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D&D 5E [SPOILERS] Enhancing Tomb of Annihilation


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jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
In similar vein to the "Enhancing" threads but rather more focused on discussing aspects of ToA and how to run it rather than assuming it needs enhancing.
Sorry for starting a duplicate thread! I've asked to have them merged.

But I just want to say, for the record, that "enhancing" isn't meant to imply that the adventure is deficient. It was supposed to be more along the lines of "What would make it (even) better than it already is?"
 

Valmarius

First Post
I'm actually planning on postponing the death curse for the greater part of the adventure.
My current idea is to run the campaign more like an Indiana Jones TV show, with the PCs perhaps as part of an explorers society that makes treks out into the jungle/ruins.
Probably start at lvl 3, run a number of these treks until the PCs are at level 6 on average, at which point the death curse will kick in. Hopefully one or two of the PCs will have died by that point and been raised, so I can get some personal investment in ending the curse. At the very least they should have some cursed acquaintances in Port Nyanzaru by then.
 

dropbear8mybaby

First Post
Does anyone know of a cheaper way to print the Tomb maps on one sheet?
If you don't care much about the quality of the result then print shops like Kinkos do cheaper print options like for CAD work on a light paper that comes off a massive roll. It's usually black and white only but it's good enough to show the players.

Another option that I'm using is a TV screen connected to a computer. Either that or you can use a Chromecast to cast the image to the TV screen.

Oops, I'm really sorry. I genuinely thought no one had made a "running the adventure" thread. Do you suppose we could ask a mod to merge the threads?

EDIT: Just did that.
Groovy.

I hate to break it to you, but you don't. You're just a hallucination of the collective minds of ENWorld posters.
I have BPD. It seems fitting that I'm a reflection of this community :D
 

dropbear8mybaby

First Post
Sorry for starting a duplicate thread! I've asked to have them merged.

But I just want to say, for the record, that "enhancing" isn't meant to imply that the adventure is deficient. It was supposed to be more along the lines of "What would make it (even) better than it already is?"

Fair enough. I have a strong bias against SKT so I guess my thinking was that the enhancing thread was meant to "fix" SKT. I'm happy for the title to be changed to Enhancing since it seems to be the default assumption that people will search for here.
 

dropbear8mybaby

First Post
https://www.reddit.com/user/turntechz went to the effort of rolling 480 dice for me. I just asked if there was a way to do it via some sort of program or excel sheet or something, lol. The idea was to break up the adventuring day into 3 time periods of 8 hours each and roll a d8 to see when the possibility of a random encounter occurred within each period. So a d8, followed by a d20, three times per day. I broke it up into 1am to 8am, 9am to 4pm and 5pm to midnight, with the assumption being that encounters occur roughly within the hour rather than dead on it. This is what turntechz came up with:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15GUDDE8q1VEofKcCwpKj3aPOYMo520l2owGMpM17D7o/edit?usp=sharing

I saved it to my own Google drive, made a copy so I could edit it, and I'm now in the process of adding my rain calendar to it. I think I'm realising now that I could've probably used an online generator to generate a random string of d8's and d20's and just paste it into the columns for my own version. D'oh. Regardless, this'll be a huge time-saver at the table for the myriad of random encounters you need to roll for the adventure as written, not to mention having random weather predetermined, and also as a day-tracker and countdown for the adventure to know when Syndra perishes.
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
I have the Fantasy Grounds version of this module. Question regarding the hex map...

Does the module's hex map have a "blank" side? The FG has a blank version that you use to track position. However, I'm going to potentially allow as a side-quest/way to make extra money by actually mapping the area. I can unblank each hex that the party successfully makes an Intelligence (Cartographer's Tools) on. That is, if they don't get lost.

I do wish there was an easier way to do it in FG, though.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
[MENTION=31465]Nebulous[/MENTION], I once used gamer-printer.com, but I can't access the site anymore. Did something happen to Michael Tumey, does anyone know?

I've been looking into various online printing options (e.g. vivyxprinting.com) that offer "economy" printing...typically this seems to be inexpensive paper w/ a matte finish, coated for light ink distribution, with reduced color vibrancy. For example, a 24"x36" economy print on vivyx costs $8.00.
 


jimmytheccomic

First Post
So, I've got a change I'm making up front, putting it here in case it's helpful to someone else.

Teleporting to Chult seems less fun for me than sailing in, and I also know my players are gonna joke around about level 1s being sent to the island instead of a more skilled/experienced party, so I'm gonna kill two birds with one stone while also giving a nice action set piece in the beginning.

I like the "Cellar of Death" DMs Guild adventure, so I'm going to open up with that, which gives the players a link to the Harpers. Rather than the NPC the book provides (whom puts on a time limit I'm not crazy about in an exploration campaign), the party is going to be part of a larger Harper strike force. They're on three boats of Harpers sailing to Chult. (That'll also give some time for some fun interactions while sailing to flesh out their characters more, and maaaaybe some pirate adventures, I'll feel out the room.)

Once the ships arrive at Chult, I want to have a huge battle with Aremag, in which the party is shipwrecked and most of the rest of the Harpers are killed. This'll give me a few big advantages.

-Establishes the danger and weirdness of Chult, while also getting to paint a nice island reveal since they're sailing in.

-Give us a nice huge action set piece up front

-Push the threat of the death curse. Before the voyage, the idea of death being permanent felt more like an abstract threat to the Harpers, but I want to play up the absolute terror faced by the other adventurers as they realize this could mean they're dying for good.

-And, if I strike up any great NPC relationships while sailing through, one or two of them can survive as well and give me some sub-plot juice in Chult.

Hope this is helpful to someone!
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Fair enough. I have a strong bias against SKT so I guess my thinking was that the enhancing thread was meant to "fix" SKT.
I borrowed the expression "Enhancing" from a series of excellent threads on running the "Dawn of Defiance" campaign for Star Wars Saga Edition on the old WOTC forums. Those threads were an enormous help to me, and I thought it would be great if we could have a similar set for D&D adventures. But I don't mind if someone else gets in first with a different title; thanks to the new Wiki thread, people will still be able to find it.
 

dropbear8mybaby

First Post
Teleporting to Chult seems less fun for me than sailing in, and I also know my players are gonna joke around about level 1s being sent to the island instead of a more skilled/experienced party, so I'm gonna kill two birds with one stone while also giving a nice action set piece in the beginning.

While what you're doing is cool and I don't discourage it, it does say at the start that Syndra has sent others before them and none have returned or sent word so the PC's are the last resort because she has no better options.
 

jimmytheccomic

First Post
While what you're doing is cool and I don't discourage it, it does say at the start that Syndra has sent others before them and none have returned or sent word so the PC's are the last resort because she has no better options.

Yeah, true, it just felt a little too much like lip service to fly with my jaded players, haha.
 



Gleep Wurp

First Post
I know. My point was that if they all gain a level of exhaustion around noon, they would likely stop, rather than continue and risk running into bad things. They'd effectively be moving only half normal distance each day, but that's only a problem if they're on a time limit.

wouldn't the things still run into them? Chult is busy. May as well keep moving, or the zombies will catch up
 

extralead

First Post
It relies on having someone in the party who can cast that spell in the first place (create food and water is a 3rd level spell, and create water is 1st), and to have it prepared. My players do have a cleric in the group, but it's not an easy choice to spend a spell slot every day (extremely valuable at low levels) on that. Especially when there are mundane ways to accomplishing the same thing.

Yes, the rainwater collectors and water-purification tablets provide a mundane way of easy-access to clean water on most days, but clearly Purify Food and Drink (1st Level Spell available to Clerics, Druids, and Paladins) is the winner. It can be cast as a ritual, so it only takes 10 minutes preparation -- so no slot has to be dedicated to preparing it or casting it. One of the guides is a Druid, and there are a few Side Quests that provide an Acolyte or even Priest if the party does not have these resources prepared and planned for.
 

eryndel

Explorer
It just hit me, I'm totally going to add a scene in the Bay of Chult where the dragon turtle Aremag gets attacked by a (radiant) fire breathing T-rex named Arijog. Which one will be the fan favorite?

Sent from my SHIELD Tablet K1 using Tapatalk
 

Quickleaf

Legend
One thing I did after skimming through ToA was curse the book's organization (or lack thereof), and added the following stickers to make it easier on myself. Especially Chapter 2: Chult – which gets no breakdown of various micro-areas in the Table of Contents. I may add more stickers or change them as I read individual sections for actual play...

Mm6kAxS.jpg
 

extralead

First Post
As a probable DM for ToA, I'd like to interject to the WotC teams that wrote this adventure module and ask them how they think it's possible to complete the module in the timeline suggested. While possible, it's too-tight. As a crisis manager, I would tell you that Syndra and her contingent would likely be in denial, using crisis response strategies based around denial or diminishing for at least 60, not 20, days. After that time, they would take stronger action such as rebuilding or bolstering strategies that would involve hiring or involving the party. Yes, Faerun has divination spells, etc -- but the result might still be similar to what we see with decision-making systems today.

Additionally, the authors of ToA provided at least 80 or 90 days (if not 120 days) of markers and material in the module. In my role as DM for the module, I'd like to see these markers and material made good in full, or, at the very-least, 90 percent complete. In order to accomplish this goal, I see a few factors at play. First, the ability to fudge the timeline a bit. Second, the capability to deliver motivators that players need without directing them entirely. Lastly, I need the primary NPCs to be able to deliver their capabilities to the party (the team that they selected and trust to deliver on results) at the right place at the right time in the right ways.

The first morning, after partial exploration of Port Nyanzaru, Syndra will be at 78 hit points. With the party staying at either inn, the Thundering Lizard or Kaya's House of Repose, I would introduce Side Quest 2 (page 18) into the playing space. I want to lead the party towards Fort Beluarian with Rokah, River of Mist, and Flask of Wine at a fast pace. When they arrive, I would like to give them opportunity to see through both Rokah and Liara in order to make their own decision about which evil is worse, the Flaming Fist working with pirates or the Zhentarim gaining advantage over those two factions. River and Flask should help the party put Dungrunglung on their map (without revealing that the party has Syndra's map), but they aren't important anymore to the adventure. Perhaps they should disappear forever and be replaced by Qawasha and Kapalue (Shago should be out and nobody should yet reveal him).

When returning to Port Nyanzaru, I'd prefer to run Side Quest 9 (page 18) in order to center the party's sights on the troubles of Port Nyanzaru. After which (as late as that same evening), the party can meet Volo, who will offer the party to join him on his visits to the Merchant villas, starting with Wakunga, then Jobal. but finishing as many as the party can bear. I don't want Jobal or his consorts to introduce too-many guides. In fact, I'd like the party to join up with Eku and then run Side Quests 3, 4, 7, and 10 before leaving Port Nyanzaru that same day.

I don't think the party needs too-many guides at this point. Eku, Qawasha, Kapalue, Undril Silvertusk (the priest from Side Quest 3), Inete (the acolyte from Side Quest 4), and Eshek (the acolyte from Side Quest 10) are quite-enough! The group can head to Dungrunglung and those with Loyalty of 9 or lower can camp until the party completes this portion of the module. I'd like to see Dungrunglung proceed without a hitch, especially since it's the party's first foray into the module's dangers. There are ways to make that happen by fudging rolls or providing additional layers of magic and intrigue sided to the party's efforts.

With canoe and insect repellent in tow, the party can head to the River Olung in order to have Eku guide them upstream to the outskirts of Nangalore. They only need to map the location for Lerek Dashlynd (Side Quest 7) and maybe pick a few flowers. They can then cross Olung again and trek to the Heart of Ubtao to copy some teleportation circle sigils. Entering the Aldani Basin where they can continue Eku's guidance to Orolunga will also complete Side Quest 4.

At Orolunga, give the party everything they need to kill the green hag and her flesh golem at Mbala even if it means fully-conspiring with Artus Cimber and Dragonbait. Be sure to note whether or not the party perceives the Wreck of the Star Goddess from Mbala (they have to make the roll). Artus can suggest a plan to meet at Jahaka Anchorage (noting it on their map) in one month in order to free prisoners and put a stop to the pirates in that region. He would certainly suggest (because the party shares their maps with his maps) that they complete Liara's Shilku quest, Hew Hackinstone's Wyrmheart Mine quest, and Musarib's Hrakhamar quest before they meet him at Jahaka Anchorage.

From Mbala, the party should travel downstream the River Soshenstar at around 2-3 hexes per day (the earlier ride to Dungrunglung was upstream at 2 hexes per day, which is recommended by the module for both directions, but I would fudge this -- downstream should be obviously-faster). The party stops first at Camp Vengeance (dropping off Undril from Side Quest 3) and then makes their way downriver to Camp Righteous, Yellyark, and then Vorn. After acquiring Wakanga's lost-long friend, the party heads back to Port Nyanzaru.

Upon their highly-successful return, Syndra and Wakanga will be excited to establish a connection to the teleportation circle at the Heart of Ubtao for the party. With a grip of gold and treasure, the party can build an army to command both the Brazen Pegasus (led by Captain Ortimay Swift and Dark) and the ship that Lerek Dashlynd (Side Quest 7) promised them. After initiating Side Quests 5 and 8, the party might leave immediately (in the Brazen Pegasus) with Hew Hackinstone and Musarib and somehow allow Xandala and Salida to command Lerek's sailing ship with their secondary army when it arrives -- in order to meet the party in Jahaka Bay when they return from Shilku Bay.

The party can complete Hew Hackinstone's and Musarib's quests without a hitch. Jahaka Anchorage, on the other hand, is where things get interesting. They'll have Artus Cimber and Dragonbait on their side, but they will also reveal the treachery of both Xandala and Salida (who should be in-league at this point). With Captain Zaroum Al-Saryak's and Salida's sending stones, the party can suggest that Syndra and Wakanga pair the stones so that the party can communicate to Captain Ortimay for a time (or they can simply retrieve Liara's which is already paired with Zaroum's). When they return with the pirate ships to Port Nyanzaru, Side Quest 8 will also successfully-complete.

From Port Nyanzaru, the party can meet up with Faroul, Gondolo, and Azaka. I might also run the final Side Quests 1 and 6 at this time. The party can then use the teleportation circle to travel instantly to the Heart of Ubtao, travel downstream (again maybe 2-3 hexes per day depending) the River Olung to Needle's Bones, crossing Ataaz Muhahah on the way to Firefinger, and order Captain Ortimay (via the sending stones) to meet the party at Mezro. On the way back to Port Nyanzaru, the party can stop at the Hvalspyd, and Fort Beluarian.

At their final stop at Port Nyanzaru before the adventure conclusion, the party gives the sending stone to Syndra, teleports yet-again to the Heart of Ubtao, walks right over to destroy Nangalore, and heads to Kir Sabal. From Kir Sabal, the party can fly to the Wrecks and, their last stop, Omu.

I tag that optimized path at about two months, maybe 9-and half weeks (pun there). It's harsh.
 
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