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DDAL Running DDAL04 Adventures as a Campaign

jayoungr

Legend
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Problems with "The Broken One" (DDAL04-08)

The timeline up to this point has been vague. DDAL04-02 ("The Beast") seems to take place in early winter, as the fur trappers are still out but a winter storm is on the way. After that, the aventures just take place "in winter" (although sometimes the authors forget this and write as if it's summer). Now suddenly the intro tells us that winter has "refused to yield to spring" (page 7), as if it's already the end of the season, and then two pages later, the burgomaster is worried about feeding the village for "the rest of winter" (page 9).

This is the first adventure in which Scartia Krutz plays a major role, but notes on roleplaying her are in DDAL04-11, "The Donjon."

The description on page 12 says that Luca's house smells like rotting meat. However, the sheep skulls that have been placed there are fresh and should have had no time to rot. Even if Eugen added some older ones, they would most likely have been stored outdoors in the cold. I would replace this description with something like "It smells like a butcher shop in here."

The "Development" paragraph at the end of page 14 says that Scartia Krutz realizes Eugen Adi is on the rampage when she finds "the head of an unfortunate villager." The read-aloud text on page 15 says she shows up carrying "the tattered, bloody body of a child."

In the stat block for Eugen Adi on page 22, the trait "Ravenous Curse" says, "Luca's power comes from the curse he bears."

On page 24, the "Stones" attack for the Mob of Villagers lists the damage as 1d4 with an average of 10. This should be 4d4.

Also on page 24, the stat blocks for the Militiaman and Scartia Krutz have skills in Animal Handling and Survival, which appear to be copied from Luca Barbu's stat block.
 
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jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
DDAL04-07 "The Innocent" & DDAL04-11 "The Donjon"

Both of these adventures had some really great, flavorful stuff in them but were (IMVHO) frustratingly marred by having the displaced-Forgotten-Realms story elements shoehorned in. "The Innocent" has at its heart of those stories of family tragedy that underpin the best adventures in this series. But the villain is lackluster (he doesn't even have a name!), the orcish archeological dig has no purpose except to say "Hey, there are orcs here," and the half-dragon-half-troll ghost is a serious WTF plot element unless the players happen to have played "Raiders of the Twilight Marsh" (DDEX1-12). And even if they have, it's still pretty random. "The Donjon," on the other hand, has a wonderfully creepy journey through the swamp (the screaming statues are simply great) and a nicely atmospheric if perhaps a little overlong dungeon crawl. But it all revolves around rescuing the leader of a random orc tribe from the Forgotten Realms and doesn't connect to Barovia much at all. So I tried to take the best bits of both adventures and turn them into one really good one. I would say I had mixed success; there are definitely things I would do differently if I were to run this again.

"The Innocent" shows signs of being substantially rewritten from its first version. The NPC summary on page 24 hints at a different, and more interesting, dynamic between Regold, Benedek, Sari, and the Visitor from what is in the finished adventure. Regold, Sari, and Benedek were in a love triangle.* The Visitor also became infatuated with Sari and deceived Regold into murdering Benedek in a jealous rage, but Regold also killed Sari as well (accidentally?). The Visitor then intended to sacrifice Regold in order to resurrect Sari. This is good, juicy stuff, but there's no room for the ghost and the gloves, so presumably it had to be rewritten to work in those plot elements. I tried to restore some of the original storyline by bringing back the love triangle (see the opening scene I added to "The Broken One," for example).

Broadly, the way I combined the adventures was this: I took the opening scenario of "The Innocent" and followed it as far as when the characters enter the Glumpen Swamp. The journey then continues with some selected encounters from the swamp journey in "The Donjon," bringing the PCs to the Tower of the Chained Man and the first level of the maze beneath. That leads to the "Vault of the Royal Dead" section of "The Innocent," where the final showdown takes place. Since both underground areas have a serpent theme, they tie together nicely.

The toughest part was getting the adventure started. Since I had a brain lapse and neglected to give the main villain much buildup in the previous adventure, I opted to use Sergenna Bogarav, since I had already decided to expand her role in the later part of the series. I had her come into town to warn the PCs that she had just done a Tarokka reading, trying to determine the whereabouts of the vampire who had bitten Lela Moslavaric. The cards told her that there was a charlatan posing as a holy man, and that he was a danger to the innocent.

I thought that would get the PCs looking for Father Onegin and planned for them to find some more clues in his room at the burgomaster's house, but again I bobbled the exposition and they ended up going straight to the forest without getting any of the background info.

*ETA: Or at least, that's one way to read the reference to Regold being "jealous."
 
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