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5E Running Rime of the Frost Maiden

MarkB

Legend
you mean like


I mean, that's sloppy...
How so? It's saying that by 3rd level they'll have gained enough fame that they'll start hearing some of these rumours, not that they'll be ready to immediately head out then. It's advising DMs to start sprinkling them in around 3rd level so that they'll start organically transitioning into these quests instead of them suddenly showing up once they hit the level requirement, CRPG style.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
How so? It's saying that by 3rd level they'll have gained enough fame that they'll start hearing some of these rumours, not that they'll be ready to immediately head out then. It's advising DMs to start sprinkling them in around 3rd level so that they'll start organically transitioning into these quests instead of them suddenly showing up once they hit the level requirement, CRPG style.
The earlier part of the book tells you to start using Chapter 2 at forth level, but Chapter 2 says to start using it at 3rd level. I'm not sure which is more correct (allowing for the slop in level appropriate encounters), but that's not a trivial issue. It's easy to confuse or be confused. Again, I don't think it's a major issue, but your explanation doesn't really touch on the reason the criticism exists because you're looking at it in isolation and ignoring the other part.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
As an aside, I have found that when I am prepping my own games I get a ratio of about 1:4 -- that is, an hour of prep gets me four hours of table time. Now, I do a lot of improvisation, so prepping is outlining locations and NPC motivations and stuff more than "writing" an adventure.

For published adventures is is at best 1:2 and sometimes closer to 1:1 because I not only have to parse everything the author(s) intended, but also do the work of making sure I have the appropriate stat blocks on hand and make any changes due to incompatibility my group, their play style, etc.
I'm in full agreement with you there.

AND because you have a firm grasp of what do the NPC want, you can really improvised and run them well without having to fear that you are "going to ruin the plot". The plot develops organically.
 

MarkB

Legend
The earlier part of the book tells you to start using Chapter 2 at forth level, but Chapter 2 says to start using it at 3rd level. I'm not sure which is more correct (allowing for the slop in level appropriate encounters), but that's not a trivial issue. It's easy to confuse or be confused. Again, I don't think it's a major issue, but your explanation doesn't really touch on the reason the criticism exists because you're looking at it in isolation and ignoring the other part.
That isn't the case. At the start of the Character Advancement section in chapter 2 it clearly states that the chapter is for characters of 4th level or higher.

What it later states us that from 3rd level they're famous enough to start hearing about some of the content in this chapter.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
That isn't the case. At the start of the Character Advancement section in chapter 2 it clearly states that the chapter is for characters of 4th level or higher.

What it later states us that from 3rd level they're famous enough to start hearing about some of the content in this chapter.
Exactly. There is no ambiguity here, or inconsistent design. There are two places where it clearly says that Chpt 2 is for 4th level (the flowchart in the beginning, and the character advancement section at the start of chpt 2). The reference to 3rd level is solely around when the PCs hear rumors. That doesn't mean the PCs are 3rd level when chpt 2 starts any more than any other adventure hook rumor in every other adventure means the PCs are meant to face said rumor as soon as they hear it. E.g., level 1 PCs hearing about the caves of chaos rumors doesn't mean every cave is to be explored by level 1 PCs, or that Tiamat in HotDQ is meant to be encountered by low level PCs when they first hear those rumors.

A level 1 PC hearing a rumor of a red dragon in the mountains doesn't mean they should head up there right away. Not all rumors are meant to be addressed immediately.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Exactly. There is no ambiguity here, or inconsistent design. There are two places where it clearly says that Chpt 2 is for 4th level (the flowchart in the beginning, and the character advancement section at the start of chpt 2). The reference to 3rd level is solely around when the PCs hear rumors. That doesn't mean the PCs are 3rd level when chpt 2 starts any more than any other adventure hook rumor in every other adventure means the PCs are meant to face said rumor as soon as they hear it. E.g., level 1 PCs hearing about the caves of chaos rumors doesn't mean every cave is to be explored by level 1 PCs, or that Tiamat in HotDQ is meant to be encountered by low level PCs when they first hear those rumors.

A level 1 PC hearing a rumor of a red dragon in the mountains doesn't mean they should head up there right away. Not all rumors are meant to be addressed immediately.
That isn't the case. At the start of the Character Advancement section in chapter 2 it clearly states that the chapter is for characters of 4th level or higher.

What it later states us that from 3rd level they're famous enough to start hearing about some of the content in this chapter.
Um, does it say that they should be discouraged from following up on these rumors until they reach 4th level? I mean, maybe I have weird players, but they tend to follow up pretty quickly on rumors that interest them, which, given this reading, would put me in a situation to decide to alter the encounters to be appropriate, fast track the milestone leveling, or invent stalls to prevent pursuing the rumors, all of which distort play. I suppose it's possible that the normal group of players do not attempt to follow up on rumors for a bit, but I find that unlikely. Which then means that the reading you're both advocating can often lead to distorting play experiences. I'd rather assume it was an unintended type than intentional design.
 

MarkB

Legend
Um, does it say that they should be discouraged from following up on these rumors until they reach 4th level? I mean, maybe I have weird players, but they tend to follow up pretty quickly on rumors that interest them, which, given this reading, would put me in a situation to decide to alter the encounters to be appropriate, fast track the milestone leveling, or invent stalls to prevent pursuing the rumors, all of which distort play. I suppose it's possible that the normal group of players do not attempt to follow up on rumors for a bit, but I find that unlikely. Which then means that the reading you're both advocating can often lead to distorting play experiences. I'd rather assume it was an unintended type than intentional design.
At that point they should still be knee-deep in active Ten Towns quests. Do your players consistently drop what they're doing in order to immediately pursue something new and further afield?

My reading is that it was entirely intentional, and that the intent behind it is to ease them into these quests rather than having this jarring break where up until 4th level nobody talked about any of this, and then suddenly it's the talk of the town and they're expected to head out and deal with it immediately even though there's still stuff going on closer to home.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
At that point they should still be knee-deep in active Ten Towns quests. Do your players consistently drop what they're doing in order to immediately pursue something new and further afield?

My reading is that it was entirely intentional, and that the intent behind it is to ease them into these quests rather than having this jarring break where up until 4th level nobody talked about any of this, and then suddenly it's the talk of the town and they're expected to head out and deal with it immediately even though there's still stuff going on closer to home.
Looking at the structure of the quests, there's really not much difference between the Chapter 1 quests and the Chapter 2 quests outside of level expectations, so I'm not sure how players that just completed a quest to gain level 3 are meant to tell that these quests should wait until they've done a few more Chap 1 quests, especially if they go to a new town and receive the new quest there AND a rumor. If you're meant to be level 4 prior to attempting the quest, this needs to be part of the adventure. None of the rumors are just foreshadowing -- they're actual quest tags that have enough information to follow up on and enter the quest. Again, if this is intentional design, it's poor design, and I'm a huge fan of foreshadowing.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Um, does it say that they should be discouraged from following up on these rumors until they reach 4th level? I mean, maybe I have weird players, but they tend to follow up pretty quickly on rumors that interest them, which, given this reading, would put me in a situation to decide to alter the encounters to be appropriate, fast track the milestone leveling, or invent stalls to prevent pursuing the rumors, all of which distort play. I suppose it's possible that the normal group of players do not attempt to follow up on rumors for a bit, but I find that unlikely. Which then means that the reading you're both advocating can often lead to distorting play experiences. I'd rather assume it was an unintended type than intentional design.

If your players drop everything they are doing to go after a rumor they hear, then just through the nature of the game, they will learn quickly that not all monsters should be fought right there and then. That's not a game design issue. That's a player always assuming you as the DM will cater to their actions, and change the world to cater to their competence. The world doesn't work that way. D&D assumes a living world, where starting PCs hear rumors of a rampaging dragon over the Dreadwood, or an entire city being sunk into Avernus. Just because my level 1 PC heard that rumor, doesn't mean that I should expect my level 1 PC to enter avernus and me as a player to expect all encounters will be catered to my level 1 PC. That's pretty ridiculous, to be honest. If your PCs do assume every encounter and rumor they hear will be catered to their levels, then that's either a) they learn the hard way that not all rumors should be instantly addressed, especially ones that sound extremely dangerous, or b) you as the DM give them some hints that they should probably stick with the hooks they already are working on
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Luke heard at the beginning that the emperor and Darth Vader were the bad guys. So it should have been assumed that he would go fight Darth Vader and the emperor right way, right? Otherwise bad writing of the script...
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
If your players drop everything they are doing to go after a rumor they hear, then just through the nature of the game, they will learn quickly that not all monsters should be fought right there and then. That's not a game design issue. That's a player always assuming you as the DM will cater to their actions, and change the world to cater to their competence. The world doesn't work that way. D&D assumes a living world, where starting PCs hear rumors of a rampaging dragon over the Dreadwood, or an entire city being sunk into Avernus. Just because my level 1 PC heard that rumor, doesn't mean that I should expect my level 1 PC to enter avernus and me as a player to expect all encounters will be catered to my level 1 PC. That's pretty ridiculous, to be honest. If your PCs do assume every encounter and rumor they hear will be catered to their levels, then that's either a) they learn the hard way that not all rumors should be instantly addressed, especially ones that sound extremely dangerous, or b) you as the DM give them some hints that they should probably stick with the hooks they already are working on
But, that's just it -- they don't even have to drop everything. Let's say they're running through Chap 1. They have the two starting quests and the quest for the town their in. That's 2nd level and a good bit towards 3rd. Unless they're running around Ten Towns collecting lots of town quests, when they hit third they'll probably only have one Chap 1 quest on the docket, possibly two, which aren't enough for reaching 4th level. At that point, they are not abandoning anything at all to go after the rumor -- it's teed up and next on the docket!
 

MarkB

Legend
Looking at the structure of the quests, there's really not much difference between the Chapter 1 quests and the Chapter 2 quests outside of level expectations, so I'm not sure how players that just completed a quest to gain level 3 are meant to tell that these quests should wait until they've done a few more Chap 1 quests, especially if they go to a new town and receive the new quest there AND a rumor.
Maybe the DM could give them a hint?
If you're meant to be level 4 prior to attempting the quest, this needs to be part of the adventure. None of the rumors are just foreshadowing -- they're actual quest tags that have enough information to follow up on and enter the quest. Again, if this is intentional design, it's poor design, and I'm a huge fan of foreshadowing.
Chapter 2 starts with a warning that these quests cover the entire range of 4th-7th level, and that some of them will be too challenging for a 4th level party, so they may have to run away from certain challenges. The same applies if they go haring off after them at 3rd level.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Luke heard at the beginning that the emperor and Darth Vader were the bad guys. So it should have been assumed that he would go fight Darth Vader and the emperor right way, right? Otherwise bad writing of the script...
He, um, was doing exactly that. The GM put lots of other obstacles in his way so he could gain some levels, and was quite nice in allowing a fail forward when Luke's player pushed the issue before he was done with training.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Maybe the DM could give them a hint?

Chapter 2 starts with a warning that these quests cover the entire range of 4th-7th level, and that some of them will be too challenging for a 4th level party, so they may have to run away from certain challenges. The same applies if they go haring off after them at 3rd level.
Yes, this is the point -- that the GM has to intentionally moderate the design of the adventure to make sure that it works because it doesn't work as written.
 

MarkB

Legend
Yes, this is the point -- that the GM has to intentionally moderate the design of the adventure to make sure that it works because it doesn't work as written.
No - the DM just has to actively run the adventure. The only way to avoid that would be to abandon entirely any kind of sand-box structure and just feed the quests to the players piecemeal in strict order of difficulty.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
But, that's just it -- they don't even have to drop everything. Let's say they're running through Chap 1. They have the two starting quests and the quest for the town their in. That's 2nd level and a good bit towards 3rd. Unless they're running around Ten Towns collecting lots of town quests, when they hit third they'll probably only have one Chap 1 quest on the docket, possibly two, which aren't enough for reaching 4th level. At that point, they are not abandoning anything at all to go after the rumor -- it's teed up and next on the docket!

Again, not every rumor heard should be addressed right away. The game has never been that way. Ever. In any adventure. PCs hear rumors all the time, but that doesn't mean they all should be catered to the PCs current level. Our PCs were level 1 or 2 when they first heard of Eltriel (sp). Does that mean heading into Avernus should have been catered to level 1 or 2 PCs?

No, because we as players said, "that seems really dangerous, perhaps we should get experience first." I have little sympathy for players who assume every encounter is catered to them, and when they insist on fighting something clearly out of their league, get beaten down handily.

He, um, was doing exactly that. The GM put lots of other obstacles in his way so he could gain some levels, and was quite nice in allowing a fail forward when Luke's player pushed the issue before he was done with training.

No, the GM didn't do that. the other members of his party did. "That's suicide, are you an idiot?" 'You need training" etc.

Luke rushed in when he wasn't ready, and had his bum handed to him. Which would happen to PCs if they decided to address the rumors before they were ready.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Again, not every rumor heard should be addressed right away. The game has never been that way. Ever. In any adventure. PCs hear rumors all the time, but that doesn't mean they all should be catered to the PCs current level. Our PCs were level 1 or 2 when they first heard of Eltriel (sp). Does that mean heading into Avernus should have been catered to level 1 or 2 PCs?
Of course not, but when you have no immediate other adventure and a rumor, are you suggesting that the players should know to not follow this up?

This counter argument is a whirlwind. First it's that following up on a new rumor means leaving other business unfinished. When it's pointed out that the structure of the adventure means this is very unlikely to be the case, there's a switch to a general argument that rumors are not normally immediately followed up on, as if players can tell the difference by intuition if this rumor is a plot hook for now or a plot hook for later. I've also pointed out that the structure of the rumors is such that they are as strong a hook as the other adventures and not just foreshadowing and also that they do not substantially differ from the kinds of adventure hook rumors in Chapter 1 of the adventure. Players cannot tell unless the GM is telling them, which is a distortion of play.
No, the GM didn't do that. the other members of his party did. "That's suicide, are you an idiot?" 'You need training" etc.

Luke rushed in when he wasn't ready, and had his bum handed to him. Which would happen to PCs if they decided to address the rumors before they were ready.
Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know that the players set up the "get off of Tatooine" adventure, or the "captured by the Death Star, now escape" adventure, or the "blow up the Death Star with this handy plot coupon" adventure, or the "you're helping your friend hide on Hoth, but Vader comes for you in overwhelming force, so you have to run, plus there's an offer of training" adventure. Or the "you get a rumor that your other party members are captured, but you shouldn't go, crap, I bungled that one, let's see how to fail forward" adventure. Or...

I mean, I get some special pleading, but you're now arguing that the structure of Star Wars isn't that Luke didn't run of immediately to fight the Empire and thwart Vader but that his fellow players contrived ways to keep him from doing so. I mean, aren't you conceding the initial argument that Luke didn't just immediately run off by saying that it was only his friends that stopped him? And, how does this at all reference the current argument, as I believe it was meant to? Are you saying that you can only prevent going on Chap 2 quests at 3rd level if the other players stop the one hothead? I mean, this is utterly muddled at this point.
 

MarkB

Legend
Of course not, but when you have no immediate other adventure and a rumor, are you suggesting that the players should know to not follow this up?

This counter argument is a whirlwind. First it's that following up on a new rumor means leaving other business unfinished. When it's pointed out that the structure of the adventure means this is very unlikely to be the case, there's a switch to a general argument that rumors are not normally immediately followed up on, as if players can tell the difference by intuition if this rumor is a plot hook for now or a plot hook for later. I've also pointed out that the structure of the rumors is such that they are as strong a hook as the other adventures and not just foreshadowing and also that they do not substantially differ from the kinds of adventure hook rumors in Chapter 1 of the adventure. Players cannot tell unless the GM is telling them, which is a distortion of play.
Well, here's an idea: If the players are in a position to gain a new rumour and they happen to have cleared out all the quests they'd previously heard about, then give them a Ten Towns rumour. Nothing's forcing you to give them a Chapter 2 rumour when they've got nothing else to do. You are not a trained monkey blindly running through the adventure like it's a set of computer program instructions without any thought as to consequence, you are a DM actively running the adventure.

I don't see how it's any less a "distortion of play" to have the adventure module handhold the players by withholding this information from them until they're high enough level to deal with it than it would be for you to do so.
 

Reynard

Legend
Yes, this is the point -- that the GM has to intentionally moderate the design of the adventure to make sure that it works because it doesn't work as written.
You are conflating your preferences and your GMing style with objectively good or bad design.
I've mentioned this before but I will repeat it here: the is NOT an introductory adventure. it assumes a level of competence and experience on the part of the DM and players. The reason there isn't any of the hand holding you are asking for is because that stuff is covered in multiple other products geared toward new DMs and players. The adventure should not have to say anything more than "this stuff is for 4th to 7th level characters" for the DM to do their job and run the adventure in a way that isn't a futile, frustrating experience for their players.
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
You are conflating your preferences and your GMing style with objectively good or bad design.
I've mentioned this before but I will repeat it here: the is NOT an introductory adventure. it assumes a level of competence and experience on the part of the DM and players. The reason there isn't any of the hand holding you are asking for is because that stuff is covered in multiple other products geared toward new DMs and players. The adventure should not have to say anything more than "this stuff is for 4th to 7th level characters" for the DM to do their job and run the adventure in a way that isn't a futile, frustrating experience for their players.
Where does RotFM state that a GM needs to be experienced before they run the adventure? Show me the exact text where it says this please.
 

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