Running Frog God’s Blight

Chris633

Explorer
Running Frog God’s Blight

I am prepping to run Frog God Games Levee adventure path from 5E “The Blight” book they released. Normally when I run a prewritten AP, I scour the internet for other peoples’ experiences in running it and any changes or enhancements they made. I did that and found nothing for this AP anywhere. I am sure some people are either running it, prepping it or thinking of running it. So I figured I would start a thread of my own for GMs to share ideas and experiences. If you are considering being a player SPOILER WARNING. Don’t read any more.

So at this point I have read most of the book and I have to say it is great. I got so many adventure ideas from the material they have provided and the Levee is a psychological roller coaster. It’s twisted and I love it. So here are some things I am doing and thoughts I had about running it.

First, I wanted the players to have a real connection to Wicken and to each other. I didn’t want them to be a group just brought together by happenstance. So a character creation guideline that their characters all be from Wicken, know each other, and spent no real time in Castorhage was provided. I wanted the destruction of Wicken to have a real impact for all the characters and I wanted it to make sense that they would stay together and tolerate each other’s differences. It will also unite them in their hatred of Thornrage. I limited their exposure to Castorhage so the players and PCs could discover the city together.

Occularis Knight Rachel Birch was under utilized as written. I am going to introduce her much earlier. First I am going to make her the Knight who led the raid and ultimately destroyed Wicken and have her be the one who signed their death warrants. Thornrage gave the order, but she is the one who did it. It would establish her as a villain to the PCs rather than just an obstacle. Also, the Bright Citadel was expecting their bodies for questioning and would notice when they didn’t show up after the events in the first adventure. Birch could start searching for them long before they become infamous later in the AP. The PCs will then have more opportunities to run into her and once they learn she was at Wicken, she’ll likely meet her first death in ugly fashion. It’ll then make a lot of sense to the PCs why she comes back as an angry spirit.

Wicken villagers: The PCs are going to want to find any survivors they can since they are family and friends. Early in the AP they say as much and then don’t offer any suggestions on how to handle this. I’m planning on having some people absent when the raid occurred and survived. Some maybe got away. And some still were captured, like the PCs. The majority will be dead. As written, other than Enoch Nettle, they don’t find any survivors until the end and then only six of them. I want them to find more and sooner. Essentially reward their efforts. With my change of Birch’s role, I imagine they will get the information out of her as to what happened to the villagers at some point. I’m just curious as to how others are choosing to handle this?

I’m also thinking of changing the reason why the PCs were saved by Eleanor Shanks. As written, Lord Morel divined their importance and directed Shanks to save them. I just don’t like that. It just feels too contrived. Two of my PCs have a father/mentor that was a master thief and they became friends after he “died.” I’m thinking he is a high ranking Guild member and very much alive and directed Shanks to spring them in secret when he heard they were in trouble. Morel learns of it and their connection to rumored Occularis activity in Wicken and directs Shanks to keep tabs and things proceed mostly as written. Nothing really changes except the “why” of the PCs saving.

These are some of my thoughts for the moment. I’d be curious to hear how others are handling these or any other thoughts folks had on the AP? Anything people plan on changing or doing differently from how written?
 

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Inchoroi

Adventurer
While I've not delved into the Blight as much as I'd like to, I might suggest getting on the Discord that the Frogs have set up through Tenkar's Tavern. That's where the majority of the people that use the newer FGG stuff hang out.
 


sim-h

Explorer
I bought the 5e edition but is full of conversion errors and there are some missing passages of text. The module was written for PF and you'll have to do a lot of work to run it for 5e unfortunately. I'm still pretty much too outraged at being charged £100+ that I can barely discuss it further, sorry...Contains great ideas tho.
 

Chris633

Explorer
So sorry you had that experience. To be honest, I haven’t even noticed. But I am more focused on the fluff than the crunch.
 

I bought the 5e edition but is full of conversion errors and there are some missing passages of text. The module was written for PF and you'll have to do a lot of work to run it for 5e unfortunately. I'm still pretty much too outraged at being charged £100+ that I can barely discuss it further, sorry...Contains great ideas tho.

Can you provide any examples? I've got the 5E book and would love to run it some day, but I haven't read it closely yet.
 

sim-h

Explorer
The crunch is plain broken. I started a document and got to three pages of A4 relating to chapter 1 - I think I bulleted 18 issues with that chapter. But all were fixable. There are some parts that are just horribly confusing, such as the Blight at Dawn sidebar on page 491 which does not correlate to the map in relation to the direction the players are supposed to be coming from.

Worse is in the later chapters. There is an extreme railroad in a couple of places where it is very difficult to miss the single, tiny clue to the next portion (L4, part three for example. Also I think L1 to L2 relies on the players following up one specific lead or the entire adventure falls down). L6 starts very jarringly, basically railroading the players into that chapter - some DMs might not mind that, but it's not really my style. Worse still in L6, significant parts of the plot as written rely on Vampire Spawn abilities which are only found in the Pathfinder Vampire Spawn. The D&D 5e Vampire Spawn is an entirely different beast. So you either need to change the plot significantly, or, much more likely, convert the Pathfinder Vampire Spawn yourself.

I lost all confidence in the conversion when I realised that, and didn't go on to read the chapters after L6.

I call it 'Vampirespawn-gate' and it's the reason I will never buy another Frog God product.

In short - If I want to spend hours and hours working on a D&D adventure, I'll write my own instead!
 

Rellott

Explorer
Yeah. I’ve grown disillusioned with FGG in terms of their ability to produce 5e content. They’re good at old school stuff and PF, but 5e just isn’t their bag. Their Tome of Horrors was alright since everything was fairly straight forward there - there’s only so much edition assuming a monster stat block can do, but even then I remember noticing some edition inconsistencies in terminology and such. I have no plans to purchase more of their work anytime soon.
 

Chris633

Explorer
Well, certainly the 5E conversion could be better and I am glad for the heads up on the stat blocks. I haven’t really looked at that aspect of things much. But to be honest the crunch is the least important part for me. It is all the setting information, adventure plot points and NPCs. I think the AP & book as a whole really delivers on all of that and is much better and more complete than anything I could come up with unassisted. Sure there are typos here and there, but that isn’t important. It’s got great bones. I am not one to run an adventure path strictly as written and tend to customize and modify to suit the players, PCs they’ve chosen and their PCs’ backstories. I also rarely run a monster stat block completely unmodified. I honestly believe that the best run APs necessitate modification and customization because the authors can’t predict everything a given set of PCs will do. And if there is info crucial to moving an AP forward, they should just get it as a result of overcoming some challenge/encounter. So I don’t see that as a problem running this AP.

The link between the first two adventures (L1->L2) is a great example of where a GM can make for a rich transition. It depends on the PCs finding a note/notice about an auction at an auction house. The PCs can get that info as written, from another NPC or even in Eleanor Shanks speak with dead sequence. But why would the PCs follow up on it? At another part of the first adventure the PCs find a wooden child’s toy that they are able to recognize as having been made in their hometown of Wicken (suggesting a Wicken captive had passed through). I am already thinking of having a PC recognize it as not only originating from Wicken but belonging to someone they know. So now they have a clue and a motive to follow that clue. I can reinforce this during the speak with dead sequence or even through Ivy who has been touched by the Beautiful (she could even be the one who has the toy if they missed it elsewhere). Then if they decide to go back to Wicken, which I am sure they will, its destruction is only going to fuel their desire to follow up on any clues and turn over any rocks they can find. But all of this depends on the GM making Wicken important and meaningful to the PCs. It is why I am having all the PCs have Wicken be where they grew up. My PCs have made their characters already and have already breathed so much life into Wicken through both shared and individual backstories. It’s not going to take much to get them following the clues.

The vampire spawn mistake is unfortunate but not a deal breaker for me. Dominate and gaseous form is so easy to improvise that it is no big deal. As a mater of fact, for me it inspires me to think outside the box. I’ll probably have them be able to turn into mist at-will. Maybe even have a reaction ability where when someone tries to hit them with a blade they go poof and it passes through. I’d do dominate as per the spell or any number of monsters that have the ability and set a level appropriate save DC. Depending on their level at the time, I may have had to make modifications anyway.

I think if you are looking for an AP that is ready to run right from the book and requires little to no work, the crunch issues may be a deal breaker. But if you are like me and like to customize and modify, it won’t really be an issue. To be honest, I think this is a hard AP to run and would definitely be a challenge for a beginner GM. And not because of the crunch issues, it just has a somewhat complex AP compared to what Wizards has been publishing for 5E. And as with any AP, I think it takes an experienced touch to guide the players through the AP without them feeling guided/railroaded. As a result it benefits from a decent amount of prep work. And that doesn’t even include inputting stuff into Fantasy Grounds which I have to do.. lol..
 

sim-h

Explorer
Sounds like it'll be much more up your alley than mine, as long as you are prepared to ad lib things and make more rulings on the fly than might otherwise be expected when running a published adventure. I don't think any amount of prep can truly be enough since the players are free to wander off into the city at any time and visit any number of locations that are just briefly sketched out. The Festival chapter being a case in point. There are some very interesting locations there.

I'd be very interested to read session reports once you get going, be sure to post them here!

My main beef is not with the AP but with being charged money for a supposed '5e conversion' that was half baked.
 

sim-h

Explorer
It's all coming back to me now - the Festival fair section, where the 'Big Top' is 15 feet in diameter according to the map lol. There is supposed to be an act involving an Owlbear which according to those dimensions would take up the entire tent! The description reads:
"A very large black tent, within which is a central sawdust circle raised above the ground by some five feet, and reached by low steps"

Things like that really irritate me. It's just sloppy and that entire map needs redrawing to adjust the tent sizes but not so much the boats or buildings. I envy your relaxed attitude to such things!
 

At least you got a map. Their Spire of Iron & Crystal adventure is missing a mentioned player's map - in the original S&W version, in the later PF version and finally in the 5E version as well. Plus, the 5E conversion is atrocious!
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm so glad I read this. I've been looking into 3pp 5E stuff, and I had a suspicion that FFG's stuff would be rush-job conversions of old content. These reviews just solidify that reaction. Especially at their high price point, it's hard to justify these premium adventure modules. Which is a shame, because the Necromancer stuff was a highlight of my 3.x edition experience.
 

Chris633

Explorer
Yeah, I paid for the ideas and content more that the 5E crunch. I’ve run and played in A LOT of the official published content from Wizards and even with the wonky crunch this still beats it all hands down for me. I have both the City of Splendors and Eberron Sharn 3.5 books and this has more and better city content that those combined IMO. So the crunch being a little wonky doesn’t bother me. If I had a complaint, it would be that I wish they spent more money on more art and better quality maps. The issue you mentioned about the tent in the Circus Macabre is not really a problem for me. That location is primarily a role play location and so theatre of the mind will suffice. No need for redrawing. If I really need to, I can cross out the “1 square = 5ft” and those tents can be any size I need them to be. For me they are a just a quick location reference and scale is less important. The building is where any combat is likely to occur, so accuracy there is a little more important. The issue I had with the maps is that some were hard to understand until your read through all of the text and exercised some deep thought. And just regular locations, not even the between locations. So they could have gotten a better cartographer.

Wow, I had so meant for this thread to be different than what it has become. It’s more review than an enhancing the module thread. I was hoping for more ideas. But I guess not a lot of people are actually running it or at least they don’t frequent the forums.

So for those finding this and reading it as a review, I guess I will bottom line this with my opinion. This book is almost 900 densely packed pages and is a city guide (complete with locations, NPCs and plot hooks), bestiary and adventure path. The 5E conversion could be better and there are errors here and there. However, from an idea and content perspective, it is better than anything Wizards is publishing in my humble opinion. Their crunch may be better (and it should be since they wrote the system), but their content is half baked. Just look at the recently released Ravnica and compare it to Castorhage—I’d have to go out and buy other MTG books just to complete the Ravnica lore to run it. Casorhage is a complete setting. I recently ran the Tyranny of Dragons AP and I know already that running this is going to require less fixing. For me it’s easier to fix the stat blocks than the entire plot (which I did). I played in an Out of the Abyss campaign which left me feeling underwhelmed. So the Levee, in my opinion, is so far superior to these that it’s not even close when it comes to locations, oddities, political intrigue, NPCs, story, ect.. It’s NOT a perfect book. But there aren’t many that deliver on BOTH content and crunch. Cover price on ROT, Waterdeep and Sharn was about what I paid for the Blight. But I’d take the Blight over those any day for the content alone if the intention was to run an urban campaign. Whether or not this appeals to you, warts and all, will really depend on what you are looking for and what you value (e.g. system crunch vs ideas). For me ideas are everything. Crunch is nice but easily fixed if needed.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm the opposite. I can do story on my own (and rarely follow the modules exactly). Because the CR system of 5e doesn't work for me, I'm more dependent on encounters that have been tried and tested.
 

Chris633

Explorer
I wish I could get away with that for my group. I’ve run encounters at them from other modules and with unmodified stat blocks and they eat it up. They are good at optimizing their characters and strategy. It was getting to a point where I had to throw what in the book is a deadly encounter several levels above theirs in order to challenge them. So now, any combats from a module that I want to challenge them with I have to rewrite and important NPCs get legendary abilities (which I’ve expanded from what’s in the monster manual). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a combat and I worry that it’s too hard and I may TPK them only to have them steamroll it. I threw out those encounter/CR tables a long time ago. I do it by feel now.

As far as story goes, I need a starting point. I can enhance the crap out of an existing idea and tailor it to my group. Also take their backstories and weave them in. But it all falls apart if I’m starting with a blank page. That’s why I love books filled with fluff. The more fluff the better. It’s somewhat the same with combats. I like having an idea of what the module wants and then tricking it out to fit the kind of challenge my players need. It’s why I have been so disappointed with the official published content. The fluff is anemic and the combats uninspired in many cases.

The Levee is the first AP that I think I may actually end up running close to what’s written (combats enhanced of course). I love what they did with it so much. But no AP survives contact with a group. So I'll likely end up having to change things depending on what they do.
 


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