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my Tower of serpents read through thoughts

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  • afategm
    Tower of the serpents 1/2/2013 pdf first read impulses & such: P1 The very first page mentions the tower rising 300 feet , but 300 feet seems so very
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 4, 2013

      Tower of the serpents 1/2/2013 pdf first read impulses & such:

      P1 The very first page mentions the tower rising "300 feet", but 300 feet seems so  very un-fatelike.  Instantly my mind was torn from aspects & zones that get interpreted as need be into d&d mode where I tried to calculate how many floors it was & how high the ceiling would be on eacxh floor.  I think a better wording might be something along the lines of how some say it can touch the clouds in winter or something to give an aspect-like description of it's height?

      P1 still "The Satrap of Sarnac" is context free gobbelsdygook , the addition of a simple thing like monstrous, man-eating, cruel, benevolent, wise, etc would change it to clearly give context to what's being discussed & sets the tone for its history (even if I'm sure it gets more detail later in the pdf).    Likewise with Sarnac, I don't know if that's a faith, a place, a clan of monsters, a cult, etc.  The first word addition would help clear that up enough to be irrelevant, but it might not be a bad idea for "the sacrificial Satrap of the fallen Sarnac empire" type of thing if it's important enough.

      P4-5ish It's really hard for me to think about what sort of tone some of these npc's should be set in without having a clue about the tower of serpents, the only thing I know is that some people claim to hear wings flapping at night :(  Maybe adding a rumor or two (or more) about who people think built it, why, or when when it was described could help in forming a mental picture.  There is a big difference in "unholy flapping of wings above the once home to long dead of the king's wizard advisor" & "unholy flapping of wings above the former sacrificial tower used by the cult of xxx  to torture their victims in unholy rights".  Both Geshon the mouth & the caravan inhabiting Samar should  be wildly different in those two things.  In D&D terms, I dunno at this point if this place is set in a greyhawk, darksun, ebberon, or ravenloft type fantasy setting & all of them would necessitate lster details in the book to be wildly different.

      P5 "Despite that, the only extra information the adventurers might get out of him is that he's planning to blab to Hugo the Charitable immediately after sending them on their way. He's planning to tell the City Watch, too. Geshon sees no reason he can't get paid by  i>every</i>interested party." Just feels so very unfate-like, the local loudmouth rum rumormill would almost certainly have at least heard of a few things about other people/groups in town & have things he could tell, or makreup about them.  Simply adding a clause along the lines of "or perhapssome mostly useless rumors & fabrications about some of the folks in & around town" after explaining that he's planning to blab to hugo being the only thing they can get.  It just seems to be channeling too much of those of the knowledge [type] [valuexyz] style charts you'd expect to see in a D&D adventure module :( I also can't figure out why him telling hugo, or the city watch would even matter, why might either of them care if the tower is such an unknown beyond the fact that it supposedly has valuable things in it?

      P5 still.  Hugo has been mentioned twice now, I pretty much skipped over mentally processing "the charitable" the first time when he seemed to bew getting described as some kind of thieve's guild boss kinda thing.  Seeing it again in Geshon the mouth's stuff combined with the suspicion that it is probably spelled out later about what kind of person he is where he's described (I'm assuming).  It makes me wonder if perhaps a couple words describing if it's a justified title, a title imposed by fear, one by lineage, etc should/could be inserted into one of his mentions so far.  Hugo the charitable being mentioned so many times in the first few pages of the book makes me think he's probably more than just some nameless nobody

      P6 Samar the cravan master.  He's been mentioned a lot previously, but it's not until now that I have an idea about him & his caravan, more importantly though. I now know that it's in the main market & what type of market it is.  This combined with the  trouble in darkside blurb above makes me wonder if perhaps this whole page should be shuffled immediately bhehindparagraph 2-3ish on page 1? It sets the scope of the adventure being more than just darkside & all of riverton (if not more), but quite a few pages have gone by just narrowing in on darkside so far.

      P7 "The cult of tranquility"?  I'm assuming there are some details about that later, but the "Nefarious cult of  Tranquility", "the benevolent cult…", "the fledgling ancient cult…", "the shadowy/rumored cult…, etc all set wildly different tones about this thing& samar to boot. Their public face & behind the curtain reality could be extremely different as well (i.e. eberron's blood of vol & dark six cults for example, especially when compared to the "evil" faiths in other settings) Personally I wonder if perhaps skipping over the groups & jumping straight to people with (so far) most of the places being mentioned as part of the people first instead of having them separate with groups/places first to set the tone of some things first would be a better idea for clarity & understanding?

      P7 I like that it's not mentioned if the cult of tranquility is a major thing, or some minor local curiosity to make it easier to fit into fantasy settings  that may or may not have players with a desire to shape some of the major faiths.

      P8 "the mother of silence, one of the leaders of…" good god, thank you for this wonderful descriptive blurb!

      P8 Seeing the callout section about players "not wanting to take Samar's word and…" really strikes me with my earlier point about how things almost feel like they are being described a bit backwards.

      P8 Buried on page 8 in a blurb about the idol mentions the gleam of insanity in the caravan master's eye.  That's a great place for a player reading this I guess, but as a GM, that's information I suspect I would have needed to properly setup everything from how to handle things when geshon thew mough mentioned the guy.  I jumped ahead to his statblock on P9 & the only mention that could hint at it is his "always hiding something" aspect, but that aspect fits just as well n a fast talking cheat/conman/swindler & would have been my first instinct to shape Samar into long ago when the players started digging & potentially made the cult  involvement very difficult down the line very difficult (especially if I used a mugging, general mooks, & his guards) as most of the intro session.  It seems like his involvement with an apocalypse cult being more clearly spelled out for the GM thumbing to his page would be a good thing in my mind.

      P8 "If they succeed with style, bloody nikka doesn't even notice they are missing" feels wrong & railroads their succeed with style, I'm thinking that sa much better wording might be "may not even notice".  Beyond that though it really highlights some things I haven't been really noticing so far.  The constant "if the players… then… " is really making this feel railroaded to the point of making video games consisting of QuickTime events that progress down a different tree if failed & choose your own adventure books feel positively limitless & freeform.  Compared to (for example) the wild blue preview where it sets up hooks while describing the worlds & some places/NPC's  this is feeling way too structured & linear for some reason.  For example, on page 9 it says that an adventurer with a few minutes to poke around might find some artifacts relating to the cult…"the whole sneaking away section feels irrelevant & I can think of a few waysof ways that different types of characters could potentially discover this kind of thing before even meeting up with samar (or while!) without even bending plausibility.

      P9 ~"After Samar has given their task. While they are leaving, bloody nikka says…"  This kinda gets to my point of this feeling a bit railroaded, if it just mentioned that she kept a close eye on the group earlier instead of an if>then option, it wouldn't matter at this point if the players previously did something (intentionally or not) to screw the pooch & burn Samar's bridge (if not kill him/nikka, or the mother of silence) wouldn't derail here.  Just the presence of a holy roller black & white "lawful asshole" style paladin or something noticing the cult & doing some digging could have completely destroyed things at this point.  Especiially if the player had a  a very reasonable aspec/high concept  suggesting that he hunts down/eradicates/etc cults ,abominations against the faith, etc.

       

      P9 Caravan camp aspects.  Umm… should these not have been before there were aa few pages describing people & things to see/do/help/rob/kill on the camp?  Likewise with the stat blocks for samar, Nikka, etc on the next page or two.

      P11 Lets say the players didn't like the idea of starting with samar & wanted to go do sme digging on samar, the caravan,  & the tower first, discovered the cult ties & decided, a lot of things all apart explosively by now. 

      P11 Paragraph one describes the governer  as an older & overweight lady whom the merchants give every third coin to along with the fact that she's sitting looking down at the players ; but then in paragraph 4 it says that this overweight older woman is not only strong, not only strong & intimidating, but that she's bearing a massive two handed axe & casually leaning on it  I cab'yt tell if Helen thirdcoin and the governor are the same person for certain, but something feels wrong here :(.  If they are the different people, why the radically different (& imo improved) style  for what the governor wants in paragraph 3 compared to the previous two NPC's?  If they are the same person… umm.. did the players get travel to see the leader of to some barbarian tribe on a missing page?  When does an older & overweight [any sex] high class person leaning on a massively out of place weapon of war like a battleaxe seem intimidating? Too many things feel off here :(

      P12 things were good with the govoner's paragraph4 on page 10 imply saying what she's been dpoing & wanting, but now w e are back to the original if>then style, although paragraph 2 is far far better than paragraph 1's rail line, by this point the players could have done some digging, decided to kill samar & the cult, laid some plans to do so by involving themselves with the city guard or something…. Hell, one could even have decided to be a current/former city guard  Ok they are being followed… uhh… "because"?  the whole thing in paragraph 1 could be simplified down to saying that "Helen would almost certainly have someone, likely one of the city guards, keep an eye on where the players go because…" while answering dozens of potential questions & removing some of the railroad feeling I'm getting :(

      P12 paragraph 3 talking about negotiating with the governor is perfect, it doesn't consist of an if>then, just describes here & the types of things she would do while perusing her goals.

       

      P12 Like the caravan, we've gone to & done everything in the palace, but are only now mentioning  its aspects?  It feels extremely backwards in layout.

      P13 Well, I guess they are different people now that a few the stat blocks follow things up. looking at the `Gov's statblock,  why have so much spelled out about the tail where numbers are pulled from the air instead of just "would halfheartedly have the group followed using her contacts skill & access to the city guard while doing her best to avoid suspicions".  That right there places two aspects (halfhearted & avoiding suspicions) that easily drags her +5 superb contacts down to the +2 average difficulty of finding the tail without resorting to having the npc's playing by a different set of rules pulled from thin air, allows the players to see how things work by having the GM doing it, and gives examples of things the players can attempt to assess/investigate (i.e. maybe they discover the tail & start digging into it only to decide that perhaps the `Gov not wanting the guard to think much of her request to follow them is more interesting/important for the rest of this session than the tower being empty in a couple weeks)

       

      P13 `Gov's bodyguard and  Helen third coin are different people?  Ok that's fine.. but in that case, who the frack is thirdcoin, why was she in the same room as the `gov, or when does the `gov use the nameless bodyguard instead of thirdcoin?

       

      P13 seeing all these NPC's here ,thinking back to the ones spead all over earlier pages, & expecting there to be more spread about as the pdf progresses makes me really think that there needs to be a "chapter" just filled with statblocks of npc's & the pages talking about the npc's (like 11 for the gov) can just have a little (pxx) note for the statblock

      P14 umm… green silk armbands?  If the color is not too important perhaps another color might be best given how that one was used internationally in support of Iran's not so distant troubles?  I personally don't care, but someone might?

      P14 Lets say the very first thing the group said after talking to geshon was "hey joe, you must have some contacts in the local guild as a rogue type, maybe we should do some digging & see what they know about this samar character staying at the caravan?"   The fact that gesshon's section never even mentioning that Samar mentions it (it says "stays" or something, & only mentions that he leads it somewhere in samar's section is pretty awkward for a GM to begin with.  But that extremely reasonable course of action kinda wrecks this whole section.

      P14 twelve pages after Hugo was first mentioned as "hugo the charitable" on page 2, we now know why he has the name… Unfortunately we only know it if we are looking into the scar triad :/

       

      P14 Scar triad house aspects after doing everything there & bewuing brought to see Hugo at a table laden with food I would have assumed to be at a restraint that may or may not be under the triad's thumb… :/

      P16 The "deciding on a course of action" thing is great & there really should have been a similar one before geshon started things off in the beginning that explained a few things like the fact that the tower will be empty in two weeks allowing access to the statue & these different folks arte after it for xyz reasons

      P18 "no one has built a structure within 20 feet of these wallsleaving a large lane littered with trash & debris between the slum & outer tower" (along with the fact that the walls have spikes along the top), shouldn't this kinda thing have been mentioned in the description of the tower & walls at the top of P17?

      P20 "It is enchanted with a compulsion to guard the Tower, and doesn't stop trying to do so unless killed or otherwise incapacitated." Seems to suggest to a newbie GM that fights should be to the death like most traditional rpg's.  I'm thinking that "unless somehow taken out through incapacitation, or outright killed"  would be a much better wording & fit fate much better..  In fact taking it one step further with a blurb aimed at the gm about what sort of conceding it would be likely to offer if the fight is going poorly & they don't want to drag things out with the remaining 20 stress worth of consequence boxes.

      P22 "items of weird & terrible appearance… looking at these items too long causes stress"  are we talking torture devices, non-Euclidian arcane tools, (parts of) failed experiments,  etc?

      P23 the "cursed" blade that always causes more harm than intended doesn't sound very "cursed" it sounds more like it's "enchanted", blades don't get used because you want to be friendly with an old friend

      P23  "This top room is permeated with a smell so foul and uncanny that it causes a person actual harm to stay there for longer than a few moments."

      I can see my players instantly saying "foul in what way, some burning alchemical stench? rotting meat? Rotting fish? Some arcane substance? huh?", as a GM  (especially given all the earlier times where key details are described pages later) I'd be worried about just making a snap judgment

       

      P24 the description aimed at players under "stealing the idol" mentions what they feel if they touch anything, then immediately follows it by saying if the players touch anything, it summons a guardian to protect the contents

      P25 The secong paragraph mentions a blinding green light that burns everyonhe within the room, but goes on to mention a ghostly figure with a sword that attacks the players, it feels like the paragraph should specify if that does/does not include the guardian. I could see that as being an important detail if they trigger the spirit & decide to pull a snatch & grab mid fight

    • sk1mble
      I think a majority of your concerns with the adventure (adventure, note, not setting like Wild Blue; that s why it s linear!) can be addressed by the GM
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 5, 2013
        I think a majority of your concerns with the adventure (adventure, note, not setting like Wild Blue; that's why it's linear!) can be addressed by the GM reading through the whole thing before sitting down with his or her players. Isn't that how these pregenerated adventures are always supposed to work?

        I did notice one inconsistency with the Fate Core rules. The adventure describes barriers in the garden fight with the ape, but 'barrier' isn't a defined term in Fate Core. Shouldn't these now be scene aspects with a noted difficulty to overcome them?
      • afategm
        The GM reading through it first s a good idea yea, but compare it to any of the dresden adventures out there, it s not that it s just linear, it s on rails to
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 5, 2013
          The GM reading through it first s a good idea yea, but compare it to any of the dresden adventures out there, it's not that it's just linear, it's on rails to the point that a GM is almost optional by going on for several sentences about how the gm should shackle the players to this here rail instead of just tossing in a few words to shine some light on a path the GM might want to do some cat herding towards.

          --- In FateRPG@yahoogroups.com, "sk1mble" wrote:
          >
          > I think a majority of your concerns with the adventure (adventure, note, not setting like Wild Blue; that's why it's linear!) can be addressed by the GM reading through the whole thing before sitting down with his or her players. Isn't that how these pregenerated adventures are always supposed to work?
          >
          > I did notice one inconsistency with the Fate Core rules. The adventure describes barriers in the garden fight with the ape, but 'barrier' isn't a defined term in Fate Core. Shouldn't these now be scene aspects with a noted difficulty to overcome them?
          >
        • Fred Hicks
          It s really only the set-up (the three bad choices) that s railish. Players are free to do whatever from there, including not going to the tower, going to the
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 5, 2013
            It's really only the set-up (the three bad choices) that's railish. Players are free to do whatever from there, including not going to the tower, going to the tower and running off with the idol, creating a fake idol and trying to pawn it off to each of the factions, figuring out some way to point all three factions at each other so they fight it out while the PCs get out of dodge...

            Fred

            On Sat, Jan 5, 2013 at 2:58 PM, afategm <afategm@...> wrote:

            The GM reading through it first s a good idea yea, but compare it to any of the dresden adventures out there, it's not that it's just linear, it's on rails to the point that a GM is almost optional by going on for several sentences about how the gm should shackle the players to this here rail instead of just tossing in a few words to shine some light on a path the GM might want to do some cat herding towards.

            --- In FateRPG@yahoogroups.com, "sk1mble"  wrote:
            >
            > I think a majority of your concerns with the adventure (adventure, note, not setting like Wild Blue; that's why it's linear!) can be addressed by the GM reading through the whole thing before sitting down with his or her players. Isn't that how these pregenerated adventures are always supposed to work?
            >
            > I did notice one inconsistency with the Fate Core rules. The adventure describes barriers in the garden fight with the ape, but 'barrier' isn't a defined term in Fate Core. Shouldn't these now be scene aspects with a noted difficulty to overcome them?
            >




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