Redesigning my earlier plans

I spent a good deal of yesterday considering my in-person game and the mythic advancement that it has taken on.  I knew that the task I had set them was a tough one and while I was at work I considered it for some time and then decided that it may not have been a tough task, it may well have been a suicidal one.  In regards to this revelation I decided that it was time to re-tweak the design of this particular game to allow for the players to have some room to survive it.  It was also planned to be a longer game than normal as last night saw the midnight launch of the PS4 in Australia and I went and got myself one after the game ran a little longer than normal.

My original notes for the adventure

I tend to write a lot of my adventures these days as flow charts.  This allows me to visualise the possibilities that I think may happen and also provide a not so linear path for the players to the end zone.  Of course the players may still come up with situations I have not allowed for but they can then be added to the flow chart and implemented with a minimum of fuss.  In the current position of the game the players are tasked by a mythic ancient green dragon to bring back the head of the Fomorian Queen (Bestiary 4) of a hive that have been excavating below his lair and causing him troubled sleep.  With that done he will impart information about a Devil that the players are tracking down that the dragon had worked with in the past.

I realised that if the players were to find a way into the Fomorian tunnels that even though they are ranging between 17th and 18th level that they would face no other result other than a TPK.  I had done some statting of some of the Fomorian’s and applied a few classes to them to bring them up to a challenge.  Even without that though this was a big hive and the players were set for trouble.  I realized at this juncture that the adventure that I had planned needed to have at least one more point of entry for them that would have them bypass a great deal of the fomorian host that would more than likely rip them to shreds in the meantime.

I decided then that I wanted to create a channel that allowed the players a direct route to the Queen chamber and to do this I decided that there would be an enemy who was stealing eggs from the Queens chamber.  The reason for the theft was left a little up in the air though I know I needed a burrowing creature that could make its way to the chamber, steal eggs and get away.  In this respect I went to my ipad and looked up burrow under the monsters list and came up with a range of alternates.

Problem was that I wanted to make this a plausible plot hook and not have it look like I just tacked it on to make it easier for the players to reach the Queen.  I also needed it to be a challenge.  I did not want to take away the TPK and replace it with a walk in the park.  I wanted something that sat at around the CR18 level for Pathfinder and with my burrows I found the perfect alternate that would:

  1. Provide a CR 18 encounter;
  2. Allow the players to utilize their mythic powers;
  3. Offer them a real challenge; and
  4. Keep on top of things and take a lot of notes while you play
  5. Give a good plot reason for the theft of the eggs.
I went with a combination of a Nightshade Nightcrawler in cahoots with a Nightshade Nightwalker.  Both of these creatures are intelligent undead that hate the light.  This allowed me to have them tunneling around underground and stealing eggs from the Queen for necromantic experimentation.  The lair of these creatures was swarming with lesser undead that the players could kill in hordes without them affecting the players and the pair of creatures together offered up a decent challenge that actually felt like they were a considered part of the original plot rather than some kind of add on.

So last night this stuff all came together and I ran the game.  A member of the Formian’s (a taskmaster) had emerged from the hive and was seeking a group to chase down some thieves that they could not deal with.  The players got their first look at the Formians and after asking a heap of invasive questions began a great big worm hunt.  Long story short is that the game played out almost exactly as I had intended it to.  

Unfortunately Seleca got swallowed whole and because she has a penchant for really big weapons she actually does not have a weapon that is effective when inside a creature.  Therefore she stayed there for almost the entirety of the battle.  The battle was won by the players in the long run after they had used up a good deal of their resources but then the game took a twist that I did not see coming at the end of the game.
Once the game is over, revisit and re-tweak what you
have planned for games in the future
I sort of laid it on the line for them that the tunnel they had followed likely leads back to the Queen’s egg laying chamber and then they all told me that they were actually going to go back and try to negotiate with the Formian for them to stop tunneling near the Dragon Lair.  They want to be diplomatic and stuff!  I had actually not considered that would be one of the options but really it is a reasonable concept and one that I should more than likely have considered.  It is putting themselves in danger but it is also a way that may actually get around angering the Druids that watch over the forest also.  Not to mention that I think a few of the players are keen to mix it up with the Green Dragon so may be a little keen to turn up and go “Yeah, no head, but no more problem either!” and see what he has to say on the matter.

I know some of you are keen for a blow by blow of the in-person game but I felt that it was more important to highlight the need for constant monitoring of your campaign.  For a campaign to feel real to the players you really need to pay attention to the details and allow for it to evolve from your original design.  The players do have a great effect in a game and in the end it is the story of their characters that you are telling, not the great epic that you have mapped out and that they must follow.  When changes happen in game, roll with them and try to be as flexible as possible. But when you call a game for the night, go back to your design and ask, how can I take what happened tonight and make the game even better.  Until next time, keep rolling!

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