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Monte Cook
Was here before any y'all
(4/15/03 12:45 am)
OK, what have we learned?
Return to the Temple is a big, giant adventure. A campaign, really. Lots of you have run it, or run parts of it.

If I asked you what I should have done differently, what would you say?

I'd rather not just see a lot of posts that say "the CRM are too big," or something like that. That's useful, but I've heard that one enough.

The kind of feedback I'm looking for here is:

What needed more detail?
What parts were a waste of space?
What things were extremely useful?

I know that a lot of you dislike having the NPCs all in one appendix. What would you rather have seen?

In short, if you were going to write a big mega-adventure, using what you've learned running RttToEE--speaking strictly of only information presentation and format here, not plot or content--what would you do differently? What would you do the same?


Here for a while
(4/15/03 1:07 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?

Thinking on what I have used most is the characters themselves. Their listed locations and tactics have at later stages of play been nearly obsolete (as listed in the "dynamic dungeon" sidebar).

Having more alternate strategies, operating styles, motivations etc. for the Cult main characters listed in the module could have helped. A mini-charsheet for Hedrack, Thrommel and the Doomdreamers listing usual spells, actions and strategies would have been perfect!

Also, troop timing diagrams for the main organized areas are something each DM had to think/make for themselves.

A differently useful addition is a CD-ROM with the maps, characters and handouts in electronic form...


Here for a while
(4/15/03 1:28 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I would have preferred to just have the statblocks for the more mobile NPCs (all of the Fanes and some of the major elemental temple figures) in the appendix and have the static NPCs statted with their location entry (particularly the gates and bridges NPCs).

Also, and I don't know if this is feasible...but in the CRM, the grey description boxes (and even some of the location text) all assumed counter-clockwise travel, and of group went clockwise. Its a tiny thing, but if a group moves faster than you expect and you're reading those blocks on the fly, sometimes I got halfway through and realised that I was giving them info from the wrong perspective?

Still here? Wow.
(4/15/03 1:36 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
First of all, I did not mind all the NPCs in one place. What I did mind was that it was not a pull-out booklet like for example the maps. In fact, having all the NPCs in one section is of great help. Of course, if you are going to publish a pdf adventure, then that is hardly a problem. I did mind having to look up monster manual stats, but once again, I fully understand why one should do so to save space.

More details?
- Rastor, especially since it is the location for a major subplot.
- The scenario was too much a standalone adventure which means that a DM needs to do a lot more work to fit it in the campaign. While this is fine by itself (especially for experienced DMs), it makes running the adventure for beginning DMs rather difficult. Especially since there are no suggestions how to do it. Removing details is a lot easier then adding them. For example, a much asked question on these boards is how to get the PCs to travel to Rastor and my players were wondering after some time why they were risking their lives exactly? To save the world? Why? It did not look like the Temple was even able to pose a threat to the world. Thrommel? Why throw him in without at least providing his connections with Greyhawk in detail. Without these boards I would never have thought of the redemption route and without my Greyhawk knowledge I would have never known HOW important such actions would be for Greyhawk. On the other hand, you did detail Hommlet. Seeing how much more time and roleplaying is done in that region does suggest that such information is vital for the game even for experienced DMs.
- More subplots and preferably with a bit more detail, like for example the drugs plot in Rastor. The larger the adventure the more important it becomes for the PCs to have some small victories not directly related to the adventure. Players need clear victories now and then or else their fun will be lessened more and more.
- More detail on what happens when the PCs inform certain groups on their actions. Why would local nobles not offer their support? What would happen if the PCs call in the help of the dwarves? I have seen and suggested more then enough sideplots that have to do with this, but I am only using them in my second run of the adventure.

Too much detail?
I am sorry, but the CRM was too big. There was not enough variation in there and my players expact me to play opponents smart. The result was that it was one heavy fight after another until they finally thought they should get higher level adventurers to do the job. I also found many of the monsters and groups illogical, so I felt the urge to remove them. Why were the dire apes there even though they do not live in the area naturally? Where did the owl bears came from? How did the orcs survive? What the hack was that green dragon doing there? IMO questions like that either need to be answered or the monster should not be there.

Still here? Wow.
(4/15/03 2:06 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
Hi Monte, and thanks for asking.

I agree with what has been said so far (yes, this is partially a Me Too post) with the following additions:

While I don't think the CRM was too big, it would have benefitted from a little more focus. I can see that the monsters there were blocked in three categories: Temple forces (by far the most); Underdark and other critters, who just happen to be there (Vranthis the dragon was, I believe, a newcomer but maybe some options for using him more actively would have been nice); and finally remnants from the time of the dwarves (the destrachans, the blade spirit, and the spectre near the Air Temple).

I wouldn't include too many monsters not integral to the plot. Many of the Underdark critters struck me as being slightly gratuitious, and more or less "just there". If I were do go over the CRM again, I would have replaced them with hauntings of the old dwarves showing scenes of the old times, a la Senshock's quarters in the Recovered Temple.

For those monsters that were there, I'd make sure to list more options than just slaughter; I'd give them a purpose. A while ago, someone suggested that Vranthis might have stumbled on the CRM, but there discovered parts of the Doomdreamers' plans. That would make him a prime candidate for a very unusual patron for the PCs.

Otherwise I have nothing to add to those comments that have preceded mine. I still think that RttToEE is one of the best adventures I have ever had the fortune of DM'ing, and I want to thank you for the many hours of good gaming, you've given me and my group. In this little geek world of ours, you are truly one of the best and brightest.

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

Still here? Wow.
(4/15/03 6:45 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I have to agree with what was said earlier...having the NPCs in a "pull-out" book, just like the mapbook, would have been ideal. As well, if you could put a reference in the NPC statblock that referrs BACK to the module and says where they can be (typically) found, that, too, would be helpful. I frequently found myself saying "Ok...Hedrack. Now, where was he supposed to be at?"

I know it's asking a lot, but I would also love to see a "picture" book. Yes, three minibooks...NPCs, Maps and Images. Modules like Tomb of Horrors and your own Labyrinth of Madness are so very greatly enhanced by the visuals, and it's unfair that only the DM gets to see them.

I agree that there was a bit of a shortage of good RP in the middle, although I think some DMs have overcome such shortcomings with creativity (and help from this board)

Which brings me to my #1 thing I'd like to see...MENTION THIS BOARD! I don't know how many copies of RttToEE sold, but I'm sure that there's far more out there than there are DMs here getting wonderful help and support. Please, please, PLEASE make mention that a given module has forum support so that those who buy it know to come here and get help.

Having this board has made this by far and away the best epic adventure I've ever run.

Which brings up another might want to make mention, right up front, that this is an EPIC adventure and that it's not required, but recommended that you make this BE the campaign rather than just trying to fudge this into an existing one.

That's all I can think of for right now. I'll give you a hollar if I think of anything else to add.

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

Still here? Wow.
(4/15/03 7:06 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
"What needed more detail?"
Rastor. Hommlet was given about as much space as in the original. I'd rather have seen the attention to detail reversed between Hommlet and Rastor. I suppose you could have included more tactics, but that is something WotC also figured out (as part of the 3.5e MM). General monster tactics might help, but in this case there are very special situations and most of the bad guys have special abilities (like spells and items) that should be taken into account. Each named bad guy should at least be given a sentence or two describing their primary motivation. I think you must have thought of it for all of them before placing them in the module, but your thought process should have been written down. In some cases, a good motivation makes a world of difference. A timeline of some events, including key bd guys in the module would also have been nice (how does the Triad fit in, what else have they done? Although they are the leaders, they don't seem like the BBEG in the modules, nor does Imix really. I think for many, anything after Hedrack or Thrommel is almost anticlimactic, due mostly to the depth of their characterization).

"What parts were a waste of space?"
In accordance with the above, the detailed description of the shops in Hommlet. The stat blocks for Burne and Rufus. I would much rather see the NPC's in Rastor statted out.

"What things were extremely useful?"
This board! Without a doubt, it is the single best thing about the module. It would be even better to have printed the link in the module introduction. I realize maybe the board happened long after the module was released to print, but in a future product, you should tell everyone who runs the module where to go for help and to pool resources.

"I know that a lot of you dislike having the NPCs all in one appendix. What would you rather have seen?"
Actually, I like them in the appendix. In an ideal situation, though I realize it is probably too expensive to produce, print each statted monster in the appendix, but on perforated index cards that could be pulled out of the module. Even if they were not perforated, but were in that format (so that they could be copied and then cut easily), it would help. That way, I don't write a whole bunch of stuff into the module and people don't need to spend hours writing them up themselves.

"What would you do differently? (information presentation and format)"
1. Include an index. Maybe a couple different types of indices, organized by bad guy or just keyword.
2. Stat blocks on index cards (discussed above).
3. I would have loved a large, pullout map of the whole thing in the same resolution (at least) of the individual maps. I've made it myself (see ZansForCans's site), but it's a huge file (2500x2500) and that's low resolution. Someday when I get a memory upgrade, I'll work on the 10000x10000 version. Also, the individual maps don't line up well and there are some inconsistencies in them (colors and sizes of the bridges for example), but most would not notice this without doing what I did.
4. If the party enters the main entrance and turns left, it makes it really difficult to DM (so some people have stated). I don't know if there's anything you could do differently, but it's worth thinking about in any future endeavours.
5. Include a table of sidebars.
6. Color code the sides of the pages (greyscale is fine) for each section (CRM light gray, Outer/Inner Fane medium gray, Recovered Temple/Fire Node black, the rest white). A small square (rather than the whole page edge) also would work, similar to a dictionary.

"What would you do the same? (information presentation and format)"
1. Stat blocks in the appendix.
2. Organizing the module into clearly delineated sections (Hommet, CRM, Fanes, etc.).
3. The area formats were good, with number, description, creatures, etc. clearly identified. It makes reference easier.

Here quite a while
(4/15/03 7:29 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I agree with Andorax that this board is the best web enhancement that you could possibly have for the module. Anything of this size should automatically get a support forum, and it should be mentioned in the book.

One thing that I've been wanting of late is a more clear listing of what people in the CRM know about what's going on elsewhere. My group captured Snearak in the earth temple and interrogated him in some length. I wasn't sure how much he knew of the Fanes, the Doomdreamers, or the Cult of Tharizdun. The history section in the front was helpful, but perhaps clear section that gives a list of what each person in the heirarchy of each temple is aware of. It doesn't have to be SUPER specific, just something like "All clerics, know THIS, the High Priest and his Assistant know THIS", etc.

And I would also agree that the CRM is not too big (unless you are trying to print tiles . . .). I t was difficult though if your party moved in the opposite direction from the numbering scheme it was easy for a DM to get lost, since often the listed tactics and development for reinforcements were a page or two earlier in the book. There were a number of times that my party handled something easier than I expected, only to realize that a big guy should have come down the hall two rounds into the battle.

The pull out NPC book is quite attractive, too.

There's no business like gnoll business

Here for a while
(4/15/03 7:33 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
In general, I felt that there was a lack of focus in the beginning of the module. After the moathouse, there was little reason to investigating Nulb and the ToEE ruins. The encounter with Lareth on his own seemed a little so-so: his importance wasn't apparent, and his abilities against a 5th or 6th level party who had just come off of a fight with Wat and the blue dragon made him seem incredibly minor. This may've been intended, but I know my group's reaction if they encountered him as the champion later on: "This schlub is what Tharizdun needs to escape?" In the end, the session became about members of the Temple attempting to retrieve the bones of Lareth and trying to resurrect him.

Rastor became the focus of several adventures for the party, which I provided as sidetreks. Rastor just seemed to be floating out there in the module. It's proximity to the mines made it impossible to ignore, plus it was the most obvious place for the party to come and hide when they had to make a hasty retreat from the CRM. While I appreciated having a place to build up myself, I think a little more info and plot hooks in the town would've been good.

In the CRM, the objectives of the party in the individual temple areas and the use of the keys were not readily apparent. My party had a very difficult time opening the gates to the Fane area. It took a number of DM hints built into the game to move it forward. There was a lot of repetitiveness: the party felt they had to move through the entire mine area to get into the Fanes. Again, perhaps a problem more on my end as a DM than the design of the game.

All in all, it was a very difficult module for me to DM. I had never really DM'ed a mega-module before having stuck primarily to smaller modules for the most part. As the game went on, I found myself jotting down tons of notes and cues to myself to keep track of what was happening with the PC's as well as what was happening elsewhere that could have an effect in the future. It was definitely a challenge, but I'd love to try and run it again for a different group (the first game kind of fell through after a while due to conflicting schedules) just because I'm a little more familiar with it now.

Here for a while
(4/15/03 7:44 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
First of all, I'm loving this module, and having a lot of fun running it. The things I really like about it are the depth and complexity, the fact that it's not a complete railroad and lets the party find out where they have to go next on their own a bit, and the organization of having the NPCs in the appendix actually worked quite well for me -- after I realized that I needed to photocopy that appendix and refer to it side-by-side with the main book. One suggestion for that appendix would be to either make it a pullout book, or at least to give it wider inside margins than the rest of the book -- the binding of the book conspired with the narrow margins to make photocopying difficult.

Now, on to the rants^H^H^H^Hconstructive criticism:

Index! We want an Index!

This is a very complex and dynamic adventure; NPCs move around a lot, interract with other NPCs in different areas, and items from one place have significant uses in another. An index would have helped a lot in figuring out how everything tied together.

Similarly, more motivational text for major NPCs -- for example, Thrommel is just a vampire in a room in the module as written, but there's a lot of motivational info here on the board that fills him out a lot. Similarly, the force timing charts for the major areas (gates, temples, bridge complexes, and OF doors) as previously mentioned would help out a lot.

Finally, something I'm finding consistantly annoying is that many locations have their boxed text written assuming the party enters from a certain direction. For example, the moathouse dungeon was written assuming the party went down the main stairs -- my group went down the secret stairs, and the boxed text made no sense to us until I figured out what was wrong and started re-writing it in my head on the fly. Similarly, the CRM is written assuming counter-clockwise travel, but there's no real incentive to choose that direction over clockwise travel (well, scratch that, I just saw Temple of Doom again on TV a couple weeks ago, and those train tracks are plenty good incentive... :) )

Edited by: msherman at: 4/15/03 8:07:00 am
Looking around
(4/15/03 8:17 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
Okay, I'll chime in here with a "Mention the Support Forum". It's one of the reasons I decided to run RttToEE over the "City of the Spider Queen". I can come here to get feedback from people, read other people's suggestions and storys and get a feeling for the pace. With CotSQ, no such luck and it's kind of funny, but I think something of this size should have a support forum (and support group for players 8) ).

could be any DM
Here for a while
(4/15/03 8:27 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I had no problems with most of the presentation. I would have preferred more NPC character information. I would always prefer more NPC info, maybe you could write a novel to accompany the next mega adventure? (Joking here :) )

Some additional information on what would happen sans party would be useful. That information would help determine what should happen if the party doesn't follow the adventure as planned. The boards were a great help here.

Additional information/tips on how to get role playing into the adventure. A good DM doesn't need it, but those of us with less than stellar skills could use the assistance. For instance, while there is plenty of information on how you could bluff your way into the CRM, there isn't a lot of information on what you can do once you bluff your way in.

Following your request I won't post comments on content. However, running this adventure gave me firm ideas on what would be acceptable in my next mega-adventure purchase.

Overall, great product. Extremely happy with the money and time spent.


Looking around
(4/15/03 8:51 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
Hmm... alright, so my perspective is that of someone who is only starting to run the module...

but I would have really enjoyed more information on what NPCs in Hommlet are expected to know. There is some general information available, but I am dreading running all the interactions, conversations and followup conversations that my party is sure to get into. They are a talkative bunch sometimes.

Right now I am still struggling with who knows what, and what their motives would be in revealing what they know. I am making decisions that are probably imperfect since I dont have a good perception of the module as a whole (I doubt you can get that until youve run the thing or written it!), and I am worried that I will screw up bigtime somewhere making it impossible to follow the plot "as is" down the road.

Now that I think about it, this is true for the rest of the module as well.

So - a summary, based on NPCs, giving their motivations, relationships with others, and knowledge of the world would be a fantastic addition.

Here for a while
(4/15/03 9:09 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I'm not finished running the adventure - heck the players have just gotten to Rastor & are heading up towards the CRM but I'll give my 2cp worth:

>What needed more detail?
a) Rastor.
I would have liked a couple of pages on Rastor - perhaps with some suggested for how the NPC's in town will respond to word of the evil cultists.
How would Rerrid take it if it were discovered that Tal was working with the cultists & "enslaving" locals on Tanbrush?

We got details on the two potters in hommlet but aside from knowing that Tal Chamish has wagons, addicts people to Tanbrush & can summon help from the mines in an emergency we don't even know what he does for a living. Is he just a guy who has a wagon? is he a teamster? does he own a trading post?

It's fun to come up with these details to fit the campaign to your own vision, but
the players could have spent almost as much time there as they did in Hommlet (and will be using it as a base later is my guess)- so it's worth as much of a write-up as Hommlet got.
I downloaded a map of the old gold rush town of Barkerville here in northern BC & used that as my Rastor map:

(Monte - did you write up Rastor & have to cut it to meet the page count?)

b) Hommlet's higher ups: I would have liked to know how Rufus/Burn/Y'dey would respond to news of a Dragon in the moat house. Would they have sent Elmo along, or gone out to deal with it themselves?
My players went right to Elmo when they figured out where the cultists were Elmo - we think there are evil cultists hiding in your mill - what are you going to do about it. Elmo - we captured these evil cultists, do what you will with them.)
I like the involvement directions for the town officials in the Endgame - I would have liked some more of that near the start.
C) More handouts - or at least, more write-ups of the clue letters the players will find in the mines. I don't mind writing things like that out myself - but there seem to be a *lot* of clues available that we have to write up ourselves.

The above would not have been a problem 10-15 years ago when I was single & worked part time & did nothing but game with my friends - now it's nice to have some of THAT work done for you so you can focus your time on other parts of the campaign.

>>What parts were a waste of space?
hmmm - nothing springs to mind as wasted space.

>>What things were extremely useful?
The "tactical development" & general tactics notes on NPC actions in case of a fight (heh), as well as the details on their personalities, feuds & motivations.
The CRM are big - but the feuds between the temples and NPC's make the adventure really come alive for me.

Suggestions for replacing temple forces were also great, it gives the feeling of a dynamic setting.

I also liked the "red herrings" in Hommlet - the bigots who cast suspicions on Joman, or any elves in town. There is just enough "small town" bickering, secret love affairs and hidden spies to make the town seem a little like "twin peaks" and make it interesting to run shop-keepers.
Not so much detail that you can't figure it out - but enough to make the place come alive.
Verisimilitude Dude!

I also really like the details on what the churches offered in the way of spell casting & scrolls, as well as prices. The potions & scrolls shops were excellent additions given the 3rd ed. rules, and yet kept away from the "let's go to the magic shop" feel that just seems wrong somehow.

Finally - the Appendix.
I have problems using it as is (flipping is a pain), and yet having the stat blocks IN the adventure description would have made for a very hard to read adventure - especially any room with more than one NPC present.

A solution - make the map book a "map & stat" book. The module has the room descriptions & the map book has a stat block write up on the monsters present in the room.

I am really enjoying RttToEE Monte.
It's a campaign in one book, and my players are having a great time.
For a Dm with less time on his hands than in the past, it's a godsend.

Rory Weston
(edit spelling mistakes)

Edited by: rweston at: 4/15/03 10:16:36 am
Here for a while
(4/15/03 9:33 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
Okay, here goes:

What needed more detail?
NPCs - along with the stat-block a brief paragraph detailing:
their major motivations/ambitions (and progress toward these goals if relevant)
what location(s) they can typically be found in
their alliances/rivalries/outright hatreds
any 'special' knowledge/clues they have
One sentence on each of the above would really help bring the NPCs to life.
All of this in a handy-to-reference pull-out would make for a great addition. (well, you asked :) )

Each major area of the CRM - the gate and bridge complexes and the temple areas - would benefit from an overview of events in a typical day, recent events of note (all of this would be common knowledge to all inhabitants) and attitudes to other factions.
This plus a timeline for events once the alarm is sounded in each area would be great. (Timeline in a sidebar?)
Nearby areas could get DCs for Listen checks to notice fighting - wandering monsters anyone?

Important clues (notes with elemental blessing phrases etc.) could be highlighted in the text - an index or table of such clues would answer a lot of the 'how do..?' type questions on this board...and if the clue were a handout - well, players love a real handout. A brief list of who knows the significance of the clue would be great (back to table format, then?).

What parts were a waste of space?
Hmmm...good question...I didn't use a lot of stuff (NPC stats in Hommlet etc.) but I can see how it could be needed...I can't think of anything which I thought 'Pfft!' about right now...

What things were extremely useful?
The map-book was colourful (mmm...pretty) and couldn't have worked if it weren't a pull-out - more of this kind of resource can't be previously suggested, a booklet of pics?

I'll reiterate what posters before me have said in that this board has been a priceless resource and has vastly improved my RttToEE campaign - great idea, and long may it and its like continue! Future modules of any similar scope would benefit greatly from a like forum.

Good job Monte and keep them coming!


Edited by: Grumgarr at: 4/15/03 9:42:43 am
Still here? Wow.
(4/15/03 10:13 am)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I agree with much of the preceeding... also, my group is still halfway through the CRM, so I can't really comment on later parts.

I agree that the NPC listings could use a little sprucing up. Some of these ideas have already been mentioned by previous posters. Having them in a separate section is okay, but they desperately need page references in both directions: the locations should have the page numbers of stat blocks of any NPC located there, and the stat blocks should have page numbers plus location numbers of the locations where they are found.

I'd also like to see the NPC's faction allegiances called out more explicitly. It's actually quite difficult to sit down and figure out, "OK, what forces do the Water Temple have?" You have to go through each location, note the NPCs and creatures there, then go find them in the appendix... and that still won't find you everything if you only go through the Temple area proper, as they have various spies and minions scattered throughout the mines (yes, I chose the Water Temple on purpose as they seem the most scattered). I think that actually, having the NPC stat blocks split up according to group and allegiance instead of the "global" alphabetical order would work well (assuming you have the back-and-forth page references already mentioned).

I'm not sure how far it would be good to take it, but another approach would be a table or diagram of each faction which lists their forces. Ideal would be a flowchart or map showing each important NPC's relationship with others inside the faction and outside the faction, e.g. so-and-so hates so-and-so, so-and-so is a favorite of Hedrack's, etc. (Since the party is often likely to slaughter these people without ever knowing or caring about the subtleties of their relationships, too much detail here would probably be a waste, but if it could be presented in a compact enough, "at-a-glance" format, I think it would be useful. Even a simple "Table of Organization" would be helpful in assessing a faction's forces at a glance.)

Here for a while
(4/15/03 12:50 pm)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
What needed more detail?

NPC personalties, descriptions, and combat tactics. One sentence for each would be extremly helpful.
Overland routes betweeen Hommlet and Rastor and betweeen Rastor and Verbabonc. Don't really need maps but distances, descrption of terrrain, whether its a highway or a wagon trail, or a single track.

What parts were a waste of space?

Stat blocks for allies that would most likely not offer direct support to the PCs. i.e. most of the NPCs in Hommlet.
Random monster tables for the surrounding areas.

What things were extremely useful?

Pull out maps.

I know that a lot of you dislike having the NPCs all in one appendix. What would you rather have seen?

Having them in an appendix actually works better for this larger dynamic adventure, I think. However, the fact that the appendix is so !@#$% hard to photocopy is a problem. It is small text, with a background, and the inside margine is quite small. All of this conspires against photocopying. A pull-out section or even better an electronic version in an editable format would be best. And hey, if it is electronic you might as well include the monsters from the MM.
Some way to easily find the statblock when you are looking at the module, number perhaps? When looking at the statblock some way of tieing this guy back to where he 'usually is found' would be helpful.

Additional stuff:
Mentioning a forum would probably help people. Definantly having a forum is a must, this forum has been invaluable to me.
Pictures book ala the 1e Tomb of Horrors would be a benefit, but not as important as other things I have raised.
Some kind of tie in with minis. This could be included cardboard standups (not the counter stuff, more like SJs Cardboard Heroes) or an electronic download of PDFs of standups or maybe even a tie in with the new WOTC line of plastic figs.

Here to stay
(4/15/03 12:55 pm)
More details about the Traids. I want to know who they are and what is their background. How they function as the true leader is really fascinating. I want to learn more about their relationship with Hedrack.

I think adding an outpost between temple is a nice touch, adding the outpost to neutral evil alignment and place a greater opportunity to have more role playing.

Thrommel, Hedrack, Chat, even Xaod the Slayer are complete character. I want to know more about Imix. What is he doing there in the first place?! I also want more background story of Blade Spirit. I really love the concept of blade spirit, but what really tick him off in the first place? Would Blade Spirit attack a dwarf? Can you parley with it? That is the question..

I personally feel that there should be more prisoners and sacrifice victims to add more testimonty why they are in that temple in the first place and to strengthen their resolve.

I would like to see a rival party consisting drow, duerger, hobgoblin, and orc. Their role is quite similar to the good or at least neutral PC, but their interest mainly looting the temple and attempt to place the temple in THEIR control. They can serve as a foil to make PC life more difficult.

Looking around
(4/15/03 5:49 pm)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
My main concern is more help with a clockwise journey. This is really important, My players aren't that far into the CRM yet so it hasn't been a huge problem but it will be soon.

One big problem is the background stories woven into the adventure. They are quite interesting and can give the DM a good read, but the players don't alway become aware of everything. It's nice to read about that tragic love story in Nulb, but the player's will almost certainly never be aware of it. There also need to be more story clues earlier on that help tie things together. If the PCs don't have a good conversation with Lareth in Nulb, they probably won't hear the word "Tharizdun" for quite a long time.

There also needs to be way more info for Rastor and the furtherment of the Tal Chamish story arc. My players have lost several PCs thanks to his scheming yet he's such a good con man they can't do anything about it. It's been really fun but I've had to make it all up as I go along, the module doesn't really help me beyond the whole Tanbrosh thing. Some more info for Verbobonc would be nice too, particularly what info concerning the Temple of Elemental Evil and the CRM can be learnt there. Also, it'd be nice to have a few Thrommel story hooks presented here.

PC's also need more reason to hate the BBEG's. Hedrack, Thrommel, and the Triad are all meant as big foes for the PCs, and they are, but there isn't enough hatred. With my Tal Chamish for instance, my PC's have good reason to loathe this guy, but the real BBEG's don't inspire such feelings in PC's at all. Hedrack might kind of annoy them, but he'll be dead soon after they come into direct contact with him. With Thrommel and the Triad it's even worse. The PC's have heard of them, but there's no real loathing there. Thrommel and the Triad just serve as big challanges to overcome. I like it when the slaying of a BBEG really satisfies a player, but I'm afraid RttToEE isn't good for that

Edited by: Waldo at: 4/15/03 6:04:03 pm
Here for a while
(4/15/03 6:01 pm)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
I had taken this adventure through to the Crater Ridge Mines before I found this board.

The input from here has been invaluable. Monte has written an incredible adventure, but having access to errata and other DM's successes and failures is like they say in the Mastercard commercials: Priceless!!!!

Click here to see the DM Assist.

Here for a while
(4/15/03 6:42 pm)
Re: OK, what have we learned?
PC's also need more reason to hate the BBEG's. Hedrack, Thrommel, and the Triad are all meant as big foes for the PCs, and they are, but there isn't enough hatred.

Overall, it has been a blast running this mega-adventure. However, this is the one area I agree needs adjustment. There are too many different opponents for the PCs to really focus in on and "hate." This is especially true in the CRM. I decided to make the adventure more "personal" in the following manner:

The party wizard sacrificed himself to save the party. I ran a side adventure to get the new sorcerer into the party. This involved them inadvertently finding and bringing a relic of Tharizdun to Hommlet (an altar). Lareth felt the call of the altar, came, and sacrificed a small girl to truly become the Champion of Elemental Evil. Now, through a cut scene, the party knows it has inadvertently advanced the cause of the cult that could end life as they know it.

Then, I busted the group out of the CRM (it was becoming a bit of a grind). However, not wanting to lose out on the work already done, I had Thrommel sent to Hommlet to secure it for Lareth. The party goes back through Hommlet, which is now partially taken over by Vampires. Thrommel kicks the party?s ass (they fought despite warnings of how tough he was) and slays Terjon (who is in the party). They wind up having to run an errand for Thrommel to get Terjon?s soul back. They now have plans to drop by Hommlet when they think they can take out Thrommel. There are true feelings of hate there.

My point is that an adventure this long and about doomsday cults should have a few encounters to "make it personal." I felt I had to do quite a bit on my own to get this type of angle in the story.

Second small item: If all the NPCs are going to be together in the back, the stat block should list the page number(s) the NPC appears on in the main section.

Overall, I feel like I got my money?s worth. I bought RttToEE to see what one of the major designers of 3e thought the system could do over a broad number of levels. So, in a sense, this has been a test for my group and I am not disappointed. Overall, I am not sure I would buy a mega-adventure again. This is not a poor reflection on the module. I feel mega-adventures lock the players into a single story arc over a long period of time (we game every other week for 3 hours, so it will take 2.5 years or so to get through this thing).

Edited by: amerigoV at: 4/15/03 6:44:14 pm
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