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Archive for May, 2018

I had to do it. I can’t even say that I was reluctant or hesitant. I know this sounds serious doesn’t it?  like some kind of important life change. Am I talking about filling for divorce? Changing careers? Vasectomy? Switching deodorants? No no no, I am talking about something even more serious. I am pairing down Princes of the Apocalypse. I have to do it; I feel my sanity is at stake. It’s not that it is a bad adventure, but there are some definite problems that I wish I was more cognizant of from the get go. I might outline some of my issues and what I would do differently in hindsight. Looking around social media and the blogosphere it seems that others have had some similar issues with the adventure, and likely why it is ranked near the bottom in peoples favorite WOTC hardcover adventures.

One of the things I am struggling with, which probably isn’t the adventure’s fault, is the glacial pace at which we are moving through the book. The problem is that we only play every 3 to 4 weeks so it is hard to get a good flow going as well as keeping the plot/motivations front and center. One of the players commented that they were going after these cult strongholds for some reason that he couldn’t remember (more on that next blog, I mean come on I don’t have a lot of ideas and you can’t expect me to blow my wad in one post). This appears to be exacerbated by, at the core, the adventure is a series of dungeon crawls: 4 above ground keeps for each elemental cult, 4 underground temples for each cult, 1 sub dungeon, 1 final node/dungeon.  the above ground temples had some nice variety in terms of setting and features, but I find the underground temples a bit of a slog. Granted my players are a kind of a “storm the keep” style adventurers, I keep trying to telegraph that there maybe be other ways to bypass sections, and I definitely try to be very clear with NPC’S that they don’t need to fight. I kind of just want to get onto something else, like maybe Planescape or that Ancient Blood adventure I have been converting.

My solution to the pacing has been, like a surgeon with a scalpel, to pare down the underground temples something fierce. I had the idea of going back to 4th edition style delves where you had 3 to 4 combats plus some kind of exploration. I have tried to keep the key features of each Temple that make them unique to their respective elements. The challenge rating of the encounters/scenes are pretty stiff, as they are my ace in the hole. If we hit the 3rd tpk I am pulling the chute. I also switched to milestone leveling at the end of each session. It was fairly successful the last time we met, as they wiped out the air cult and their prophet. No fuss no muss. By my calculations we are about 5 to 6 sessions from completion, god willing. They are 7th level now and well on their way to a final confrontation with one of the elemental princes, except for Yan-C-BIN because they dropped the air prophet like a bad habit. I played Aerisi like an annoying valley girl that sounded like Jocelyn from Bob’s Burgers. My players were well satisfied when she got her comeuppance. Should I steer them to a final confrontation with Imix given the evocation wizard is essentially a pyromancer and most of his spells would be ineffective? Naw, they need all the help they can, as I don’t see how I don’t mop the floor with them using one of those elemental princes.

Look out Mike Schley I am coming for your job!

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