With that out of the way we’re pretty much ready for the public release in a few more days time, so while we wait let’s talk about what I’ll be doing over the next month.
I’ll still be working on the setting book, on my side I just need to do some edits and finally nail down what I’m going to do with the new archetypes and spells I’ll be adding. On the artist side I’m waiting on some new format and ‘item’ images, which will help the book not just be a big wall of text. I’m heavily considering spending some serious cash on a map of Telehar, but I’m sort of tempted to wait to get the other things finished before I get someone working on that.
The main thing I shall be working on is the remasters of Chapter One and Two, so let’s talk about what I want to change and why:
So the first installment was always going to have flaws just because it was my first time with this kind of project, and after play testing it with two groups I have a pretty good idea what those flaws are. There’s two major points, most of the events are one-offs which explore the setting but not the plot, the other is I tried to do too many things at once. If you look back at some of my older posts you can see me discussing the idea of a mix of a sandbox and railroad adventure, but there’s an exact point you can tell I realised that was a bad idea but it was too late to change, haha.
To fix the first problem I’d have to rewrite the entire adventure, which is unnecessary. Chapter One might not be a strong start, but for what it is it mostly works. So I feel my energy is better spent fine tuning the bits that work then trying to replace the engine. The second problem we can fix however. Let’s go over the exact changes I’m planning and why:
Prestige items are out. I still like the idea of non-magical items that give you bonuses for situations, but I never followed up on it. So better to make all the items fit the same theme.
- Secet Bonds are out. They were an attempt to fix motivation, but again they don't really go anywhere. So in the player's manual (Which I will also update to better reflect the setting changes) I’ll probably replace the bonds with something a bit more fun to play with for the players.
Instead of random characters being on a wagon, the Sheriff will have personally invited the party to Dalmill to help him. So while I found I could personally keep the players interested (I like to think of myself as a pretty decent DM), the adventure as written doesn’t give any tools to keep players around Dalmill. This is one of those issues that would require a big change to fix, so instead we're going to paper over the cracks a bit and make the Sheriff the reason the party are in Dalmill in the first place. As one of the main quest providers it makes sense anyway.
In the very first bandit encounter, Braigar now has a letter on his person which names Feredir and adds some conspiracy mystery to what’s going on. The ‘main’ bad guys to the plot need to be introduced much earlier to help the party get a feel for what’s ‘really’ going on in Ramulia and help motivate them to protect it.
The mayoral election is now directly between the High Priestess and Troy Redbarrow. One of the things I tried to do was faction play, but I didn’t go in depth enough with it and it didn’t go anywhere (The council members are too dependent on each other so there was never enough direct conflict). Likewise the ‘mayor’ character nevers comes up again, mostly because the whole mayor event was a last minute addition to the adventure. Since I had no where to fit this mayor character into the wider adventure I felt it be better to just the use the characters we will be interacting with. Now instead of faction rewards the candidate the players support will give them ‘extra’ rewards after each of the chapter one quests.
In the downtime event, Laid to Rest, the little elven girl in the coffin is now a vampire. This is actually a product of a change in the setting, when I first wrote this event Elves were typical D&D elves but since then I’ve changed them for the setting. In this case Elves would normally be ‘rejoined’ with a tree of life (Because elves are born from special trees now), so now it’s very bizarre to find an elven burial. As for why there a vampire? Well, don’t want to spoil but the next chapter? Shit ton of vampires. So this event adds a little foreshadowing to that.
The second part of the liars engagement needs a total rewrite. Whilst interacting with the concept of forbidden love between races is a good one, the execution in this quest is terrible. It’s the worst one I’ve written because it’s just hard to play, there’s no tools to help run it or resolve it. I’ll probably change it to a more rogue themed quest, so if the party is a bit low on the law abiding scale they can indulge a bit.
The mine hostage event just needs some script change to make it more relevant to the wider picture in Ramulia and bring some more information to the party about the main plot. The encounters inside aren't too dangerous (Except maybe the animated armor, but that’s fine since you can see it clearly before you enter the room).
A brothers retribution just needs some tidying, help make it clear what the players choices are.
Gregor is by far my favorite character and needs no change (He’s still alive up to chapter three so far in my play test).
Fort Greyrock is the best event in the entire chapter. No change needed.
In the final encounter with Feredir I might make him more tragic than a megalomaniac. The way he reacts should give some insight into how bad his boss is. (Spoilers: He also turns up later, so if possible I’d like to give the party one less reason to just murder him then and there).
Whilst the next chapter does still carry some of the flaws of the first, it plays and flows much better. I think you can tell I’d already learned a lot by then. The major changes to this chapter are mostly with it’s dungeon design, there was a few bits there were a little on the weak side that could be made stronger.
The first encounter with the Kalag is going to be changed to just one big fight rather than two fights. Hounding the party between the fights is actually super annoying (I didn’t even bother in my play test) and the encounter will flow better as a large combat where the enemies goal is not to beat the party.
Need to add a note to the first tomb about what the DM should do if the party decide to split. One of the encounters becomes fatal if you do that, so need to take it into account.
Going to swap Parts Three and Four. Part Four is a side adventure primarily to remind the players about the threat of the man in Green, whilst Part Three flows much better if it goes straight into Part Five (Catching up with what the Gnolls stole from the diplomat).
Going to transform Part Three and Four into proper dungeons. The chase rules I tried to make don’t really work for D&D and I was foolish to try that. A much better method would be having a dungeon area with an escape route you can ‘choose’ to fight towards. Part Four is just a bit short with only one combat encounter so needs a little beefing up.
- The Justice encounter needs a reason for the party to want to jump the gap so they can't just snipe him.
- If possible I'd like to refine the 'dream' sequences a bit. They work but they lack player input too much
That’s it however. Once these changes are done I’ll start working on Chapter Four. Who likes Vampires? You won't after you fight them in this chapter that’s for sure (I don't play by the normal rules, just you wait).