Adventure Prep: Tomb Re-engineering 101

Umber HulkOkay, I got sick last night, probably with the same bugs my wife and kids have been fighting these last 2 weeks. Hopefully I’ll get better for Friday’s game. If not well I just might have to pull the plug on it no matter how I’d much rather not do this.

This week’s Adventure prep focuses, once again, on adapting the current dungeon crawl (a funeral mound that hides some sort of Lovecraftian horror) in order to make it a more balanced challenge and be more interesting for my players. The last game showed that the players loved the adventure’s fluff but had maybe too much of a hard time with the creatures in it. For those new to the series, we’re still in the 1st third of my own adaptation of Dungeon Magazine’s Spawn of Sehan adventure from #146.

I don’t actually expect the players to finish up this week. So I haven’t touched the deeper encounters. If they manage to get there and the evening is still young, I’ll play them as is.

The 1st order of business is dealing with the Child of Sehan… The players have already survived 2 fights against those, so I don’t plan on nerfing the remaining creature. However, while reading the new D&D Rules Compendium, which I absolutely recommend for anyone playing D&D 3.x and still unsure about 4.0, I found a very interesting twist on playing a monster with a Gaze attack. Remember that any players who succumb to the Child’s gaze attack’s fairly high DC (Will DC 21) become affected by a Calm Emotion effect for 11 rounds.

Here’s the house rule: Instead of having all players who avert their gaze have a flat 50% chance of becoming a target of the passive gaze attack (which slows down the game), nerf the passive gaze. Instead allow the creature to make a Gaze attack against one PC with averted eyes as a swift action . So for a party of 5 players who all avert their eyes, only one gets to play the save instead of 2-3. Does that sounds fair?

Okay, up next was the redesigning of rooms that were either plain stupid (Ohhh a patch of Super Green Slime, so quaint!) or too un-fun (2 more Child of Sehan). In one of the now emptied rooms, I added a bit more Ptolus fluff… Objects and/or NPCs to act as future plot hooks.

I also made good use of Monday’s Trope concept and injected quite a few coincidences… including one that should lead to a very interesting intra-party conflict and another that plays directly into the antics of one of the players that has been spewing a LOT of in-character semi-religious drivel over e-mail these past few days.

Additionally as I was reading up on the critters found in the dungeon’s lower levels, I came upon a room guarded by 3 Specters. Yup, 3 incorporeal, non-critable, level draining (2 negative levels per hit!) undead creatures. Now I’m sure the party can deal with this but I’ve used specters against my players before and they always lead to long drawn out fights where players miss 50% of the time. Not fun. So I dug into my source books and replaced them by an equivalent encounter with creatures they have never seen and that does not have more than 2 of the 3 ‘bad’ features of Specters.

Finally, I added enough Bling to make the adventure worthwhile for everyone, including once again some items that link to other Ptolus adventures and organizations. I’m really having quite a blast here.

That’s about it for this week’s game… and this post is barely 1/2 of my usual stuff. Well, consider this a gift for the impatient. If I’m still homesick tomorrow, I’ll throw in a bonus Planescape adaptation post… I’ve finally settled on the next part of the campaign and you might be quite surprised where I took my inspiration.

Peace out and wash your hands!