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The Sunless Citadel (really)

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March 14, 2005 4:30:11 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

So I've been invited to induct a group of new players into D&D.
There's one guy (he's one of my players) who wants to DM, but he wants
me to run the first session to get the ball rolling.

And we're going to run The Sunless Citadel. Mostly this is because
it's what's available. (But also I'm told that, whatever its flaws,
it's a pretty good module for breaking in a group of newbies.) And,
though I've been playing 3e since it came out, I've never run TSC
before.

So: I'm a moderately experienced DM running it for an almost
completely naive group of players.

1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs? I'm
thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.

2) What patches have people used to make it better? Also, what have
you added to it (or taken away), that seemed to work well?

thanks in advance,


Waldo

More about : sunless citadel

Anonymous
March 14, 2005 5:52:15 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Here's an interesting idea if things work out just right:

When I played it, because our party left the kobolds alone (later
rescuing their "pet") but wiped out their rival goblins, the kobolds
took over the place. The kobolds were very appreciative of our
incidental help in their war against the goblins and made us honorary
members of the tribe. After the adventure, as part of the campaign
they were mainly background NPCs friendly to the party. Once or twice
I'd stopped by just to say hi and chat as part of the roleplay, but
maybe the situation could develop into something more concrete.

The question is if the party can resist making the first strike against
them :p .

Gerald Katz
Anonymous
March 14, 2005 5:53:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Waldo wrote:
> So I've been invited to induct a group of new players into D&D.
> There's one guy (he's one of my players) who wants to DM, but he
wants
> me to run the first session to get the ball rolling.
>
> And we're going to run The Sunless Citadel. Mostly this is because
> it's what's available. (But also I'm told that, whatever its flaws,
> it's a pretty good module for breaking in a group of newbies.) And,
> though I've been playing 3e since it came out, I've never run TSC
> before.
>
> So: I'm a moderately experienced DM running it for an almost
> completely naive group of players.
>
> 1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs?
I'm
> thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
> silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.
>
> 2) What patches have people used to make it better? Also, what have
> you added to it (or taken away), that seemed to work well?

I ran it as the 3rd ed intro for our group, none of us having any
3rd ed experience and some having not roleplayed for years, and
no one having played D&D for years.

As best I recall it worked fine out of the box. I changed the
town to match better with my planned setting. You may also need
to make some adjustements for 3.5 rather than 3.0.

But the spots I would expect trouble are things like familiarity
with are the setting, (what are kobolds, bugbears, goblins,
ext...), the need to occasionally check for hidden treasures and
traps, the idea of a dungeon with lots of non-cooperating groups
of monsters, ext....

Also the module will kill everyone if they do not take time to
rest, make sure that they understand that this is an option.

DougL
Anonymous
March 14, 2005 8:11:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

DougL wrote:

> Also the module will kill everyone if they do not take time to
> rest, make sure that they understand that this is an option.

If they do make friends with the kobolds, it might be a good idea to
play up the lawful aspect of their lawful evilness, so the PCs are clear
that if the kobolds say "You can rest in the area of the dungeon we
control, and we won't rifle through your backpacks and take the stuff
that we want," they mean it. Having a rest area within the dungeon is
useful.
--
Stephenls
Geek
"You do your arguments no favor by insulting those you ought persuade."
-Greg Stolze, Rites of the Dragon
Anonymous
March 14, 2005 8:43:06 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Waldo wrote:
> 1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs?
I'm
> thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
> silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.

I've run the module two and a half times and played through it once as
well. (One of the times I ran it, I only used the upper level and
completely rewrote the lower level. Thus, two and a half times.) I've
only had one problem with it: On the first level the kobolds have
access to the Underdark. They use this access to access Underdark farms
which supplement their food suppy. The only problem is that PC parties,
in their zest to completely explore the complex, tend to head down this
passage into uncharted territory.

To avoid this, I suggest mapping out a few large caverns for fungi
farming and disconnecting the complex from the rest of the Underdark.

(You can also go the other way: Embrace the Underdark connection. I've
been thinking about incorporating the Sunless Citadel into the opening
parts of the NIGHT BELOW boxed set. But I digress.)

> 2) What patches have people used to make it better? Also, what have
> you added to it (or taken away), that seemed to work well?

I suggest removing the adventure-by-location structure of the module as
published, insofar as the goblins and kobolds are concerned. Basically
I would pull all the goblins and kobolds out of the complex, break them
down into task forces, and then actively keep track of where the
various task forces are located throughout the dungeon.

This will allow you to run the evolving situation between the goblins
and the kobolds actively as the PCs begin to unbalance the stalemate
between them.

For example, I've seen four different outcomes in running this
adventure:

(1) The PCs wiped out the kobolds, convinced the goblins through the
use of illusion magic that they were gods, issued a holy task to the
goblins to expand the complex with a third level dedicated to their
worship, and then sealed the complex by collapsing the outer entrances.

(2) The PCs reached an agreement with the kobolds to pass safely
through their territory and then punched through the goblin defenses to
reach the lower level. In punching through the goblin defenses,
however, they weakened the goblins significantly. When they returned
from the lower levels, they found the kobolds and goblins in open war
and the goblins on the brink of utter destruction.

(3) The PCs took pains to completely wipe out all the monstrous
humanoids in the compound.

(4) The PCs strategically punched through both camps to reach the lower
level, resulting in the goblins and kobolds (at least temporarily)
allying with each other in an attempt to take the PCs out when they
came back out. The PCs managed to fight their way out, but they held a
grudge and eventually came back as 5th level characters and wiped the
complex clean.

And I know that for the three times I was running the adventure, the
fact I had prepared for active kobold and goblin forces made my life A
LOT easier.

--
Justin Bacon
triad3204@aol.com
Anonymous
March 14, 2005 10:01:23 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Stephenls wrote:
> DougL wrote:
>
> > Also the module will kill everyone if they do not take time to
> > rest, make sure that they understand that this is an option.
>
> If they do make friends with the kobolds, it might be a good idea to
> play up the lawful aspect of their lawful evilness, so the PCs are
clear
> that if the kobolds say "You can rest in the area of the dungeon we
> control, and we won't rifle through your backpacks and take the stuff

> that we want," they mean it. Having a rest area within the dungeon
is
> useful.

Given a reasonable presentation I have trouble seeing new players
NOT making friends with the Kobolds, the only reason anyone would
not is carry over baggage from previous editions or other games on
the part of either the GM or players. The current edition they are
only usually evil (which just means more than half), evil doesn't
mean kill on sight to any reasonable character, you get the same
EP for making nice, and new players are unlikely to have a "kill
everything" attitude which is the only good reason to fight unless
they have been playing too many computer games or something.

Making nice to the Kobolds may be part of why I assume this is a
relatively easy module. Fighting them cuts out a fair amount of
local knowledge, some really easy EP, and at least one relatively
useless ally (but one relatively useless expendable ally beats
the heck out of none).

DougL
Anonymous
March 15, 2005 2:31:37 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

>
> Given a reasonable presentation I have trouble seeing new players
> NOT making friends with the Kobolds, the only reason anyone would
> not is carry over baggage from previous editions or other games on
> the part of either the GM or players. The current edition they are
> only usually evil (which just means more than half), evil doesn't
> mean kill on sight to any reasonable character, you get the same
> EP for making nice, and new players are unlikely to have a "kill
> everything" attitude which is the only good reason to fight unless
> they have been playing too many computer games or something.
>
>

Ah, but that is the crux of the matter isn't it?

DM
Anonymous
March 15, 2005 6:29:45 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

DougL wrote:
> Making nice to the Kobolds may be part of why I assume this is a
> relatively easy module. Fighting them cuts out a fair amount of
> local knowledge, some really easy EP, and at least one relatively
> useless ally (but one relatively useless expendable ally beats
> the heck out of none).
>
> DougL

I really liked Meepo! I was saddened he was killed during our "rescue
of the pet".

Gerald Katz
March 15, 2005 7:19:35 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On 14 Mar 2005 13:30:11 -0800, peggoliathy@yahoo.com (Waldo) raised a
finger to the sky and proclaimed:

>So I've been invited to induct a group of new players into D&D.
>There's one guy (he's one of my players) who wants to DM, but he wants
>me to run the first session to get the ball rolling.
>
>And we're going to run The Sunless Citadel. Mostly this is because
>it's what's available. (But also I'm told that, whatever its flaws,
>it's a pretty good module for breaking in a group of newbies.) And,
>though I've been playing 3e since it came out, I've never run TSC
>before.
>
>So: I'm a moderately experienced DM running it for an almost
>completely naive group of players.
>
>1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs? I'm
>thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
>silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.
>
>2) What patches have people used to make it better? Also, what have
>you added to it (or taken away), that seemed to work well?
>
>thanks in advance,
>
>
>Waldo

Just started running it myself, thanks to everyone who's posted
helpful advice (specially the create-task-force option). Memorable
quote from last night:

PC1: "I'm looking for Sharwyn"
PC2: "Apparently she was with me, when I died"

--
Either way, I hate you Count Chocula, if I didn't already.
- Drifter Bob, rec.games.frp.dnd
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 4:08:09 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

forumite@netzero.com wrote:

> Here's an interesting idea if things work out just right:
>
> When I played it, because our party left the kobolds alone (later
> rescuing their "pet") but wiped out their rival goblins, the kobolds
> took over the place. The kobolds were very appreciative of our
> incidental help in their war against the goblins and made us honorary
> members of the tribe. After the adventure, as part of the campaign
> they were mainly background NPCs friendly to the party. Once or twice
> I'd stopped by just to say hi and chat as part of the roleplay, but
> maybe the situation could develop into something more concrete.
>
> The question is if the party can resist making the first strike against
> them :p .

The way our DM ran it, it was almost inconcievable for us (being a
decidedly Good party) *not* to resist: we found a single sleeping kobold
who, when woken up, acted completely non-aggressive (if self-important)
and told us about the goblins deeper in kidnapping their dragon mascot.

Not sure whether that was what said in the adventure, or whether he just
wanted us to like the little reptilian rascals, but I assumed the
former, since this DM is usually somewhat of a sticker for the rules.


--
Jasin Zujovic
jzujovic@inet.hr
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 4:39:16 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Time to step up the meds; I could have sworn Jasin Zujovic just said...
> forumite@netzero.com wrote:
>
> > Here's an interesting idea if things work out just right:
> >
> > When I played it, because our party left the kobolds alone (later
> > rescuing their "pet") but wiped out their rival goblins, the kobolds
> > took over the place. The kobolds were very appreciative of our
> > incidental help in their war against the goblins and made us honorary
> > members of the tribe. After the adventure, as part of the campaign
> > they were mainly background NPCs friendly to the party. Once or twice
> > I'd stopped by just to say hi and chat as part of the roleplay, but
> > maybe the situation could develop into something more concrete.
> >
> > The question is if the party can resist making the first strike against
> > them :p .
>
> The way our DM ran it, it was almost inconcievable for us (being a
> decidedly Good party) *not* to resist: we found a single sleeping kobold
> who, when woken up, acted completely non-aggressive (if self-important)
> and told us about the goblins deeper in kidnapping their dragon mascot.
>
> Not sure whether that was what said in the adventure, or whether he just
> wanted us to like the little reptilian rascals, but I assumed the
> former, since this DM is usually somewhat of a sticker for the rules.

It was similar to what I did. The first Kobald they met (Meepo - I
assume that was the same one in your case) wasn't asleep, but he was
more scared of the party than they were of him, and decidedly not
hostile. So they got the story of the dragon from him. I had Meepo being
in the tribe's doghouse over losing the dragon, even though it wasn't
really his fault; it ended up with Meepo pretty much joining the party
until the dragon was captured, as a "great honor" (I.e. punishment) the
tribe bestowed on him.

I ran him as very cowardly, but the dice were on his side - who knew he
was such a great shot with a crossbow? So he survived, to his own, the
tribe's, and frankly MY surprise. I'm sure the party would look him up
if they were in the neighborhood again. He ended up being the
chieftainess' right-hand man (well, kobald).
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 4:39:17 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

My version (again)

Spoilers if you haven't played:


Party met Meepo with intent to defeat the kobold. Meepo begged for
his life and told them about the dragon. They demanded free passage
so Meepo led them to the Queen to get her "permission". He didn't
know if she'd have them killed or go along. She negotiated an
alliance against the goblins. Since the party had been intent
on _killing_ the kobolds and were "defeated" from doing so I gave
Meepo the experience for defeating them by talking his way out.
(He later leveled up to Expert with specialties in human
relations; Speak Common, Diplomacy, Bluff, etc... Much later he
became an Adept of the Dragon Cult and Ambassador to Blasindale
<sp>.) Meepo of course was required to accompany the party
in retrieving Calcryx. This worked out well for them as
Calcryx concentrated his attacks on Meepo and was easily defeated
even though Meepo almost died.

Next, Goblin figure out that these Kobolds let these Humans walk
right past them so they escaltae the war. I ran the math and saw
that the Goblins would win such a battle. Yusdryal, Meepo, and
Calcryx were the survivors with Calcryx joining in with Belak after
the fighting. Players rescue the Kobolds, Meepo becomes a
semi-permanent assistant.

DM warning: My players easily took out the goblin workers in the
nursery and labs by using appropriate spells on their rogue and
sending him in alone and nigh-silent.

Big battle with Belak. It's over! Well no. The town hangs Belak for
his crimes, and a towns person destroys the Gulthias tree. Belak,
due to his connection to the tree rises three days later as a
Vampire and has been a thorn in the players side to this day.

Side note: Calcryx finally got himself killed in Friday's game.
Belak is still out there (with his spawn and some doppleganger and
orc mercenaries).
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 6:44:53 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jeff Heikkinen <no.way@jose.org> wrote:
>
> It was similar to what I did. The first Kobald they met (Meepo - I
> assume that was the same one in your case) wasn't asleep, but he was
> more scared of the party than they were of him, and decidedly not
> hostile. So they got the story of the dragon from him. I had Meepo
> being in the tribe's doghouse over losing the dragon, even though it
> wasn't really his fault; it ended up with Meepo pretty much joining
> the party until the dragon was captured, as a "great honor" (I.e.
> punishment) the tribe bestowed on him.

When we played through, Dolarn ('paladin of Kord') liked him and ended
up bringing him along as a guide. The other PCs tied him up and Dolarn
ended up carrying him around like a sports bag, extolling the virtues of
Kord to him.

"Yeah, see, Kord's all about strength and fightin' and bravery and
stuff. Follow him, you'll grow up big an' strong like me. Then you
won't get scared of the other guys, 'cause they'll be littler than
you. Huh? No, ya don't beat them up then, 'cause it'd be easy, ya go
after bigger stuff 'cause it's not fair to pick on the little guys.
Nah... it's not *dangerous*, it's more glorious when ya win. Lookit
these scars! I wouldna gottem if I hadn't been fightin' those bears,
an' I wouldna bin fightin' bears if Kord didn't make me big an' strong
like this...."

Meepo spent a lot of his time fainting, IIRC. Dolarn was *covered* in
scars and took a great deal of pleasure describing how he got each of
them, "'cause Kord made me big an' strong".


Keith
--
Keith Davies "English is not a language. English is a
keith.davies@kjdavies.org bad habit shared between Norman invaders
keith.davies@gmail.com and Saxon barmaids!"
http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Frog, IRC, 2005/01/13
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 6:52:27 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

DougL <doug.lampert@tdytsi.com> wrote:
> Stephenls wrote:
>> DougL wrote:
>>
>> > Also the module will kill everyone if they do not take time to
>> > rest, make sure that they understand that this is an option.
>>
>> If they do make friends with the kobolds, it might be a good idea to
>> play up the lawful aspect of their lawful evilness, so the PCs are
>> clear that if the kobolds say "You can rest in the area of the
>> dungeon we control, and we won't rifle through your backpacks and
>> take the stuff that we want," they mean it. Having a rest area
>> within the dungeon is useful.
>
> Given a reasonable presentation I have trouble seeing new players
> NOT making friends with the Kobolds, the only reason anyone would
> not is carry over baggage from previous editions or other games on
> the part of either the GM or players. The current edition they are
> only usually evil (which just means more than half), evil doesn't
> mean kill on sight to any reasonable character, you get the same
> EP for making nice, and new players are unlikely to have a "kill
> everything" attitude which is the only good reason to fight unless
> they have been playing too many computer games or something.
>
> Making nice to the Kobolds may be part of why I assume this is a
> relatively easy module. Fighting them cuts out a fair amount of
> local knowledge, some really easy EP, and at least one relatively
> useless ally (but one relatively useless expendable ally beats
> the heck out of none).

IIRC Dolarn made friendly with them ("Waitaminnit. The goblins took
your pet and are keeping him prisoner? That's not right." -- Dolarn
wasn't all that bright). We went down, wiped out the goblins, Dolarn
tried to capture the pet ("it's a dragon! Kord'd be proud of me if I
wrestled a dragon and catched it" -- see above) but got dropped (the
party killed it from range as soon as Dolarn stopped moving). Then one
night when I wasn't able to play, they wiped out the kobolds, too.

Dolarn was a lot of fun to play. Not too smart -- hardly smart at all,
really -- but a lot of fun to play.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "English is not a language. English is a
keith.davies@kjdavies.org bad habit shared between Norman invaders
keith.davies@gmail.com and Saxon barmaids!"
http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Frog, IRC, 2005/01/13
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 6:55:13 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Mouse <mail141023@pop.net.invalid> wrote:
>
> Just started running it myself, thanks to everyone who's posted
> helpful advice (specially the create-task-force option). Memorable
> quote from last night:
>
> PC1: "I'm looking for Sharwyn"
> PC2: "Apparently she was with me, when I died"

IIRC, our best quote from that one was in the goblin storeroom:

Random (elven ranger-type): "Elf pudding! Gimme!"
Dolarn: "Uhh, Random? I don't think you wanna do that. We're in a
goblin cave, that probably ain't what you think."
Random: "Huh? Oh, *urrrgggh*!"


Keith
--
Keith Davies "English is not a language. English is a
keith.davies@kjdavies.org bad habit shared between Norman invaders
keith.davies@gmail.com and Saxon barmaids!"
http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Frog, IRC, 2005/01/13
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 7:02:14 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Mouse <mail141023@pop.net.invalid> wrote:
>
> Just started running it myself, thanks to everyone who's posted
> helpful advice (specially the create-task-force option). Memorable
> quote from last night:
>
> PC1: "I'm looking for Sharwyn"
> PC2: "Apparently she was with me, when I died"

IIRC, our best quote from that one was in the goblin storeroom:

Random (elven ranger-type): "Elf pudding! Gimme!"
Dolarn: "Uhh, Random? I don't think you wanna do that. We're in a
goblin cave, that probably ain't what you think."
Random: "Huh? Oh, *urrrgggh*!"


Keith
--
Keith Davies "English is not a language. English is a
keith.davies@kjdavies.org bad habit shared between Norman invaders
keith.davies@gmail.com and Saxon barmaids!"
http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Frog, IRC, 2005/01/13
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 1:26:58 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justin Bacon wrote:
> Waldo wrote:
> > 1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs?
> I'm
> > thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
> > silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.
>
> I've run the module two and a half times and played through it once
as
> well. (One of the times I ran it, I only used the upper level and
> completely rewrote the lower level. Thus, two and a half times.) I've
> only had one problem with it: On the first level the kobolds have
> access to the Underdark. They use this access to access Underdark
farms
> which supplement their food suppy. The only problem is that PC
parties,
> in their zest to completely explore the complex, tend to head down
this
> passage into uncharted territory.
>
> To avoid this, I suggest mapping out a few large caverns for fungi
> farming and disconnecting the complex from the rest of the Underdark.
>
> (You can also go the other way: Embrace the Underdark connection.
I've
> been thinking about incorporating the Sunless Citadel into the
opening
> parts of the NIGHT BELOW boxed set. But I digress.)
>

Night Below is exactly what a party of new players needs as an
introduction to the role playing potential of D&D.
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 11:20:37 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

thufur wrote:
> Justin Bacon wrote:
> > (You can also go the other way: Embrace the Underdark connection.
> > I've been thinking about incorporating the Sunless Citadel into
> > the opening parts of the NIGHT BELOW boxed set. But I digress.)
>
> Night Below is exactly what a party of new players needs as an
> introduction to the role playing potential of D&D.

This is true, but NIGHT BELOW is absolutely terrible for new *DMs*. It
simply can't be played easily out of the box: At its best, its too
complicated. And most of the second and third acts have significant
flaws that need to be patched up and filled in for an effective playing
experience. And that type of fix-up needs an experienced DM who can
spot the problems BEFORE they occur and patch them.

--
Justin Bacon
triad3204@aol.com
March 17, 2005 3:12:35 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Ophidian wrote:


> Spoilers if you haven't played:
>
>
> Party met Meepo with intent to defeat the kobold. Meepo begged for
> his life and told them about the dragon.

I'm really hoping the PCs go for this. If they don't, well, they
don't. But it opens up such dramatic possibilities...


> Since the party had been intent
> on _killing_ the kobolds and were "defeated" from doing so I gave
> Meepo the experience for defeating them by talking his way out.
> (He later leveled up to Expert with specialties in human
> relations; Speak Common, Diplomacy, Bluff, etc...)

I like this! Good idea.


> DM warning: My players easily took out the goblin workers in the
> nursery and labs by using appropriate spells on their rogue and
> sending him in alone and nigh-silent.

I'm not sure these PCs will be that kind of clever.


> Big battle with Belak. It's over! Well no. The town hangs Belak for
> his crimes, and a towns person destroys the Gulthias tree. Belak,
> due to his connection to the tree rises three days later as a
> Vampire and has been a thorn in the players side to this day.

Hum. Wasn't Belak a 4th level druid? So wouldn't he rise as a spawn,
not a full vamp?

Also -- how do you reconcile being a vampire ("always chaotic evil")
with being a druid ("must be part neutral")?


Waldo
Anonymous
March 17, 2005 4:34:40 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Waldo wrote:

>
> Hum. Wasn't Belak a 4th level druid? So wouldn't he rise as a spawn,
> not a full vamp?

Normally.
But he wasn't raised by a vampire, so I waved that.
I also slipped him a level for manipulating some townsfolk.

> Also -- how do you reconcile being a vampire ("always chaotic evil")
> with being a druid ("must be part neutral")?

He awakened CE without access to his druid abilities.
He may have shifted back to Neutral by now. (Heh, heh...)

Remember also in D+D, "always" means "except when you have
good reason otherwise".
And I'm known for pushing the envelope on that.
Anonymous
March 17, 2005 7:04:12 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Time to step up the meds; I could have sworn thufur just said...
>
> Justin Bacon wrote:
> > Waldo wrote:
> > > 1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs?
> > I'm
> > > thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
> > > silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.
> >
> > I've run the module two and a half times and played through it once
> as
> > well. (One of the times I ran it, I only used the upper level and
> > completely rewrote the lower level. Thus, two and a half times.) I've
> > only had one problem with it: On the first level the kobolds have
> > access to the Underdark. They use this access to access Underdark
> farms
> > which supplement their food suppy. The only problem is that PC
> parties,
> > in their zest to completely explore the complex, tend to head down
> this
> > passage into uncharted territory.
> >
> > To avoid this, I suggest mapping out a few large caverns for fungi
> > farming and disconnecting the complex from the rest of the Underdark.
> >
> > (You can also go the other way: Embrace the Underdark connection.
> I've
> > been thinking about incorporating the Sunless Citadel into the
> opening
> > parts of the NIGHT BELOW boxed set. But I digress.)
> >
>
> Night Below is exactly what a party of new players needs as an
> introduction to the role playing potential of D&D.

I can't tell if you're being serious or not, but actually, the first
book is just what you say; all the Haranshire stuff is really well done.
Pity the rest of it isn't nearly as interesting; I ended up skipping
large stretches of books two and three when I ran it.
Anonymous
March 17, 2005 10:50:52 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jeff Heikkinen wrote:
> Time to step up the meds; I could have sworn thufur just said...
> >
> > Justin Bacon wrote:
> > > Waldo wrote:
> > > > 1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for
noobs?
> > > I'm
> > > > thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or
is
> > > > silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.
> > >
> > > I've run the module two and a half times and played through it
once
> > as
> > > well. (One of the times I ran it, I only used the upper level and
> > > completely rewrote the lower level. Thus, two and a half times.)
I've
> > > only had one problem with it: On the first level the kobolds have
> > > access to the Underdark. They use this access to access Underdark
> > farms
> > > which supplement their food suppy. The only problem is that PC
> > parties,
> > > in their zest to completely explore the complex, tend to head
down
> > this
> > > passage into uncharted territory.
> > >
> > > To avoid this, I suggest mapping out a few large caverns for
fungi
> > > farming and disconnecting the complex from the rest of the
Underdark.
> > >
> > > (You can also go the other way: Embrace the Underdark connection.
> > I've
> > > been thinking about incorporating the Sunless Citadel into the
> > opening
> > > parts of the NIGHT BELOW boxed set. But I digress.)
> > >
> >
> > Night Below is exactly what a party of new players needs as an
> > introduction to the role playing potential of D&D.
>
> I can't tell if you're being serious or not, but actually, the first
> book is just what you say; all the Haranshire stuff is really well
done.
> Pity the rest of it isn't nearly as interesting; I ended up skipping
> large stretches of books two and three when I ran it.


I was making light of the whole boxed set experience in and of itself.
Yes, book I lays groundwork for role playing, but unless your party is
willing to sit down for dinner with deep gnomes and quaggoths, there is
about nil potential for anything but about two years of game time
genocide (Trogs, grell, hooked horrors, shadow dragon, slimes,
wandering slimes, derro, more derro, slavers, kua toa, MORE kua toa,
ixzan, and illithids) and literally months of Underdark travel. And
thats only Book II -- exactly the sort or thing to extinguish any
interest in D&D out a group of brand new players. Why not end the pain
early and just buy them an Xbox and Halo2?
March 17, 2005 11:15:16 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

H. Barker wrote:

> a blindly obedient, rigid LG Paladin
> might cause some problems, in that the group will be fighting their
way
> through the majority of the first level and not stopping for
breathers.
> Caused a few problems.

Yeah, the kobold thing seems pretty key. Well, I'll encourage. But if
they want to fight the kobolds, that's that.


> You might like to move the SC to near a town of your own choosing or
> simply drag and drop it to your own world; either works well, to be
> honest.

Well... I decided I wanted to keep it in a really rural, isolated area.
This loses the possibility of recurring NPCs, but I want the PCs to
feel isolated. IMO it's all about mood, especially for new players.

I'm also adding a framing sequence, which will go like this:

1) Bishop of [good church] sends them on the mission. They must
acquire the mysterious white apple, don't let anyone else get it, find
out where it comes from. [Good church] has only recently found out
about the white apples, and if they fall into the Wrong Hands they
could be used for Great Evil.

Bishop tells them to stop and visit with Sir Walter, who is the (very
minor) feudal lord of Oakhurst.


2) Ther arrive at Sir Walter's house. Sir Walter is a one-legged
veteran, about 60 years old. Kindly old guy, Ftr3.

He tells them some more (including that one party vanished already
trying to get the red apple, six months ago) and that something grows
from the seeds, but then disappears.

Sir Walter was tempted to claim an apple and regrow his leg, but
decided that it was his duty to see it distributed fairly to those most
in need. (New players -- here's what "lawful good" looks like.)

He did save a few peels from one apple and put them into some brandy.
If he likes the PCs he will give them his last flask. One mouthful of
this apple brandy heals 1 hp and gives a second ST vs. poison or
disease (in addition to being mighty fine drinkin'). I added this
because filth fever from the rats might be a problem.

Also, the first person who drinks the brandy inside the citadel will
have a dream that night, in which they see the relevant backstory --
the fall of the citadel, the attack of the armies of Good, the final
battle with Gulthias, the vampire getting staked, and the citadel
sinking into the earth.


3) In the village. The village cleric, Father Dono, is an old friend
of Sir Walter. He's 65-70 years old and only a 2nd level cleric (maybe
a level of warrior or expert too). Very honest and kind, but getting a
bit frail. His ingame purpose is to provide backup healing for the
party.

They'll also be accosted by an NPC, who I'll call Ratso until I have a
better name. Ratso is a wiz3/Rog1 who works for [big evil guy]. He
wants the white apple. He will first wheedle, then bluster. I intend
to play him as obviously evil and rather over the top... again, new
players. "Do you realize who I work for?" "Fools! You'll regret
this!"

Ratso is not much about combat but has spells and skills optimized for
sneaking, defense, and fast escape. In fact he's a very minor henchman
of [big evil guy], and getting the apple is not such a high priority.
But he's going to lose some skin if he fails, so he's motivated.


4) Travelling to the dungeon. I don't think I want to hit them with
anything on the first trip. But we can always make them nervous! I'll
mention the cold weather (just a few days before the solstice) and a
few drifting flakes of snow. Start setting mood here... forest is
silent, isolated, etc.


5) Reach the dungeon. Fun begins! Down the rope to the first (rat)
encounter. Emphasis that the rats are filthy... yellow teeth, sores,
mucus dripping from their eyes, whatever. The players don't know that
rats carry disease, but I want them worried about it anyway.

And so on.

Two things I want to throw at them. One, once they finish the first
level it's going to snow like crazy... blizzard conditions for a couple
of days, then three feet of snow on the ground. The purpose here is to
suddenly move the dungeon from "a few hours from the village" to "at
least a day from the village". So, no more easy retreats to the nice
inn and the helpful cleric... I want them feeling isolated going into
the final encounter.

Two, Ratso will be sniffing around periodically, and will try to
challenge them for the apple (maybe with some hired thugs) after they
finish the dungeon. A McGuffin's not a McGuffin unless someone else
wants it, right?

That seems like enough, if not perhaps too much...

Thoughts?


Waldo
Anonymous
March 17, 2005 6:32:52 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Mon, 14 Mar 2005, Waldo wrote:

> And we're going to run The Sunless Citadel. Mostly this is because
> it's what's available. (But also I'm told that, whatever its flaws,
> it's a pretty good module for breaking in a group of newbies.) And,
> though I've been playing 3e since it came out, I've never run TSC
> before.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, both playing and running. To my mind, the entire
3rd Ed series of adventures are pretty well written and fun... Although if
memory serves, one of them is a little rougher than the rest. Certainly up
to and including Speaker In Dreams are all top notch. All in my opinion,
of course :) 

> So: I'm a moderately experienced DM running it for an almost
> completely naive group of players.
>
> 1) What are the soft spots in this module, especially for noobs? I'm
> thinking both of places where the dungeon doesn't make sense or is
> silly, and places where it's either too easy or too lethal.

As has already been pointed out, an extremely Good character might cause a
few problems; a Paladin in our case. Due to the large number of Kobolds
you can, potentially, interact with, a blindly obedient, rigid LG Paladin
might cause some problems, in that the group will be fighting their way
through the majority of the first level and not stopping for breathers.
Caused a few problems.

> 2) What patches have people used to make it better? Also, what have
> you added to it (or taken away), that seemed to work well?

I gave the town a little more life, in fact using the copious notes the
previous GM had used. The Dwarven Smith became a good, solid, recurring
background NPC, as did the barman, sheriff and priestess.

You might like to move the SC to near a town of your own choosing or
simply drag and drop it to your own world; either works well, to be
honest. Personally I'm just using the rough-sketch world the previous GM
used, mainly because I couldn't be bothered creating a new one and the
Wizards material that's there is okay.

Be intersted to hear how you get on.

H
Anonymous
March 18, 2005 3:41:13 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

On Thu, 17 Mar 2005 15:32:52 +0000, H. Barker wrote:

>
> On Mon, 14 Mar 2005, Waldo wrote:
>
>> And we're going to run The Sunless Citadel. Mostly this is because
>> it's what's available. (But also I'm told that, whatever its flaws,
>> it's a pretty good module for breaking in a group of newbies.) And,
>> though I've been playing 3e since it came out, I've never run TSC
>> before.
>
> I thoroughly enjoyed it, both playing and running. To my mind, the entire
> 3rd Ed series of adventures are pretty well written and fun... Although if
> memory serves, one of them is a little rougher than the rest.

The Standing Stone is likely the one you're thinking of, it desperately
needed a better proofreader. In several places it contradicted itself,
although the worst contradiction could be resolved with a bit of thought,
(the Druid/Cleric has to be a 5th level Cleric, if she's 7th level then
she can feed the entire village).

--
Phoenix
Anonymous
March 18, 2005 5:56:35 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Waldo wrote:

<snip great ideas>

> That seems like enough, if not perhaps too much...
>
> Thoughts?
>

Wow, I want to play under you now! Sounds great to me. Good luck with
it and let me know how it turns out.

I keep thinking of running this one myself, I've read through it a bit
and it looks great. I have very experienced players though.
Surprising to me that none of them have been run through the adventure
series as some of them play in other games as well.

- Justisaur.
Anonymous
March 20, 2005 12:08:14 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur wrote:

> Wow, I want to play under you now!

IYKWIM! AITYD!
--
Stephenls
Geek
"You do your arguments no favor by insulting those you ought persuade."
-Greg Stolze, Rites of the Dragon
April 1, 2005 9:13:56 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Justisaur wrote:

> Wow, I want to play under you now!

Well, thank you.


> Sounds great to me. Good luck with
> it and let me know how it turns out.

Well.

1) The eeeevil henchman character showed up and menaced the party,
with expected results. Now he's hanging around in the village using
Charm Person, Diplomacy, and his pet imp's Suggestion power to turn the
villagers against the party, so he can have them arrested when they
come back with the apple.

2) They did indeed ally with the kobolds, largely because I made Meepo
sooo pathetic.

3) They've missed the southern section (with the troll-tomb)
altogether. Gone straight to the north, killed a lot of goblins,
including the chief. Fun battle that left just one PC standing.
Haven't found the dragon yet.

4) They've tried going along the rubble fields (which skirts the whole
dungeon, allowing entry at multiple points.) This involves them in
constant fights with rats and skeletons. They're determined, though...

It's fun to watch newbie players getting the hang of things like first
level spells. "Wow! Sleep just dropped /three/ goblins!" "Yeah, but
check out this Color Spray..."


5) I added a Festival of the Fruit, which will take place in a few
days, to give some urgency. Otherwise, they'll just always be hiking
back to the village to rest... Now they're all really worried about
missing the Festival, and wondering what it is. I wonder a bit myself.

6) They rescued Erky Timbers, who told them about the Festival (the
goblins were saving him for it) and the "mysterious, robed and hooded
figure" (Belak) who looked him over in the dungeon, said "not this
one... he's not suitable" (for becoming a supplicant of the Tree) and
who left him thoroughly terrified.

-- You know, there's no cliche too old to use in D&D. The players were
positively trembling when Erky told them that the mysterious roved and
hooded figure /had a bandage over his eyes/, and that Erky (who had
already established his bona fides as one tough gnome) was more scared
of him than of anything else in the dungeon.

(I decided that Belak should be blind, because his eyes are overgrown
with twiglets and leaves from a partial merger with the Tree. He gets
tremorsense while he's in the dungeon, so no real difference; I just
thought it would be cool.)

They seem to be enjoying it. We play one more time, and then I hand it
over to their DM.

cheers,


Waldo
!