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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    but is it worse than not getting those xp in the first place?
    i mean, if we assume that the laws of the universe are rigged to give you level appropriate encounters, i can see the point of not wanting to faced harder encounters with insufficient equipment. in which case you could just spend all those free xp scribing scrolls.
    thinking about it, you can spend some of those xp scribing scrolls and sell them to turn xp into gp. then you can keep the wbl consistent indefinitely
    You know, I was asking myself that question even as I wrote my post.

    The optimization philosophy is older than 3e, you see - back then, D&D *gave* XP for crafting items. So, rather than "scribe scrolls to burn XP", it was, "it's better to stay home and scribe scrolls than to go out and earn XP the hard way".

    There are several problems with adopting your plan.

    First, it requires the entire party to be optimal enough to have ways to spend XP. Happily, Sculpt Self exists in 3e.

    Next, it requires your GM to give you adequate and timely downtime to burn off those unsightly XP.

    Lastly, it requires the entire party to consist of characters who won't die of old age while getting their XP-burning crafting exercise.

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Titan in the Playground
     
    J-H's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Thank you for the detailed Tomb of Horrors write-up. I know to never, ever show up for a running of it now.

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    You know, I was asking myself that question even as I wrote my post.

    The optimization philosophy is older than 3e, you see - back then, D&D *gave* XP for crafting items. So, rather than "scribe scrolls to burn XP", it was, "it's better to stay home and scribe scrolls than to go out and earn XP the hard way".

    There are several problems with adopting your plan.

    First, it requires the entire party to be optimal enough to have ways to spend XP. Happily, Sculpt Self exists in 3e.

    Next, it requires your GM to give you adequate and timely downtime to burn off those unsightly XP.

    Lastly, it requires the entire party to consist of characters who won't die of old age while getting their XP-burning crafting exercise.
    So, the aesop is "don't slaughter humanoids unless you have ways to turn xp into gold and enough downtime to do it, or you may level up faster than you get loot and your dm may send you stronger encounters and it may ultimately make your life more difficult, maybe, because there are a lot of 'if' and 'but' in this"
    Or perhaps "don't slaughter humanoids, or you will be forced to consider a lot of hypoteticals"
    Truly, that should be effective at keeping the murderhobos in check
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2020-09-13 at 08:34 PM.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  4. - Top - End - #94
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    Thank you for the detailed Tomb of Horrors write-up. I know to never, ever show up for a running of it now.
    Another citizen saved!

    The other module I would like to talk about is To Hell and Back, or "What happens when you try to combine Diablo II with Dungeons and Dragons and fail horribly." I strongly recommend Friv's rundown as posted earlier, but here's the abriged version - I will be using spoiler tags for spoilers because Diablo II itself is genuinely a good game and I recommend playing it if you haven't; you can still buy it and it's not expensive.

    EDIT: Okay, this ended up longer than I expected: the tl;dr is that many of the encounters are impossible to construct, or too easy, or too hard, or some combination, many of the NPCs make no sense, many of the rules make sense, you can break weapons that you need to complete the adventure, you can BREAK WEAPONS that you NEED to COMPLETE THE ADVENTURE, and just generally nothing makes sense.

    The adventure is designed for five character classes which vary wildly in power and all of them have some broken abilities but also a bunch of useless ones, some of the encounters are literally impossible to create because they try to make EL 1's worth of CR 4 creatures or something like that, some of them are impossible to create because they try to create up to EL 25 of low-CR monsters in a space that isn't physically big enough to contain all those monsters, almost every encounter is either too strong or too weak, one of the characters is a 20th-level sorcerer who doesn't have the knowledge skills to justify how much he actually knows, the monsters have DR/+X but the only +X weapons are unique, there are rules for breaking equipment which mean that you will generally break any weapon you use very quickly and that includes the
    Spoiler: Diablo II
    Show
    horadric malus, the staff of kings, the horadric staff, Gidbinn Khalim's flail, Khalim's Will and the Hellforge hammer
    which are all needed to complete quests, and apart from
    Spoiler: Diablo II
    Show
    the horadric malus, Gidbinn and the Hellforge hammer,
    are all needed to complete the game.

    There are many, many, many things which aren't explained properly, several times where a monster which, in Friv's words, "isn't a thing" appears and you have to work out which of the two monsters they mashed up appears, except in the case of the poor necromancer who can summon a creature called a Skeleton Mage which is an entire class of monsters so it's not clear which one's meant to be which, oh and the first boss is Corpsefire, but the book gives no indication of what Corpsefire's stats are or even who he is. Oh, and there are two supplements, Diablisserie and To Hell and Back which use different statblocks for the same monsters, but only very slightly. No, this does not account for any of the problems with CR or monsters that don't exist. Oh, and there are potions, which do different things between the different books!

    Oh, and you reach 25th level (don't ask why the maximum is 25th, rather than 20th) way sooner than the game expects you to, by the looks. As if to take the lessons learned from the Tomb of Horrors way too far, almost every trap in the game is weirdly pathetic, including the deadfall trap that drops a tree on you underground. But don't worry, because a bunch of the bosses make up for it - even though you're weirdly over-levelled by the ends of act I and act II, the first act boss has a reasonable chance of killing you all (understandable; an act boss should be that powerful) and the second act boss WILL murder you all. The fourth is practically immortal. There's a problem in Act II that you are very likely to stop from happening before it even happens because there's an hour delay on it and I guess the writers forgot how weirdly small the areas are? One of the characters cannot do a certain thing, specifically
    Spoiler: Diablo II
    Show
    Radament cannot raise undead
    even though it's his primary combat tactic, but it's fine because he has another stupidly powerful way of killing you that's identical to the way that the very last boss killed you, and also another way of killing you that he didn't have in Diablo II. NPCs include a level 4 warrior in command of level 9-18 warriors and an adept with 10 wisdom who therefore cannot cast spells.

    A few of my favourite quotes from Friv's rundown include:

    "The second encounter is another hut. This one is on fire. Forever. Just your average permanently burning house in the middle of a field. And when I say permanently, I mean that explicitly, in the text, this hut is perpetually burning.

    There’s a Fallen One shaman hiding inside, but not for long because shamans aren’t immune to fire."

    "The players enter Tristram and have a single encounter with fifty CR ¼ enemies. Obviously, this is wildly above the recommended "no more than 12 monsters" thing."

    "The players arrive to find that Encounter #1 and Encounter #2 are literally fifteen feet apart, so that's really just one encounter. On the bright side, it's an encounter of CR 2 Blood Clan (i.e. one of them), CR 1 Ghosts (which are a CR 4 enemy so that's not possible), and one Unique of each. By my count, that's approximately a CR 6 encounter, or it would be if CR 1 ghosts were a thing"

    "the game advises you to roll a minor magic weapon for the armor rack, and a minor magic armor for the weapon rack."

    "Putting this poor, benighted woman out of her misery rewards the PCs with a magic chest. [...] There is, in fact, only about a 50% chance of there being any items in the locked chest at all."

    Spoiler: Diablo II
    Show
    "Beating Andariel gives the PCs 3,000 XP, which at Level 15 is worth about two and a half encounters, and a number of guaranteed magic items. It also causes an earthquake which collapses the ceiling and buries her, which given that you have to search monsters to get their stuff technically means that you don’t get any of those guaranteed magic items.

    A portal then appears to return the PCs to town. If they ignore the fact that the Cathedral is collapsing around their ears, they can poke around and find six treasure chests waiting to be claimed, with absolutely no side effects or risk. "


    "Monsters here range from CR ½ to CR 2, which is just… amazing. Let us remember that the PCs are Level [expletive] 16 now."

    "And this is the moment where the magic happens, thanks to the mixture of three bad sets of rules.

    So. First up, there are CR 1 enemies in this area, which means that a balanced encounter involves upwards of 150 enemies. Secondly, you roll for random encounters by room - unlike previous areas, the enemies are all crammed into a single space. Finally, some of these rooms are only fifteen feet wide and twenty feet long.

    So imagine, if you will. You open a door. For a moment, you think that you are looking into an art installation. Your eyes do not comprehend what they see. It’s just a pattern of jagged white lines and bits of metal. And then you focus. And you realize that you’re looking at a room packed floor to ceiling with skeletons. Skeletons on top of skeletons. Skeletons entwined in other skeletons. Bones sticking into bones. They’re vaguely flailing at each other, but they use slashing weapons and have DR 10 against slashing weapons so they’re incapable of harming one another. One of the skeletons twists its head and moans, “Kill… us…”

    You close the door and try another route, but the joke’s on you. Half the rooms in this cellar are just still-moving undead bodies stacked like cordwood."

    Spoiler: Diablo II
    Show
    "Next, we learn the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by A Drunk Writer
    Placing Horadric Staff on the altar (Fixed Encounter #2) completes this Quest.
    It is impressive! They got three mistakes into a single sentence. Obviously, the first is removing the word "the" from the phrase "the Horadric Staff". Secondly, the altar is actually Fixed Encounter #1 - FE2 is what happens after the quest finishes. Thirdly, they forgot to say what quest you finish by placing the staff in the altar."


    "They wear armour, so 30% of the time their spells fail (yes, explicitly, I’m not just extrapolating some interactions the writers didn’t consider). Spells are their primary combat tactic."

    "The fourth fixed encounter is an ambush by five Water Watchers. That is, it is a CR 22 encounter that involves five monsters, each of which attacks twelve times per round for 1d8+12 or 2d8+12 and throws poison spit that deals 1 permanent and 4d6 temporary Constitution damage on a hit (Fortitude halves.) Their text is a little unclear on whether the temporary damage is at the same time, or qualifies as secondary damage and hits a minute later. Also they have a massive Hide bonus underwater and are explicitly hiding at the start of combat, and have 200 HP each, and have Reach 20. Also their grappling would be ludicrous, although they don’t have grapple stats listed.

    If the players survive that, the last fixed encounter is another trap which is only DC 20 to spot, but deals another 2d4 Constitution damage to everyone who triggers it.

    I’m noticing a very slight difficulty uptick from the previous section. Is it just me?"

    "So to summarize: CR 11 and 20 ambushes against you, a CR 9 ambush against someone else, and a CR 7 and 14 regular encounter. Good to know we're not trying to even these out at all."

    "The upper level includes several attempts to trick-murder the PCs. The first is a dozen low-level enemies, and then a surprise attack from a CR 21 Stygian Watcher as soon as the PCs are engaged. The second is a set of eight Soul Killers (CR 7 each), with three Horadrim Ancients (CR 11 each) hiding just in range to raise them from the dead without being spotted - this is a CR 16 encounter, plus hidden ambush powers. The third is a CR 5 unique bat with seven buddies (a total CR 9 encounter) that is uninteresting. The fourth is an attack by four CR 21 Stygian Watchers that ambush the PCs. The Stygian Watcher is a much stronger version fo the Water Watcher we discussed last time. That is a CR 25 encounter, plus ambush and water features, involving enemies who attack twelve times per round each and deal Constitution damage, immediately after a CR 9 encounter.

    EDIT Oh, for those taking notes. The Stygian watcher attacks eight times per round for 1d8+13 damage (two attacks at +33/+28/+23/+18), three times per round for 2d8+13 damage (+28/+23/+18), and then throws spit (+17 ranged touch attack) for 1 permanent and 5d6 Constitution damage (Fort Save DC 29 to resist.) It has 290 HP."

    Spoiler: Diablo II
    Show
    "Diablo’s actual attacks are nine melee attacks, starting at +57 and chaining down to +17, dealing either 2d4+13 or 2d6+13 per hit, with a critical threat range of 19-20, and also he has Power Attack so he can sacrifice 5 attack points for 5 damage per hit. He can also, once every 1d4 rounds, sacrifice his worst attack to make a breath weapon attack that deals 11d8 fire damage. So for those tracking at home, if Diablo gets next to someone, he will probably hit them 6-7 times and deal about 25 damage per hit, and then hit everyone behind his target too for around 50 damage (Reflex to half. Level 25 Diablo casters have about 115-165 HP. Meleeists have 167-242 HP. Diablo deals around 200-225 damage per round to his primary target, and 50 damage to any secondary targets every 1-4 rounds, so he can take out a PC most rounds. Also he has Cleave and Great Cleave. Oh, and his Reach is 15, so “next to someone” is a pretty broad concept."

    "But wait! There’s more.

    Diablo is immune to poison. He has Fire and Lightning Resist 30. He has Cold Resist 25 (which is accidentally included with his damage resistance, so good job, editors.) He also has SR 30, so 1 in 5 spells cast against him fail automatically. More importantly, Diablo's saves are Fort +29, Ref +31, Will +29. He saves against all spells on a 1. He saves against most class powers on a 1. If you really stack things, you can get to the point where he saves against your powers on a 2. Our theoretical Conversion Paladin? Diablo saves on a 2. Barbarian super-stun? Probably saves on a 1, but if you got your Strength bonus up to +11 by abusing the fact that magic items in this version aren't typed, he saves on a 2.

    Oh, and also he has AC 30 and 441 HP, and DR 25/+4 (remember how that's not a thing in this game?)

    So, hey, guess what CR Diablo is?

    I will wait."

    Spoiler: Did you figure it out?
    Show
    "Wrong!

    Diablo’s CR is “-”.

    THAT IS NOT HOW CR WORKS."


    "Oh, and whenever Diablo drops to 350, 250, 150, or 50 HP, he unleashes a special attack - red lightning that covers a 90 foot by 15 foot area and deals 22d6 damage to everyone in it (Reflex Save DC 37 to halve.) This attack counts as a move, so he can follow it up with a fire wall or fire serpents. So those four blast turns are an average of 70-80 damage to multiple people, and then 54 damage each to two more people."

    "But when Diablo dies…



    Nothing happens.

    The players can, as noted above, return to the Pandemonium Fortress at their leisure. Diablo just kind of falls over. There are no cool thematic effects like we got in previous Acts. The end."


    "We start with Baboon Demons. Baboon Demons are not demons, so that’s a great start." "Like Baboon Demons, Frog Demons are not demons. They’re monstrous humanoids. [...] Like all frogs, these guys breathe clouds of poisonous gas that deals temporary Strength damage every 1d4 rounds." "Mosquito Demons[...] are also not demons. They're magical beasts this time." "Our first enemy is the Vulture Demon. For a change, the book acknowledges that this name is garbage"

    "I suppose we’re here, so let’s just get the Fetish out of the way. These little racist caricatures are CR 4-8. They get a picture, because why the hell not. Only five pictures, give one to these [expletive]s. The CR 4 version has 16 HP, 16 AC, and attacks once per round at +3 to hit for 1d2 damage and no secondary effects. They have no special powers or good stats.

    So I’m pretty sure this monster is about CR ½? Maybe 1/4? They have some HP and AC, but their damage is so ludicrously minimal. The CR 8 upgraded version has 38 HP and 21 AC, but still attacks at +4 melee (1d4+1) or +7 ranged (1d2) damage, and still has single-digit saves and no special powers. Someone try to figure out what level of character considers that a reasonable threat. "

    "Being on the stack gives the Shaman "the Shaman bonus" for each other fetish when it attacks. There is no rule for what that means"

    "Spike Fiends are apparently mainly found in the mountains, which is interesting because there aren't any mountains in Diablo II."

    "Regardless, swarms pose a thorny problem for the savvy D&D developer, and this writer is up for the challenge!

    Quote Originally Posted by Swarms
    Though composed entirely of insects, Swarms seem to have a semisolid "core" where they can be damaged. Even the most learned sages cannot explain this phenomenon. It is the salvation of an adventurer swinging blindly into a verminous mass, to strike the core, killing all members of the Swarm at once.
    Just treat it like a totally normal enemy. No special rules at all beyond some minor damage reduction that doesn’t apply against magic. What Swarms do get is the ability to do automatic, no-save Constitution damage every 1d3 rounds. They start at 1d3 Constitution and ramp up to 1d6 at CR 3. On the flip side, they have terrible HP and not great AC. So what usually happens is that several swarms hit you at once, every PC takes 2d6 Con damage, and then the baddies are all dead. Also, their organization lists them as appearing as “superswarms.”

    Bad enemy. No cookie."

    "Next up is the Watcher, which we’ve discussed at length when they popped up in Act III to be wildly stronger than anything else in that section. You kind of know the drill - CR 17 to 21, tentacle monsters that lurk near water, spit deadly poison, and then grab people and drag them underwater. The strongest ones deal 5d6 Con damage (Fort DC 29 to halve), which averages to 17.5 Con damage and is a potential instant kill against most PCs, even ones with Con-boosting items. This is a standard action that they can only do once per round, which… I mean, yeah, that’s what a standard action is. They also never leave the water, instead using their tentacles and poison spit from range and making people come to them.

    I seem to recall in the games that the way you beat Watchers was by hitting their tentacles, causing them to retreat rather than die. There’s no mechanic for that here."
    Last edited by Unavenger; 2020-09-23 at 09:20 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #95
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    The Unity for Deadlands. Like the Time of Troubles modules for the Realms, The Unity is basically a string of cutscenes where the PCs get to watch super-cool NPCs do things. To add insult to injury, it eventually railroads the PCs into a situation where they have to kill one of their number to finish the adventure (or everyone dies).

  6. - Top - End - #96
    Orc in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    I think a homebrewed diablo inspired game would be better then actually running the Diablo 2 adventure.
    my worst Module is also my best module and I cannot remember the name of it right now, it was just entirely unremarkably boring.
    the first half of the meaning of life is that there isn't one.

  7. - Top - End - #97
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    For good once, because they give the DM a good adventuring site for PCs to explore, if that's what they chose to do.

    For bad ones, because they give you a good set of rails for the DM to tell a story with.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    In addition to what the other people have said (maps/encounters - outline - save time etc.), running a module 100% straight is a great way to get into a new system.

    Often it's difficult to know exactly how the designer of a system really expects it to be played. And while of course, that isn't the ONLY way to play a system (such as the classic of VtM turning into katana/trenchcoat superheroes), it's generally a good idea to use the designer's expectations as a baseline.

    Besides that, a really well-designed starter module will dabble into most/all major pillars of the system to give you a good feel for whether or not you want to spend dozens or hundreds of hours digging into.

    I know that I've had a few systems where I play a session or two only to find that it was NOT something I wanted to spend more time with, and for one of them it was after spending hours creating my own adventure to play through *cough* Cthluhutech *cough*, and it would have been nice if I'd only had to spend an hour or so prepping a module.

    Which does actually tie back to this thread - and shows how important a system having GOOD modules is. If people use a starter module to decide whether or not to stick with your system, it had better be pretty dang good. Even if the system is great, a stinker of a module can put people off it, while even a mediocre system can be a lot of fun to play with a great module.

  9. - Top - End - #99
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    To the OP: Thank you for allowing us this cathartic rant. It will be a blessing upon our psyche.

    Time Frame: Early 2000 to 2002.
    Game: D&D 3.0
    Setting: Grayhawk ( Living Campaign by WOTC)

    Unlike others who complained about bad writing, railroads, DMPCs, and no player agency, my experience had none of that and was with a one shot module meant to be be played and resolved in a 6 hour time block. The name of the module is mostly blocked from my mind after years of therapy. I recall that it had the word Echo in it.

    NOTE: To those of you who have not played in Grayhawk 3.0. Grayhawk was always pitched as lower magic. A +3 sword was an amazing magic item. 7th lvl spells where things of myth that only a few NPCs could dream of. Keep that in mind.

    NOTE: The GM told our party of 7 PC's this was a bit of a rough adventure and to be on our super A game. At least 1 or 2 of you may die. There is a sorta fix for that. It is HARD.

    It started out STRONG and promising. The local scouts and wizard of the country spied a tall new structure on the edge of their domain about 12 to 16 hours of travel into the desert boarder. Scrying, augury, and general divination had all failed due to lack of any knowledge. Time to hire a band of brave adventurers to explore and map out whatever that mess is. I was a military scout(a lawful good rogue type). We were level 3 to 5.

    The journey is making sure you have provisions. No encounter to speak of just a day's ride into hot hot sandy love.

    The Tower

    Upon reaching this old dilapidated structure we find one entrance and we feel a strange breeze that makes some of the parties' skin crawl. The scructure is no more than 200'' across 3 or 4 stories tall. We also heard a constant buzzing. Magic is detected all around. We slide down this opening and land on a large rock outcropping. What we see before us is a world of wonder and contempt of physics.


    The NOT a Tower
    Inside we can see 1000's of feet in every direction. There is no tower structure. ITS BIGGER ON THE INSIDE PEOPLE. 100 ton boulders float in midair disconnected from everything around it. Except there are buildings on and carved into the various floating rocks. In the far distance (up, down, left, right, doesn't matter) we see a "net" of arching lighting. The boundary walls of what we now stand in were a lighting storm. We can see and hear activity from one of the boulders far below. The mage with us explains it is like a extra dimensional space like rope trick, but it is aligned to some plane that isn't our home. (For every alignment step off Neutral a character was they got -2 for all social, communication skills. LG and CG were at -4 to most skill rolls)


    A bait and switch can be a fun adventure. Also this is a cool sounding area. This was a far cry from what we were expecting but we are adventurers. We press forward as the fools we were.

    Travelling
    We discovered that every boulder had at least one archway built on a small platform. If we jumped through the arch we would be hurled 100 feet to a predetermined boulder. Jumping like this could take 12 seconds to land. That was a cool cinematic moment. We jump to the first few boulders and fight some kind of abomination lurking in the crevices of the tunnel. Nothing is of any challenge... YET.

    BS DEATH
    We come to a central rock that has 4 of these jump platforms. As a party we decide to take that one, our job is to map this place out. As scout, I say I will go first and signal the party to cross. We had done this twice already. I jump across the 150" gap. The DM ask me to make a spot check. That was my niche. Easily made it. GM responds, as you land you see a large crack in the archway of the jump pad you just crossed. I scream to my party of the hum of lighting "DON'T JUMP".

    The GM responds I had just saved the entire party from a TPK.

    WHAT NOW
    The game comes to a screeching halt. The barbarian's player, the barb still with the party, asks the GM "Say what now?" The GM explains I just landed on the dining hall rock with a single jump pad. Its broken. Mend/make whole cannot fix it. There is no magical treasure or supplies other than dish wear and cutlery. There is a floating animated servant that speaks a language no one in the party can speak. Had I let the party jump, or if the party had all jumped at one time to avoid a 2 round wait everyone would have been stuck. The party spends the next hour trying to figure out how to save me. Our wizard didn't have fly prepped, he had haste and an offensive spell. This was lower level Grayhawk, no one had ever seen a potion of flight. I was dead because "we go left" was stated. No save, no warning, I was trapped on the other side of 150" bottomless pit.

    Downhill fast
    There are no other broken Jump pads in the module. F this module. The remaining party reaches the bottom and the 2nd encounter. They land on the flat platform weapons drawn and see 4 Githyanki around a strange structure with a gear, orb, and dials. Gith have an innate telekinesis power in 3.0. The way the mod is written, the party surprises the gith and they mind throw you into the abyss as a reaction. You get 1 will saving throw. If you win intiivate and attempt diplomacy you have up to a -4 due to the alignment step penalty stated above. Since this was the first time this module the GM actually had a say in anything at all, he had the gith throw the party against walls. The party survived but they were HURT and hurt bad.


    Out of nowhere will save or die? Not just 1 but 4 in the same round, the first round of combat? Played straight How in the h--l is a party supposed to survive that unless they are all flying?

    All for Nought
    The gith were trying to repair the device because it is breaking down. It is possible to work with them. But the device cannot be fixed. The space will collapse and kill everyone inside and the gith community living in the next dimension. There are 3 magical portals in the back of the room. The gith don't trust any of them. That is backstory, the gith in our version are dead.

    Blue, Black, Green portal. That is what you have to work with. what choice do you make? There are no other clues. The GM tells us. "You cannot know this but there is only 1 good outcome here. But there are no clues. Metagame this."

    BLUE
    Spoiler
    Show
    You are teleported to the underdark where Drow capture you and make you a slave in the mines for the next full calendar year. Once you escape you permanently lose 1 point of wisdom. No save, no battle.

    BLACK
    Spoiler
    Show
    You are sent somewhere to the far realms. Unspeakable horrors break your mind, body, and soul. You are dead. No save, no roll.

    GREEN
    Spoiler
    Show
    You are teleported to a pasture days away from any civilization in a far country from where you started. It takes 2 weeks to return to the beginning city to complete the module.



    In all cases the tower collapses and kills everyone by doing 10d6 lighting damage every round for 3 rounds and then winking you out of existence no save. You do not get shunted to the astral plane or back to the desert. That is what happened to my character.


    Final knife twist
    At least 1 party member made it back and reported. The various NPCs are surprised, saddened, and offer to bring back to life the members of the group who perished. But all payment to the group would need to be diverted (This is important). The few remaining folks want to rez folks. All party member are brought back via True res. Getting bodies is out of the question. SO that is up to 6 castings of true rez, a spell that is not possible for characters to obtain. SIX TIMES.

    But they don't take just the payment. They take every magic item we found during the adventure, every potion, scroll, map, favor to various group/npc, salaries. ANTHING obtained during the last 6 hours of game play except for EXP, gone. We get restored with items. Except we used funds, consumables, transportation, supplies, horses to get to the desert. That is all gone too.


    The GM walked over to the convention moderator and stated for all to hear. "This is the worst piece of shat I have every read, run, or imagined. Why did you have me run this?"


    No railroads, no warnings, just a choice dead, dead, or you may choose again. Had the wizard just been able to cast fly on everyone, we would have been done in 10 minutes of game play. The clueless choices, and the whole thing is pointless since the tower goes poof. Because it was only 2 combat encounters we got very little EXP compared to most modules of the day.

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  10. - Top - End - #100
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Do you know if the arches would throw inanimate objects? Maybe someone could have tied some rope to a rock and created a path back for you that way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrZJunior View Post
    Do you know if the arches would throw inanimate objects? Maybe someone could have tied some rope to a rock and created a path back for you that way.
    My first thought: no way any party I was in would give up one of their own just like that. We'd probably spend the next two hours trying to get that scout back. Ropes tied to arrows, ladders, improvised hang-gliders, digging up the countryside to find enough rocks for an improvised bridge, bird familiar, praying for divine intervention, anything. We'd derail the entire module and probably never finish it because we wouldn't accept that.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2020-09-18 at 03:35 AM.
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    I'm gonna start a thread for discussing this, because I really want to workshop suggestions, too.
    The Cranky Gamer
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrZJunior
    Do you know if the arches would throw inanimate objects? Maybe someone could have tied some rope to a rock and created a path back for you that way.
    Sadly they did not. We lost several mundane items trying to toss them to me. It was basically a JUMP spell but instead of +30 it was +200 skill cap. It allowed a running jumper to pass the distance of 100" to 150". It had to be a sentient target with additional limitations I assume. I had rope on me and tied it off and jumped. It didn't work. I had to climb back up dangling over a lighting net of hate. The wizards familiar would have been a GREAT idea. I don't think it could fly though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    My first thought: no way any party I was in would give up one of their own just like that. We'd probably spend the next two hours trying to get that scout back. Ropes tied to arrows, ladders, improvised hang-gliders, digging up the countryside to find enough rocks for an improvised bridge, bird familiar, praying for divine intervention, anything. We'd derail the entire module and probably never finish it because we wouldn't accept that.
    That was the initial attitude of the party. At least one player in the remaining side was pissed off. As a group we choose go left and a character was just gone. The GM had a bad taste in his mouth, the pissed of barbarian was unhappy, I hadn't lost a character without some sort of roll before, so, I was upset. By no mistake or roll of either the DM or mine I lost the character.

    The gap was just over 150 ft. The party on boulder A didn't have enough rope/extra robes/bedrolls to tie together to reach my character (we calculated). I didn't have 150 ft of stuff either. Because there was a empty void of air between the two platforms building a bridge ( without today's highly complex cranes and support structures) was out of the question. There wasn't enough loose stuff around anyway.

    As a group we finally came to the conclusion the party could maybe if we're lucky find treasure, repair kit, npc who had a clue as to what was happening at the bottom of the "tower" then they could come back and save me. But the whole thing was a time bomb. Had the party stayed we would have all died in the collapse a few in game hours later.

    The worst part for me was it WAS NOT Greyhawk. Losing the character was a far distant second issue. Wrong feel, flow, presence of magic. It felt like a much higher level Forgotten Realms adventure. I wouldn't have been surprised if a named literary mage popped up in that module. Bubble planes of existence that are collapsing is something from extreme high magic/Doctor Who stories. Or are full length campaigns that slowly lead back to a multi-dimensional greater evil. A 4 to 6 hour one shot isn't the place.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by gijoemike View Post
    Bubble planes of existence that are collapsing is something from extreme high magic/Doctor Who stories. Or are full length campaigns that slowly lead back to a multi-dimensional greater evil. A 4 to 6 hour one shot isn't the place.
    That's not the first time I hear about a module which is build as "at the end of 6 hours of gameplay, if the PCs didn't already finish the module, everyone dies without test because 'a wizard did it' and the module ends". It seems to be a popular way to enforce the 6h limits on one-shot during a RPG convention.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    That's not the first time I hear about a module which is build as "at the end of 6 hours of gameplay, if the PCs didn't already finish the module, everyone dies without test because 'a wizard did it' and the module ends". It seems to be a popular way to enforce the 6h limits on one-shot during a RPG convention.
    As a convention GM, I find this kind of design to be pointless. It has a place if a game is supposed to be run in real time, but every other case it's an insult to a GM's intelligence. You can end any game with "you're running short of real game time, what's your last plan of action?"

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    As a convention GM, I find this kind of design to be pointless. It has a place if a game is supposed to be run in real time, but every other case it's an insult to a GM's intelligence. You can end any game with "you're running short of real game time, what's your last plan of action?"
    There was a series of 4th edition adventures that did this... Fourthcore. Perfect for convention games. You have a little bit for set up and character selection, but you have a real-time limit before the world ends. Setting the limit from the outset, and letting folks know that real-time ******* around will cost them, makes for a high-stress situation where you take risks to achieve things, because the stakes are so high.
    The Cranky Gamer
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Can you give examples in other modules? There’s a little of that in any Hex Crawl, but most modules seem to only have a few “dropped” content bits for a given play through, and those due to giving meaningful choices.

    STK isn’t in that latter category because while the choice of which chapter to do is meaningful, it is only really so because it’s choosing content. STK definitely expects replay to be valuable. I don’t know if any other modules that do.
    The four-seasons model in Dragon Heist uses the exact same gimmick in 5e, but mostly it's smaller things. The largely empty, meandering nature of old mega-dungeons. The insanely detailed NPCs of a town like Hommlet or the Keep on the Borderlands. Dungeon sub-levels concealed behind unflagged secret doors like in the Silver Princess. Lengthy historical backstories that can only be discovered by dropping thousands of gold on a Sage retainer. Bizarre trial and error traps like "The first time you drink from the fountain, gain 2 Str. The second time, lose 3 Str. The third time, gain 4 Str. The fourth time, die." NPC timelines that run down days before the PCs should have any chance of figuring out that the NPC in question is in motion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordante View Post
    Honest question.

    Why do people play modules????
    For the same reason people prefer the Silmarillion to LOTR fan-fiction. To many people, a published module feels "more real" than a homemade one.
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    "The first time you drink from the fountain, gain 2 Str. The second time, lose 3 Str. The third time, gain 4 Str. The fourth time, die."
    I must admit, that one sounds kinda fun, if only by virtue of how it screws with PCs trying to figure it out. My appreciation is more in the abstract though, I'm sure it'd annoy me as a player and I don't think it'd dare use it as a GM.

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I must admit, that one sounds kinda fun, if only by virtue of how it screws with PCs trying to figure it out. My appreciation is more in the abstract though, I'm sure it'd annoy me as a player and I don't think it'd dare use it as a GM.
    In the module in question, the liquid you're drinking is putrefied mummy. It was one of the things that sparked my realization that you're "meant" to play D&D like your third playthrough of an open world game, just going down bizarre tangents because you've already scene the basic good ending, what else is in here?
    Non est salvatori salvator,
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    The Pazio AP for StarFinder called Dead Suns was pretty bad for my group. I remember that we ran across at least 6 or 7 different instances of "you cannot X your spaceship here" without any explanation. With X usually being land, although it did include fly over, scan, leave, use as transportation, and use as cover during a fight.

    So the whole thing was a "race against the clock to stop bad guys getting the superweapon" scenario spanning a 3.p style 1st to about 15th levels. Literally every step of the way ends with a "they just left/got what they needed, you have to hurry to catch them". Unfortunately space travel time is random, from 1d6 days between ultra-civilization core worlds to 5d6 days for completely uncharted destinations. Then space combat requires upgrading your spaceship every level, which is 1d6 days per thing upgraded.

    Suffice it to say that the AP is actually "speed of plot" but tells you that time & speed is critical. There's no difference between the PCs spending 14d6 days upgrading the ship then 5d6 days getting somewhere and just getting the best engines at level 4 or something and speed running all the space stuff at 1/3 * 5d6 days plus out running all the fights. Well there is a difference, the space fights count for xp and sometimes loot or plot critical info, and of course failing one involves your ship being destroyed by people who have no reason to take prisoners. The AP requires you to level up you ship, then fight and win all the space combats, despite telling the players that they have to catch up to the enemies.

    There were other things of course. The gas trap on the airless asteroid that poisoned people through their space suits. The expectation that the PCs walk something like 4+ hours through a poisonous and mildly radioactive hellscape instead of renting an air car. The expectation that at 13th level either all the PCs can fly at 60'+ or none of them can. Loot that was, in one case, literally useless and nearly worthless. The usual stuff.
    This sounds like it would be an amazing AP to reconstruct for a home game. I'd make so that every locale isn't an item per se, but a beacon of sort, a megalithic item too difficult or impossible to move. From the megaliths, you're basically getting coordinates to the next locale. And I'd make the jumps truly random. You never know if you're going to get there first, or they are, or if you arrive at around the same time.

    With each megalith, you have to decipher the next locale. I'd add in a secret DC on that roll, a very high one, but one that gets a little easier to hit with each locale. There's another way to read/decipher the maps. Further, I'd say that whoever sent you on this mission has also been working on this problem too, so if too much time goes by without the party deciphering it, they get a call from home. The second way of reading the maps give a different location. Perhaps a way to work on the puzzle without constantly getting attacked? IF the party explores one of the alt locations, they find another monolith, but of slightly different style. They ALSO clue in the party they've been chasing, and they'll shortly figure out the secondary way of reading the monoliths.

    See, during one of the early "upgrades" the party did to their ship, their adversaries bribed the mechanics at the shipyard to add a low power transmitter to their ship. It's cleverly hidden, but detectible that there's a small, unaccounted for power drain in the Nav system during a high level diagnostic. It also makes the ship's bridge Nav consoles power unstable if they're running at minimal power (say, they're playing dead, or trying to hide by going dead) - basically, any time they'd input new instructions, the console goes dark/unresponsive for a bit. The tracking device gives a low power burst transmission every time new instructions are given to the Nav system. Enemies with the right transceiver code can even send out a signal to get a return "ping" from the transmitter, like an RFID, to give coordinates of the ship.

    Any upgrades, repairs, or alterations to the Nav system has a pretty decent chance to find the tracking device. Hey, what's this thing? It looks like it's tied directly into Nav computers...

    As to all the things listed where, "You can't land here" or whatnot, I'd leave them in. BUT, I'd give an explanation as to WHY it's dangerous, or whatnot. A good enough roll on the part of the players gives them a work around. Too much ionic interference to use comms to talk to that other ship out there? Point your high beams at them, and start flashing them in "Space Fantasy" Morse Code.

    AFTER the party figures out that there's a second way to read the monoliths, their adversary will have a reason to want to capture them alive, if they're defeated. They head scientist working for them thinks that there's at least one more way to read the data, but doesn't have the computing power aboard to brute force a solution, and is having trouble coming up with it via inspiration. But maybe if he had the help of the people that cracked the second code, he can crack the third.

    You might want to add in a safety net for the party, in case it becomes obvious that they're going to loose one of those space battles. Since the beginning, there's been an intermittent sensor ghost. Can't seem to figure out what's wrong with the sensors, but this ghost occasionally shows up for a few seconds of "barely there" contact before fading again. It's not a ghost. The party is being tailed by a third party, another polity, that wants to make sure that the super weapon, if it proves to be real, doesn't fall into the "wrong" hands.

    Party will have to dodge patrols the whole campaign, as there's an escalating build-up between two polities - war's about to break out. That cloaked ship that's shadowing the party is on one side of that building conflict. There should be a worry that the adversary is going to start working for one of the warring parties, and really be able to set up a nasty ambush for the party. Probably the other party is also being shadowed, by the other side.

    As the party arrives at the supposed location of the superweapon, they are ordered to stop and be boarded by one polity or the other (though this is supposed to be neutral territory). Before that can really happen though, the other polity's ships start arriving in-system, immediately opening fire. Party is free enough to decide what to do - join one side or the other, leave the fleets to their fate, or drop down to the planet to try to make a grab for the weapon while the fleets have bigger problems.

    I'd say that whoever gets to the weapon first, discovers a weapon of godlike power, something that could totally break the setting. You could annihilate whole races, whole regions of space, at a distance. If the players are the ones that get there first, let them ascend into godhood, and let them decide what to do. The thing is, it isn't a weapon. It's a test. If you can give up the power, once you've attained it, you live, and your race is allowed to continue evolving toward godhood. If you can't give it up, it destroys you and arrests the evolution of your people toward becoming space gods.

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Forgot about this-- it feels like it's largely a 5e phenomenon--but it's definitely fun to have those sorts of shared experiences.
    Probably not. At least I remember part of the reason Pathfinder existed was that Paizo was making those 3.5 Adventure Paths and did not want to stop when 4e came.
    Awesome avatar by Linklele. Thank you!

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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Friv View Post
    I absolutely do! The thread, along with some lovely colour commentary by others, is located over here. It's an rpgnet link, but you can read without having an account. :)

    Oh, and if you want to skip the godawful mechanics and poorly-designed treasure generation of the 'character' book, the actual campaign module starts here for unsigned in people.
    This might be slightly off topic for this thread (or not, since it's certainly about a horrible module) but after reading through that entire thread over the course of a week or two (it's very long but very worth it, I'd say) I figured I should thank you for an entertaining read.

    And since I'm at it, I should also thank Unavenger for the lengthy description of Tomb of Horrors earlier in the thread. While I've heard about it (who hasn't?) I didn't really know much about it so it was good to learn why it's so... noteworthy.

  23. - Top - End - #113
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    Default Re: Worst module you've ever seen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    This might be slightly off topic for this thread (or not, since it's certainly about a horrible module) but after reading through that entire thread over the course of a week or two (it's very long but very worth it, I'd say) I figured I should thank you for an entertaining read.

    And since I'm at it, I should also thank Unavenger for the lengthy description of Tomb of Horrors earlier in the thread. While I've heard about it (who hasn't?) I didn't really know much about it so it was good to learn why it's so... noteworthy.
    Even if it was meant as a satirical competition for a convention, I wonder how many DMs took it seriously and thought that's how dungeons/adventures were supposed to work. It's a blur now on specifics, but gotcha DMing was not uncommon in those days.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

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