D&D 5E Tomb of Annihilation Post-Mortem (Spoilers)

Retreater

Legend
So! a question, given that this module has a lot of hexcrawling/exploration, are there any addition guidlines or rules for exploration in this over and above what is found in the PHB and the DMG?
For that matter does any D&D adventure expand on the basic travel/exploration rules?
There's about 12 pages of random encounters and random discoveries charts. There are a couple pages dedicated to navigating hexes, dehydration, and diseases. For me it was enough to make hexcrawl work for the purposes of this adventure. Running an entire hexcrawl campaign (and in different environments than a jungle), I'd want expanded resources.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Retreater

Legend
1) Does the written adventure force the hexcrawl being so long? In retrospective do you think it would have been easy to make it faster/shorter?
Not necessarily. You could jump ahead and handwave the levels to start at the destination. You could also direct the party to choosing a competent guide (not someone who was actively trying to kill them like my group had - haha).
2) Is it really a problem for the death curse to be likely unbeatable? I wouldn't mind having something of a red herring every now and then, that the PCs can't truly solve but the point of which is for the PCs to realise they shouldn't spend resources on it and instead just live with it or mitigate at best. Is this death curse something completely out of their league? You suggest not to play it as written so what would you change about it, make it slower
The main problem we were going to have is that they realized it was hopeless and got discouraged from completing their mission. If you have players that want to save the world (instead of just getting treasure and kill the monsters), I think you need to have an altruistic motivation.
The Death Curse essentially drops a character who has been raised's HP maximum by 20 immediately, then 1 hp per day until they're dead. The party's patron has 79 days remaining. Nearly half of those remaining days would be taken by walking through the jungle - assuming no encounters, every check is perfect, no dungeon exploration, and that they know exactly where to go from the beginning (which they don't). It's very improbable that they can save their patron (or anyone else struck by the Death Curse).
I'd either not do the 1 hp per day element, or give them a saving throw to reduce the chance. More than likely, what I'd actually do is to not have the Death Curse trigger until they are in the Yuan-Ti Temple or something like that. Have them know where they're going and have a reasonable chance to stop it.
 

There was a Roll20 stream that recommended not letting the party get lost during the hexcrawl if they have a guide, unless it specifically suits the agenda of the guide. They also suggested reducing or eliminating most random jungle encounters once the party reaches Tier 2 unless they specifically step on a skull.
 

Retreater

Legend
There was a Roll20 stream that recommended not letting the party get lost during the hexcrawl if they have a guide, unless it specifically suits the agenda of the guide.
That's good advice. Unfortunately, IIRC, most of the guides in Port Nyanzaru either have nefarious agendas or are incompetent.
 

occam

Explorer
The main problem we were going to have is that they realized it was hopeless and got discouraged from completing their mission. If you have players that want to save the world (instead of just getting treasure and kill the monsters), I think you need to have an altruistic motivation.
The Death Curse essentially drops a character who has been raised's HP maximum by 20 immediately, then 1 hp per day until they're dead. The party's patron has 79 days remaining. Nearly half of those remaining days would be taken by walking through the jungle - assuming no encounters, every check is perfect, no dungeon exploration, and that they know exactly where to go from the beginning (which they don't). It's very improbable that they can save their patron (or anyone else struck by the Death Curse).
I'd either not do the 1 hp per day element, or give them a saving throw to reduce the chance. More than likely, what I'd actually do is to not have the Death Curse trigger until they are in the Yuan-Ti Temple or something like that. Have them know where they're going and have a reasonable chance to stop it.
If it helps, I don't think the goal is necessarily to save their patron from death, or anyone else currently afflicted. It's to allow for the future use of resurrection magic (including for at least some of those who died as a result of the Death Curse). Lots of people dying, most of whom the PCs don't know, is baked into the premise of the adventure. But they're still trying to accomplish something worthwhile, and if they really want to save their patron, they'll almost be high-enough level to have a chance at resurrecting her by the end (assuming they're successful).
 


Retreater

Legend
Whilst most of the guides have an agenda of their own, not all those agendas are nefarious, and only one (out of nine) is actually described as incompetent.
"Incompetent" as not actually knowing the way to Omu or helping the party in accomplishing their mission at all. IIRC, there's one good-aligned guide who knows what she's doing who can actually help. There's another who knows what she's doing who wants to kill the party. The rest of them basically have no clue what's going on. Some of them have never even been in the jungle before.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Regarding the "It's impossible to beat the Death Curse" thing, the time limit imposed is specifically about saving the life of the individual person who hired the adventurers. However, exceeding that limit just means that character dies and the adventurers don't get paid by that person - it doesn't create a "fail state" for the adventure. When I played this, about a third of the way through the jungle, our group had learned enough about what was really going on with the Death Curse to know that stopping it in time to save that one NPC would be nice, but stopping the Death Curse in general was the important thing. If we got there a few days too late to save that one NPC, that would be a shame but kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

My suggestions for improving it:

- For some groups, the story should be more personal. That may mean that the Death Curse is threatening somebody they love and care about, as opposed to a rich retired adventurer who hired them. It also may mean that the DM might want to change what exactly the Death Curse is and how it works. As written, it highlights the awkward "resurrections for the rich and famous" aspect of Faerunian society which narratively to be honest benefits from not being examined too closely instead of being highlighted as this adventure does. You might want to change it to just afflicting people at random, or just meaning resurrections are now impossible, depending on your taste.

- I loved the whole adventure EXCEPT Port Nyanzaru which felt overwhelmingly stuffed with side-quests (and often not very interesting ones). It got so that we were reluctant to walk down the street from one location to another because three more NPCs would run up to us and drop plot hooks on us. DM may want to exercise restraint here. The AL adventures for this season also provide a better start than the hardcover does.
 

Regarding the "It's impossible to beat the Death Curse" thing, the time limit imposed is specifically about saving the life of the individual person who hired the adventurers. However, exceeding that limit just means that character dies and the adventurers don't get paid by that person - it doesn't create a "fail state" for the adventure. When I played this, about a third of the way through the jungle, our group had learned enough about what was really going on with the Death Curse to know that stopping it in time to save that one NPC would be nice, but stopping the Death Curse in general was the important thing. If we got there a few days too late to save that one NPC, that would be a shame but kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
The real impact of the Death Curse (for me) is making the PCs feel like they are on a time limit, which turned out to be a Very Bad Thing (tm). I feel like Tomb of Annihilation works better as a module when you can wander around and explore instead of feeling rushed, and like more people are dying every day you spend messing around or lost in the jungle. Some kind of rewarding but time neutral goal would probably be better, like being paid to find Artus Cimber, paid by an archeological association to be the first to discover Omu or Mezro, work with a mercenary organization to defend their fortresses, stop a growing undead threat in the jungle, or even hired by a lich to find their stolen phylactery.

That last one is a really interesting option, because there are several MAJOR liches who would be very interested in uncovering and stopping what Acererak is planning.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
That last one is a really interesting option, because there are several MAJOR liches who would be very interested in uncovering and stopping what Acererak is planning.
In fact, as written one major Forgotten Realms lich is indeed very interested and has agents very actively doing exactly that.
 

In fact, as written one major Forgotten Realms lich is indeed very interested and has agents very actively doing exactly that.
This is just an aside, but I think Acererak was basically doomed to fail from the start. There are some really big names on the list of Liches who would not be happy with his plans, and some of them are very capable of beating Acererak if it came down to the wire. Being secretly guided to stop him by one of those liches is a great plot hook.

Similarly, since Acererak is doomed to failure from the start, I like to imagine the whole thing is a big diversion for something else Acererak is planning to do.
 

"Incompetent" as not actually knowing the way to Omu or helping the party in accomplishing their mission at all. IIRC, there's one good-aligned guide who knows what she's doing who can actually help. There's another who knows what she's doing who wants to kill the party. The rest of them basically have no clue what's going on. Some of them have never even been in the jungle before.
If they knew the way to the Lost City, then it wouldn't be lost, would it? Clue's in the name. That doesn't make them incompetent, and most of them are capable of helping the party avoid jungle hazards and hinting at the right area to look. Or their agenda will cause them to lead the party to someone who does know. There is only one who is useless, and one actively malevolent, and there is plenty of opportunities for the PCs to suss them out.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top