Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tangent: Dungeon Master's Guide 2 and this Project

The DMG2 is out, and I picked it up this weekend. After reading through it, I'm going to be making a number of revisions to the first few adventures (and adopting these changes going forward as well) based on new rules and advice offered in the book. Here is what I'm planning:

  • Companion Characters: Shalelu, from The Hook Mountain Massacre, will be changed from an NPC into an optional companion character. She will be able to fill the role of an extra party member, if needed. I will include information on how to increase her level as the adventure progresses; she can reasonably be included in the party through the entirety of the module. The surviving Black Arrows (Jakardros, Vale, and Kaven) will remain NPCs. For information on what companion characters are, see the official excerpt on the Wizards website.
  • Terrain: I will be making additional notations on terrain in encounters in the conversion write-ups. Some terrain features (and possibly some hazards or traps) will instead become terrain powers. For information on the role terrain powers fill, see the official excerpt on the Wizards website.
  • Traps & Hazards: As mentioned above, certain traps may become terrain powers, as appropriate. Others may see slight revision to fit better with some of the trap standards included in the DMG2.
  • Skill Challenges: Some skill challenges may be revised, though I have been making revisions to skill challenges as I learn more about good design. Hopefully few such revisions will be needed. Samples of the skill challenge advice offered in the DMG2 can be found in the official excerpt on the Wizards website.
  • Monsters: There will only be a handful of changes to monsters I've designed. Off the top of my head, I'm considering applying the Goblin Allies monster theme to some of the non-goblin creatures found in Burnt Offerings.
Expect to see these changes implemented in the next published version of each adventure conversion.

On a related note, I very strongly recommend purchasing a copy of the DMG2. It is one of the strongest tools a DM - new or experienced - can have to draw upon. I guarantee that you will find something in the book that will improve your game.


Pete Hat said...


I'll be very interested to see your changes. I am just about to kick off Burnt Offerings next weekend, and also got the DMG and was mulling over options.

One of the things I was never quite convinced by was the skill challenges for the shopkeeper's daughter and the boar hunt. I thought they both suffered a bit from being shoe-horned into the new skill challenge structure.

So I was thinking of making Local Heroes one long running skill challenge, including both of the two above challenges, along with a few others involving interaction with locals. Maybe using some of the hints in the module like the hagfish drinking contest or the theater performance, and maybe adding a couple of others, e.g. dealing with a drunken bar fight when deputizing for the sheriff when he leaves them to visit Magnimar. In any case, the idea would be to have a number of role playing encounters counting as successes or failures spread out over a longer period instead of all between the initial raid and the glassworks.

I'd be interested to hear what you think of this idea, and how the above mentioned skill challenges ran as you wrote them when your players went throught them.

Scott said...


That actually sounds like a fine idea. I chose to focus on encounters that were specifically called out in the original adventure, but adding things like an Endurance-based challenge for the Hagfish's tank sounds good.

Stretching it out over a lengthier period of time is also in keeping with skill challenge design philosophy. As long as the PCs aren't suffering from not receiving that experience earlier (and they probably won't), it should work just fine.

Scott said...

Oh, and regarding how they went in my game:

The Boar Hunt was underwhelming, mostly because the party did abysmally and failed the challenge very quickly. This took place two days before WotC published the revised page 42 skill DC chart, so the PCs' failure probably wasn't their fault.

The Shopkeep's Daughter remains one of the most entertaining skill challenges I've run. I was really happy with how it played out - the rogue got lured into the basement, heard the footsteps coming with a good Perception check, and escaped through a combination of Stealth and Bluff checks (to distract her father). He was also Eladrin, so his Fey Step came in handy for getting across the basement without being seen - it earned him an automatic success.