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Thread: Sword & Crown & others....
06-13-1997, 10:25 AM #1KAI BESTEGuest
Sword & Crown & others....
> > >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
> > >years.
> > >
> > 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.
IMC I run two regent characters plus a bunch of commoners. One of the
regents is the baroness of Dhoesone, the other one is the sister of
prince Fhileraene and rules a part of Tuarhievel. They are remote
relatives, so they work together well (sometimes too well). The other
players fit in quite well: One has recently sworn fealty to Dhoesone
and runs a province, another one started out as a bodyguard and still
another one was a hired mage...it works out quite well with a little
But to get to the point:
Mopping up a few goblins doesn't earn you the gratitude of your
people, but turning away an invasion certainly will.
IMHO, you have to be sure to make it personal. You need a hook to get
those regents out of their castles. And that's what the adventures
are very good at. Each of them has different ways to get them
running. They are very easy to adapt. And very open, you don't have
to force your characters through the adventure, they will respond
quite naturally to it.
The adventures offer a lot of freedom. The players don't have to
react to them, but it will have consequences. They can just drop out
of the adventure and resume it at a later date. That's something my
> For that matter, I am not even using the AD&D system for my
> Birthright game.... But that is neither here nor there.
> Now, given this disclaimer, I still feel that the adventures are
> pretty marginal in quality. Not worthless, but certainly
Your call. We played all of them, and my group really enjoyed them.
> 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.
In fact, he has a lot to gain from the plot. Roubhe is sandwiched
between Boeruine and Avanil, the two most powerful realms. A single
wrong move could be his undoing. Now, the plot gives him the chance
to play Boeruine and Avanil off each other. Many humans would die in
the ensuing war, without any waste of precious elven life. Then, when
both realms are seriously weakened from the war, Roubhe's elves come
forth and it will be much easier for them to kill off those "annoying
humans". If the plan works out, he could even keep Avan's daughter to
ensure Avan doesn't do anything stupid, or to harvest her bloodline.
In this best-case cenario he can only win.
> 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.
Spiriting Aubrae away isn't difficult. I had hear dragged into the
woods just as the players came thundering down the hill. They might
realise that they can't affect the plot in this situation, but as
long as you don't do anything illogical they will go along.
> 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.
Well, most guards are 0 or 1st level, so elven archers firing out of
the woods could decimate them really quick.
> 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
Ok, you got a point here. If you really want to push it, you could
make it a special poison, that has some debilitating effects that
last for a few days. There is, however, another possibility. The
adventure assumes, that the characters are the hosts, or friends or
hirelings of the hosts. Since the ambush took place on the hosts
territory, it is his duty to investigate, either personally or by
sending somebody. Inability to find any clues will be a serious loss
of face before the assembled regents, and doing nothing at all isn't
really an option. There are enough ways to get the PCs involved from
> 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.
Theoretically, divination should be able to prove this. But, given
the political inclinations of the crime, it is not sure whether the
assembled regents and the character believe the divining priest or
wizard ("hey, the wizard was bought by Boeruine" or "those priests
are just trying to discredit our lord"). Everybody at the gathering
has at least some political affiliation, and trust isn't widespread
Second, you won't know whether Boeruine has a way to foil the magic.
Heck, he need just make his save.
> 4. Tracking Elves. What? You are kidding right? Cerilian Elves
> have innate Pass without Trace. How are humans going to track them?
Elves can pass without trace, but their captive can't. And I don't
think any self-respecting elf will carry a human. In addition, the
elves might have brought along horses.
> 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.
The thinking involved isn't too hard. The most difficult part is
getting into Ruobhe's tower without being noticed.
> 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?
I'm not sure about this one. Given the potential disloyalty of
Ruobhe's "son" and the orogs, he might think one character might not
make it alone. Ruobhe really wants to get the message (and Aubrae)
back to the festival, and he doesn't take any chances.
> 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 adventures from Hero Kings are just hooks, you have to do some
work on them. I played "double dealing", and it worked really nice
(although the player who was the target wasn't too happy)
> 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.
It is a kind of dungeon crawl. Getting the players into the adventure
isn't difficult, there are numerous hooks. One of the PCs (the
paladin) was possessed by the ghost of the priest from the temple
above, which sparked some really interesting conversations. Then we
had a heated debate about grave robbery (PC1:"is it grave robbery if
I take something lying on the floor?" - PC2:"yes" - PC3"no" - and
then the arguments started flying). In addition, the players learned
the hard way that separating can be a bad idea.
> 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
> specific comments.
Warlock is just half dungeon crawl. First, the players have to locate
the Warlocks fortress through careful research or dumb luck. Then
they have to find a way into it - bringing an army into the mountains
is discouraged. Only the final part - finding and battling the
Warlock - is dungeon crawl. During that final part the warlock tries
to save his hide by offering some really valuable things to the PCs
("immortality"...). This will start some really interesting
conversation among the players. And yes, some ways in the castle
really lead through the shadow world, and there is a dracolich.
> 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.
It was quite nice, though I had to beef up the undead a bit to
challenge my PCs. It's interesting to now how your words are
interpreted: I only mentioned a tighmaevril weapon, and it soon
became a powerful bloodsilver swors...the players were a bit
disappointed when they found the spear (nobody could use it), but just
> 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?
All the adventures from the Hero Kings need a bit of work. They are
very nice as sidelines, but is quite easy to expand them into
The amulet could be a problem, but the PCs will notice it only if
they search the Ogre. Even then they won't know it is magical. They
have to cast a detec magic, and who has those memorized? If they
belong to the players who take along everything they find in a single
backpack, it could be a problem. You can just leave it out and give
the Ogre the "detect bloodline" (?) ability from that Dragon
> 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?
And elven smith probably wouldn't craft evil weapons. The tighmaevril
weapons have existed since before Deismaar, and it was only after the
death of the gods that their potential was detected. The dagger was
probably corrupted by centuries of bloodtheft.
> Again, is this something you want your PCs to have?
Certainly not. Getting the PCs not to use it is quite easy. If a
character picks up the dagger, he is overwhelmed by bloodlust, and
will attack the nearst blooded individual, whoever that may be. Trust
me, they won't use it again after they almost killed their best
friend with it.
> 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
That's true for any players IMHO. It is an ability all players have
in common to see through the best plots and kill the most difficult
> Does anyone else agree with me, or am I barking mad as usual?
I agree on your general statements on players and items but I liked
just my 2GBs
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