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Caedrel
Here for a while
(2/20/03 5:01 pm)
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Best of the Boards feedback
Hello there folks,

Warning! The following is pretty long and contains lots of disparate points – it’s probably not for the faint hearted, and my apologies if it bores you… :(

I was wondering if we could still kick around things that had already been posted on the Best of the Boards thread – it’s been of fantastic value to me, and various entries have spun off some ideas of my own that may be of use. I feel a bit presumptuous, thinking that my ideas might interest other people, but if someone only finds it half as useful as I’ve found the existing Best of the Boards material, that would make it worthwhile.

Campaign background: My group has been interacting most with Y’Dey in Hommlet, mainly because of the depth of her experience with the previous risings of the Temple. However, since the party also includes a cleric of Pelor, Yether has also figured fairly significantly. With the issues raised by the BotB entry "Siobharek's Verbobonc Politics --- Is anyone interested in hearing about this cult we've found in your back yard?!", I thought the unveiling of cult activity in Hommlet and the Moathouse would be a good reason for these two churches to commission this fateful group of adventurers to take it further and investigate the Temple of All-Consumption.

We had an extended break from the campaign at this point and, on returning to it, one of my players wanted to retire his existing character and begin a new one. I tried to link in his new PC’s plot hook with the existing set up – expanding on the alliance of the churches of St Cuthbert and Pelor, we included the church of Trithereon as well and made the new PC that church’s representative on the team…

I quite like the way this works. I saw a very good thread on these boards about how the chief strength of Good characters and institutions is their willingness and ability to work together; I really appreciated this insight, as I want my players to be heroic rather than the Chaotic Neutral that seems to come so naturally to most of us. So I wanted my group to feel that they had the support of their churches and institutions, that they felt their efforts were appreciated, and that they had something worthwhile to defend. These churches represent quite different positions on the Law-Chaos axis – St Cuthbert is LN, Pelor NG and Trithereon CG, but had set aside those differences in the pursuit of the common good. In some ways, the party’s commissioning was almost an experiment by these churches with quite different methodologies to see if they could work together (with the church of Pelor being the "moderator"). Sure, I could play up the factionalism and divisions between them and in Verbobonc itself, but that would be deleterious to the way I want my world to run…

Anyway, I did wonder if I was pushing the believability of this by including the Church of St Cuthbert in the alliance – although a logical choice because of its place in Hommlet, I doubted the ability of the hierarchy of the church (being Lawful Neutral) to work with any chaotic organisation. On closer examination, I’ve noticed that the Living Greyhawk version of St Cuthbert has quite a different emphasis to the PHB/D&Dg version; Retribution is actually Trithereon’s domain and St Cuthbert is the god of Common Sense, Wisdom, Zeal, Honesty and Discipline, which fits quite well in the alliance. My only problem with this is that the Destruction domain no longer makes quite as much sense for St Cuthbert any more… it’s something I’ll have to do some more work on if my party ever wants to play a cleric of St Cuthbert (I’ll probably restrict certain domains amongst the three orders of St Cuthbert described in tLGG, with Destruction being limited to the Order of Stars).

Anyways, the co-operation between churches based in Verbobonc gave me another solution to the problem canvassed in the BotB entry "Hajia, Monte Cook, Siobharek, and Abelard's Magic Item Centre in the CRM --- Insert Coin ....... You Now Have 5 Credit(s) - Choose Item" - namely, how to let the characters restock their magic item supply without requiring a long side trip to Verbobonc with a minimum of cheese.

My initial solution to this was a large magical “Mirror of Transfer”. For 10 minutes at dawn, the mirror turns into a portal connecting to a “master” mirror – you can see through the other side and exchange inanimate objects, but living material can’t pass through. The master mirror is located in the Church of Pelor in Verbobonc, and the Church has agreed to act as an intermediary between the group and the wider resources of the city (as detailed in the wonderful BotB entry "Abelard's Notes on Shopping in Verbobonc --- "Magic Rings? Sure, try the Nib Brothers two streets down, make a right, cross the small square...""). They can communicate through it, pass through magic items to be identified and things to be sold, and send the coin to pay for it. Since they are on a mission for the Church of Pelor, the Church is not charging them any commission on any transactions, and staying in touch with them at the same time.

It seems to have worked pretty well – the PCs can sell goods captured and buy what they need readily, but not too readily. I do wonder why a lot more commerce isn’t transacted this way, and why the Church of Pelor has such an item and not, say, the Church of Zilchus, but I haven’t had to answer too many of these questions – my group is quite happy with the arrangement to date. They’ve gone in through the front gate, taken out the Air Temple, spoken with Water Temple forces, and made a foray against the Fire Temple.

We’re currently on another brief break, and the player of the cleric of Pelor has also expressed a desire to retire her old character and do something new; she’s relatively new to D&D and has found the number of variables involved in spellcasting too complicated to enjoy while trying to learn everything else as well. She also wants to be more involved in actual combat, since we have a lot of fighter types in our group. Having discovered the utility of a wand of cure light wounds, the group also isn’t as reliant on the clerics for healing. While they now have only one “proper” spellcaster – another cleric – we’ve all come to realise that everyone is better off running a PC that they like and empathise with rather than one designed to complete “team balance”.

Anyway, in this player’s case, she doesn’t want to discard her old character altogether, so we need to come up with a credible scenario that would allow that existing PC to leave and come back later, and another one that introduces the new PC. It occurred to me that I could do a couple of things here to build on the plot and foreshadow some things to come…

So, I’m planning for the next use of the mirror of transfer to go horribly wrong… :) Instead of seeing their usual contact with the Church of Pelor in Verbobonc, they’re going to gee a strange, swirling blackness and a terrible cold emanating from the mirror. It clears, revealing the face of Varachan – a distorted view of his room visible behind him, as he peers into his crystal ball. He calls out to them with a hint of desperation in his voice: “Beware! The Dark God’s power seeps from the Black Spike - its tendrils warp and corrupt – you must…”

The surface of the mirror clouds over, a roiling darkness cutting off all sound and vision. Cracks race across the surface. I think I’ll get everyone to roll for Initiative at this point and give them an action. At the end of the round, a tentacle of blackness reaches out and grabs the nearest PC – namely, the cleric of Pelor, standing near her church’s gift – dragging them into the blackness. The mirror then explodes into shards that vanish with an icy chill as they touch the skin…

So the cleric of Pelor is removed from the party and gets dumped into the presence of Varachan, who does what he can to hide and protect her, while also trying to return her to her group. He can’t tell her everything, because he’s got to cover himself in case she’s discovered and taken into custody, but there’s a good connection there. But as far as the party knows, the cleric is gone. I’ll tell all the players that the PC can come back at any time – but I’m not going to tell them what’s happened to her until the player makes a decision to run that character again.

But now we have the same problem as before, about how to let the party sell the stuff they capture and buy the things they need or want (especially wands of cure light wounds – they’re going to burn through them pretty quickly, I think! :) ).

It just so happens that our other cleric is a Dwarven cleric of Moradin – I think I’ve been lucky the way this has worked out :) His PC has a great plot hook – the group all ate the dark fruit from the obelisk at the Moathouse, and all subsequently had vivid and nasty dreams (inspired by the BotB entry "Madfox' Madness Progression Chart --- Going Up Against Big T. Is Not Good for Your Mind"). The dwarf cleric also got a vision of the pillage and rapine of the dwarves of Mount Stalagos, as well as one of the sealing of the Temple and the laying aside of the silver spheres to assist the destined avengers that Moradin has foretold.

So, in making their way to the assault on the Fire Temple, one of the group succumbed to the fear effect of the cloakers and ran all the way down into the armoury and forge containing the blade spirit. The rest of the group soon caught up with him, but instead of making this a combat encounter, I made it a roleplaying one. Yes, the spirit is angry and vengeful – but not so much as at all living things, but more so at his killers and his clan’s despoilers. The party tried to prove that they are on his side, and on Moradin’s side, but he is bitter and angry - Where was Moradin when the evil priests came? Where was his protection when they slew him before his own forge? If they are truly Moradin’s chosen, they will find the Soul Forger’s sacred place and demonstrate that they are his chosen, and perhaps this unquiet spirit may help…

I then had what I thought was a brainstorm – if the party can get the blade spirit on side, he could serve them as he might have served in clan in life: as a smith, crafting magic items. Of course, he’s not alive, but maybe he could operate with the blessing of Moradin and could work on similar lines to the item crafting golem. We’re fortunate in that we have a Dwarven cleric of Moradin in our party, but any party could find the temple, become Moradin’s favoured, and earn the blade spirit’s aid. Of course, the long silent forge becoming active again is almost surely going to attract the attention of the Temple’s forces – maybe I should relocate the actual creation site into the Dwarven temple complex? Or have the blade spirit animate the item crafting golem somehow? Lots of ideas that I still need to work through, but BotB has been a great help – thanks.

Cheers,
Caedrel

PS. I love the idea of the binders and will be using them IMC – I’ll also try to link in the new character (an elven archer) to the disappearance of Prince Thrommel and/or Fragarach and give them the Ballad of Emridy Meadows.

PPS. I like the idea of increasing Lareth’s power and prefer the straight elemental templates to the demonically infused ones, but the one with all four stacked on seems a bit cumbersome to me – he’s got a lot of powers to juggle! How about giving it a more uncontrolled feel and having his elemental template shift each round – roll a 1d6; 1 = normal Lareth, 2 = half fire elemental Lareth, 3 = half air elemental Lareth, 4 = half water elemental Lareth, 5 = half earth elemental Lareth, 6 = full on elemental Lareth, as written. You could also allow a bit of control over the process by allowing him a Concentration check to keep his present elemental form, or make changing to a new elemental form a move-equivalent action also requiring a Concentration check. You could scale the Concentration DC according to the nature of the form – to go to / maintain his normal form could be DC 10, to a single half elemental a DC 20, and to the all four half elemental a DC 30. If people feel that this would be worthy of inclusion in BotB, I’d be happy to do the write ups of the individual half elemental templates… ([End] shameless plug for an entry on teh BotB myself :) )

Caedrel
Here for a while
(2/20/03 5:12 pm)
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Re: Best of the Boards feedback
I was just reading Siobharek's session log, and saw mention of some interactive maps from Cthuluftaghn - are these public domain? Where can I get them? Please!

These should surely be in BotB too...

ZansForCans 
Here for a while
(2/20/03 7:19 pm)
Reply
Re: Best of the Boards feedback
Boring? You must be joking. That's great thought-provoking stuff, especially for where we are IMC. I need to digest it and merge it in with my own thoughts before I can comment more... just wanted to give you a thumbs up for a great post.


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Cordo Crowfoot
Here for a while
(2/20/03 8:02 pm)
Reply
Re: Best of the Boards feedback
The maps were are by the guy at Grellhead studios ( www.grellhead.com ) and can be found at a separate Yahoo Group called interactive maps:

groups.yahoo.com/group/interactivemaps/

Unfortunately they haven't been updated in over a half of a year.

"They were immediately and absolutely recognizable as adventurers. They were hardy and dangerous, lawless, stripped of allegiance or morality, living off their wits, stealing and killing, hiring themselves out to whoever and whatever came... They were scum who died violent deaths, hanging on to a certain cachet among the impressionable through their undeniable bravery and their occasionally impressive exploits" China Mieville, Perdido Street Station

Siobharek 
Still here? Wow.
(2/21/03 12:04 am)
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Re: Best of the Boards feedback
I think it was great feedback, Caedrel. This group is truly worth its bytes in gold.

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Infiniti2000
Here quite a while
(2/21/03 6:35 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Best of the Boards feedback
Zzzzz.... |I

Just kidding! :)

Good stuff Caedrel; I especially like the idea about the blade spirit. That alone is worth a BoB entry IMO.

smetzger
Here for a while
(2/21/03 6:38 am)
Reply
Mirror of transfer objects
The mirror is interesting. I have another solution to this. Check out the Lantern Archon on the Summon Monster IV spell list. Its has Teleport at will, self plus 50 lbs.

I can see good aligned churches using these guys to transfer stuff back and forth on a regulare basis.

Caedrel
Here for a while
(2/23/03 3:54 pm)
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Re: Summoning Monsters
Hey, that's a nice idea - it has some complications, though:

Lantern Archons don't have teleport at will - I think you might be mixing them up with the Ghaele Eladrin, which requires a Summon Monster IX (a much, MUCH beefier spell! :)

But even if this wasn't the case, there would still be risks involved - the summoned creature would only have your description to guide it, giving a a slightly less than 50% chance of being off target. Unless we use the variant rules for summoning specific creatures, so that they have a memory of where they've already been...

The Planar Ally spells would also work pretty well in this sort of case - and I like the way it's similar to what's already in the module, with the captured Hound Archon in the Recovered Temple...

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