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Games => Tabletop Role Playing Games => Topic started by: Phonics on May 29, 2020, 06:29:01 pm

Title: Adventure Modules and Paths
Post by: Phonics on May 29, 2020, 06:29:01 pm
I see from our first thread on this board that you are familiar with Barovia which is its own hellscape. I figured I would make a thread about the adventure modules we've played in for discussion. Here is pretty much the entirety of official Wizards and Paizo modules that I have played in.

So here's what I have played in 5e.

  • Out of the Abyss - Complete from start to finish. My favorite 5e experience.
  • The Curse of Strahd - I played only in the last third of the campaign, DM made it grim as fuck, though we "killed" Strahd and skipped 80% of Castle Ravenloft by sheer luck in our navigation.
  • Tales from the Yawning Portal - We completed 1-5 and did/stopped the big heist. I loved Volo.
  • Whiteplume Mountain - It's short, but I think we ran the whole thing? Decent dungeon for our use which was a 2-4 session game between big campaigns. Also neat playing Greyhawk.

And what I have played in Pathfinder

  • Rise of the Runelords - After a year and half we were barely at the 1/3 mark. Solid game though. We had 6 players at the time and it got bogged down by lots of RP and shenanigans.
  • Emerald Spire Superdungeon - Pretty good for what it is, but it can feel brutal.
  • Crypt of the Everflame - Short introduction campaign for new players. Decent amount of lore on Golarion for how short it is.
  • So much homebrew in my world of Ada. We have a whole history of the PCs leaving their mark on the world for centuries of in-game-world time. I love letting the actions of past PCs becoming the lore for new players to learn. They write half the game for me!

I have not ran a module or adventure path myself so I have been a player in all of these outside of the last mention.

It looks like you're very interested in Ravenloft? I was given a huge stack of old Ravenloft books from AD&D through 3.5 if you're interested in some history of the setting.

Title: Re: Adventure Modules and Paths
Post by: OddlucK on May 29, 2020, 09:46:18 pm
Of official things, I have played/run little. I own a copy of Out of the Abyss, and have that digital copy of Strahd. My exposure to that was in watching and loving Dice Camera Action, Wizard's first official stream (DM'ed by Chris Perkins). They ran through a slightly altered version of Strahd and I loved it.  I've shifted my local crew into Death House to give them a taste of the setting and see if they may want to try the whole thing some day.

Out of the Abyss looks awesome, but I am daunted by trying to follow someone else's story, to be honest.

I'd love anything you can share on either.

Title: Re: Adventure Modules and Paths
Post by: Phonics on May 29, 2020, 11:29:59 pm
I learned post campaign that our DM deviated a good deal between the major plot points in Out of the Abyss. The core of our experience was pretty intact from what I gather though.

I especially hate break out of prison sequences in general, and OotA begins the game with that. If you are going to do it, opening the game with that sequence is best in my opinion. The characters have not developed any yet and it's a great way to build character and forge alliances with unlikely companions. The DM laid down a myriad of NPCs in our jail cell as cell mates and he definitely spent time learning who they are and how he would have them act and behave; it paid off in spades. We particularly became attached to Jimjar the Deep Gnome, which may or may not have been his creation. I've never read the book at all.

Something else I tend to dislike as a player are huge story events happening that my character cannot influence. These happen frequently in OotA as the Demon Lords trounce about unchecked in the under dark. I feel this works in OotA as the under dark is so claustrophobic and desperate that it's hard enough just to survive. Playing the oppressive Drow and Duergar factions right is key in making the party resent everything, but also learn some empathy for these hostile societies down under. The party will feel great catharsis at any opportunity they get to strike back and win even small victories.

Here's a couple of great setups our DM did for OotA that I felt paid off with regard to the Drow. I do not know if either of these are written in the book.

First, he setup a recurring Drow NPC named Shoor that would shape shift into an Elf and try to "help us get back to the surface." We bought into his story fully never realizing he was a Drow and were utterly betrayed when he set up a huge sting for us. He even brought this character back to life after we killed him, which from then on lead us to not trusting any Elves dark or light skinned pretty much ever again.

Second, he set up a Drow hunting party that were like the evil/dark version of our party. We would run into them whenever shit was already looking bad and would often have to work together to escape whatever danger the demon lords were providing at the time, only to be ready to draw swords again the moment we had escaped the threat. It was fun, but I imagine it's tricky setting up situations appropriately where you can ensure they won't get murdered by the PCs.

In pretty much all cases we were always running from the Drow who wanted their slaves back at seemingly any cost. This made any encounter with Drow all the more heated and had the side effect of us not trusting any of the big players in the end game where you are intended to ally with a Drow wizard. We did ally with him, but betrayed him and summoned the Demogorgon right inside the Drow capital city. Not a hero move in many regards (No Paladins in the group though so no surprise?). It also meant that we were able to overlook most of the awful shit the Duergar were doing because at least they weren't trying enslave and kill us specifically.

OotA is also a great opportunity to test the player's general survival skills. In the under dark just getting clean food and water is really difficult. Maybe go easy on them with regards to some details though. I cannot tell you how sick I got of the arguments at the table about how much water you need to survive and the like. Test their survival skills when it can add good drama, but be reasonable once the group has shown repeatedly that they can hack it down there.

There are so few allies in the under dark. I could ramble on about OotA for a while though and I can certainly attempt to answer any other questions you would have about it. I'll end my OotA statements on this, if you play that campaign you are in it for the long haul. We played every other Saturday for about 5 hours and it took nearly a year and a half to get through it all. 

They played Curse of Strahd on the off weeks I did not join them for OotA, but eventually I caved and played in both games, hence why I joined late. As for CoS, I did not enjoy the campaign as much. I think I might have liked it a lot more had I been there from the beginning. The DM for that game was a different member of the group and by the time I joined up the player characters hated each other and every thing about Barovia. Strahd had a way to undermine every victory they would achieve and it clearly took its toll. I think the DM just repeatedly beat down their will and I could feel it, especially as a new PC. I made a light hearted Ranger halfling who liked to prank and stuff. I was constantly acting as a mediator for the group's struggles with each other, but sometimes was the focus of their anger as my character made light of the situations they were in.

The biggest take away I have from CoS is that it seems easy to make it too serious and dire, which might be exactly what you want to do. I can't believe that compared to OotA, CoS felt so heavy, but it certainly did. Castle Ravenloft was really cool, but for a plethora of reasons we did not feel we could afford the chance to explore it and take in the setting. When we were ready to go in (I guess the second time, they went in and met with Strahd once long before I joined) it was a surprise assault to end the Count and we did not take any time to fuck around and explore that huge, awesome castle. Kind of a shame.

Title: Re: Adventure Modules and Paths
Post by: OddlucK on May 30, 2020, 12:49:30 am
The jailbreak is the (default at least) opener for OotA. I agree it works best as a starting point. If you want to do it later, I think maybe having at least one PC manage to be outside can work, but that takes some setup.

OotA does look more on the Wild Escape side of things, but you're right that CoS is far more four. I can see how it'd be too easy to make it too oppressive to enjoy. It's more or less written that way, with room for the DM to make it sit somewhere on a sliding scale of suck for the players (and memory tells me they spell it out that you should adjust it to the needs of your players).

I agree with you on not wanting to have too many "cutscenes" where the players have no chance/input. I've used them sparingly, which at first led my players to be a bit more reckless than I wanted. So I started introducing NPCs they had little chance against, including an ancient black dragon, a succubus with PC levels, and a Rakshasa/Tabaxi (not sure yet) trickster rogue with illusion magic they've been completely duped by and means of being undetectable.

Trapping them in an illusion relatively early in the campaign made them second guess a lot of other things, see through a trick or two, but also assume something was an illusion which actually could and did hurt them. If you haven't yet put your players in an illusory situation, I strongly recommend it. Keeps them on their toes and, for my newer players at least, was a great way to get them to focus more on what was happening, rather than just sitting around waiting for their turn to fight. I might share the story in another thread, but after I check my notes.