View Full Version : Age of Worms campaign, issues/questions.

2008-12-12, 10:06 AM
Figured I'd write to share about this and look for input from others who have run/are running this.

There was a thread a short while ago (month or two) about running this in gestalt (which I am), so I know there's at least one other poster around doing this - rather than resurrect that thread though, I thought a new one made sense.

There will be spoilers.


Oh, and if my players happen to look here, don't read it.

So, my players are nearing the end of chapter one. They've survived the first exploration of the cairn, they managed to meet Alastor Land (sp?), who sent them back to his house with his bones. Those who have run/played this know that his family died after he ran away, and their bones are gone, stolen by Kullen and his gang, for the use of Filge, the necromancer. There is a wounded owlbear living in their house, and several dead owlbear cubs (chicks?), with one young owlbear still alive.

0) I'm looking for ways to bump the difficulty a bit, without making it too nasty; the party are breezing through things (high damage output), but obviously are still a bit weak in the "taking punishment" department, as they have limited HP/AC. So far I've bumped all enemies to max HP (except the owlbear, it was meant to be wounded, and at full it might have killed them all), but I'm not sure it's enough. I may have to add the occasional extra baddie as well.

1) The Land household is only 10 minutes out of town. What has the nesting owlbear been eating/feeding its young, to have gone unnoticed a 10 mintue walk from town?

2) Why would Alastor want to be buried by his family, when he has no reason to suspect they've died?

3) According to the story, Kullen et al stole the bones, but ended up fighting the owlbear, 2 days ago. They lost a gang member (Skeintch? Skutch? I don't recall exactly) to the owlbear. Supposedly they're upset, and spoiling for a fight. Given that they've got the owlbear nearly dead (less than half health, IIRC), and that there are 4 gang members still up and about, why haven't they come back to finish the job? Why haven't they roused the town to come burn the owlbear out?

Solving it so far :
I said that the tracks were 2 days old when the party found them, but I've decided to revise the timeline - the tracks are only one night old, and Kullen and gang ARE coming back to finish off the owlbear. They've also learned that the young owlbears are worth a good amount of money from talking abiout it to Filge (when they delivered the bones), and plan to take the baby. They'll be really annoyed with the group if they find out that the meddlesome adventurers have stolen *their* owlbear chick (3,000gp!).

I added older graves along the back wall of the property, Alastor wants instead to be buried with "his family" in a larger sense, but it includes the family he expected to be alive, eventually.

Not sure what to say about why the owlbears are within 10 minutes of town. That was a very good question, it makes little sense.

My group's handling of it:
They're quite pacifistic/nature loving. They subdued the wolves in the cairn earlier, and similarly they fought the owlbear, brought it negatives, and stabilised it. They then sent one person back to town to get a cart, and they're transporting the wounded owlbear out away from town, to set it free several hours away with the surviving chick/cub. Throwing away the 3,000gp essentially.

I am going to have Kullen and gang track them (one is a ranger), and if it works out that they catch up they'll probably fight over the baby owlbear. If the group deliver the owlbear and head back the same way, before Kullen catches up, they'll face each other on the path. If they head back a different way, Kullen and gang will happen on the owlbear and cub, an d probably try to capture the cub. They may even bring the owlbear corpse back to Filge, he may want it for his experiments (which could be bad if the party gives him time to animate it).

So things I'm wondering about:

Filge's lair (the old observatory).

4) Filge has WAY more than 4*HD of undead around. How does he control them all? They may wonder - when they fight the first skeletons, and if they find the room full of zombies acting out a dinner party? That's already something like 15HD of undead. If they confront him and his other undead rise out of tanks (and IIRC there are 4 zombies and a skeleton there, for about 19 more HD of undead) They may well decide he's too tough and book it - I would. That's enough undead to suggest a 8th-9th level opponent, and they're not stupid. He's 3rd level, how on earth is he running things?

5) Why is the entry room turned into a battlefield, with lurking skeletons ready to fire poisoned bolts at anyone coming in? Filge apparently actually deals with people (Kullen and gang, Balabar), and it makes little sense. How on earth would Kullen and Balabar contact him? I just don't get the whole thing. If he's really paranoid, I could see hiding them behind tapestries, and having his familar keep watch or something, but a barricaded room is odd.

After this - next chapter:

6) The map shows the mine being within the town. That makes no sense, and doesn't fit the adventure. I'll obviously have to move it. Getting into the mine is weird too - the elevator going down to the secret area likely hardly ever gets used, so the guards there should be alert no matter what. Wouldn't you have them ready actions to deal with those in the elevator, in case they are enemies? I honeslty don't see how the PCs can possibly avoid alarming the guards, since they'll have to come down through the elevator.

7) Why are the three temples so separate down there? Wouldn't they alert each other?

8) What's the deal exactly with this abomination thing that they're raising (the three faces of evil)? I don't quite get why it would emerge right as the party arrive. Granted, I'm operating from memory at this point, I have't read it in a while. Can someone give their impression of what's been happening in the temple complex?

I don't have it on hand, but I seem to remember other aspects of this adventure that were odd - the little underwater caves and so on. I'll post about this when I've had a chance to read through it again.

3rd chapter:

8) The sage (Allustan?) is accompanying them. They find out about the problems at Blackwall keep, and Allustan leaves, "to get help", which will take days to get there. This makes little sense as a), Allustan is a pretty tough wizard, and could possibly handle the whole thing himself, and b), if his goal is to help those at the keep he'd just join with the party and demolish the place.

If one is trying to make Allustan out to be helpful/friendly, so that the party wants to associate with him, having him bugger off for no good reason doesn't seem smart. Also, the low-level lizardmen aren't really a big threat to a decent party. It looks difficult to balance properly, as you need the mass of lizardmen to be too much to handle, but still have the smaller groups be reasonable. With 5th level characters (or thereabouts?) it doesn't seem like they'd have a hard time, but if you increase the difficulty too much for the individual lizardmen the party could die very easily if they get surrounded.

4th chapter:
The intrigue/plot with the doppelgangers. I'd love to run this part, but I suspect that it could go very badly. Replacing a party member with a doppelganger and trying to kill them may work in some groups, but it's got a whole trust issue thing - you're not supposed to do that as DM. I have a range of experience among the players, from not very experienced (the wife of one player, enjoys the role playing, but doesn't like mechanics) through very experienced (like me, started back in the early 80s).

Also, I have several issues with how to go about doing it:

a) The party only has 3 PCs, and a DMPC they've picked up to tag along with them, to fill some needed roles (wilderness stuff, some arcane spells).
b) None of the party are particularly good choices to replace. The doppelgangers simply can't fill the shoes of any party member effectively enough to not be revealed shortly, unless I alter the doppelgangers to give them many more powers/class levels.
c) Since none of the PCs make for a very good choice, the DMPC is likely the best to replace. He's a bard/marshal however (I didn't want him stealing the show, but this way he helps out a lot), and the party would notice the lack of martial abilities/bard song benefits pretty fast.

How have your players reacted to this portion? Did they enjoy discovering that one among them was replaced? Did it break the trust and result in unpleasantness? Would you stick to the DMPC? Should I make one of the doppelgangers a bard-type, so he's less obviously a replacement? If you were to replace the doppelgangers with some other type of enemy, what would it be? The DMPC is the safest option if I were to replace someone, and that way nobody ends up sitting on their thumb waiting until their character is back with the party (if they were unmasked early enough).