WotBS WotBS - Prequel Stuff?

Deathwyrm

Explorer
Greetings!

So, given how well my players seem to be enjoying Zeitgeist... I've been curious about War of the Burning Sky, specifically for the 5th edition of D&D rules as 20 years of 3.5/Pathfinder number crunching has taken its toll on this weary old man.

However, the first adventure regarding Gate Pass has players starting off at 3rd level. Plus, there's a lot of information a player has to digest to understand the setting and what's going on before the feces hits the spinning blades.

Rather than hand the players a multiple page primer document, I tend to run introductory sessions in which characters can roleplay their bonds, meet NPCs that'll play a part, and get a feel for the setting before kicking off the big events.

I'm curious if anyone has done a prequel one shot or mini-adventure to The Scouring? Or are there any materials out there which would fit in nicely?
 
Are you looking to let the players run the same characters, and end with them getting invited to the Poison Apple Pub to get out of Gate Pass? Or would you want a prequel to set the tone, with them playing mages or spies getting rounded up by the inquisitor Guthwulf?

Or would you start further back, like 5 years earlier, with the PCs doing things only tangentially related to the campaign, to get them from 1st to 3rd level? Maybe have them dealing with the local thieves' guild, which stole something from Gabal's school?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I've tried it, but I found that doing stuff beforehand dilutes the really strong opening of the campaign.
 

Deathwyrm

Explorer
Likely same PCs, ending with them going to the Poison Apple. Time frame can be changed up, as the main purpose is a one to two session introduction to Gate Pass. Maybe two months before. Have them introduced to how the local scene is with a constant tone in the background about how things are changing.

I understand that it could cause a weakening of how the adventure actually opens. Its an explosive kind of start and I dig that. Knowing the players I have that are likely to play, I usually have to put in a bit more effort to get them attached to a town or the people before thrusting the adventure on them.

It's things that change from group to group and knowing their needs. I currently have three groups I DM for. Some go with the flow of whatever I put in front of them. Others need a bit of encouragement to recognize the need to do something. I know that this one will want to know more about "who's invading, why here, and why are we concerned about this". A first session introduction adventure to all these elements will do better to sell them on it. This group can be fussy, but its been an interesting challenge.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
The general concept of starting at 3rd level flowed from the 5e Zeitgeist starting there as well. It meant that everyone has their subclass, and there is less chance of a death from something in the first adventure. The resistance is hiring people that have some experience for this mission, but their really experienced people like Rantle and the militia are occupied defending the town.

This gives you a lot of room to have the heroes' origins in various regions around the world so that they can interact with people from their past as you go through the various chapters. Running the prequel a month or two before the first adventure would place it during Coaltongue's assault on Sindaire and assassination. If the heroes are already working together at this point, they could interact with something around this time period before heading to Gate Pass.

Another option would be to have the heroes dealing with something around Gate Pass in the month of December. It could be mundane, like dealing with goblins in the foothills or in the abandoned underground tunnels. It could also include helping smuggle people out of the town before the inept council starts rounding spellcasters up to placate the advancing Ragesians. This would be a good time to work in the Gate Pass connections. You could even have them start at the Poison Apple Pub while it is in its chaotic state before the owner is abducted and his wife cleans up the place in preparation for the secret resistance meeting that will happen New Year's Eve.

For me, we just started at level 3. I suggested the heroes come from elsewhere in the world and have a reason they ended up in Gate Pass, generally at least a year or two before the first adventure so they would become known to the resistance. We have started at level 1 a few times before and did not need to do it again. More important for me was getting each player to come up with a backstory and figuring out how to work those into the upcoming chapters. Very little of the campaign actually occurs in Gate Pass, so building up a tighter connection to Gate Pass might not pay many dividends. On the other hand, my group knows they should free Gate Pass, but there is not as much urgency as there could be. Our group:

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Trinja: A 14-year-old girl who was run out of her Sindairese village because her luck would cause accidents to happen to other people. She sees a dragon in a vision who chooses her to right a wrong. The player made her a Hexblade warlock with the Lucky feat. I described her use of lucky as time slowing down, allowing her to change her fate. The party revisited her village on the way to castle Korstull in adventure 6, and she will meet Time, her patron, in adventure 12. I also have added a bit of tug of war in that she inherited Takasi, but he warned her that she would not be able to re-summon him if he dies unless she becomes a paladin of the order of the Aqualine Cross. I am curious to see if she emerges as a Joan of Arc.

Byron Cassanova: An up and coming blue tiefling cirqueliste who was exiled from the group after he had formed a forbidden relationship with a daughter of Khaegen Onammdamin and was betrayed by fellow cirqueliste Giorgio, which caused the Wayfarers to have to leave Ostalin and settle in in Seaquen. They encountered Onammdamin at the beginning of adventure 5 and ran into his girlfriend as the brainwashed second in command of Pilus later on. She died, killed be a fearful Three Weeping Ravens after they freed him from her grasp. Byron is not handling it well, but the player doesn't know that story is not finished yet.

Dro'marri Oldenforge: A dwarven monk in red overalls. And he jumps. ;) He hails from a dwarven stronghold near the Alydi Gap in Dassen. When he was a child, a group of orcs led by Bowser defected from the nascent Ragesian army and became trusted soldiers in the dwarven clan led by his father Mario. This created grief for Dro'marri, which compounded when Mario died on a mission on the cliffs. Bowser ultimately married Mario's widow peach and led the clan. Dro'marri was a teenager who wanted to pursue herbalism rather than warfare and the forge, as Bowser insisted, and he ran away to find his own way in the world. When the heroes came to the Alydi gap, they were greeted by his Dro'marri's half-brother Luigi, and they got a chance to have dinner at the stronghold. Dro'marri found that Bowser had become a respected leader who had integrated the orc and dwarven way of life. Before he left, Bowser made sure Dro'marri took his father's old bag of earth.

D'buld Utch: An aged advisor to Khagan Onammdamin's father, D'buld was exiled when the son assassinated his father. He travels the world learning tactics and warfare. He acts as a father figure for Trinja. I think he might get some resolution with Onammdamin before the campaign is through.

Zed Tracow: A half-orc who grew up a slave with his orc father in Shahalesti, he escaped and settled in the militia of Gate Pass. What he is about to learn from some upcoming visions is that his father lied about his age whenever asked to hide that he escaped with the infant Zed from the Taranesti purge, where his mother died.

So there have been/definitely will be ties to various heroes' stories in adventures 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12.
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If your group is enjoying Zeitgeist, they will probably enjoy WotBS as well. Although it is more traditional fantasy than Zeitgeist, it has a similar cohesive plot, nuanced NPCs, and choices matter.
 

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