The Drow War

The Drow War by Adrian Bott is a series of adventures written for D&D 3E taking characters from level 1 to level 30. Each book contains 10 adventures taking the characters up one level, apparently. I’m going to mine them for ideas and take notes.

The three books:

2020-06-22 Chillhame

All right, let’s get to it. We’re reading The Gathering Storm by Adrian Bott, for D&D 3.5, with an eye to running it using Halberds & Helmets. Chillhame is the first adventure. Thus, I’m expecting goblins, maybe giant rats. 😀

Page 24 tells us how the rest of the text is going to be structured. I like it: locations, plot events, events (i.e. optional events that you can use when your players want something to fight – and I know it sounds cheesy but sometimes that’s exactly how it works), non-player characters, information to be gathered, and a discussion of the aftermath. This makes sense and I like that it isn’t all structured like the Paizo adventure paths, which are primarily map based, with introductions for the book and for each section, making it hard for me to find stuff that wasn’t strictly based on the map. Where do you look for the stuff you half remember?

Page 25 tells us about the big conflict between the island of Chillhame and the neighbouring country of Caldraza, which is one of the upcoming destinations in the campaign, so that’s interesting, but also somewhat buried in more paragraphs.

Page 26 starts the adventure. The players all appear near some standing stones. A goddess speaks some stuff and points the players in the right direction. Player characters can be resurrected at these nodes and the circle of stones is one of these places. I like the idea that there are nodes where magic is stronger than usual and thus magic users and elves are both interested in taking it over. That also means, I think, that powerful magic users should have built a tower here, or there should be an elven fortress, or a former fortress, right here. Perhaps I’m going to skip all of this but retain the idea that sometimes magic users and elves have extra powers in their homes.

Page 27 has shadow goblins attacking. That doesn’t sound very interesting. The player characters must soon leave the island or the land bridge sinks beneath the waves as the tide rises. If the players stay, nothing happens. All of that I’ll skip, I think.

Page 28 has two sections with information, both structured as skill checks. That never felt very good to me as a D&D 3.5 referee. I think I’ll have to reread these sections, prepare a list of villager names, and have players learn all these things in free play. In an old blog post of mine from 2012 I talk about social skills, and in a blog post from 2011 I talk about enjoying acting at the table. That’s why I’m looking forward to writing down a bunch of names, the thing these people might be interested in, and letting players interact with them.

Page 29 introduces the local bully, Jim Oakenbough. I think I won’t be needing all those D&D 3E stat blocks, but I can skim it and learn that he’s a good fighter, he’s friendly, but his voice has menacing undertones. There’s a subplot about a dead tax collector. All in all things that can be condensed to two or three paragraphs, I think.

Jim Oakenbough is a F2 with leather armour, bow and arrows, sword and shield, AC 6.

Page 30 has the stat blocks of three of Jim’s companions. OK. There’s also the stats of two guards, an older one, tired, hates himself, and a younger one, eager, shrewd. I like this setup. It’s going to be interesting to have the players interact with them all.

Hal Betram, taciturn, smelly. Tom Cucksmere, always eating chicken and drinking wine. Jacko Fenn, laughing about his own jokes. all of them F1 with leather armour, bow and arrows, sword and shield, AC 6.

Davan Gaskell is a F4 with chain armour, bow and arrows, sword and shield, AC 4. Morton Gimbert is a F1 with leather armour, bow and arrows, sword and shield, AC 6.

I think weapon choice, like rapier instead of sword, crossbow instead of short bow, and all the specialised equipment useful in combat – remember tanglefoot bags? – makes combat tedious. I do like the treasure they carry and the short explanation provided, like “silver chalice stolen from a church (90gp).”

Page 31 has three locations, the shop, the inn, and the windmill. It’s nice to be able to add some colour to descriptions. The problem is going to be to condense three or four paragraphs into a sentence or two, I think.

I think this is where players can learn all the info bits from earlier pages. The Golden Nugget is run by Bernik and Jinnie Oakenbough. Bernik is Jim’s brother. Mother Bailey is a suspicious old woman.

Page 32 has the guard dogs, a nice trap, and mechanics for a fight, I like it. All of it is verbose, but I’ve already bought the book many years ago so there’s no use complaining.

Use the stats for wolves and war dogs: HD 2+1 AC 7 1d6 F1 MV 18 ML 6 XP 200.

Treasure chest: nail trap, 1d6 to anybody nearby, plus automatic tattoo. The crest of Saragost on the chest makes it clear that this is stolen property.

Page 32 has the old church and father Bronson. I no longer have clerics in my game. So the cleric can be a retired fighter.

Father Bronson has a deep voice and mutton chops. He is a F2 with plate armour and shield, mace +1, AC 1.

And with page 34 we’re off to the first excursion, the tomb of Starkweather John and the first hobgoblin camp. Next time!

Tags:

Add Comment

2020-06-21 The Gathering Storm

I’m planning to see whether I can use The Gathering Storm by Adrian Bott, the first book in The Drow War trilogy. It’s written for D&D 3E and I’d be using the material for my Halberds & Helmets house rules, that is to say, a B/X D&D, with established characters around level 5, and players bringing two or three characters on an adventure, for a total of around 10–15 characters per session.

I’m considering to blog my notes as I go through the book. What can I say, I like a structured approach. I think it helps me focus. And if I pull it off, it might make a nice resource for somebody else to read through, and an interesting window into the mind of another referee preparing and adapting about thirty adventures (if we ever get that far!) for their game – and perhaps it’ll get me back into the groove given that I put one of my campaigns on hiatus.

Spoilers!

With all that in mind, let’s start skimming this 256 page book! 😀

Page 4 has a summary of the ten adventures in this book. That’s how it’s going to be: each book has ten adventures with player characters ending on level 10 by the end of the first book, on level 20 by the end of the second book, and then things get turned up to eleven as player characters go up to level 30 by the end of the third book. Or so it says! I’m excited.

The summary on page 4 tells me what I need:

  • a region (the island Chillhame) with a stone circle to start the adventure
  • a local village (Bronce) that acts as the hub for some low level adventures
  • a walled seaport city, mighty, ruled by a council (Saragost)
  • more villages to warn (or clear) in the region
  • another city, a den of thieves or worse (Crescent City)
  • a temple in a swamp
  • a maze beneath a former thieves’ guild
  • a bank in this city, with a vault
  • another country across the sea (Caldraza)
  • a capital of said country (Beacon City)
  • a haunted forest
  • a palace of black glass (?)
  • a world underground full of drow

All of this is very exciting.

Pages 5–11 talk about the various regions of the setting, which I don’t need. Pages 12–13 talk about the drow and the elves of the setting, which I don’t need either, I think. Pages 14–19 talk about the pantheon, which I won’t use. Pages 20–22 talk about the Starborn, which is that the player characters are reincarnations of ancient heroes or something like that. I’m definitely not going to use that. Let’s hope the adventures still work!

My earlier campaigns in the same setting used some place names from the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (Lenap, Ghinor) and ignored a lot of the setting material, too.

Page 23 talks about nodes, which is definitely something I already have, and victory points, which is important to the overall flow of the campaign, which I love.

All right, that’s 23 page skimmed and not too many notes taken. 😀

Next up: the starting region, the starting village, and the starting adventure. We’ll see how much of that we can use for a party of 10–15 characters of levels 3–5.

Tags:

Add Comment

Comments


Please make sure you contribute only your own work, or work licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Note: in order to facilitate peer review and fight vandalism, we will store your IP number for a number of days. See Privacy Policy for more information. See Info for text formatting rules. You can edit the comment page if you need to fix typos. You can subscribe to new comments by email without leaving a comment.

To save this page you must answer this question:

Just say HELLO