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Thread: Sword & Crown & others....
06-11-1997, 12:47 PM #1Jaime T. MatthewGuest
Sword & Crown & others....
WARNING - To make my point, I must include a couple of major
spoilers. If there is a chance you might be run through this
adventure, please don't read the following. (or you can read up until
the spoiler warning below.)
> >Has anyone else run their parties, or been in a party, that went through
> >one of the published adventures? I'd like to hear some input on how they
> >went. IMNSHO, they're some of the best adventures I've seen written in
> Although I am the chief DM, one of my players has been helping co-DM a lot.
> I let him run the "Sword and Crown" adventure. We thought it was lot of
> fun. In fact, our characters managed to anger several NPCs during the
> course of the adventure (although, we did manage to avoid starting a war
> between Avanil and Boueruine as well as our own nation, Roesone). We've
> already brought one revenge plot into the game and we have others planned.
> "Sword and Crown" was well written and enjoyable.
As much as I love the setting, and the amount of work which has gone
into it, I have a much harsher view of the published modules for
First, it may be useful to note that I am not running a game for a
bunch of regents. My characters are adventurers tried and true. It
is still my opinion that no kingdom would look favorably upon their
beloved ruler risking their neck to mop up a bunch of goblins and the
odd Awnsheghlien or two.
For that matter, I am not even using the AD&D system for my
Birthright game.... But that is neither here nor there.
I don't envy the designers having to create adventures for such a
wide potential of character types (Rulers, Adventurers, Commoners,
Nobles, etc.). Obviously, their modules must support the game as
written even if many of us do not utilize it as such. They must
assume that the PCs are regents (at least some of them), that the GM
is using the Domain turns, etc., and that they are playing AD&D
(although this one is a fairly safe bet : ) ). Given this, the
adventures must still be fairly open-ended to take into account the
many playing possibilities for this setting.
Now, given this disclaimer, I still feel that the adventures are
pretty marginal in quality. Not worthless, but certainly
The only one I have in front of me, is the Sword & Crown, so I will
pull a couple of examples out of that one to make my point.
1. The premise. We are asked to assume that Rhuobhe MANSLAYER,
dreaded elven abomination, is willing to humor the daughter of one of
his greatest foes. Is this really in character for Rhoubhe? This
awnshegh exists only to end the bloodlines of the humans around
him. I could see him trading her life for her father's, but not
playing around with her little plot. What does he have to gain from
it? Too little for him to bother.
2. The set-up. I can't actually use it for my players. They would
easily foil it, and spoil the rest of the adventure. Three things
have to occur in order for the adventure to progress:
a) "REGARDLESS of the PCs skill, the attackers somehow manage to
spirit Aubrae Avan away." My PCs would just love that. "I'm sorry,
you killed all of the attackers, but she has still vanished without a
trace. It's the damnedest thing...." I really don't like to be this
heavy-handed about things. It ruins the GM-Player bond of trust. I
like my PCs to at least >think< they can effect the plot when they
are clever or effective. One of my PCs can fly. This would make it
very difficult for the attackers to get away from him.
b) "Prince Avan's guards are whittled down severely, leaving only
two." Okay, this is easy enough to manage. Although my characters
could probably save a couple of others if they were ALLOWED to do so.
c) "Prince Avan is rendered helpless by a poisoned arrow that finds
his belly. Though the PC's castle may be home to healers aplenty,
none can bring Avan back to full health in time to pursue those who
have stolen his daughter." Now, this may be a matter of playing
style, but I've always ruled that magical healing is, well, magical
healing. No recovery time necessary. He could be up and kicking in
no time. Although, again, there could be good reasons why this
couldn't happen. (At a meeting of all the important people in
Anuire, don't you think a few high-ranked clerics might show up?
Especially given the highly political nature of the temples in
3. The crime. The bandits are wearing the livery of Boeruine.
"Hey, Boeruine must be responsible for the attack! String him up!"
My players aren't going to be fooled by this. Boeruine is too smart
to allow this to be traced back to him if he really were responsible.
Unless he wanted it to be traced back to him, so it would look as if
he were being framed.... : ) -- Again, aren't there going to be
clerics at this event? Through Divination or Detect Lie, won't
Boeruine be able to clear his name pretty quickly? And given that
why would Rhoubhe go along with this plan? The elves are too sloppy
(dumping the bodies in a nearby ravine) for the plan to ever have any
chance of success.
4. Tracking Elves. What? You are kidding right? Cerilian Elves
have innate Pass without Trace. How are humans going to track them?
5. The adventure: I have to read through this again for more
specific comments, but it is assumed that PCs have brought a small
army with them. Perhaps this is reasonable give the set-up. There
is no shortage of Regents who would lend men to this cause. It seems
to be a pretty decent dungeon crawl (my PCs have been itching to kill
a few Orogs...). No ridiculous monsters stand out from my first
couple of passes through it. Should provide a good challenge to your
PCs, although I'm not sure how much thinking enters into the picture.
6. The conclusion: The PCs vs. Rhoubhe Manslayer. Why would he
let any of them escape? Maybe one to tell the world of Aubrae's
dishonesty, but the others? The PCs have entered his home, killed
his elves, stolen his stuff, etc. He should slay them out of hand.
What are the odds they caught him on a good day? He should
immediately "harvest" the blooded individuals, noble and otherwise.
He might let the Elves in the group live (pity my group has no
elves), although Half-Elves should be so offensive to Rhoubhe that he
kills them on sight. What could be more awful to him than the
crossing of man and elf?
Most of these problems are fixable, but I think they demonstrate my
point. These adventures aren't clever enough. At least not for my
players. They can foil them twelve ways from Tuesday if I don't beat
them over the head with the adventure. "Why can't you do that?
Because the adventure said so." We have a term for that in our
group: "Gygaxium." The substance which puts aside the abilities of
the players and the characters to enforce the plot at any cost.
This adventure (and the others) suffer from a disturbing lack of red
herrings. In fact, one of the adventure's I ran from the Legends
of the Hero Kings, had NO red herrings. A mystery with NO red
herrings. It was fun to see them search for "the catch" and not find
it (yes, it really is as obvious as it seems). (It is the one where
the Regent's Lieutenant's relative is framed for a murder).
The other adventures seem okay, but I'd have to reread them for
specific comments. My initial impressions:
1. The adventure where the PCs go digging around in a lost Khinasi
temple for the sword of Michael Roele is nothing more than an
old-style hack and slash dungeon bonk. Lots of rooms with different
monsters and no real meat for roleplaying. And at the end, the only
thing the PCs have to show for their efforts is a broken sword.
Great conversation piece, however.
2. The Warlock of the Stonecrowns. Interesting premise. Again, I
think this one devolves into a dungeon crawl as well. There is also
(if my memory serves) a brief jaunt onto the Shadow World for an
encounter with a dracolich. Yuck. I have to reread this for
3. The Bloodspear module from Dungeon Magazine. This is the best of
the lot. Sure, it is a dungeon crawl, but it introduces some neat
characters, gives a feel for the Shadow World, and allows the PCs to
get their hopes up over a Tighmaevril weapon. It was a hoot to run.
4. The Legends of the Hero Kings. An interesting concept, but a
mediocre execution. Most of these adventures are too one-note to be
anything but sidelines during a real adventure. For example, in the
Horns of Droene, the PCs encounter an Awnsheghlien named the Ogre.
He sets up an ambush and tries to commit bloodtheft on the PCs.
Tada. End of story. Although, if the PCs try the same trick on him,
they have a chance of having their bloodline corrupted by his evil
Azrai blood. (I have expanded this rule to include all scions of
Azrai). Did I mention the Amulet he carries that tells you the
bloodline and strength of the scions around you? Is that really an
item you want your PCs to have? I sure don't. Another adventure
involves a tighmaevril dagger. It is clearly an evil weapon. Why
would the Elven smith be crafting evil weapons? Again, is this
something you want your PCs to have? The Fang of Kriesha adventure
looked pretty good.
Phew. I guess I really had more to say on this matter than I
thought. I hope this doesn't come across as unusually picky. I have
very bright players, and it is difficult to challenge them without an
equally intelligent plot. If there are obvious holes, they will find
Does anyone else agree with me, or am I barking mad as usual?
Jaime T. Matthew
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