Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adventure 2 Recap., Part 2

So, here's the adventure I'd planned:

The first section went according to plan: the PCs bit the hooks I'd laid out for them and made very interesting arrangements to travel first to Sharn, then to Stormhome.  They hit all of the encounters I'd planned: mysterious shadow-marked assassins, lots of Emerald Claw, a bit brutal bar-fight.

On the train to Stormhome, I had prepared for them to try and jump the Silver Flame team.  If that'd happened, I had planned on trying to put an end to the fight or call a truce: after all, their leader is just as much a Lawful Good Paladin as Oargev and doesn't want to see anyone dead over some artifact, but I knew that a few of the PCs REALLY hate Thrane.  They didn't go for the fight even a little bit.  I had planned for this, and the encounter wasn't essential.

Here is where things broke down: On the trip to the Frostfell, after encountering the hired griffon-riding Shadow elves, the Airship was supposed to crash on the shores of the Demon Wastes after one of the saboteurs managed to place explosives on the elemental binding struts.  Then the PCs were going to need to fight off sahuagin on the shoreline, venture into the wastes and encounter the Plague Clans while trying to find a fire elemental to rebind to the ship, and hold off both the Sahuagin and Clans while repairs were being made, all the while giving both the Emerald Claw and the SIlver Flame a chance to catch up.  

My PCs were FAR too effective at keeping the saboteurs from blowing up the ship.  That's when I decided to introduce the Fernia Manifest zone...and the PCs basically tackled that with insane skill checks.  I wasn't about to just swat them out of the sky for no reason, and between the new PC who dramatically changed fight dynamics (Elf Essentials Ranger Controller) and the party's focus on skills after Kingdom Building, I didn't manage to challenge them enough.

The original plan was for them to, fairly easily, make it from there to the Frostfell, getting there first, and making their way across a fairly desolate waste with maybe one Frostfell encounter, to help set the stage (the Yeti and Mammoths encounter I ran).  Once they got to the Temple, they were supposed to be caught up with by the Silver Flame adventurers.  There was going to be a likely fight there that would, again, be called off, with both parties hopefully agreeing to take different paths through the Temple and see who got the stone.  The idea was that the Silver Flame would get the stone moments ahead of the PCs, but that the Cardinal in their party would take the stone, give in to the power it represents, and command his crew to kill all of the PCs.  The Paladin was going to turn against the Cardinal and be struck down for in, badly wounded.  I was going to give the PCs a chance to save an enemy, and in doing so, make a VERY powerful friend down the road (Like I said, the Paladin's name was Sir Jared Daron. He has a young daughter.)  

With the PCs getting to the Frostfell so quickly, I had to call an audible.  I crashed their ship once they got to the Frostfell.  I added Frostfell encounters.  I decided to slow them down by encouraging them to find a Fire Elemental in the temple in addition to the Heart of Flame.  Since they were going to be dealing with ALL of the Temple guardians, I figured it would take them longer, and all I needed was one or two extended rests and the Silver Flame could find them in the temple.  

They never rested, they got lucky in choosing their path in the temple and found the Heart of Flame and got out,

Originally, my plan was for the PCs (and maybe the Paladin, Sir Jared) to get back to the airship only to find their ships captured by the Order of the Emerald claw.  There they would have to free the ships and get back home, flying home with no incident.

If the PCs were far outstripping the Silver Flame, the Order of the Emerald Claw had no business up here.  I decided to force the Silver Flame encounter while the PCs were headed back to their ship, but again, my PCs took every opportunity to conceal themselves, and there was no reasonable way for them to be found by the Flame, short of DM fiat, which I hate to use.

So I just added some air-encounters on the way back to Cyre, to reinforce to them that, nabbing a major artifact under the noses of Thrane and the Order of the Emerald Claw is SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Despite my abysmal planning, I think everyone had fun and is enjoying their international rockstar status.  That's what it's all about, right?

At least I still have a team of Silver Flame adventurers to foil my PCs in the future.  

Bonus Material:
My key NPCs are generally inspired by lots of different sources.  The Silver Flame team's inspirations: 
-Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan from Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King (Cardinal Dravot, Silver Invoker and "Apples" Carnehan, halfling assassin)
-Thomas of Hookton from Cornwell's The Archer's Tale (Thomas ir'Hoekton, Thrannish Expert Archer)
-Jackson "Grimjack" Grimwood from our most recent Forgotton Realms Campaign (Jack, a Brute)
-Prince Oargev if he'd been raised in Thrane, and was a few years older. (Sir Jared Daran)

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