|The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements
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|Author:||aboyd [ Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:50 am ]|
|Post subject:||The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Aside from the fixes that have already been mentioned, and the enhancements that have already been made, I would like to add a bit more. I'll add a timeline in this post, revised text in the next post, and a small bugfix in the 3rd post.
Since the plot is scattered throughout the module and the backstory section doesn't recount the events in chronological order, I decided to piece it together and write it up from start to finish. The problem? Once I did this, I realized that the author had three events listed as happening all at 1.5 years prior to the start of the module, yet those events were sequential, dependent upon each other. They could not all happen simultaneously. Thus, below I am outlining my best guess as to how the events plausibly transpired, and going fuzzy on some dates in order to make it work.
|Author:||aboyd [ Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:59 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Revised "read aloud" text
The entire second half of the module involves this wonderful change of perspective, but it's hardly touched upon. That is to say, the characters become tiny sized -- similar to a cat -- but there really isn't much read-aloud text that plays this up. So here is some. This text should replace the existing read-aloud text.
Read this only if the characters actually experience the size reduction in this room (though it's likely, as this is where the potions are). You must choose to read only one of these texts; whichever is appropriate the first time Improved Reduce Person is used.
If only some party members are reduced
As the magic begins to affect you, the large chamber grows even bigger. Your allies, too! Their bodies, their gear, everything quickly becomes giant-sized. The stalagmites, some of which just moments ago were roughly your size, now rise before you like great monoliths. Quickly you come to understand that it is not the room itself which has changed; it is you, reduced to the size of common cats, possibly even smaller. While the change may be daunting to some, you note your purpose is now before you: the small corridor through which the enemy escaped looks inviting, and you are perfectly sized for it.
If all party members are reduced
As the magic begins to affect you, the large chamber grows even bigger. The cave walls, illuminated with flickering light and shadow, seem to loom up before you. Moments ago, you might have been able to strike at a dripping stalactite and knock it from the ceiling, but now it would be impossible to reach even if you stood on an ally's shoulders! The treasure chest which you so easily plundered is easy no more: the rim is beyond your height! Quickly you come to understand that it is not the room itself which has changed; it is you, reduced to the size of common cats, possibly even smaller. While the change may be daunting to some, you note your purpose is now before you: the small corridor through which the enemy escaped looks inviting, and you are perfectly sized for it.
The small passageway opens into a cavernous room, the ceiling rising sharply away from you. Though you remind yourself that the room must be a mere 10 or 15 feet in diameter, your reduced size tricks you into feeling that it is more like a 30 foot chamber with vaulted ceilings. Along the north wall is a large pile of straw, and the room contains a damp animal smell. A pair of squat furry beasts in the center of the room growl at your approach. Each has brown fur standing on end in an aggressive manner. Each seems to be bigger than the dire badger you previously ran into! But then again, you faced the dire badger when you were at your normal size. Surely these creatures must actually be smaller. The question is, how much smaller, and just how dangerous would it be to engage in a fight while in a shrunken state?
The sound of gently moving water greets your ears as you come across another open space. The walls are dimly lit by pockets of phosphorescent lichen, which run all the way up to the distant ceiling, roughly ten times your height. Finally adjusting to your new stature, you make a solid estimate that the room is about 20 feet wide. A slow-moving river bisects the cavern into north and south areas. The water is clear, though light sources will need to be directed for a closer look. Three moss-covered stepping stones lead across the river. Unfortunately, even jumping across stepping stones appears daunting when a person is at such a reduced size.
This chamber is perhaps 15 feet in diameter. Three exits to the west appear larger than most of the corridors in the warrens. A 3 foot tall pile of rocks covers most of the floor, which is taller than you are! If you wish to enter the room, you'll have to scrabble your way up on top of the pile. Staying balanced doesn't look like it will be easy.
This huge area sprawls out at least 40 feet wide, though the ceiling is a "mere" 10 feet overhead. Truly breath-taking, however, is the 15 foot wide chasm running from the east to west walls. Only the greatest athletes could naturally jump such a distance while in reduced form. However, fortune shines upon you this day. It appears that a metal spike has been hammered into the floor on the near side. A rope has been knotted to the spike and runs across the gap, where it is fixed to another spike on the opposite side. Near that spike, an exit can be seen.
From the same vantage point as a rat peering out of its hole, your eyes take in the cavern that has opened up in front of you. It is approximately 15 feet in diameter, and 10 feet in height. The floor is dusty, covered with fine rock debris. The west wall glints soft hues as light reflects off numerous crystals embedded into the wall.
I changed the original text, "your light sources" to just "light" in the new version because I never really know what the players will do. It may be that they all show up with Darkvision and have no light sources in use. Since this room has a chimney that opens out into the light, it seemed fitting to keep the text ambiguous. If the party has light sources, they will assume the light comes from their sources. If they don't have light sources, they can ask questions and discover some tiny amount of light coming in from the opening.
If Blackspine attacks, read this aloud: Suddenly, a long tail appears from a ledge above, swiping at those closest to it! Though the ledge is perhaps only 5 or 6 feet from the floor, this is no easy target from down below.
If anything might make you feel small down here, it is this cavernous room. As you approach, you realize that it is huge to you, at least 30 feet by 40 feet. The ceiling is many times taller than you are, though to a normally-sized person that might not feel so vast. To the north is a smooth black altar about 10 feet wide and 4 feet high -- that is to say, so high that you cannot see what is on top of the altar, if anything. Flanking the altar are a pair of twisted pewter candelabras adorned with black candle stubs, currently lit. Hanging on the wall behind the altar are five big human skeletons, arms manacled over their heads. Each wears a rusty chain shirt and carries at its side a longsword which is larger than you are.
I removed the text about "no exits," as I want the players to be free to ask about exits or search for secret doors without having it made so obvious. I'll happily mention it if they ask. I removed the mention of the book on the altar after doing an experiment in perspective, to try to emulate what the tiny characters can see. And it turns out, not much.
Note that I made a mistake when I initially played through this module. When they found the book I did not describe it as big, and allowed them to shove it into a backpack and continue. That's really dropping the ball, though. This is a thick, leather-bound tome, at least according to the picture in the module. And it's a journal that, according to the sidebar, takes large amounts of time to extract bits of information. All in all, it sounds like a decently-sized book. And it is made for a medium-sized creature. Perhaps it's a foot long and 9 or 10 inches wide, with some weight to it. Since the characters are likely between 9 and 18 inches tall, the book is roughly as big as they are!
If they get up to the level of the altar or otherwise can see the book, this is what I read to them: Now that you can see the top of the altar, more details emerge! The altar itself appears to be made of polished obsidian. And resting upon it lies a thick, leather-bound tome, which you estimate would be of normal size to a normal person. However, to someone measuring a foot tall, give or take a few inches, the book is unfortunately oversized, and will not fit in a tiny person's backpack.
If they get the secret door open, this is some read aloud text: As the secret stone panel moves to reveal a hidden passageway, a structural change becomes obvious. The hallway before you is hewn, unlike the natural formations that you've grown accustomed to crawling through. Also at odds with your expectations is the large size of it -- clearly this is no longer the domain of rats and badgers, but of humans, and their ilk.
Area 2-8 is a special case. The module author writes of his concern for the adventurers -- he warns that if they are still tiny when they come to this room, the fight might be a TPK. However, just because a TPK might happen doesn't make this room a special "no reduced person magic" zone. There is nothing -- other than the author's urgency -- which would trigger an end to the PCs reduced size. I looked at a few discussions about whether someone who drinks a potion can dismiss the effect of their own will. Generally, that was inconclusive. Therefore, all I can offer is this. If the PCs have somehow ended the spell effect, read them the original text. If they are still tiny, read them this revised text.
(EDIT: I found a post by the author, in this forum, stating that he assumed potions could be dismissed at will. So I suppose something might hint for them to dismiss the potion. If not, read my revised text.)
This chamber is the first in a while to feel comfortably dry. Steady, warm light streams into the cave from a corridor in the east wall. Reaching that exit is a daunting proposition -- it is perhaps 40' away; quite a bit of running for those so tiny. Along the south wall are 10 wooden crates, not too big, though you'll likely need to stand on your toes to peer inside. Situated near the crates are a few bales of straw and a straw pallet. To the north is a larger bed of poor quality and a wooden writing table that stands above your gaze, though it's easy to see parchment dangling over the edge.
If Malchor is present, continue:
A daunting figure is seated at the writing table. Though you are certain this person is of similar size to a human, should he or she rise, it will seem as though a giant stands before you. The humanoid creature wears a voluminous raven-colored cloak with the hood pulled up, hiding the face. Suddenly, the chair clatters back onto the ground as the dark form stands tall and begins a magical incantation!
|Author:||aboyd [ Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:26 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Most have already been found. Here are a couple of extras for ya.
Adjust the DC for the jumps. Jumping over a 7' wide river is indeed a DC 7, assuming the character gets a 20' running start. However, the DC of 3 and 6 for the stepping stones is too high. That implies that each stone is 3' apart, which gives us 12' from shore to shore -- yet we've already established that the river is 7' wide! Thus, the stones don't add up correctly.
Also, the DC of 6 makes using the stepping stones mathematically less helpful than just jumping the whole distance, as the odds of a tiny creature hitting a jump DC of 6 thrice (9%) is more difficult than hitting a DC of 7 once (40%). Solution: DC of 2 for the first jump (with a running start) and DC of 4 for the remaining 3 jumps (due to no running start). This implies 2' of space between each stepping stone, and that adds up to be sorta close to 7' wide. And with a DC of 4, even a tiny character can take 10 on jumps and get across (assuming no jump penalties other than the -6 from size). This also makes the backstory (that Malchor put these here to help the rats cross the river) a little more plausible. It's still imperfect odds for the rats to cross, as taking a 10 won't work for them, but at least it's not certain failure. Probably, the rats just swim it anyway, as their swim bonus is huge.
In the sidebar describing Malchor's diary, there is an incorrect assertion about how long it takes to "take 10" or "take 20" on a skill check. It asserts that it takes 5x as long to take 10, and 10x as long to take 20. That's too harsh on taking 10, and too lenient on taking 20. Taking 10 is simply taking an average roll, not too high, not too low, and is treated as if you simply rolled the average. This means that it also takes as long as normally rolled skill check -- in other words, it should not take 5 times longer. As for taking 20, that implies that your character tries and re-tries until getting it perfect, and mechanically, the rules state that it is similar to rolling every number on the d20 -- you get a 1, all the way up to a 20. Because of this, it takes 20 times longer than normal, not 10 as the module implies.
Of course, it's possible that the author was simply house-ruling for his custom book. I don't really see the justification for it, but if so, then this bug fix can be ignored.
Goren Bloodshaft is probably built incorrectly. I noted that he speaks seven languages, and immediately muttered to myself, "Wow, he must have a high intelligence." But then I looked, and nope, his Intelligence is low. So, he's not getting free languages. My next thought was to look at his skills to see if he put ranks into "Speak Language." He didn't. Lastly I looked at magic items and feats, and nothing there conveys such a large amount of languages. Mechanically, I think he might only be able to speak goblin, according to the 3.5 rules. However, I just gave him common & goblin and felt it was accurate enough, while still being sensible.
Good luck! Have fun!
Also, thanks Chris & Joe for putting out such a fun module.
|Author:||aboyd [ Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:17 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
The previous 2 posts have been updated with an extra bugfix for area 2-7, and fleshed-out read-aloud text for area 2-8.
|Author:||aboyd [ Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:51 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
"I would have preferred a bit of a mystery allowing the characters to follow some clues and find their way to the well instead of just starting there." -reviewer on rpgnow.com
Optional expansion, part 1
Mostly what I'm going to do here is just document the first 6 hours of play that my group enjoyed. This involved doing all sorts of things in town before they went down the well.
Getting the players involved, revised
The original goal of the module was to get the players to town, and start them at the well. The new goal is to start them outside the city gates. As a bonus, our new introductory text will contain a tie-in to the end of the module.
While the original module offered a few ways to get the players involved, I narrowed that down to one way: town criers & "help wanted" posters. While you could do something different to draw them to the town (even placing them in the town from the start), you'll have to adapt my text, which makes the following assumptions. After a year and a half, the townsfolk were sick of the thefts. While they love Lady Arabella, the module itself notes she is not particularly effectual. And while they begrudgingly respect Malchor, his secret interest in perpetuating the thefts means that he will never be motivated to truly stop it. Thus, after the town leadership failed them, the citizens themselves united, with a few merchants in the lead. They collected a bounty, which the adventurers will get upon completion of the quest. They paid for some notices to be made, and paid traveling merchants to take the notices to other towns. They also elected to have Lady Arabella listed and mentioned as the "people's representative" (point of contact). Finally, they convinced the guards to at least check the goods coming in & out of the town gates. Malchor supports this, of course, because the show of security & force at the gates makes everyone involved appear to be tough on crime, even though it solves nothing.
Anything in italics is the read aloud text for that section.
Arriving at town during the night
As you approach the walled town of Welwyn, all is quiet until you are quite close. Then, a guard atop the battlement speaks in a somber, low voice, "Our gates are barred at night. Return at daylight." He says no more.
Arriving at town during daylight
Your journey to the wilderness town of Welwyn is coming to a conclusion. In the distance, the walled town can be seen. From your vantage point, you can see the logic of its location. It sits about a half mile from the base of forest-covered mountains -- no doubt rich with game for hunting, and caves for exploring. It is surrounded by farmland -- fertile enough for the town to be self-sustaining, and flat enough for the guard to see all comers. A river runs from the hills, right past the town.
(At this point I usually ask if everyone is ready for me to fast-forward to the gate. Once everyone is ready, I read a bit more.)
As you draw near to the town of Welwyn, you notice many people waiting at the gates for entry. The line is sizable for this time of day, and for a town this small. The reason for the backup soon becomes obvious. The guards are documenting all items brought in and out of the town. A younger, eager guard sees you and shouts, "Hey, no caravan? Not a merchant? Over here!" When your eyes meet his, he gestures at an older guard standing in a cart and says with a smirk, "I'll process the easy ones, he can try to tally up the vegetables." He turns toward his fellow guard for a brief moment and shouts, "You're not good at counting, Garin, that's why you're a guard!" As he returns his attention to you, he says, "So, empty the packs onto the ground. I'll write it down, and you can sign it, re-pack your bags, and enter. Not even a tax for entry! All this documentation is tax enough."
Interacting with the grumpy guard, Garin
They shouldn't. The younger guard is already entreating them to ignore the grumpy guard. However, if they do it anyway, it turns out he really is grumpy and very little fun. He is human, of perhaps 35 years. He is starting to get a bit of a belly, perhaps from his approaching middle-age. If the characters haven't been processed by the younger guard, he will tell them to do that and "get in or get out." If they have been processed and keep talking, or if they try to convince him to process them (and ask questions while he does it), he just shrugs and says, "You can ask that stuff of your friends or relatives or whoever it is you know inside." If the PCs explain that they are here to see Arabella regarding the thefts, he'll shrug again and say, "Well, good luck." If they ask for her location, he smiles and says, "Varain estate, follow the road straight until you come to the gated house." He smiles because he knows Arabella will likely be elsewhere, and it makes him feel good to think that the people currently bothering him might stand at her gates, wasting time. He won't offer more information. Despite his behavior, he is a decent guard, with a lawful neutral alignment, and a few levels on him. He may be more talkative later, at a tavern, with a beer in hand... if the adventurers ever find him there, which would be rare. If so, he'll still have a bit of a surly manner.
Garin does have a skeleton in his closet, though he hasn't thought about it in years. I'll go over that later, in part 3.
Interacting with the young guard, Ansell
He is human, of an age that seems suitably young to you. Alignment neutral good, still at level 1, but strong. He will have the following information to share. He has been a guard for only 1 year. He likes the job, proudly flexing his muscles and stating, "Not every job will let you build up like this. Well, farming and the smithy might, but I get more ladies this way." He will explain that the excessive documentation at the gates is due to the townsfolk demanding it just a few short weeks ago. He would guess that some of the wealthier merchants are greasing some palms to make it happen, but he has no evidence and doesn't see much wrong with it anyway (note: if the players latch onto this, Ansell won't know much, but there are rumors in town, which can help). He knows the demand was made because thefts in the town are rampant. He is supportive of the decision to do searches. "The thefts affect everybody," he says, "and not just because we're a good community that helps each other out. It affects everybody because literally every single resident in town has lost something. Often small things." He doesn't really have much interest in discussing the thefts beyond that, though if pressed he will share that when he was a boy, his father had given him a ceremonial silver dagger, and it went missing a few months ago. If asked about Lady Arabella, he smiles and says, "You want the Varain estate, a gated house at the end of this road, but you'll likely find her along the way. She enjoys mingling in the town circle on market days like this. Look for the loveliest woman in a flowing dress and that will be her." He smiles because she is wildly pretty. Eventually, he will tire of conversation and excuse himself to "document" a slightly attractive woman who awaits admittance.
Note: like lots of young people in the real world, Ansell is using the word "literally" wrong. He means most people have experienced a robbery, perhaps even 99%. There are a number of paupers in town who have nothing worth stealing. They have not experienced being robbed.
Interacting with other guards
There are archers on the battlements, and if you have the supplemental materials that Goodman provided online, then you know from the map that the guard barracks are just inside the gates. They shouldn't be talkative, and in fact the archers should be difficult to talk to even if they felt friendly -- sitting atop a 15' crenelated wall above some noisy merchants would make shouting about the only effective way to interact. If the PCs pick a fight here, it should be at least a swift boot out of town, and most likely will be a much-deserved TPK.
Interacting with the merchants in line at the gate
If they attempt to chat up the merchants, keep it friendly, but move the merchants on. In other words, they'll talk about what they're selling (mostly farmed goods) and try to sell it to the PCs (perhaps a silver piece for enough to make a small meal), but once they are cleared for entry, they wave and move into town. None of the merchants will have much to say about the thefts, aside from acknowledging that it bothers them. Any who live in the area (at your discretion) would have had small things stolen from them — most likely a few coins while making change for a customer. Such merchants might note that the amount stolen was small enough to cause them to question whether it was theft or merely "my own poor accounting." None of them will have much to say about the town or the guards aside from noting that they "do good business here" and "it's good that the guards do not tax on entry; very friendly to business."
Gather information checks
Here are 4 rumors that can be had, with increasing DCs. Unless multiple players are gathering information and you would like to split up the rumors, I would suggest giving out all the rumors for which a PC would qualify. As an example, getting a 15 should entitle the player to both the rumor with the DC of 15 as well as the rumor with the DC of 10, since he or she beat that DC, too. The 4th rumor isn't necessary, thus the high DC. You could lower it if you enjoy the silly gnome backstory that goes with that rumor.
DC 10: The one thing that most citizens of Welwyn have in common is robbery. That is to say, everyone seems to have been a victim of theft within the last year or so. Finding victims was quite easy -- anyone will tell their tale of woe. The stories share a similar theme. Most thefts were small -- not necessarily small in value, but small in size. Rings, necklaces, carvings, charms, even an ounce of expensive spice. Some items were not missed right away, making it hard to gauge when the theft took place.
DC 15: A few townsfolk expressed pride regarding their actions to stop a recent spate of thefts. They tell of a community meeting held a few weeks ago, in which concerned citizens pooled their funds to hire outside help. The merchants Beryllina and Hewlett seemed to be the organizers, while Iron Shoddy did most of the complaining. But the end result was good: guards were persuaded to watch for stolen items, calls for help were sent out with traveling merchants to the surrounding communities, and Lady Arabella agreed to deal with any mercenaries that might arrive to help.
DC 18: You seem to have hit upon a small bit of unrest. Some people are grumbling not only about the recent thefts, but about how ineffectual the solutions have been. Money has been put toward hiring help; that has yet to produce results. The guards document everything entering and leaving town, yet not a single stolen item has turned up. It's clear that the plundered goods are being moved via some other means. The town well is rumored to connect to the river, but a villain would have to hold his breath for many minutes to escape that way, and no one thinks that is possible.
DC 26: You've stumbled across an old gnome who claims to know how the thefts are happening: magic dogs. She shows you a leather pouch with multiple straps. "I was at the market one morning, the merchants were just setting up, and there was some viscera on the ground. I went to kick it away and noticed the leather, so I picked it up. Inside the pouch I found many gold pieces. Look at the design. The straps work in such a way that it could be harnessed to a small dog. Maybe it is used by pixie werewolves, who sneak into homes while in their normal form, steal items, secure their packs, and then transform into miniature wolves and run away! I would have told someone, but... well, I kept the money and didn't want trouble. I know I should have returned it, but who would claim it? Just about everyone has lost some small amount of coin." The gnome suggested that if more information was needed, she was staying at room 25 at the Dented Coin.
(Note, there is no room 25. In part 3 I'll give more information about the gnome and the room.)
|Author:||aboyd [ Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:01 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Optional expansion, part 2
Drugs in D&D
There is a drug dealer by the name of Odger in this expansion, who may serve as a scapegoat, and who will probably end up helping the players to think Malchor even more vile. Thus, we need to talk about drugs. I do not recommend the systems described in the Book of Vile Darkness, nor in the Pathfinder SRD. Both treat drugs like potions that do stat modifications, and they are are priced like potions, too. Keep in mind, most commoners make about 100 gp a year in D&D 3.5 edition. So a drug that costs 300 gp is a drug that costs 3 years of salary for the average person. Think about that. How many illegal drugs in the real world are sold on a street corner for the three times the average annual income? Such drugs are really only useful to adventurers, and not what I had in mind.
Much better are the low-cost alchemical drugs mentioned in the Unearthed Arcana book (pages 202-204). Thankfully, this drug system is also freely available as part of the D20 SRD. Unfortunately, it is tied to alternative rules for sanity, but that is easily ignored. Blow past all the sanity rules until you come to the section titled Alchemical Treatments. Here you will find low cost drugs along with a system for managing addiction. In addition to the 4 drugs mentioned there, I will supply you with 3 extra drugs.
What is a Magistrate?
I had a problem in my own game. The PCs got to room 2-7, took the book, and never fought Magistrate Malchor in room 2-8. Instead, they went back to town to meet with Lady Arabella, and then wanted to confront Malchor. This created a huge problem, as Malchor had the entire town guard to back him up. Or so it seemed.
The module really only gives us two leaders in authority -- Arabella and Malchor. And I had generally taken Malchor's role as magistrate to mean that he was in charge of the guard. Turns out, mostly no. Historically, in Italy, a magistrate was indeed in charge of the military as well as the courts. However, just about every other country treated magistrates only as judges. Time and again, I read about magistrates working with a sheriff (England), or a marshal/lieutenant (France), or a captain (Rome). In turn, those leaders would control the watchmen or guard.
So I quickly set upon creating a captain of the guard, named Sela, and detailed in part 3. This person would remain in the background unless it appeared that Arabella was cornered. If an all-out confrontation with Malchor was going to happen in the middle of town (or in the town hall), then someone had to foil Malchor's attempts to have the guards to overwhelm the PCs. This got very political in my game, as nobody (including me; I was leaving it to the dice) really knew where the allegiance of each guard would fall. There were some very secret, tense moments leading up to the confrontation with Malchor.
Part 3 is still being written. It documents all the characters I made up, including a couple that I ad-libbed (such as merchant Hewlett). This takes time, as I'm essentially sifting through my memory for the salient bits of information. I'll post again in a few days. I hope it's looking good so far!
|Author:||aboyd [ Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:03 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Revised Encoded Letter (Work Agreement)
As an aside, until I'm done with part 3, here's a small bonus. As mentioned in 2 other posts on the forum, player handout A (the encoded contract) is wrong as printed. It uses the date to determine how many letters to rotate, but gets the date wrong, so decoding won't work based upon that. However, the module offers a decoded version for the DM to review, and it has the date correct (May 17). So, here I will attach a new handout in PDF form that you may print for your players. This has the date in correct form.
Note also that this fixes a previously unmentioned bug. In the original encoded handout, the word "hirer" was encoded as "yziny" which is totally wrong. That decodes to "hirwh" which may confuse players. The correct encoded word should be "yzivi" and that will decode to "hirer" properly. So, this attached PDF has that correction too.
|Author:||aboyd [ Thu Feb 02, 2012 1:52 am ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Optional expansion, part 3
This isn't done. Hewlett the merchant is unwritten, and he has a lovely side-story, so I'll have to come back and add that. However, everyone else is done, and I wanted to get this posted, so here it is.
You need to have the PDF supplement that Goodman provided. I won't rehash what's already there, but I will expand upon it.
This gnome is mentioned on page 8 of the module, without any information about who he is. In the supplement from Goodman, he turns out to be the town blacksmith, running Shoddy's Smithy. Here is additional information. First, Shoddy attended the town meeting a few weeks prior, and made a stink over the loss of his silver sling bullets. He'll mention the loss, if the PCs make it clear they are investigating the thefts. Second, he knows the name & location of the merchant who led the town meeting (Hewlett), should the PCs ask about it. He probably wouldn't volunteer that information unasked, however. He wouldn't deem it worthy of note.
Finally, Shoddy is obviously not the gnome mentioned in the "magic dog" rumor (being the wrong gender), though if pressed he will mention "Inky" Murwinkle. Inky is known for writing "novels" that are really just paranoid stories about the local townsfolk. Shoddy doesn't want to know much more, and certainly doesn't know where Inky lives. Shoddy is a bit embarrassed by Inky, and has done a good job of making sure most people in town never even see her stories. It's possible -- though highly unlikely -- to see him toss a pile of Inky's books into his furnace when he is forging a new item. This would be very surreptitious, though. If it were noticed, I would use real-world bluff skills as a DM to downplay it.
Also, his sons are named Zooko & Pilko. His daughters are named Bleeni & Mibbi. His wife is Ellybell, but everyone just calls her Elly.
A gnome that for all intents & purposes, should be a ghost (not literally, but this gnome should be hard to find; a "dead" end, ha ha). Iron Shoddy takes small effort to keep Inky out of the spotlight, which is easier lately, as Inky herself is in hiding. As noted in the rumors section, Inky believes that the gold coins she kept make her an accomplice to the thefts, or make her a thief outright. She has not realized that if this crime were exposed, little would come of it. There is currently nothing concrete to tie the pouch to the rash of thefts. Even if there was (say, if the adventurers prove such a connection), it is true that no one would know who should get the coins, as many could claim it, though none could definitively prove it was theirs alone. In the end, unless Inky delivered one of her paranoid rants in front of authorities, odds are good she wouldn't even be asked to return the coin, much less endure other punishment.
Wherever you end up placing her in town, it's not at the Dented Coin. See the Dented Coin for more info.
If the players are on a tear trying to find Inky, aside from Shoddy knowing of her, you could also have a guard or two who recall run-ins with her. Generally, these guards would be both amused & annoyed while remembering her. No matter what the reason for their interactions with her, she would have accused them of singling her out due to her race, gender, size, age, or... anything else except the actual true reason. Because any infraction she committed would have been minor, the guards would universally have shrugged it off and tried to not bother with her again. They would say, "She's too much crazy to endure for such small offenses. Of course, I would never tell her that. She would probably respond, 'Are you saying that being small is offensive?' And then she would start yelling. And then I would try to walk away, but she would probably try to follow, all the while accusing me of 'walking unfairly' or some such, because my longer legs must mean I'm biased against people with shorter strides."
First of all, she is not a level 1 commoner, as the expansion PDF suggests. You don't get to create the largest business in town (not necessarily income but rather the most conspicuous), full of people who would grab your ass or start bar fights, without having some ability to handle yourself quite well. I have her down as Com3/Brd1. All her commoner skills go toward managing the books and cooking meals. All her bard skills go toward 3 things: filling in if the night's entertainment fails to show up, dealing with brawls, and people skills. The spells I gave to her are: Lullaby, Mending, Prestidigitation, and Read Magic. I am very careful to flavor the spells in non-magical ways (although I never statted her up, if I had to, I might assign a custom feat to this NPC, which granted her some ability to cast these 4 spells in a fairly mundane manner so that people didn't really notice). Lullaby is woven into her performances and should simply reflect her ability to be a calming influence. Mending is more like she's simply had to deal with everything breaking in the bar, and now she's pretty capable at fixing stuff. Someone looking hard might notice her hands being unnaturally deft. However, most commoners wouldn't even guess. Prestidigitation is used not only to clean up, but to flavor food if she's in a crunch, and also to provide small stage effects, should she have to perform. Read Magic is... well, everybody needs that. I figured she might own a scroll or two. Lastly, aside from having ranks in a cooking skill, she has ranks in healing too, for when bar fights get out of hand.
I felt that Galwyn should know a bit of everything going on in town. She can confirm most rumors (except for Inky's "magic dog" rumor, although she knows Inky and is the only person in town with a full collection of Inky's books -- she would say she bought the books for "fun" but honestly it was just a shortcut to learning about the town's social circles and influential people). She knows the two merchants who started the town meeting (Hewlett and Beryllina), as well as Iron Shoddy, all the guards, and the captain. She is the only person in town who knows that Sela doesn't respect Arabella much, and also admires Sela for keeping it to herself so that it doesn't interfere with her job. (Sela has never told Galwyn this; Galwyn picked it up from watching subtle cues of body language. Because of this, this is more like behind-the-scenes info for the DM, as Galwyn probably would never mention it; it could stir up more trouble than it's worth.) If a brawl happens while she is around, she will prefer to use her healing skills to fix people up rather than sending them to Malchor for clerical healing. Why? She doesn't know. It's a bard's intuition -- a million small things have added up for her, but even she doesn't know that yet. She might not even consciously say that she has negative feelings about Malchor. She will just patch people up, even insisting on watching them overnight if need be, and hope they heal naturally. She'll think no further about it, and nobody getting free medical care has ever questioned it. It probably helps that the town healer (Malchor) is also the town judge, so anyone being so unruly as to warrant a night in jail will likely not head to the cleric for healing, anyway.
The expansion PDF stats up Arabella as one hell of a savvy negotiator. The problem is that this utterly conflicts with the module, which depicts her as naive. While I've retained her amazing diplomacy, I ruined her bluff and sense motive skills. You may wish to do the same.
The expansion also mentions that Arabella spends her time at her estate or at town hall. Since the module mentions that she is loved by the townfolk but is not politically savvy, I tended to want her to be away from town hall and near people. So she is in the market square on most days, at least for a couple of key hours. If crowds of people are out shopping, she's out mingling.
I gave her an interest in long dresses, so that she stands out. In fact, what with Malchor being described as wearing a "voluminous" cloak at one point, I imagine the two of them greeting people at the town hall would be rather impressive. Their long, sweeping outfits would complement one another (unknowingly). They would appear to fit in together, even as they stood apart from everyone else.
Arabella will certainly meet with the adventurers, and will defend Malchor's lethargy in resolving the thefts (don't forget, Malchor has swayed her, and she's naive). She knows of the rumors about the well being an exit/entry point, and of its tie to the river outside the town walls, but she will bemoan the fact that no guard would swim the length of it to test the theory. As far as hiring mercenaries goes, as is true to her character, she is less interested in the fact that the townsfolk have bypassed the town officials to resolve the thefts, and more interested in how they've rallied together and built a sense of community. To the best of her considerable (diplomatic) ability, she will speak well of merchants and those who contributed coin to the reward.
She has no idea that Sela doesn't respect her. She hardly even thinks of Sela, anyway. The duties of being a guard or captain are thoroughly uninteresting to her. However, the benefits of being a guard, such Ansell's nice physique... well, that interests her. She might not say it outright, but she certainly would act on it.
If you are at a point in the game where the players are double-checking that stolen items were returned to her (the ones that were planted in Odger's home), then she will confirm it. If the players have not gone down the well but nonetheless say, "Case closed, pay up," she will confer with merchants, and sadly inform the PCs that they would like to wait a few days to confirm that the right criminal was caught. Of course, Odger is the wrong criminal, and after a few days the thefts resume.
Malchor is the module's malcontent, and there is little to flesh out. We know he's the bad guy. However, I added two scenes with him that may be of use to you.
Misdirection at Odger's expense
The players in my game didn't initially want to go down the well. They suspected it was an inside job, and thus very reasonably, starting asking around town about likely suspects. I improvised that Malchor loved this, as it played right into his plans to remain undiscovered. What did he do? When the PCs asked, he suggested that Odger had been in trouble before for thefts and "illicit alchemy" (read: drug dealing). Since this is actually true, I allowed him to have a huge circumstantial bonus to his bluff skill. Malchor made sure to never actually say that Odger was indeed the person responsible for the thefts. My players ran with this.
Deception at the town well
After the PCs turned in Odger, they continued to pursue the well option. They were at the well, with two random citizens holding a very long rope as the adventurers began to climb in, when Malchor appeared. "Thank you," he opened. "Your work investigating Odger has proven conclusive. We went over every inch of his home with a fine-toothed comb, and located a secret stash. We found he had goods stolen from Lady Arabella herself. I consider this case closed. No need to sully yourselves in the well!"
Of course, the stolen items from Arabella were planted by Malchor when he investigated the home himself. If Odger were visited in jail, he would say as much, though he wouldn't dare accuse Malchor of it. He would suggest, "The guards set me up!"
Now, I had to walk a fine line here. I wanted to achieve opposed goals, which required me to have real-world bluff skills. First, I wanted it to register in the player's minds that Malchor had tried to talk them out of going down the well. Second, I wanted to not be so convincing that they literally walked away from the well and ended the mission. I had a few things set as backup -- the thefts would continue after a few days, and the citizens would not release the reward, foiling Malchor's ruse; also, Odger would pass a sense motive check if questioned; and since nothing was recovered except for Arabella's items, townsfolk might press the adventurers to pursue a recovery mission. I needed none of that. The players continued down the well. Perfect!
Beryllina is a halfling, running the Mistledown Herbery, as outlined in the expansion PDF. Like Malchor, Beryllina would point fingers at Odger if she were asked about the thefts. Unlike Malchor, it's not because she is a conniving villain. She is keenly aware of everything Odger has done. She is upset with him for both his legal and illegal activities. She would say that his drug dealing is giving natural herbalists such as herself a bad reputation, something that she finds particularly troublesome in light of the fact that any wizard could stop into town and offer a magical version of the same service she provides. So she is sensitive to how much of her business is reputation driven, and Odger is screwing that up. She is also upset with Odger's attempt to "go legit" because it directly is competition for her business. Losing clients hits her in the pocketbook, and she not at all happy with Odger about that.
She is actually a good-aligned character and really wouldn't be so hostile to Odger if he stopped handing her perfect excuses to be mad. She's justified her anger with him because she views him as a law-breaker. And he is! But she cannot leave it at that, and now even when he tries to reform, she paints it in a bad light. She's telling herself stories to justify protecting herself. How players could work to make this better, I don't know. It's a human issue, open-ended.
Garin's connection to the hermit, A.K.A. why the guards are quiet at night.
If Garin is found in a tavern (low odds for this, I'd say roll a 1d20 each time the PCs visit a tavern, and only on a 1 would Garin be there), a secret can be coaxed from him. However, the trigger to reveal this is that the PCs must already know of Blackspine's miserable past, and mention it. While Garin wouldn't know of Blackspine, the story of a hermit leaving the caves to visit town would immediately spark a memory in Garin... a memory he has tried to repress. His usual gruff demeanor would transform into a somber demeanor. He would tell of a regretful night, when he was serving as an archer on the town wall. And, well, it's better if he just tells this story himself:
"Years ago, our town had its own hermit. He lived out in the foothills, not sure where. He came into town for supplies somethin' regular, like every full moon. Over the course of years, I got to know him... well, best as a guard can know a man who values privacy. Which is to say, not much. Never even got his name. But we bought each other a few rounds of ale, once. And I greeted him at the gates more often than not. Most of the time he came during the day and... not much to say about that. But one night, there was a full moon out."
At this point, I stopped reading to my players. I mentioned that Garin looked pretty beat down, and that he motioned to the staff to bring him something more to drink. My players immediately offered to pay for the drink, but it's mostly irrelevant -- just wanted a break to set the mood. Once done, I continued reading with the next paragraph.
"So... I was telling a new recruit that our town hermit would be arriving in the morning, most likely. You know, on account of the moon. And wouldn't you know it? There he was. Middle of the night, I heard him call a greeting from out in the fields. He was too far off to see, but I knew his voice. With a bright moon, I strained my eyes for a look. I was real disappointed he had come early. See, we let no one in at night, and I knew I was going to have to turn away a man who had shared a drink with me. I hollered at him, told him to make camp. That's when I realized, we had not been wise. All our shoutin' at each other over the distance, well, it woke up something. I heard howling nearby, right in the fields. Like an idiot, I warned the man, as if he hadn't heard for his own self. And like an idiot, he yelled back, 'OK!' I thought to myself, 'Damn it, we are letting those creatures know exactly where to go.' I felt like my inexperience was betraying me. So I got quiet. Then, I saw the man on the edge of our light, creeping toward us. And I started thinkin' I might break some rules and get this man inside. That's when it happened. It is not a good ending, I have to tell you. You sure you want to hear this?"
If the players are not weary from the reading, and they want the final details, read on. Otherwise, you can simply confirm that the hermit was killed. If the players then want to know how he was killed, well, you are right back into reading the next paragraph.
Garin finishes a swig of his drink, and looks down at it for a quiet moment. You realize, most of the tavern has gone silent. "I saw a shadowy shape moving in fast, looked like a lion about to take out some game or something. And it did, it pounced. And I have not ever seen anything like what happened next -- a burst of lights came off this man and knocked the creature upwards, like a fireburst into the air. And then I became frightened. I should have showered the enemy with arrows, but the fields lit up with so many of them. Our town hermit stood, facing them. As the flash faded, many shapes moved forward. I saw their haunches moving side to side as they closed in, pressing the man back into our torch light. And then there was... fire and howling! I cowered; I was a new father, I could not risk the fight! They were at the gates, and the bar was rattlin' as bodies slammed up against it. The new guard raced to let the hermit inside, and I... I must confess I ordered him to stop. He turned back to argue the point, but I believe he could see on my face that we had to let the hermit die, rather than risk the town. The look in that guard's eyes was too terrible for me. I squeezed my eyes shut until it grew quiet. In the morning, we assembled many guards, and opened the gates. The ground itself was charred for a long ways, but no bodies, no monsters, nothing. That new guard quit right then and there. Moved away. There ain't more to tell."
Garin will want to leave after this. He will not be his usual gruff self and tell the PCs to take a hike if they are asking questions, but the truth is that he really does know little else. Most of the other guards don't even know this story, for when it happened, the only role they played was to open the gates. At the time, Garin told them only, "We had trouble last night, be wary." The only other person in town who knows the full story is Sela, and she understands the pain it has brought to Garin, so she won't be sharing it. If any particular PC is feeling "paladin-ish" and accuses Garin of dereliction of duty or similar, Garin will not argue it. He will not agree with it, either. He will simply thank them for their time and head home. If it is brought up to any of the town leadership, Sela will quietly and effectively end any inquiries about it. Sela believes that, similar to the guards' experience with the were-badger Tarn, the creatures involved were lycanthropes who would easily have shrugged off Garin's arrows. So she won't fault him for failing to take shots at the enemy. She also believes that it was right to put the needs of the town first. My impression is that the PCs would likely think the same, but if they do not, they will probably have to suck it up, as everyone will defer to Sela on this.
Sela is the Captain of the guard. Sela likes almost every guard under her command, as she values strength of arms and strength of character. Conveniently, her profession surrounds her with such people. The more strength she sees in someone, the more leeway she is inclined to give them. Such is the case for Ansell, who is young but promising. Such is also the case for Garin, who is older but a bit of a well-experienced badass when need be. Unlike many years ago when Garin shirked a fight, Sela (correctly) suspects that Garin would be her most valuable asset in a battle these days. He has proven that in small ways over the years, though no outright war or full-scale combat has tested that.
Sela will not allow her guards to be mistreated. She strongly objected to the idea of sending guards into the well to "test" if they could swim underground all the way to the river without drowning. She was surprised to see that Malchor deferred to her so easily. She wouldn't expect Malchor to send guards to their deaths over a mere investigation of thefts, but somewhere in the back of her mind, she had an expectation that if Malchor really wanted it, there may have been other ways to test things.
Sela doesn't respect Lady Arabella very much. She does give the young mayor plenty of grace, out of consideration for how Arabella's father was murdered. However, Sela puts a high value on martial or physical competence. While Arabella is competent at speaking and social charms, those skills are mostly transparent to Sela. When the two of them need to interact socially, Sela often directs conversation towards horsemanship, which is their one common interest. Sela's true feelings would surprise Arabella, who mostly assumes everyone likes her, because most people do.
Odger is a drug dealer. Odger is a foil. He's going to be a fall guy to magnify Malchor's malignancy. He is also hated by Beryllina because he's started to sell legitimate drugs and herbs and it's eating into her profits. There are only two interactions with Odger that I've bothered to portray.
The stake out
First, the PCs can find Odger at his home if they are following up on the lead that Malchor gave them. Although the players will likely have lost sight of this, their characters are strangers in a small town, trudging around fully armored and armed, while most townsfolk wear common clothes. Granted most townsfolk would still have a weapon sheathed on their person, but they look nothing like a fully geared up adventurer. If the PCs have managed to get some official guard insignia as part of the quest, that's even worse. As Odger has been jailed over his "business" already, when adventurers come knocking, they will stick out like sore thumbs, and Odger will have no truck with it. So if they ask to score some drugs, Odger isn't selling... unless they offer money so inappropriately large that Odger feels he could flee the town and live well elsewhere. In general, we're relying upon the players losing sight of the fact that a commoner typically makes 100 gold pieces a year. Thus, if the PCs were to offer many hundreds (or thousands!) of gold pieces in exchange for drugs, it would be out of line with the stakes for this quest, but Odger would take the money and run. He would tell the PCs to go to a location to pick up the drugs, and while they were gone he would flee (or attempt to, but he would be stopped at the gate and temporarily held for having a suspiciously large amount of cash).
If the PCs find another way to investigate Odger, such as flat-out brute-forcing their way into his home (or sneaking in), they will find that his home contains an alchemist's lab (as outlined in the Player's Handbook) along with a few hundred gold pieces worth of completed drugs and even some legitimate alchemical products. If you have the Arms & Equipment Guide, it may be interesting to have him producing restful candles (page 32). Why? Because when Malchor goes down, the town is going to be without a cleric. Unless a player is running a character who is apt at healing and wishes to remain in town for months until a replacement is found or trained, the townsfolk will have to step up. Combining Odger's candles with Galwyn's healing skills may be one of the stopgap measures that keeps the town going. It gives Odger a point of redemption, should anyone see it. And Odger kinda would be interested in redemption. He already is trying to model himself after Galwyn's business to a small degree. However, he wouldn't suffer for it. He wouldn't shut down the profitable side of his business cold-turkey in the hopes that the legit side picks up. He would try to juggle both until one side won out.
In the end, the PCs will not find any stolen items in Odger's home, though plenty of items may be illegal. They may find secret stashes, at your discretion, but none of it stolen. However, that may be damning enough to your players. Regardless of whether the players get into Odger's home or not, when the investigation is put back into Malchor's hands, he will investigate with guards, and state that stolen items were in fact found. Malchor is lying, of course, to scapegoat Odger.
The prison cell interview
If the whole scenario with Odger plays out and he ends up in jail, he will not be off-limits to the PCs. This of course is a blunder by Malchor, but the magistrate is thinking that it would be more suspicious to cut off contact. He is relying on the fact that Odger is a lying scumbag, which will probably help convince people that he is... a lying scumbag. Little does Malchor know that Odger would come off as very sincere if asked about the charges. "The guards set me up!" he would insist. He really believes it.
You can ad-lib this interview as you wish, but keep in mind a couple of things to convey. First, he feels wrongly charged. Second, he accurately would represent himself as the only person in town who can make most of the products he offers. He kept no notes, has it all in his head, and will share with no one how to reproduce his items. If people like his work, they're going to have to pay him for it and value his contribution. If they don't, he won't play ball. Of course, if nobody is asking about the items he makes, then this point is moot.
Merchant leading town hall meeting; a snake oil salesman with fake-bottomed box that was raided by the rats. I'll revise this in a day or three with full details.
|Author:||aboyd [ Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:46 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Update: I spent the last 2 hours writing out Hewlett's background, then hit CTRL-t to open a new tab and look up a word... unfortunately, I actually hit CTRL-r, reloading the form and erasing everything I had written.
I'm gonna take a few more days off. That kinda hurt.
I'll be back with the rest of the text later, when I'm not depressed by losing it all. Maybe I'll re-write in Word first and then paste it here later.
So, just wanted to note that I will try to finish this, but... I need time now. Blarg.
|Author:||Losloris8 [ Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:00 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
We have started a new adventure using this module as the starting point. My son and a friend wanted to play so I grabbed this and started reading. Nice read. Good opportunity for a new group to get a little wet.
We have played through and are now 1 step beyond. I made the focus much more on Melkor and his insidious plans. ALso, I like the cover and so decided to make the beast at the end a Dragon, or at least appear to be a dragon. I was not a fan of the minimalisation thing and so everyone stayed the same. However, when the party got to the conclusion they met Sin, short for Sinister, the Black dragon. Sin has now quested the lads to go find the Eye of the Night.
Sin is still a pseudo dragon that is using an enlarge spell to appear as tho a real dragon.
I must say, the DCC modules offer great mechanics that make it so much easier for me to focus on the story and potential direction.
|Author:||Losloris8 [ Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:59 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Re: The Dragonfiend Pact, bugfixes, enhancements|
Sin the dragon scared the group almost without mercy. It was an easy leap, given the other side adventure I have going) for Sin to demand the party head off to retrieve the Eye of the Night.
We have started the interlude which is too short on its own. I opted to have the back area of EotN let on to a prate cove that was found in Dungeon magazine.
We play tomoro at with the party oh so close to the EotN and the decision of whether to return to Sin. This will likely be the chance to introduce alignments.
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