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rolflyn
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/27/04 11:41 am)
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Disappointed
I was a player in a temple game that just ended. We made it to the final battle and won. And it was very disappointing. After three years -- is that right, three years? we started just when the temple came out -- Anyway, after three years of fighting endless battles we kill monster #5467 which is an impressive 50' tall fiery guy. He gets a few good wacks in. We kill him. We get some crystal skull thing. The DM says the campaign is over. We look at each other. We don't believe him. We plane shift home and commune with the gods (after all what is the 100xp when the campaign is over): Is the world safe? Answer comes back: Yes. Lame. Very lame.

Is this truly how the super-module ends? Kill the bad guy, grab the skull, victory. I would have like an ending more like the erruption of Mount Doom or something.

Well, I guess I'm just venting. My character was out of the last combat in the first round, and the big guy was killed by the DM's own character, but even if my characater had handed the bad guy his head on a platter, I would have found it disappointing. I wanted more.

Taelohn
Staj
(2/27/04 12:22 pm)
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Re: Disappointed
You should probably destroy the skull thing now, and even collapse the temple...

As things turned out, the end of the RttToEE game I ran ended up a little differently. The party was larger and more powerful than usual, but a few of the party members got stuck in Avernus after a misplaced planeshift.

Some of the others were in the prison plane trying to quickly smash the orb, while the solar held the gate together - with Lareth following them in for a final battle.

The few remaining in the temple itself had to contend with Imix. The last party member standing finished him off - but I gave him the final strike feat from Savage Species, so he exploded when he died - and that character had to rush out of there before the lower levels of the temple came down upon him. It was all fairly dramatic. ;)

HWRNMNBSOL
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/27/04 12:28 pm)
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Re: Disappointed
Well, the adventure still leaves a few loose ends.

The original Temple of Elemental Evil story we all know. We also know that in the 1st edition adventures, the ToEE is followed by action in the Slavers and Giants/Drow/Lolth adventures. In each one, another version of an 'evil elemental cult' is present -- in the Slavers, Stalman Klim is a priest of the 'Earth Dragon'; in GDQ it's, what, the Elder Elemental Eye?

So, in Return to...., this sews up the loose ends of the ToEE story. But what about the other stuff? Well, at the end of the Slavers adventure, Stalman Klim was dead and his fortress-city destroyed, so that's probably pretty much wiped out. But the underdark bad guys should be very much alive and well. In the GDQ series the good guys beat up Eclavdra, the main Drow priestess of the EEE, but then they wind up following a blind alley by sacking Lolth's temple and then snuffing Lolth on her own home plane.

In the Egg of Lolth, there is a balance of power between the drow who serve the EEE (House Eilservs and Tormtor) and the drow who serve Lolth (all the rest). When the good guys kill Lolth and her priesthood, this should disrupt the balance of power. If anything, the EEE forces should now have the upper hand in the Vault. In the dozen or so years that have passed since the events of GDQ, they have surely secured their power base and are fomenting unspeakable acts.

I am running 'Return to the Demonweb Pits' with my FTF group. Now that the secret hand of Tharizdun behind the ToEE has been revealed, the great powers of the world are greatly concerned regarding what those silly drow are up to. So, the heroes are roped into finishing what they started: to return to the Vault of the Drow, see what's going on down there, and take any action required to save the universe....

We're about two years in. The party has successfully adventured in the much-changed Vault of the Drow, has negotiated large slabs of the Abyss, and have just now returned to the actual Demonweb portion of the adventure. Next up: race the enemy team of bad guys (Eclavdra, a demon prince, an insane wizard and assorted minions) to elude the new guardian of the Demonweb (a fallen Solar) and visit all the worlds through Lolth's gates to gather elemental gems (they'll win) and Lolth's soul object (they'll lose). The final fight will involve the remaining three Princes of Elemental Evil, the reintegrated Lolth, and the attempted destruction of the Hub of the Universe. Woo hoo!

Characters are just now passing into Epic levels. We probably have another two years of play left. Anyway, I hope this adventure will wrap up with a bit more than a big fight. The PC's will probably advance to immortality, actually.

Anyway, this is just meant to show that the end of the adventure doesn't have to be THE END, and there can be a lot more adventuring and battling the Tharizdun faithful before the heroes hang up the gloves.

fjeTheNarrator
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/27/04 8:52 pm)
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Re: Disappointed

Well ... it sounds like you were burned out by combat and so combat didn't fulfill.

What would have been fulfilling? I guess that's the big question. What's a campaign SUPPOSED to end with?

--fje

PerfectParabola7
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/27/04 9:16 pm)
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Re: Disappointed
DM's character?

My Realm

Ramblings of a Sleepwalking Man

rolflyn
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/27/04 10:51 pm)
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Re: Disappointed
Quote:
What would have been fulfilling? I guess that's the big question. What's a campaign SUPPOSED to end with?


That is a very good question, perhaps something for another forum so we could have the maximum input.

But I was looking for a guarenteed end. Not kill this guy and then commune with the gods to find out if it worked. Like when the Ring finally falls into Mount Doom.

I was also looking for something cinematic. Maybe a big earthquake and the party having to flee the Fire Node as it collapsed upon itself.

Or maybe the skull of oblivion shattering into a million pieces.

Anything but the whimper that it was.

As for continuing adventures, that is all well and good, but the DM made it clear the game is over. Future adventures aren't going to happen. I suppose I could dream up my own ending, but that is hardly satisfying.

JRedGiant
Staj
(2/28/04 6:42 am)
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Curious
There has been some discussion about the idea of having the final fight occur just as Lareth is going through the ritual to free Tharizdun. Did your DM do anything like this? If he had, would that have been a more satisfying ending?

PerfectParabola7
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/28/04 10:36 am)
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Re: Curious
It seems like your DM is at fault and not the module.

My Realm

Ramblings of a Sleepwalking Man

rolflyn
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/28/04 11:55 am)
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Re: Curious
Quote:
There has been some discussion about the idea of having the final fight occur just as Lareth is going through the ritual to free Tharizdun. Did your DM do anything like this? If he had, would that have been a more satisfying ending?


No, there was no ritual going on, and yes that would have been more satisfying.

Also, the fact that the skull is still around (in our posssesion but by no means destroyed) means someone will eventually grab it and try to release Tharizdun again, probably in another twenty years. As an elf, that means this will go on another 20 times before my natural life is up.

And yes, maybe it was our DM. He didn't want to play the destroy the skull part of the adventure, saying it was a side light to the module. He pointed out that the module's last encounter is with the big fiery guy.

So in a way, I think the module could have been written differently, where you disrupt the ceremony at the fire node and already have the ability to destroy the skull. This way you could climax with: disrupt the ceremony (prevent the immediate harm), defeat the bad guys (prevent them retrying in the short term), and destroy the skull (save the world in the long term). If this could all happen at once (or in a very short sequence), I would call that a satisfying ending. My character could return to the forest and relax for a few decades after killing 5876 creatures.

amerigoV
Staj
(2/29/04 9:22 am)
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Re: Curious

Ending a campaign is hard to do. I think the GM needs to give serious consideration to the ending. They need to craft a denouement.

Anytime character rise from level 4 to level 14, there will be a ton of loose threads. Some may be major (for example, IMC the group will not be dealing with the Inner Fane, so there will be significant members of the cult still hanging around). Others are minor and can be ignored. If there are major artifacts left over, they will have to be dealt with as well.

The GM should have given some form of wrap-up to close out the campaign. Something to the effect of "here is what happened after you saved the world." In essense, your GM ended the "movie" one scene short.

Infiniti2000
Night Beast
(2/29/04 9:59 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Curious
rolflyn, the DM is definitely at fault here, not the module. The module merely provides the substance of the adventure, it is the DM's job to turn it into a proper story, including a good ending. In this case, defeating Imix and Lareth while they are in the process of attempting to free Tharizdun would be one choice (and a common one). Destroying the Orb of Silvery Death and then the Orb of Oblivion are also great things to accomplish at the end, particularly if done during the climactic battle.

The fact that you keep pointing out the number of creatures killed (5876) signifies to me that you have a different preference in the game style versus that of the DM. I'd suggest that you resolve that before continuing on in additional adventures.

rolflyn
Ebon Hand Cultist
(2/29/04 11:01 am)
Reply
Re: Curious
I keep pointing out the number of creatures killed (or actually just making up some random 4-digit number) because we all had a diference in play style with the module.

This was the DM's first campaign. He ran the module as a favor to the rest of the group. Along the way, he learned a lot. And the entire group got very tired with the relentless dungeon crawl and the endless battles. It took us three years to finish this thing, playing roughly every other week. And we expected more out of the ending.

You can consider an adventure a basis for running an exciting story, and maybe if the DM had put extra time in it, it would have been better. But we purchased a premade adventure to save on prep-time: we all have jobs, some of them quite demanding. I expected more out the ending. Most of the group did also. I haven't asked the DM directly, but I plan to.

While I tired of the relentless dungeon crawling, I think that was a problem with my expectations. But I also think a module should provide a satisfying conclusion: to say the DM should provide his own is a bit of a cop out. Why didn't the adventure do this? Why did it provide countless locations and stats, but not a simple plot that would effectively use those locations?

I own the module, but haven't read it (since we were playing it). Once I get the bad taste out of my mouth (and it may take a while), I plan to read the adventure and then I can provide better feedback.

chartam
Lastrogos
(2/29/04 11:18 am)
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Re: Curious
Quote:
But we purchased a premade adventure to save on prep-time

Unfortunately, this was the wrong adventure for that. The Temple of All Consumption (where the bulk of the adventure takes place) is essentially a small city. The various NPC groups are supposed to interact with each other even when the party is not there. The assumption, spelled out in the adventure itself, is that the DM will spend time changing things as the various factions in the ToAC react to each other and to the presence of the PCs.

The further along you get in the adventure, the more vague the plot description becomes because of the various possibilities involved with specific actions taken by PCs and NPC actions & reactions as decided by the DM. By the time you get to the end, it is a case of "here are the major players, and their motivations"...the DM has to fill in the gaps because what happens in your campaign will be much different from what happens in someone else's. Remember, it is expected that the characters have gained 10 levels in the meantime...surely not every party will have made the same decisions.

Chartam Plicatus, Paper Prestidigitator
- [Minibase] - match a mini to your character (1700+ minis)
- [RttToEE Minis List] - [Campaign Website] -

rolflyn
Ebon Hand Cultist
(3/1/04 10:37 am)
Reply
Re: Curious
Quote:
Unfortunately, this was the wrong adventure for that. The Temple of All Consumption (where the bulk of the adventure takes place) is essentially a small city. The various NPC groups are supposed to interact with each other even when the party is not there. The assumption, spelled out in the adventure itself, is that the DM will spend time changing things as the various factions in the ToAC react to each other and to the presence of the PCs.


Thanks for the insight. I did not realize that, nor did the DM ever mention such a thing. It would be nice if such a disclaimer were on the outside (something like a scale of 0..10 for amount of DM prep-time), but I'm not sure that would have dissuaded our group. We were really excited about the sequel to an old favorite.

chartam
Lastrogos
(3/1/04 11:40 am)
Reply
Re: Curious
Quote:
but I'm not sure that would have dissuaded our group. We were really excited about the sequel to an old favorite.
Same for our group. That's why, we started this adventure, and, after 2 years, the party is only in the early stages of the CRM. Of course, the fact that we play only once every 6 weeks on average might have something to do with it. :)

Chartam Plicatus, Paper Prestidigitator
- [Minibase] - match a mini to your character (1700+ minis)
- [RttToEE Minis List] - [Campaign Website] -

Caedrel
Ghoul Worm
(3/1/04 6:18 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Revealing the backstory...
My group is about on a slightly faster (but not much) time scale as chartam's. On the down side, we really need to recap things before the beginning of every session; on the up side, it gives me (as DM), plenty of time to hang out on these boards and come up with nice, logical, and challenging things for the NPCs to do :lol

I like the cinematic ending idea, but one of the things I'm trying really hard is to fill my players in on some of the blanks. Otherwise, they'll suffer exactly what rolfyn's group did - they'll get to the end and go "What was that all about?" Without the background understanding, it's all just a series of fights against lots of bad guys. Varachan is critical here, and it's also why I'm going to give the solar guarding Tharizdun's prison more RP substance than the simple "You are in a forbidden area - leave immediately" dialogue the module gives him by default.

For example, the whole mechanic about the more Princes of Elemental Evil making the attempt, the greater the chance of releasing Tharizdun explains a lot about why Imix isn't into the ritual straight away, and why he and Lareth risk it if/when the doomdreamers' plans look like coming apart.

I love all that great stuff about Unariq in his crypt, being imprisoned with Tharizdun, and his cloning in the Chamber of Hate, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get it out of the module and into my players' heads.

It sounds like rolfyn's DM wasn't quite sure how to go about this either - he was a first time DM as well. He may not have felt confident enough to give rolfyn's party those juicy pieces of info, or he may have found it hard to read how much of it rolfyn & co. were understanding and enjoying. Give him that feedback, rolfyn; it may not change your experience with RttToEE, but at least it will help him become a better DM in the future.

fjeTheNarrator
Ebon Hand Cultist
(3/1/04 8:01 pm)
Reply
Re: Revealing the backstory...

This probably isn't a module for first-time DMs.

It's a little stressful, even for me.

At the same time, I find it fun to move things around, decide how the NPCs are reacting ... replace, discard.

Had I been creating from whole cloth, this would have taken me forever ... maps, creatures, relationships, interactions, plot ... no, it isn't a perfectly scripted step-by-step adventure, but it would be impossible. They could write it like that, but you'd have to be railroaded every single step of the way or else you'd deviate so far you'd be right back where you are now ... moving everything around yourself. So, instead, it details an NPC, says where they usually are, the DM gets to know the NPC and then scripts what they'll be doing in the city.

My group defeated the remainder of the Earth Temple last session ... they came upon Uskathoth and Snearak performing a ritual to raise The Swordmaster (Half-Earth Elemental Trog Ftr 3) from the dead (he having been slain a month ealier). The group seriously didn't want to tangle with "Das Ubertrog" again ... they never ever ever want to tangle with a Fiendish Xorn, again.

God I love templates.

They were quite involved in the "plotline" and desperate to stop the ritual before it was completed. "As written" the ceremony in the temple was just an "evil ceremony". By placing The Swordmaster at the top of the ziggurat the group was emotionally involved in the fight. Simple, direct ... satisfying.

--fje

msherman
Briar Beast
(3/2/04 4:39 am)
Reply
Re: Revealing the backstory...
Caedrel, you're right, Varachan is _key_ in getting the party invested in the backstory when you're ready to transition to act 3. I ran the Debriefing scene as a PBEM with two of my four players (the party had split up, two of them escaping across the stalagos while the other two Word Of Recalled back to Verbobonc with Varachan and another rescued NPC). By doing it in email, I was able to take my time and craft really detailed responses for all of the party's questions. I could post my archives of that scene here, if you like.

Specifically, wrt Unariq, I handled that bit in really funny way; when the party asked Varachan how to get into the Inner Fane, I had him describe the two entrances to the Blasted Yard. In describing the Hall of Priests secret doors, he says just as a throwaway line: "First you'll need the key, which is a gemstone kept in the Chamber of Hate. Be wary of The Attendant, the demon who watches over Unariq's clones." One of the players replied, "Uh, the *what* who watches over the *who*?" which opened the door nicely for a detailed discussion of Unariq's fate.

Knowe Remorse 
Staj
(3/4/04 5:45 pm)
Reply
Re: Revealing the backstory...
This module is insane for a first time DM. I've been DMing games for roughly 15 years, and it is insane the amount of time and research that is necessary to make it a more realistic, appealing game.

The outline is great, but the DM needs to fill in a lot of shallow references that are.... just that. That's not putting down the module, thats the DM's job in this huge epic-like monstrosity.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of All Who Threaten it.

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