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 Post subject: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 8:40 pm 
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I'm about to run my new DW group through Shadow on the Mist and wondered what people that might already have played it (as characters or as the GM) think of it? I did play through it once before with my pre-Dublin gaming group and made some updates, but as I dust off the covers of that version of the adventure, I thought I'd plumb the collective's thoughts and opinions to see if there's anything I should revisit.

We're currently all playing over Zoom, so I've already made a video of something they'll hear recited at the inn at Norham - there are some clues, but no spoilers in it:

https://youtu.be/a15dgWUw7yY

Gaming remotely (over Zoom) does open up a lot more options for player handouts!

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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 12:41 am 
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A Shadow on the Mist is one of my favourite DW adventures and I have run it (or variants of it) several times over the years.

It's a fairly dangerous adventure, as Tuannon is a fearsome opponent. A party that blunders straight into the barrow may have a very short adventure... But that's the risk, sometimes. You have to decide on the strength of your party and whether you're prepared for a TPK. As the wight is massively dangerous, I tend to tone down some of the other threats (the "rusting glaive", for example, is an almost certain party death). Mind you, I once ran it where the first thing the party did was break the chain guarding the dell - thus releasing Tuannon... Oops.

But then, you've played it before - so you know all that! ;)

One of the things I regularly change (from a setting point of view) are the railings around the dell - iron railings would cost a fortune in a medieval society as they would be incredibly hard to make. They only really appeared became possible in the real world in the 15th Century (as wrought iron) and one of their first uses in Britain was outside St. Paul's in the early 18th Century. They only became widespread in Victorian times. Iron railings right around a dell is simply massively anachronistic. But a fence of linked wooden stakes on the other hand, or boundary stones incised with a cross, or a dry stone wall with an opening barred by an iron chain, all these are possible...*
* You'd need sharp fence posts for Harald to impale himself, but he could instead have simply shattered his shoulder on one of the stones.

I don't always play the adventure to include Sir Beorn and his plot, as the Dell itself is quite atmospheric and can be set pretty much anywhere with just a bit of tweaking.

(I may have to pinch your Ballad of Gardener Jack for the next time I run this scenario...)


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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 2:23 am 
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Good point about the railings.

Perhaps change the boundary to a stone wall, with stylised crosses marked every so often on prominent stones?
Sharp, jagged flint lines the top of the wall (to replace the spiked railings of the original iron fence).
Ensure the black cross that fastens the heavy chain is of the same design as the stylised crosses, to give a clue that the chain and the wall are one and the same (part of a magical boundary).

"A sea of freezing fog hangs here, filling the air with a damp animal reek. You find a rough stone wall higher than your heads, lined with sharp flint, sturdy despite it's apparent age. Following this a little way, you see a few gaps where stones have broken and crumbled, though none are large enough for a man to squeeze through. Every few yards a cross has been engraved onto a prominent stone in the wall, in an old style common among the Cornumbrian church.
Soon you arrive at a tall iron gate in this wall. Close by you notice a possible clue to the tax collectors fate: a bloodied tatter of cloth hangs from a sharp flint shard atop the wall.
The gate is fastened shut with a heavy chain on which hangs a large black crucifix of the same design as those marked along the wall. Beyond the gate you see only the impenetrable blanket of mist..."


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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:56 am 
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Starkad wrote:
It's a fairly dangerous adventure, as Tuannon is a fearsome opponent. A party that blunders straight into the barrow may have a very short adventure... But that's the risk, sometimes. You have to decide on the strength of your party and whether you're prepared for a TPK. As the wight is massively dangerous, I tend to tone down some of the other threats (the "rusting glaive", for example, is an almost certain party death). Mind you, I once ran it where the first thing the party did was break the chain guarding the dell - thus releasing Tuannon... Oops.

Legend, generally, is a very dangerous land in which to go adventuring and I do tend to tone things down from the published adventures (plus, characters can have a "defeated" condition from which you won't immediately die) - but not to the point that the lands are too safe (or healing too easy). I also like the adventurers to have a fighting chance - the rusting glaive is a perfect example of something the adventurers could never hope to prepare for, as there's not much foreshadowing of how dangerous it is. Without meaningful choices, death on the roll of die can just make a player feel cheated.

Starkad wrote:
One of the things I regularly change (from a setting point of view) are the railings around the dell - iron railings would cost a fortune in a medieval society as they would be incredibly hard to make. They only really appeared became possible in the real world in the 15th Century (as wrought iron) and one of their first uses in Britain was outside St. Paul's in the early 18th Century. They only became widespread in Victorian times. Iron railings right around a dell is simply massively anachronistic. But a fence of linked wooden stakes on the other hand, or boundary stones incised with a cross, or a dry stone wall with an opening barred by an iron chain, all these are possible...*
* You'd need sharp fence posts for Harald to impale himself, but he could instead have simply shattered his shoulder on one of the stones.

I hadn't even considered that, but it's a good shout - consider it appropriated :).

Starkad wrote:
I don't always play the adventure to include Sir Beorn and his plot, as the Dell itself is quite atmospheric and can be set pretty much anywhere with just a bit of tweaking.

Actually, the Beorn plot was the weakest thing in it when I ran it with my last group - but I put that down to me being not particularly good at the social improvisation required for that kind of plot. I was toying this time of toning it down to be the headman in Norham that drove Harald to flee for the Dell.

Starkad wrote:
(I may have to pinch your Ballad of Gardener Jack for the next time I run this scenario...)

You're welcome - it was fun to make and I might do more of them. I certainly want to re-do the promotional videos on my channel and then continue the series for most of the available supplements. Even a two-minute video takes an inordinate amount of time, tho, so that's a project that never quite reaches the top of my list!

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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:49 pm 
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You're welcome - it was fun to make and I might do more of them

Cool. Ta. :D

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Even a two-minute video takes an inordinate amount of time...

I'll take your word for that. That sort of thing is well beyond my technical expertise.

Quote:
Actually, the Beorn plot was the weakest thing in it when I ran it with my last group...

The PCs could actually be chasing someone themselves (a thief?) and track them to the Dell. There wouldn't be a 'special sword', of course, but they'll find the thief trussed up on the gallows and may wonder why...
...Or they might have been sent to look for someone who's gone missing (a knight's young son, a wandering monk, a merchant?) and they stumble upon the Dell. Not only would the missing person have come to a grisly end, but they'd have to return and tell the person who sent them. One for a darker adventure, perhaps?
...Or they stumble upon the Dell and one of them falls victim to Tuannon's trickery. Do they investigate further?
There are so many possibilities...

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...death on the roll of die can just make a player feel cheated.

Totally agree. The rusty polearm might be cursed instead... something potentially nasty, but not lethal. It might shatter when first used against Tuannon, for example...

Or it might have the effect stated in the adventure, but the effect takes place over time. If the PC leaves the Dell before it takes full effect, then the curse ceases (it only works within the confines of the Dell). You could have fun describing how the character starts appearing insubstantial, how he feels the cold of the mist seeping into his very core...


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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2020 1:34 pm 
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Too many zombies. (Or Possibly not enough zombies?)

The first one they encounter is superbly atmospheric but against a party of three or four it’s not at all dangerous and frankly kind of tiresome to hack apart each time. By the time they stumble on the fourth or fifth it’s just dull. And while I like the undefeated ones slowly converging on the barrow, there’s usually only one or two they’ve missed.

Feels it needs some way to make them more of a challenge or engaging in some other way.. Two or even three zombies at every encounter? It shouldn’t take long for players to realise that keeping away from them might be more sensible. And knowing that six, eight, ten zombies are somewhere out in the mists behind them could make a more tense adventure?

Or some other way to make the encounters feel more unique. Instead of a straight up fight, have a moldering arm erupting from the ground and trying to pull the Sorcerer down into the ground?

I like the Beorn plot very much indeed but it requires a lot of GM spontaneity. Having a plan of Aldred’s Castle handy at the very least would be wise. You can also draw the plot out with some side adventures as they travel.

Game I ran, they managed to kill Beorn by some very lucky dice rolls before he could flee, but they still had to deal with Alcuin at the castle who couldn’t help but recognize his brother’s horse being led by strangers as they tried to enter using a letter of recommendation from Sir Talard (A Weak Pleasure) after rescuing his son on their journey.

Would have been a TPK in the courtyard, had the Capellar from A Box of Old Bones not been visiting the castle and willing to vouch for their honesty to at least have an audience with the Baron.


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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:50 am 
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I got the impression it was a featureless flat area where you could make out things like halberds at a distance. Guess thats just looking at the map. Maybe make it hilly, marshy with thorny vegetation and a pack of wolves that keep running off unimpeded by the thorns. Not an issue if you're wearing heavy armour but might entangle someone trying to push through it. Maybe some deep marsh where a plate armour guy will have issues pulling himself out, and then wolves come back....

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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:29 am 
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I got the impression it was a featureless flat area where you could make out things like halberds at a distance.

From the adventure:
"The entire region within the Dell is shrouded in thick fog. The characters' visibility will be no more than 30m – and beyond 10m, objects appear only as shadows on the mist."


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 Post subject: Re: Shadow on the Mist
PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:10 am 
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Yeah. A sapper would ask whether theres anything except earth for defensive structures....

Don't see why you can't have a lot of terrain features, thorny bushes, deep mud marshes, mosquitoes, scavenger birds and floating dead things...

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