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The Long Dark RPG Time of the Soul

Jared Rascher

Explorer
I need to grow a set.

I posted here a few weeks ago about how I was getting burned out by running my Pathfinder game, and I wanted to step back and run something like Savage Worlds, and that if someone in the group wanted to keep going with Pathfinder, I'd step down as GM.

I told my group, I got a few "I'm okay with that" comments, nothing from two of my players, and one that volunteered to run Pathfinder in August.

I did make the mistake of saying that I'd finish the adventure path, and I don't want to go back on my word. But looking at the next adventure, I can barely bring myself to start prepping the adventure.

For one thing, one of the things I hate are pointless time wasting encounters that have zero chance of doing anything to the party. The next adventure has several encounters right off the bat that are several CR below the party as written.

On top of that, I've got a paladin that can pretty much destroy any undead or outsider that comes up in a few rounds of combat now that he gets multiple attacks. He's also nearly impossible to hit when he smites, and not too easy to hit when he doesn't.

I've got a bard that throws out immediate actions every other round.

I've got an oracle that can commune every day. Every day.

And then I've got the rest of the party that isn't a problem but looks like they are playing second fiddle to the other three.

I want to keep GMing. I want to get as far away from Pathfinder/3.5/d20 as I can for a while. I'm just burned out. But I told them I would finish this AP, and that would give the one player that wants to GM time to do so, so that I don't make 50% of my group upset with me decision.

I could rebuild the encounters, but I really don't have the desire to rewrite half of an adventure. I don't mind adding things and personalizing things, but I really don't want to feel like I have to "fix" an adventure I'm running.

I could also look very closely at the offending characters and rules, but I have always been a firm believer in not changing rules mid term in a campaign, unless it's to open up options.

But I just hit my breaking point when I get an e-mail about followers and four about treasure and crafting/upgrading magic items. Hell, the first half of this next adventure is going to be a cakewalk as it is without any more magic items on their side.

I want to keep my promise, but I'm not sure I honestly can. I want to keep GMing, but I'm afraid that if I bug out now, I'll loose the trust of at least half of the group.

Nothing to see here, I just needed to vent a bit. I'll figure it out, eventually.
 

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A

amerigoV

Guest
I need to grow a set.

I posted here a few weeks ago about how I was getting burned out by running my Pathfinder game, and I wanted to step back and run something like Savage Worlds, and that if someone in the group wanted to keep going with Pathfinder, I'd step down as GM.

...

I did make the mistake of saying that I'd finish the adventure path, and I don't want to go back on my word. But looking at the next adventure, I can barely bring myself to start prepping the adventure.

I know you are just venting, but if that is how you feel in a couple of days you should consider either telling the group that you are not finishing the AP (you said it yourself, it was a mistake and you are not going to do the material justice) or finish the AP using the Savage Worlds (not recommended - its better to consider another genre to get into the SW love).

Best of luck and be honest with yourself and group. I've been there.
 

Jared Rascher

Explorer
I know you are just venting, but if that is how you feel in a couple of days you should consider either telling the group that you are not finishing the AP (you said it yourself, it was a mistake and you are not going to do the material justice) or finish the AP using the Savage Worlds (not recommended - its better to consider another genre to get into the SW love).

Best of luck and be honest with yourself and group. I've been there.


Thank you for that. While we play every other week on Thursday, and we just played this last Thursday, I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing for sure by Sunday.

I actually had one player that wouldn't mind switching systems and wanted to know if I wanted to convert it to Savage Worlds, but I'm not sure if that's wise either. I'd almost rather make a clean break, but I appreciated his willingness to compromise.
 

Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
Strip all of the blow off encounters (that should be very little work, perhaps narrate through the details that need to be included and would be missed by the stripping) then add one of your own encounters on the end, after the big one in the AP, that you feel is tailored to challenge the big three PCs based on all of their abilties and items. It's a bit of work to come up with one grand finale but it sounds like you have been thinking enough about all they have that makes things easy so that you should be able to give them something worthy of your time to run. Make sure to include some stuff to let the secondary PCs have a chance to actually play up on their level too.
 

Holy Bovine

First Post
I need to grow a set.

I posted here a few weeks ago about how I was getting burned out by running my Pathfinder game, and I wanted to step back and run something like Savage Worlds, and that if someone in the group wanted to keep going with Pathfinder, I'd step down as GM.

I told my group, I got a few "I'm okay with that" comments, nothing from two of my players, and one that volunteered to run Pathfinder in August.

I did make the mistake of saying that I'd finish the adventure path, and I don't want to go back on my word. But looking at the next adventure, I can barely bring myself to start prepping the adventure.

For one thing, one of the things I hate are pointless time wasting encounters that have zero chance of doing anything to the party. The next adventure has several encounters right off the bat that are several CR below the party as written.

On top of that, I've got a paladin that can pretty much destroy any undead or outsider that comes up in a few rounds of combat now that he gets multiple attacks. He's also nearly impossible to hit when he smites, and not too easy to hit when he doesn't.

I've got a bard that throws out immediate actions every other round.

I've got an oracle that can commune every day. Every day.

And then I've got the rest of the party that isn't a problem but looks like they are playing second fiddle to the other three.

I want to keep GMing. I want to get as far away from Pathfinder/3.5/d20 as I can for a while. I'm just burned out. But I told them I would finish this AP, and that would give the one player that wants to GM time to do so, so that I don't make 50% of my group upset with me decision.

I could rebuild the encounters, but I really don't have the desire to rewrite half of an adventure. I don't mind adding things and personalizing things, but I really don't want to feel like I have to "fix" an adventure I'm running.

I could also look very closely at the offending characters and rules, but I have always been a firm believer in not changing rules mid term in a campaign, unless it's to open up options.

But I just hit my breaking point when I get an e-mail about followers and four about treasure and crafting/upgrading magic items. Hell, the first half of this next adventure is going to be a cakewalk as it is without any more magic items on their side.

I want to keep my promise, but I'm not sure I honestly can. I want to keep GMing, but I'm afraid that if I bug out now, I'll loose the trust of at least half of the group.

Nothing to see here, I just needed to vent a bit. I'll figure it out, eventually.

"Rocks fall, everybody dies."






"Wanna play some Savage Worlds now?"


That should pretty much get you out of the adventure [-]treadmill[/-] path.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
I've noticed problems similar to those you describe in both 3e D&D and Mutants & Masterminds, another d20 game. Thru the build system some PCs have very powerful combinations of abilities that can only be challenged by highly tailored encounters, while other PCs in the same party don't. This leads to opposition being insufficiently varied, and, in superhero, certain very genre appropriate types, such as big tough strong dudes, can end up being totally inadequate.

Some GMs like to create this tailored opposition, and tailoring encounters, of some variety or another, has been part of roleplaying games since the start of the hobby, but I personally don't much care for it.
 

pneumatik

The 8th Evil Sage
If the blow-off encounters are designed to wear down the party then keep them in and just don't worry about the PCs defeating them. But if the PCs will get to rest after them then just toss them.

Some players really enjoy making characters who can destroy encounters. For them cakewalk encounters are often enjoyable. PCs will win all the fights in a campaign anyway so I've tried to accept that sometimes they'll win easily.

I do think APs can have a grind-y feel to them. I take it as evidence that going from level 1 to 20 is really far. It's hard to write a story with a steady distribution of xp-worthy encounters to fill all those levels, so you get some extra fights.
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
If I were DM'ing, I would simply drop most encounters that don't relate to the Final Battle. Throw in a few 'easy' ones to get them into a comfortable groove, then hit them with the Big Bad.

The PC's knows their characters are 'done' when the game is done, so they won't be missing anything.

I had a similar experience with a solo game I was running, and the two of us worked out the most efficient way to handle most of the blow-by encounters (kick door, drop maximized wands of fireball, maximized wand of lightning bolt to anything still standing, then melee... the player is in the military lol).
 



Desh-Rae-Halra

Explorer
I am envious that your players get magic items!

And if you cant go through with it, just be honest. Everyone should have some enjoyment at the game, INCLUDING YOURSELF!.
Talk about it, maybe take a break from it, but if you dont say anything, nothing will change until the group just disbands.

Desh
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
If it were me - and this may not work for you - I'd finish the AP because I'm only one of the group that's invested a year or more in it. Sometimes being the DM means you get the worst deal, unfortunately.

However, strip out the meaningless encounters. You can move through the rest of the AP at high velocity. Try to keep the important encounters, but your players won't enjoy it less and they will get the return fir their investment.
 

Steel_Wind

Adventurer
I need to grow a set.

I did make the mistake of saying that I'd finish the adventure path, and I don't want to go back on my word. But looking at the next adventure, I can barely bring myself to start prepping the adventure.

For one thing, one of the things I hate are pointless time wasting encounters that have zero chance of doing anything to the party. The next adventure has several encounters right off the bat that are several CR below the party as written.

What AP are you running? What's the next adventure? Maybe we can help.
 

Jared Rascher

Explorer
If it were me - and this may not work for you - I'd finish the AP because I'm only one of the group that's invested a year or more in it. Sometimes being the DM means you get the worst deal, unfortunately.

However, strip out the meaningless encounters. You can move through the rest of the AP at high velocity. Try to keep the important encounters, but your players won't enjoy it less and they will get the return fir their investment.


I probably should have done this, but honestly, I'm having a hard time even psyching myself up for playing, let alone figuring out what to do to skip ahead to the good parts.
 

Jared Rascher

Explorer
What AP are you running? What's the next adventure? Maybe we can help.

I appreciate the offer. I'll let you know the AP, even though I pretty much already moved on and let my group know this. I'm getting ready to run Mother of Flies in Council of Thieves, and there seems to be a metric ton of "so low they won't be worth the effort" encounters in the book, which is one of the problems I had with the last one at the beginning as well.

Also, given that we have a paladin in the group, and I'm having some issues with his multiple attacks, the Oracle providing him with Blessing of Fervor, and potential undead BBEGs, even getting to the "good parts" doesn't seem as appealing as it did before.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I probably should have done this, but honestly, I'm having a hard time even psyching myself up for playing, let alone figuring out what to do to skip ahead to the good parts.

Fair enough; you have your answer. Given that, I'd apologise and hope for the best. Offer to let someone else finish it, if that's possible. Otherwise it'll feel like Fox cancelling Firefly.
 



Wiseblood

Adventurer
Skip to the next module if possible. Give them the info to get to the climactic fight. Then continue with the next in the line. You will effectively level up the campaign. Putting it on hard mode.
 

Research

First Post
Ok, so you're at that point in CoT right after Liebdaga ruins the AP by being cooler than everything else in the AP then. Seems about right. I had the same issue. Starting Book 5 is the EXACT MOMENT I burned out GMing CoT as well. Here is how you deal with it.

(A little spoilery for our cast of book 5, but KnightErrant is in dire need!)

CoT has the following major problem: Odd books are lame (Without work), even books are AMAZING. Walcourt is actually far cooler than it sounds, but you have to do it a specific way.

First off, take a 1 month hiatus from running the game. Let your players know you need a little break, and that you'll reconvene after you've prepared further. DM fatigue happens and you will need every tool in the shed to do the next little bits. You need the downtime, and frankly you need a little time to truly see this module for its own beauty.

SPOILER ALERT. BE ADVISED

On to the changes:

If your magic item crafting is out of hand, take downtime away. Immediately upon beating Liebdaga you give them like 3 days of downtime and proceed to rapidly progress storyline. In order to do that you need to replace the NPC with another NPC the players care about. By this time I had murdered Arael and forced Janiven to flee the city (The players weren't enchanted with them anyway). One player had a noble house that had been backing him all game. HE introduces the mother of flies option. When they get back and walcourt needs to be dealt with, steal Mr. MacGuffin's wife, kid, or something else. This should keep the party consistently moving. If they sit around, start sending peices of the captives back to them. Ilnerik is EVIL. Play him as EVIL.


The first encounter is actually functionally dangerous, but you just need to set the ambush a little better than the book does. First, add windows to the shop. Use the dead body of the initial contact as the bait and let them start investigating it. Plug the door with Kruthe. Use thieves climbing through the windows to throw in all of the necklace of fire globes (You did read page 13's sidebar, right? :)), while Maglin sneak attacks them through windows with his crossbow, continually breaking line of sight and getting his stealth on. Maglin will eventually get caught. If he gets away, your oracle will commune him out of hiding or something. If he STILL gets away, prepare to replace a mook in walcourt with him later.

The lead up war in hagwood can be cool or it can be lame, but it really depends on how you frame it. You don't actually have to do the encounters before the main one, but you can if you think they're cool (My magus in this game sovereign glued himself to the beetle and rode it into the army blowing a Horn of Fog. See what your players do with it. Hilarity should ensue.) The redcaps and their boss are a bit boring but a great little encounter to wrap a session up with if you have less than an hour remaining.

The war itself looks incredibly daunting to run as a GM at first glance, but the trick is this: This is not an encounter, it is a puzzle. You let your players sneak up on this encampment (don't make them make checks. It's a freaking war encampment. It's louder than they are and no one will notice them unless they make themselves known). Let them get a good look. Then turn to your casters and say the following: "Show me how stupidly good spellcasting is. Deal with THAT. Be all the broken you can be." Then proceed to let your players roleplay out countersiege tactics with magic. My players used illusion spells, persistent AEs, and a HUGE ARRAY of other magic as the hammer and the mother's tree as the anvil. Everyone had a great time and it is one of the first moments in the AP where the players finally get to punch the council right in the face with a resounding CRACK. Let their plan work, hand out the EXP the module is designed to hand out (They should be leveled or near close to it.)

Walcourt. Have aforementioned Mr. Macguffin's kid/wife/mom/significant supporting NPC kidnapped. Keep the AP moving. The players will want to immediately save the day. Things to note about walcourt include the fact that all of its residents see in the dark. Therefore there is no light inside. At all. Players are walking torches if they're carrying the morrowfall. That gets attention.

First, look at the way the dungeon is set up. 99% of the groups will go through the secret door from the Ogre-Magi groundskeeper's home directly onto the second floor, or they'll climb up the hidden area at the front and die to some CR4's with the noose. All the other doors are too well hidden to see. That means the lower floor is basically bonus dungeon unless they go through the guillotine trap on the lower floor. They'll die if they do (auto reset on a 10d6 trap that can CRIT YOU for 20d6? Yeah, the first person to lose their heads will stop that nonsense). The trap does so much damage that nothing can really break it aside from disabling. It'll cut through steel like it was a watermelon. This is good. Let your party ignore it and access the second floor instead. Preferably by tricking them into having tea with the ogre magi so she can start the fight with a proper cone of cold.

The second floor only has one major flaw: Another X thieves. Your party should jump them if they're coming from behind. This is an area where it's good to encourage your casters to place level 3 and 4 damage-over-round spells into rooms and then close doors and hold portal. The correct answer to "Another X thieves" encounter is to turn to your party and ask "Will it blend!?" and just make them burn a couple spells. The other alternative is to have sandor spot them with prying eyes and have the thieves set up a massive ambush just before sandor's room. Sandor is scary on his own, but with 10 minions he can be downright deadly since he has a wall of dudes between him and the party. (Hint, open with the Fear spell on his staff and laugh. Use lightning bolts to blow out walls and hit the feared targets, because the prying eyes didn't go away and are following the party. Finally, if all else fails, disintegrate a bitch.)

The first floor is a rogue training course. Let your rogue or ranger or other non spellcaster run it solo while the rest of your party is resting and regaining spells after Sandor the strange on floor 2. The super secret hidden entrance on the right should only be visible to someone who sees the traps in the ivy. The door is impossible to percieve until you realize that every other square of the ivy is trapped. Then it becomes rather obvious. The lower floor would normally be a really easy thing to do with a party but alone your rogue will get overwhelmed. As I always say, stealth makes anything fun, even terrible encounters. The need for stealth makes the lower floor far more entertaining because unlike other low CR monsters, Dark folk EXPLODE. Set up every encounter to allow dark folk chain reactions of explosion into light blindness. Let the rogue set up silly ranged sneak attacks (think games like tom clancy's splinter cell) to start the encounters leaving the enemy blinded (Mine was a ninja and had assassinate, but you can easily get the same thing from good sneak attack rolls). This proceeds to let him probably not die and get constant full attack sneak attacks, and otherwise gives him the chance to BE A ROGUE without having to deal with the party. Ideally you do this during a break in the sessions one on one. This honestly takes care of 75% of the terrible encounters in the book. Don't give the rogue solo exp, give it out to the group to keep them paced. This also speeds up book 5 by a mile. The only scary thing the rogue needs to worry about is the Morhg in the southeast rooms. I would make sure it doesn't kill him. Oh, all the loot down here is awesome for rogues too, so it works out quite well.

The basement is generally a slight challenge.... Until you realize that Sandor the Strange should get away with his shadow walk scroll, and most parties will have a forewarned basement. Add in that shadow mastiffs will warn the basement if sandor doesn't, all parties will fight a partially forewarned basement. Bay is a great alarm system. That being said, your party must approach a forewarned basement fully rested or they will die. Let them leave and come back, or fortify a room.

The vampire spawn exist to drain the morrowfall a bit. Silana and her shadows are good for that as well. But it's the nihloi that's the definitively awesome encounter. Finally Ilnerik should play out in pretty much the following way: I am invincible! I am crit by a morrowfall unleashed searing light! I am slain! Set up whirlwinds if you can and hit the players with slams dealing negative levels. It's like a fight clock, you die in 8 rounds and it gets harder to win each round. Note that negative levels do not give a save until 24 hours later Your cleric should be scrambling to keep people alive with the restoration wand handed out earlier in the path. If your paladin accidentally a Vampire? Well, frankly if he's been able to save a smite through all the evil things down here he deserves to kill Ilnerik. Let your melee fighters BE MELEE FIGHTERS in this fight. Also, keep dirge of doom up at all times with full combat expertise. Don't let your players hit him for free. Longer fights favor Ilnerik due to fast healing. His final AC should be 34 with players taking -2 from dirge of doom and further penalties from negative levels. That means your players need a +24 to hit him on 10, and while the smiting paladin can do that on attack one, attack 2 needs a 15. Trust your AC.


Basically, book 5 is all about letting your players do all the ridiculous things they should be able to do on paper and never can do in reality. Let them push back HARD against the council... And then go into book 6 almost immediately and have the council punch them back in the face. If you want to speak more about the AP you can always reach me at Research[MENTION=3300]d20[/MENTION]radio.com.
 

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