I am finalizing my prep for running this adventure (and am very excited) and wanted input from people who have RUN OR PLAYED the game, I do not want to hear from people who have only read the adventure. So many (almost all) of the reviews are written by people who have never played the game and in the end are mostly worthless. I wish there was a place where reviews were only done by people have already used the product.
1. What is something you would change in how you ran it
2a. Any planning you would have done differently?
2b. As a player, what is something you wish were done differently
3. Overland travel - there is a
ton of it - Did it bog the game down after awhile - Why did it work or why didn't it work?
My concern on overland travel is after many days and game sessions mostly consisting of travel could become fatiguing
4. What was your favorite part?
5. What was your least favorite part?
6. anything else you would like to share about your experience
Thanks - I hope my tone did not come out as snarky, I just want to hear from people with specific experience with the adventure.
We're 18 sessions into ToA, started in March 2018. I'm DMing a group of 6 savvy detail-oriented players who mostly came from a Pathfinder background. I started the group at 3rd level (to avoid them feeling the needed to "grind for XP" just so they can survive the jungle). I slowed the pace of the Death Curse to -1 Hit Die every 2 weeks (to allow for more breathing space to explore, softening the edges of the "ticking time bomb" theme) & included a few "life relics" which can be used to buy more time for a creature with the Death Curse (so a PC with a Death Curse loved one could have a chance at saving them). One player moved, one player joined, and one switched PCs, no deaths yet. You can read our session logs over here: https://tombofannihilation-67.obsidianportal.com/adventure-log
1. I received constructive criticism about 6 sessions in that the jungle exploration was too meandering, with too few clues, and too little reward. I realized my player's criticism was spot on, and immediately course-corrected, adding more clues, foreshadowing, meaningful choices, and treasure into the jungle trek. I wish I'd done that as soon as they'd entered the jungle at session #3, but at least I figured it out relatively quickly.
2a. Hard to answer. From my initial read-through, I knew the jungle exploration would need work, but I didn't realize just how much work until we were playing. I've actually been designing so much "connective tissue" that I'll probably release my notes onto DMs Guild once we wrap up the campaign & I have time to edit/format them.
2b. I'm DMing, but one of my players wanted more treasure and magic items earlier on. There is definitely a dearth of magic items until reaching Omu/Tomb.
3. My approach is integrative: I switch between rolling for random encounters, handling travel with narrative montages, and using "skill challenges." So far this has avoided my players burning out on random encounters...but then I've also overhauled how I handle the random encounters. At one point, during a 10-day stretch of travel down River Olung I let my players roll for the random encounters, and they really enjoyed it. If you're interested in specifics, just ask. I've posted extensively about this elsewhere on ENWorld and https://www.reddit.com/r/Tombofannihilation/
4. My favorite part? I love the Tomb, but haven't run it yet. Port Nyanzaru is a well done city; we only had two sessions there, but we had a blast. My favorite part was when the players told the tale of how they met to Wakanga using a card game with "leading phrases" I ad-libbed...part of their backstory was they explored a dungeon off the coast of Calimshan where they found a sentient lich's skull that had info on the Soulmonger – this replaced the hook on page 5 about the "Harpers receiving their intelligence from a lich."
5. My least favorite part? I couldn't believe Mezro had no detail in the book. I ended up purchasing Ruins of Mezro
(DMs Guild, by one of ToA's authors), but it didn't have much connective tissue to ToA nor did it explain in greater detail what happened to Mezro. It introduced these weird cultists that had no connection to the rest of the adventure. And several major areas like the College of Wizards – which were clearly meant to be "dungeons" to explore – had less than a paragraph write-ups. It's a cool map, but I didn't feel it was substantially more detailed than the treatment of Mezro in AD&D Jungles of Chult
6. Read the adventure in advance, and don't hesitate to modify stuff that you feel wouldn't be a good fit for your group. This adventure takes a lot of DM elbow grease, so be prepared. Make it your own.