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Running from the Sunless Citadel to the Bastion of Broken Souls

Phaedyme

First Post
So, I've volunteered to run four of my favorite players through these modules. I realize that some have not had quite the same good reception as others, but I can live with that (and adapt to it when necessary). I'm just asking two questions:

* If anyone's run these in 3.5 and had any issues.

* If anyone's run these all the way through and had any issues.

Also:

* Entertaining anecdotes.

I'm setting the game in the Forgotten Realms, starting at the beginning of second level (that'll put the PCs about a thousand XP ahead, which shouldn't make much of a difference in the long-term) simply because of a few specific SC encounters. I'll also be using AU hero point rules. I briefly flirted with everyone getting a free "regional" feat, but am currently not in favor of that plan.
 

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Ysgarran

Registered User
1. The dungeon crawl nature of many of the modules clashed with the style of campaign I usually run. I started down the path of the running all of these modules as a way of learning the rules. A dungeon crawl here and there is ok but when strung together like that it, it become a bit too much. By the time Nightfang spire rolled around it began to feel a bit relentless. It might have been better for our group if the scenarios were more tightly bound together.
2. My group enjoyed the city based adventure the most (the name of which escapes me). I was able to inject a colorfull array of characters there rather than just monsters to beat down.
3. The end of Nightfang Spire was climatic and epic battle. My players were very short on arcane magic users and it made for a very tough fight for them.

Nightfang spire is where we stopped. We switched off to another campaign at that point for a change of pace and style.

Ysgarran.

Phaedyme said:
* If anyone's run these in 3.5 and had any issues.
* If anyone's run these all the way through and had any issues.
Also:

* Entertaining anecdotes.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Phaedyme said:
* Entertaining anecdotes.

Well, you can't do better than read Wulf's storyhour, which goes all through the entire series (we suspect it includes Bastion but he hasn't written anything about that yet).

You can find it here:
http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?t=102

My own storyhour contains sunless citadel, speaker in dreams and standing stone, and has a few amusing moments amongst the grisly deaths. Sunless citadel is near the start of this one http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=122&perpage=10&pagenumber=1 and the others are in the midst of this thread http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?t=6689

Cheers
 


gfunk

First Post
1. Sunless Citadel
2. Forge of Fury
3. Speaker in Dreams
4. The Standing Stone
5. Heart of Nightfang Spire
6. Deep Horizon
7. Lord of the Iron Fortress
8. Bastion of Broken Souls
 

WizarDru

Adventurer
Phaedyme said:
* If anyone's run these in 3.5 and had any issues.

* If anyone's run these all the way through and had any issues.
Well, you can check my .sig below for a link to Wulf's Story Hour, which goes straight through to Lord of the Iron Fortress (and may have continued on to Bastion after Wulf left). My Story Hour, also listed below, used the first two modules, and then snippets of the others until Heart of Nightfang Spire.

You need to consider the following questions:

Do you and your players like Dungeon Crawls? Really, really like them? Because if you don't, you may want to change your plans. Sunless Citadel is good old-school dungeoneering, and a solid module. Forge of Fury is even better in that mold, and really a series of connected dungeons, each with their own character. But then comes a dungeon module that really takes place in a city, and then one that takes place over a small countryside, and then the Hell of Nightfang Spire, which becomes a relentless Bataan Death March of a module. Follow that up with Deep Horizon, which is a dungeon in the underdark. Then Lord of the Iron Fortress, which is a dungeon on another plane. Then finally, Bastion of Broken Souls, which is a dungeon spread out across four different planes.

I'm simplfying here, naturally...but ultimately, they start to feel very repetitive. My players grew bored with Nightfang Spire before they grew angry at it.

How do you handle PC death? Your attitude and your player's attitudes towards character death will determine your enjoyment of these modules. Particularly as the modules scale higher, instant death save-or-die issues will abound. Creatures like the Iron Fortresses Steel Predators, who theoretically can sunder +4 weapons, and are very good at it. Monsters like Nightfang Spire's Tombstone Golem, who essentially has a Slay Living attack instead of Slow gas. Creatures like the Cathezar in Bastion, who can deliver 27 attacks per round if in her lair....and it only takes 3 or 4 to kill most party members. Party members WILL die, and in record numbers if their compliment doesn't match the module designer's intent. Nightfang Spire becomes much harder without a competent cleric. And with a wight assassain who can scry the players for three turns before performing her death attack by walking through a portal, you're still going to lose people. Be preprapred for that.

Are you prepared to rewrite some of the modules? Some of them are obtuse or frustrating, and intentionally short-circuit logical resolutions to problems purely for the sake of prolonging the adventure. The Standing Stones is a prime example of this, with several poorly constructed Mcguffins that most players will quickly see through, and some truck-sized plot holes you'll need to patch. Switching to 3.5 will also entail some rebalancing of the modules. The heavily-used Girallons in Heart of Nightfang Spire are CR6, now, and somewhat tweaked to be slightly weaker...this means that they are simultaneously worth more, and differently abled (they were overpowered before for CR 5, they are now good for CR6, but do less damage in favor of other stats).


My advice? Use the first two modules, and then take the players to the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil module. The first section in Hommlet is outstanding, and if they really want a big dungeon crawl with some lethality, you can at least give them a well written one. The Banewarrens is another good alternate choice. I've never used them, but many people swear by the Freeport series of modules, as well. I enjoy many of the modules from Fiery Dragon Press, to be sure, and Kenzer produces some mighty fine modules for the Kalamar setting, such as the Coin trilogy.

If you want to see more specific criticism, go to my story hour, and scroll through to find the discussion about HoNS...it's probably on page 2 (since the last culling of messages, I'm unsure).
Edit: AH, here it is, right here.
 
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Phaedyme

First Post
Thank you for all of the replies. I think that my decision to use AU hero points will alleviate some of the lethality issues. There is a good chance that the players will get tired of the dungeon crawling, which I'm okay with. The idea is to start out with these, but if they want to do something else, that's doable too. It's not like there's a lack of things to do in D&D.
 

Klaus

First Post
A big part of the lethality is based on spells that have changed drastically in 3.5.


SPOILER...




For instance, in the final battle in HotNS, the big bad is using haste to activate a wand of lightning twice in one round. Now that's no longer possible.
 

Zad

First Post
My two bits - which unsurpisingly follows Wizardru's since I'm a player in his campaign.

SC and FoF - great modules. Two thumbs up.

We didn't do what you would consider Speaker in Dreams - Wizardru hacked it down pretty much.

Nightfang spire was pure hell. It's long, rambling, frustrating, and clashed with the style of our characters in the campaign. It was thoroughly unenjoyable and we literally walked out of the dungeon and gave up. I read the final encounter, and I can't see how any group that's supposed to be in that dungeon would be ready to deal with it. If I ever meet the author, I'm going to bop him on the head.

So there's some good and some bad there. You could always start in SC and FoF and go from there, but the important point is not to assume that they're all as good as those two.

You can hit Wizardru's story hour if you want our gory experience in Nightfang Spire. Part of it was the module, and part of it was that our styles clashed. But even if you take out the clash, it has some real issues.
 

Sir Falke

First Post
Hi!

I've been a lurker all this time, but for HotNS I've some things to say:
My players have had a very easy time with it! The cleric in my party played it brilliant: Bull's Strenght for the paladin, Endurance for the Rogue and Mage, Death Ward for the mage, Spell Immunity (Charm, Phantasmal Killer) for the rogue, protection against evil, Greater Magic Weapon and Magic Vestment on his armor, shield and weapons and those of the paladin too! (so, thay had AC 30+ and +4 weapons. The rogue shooted with +4 bow and +4 arrows, all thanks to Greater Magic Weapon and an Amulet of Karma). He had almost no spell left. And, in top of that, they went Ethereal and scouted the whole Dungeon and ambushed some of the enemies within. Of course, the Night hags were the only ones able to affect them on the ethereal plane via Magic Missile...
Besides, the mage used Disintegrate for said Assassin (and See Invisibility, of course, to see her or peeking into the Ethereal plane to avoid surprises)
Luckily, 3.5 doesn't let that kind of tactic anymore (Etherealness a lvl 9 spell now, buff's spells only 1 min/lvl) but I was astonished how an extremely Swat-thinking party could beat it...
Just my two cents, anyway...
 

Phaedyme

First Post
Regarding Heart of Nightfang Spire, the reactions so far have been mixed IRL and online. I can see it's a nasty dungeon, but I think that a lot of it depends on player approach.
 

Low-level adventures

I really felt that Sunless Citadel was a grand way to start off a campaign. It shows off 3rd Edition and even manages to give 1st-3rd level characters an opportunity to explore multiple methods of achieving their goals. However, I ran this module back in December 2001, and I'm not sure that it's aged gracefully. And as with virtually all other modules, it'd need to be updated to 3.5, a task which is harder than you might expect for a simple "rules clarification".

You could look at the Shackled Path campaign in Dungeon magazine. They also intend to run characters from 1st-20th level. If I remember correctly, it's 3.5 compliant, and has a good mix of city encounters and dungeon crawling.

I'm a big fan of the Freeport campaign setting and if you feel up to the task of converting modules, I would strongly recommend trying their series which takes characters from 1st-10th level or so. In my campaign, Brother Egil and the Temple of Knowledge remain strong allies of the PCs in their war against ignorance. And the Temple's certainly happy to accept any "donations" the PCs might care to make from their extensive explorations.
 

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