Author Topic: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.  (Read 5147 times)

Doktor Howl

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Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« on: July 04, 2015, 06:05:34 am »
The idea was great, but all 3 published versions sucked.

So, doing it myself.  Instead of some demon lords being behind the fake elemental cult, it's run by an inner circle of Vecna cultists.  Of course, the undead Vecna has moved on to bigger and better things than being a moldy old undead thing, so he has no intention of coming back.  But they're dumb and maniacal, and yanno...

Anyway, I have two groups going through the campaign at the same time, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  I am not running the same adventure twice, I am running them both through at the same time, and the actions of one group affect the other, and vice-versa.  In fact, tomorrow they all sit at the table together for a massive "Rumble in the Slums".

The groups have cleared out and set up shop in a couple of arcane sites, smacking around some temple heavies in the process (and learning of the return of the ancient threat).  The local wizards guild has decided they want the sites, and have hired goons to take the parties out.  The more experienced party has gotten wind of this, and the fact that the guild is going to take out the less experienced party first.  So they send a henchman to warn the group (who is going down to the docks to meet a guy who supposedly knows where the ancient evil temple is).

The more experienced group arrives just as the bad guys kick off their ambush.

The map of the docks and the adjoining slum is divided into 19 segments, and each segment has either hit men of one kind or another, or nothing, or helpful people from a gang the parties are friendly with (which is to say, they have common enemies).  Each segment also has "chase" conditions that have to be met before anyone can enter them (crowded street, etc).  This of course applies to the good guys and the bad guys, and may result in groups of both being split, as individuals make the required checks.  The less experienced PCs arrive randomly in one of the first 8 zones (the Northern half of the map), and the other party arrives in either zone 1, 5, or 9.  The less experienced PCs are out of their league, and have to survive until the other party shows up.

Also, there's a pack of pit bulls that wander the map and attack either side.  Because life is just more FUN with a horde of feral pit bulls.  Oh, and more giant rats than you can shake a stick at. And a swarm of carniverous cockroaches. And CANNIBAL STREET URCHINS.  Because slums.  And it's raining like Goddamn Portland, mostly so they don't burn the city down, but also because the modifiers are universal and vastly amusing (to me).  Lastly, the bad guys in an adjoining zone may see the PCs if they make a ruckus, and attempt to move into their zone to attack, and all bad guys chase good guys no matter where they go.

Victory conditions are:

PCs are killed - obviously, bad guys win, campaign over.
PCs survive by fleeing the slums - draw, no information, and the goons are still out for them.
PCs get to the informant and then escape - PCs win, get information.
PCs wipe out 80-100 percent of the bad guys - Crushing victory, PCs get information, wizards guild humiliated, bonus experience for everyone.

The parties have three (3) hours of real time to complete their objectives.

The bad guys are a mixed bag of lunatic bleachling gnomes, red mantis assassins, street thugs, some murder cultists, a solo monk bounty hunter, and some Sczarni (ie, Roma) hit men (among other things).

The friendly gang, the Garbanzo brothers outfit, is located in two zones, and can be made helpful with a diplomacy check, in which case they either toss the PCs a healing potion or two OR eliminate any one group of assassins chasing the PCs.

Now, this comes off almost like a boardgame, and it really is for this session, but that's the best way to get the cinematic feeling ala Indiana Jones or Brandon Fraser in The Mummy.

If they live through this, then phase two starts, and the more experienced party goes off to the temple, while the less experienced party works for that nice old deformed noble that's been paying them for odd jobs that are getting more than a little disturbing.

Cain

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2015, 07:20:35 pm »
Running them co-currently sounds like a great idea.  Presumably the group who goes second gets their actions incorporated into the next session for the first group?

And you can never go wrong with cannibal urchins.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2015, 11:06:15 pm »
Running them co-currently sounds like a great idea.  Presumably the group who goes second gets their actions incorporated into the next session for the first group?

And you can never go wrong with cannibal urchins.

Yep.

Also, this went AMAZINGLY well.  The PCs were mission-oriented, and went straight for the prize.  The monk-assassin nearly had them, but they used the Garbanzo Brothers' button man to take her out.

A good time and a lot of laughs were had by all.

Cain

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2015, 12:39:19 am »
They sound like a clever group.  Then again, if you've been DMing for them for any length of time, they'd have to be.

Prelate Diogenes Shandor

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2015, 11:28:15 pm »
Is this an alternate history/timeline version, or more just that they reconsecrated the temple to Vecna after Zuggtmoy was banished? Either way it sounds neat.


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The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2015, 10:12:07 pm »
This DID sound pretty amazing. Mass combat is hard enough with just one well experienced group, my hat off to you for such a clean method of handling 2 groups and so many little extras for plot!
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

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Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2015, 03:51:58 am »
Is this an alternate history/timeline version, or more just that they reconsecrated the temple to Vecna after Zuggtmoy was banished? Either way it sounds neat.

Totally alternate.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2015, 04:04:06 am »
This DID sound pretty amazing. Mass combat is hard enough with just one well experienced group, my hat off to you for such a clean method of handling 2 groups and so many little extras for plot!

I prepped for 5 hours the day before.

Afterward, the more experienced party took the information and did a 14 day slog across the countryside to this bitty little mountain village in the vicinity of the temple.  They're still not sure where it is, so they have some hunting to do.  Gonna involve digging up some dude's grave, I think, for clues.  Hireling treachery is also headed their way.

The less experienced party is still working for the creepy noble dude, gathering up antiquities for him.  So far, they've stolen the death mask of the second best ballerina ever (the best one is currently alive), the book of Eibon (which they can't open, as you have to have caster level 11 or the cover won't budge), and now they've just swiped a magic coffin that doesn't allow anything placed in it to rot. 

That last one gave the party the jimjams, and they're starting to see a pattern.  AND they know he's friends with the best ballerina (the live one), and her protege.  The noble isn't stupid, so he's going to try to bump them off shortly.  Fortunately for them, they just rescued a lizard man ranger from a peasant mob (beating up the local holy man in the process, and that's gonna come back to haunt them), who is going to give them some extra muscle.

The reason the noble is doing this is because the ballerina is an 11th level bard and is concerned that her looks are fading, so she has a plan to turn into a lich, using a bardic version of gentle repose to keep her looking young/non-rotten.  This will tie in with the Vecna cult.  The noble is infatuated with her, and she's promised to cure his deformities (lying), and turn him and all the other people assisting her into some form of intelligent undead (not lying, but they don't realize they'll be enslaved to her).  More about this later.

Meanwhile, the wizard's guild is licking it's wounds (ie, bruised pride) and looking for another shot at both groups.

Also, the brawler/fighter in the less experienced group took an alignment point for tossing the plot hook dude into a trap, which killed him, because the guy was poisoned and was hollering in delirium (giving away hints, but the fighter wasn't having the noise, so 20d6 crushing damage for the bandit.)  So long, Ginge, we hardly knew ya.  :cry:
« Last Edit: July 19, 2015, 04:05:55 am by Doktor Howl »

Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2015, 03:23:40 am »
This week, the less experienced party is going to the opera, to spy on their boss.  The Soprano and the Ballerina will be using a modified version of the bardic masterpiece "The Song of Extinction", which will cause the death of 6 opera-goers (not the noble cabal or the party).  What happens is that within an hour, bizarre accidents will kill the 6 unfortunates.  The deaths will be freak accidents that will happen as the opera house empties.  Which ought to raise hackles.

The party will also see a second noble in the same theater box as their patron.  This guy is actually the patron's "boss", and if the party is smart, they'll try to find out who their patron's buddy is.  The PCs will be attacked by assassins on the way home from the opera.  These assassins were hired by the noble, but it will be made to appear that these are more wizards guild thugs.

The more experienced party will find out that nobody in the village knows where the temple is, but that the grave of a follower of one of the original crusaders is nearby.  It is venerated as a shrine, so the PCs are going to have to sneak around a bit if they plan on digging it up.  When they do, the skeleton inside will have a sword wrapped in a second shroud, and an elaborately carved tobacco pipe (the carving being a map of the local area).  The pipe's stem unscrews, and there is a strip of silk inside with lettering on it.  If it's wrapped around the pipe from the mouthpiece down, it will mark the location of the temple.  If the PCs don't figure this out, the "dumb" hireling will, and will take steps to destroy the information once memorized, to have exclusive knowledge of the location of the tomb.  He will then barter that information for a share of the loot, instead of his fairly meager wages.

The sword, on the other hand, is an old and rather nasty NPC in older campaigns of mine.  Carvin' Marvin, a chaotic neutral sword dedicated to Gorum, the god of battles.  It's basically an intelligent cursed berserking sword, though it will pretend to be a benign being until its wielder gets in a scrap and has to make an ego check to avoid a "Marvin Moment" (ie, go totally and homicidally batshit).  This moment will come along rather swiftly, as two things happen at the same time:  One of the wandering orc raiding parties comes along, and the villagers notice that there's activity around the "sacred" grave.  Hilarity ensues.  The PCs should be able to wipe both groups out, but the villagers are their sole means of resupply, so they're going to have to get creative if they want to have anywhere to buy food and rest up.

When all is said and done, they have about a two day trek through the mountains to finally reach the temple.  Which will not, of course, be uneventful.





The Wizard Joseph

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2015, 04:00:28 pm »
That's some amazing plot! "Carvin Marvin" in particular is awesome and could really jack someone's alignment badly. I just can't think like this. I do plot as intent and character consideration and tend to improvise. Been out of gaming for some time now. Thinking about getting into a LARP that a friend of mine asked me to play an NPC for. There is an independent company that picked up the "minds eye theater" material from white wolf and truly made a new and well balanced system and progressed the stagnant backstory. Problem is I'm not into vampire. Like at all.

Has Marv ever wound up in the hands of a paladin in you time with him?
You can't get out backward.  You have to go forward to go back.. better press on! - Willie Wonka, PBUH

Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

"Ayn Rand never swung a hammer in her life and had serious dominance issues" - The Fountainhead

"World domination is such an ugly phrase. I prefer to call it world optimisation."
 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

Don Coyote

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2015, 04:26:04 pm »
All of that sounds great except for Carvin' Marvin.

WHY ARE YOU INVOKING IT?

IT ONLY MAKES IT STRONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2015, 06:12:37 pm »
All of that sounds great except for Carvin' Marvin.

WHY ARE YOU INVOKING IT?

IT ONLY MAKES IT STRONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because it came outta my game, while I was working for Kenzer.  And it still makes me laugh.  I can post the write up here.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2015, 06:20:04 pm »
That's some amazing plot! "Carvin Marvin" in particular is awesome and could really jack someone's alignment badly. I just can't think like this. I do plot as intent and character consideration and tend to improvise. Been out of gaming for some time now. Thinking about getting into a LARP that a friend of mine asked me to play an NPC for. There is an independent company that picked up the "minds eye theater" material from white wolf and truly made a new and well balanced system and progressed the stagnant backstory. Problem is I'm not into vampire. Like at all.

Has Marv ever wound up in the hands of a paladin in you time with him?

Nope.  It HAS wound up in the hands of a tanked-out fighter with no appreciable will save, in a party where nobody else was armored up.  The rogue survived by climbing up a drain pipe.

Don Coyote

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2015, 06:35:14 pm »
All of that sounds great except for Carvin' Marvin.

WHY ARE YOU INVOKING IT?

IT ONLY MAKES IT STRONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because it came outta my game, while I was working for Kenzer.  And it still makes me laugh.  I can post the write up here.

That's really cool. And terrifying.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Running my own take on The Temple of Elemental Evil.
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2015, 07:31:18 pm »
All of that sounds great except for Carvin' Marvin.

WHY ARE YOU INVOKING IT?

IT ONLY MAKES IT STRONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because it came outta my game, while I was working for Kenzer.  And it still makes me laugh.  I can post the write up here.

That's really cool. And terrifying.

I'll post the actual DM notes after I run them, including the pathfinder version of the write up for Carvin' Marvin.