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Roland Delacroix
Here for a while
(1/7/03 2:58:52 pm)
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Group burned out - advice, sympathy welcome
Dunno if anyone has been keeping up but the last two sessions of my game have been a disaster. two weeks ago the party assaulted the south gate, defeated the minions, then got TPK'ed when Choranth returned with reinforcements. The party was ok with it, they admitted that I must have warned them in game and out a dozen times that it was too tough for them.

Last sunday a new party entered, and got the run down from a remaining party member (missed the previous week). They approached the west gate. The last party had cleared out the Howler and chaff, so I had Utreshimon taking residence. Utresh let anyone in and out, he merely collected a toll of 1 gp a person. My party walked through, paid the toll, then walked to a room close by to buff up before attacking Utresh. Utresh heard then, 90' blindsight and a sweet Listen and Spellcraft check, and readied an action. The result was almost another TPK. One character died and Utresh spared the rest because he wants them to kill Vranthis for him.

So now the player who died twice wants to take a month off and a few other want to play this game less. I really dunno what to do. Both scenarios came about basically because of their own stupidity IMO.

LostSoul
Here for a while
(1/7/03 5:13:11 pm)
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let them win!
Give them a side trek or something that they can walk over. Something that lets them feel in control once again. Tailor it to the new guy's character. Hopefully they'll feel like they have a chance again.

Kelashein
Looking around
(1/7/03 5:18:54 pm)
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Re: Group burned out - advice, sympathy welcome
If it makes you feel any better: after 43 weeks of gaming (with about a three-month window) only one original player remains IMC. There was some in-group BS where one player thought another was trying to steal her boyfriend & started a witch-hunt. It really devastated me because (as a veteran DM for 20 years) I should have seen it coming. Or perhaps not. Things are back on track again (light at end of tunnel) and party is even now assaulting Outer Fane. And above all, having a great time.

End of Sympathy Note

Kadh2000 
Still here? Wow.
(1/7/03 5:20:16 pm)
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ezSupporter

Re: let them win!
Do a less serious and more easily successful one night adventure with different characters. Let them relax, have fun, eat peanuts, drink beer (or whatever) and chill for a session without fear of death.

-----------------------------------
Tanelorn or bust

Kelashein
Looking around
(1/7/03 5:45:02 pm)
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Re: let them win!
That's good advice Kadh.

Here's a bug you're going to run into, tho. Vranthis is more badass than Utreshimon (at least in my opinion). He'll just beat them up even more. I had a feeling as my party was approaching Vrantis' lair that he would slaughter my group. I really wanted them to go back north but wasn't about to hint around. Instead, I decided to change V's motivation just a little bit. I decided that he likes Troll-Flesh & can't get to where the trolls are further South. Also, like all Dragons, he's a sucker for treasure and it does his ego well if he gets it in tribute instead of having to pick it clean from his victims. So when the group found him, they were weighing their options. V landed between them and the tunnel to the North & told them to hold back their weapons because he would like to talk. The rogue (CN) makes a lot of decisions by flipping a coin and wound up trying to stab it. Fool! In one breath, V brings most of the group to their knees and a couple are below zero.

So the other rogue (Tiefling & Fighter to boot) who wasn't in the cone tries her Darkness trick (favorite tactic--she has Blindfight) and V (with his blindfight and all) declares, "Now, I'm invincible!!!" This convinces the party to drop their weapons and Vranthis declares them his "pets". Their first job was to get him some food and he sends them (all except Vinda, the rogue to dared to attack him) South to get some Troll-meat in tunnels that are too small for him to navigate. Then he makes Vinda tie himself to his body so they can go "hunting" together. Vranthis wanted to teach Vinda a lesson. Into the water they go, with Vinda sputtering and drinking way more of the Stalagos than any elf should. Then they fly into the countryside and the wandering monster table turns up some Orcs (probably from the nearby tribe which I've named the "frozen bone" after their signature weapon--a frosty Great-Club taken from the corpse of a White Dragon that was killed by one of their ancestors). Vranthis swoops down and the Orcs try to hide. One makes his save v Fear and tries (futilely) to shoot the dragon with his bow. He manages to get Vinda with an arrow before the Dragon picks him up and drops him from about 800 feet. Later they find a sheep for Vranthis to snack on while back in the lair while they wait for the gang to return with some Troll.

Okay, that was IMC. In yours tho, perhaps they could go to V and tell him of U's plans and maybe play them against each other...?

Another idea. Beef up their numbers. Maybe next time they hit town Xaod could arrive in Rastor and an extra NPC might cut down on group XP, but an extra sword is an extra sword. If they're having this hard a time of it right now, they'll have an even harder time once this particular mess is sorted out. Maybe another NPC should boost their ranks as well. There are six PCs in my group and about 3 tagalongs and despite creative planning they barely scrape by which is about perfect as far as I'm concerned. They've also been at right about the suggested level for each area they've come across so it's working well.

Once they get the idea that more numbers mean more success, they'll probably try to go overboard on recruiting. Let them but just until they figure out a way to get out of the Utreshimon/Vranthis mess. Then start getting ruthless and kill off an NPC every chance you get. Things should level out soon.

Good luck. End of advice note.

Roland Delacroix
Here for a while
(1/7/03 6:05:34 pm)
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Good advice
Thing is, they were a mere 30' away from trogs to the north, which i planned to make easy to boost their confidence and such. Then they stopped, discussed it, and decided to turn around and take on Utresh! Grrr!!

I dunno if they'll go for helping Vranthis. Utresh saw the 2 cleric holy symbols and made them sign a contract (he assumes they are law abiding goody-two-shoes, a bad assumption). They have 4 weeks to off Vranthis and the Ettin, with an included 6 month non-agression pact between them and Utresh. U got like a 35 on his Diplomacy so I ruled the contract was near bullet-proof.

Great idea with the NPC help. One guy is taking Leadership next level, i might have his cohort join early for some help. The party is also leary of having people join after Chatrillon turned on them, and everyone else seems to be after them.

Kelashein
Here for a while
(1/7/03 6:52:02 pm)
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Re: Good advice
Even more reason for Xaod to show. He's not too tight-pantsed, for a paladin.

On one of the Best Of threads somewhere there's a side-trek involving a pair of Dragons (one friendly, one ruthless). If you scale it to your PCs level (and make the Dragons age-appropriate) you could also boost the PCs confidence by getting them wrapped up in that mess and if they're successful they could even have a favor owed by a good dragon.

Another option. Have them run afoul of Tal Chamish in Rastor. Beef him up so he's not a pushover and when they uncover his scheme they could have Thandain Deeperdark as an ally. Those you save from their own dark demons make the most trusted of friends (to distinguish her from Chatrilon).

Is the big U working for the Temple in your campaign or is he just there having a jolly time? If he's non-affiliated, he could be attacked by the Earth Temple while they're bargaining with him at some point in the future, giving them an edge and some temporary "help". They might even get recruited by Earth and get to play Spy. IMC, the group is playing Spy with Water (hence my Tag).

Cheers & good luck.


Infiniti2000
Here for a while
(1/7/03 8:38:46 pm)
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ezSupporter
Re: Good advice
"The party is also leary of having people join after Chatrillon turned on them, and everyone else seems to be after them."

It's gonna really suck then when they encounter the demon stone. :evil

Kelashein has a good idea here. Perhaps next time they approach the entrance they hear fighting. They could walk in on the fight between the Earth Temple and Utreshimon. Whichever side they choose (and thereby hopefully aid in winning) will offer some nice chances at RP and gaining an ally with the other side. On the other hand, with your party's track record, they'll probably just ignore that ally and immediately turn on them. Are you sure they're not chaotic evil?

On another note, perhaps you just need to discuss the module with them. Tell them that with proper planning and good decision making, they can succeed at defeating the ToAC. Try and guide their decisions a little bit. This is why we have NPC's. Where necessary, you gently guide their decisions. "Are you sure we should tackle the blue dragon right now? He has blindsight and is not stupid, unlike you. :) Perhaps we should at least go see what's north of here before we make a decision." In those cases where none of your help is needed, you award some extra XP (not much, but a little as positive motivation). Tell them you are doing this. It'll help them "get better at adventuring," which is probably their main problem.

The NPC also has one vital role: if necessary he can be the fall guy. E.g. Vranthis's first attack could be a full power attack bite critical on the NPC. Each round, for instance (as long as the NPC is near), you roll to hit and damage before telling the players who's being attacked. For a mild hit, it's a party member, for a critical, it's Xaod. Sure, this is a little bit of cheating, but until your players get better, it might help.

Either way, best of luck. Let your group know we are all rooting for their success and hope they don't give up.

AshaThoth
Looking around
(1/8/03 8:08:03 am)
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It's not all about the Bounce
...t'were it me, I would consider getting the party to a place where they can lick their wounds and do a little role-playing, vs. moving between bounces. Rastor is a good place for this, even though it's not fleshed out in the module. I had a LOT of fun working out the details of that town, Tal Chammish and his organization, etc. And my party has had just as much fun dealing with this guy -- in fact, they've even managed to turn him into something of an ally against the Doomdreamers (funny how the end of the freaking world will change a man's mind).

All of this came through role-playing, and gave them a sense of the world they were inhabiting. My philosophy has always been that players need to feel like a) they are travelling to a place they want to be and b) that place is vital and dynamic, somewhere they can do more than hack and slash on wandering monsters (no matter how well conceived). I'll bet that if you give your party a chance to do something different -- something totally out of left field that brings them back into your campaign world -- they'll change their tune. Even now, I'm fending off requests for additional runs in spite of the fact that half of the party was captured and/or severely smacked down in our last meeting.

Thrommel
Can't leave now (mod)
(1/8/03 9:05:45 pm)
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Re: It's not all about the Bounce
I've suggested this a lot, but if your party is not into the hack'n'slash fever that can be the CRM, I suggest you run them through the Banewarrens and then slip them back into RttToEE.

It would be a nice change of pace, there's a lot more RP and intrigue and the levels are about the same. I know both madfox and TrinityDM are currently doing this, so you may look to their posts here and on the Banewarrens board for integration ideas.

Plus, your players may perk up with interest when you say that you're taking them on a 'little' side trek.

Or, you might just think about going a little easier on your players. Players do dumb things that get themselves killed.

Sometimes it's the job of the DM to not kill them, even though we think they're doing something stupid. Remember, fudging is not wrong -- getting caught is.

-Thrommel, who'd like to run a campaign using every single 3E module and sourcebook Monte's written.

Edited by: Thrommel at: 1/8/03 11:28:20 pm
TrinityDM
Here for a while
(1/8/03 9:58:26 pm)
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Re: It's not all about the Bounce
I heartily second Thrommel's suggestion of the BW. My party spent a lot of time involved in the political intrigue surrounding Hommlet, and it was great fun to DM. After Nulb, I gave them the choice of either following the leads to Rastor and the CRM (i.e. RTTTOEE as written) or pursuing a fleeing Chatrilon and Undra to Verbobonc (which would lead to the Banewarrens). They chose the latter (though their extreme hatred of Chat may have had something to do with it ;) ).

The levels seem to fit right in, though like RTTTOEE, it's a deadly module. However, it's a much more even mix of intrigue, roleplaying, and combat than the CRM, with each session varying in its emphasis. The quality of the adventure itself is as excellent as RTTTOEE, and at least as thorough.

The biggest challenge for me has been figuring out (a) how to tie the Cult into the myriad parties involved in the BW without confusing the players, (b) how to make it so that the party doesn't lose sight of the final goal (defeating the cultists), and (c) how to wrap up the BW to lead back directly to the OuterFane.

Kelashein
Here for a while
(1/12/03 2:41:54 am)
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Re: It's not all about the Bounce
AshaThoth, that's pretty bizarre about Chamish. He's working with my party too (mainly because one of them enslaved him). My group is currently "allied" with Water and Chamish believes that he works for that Temple as well. When my group finally turns on their allies, which way will he go? Depends on who is winning, of course...

As a side note, they've also got Maridosen as an NPC. After Naquent pretty much signed M's death warrant she had nowhere else to turn. And my Invoker has a big crush on her. Again, she doesn't know that they're not REALLY allied with Water so what will SHE do? Her decision will be a little more complex. She's got a bone to pick with both Naquent (positive) and Varachan (very interesting) who set her up for failure and she knows it. He was "delivering" her to the party but he wrote her a pretty nasty letter as well. Something along the lines of...you belong to Earth now. Don't mess this up and don't you DARE go awol or I'll send assassins after you.

Kelashein
Here for a while
(1/12/03 3:21:26 am)
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Re: It's not all about the Bounce
By the by. I think it's pretty cool that Monte left Rastor fairly undeveloped because it gives DMs a little more space for creative flexibility. At first the town was fairly boring but got interesting quickly. I decided that Dunrat had funded Chamish's Tanbrosh experiment & the cult bought him a building to work his cover ID.

IMC, he's sold the deed to the place to Yarew at the Gray Lodge. He's making payments, so the guy doesn't get much at a time but it's kind of fun having him be nothing but a rogue at heart, with no true loyalties. As far as he figures, Dunrat is dead and there will be no consequences that will reach him for selling a whole BUILDING. Heh.

Had a great RP session a few weeks back (after months of hack & slash) at the Gray Lodge. Descritad has joined the group (heh-heh-heh) and was up to her usual antics. While everybody was getting drunk and our Ranger (Darean)'s $$$ for Chamish's new armor (he's taken a lv of Fighter) was laying out on the counter for too long, it disappeared (of course) and a few other things as well. It was the first session in a while with no combat and we all had a blast developing Rastor's character.

Edited by: Kelashein at: 1/12/03 3:22:42 am
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