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Jesse Lowe
(6/30/03 10:24 am)
Hommlet, Nulb, & the Old Temple Bypassed.
In my Return of the Dwarves campaign, I started the PCs out at the Crater Ridge Mines. Now they're going to Verbobonc, and their route will take them through Hommlet. They know of the connection between the CRM and the Temple of Elemental Evil, so it's possible they'll want to visit the moathouse and Nulb. It will have been about a month since they first hit the mines.

I would rather not have them deal with the encounters as written, since a) they're 8th level and b) they don't need any more adventures on the trip. So my question is this: What should the status of these places be?

In Hommlet, the major issues are the cultists and the dragon. I can't see Rufus and Burne tolerating a dragon that close to town for very long, so I don't see him being an issue. However, I'm not sure how to deal with the cultists. Did they escape? Were they discovered? Is "Jaroo" still there, or has he moved on (either out of town or into another identity)?

In Nulb, of course, the only real issue is Lareth. Has he been uncovered as the Champion of EE yet? (The players know that the cult's looking for a champion, too... this could be interesting if they encounter him.)

As for the Old Temple, I'm not sure what to do. I could leave the hobgoblins in place, or have the excavation just starting. The excavation force is strong enough to scare off the PCs, but it would put quite a time limit on their activities -- not necessarily bad, but could make playing more difficult.

Can anybody help me out here?

(6/30/03 11:34 am)
Re: Hommlet, Nulb, & the Old Temple Bypassed.
My gut reaction is to leave Nulb as it stands. But, if you feel it takes too much away from their drive at the CRM, then just make it a deserted town without the undead. Let it be a mystery what happened there, although it's link to the ToEE should give them some idea...

Back to my gut, I'd say, no, Lareth has not been found as the Champion yet. The encounter with Lareth sets up some continuity later on that you will be missing since you've started at the CRM. Plus, since the link to the ToEE is so weak this early in the game, it gives them some connection to keep in the back of their head as they plow through the CRM. There are several encounters that will be on the order of EL 7-8, so I think the will still be somewhat challenged, if not burning some resources. I wouldn't worry about XP too much since it will balance out. Certainly resist buffing here since they already seem well prepared for much of the CRM. You'll have to decide if the time they will spend here is worth adding this story element.

As for the Temple, I'm not sure I'd recommend putting the excavation force there right now. You risk derailing them. They or their characters likely know the story behind the ToEE. It might be too tempting to stop this well-known threat from rising again before deciding to go back to deal with the ToAC.

How about taking up the common big U suggestion that he is at the Temple commanding the hobs now? Adding him to the mix gives the possibility of a longer encounter there as well as the eventual realization the Temple is no longer the center of power that it once was. Again this might be a useful encounter to link provide familiarity when the story eventually leads back again. They may blow through the hobs and big U, but no big deal. They'll probably get a kick out of it and you'll get the story hook for little added effort.

You can play the moathouse lots of ways, but I tend to agree with you that it doesn't need to be a story element at all at this point. Have the cultists be the ones that somehow ran big U off and just say they did collect their goodies and left. The obelisk room is sealed off and no one in Hommlet is the wiser. I think if you get anyone in Hommlet involved, if the party happens to go there, they might be interested in checking things out. If you want to avoid that, it's probably best to have let the cultists succeed. I can see Jaroo still there as well as one or two other 'spies' like Chat, Maridosen, and/or Vacra. All the rest have returned to the ToAC or their 'hideout' in the hills (i.e. they are out of the story).

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Cordo Crowfoot
(6/30/03 1:23 pm)
Re: Hommlet, Nulb, & the Old Temple Bypassed.
Didn't you start them at the CRM because they had already done the moathouse with some other characters, or am I thinking of someone else? If so that's important.

(6/30/03 1:53 pm)
Alternate Moathouse timeline
Without PC intervention, I could see the moathouse events occuring as follows.

1) Spugnoir goes missing...the town starts to become worried.
2) Ol' Del comes into town claiming a dragon is at the moathouse.
3) Realizing what's happened, a group of "wandering adventurers" (Dunrat, Vacra, Grune, Toridan and the other one in the mill) volunteer to check into the situation. Chatrilion also goes along.
4) The town cultists are able to drive off Big U. They track down and slay the beleagured Spugnoir, assist in the recovery efforts, seal up the moathouse as described in the module and head back for the ToAC...without stopping in Homlett.
5) Eventually, Terjon leads some of the townsfolk into the moathouse where they discover a grick, a ghast that looks a lot like Spugnoir, and no evidence of the cultists. They also discover the dead bodies at the mill (probably including the workers). Since Jaroo's cover is paper thin as is, he'll probably be discovered but escape and the murders will be blamed on him. Jaroo may reinfiltrate Homlett, this time as someone who doesn't cast spells. :b He and Maridosen will keep an eye on the several powerful NPC's who were a thorn in the ToEE's side before (Elmo, Y'day, Rufus and Burne).

Chatrilion probably heads to Verbobonc or Rastor to stir up trouble. Dunrat's group (but not Dunrat himself) and the excavation party can be used to restock key areas of the CRM like the main gate complex at some point. Dunrat himself has quarters in the Outer Fane and will likely be a lackey to one of the more powerful priests there.

The one loose end is Festrath. I see him dying before the party could possibly find him in the sealed moathouse, since there's only poisonous water, no food and a hungry grell above him. The grell probably dies as well of starvation.

(6/30/03 10:55 pm)
Re: Alternate Moathouse timeline
Cordo, I think that's my campaign you're talking about, where the moathouse was already introduced through another DM. I still let the PC's visit the moathouse, but it just had a grick and ghasts, and the obelisk room was sealed.

As far as ghasts are concerned, why would Spugnoir turn into a ghast but Festrath would just die of starvation? IMC it made sense for Festrath to turn into a ghast, which makes him CR7. Boost his cleric levels a bit, and he could be a good fight for an 8th level party.

I also agree that adding Big U to the Temple would make for an interesting fight, if you boosted him and the hobgoblin leaders a couple of levels as well. And I think you would gain a little of the module's irony that forces the PC's back to the temple again when they realize the Champion is going to use it to summon Tharizdun.

Of course lots of people on these boards argue against boosting any of the encounters, and they make a good point. I have forgotten how much of the CRM your PC's have conquered. Are they ready to take on the Fire temple?

(7/1/03 5:27 am)
Spugs v Festrath
Gansk is absolutely right - Festrath should be undead. I'm not sure that you need to limit yourself to ghast. Is there a more powerful form of undead he might take? After all, his exposure to the corrupting effects of the obelisk is much more intense than the bodies in the moathouse cellar.

However, the difference between Spugs and Festrath is that Terjon's group most likely encountered and put down Spugs, possibly even recovering the body for a proper burial in Homlett. They would have no sign of Festrath however as they wouldn't have discovered the sealed obelisk chamber, as likely your PC's won't either.

Cordo Crowfoot
(7/1/03 7:51 am)
Re: Hommlet, Nulb, & the Old Temple Bypassed.
I haven't closely read the responses below but I wanted to approach with an unbiased and open mind... :)

Moathouse: I would have the cultists have cleared out, Utreshimon having gotten bored of his little game after several days. I'd keep Spoony alive so that he could tell the players how he almost died if they befriended him. If the players hear about the moathouse some townies might even point the adventurers towards Spoony and chuckle about him being "the authority on the moathouse". I figure Spoony might be a bit of a laughing stock with his tales of cultists and a blue dragon... I would say Jaroo is still there, as his role is to make sure that some of the higher levels don't start to notice and mobilize once the temple does start to get recovered.

Festrath would be a ghast, but the obelisk room would be sealed. However, I would leave several clues, maybe even going as far to think up some reason to leave Geynor Ton's diary around... and probably some kind of tracks or markings in the floor where they dragged the heavy statue out of the pool room

Nulb: As is... I always recommend playing Lareth up as a more RP encounter, even having Lareth start talking before the players can start bashing... it makes the eventual revelation much more cool IMO.

ToEE: Again as is, with the recovered temple not yet being excavated.

Nulb and ToEE not having changed yet will give the game a dynamic feel when the players pay another visit, even if only a couple of game months later, which is always good.

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