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Posts Tagged ‘temple of elemental evil’

….and then it happened; I sent the campaign off the rails. At this point I am not really sure why I did this. Aside from the obvious masochism in increasing my prep time, I guess I was a little dissatisfied with the status quo of the adventure path we were on. I am referring to my online game where I had planned on running them through the only published module series that Wizard’s put out in support of 4th edition. We were in the middle of H2 Thuderspire Labyrinth when I started dropping alternate plot hooks. It might have been the nostalgia goggles (a second cousin of beer goggles who I dated regularly in my youth) amplifying my sense of dissatisfaction with the current module, which is actually a pretty solid adventure, as I began to think back on some of the more classic modules from 1stedition D&D with a growing desire to tell those stories in

Come get a taste

4thedition while maintaining a little bit of that old school feel.

Some of this push might be coming from a DM pit trap I stumbled into. When I looked in the mirror I was beginning to see the reflection of a dick DM who was trying to curb stomp the crap out of his player’s faces. I think, in part, I was butting heads with the mechanics of combat in 4th edition interacting with character optimization. I had this feeling that if combat wasn’t challenging then I wasn’t doing a good job. This is complicated by the fact that even an easy combat in 4thedition can sometimes take like forever. I found myself setting up most encounters as set piece battles of at least level +2,  like some diabolical DM concoction (add 8 parts minion, 4 parts brute, a dash of artillery, with a smidgen of skirmisher, and then bake in a pre-heated environmental  hazard until ready to fuck up your players). It was fatiguing, frustrating for everyone, and getting in the way of telling more of a story.

So when the party was stumbling through the Underdark they came upon a bunch of cultists summoning a fire elemental out of a lava pit while dropping numerous references to a place called Hommlet. This had the party quickly abandoning the slaves they were trying to rescue to a life of toiling at the feet of the Duergar of Clan Grimmerzhul and off to the Welcoming Wench. I am running them through a modified Village of Hommlet (the 4th edition version) while I work on a loose conversion of the 1st edition Temple of Elemental Evil. Part of the old school feel I have been jonesing for is a little more exploration and openness that I think fosters more role-playing. I am also looking at smaller encounters at party level or even lower, intermixed with the more set piece battles (think of a slow bleed with occasional cock punches). I am even contemplating adding some random encounters, as I have previously shied away from utilizing them due to the length of 4e combats and a desire to keep the story moving within the limited available game time. Now least you think I am getting soft as I decompose my way through middle-age, last game session I hit them with a Level +4 encounter as I knew it would be the only one in the adventuring day. I had Rufus and Burne be the hidden agents of the Temple of Elemental evil instead of the merchants, and had them lure the players into the druid grove by falsely implicating Ashstaff as being in league with the bandits plaguing the village. It was beautiful as the party never saw it coming.

I am interested to see how this little “old school” experiment works out as I am also thinking of loosely converting either I3 or I5 with my home campaign given they are in the desert now. I have also received a request from some of my online players to blog more about their exploits as I think they are kind of feeling like the red headed step child of my campaigns.

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