [it can be narrated in details but mechanically it will be quickly resolved], something gets wrong and a fight happens. At some point you sit for an exam. Or a staff member asks you to do something the staff should be doing by itself, and they get better marks for doing this (?).

This adventure is more like a series of vignette that could be inserted to spice up things, but they feel forced to me as they don't grow organically out of what the player are doing. They are mostly just milling around, when a students yell at them "Actions is happening here, please act accordingly!" Some of the vignette are better than others (of all the places available, is organizing a song battle in the library the wisest choice of location?) and some gives information about the BBEG's modus operandi, and at some point identity.

They'll meet some slaads this time, but the lore isn't used, it's only turned into advantage on attack rolls.

The adventure concludes with the big not-quidditch match, which is also extremely abstracted. Heavy narration effort will be needed and the players will need to be onboard with that. Of course, it goes awry at some point, as two killers await the PCs at the end of the match (you should have conserved your spells, PCs, instead of going all in into the silly sport event...) and since they are both dead, everyone is convincend there is no longer any threat because... reasons. Note: the character are 6th level, have access to Speak with Dead and will certainly want to know more...

All in all, I am even less satisfied with this part than with the former one.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Keeping to Strix for the time being, as I prefer to assess it as a whole, given the recurring problems in part 1 and 2, to see how to proceed from there and try do devise solutions.

Part 3 is 3rd year, with not-Yule Ball as the main event. PCs are enlisted in the organization committee. The vignette structures is kept, the examns no longer comes with lore bits (too bad, but it aknowledges their lack of usefulness):
  • A cocktail, which turns bad ;
  • A duel (heavily-handed, and why wouldn't sane students complain at the administration building about being bullied?) which turns bad ;
  • two supply trips for the organization committee (one of which is my favourite vignette due to the random encounter table) ;
  • The ball itself ;
  • A confrontation with a possessed dean ;
At least they identify, at the end of the adventure, the BBEG. I think this "clue" structure work in novel but not so much in TTRPG. Characters in a novel makes everything clear and click together at the exact appropriate time because they are written to do so. In a RPG, I feel the characters won't let it go: they realize that something is amiss and might want to investigate much earlier than 3rd year... they have the means, security on campus is lax (it's a wonder they only have a few fatalities each year*) and they don't seem to be overseen that much... The vignette structure fits characters with very few independant will and probably will fail if played as is with my group. I feel that a modicum of proactivity will unravel the structure, unless the GM is determined to end their investigation with a frustrating dead-end.

* Potential student at Strix's story: "I was leaving magical writings and symbols and I had the time to buy a sandwich because the next lesson was from 10am to 2pm, but I met two bulettes along the way... that's why I am now one of the numerous Strixhaven ghosts".

And after that... recess. Despite knowing the possession source, where this artifact was uncovered... heroes would certainly hurry there, not take a summer break.

Part 4 is a little different in structure. The characters are requested to assist the university in eliminating the BBEG. Which is fine, as they are level 8 at this point and their command of 3rd and (mid-adventure) 4th level spells equals or outmatch the faculty.

At this point, the place where the villain is suspected to be active is... the Detention bog. Where students are sent for detention. Because (a) detention is a thing in universities? (b) there is no better place for detention than a place where terrorist activities are organized, among explosive crates (yes).

In an interesting plot point, everyone will die for good reasons if not-Voldemort (the BBEG) can complete his ritual. Characters are informed that "the factulty have agreed that stopping the BBEG is the highest priority". Oh, really?

The adventures ends with an extended dungeon, as the characters attempt to stop not-Voldemort before is ritual is completed. Note that despite their declaration, the faculty won't act. Unless I missed it, the reason why the university's masters are unable to stop the villain, mentionned in the opening blurb, is never given. I'd expect, given the ritual will end up in total eradication of everyone on campus, that the founders dragons would at least take a passing interest (they might if the ritual is completed) in their school not being destroyed.

If anything the overall pacing, compared to the outline of Strength of Thousands, which was too quick, is too slow. I feel the entire adventure could be resolved over trimesters, not years, each time and culminate in the PCs being enrolled as part-time staff helpers in the finale.



Now back to the Maagambya (crossing fingers its rather good start will continue)...

I liked the villain's plot, but the lack of reaction is strange. It fits teenage stories very well where adults are incompetent by default but rather strange in a multi-world leading university where they shoud be able to deal with things like that. I understand players buy-in will make that less jarring in play, but it will be noticed at some point.

I feel, after reading the whole piece, that it's a subpar adventure. We had much better products released recently, and this one feels unpolished. There are a few good things in the book to be salvaged, but I am not sure it would be fun to run as is. It might feel a giant railroad or a series of interconnected scenes the characters are drawn into episodically. Also, occuring over a long time, resource conservation isn't a thing, so... going for long-rest based resources is probably the best choice for this campaign.

And I have my answer that working seems to be a losing proposition everytime, while never in the adventure is adventuring competing with studies, so doing your regular study time (no cramming) is probably the safest and best way to proceed with studies. [Note that if you totally devote 0% of your time to study, you'll still graduate with honors, the only thing missed will be the opportunity to get student dice from extracurricular activities.
 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
If you want a dystopic and totally gamey reason for the teachers at Strixhaven to not care about the ritual, it's because it deals 70 HP of necrotic damages. It kills students, but teachers have 112 (growth) 110 HP (chaos), 104 (decay) 104 (order, substance) 97 (expression, perfection, theory, radiance, shadow) HP respectively. So it wipes out students and let the faculty intact? It was all along a plot by the teachers to get rid of the task of grading papers, following a failure to get this work included, and no longer on top, of their teaching assignments. :eek: This won't be a proposed solution to the difficulties I see in the module, I'll try to keep with the tone when I get there -- my players will come out of a grimdark campaign and I want a change of tone! :)
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Back to Strength of Thousands, I said...

Second adventure is having the PCs promoted to conversant, small-scale public service tasks being part of this job, alongside their studies. There is plenty of occasion to remark that the PCs are advancing quickly -- after they investigate why a few anadis (spider humanoids) students were attacked by griffons. Follow 10 vignettes quests the characters are assigned as part of this conversant job, ending in their (express) graduation as they save the town surrounding the magaambya from an ominous plot. There is nothing that jumps to the eye as being wrong in this part of the adventure. The progress of the students heroes is acknowledged as being extremely quick, and yet takes place over 3 to 5 semesters after being recruited in their job -- that would fit "thesis level students". So it's only the first adventure that is extremely quick and probably problematically so -- all the more a reason to cut parts of Strix, lower the stakes and inject it into their licence and master's degrees time.

If anything, this adventures lack a connection with the university life. The GM will have to strengthen the link -- even if the public service activites sometimes starts with helping the staff before heling the city around them, they often venture outside of the halls of learning ; keeping the feel is something I'd strive to do.


Third adventure will have the characters as staff. Their title is lorespeaker. At this point, there possibility to keep up their level in academic standing close to their adventuring level, it will be diffcult. They are expected to go from level 8 to 12. They can't progress by teaching, no longer take exams, and are supposed to progress through practical research. Nice! But unfortunately... the adventure gives only three opportunities to do pracitcal research. I happen to like the idea of that. In a campaign I played in, I felt that roleplaying being scientists and interested in science (over other activities) was a purely roleplay thing: advancement wasn't coming from scientifical breakthrough of course, so there was nothing practical to try to take wild beast alive for further studies... but with the system proposed in the SoT campaign, there is an incentive to do that, it is thematically fitting... and at some point I'd really like to have a conflict... "do we go ahead and deal with the BBEG or do we finish investigating that wild phenomenon and publishing a paper on it?" where the conflict would make sense for the character. Of course, I understand that the pressure to publish is a silly thing, mostly Shanghai-ranking inspired outside of the US context, and really alien to fantasy university (especially one where there is no competition) but still... Including more opportunities would be a good thing.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Third adventure looks fine. The characters start having, as teachers, to take care of a "class" of 11 students who spend varied time inside the school (from people who were students before the PCs arrival to recent additions: the anadis that joined one year after to a potential NPC they sponsored into the school), follow up the disappearance of a student by taking them all to a field trip and end up saving a community.

It builds into the idea that PCs have become teachers and must take care of students (not that teachers took care that much of them at the beginning, but that's very fine), yet it takes them outside of the Magaambya locale for much of the adventure. I like it but I feel it severs itself from one of the conducting line of the adventure path. There is much to do and a gazetteer is included to entice GMs to expand this "year out", which is fine, but increases or lengthens the distanciation with the main place. I think a strength of a location-based campaign is to build emotional ties between the PCs and the place, and the setup of this part is working against that. And the characters only get teleportation at the very end of the adventure, so no quick trip back home.
 

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