Showing posts with label Tharizdûn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tharizdûn. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Mystery

Today's topic is Mystery.

I think everyone loves a good mystery, especially in their RPGs.

Building a true sense of mystery though requires work and the subtle use of clues, hints, rumors, and innuendos.   I have found, more times than not, the best way to it is to involve the players right away.

Not in the way of getting them all to pitch in in some shared Game Mastering role.  That certainly works for some games, but not all.  No by this I mean take their speculations and let them run away with them. 

Here are some examples.

In my Come Endless Darkness 5e campaign, I am spreading te greater mystery over three different campaigns.  No one set of characters or players has the full picture.  At least not until I get them (or what's left of them) in a room once they reach 18th level or so.  The mystery right now is so vague as to not even be there. Yet.  Some of the players in the Order of the Platinum Dragon game are beginning to suspect.  Maybe some of the characters in the Second Campaign are as well.  But I know no one in the Into the Nentir Vale suspect the larger mystery.

Of course, each campaign has its own mysteries.
For the Order of the Platinum Dragon, it has been "what has happened to the Sun?" and then "who killed all the Sun Gods?"  And now it is, or soon will be, "there is no way Lolth could do this on her own!"
For the Second Campaign, the mystery has been "why are all these 'gods' of the lizard and scally folk rising up?"  A little less tangible, but it is getting them there.
And finally in Into the Nentir Vale it has been simply, "We know Orcus is rising as a power, but why?"

Clues in each one will add to the other.  Overly complicated?  Maybe.  Fun?  Definitely.

In fact, this is where my players came into it.  Originally I saw the Second Campaign's big mover and shaker to be the Mind Flayers.  THEY were going to be the ones behind the scenes.  BUT as the game went on and it became more distinct from the Order of the Platinum Dragon game and more and more lizardfolk, nagas and Yuan-ti showed up the players began to weave this huge conspiracy theory around them.   IT was so compelling and, really, so out there, that I had to reward them by altering my own plans to fit more of their elements.

I am NOT giving them everything, but I am giving them enough that their own enthusiasm is sending down a trail.  The ending will remain the same, the mystery still comes to the same conclusion, but now we go about it on a different path.

Other little tidbits that keep coming up.  On our "crazy board" above we still have listed "Where is Cynder".  Cynder was an elven elemental fire wizard that just stopped going with the group. We totally forgot about her, well at least I did.  Even though she was only one session of the Order of the Platinum Dragon, she will show up later in Into the Nentir Vale and maybe the Second Campaign.
There is something to her, I just don't know what yet!

Another hook I was going to use was the Ranger Elmo from T1.  He was going to show up in the Abyss when the Order got there (at Gen Con), but the players never really engaged with the guy.  HOWEVER they did engage a lot with this random elf woman that had been following them since the A Series.    They again decided she had to be important even if originally each of those encounters were with different elves.  My players decided she was the same person each time and figured she knew something.  A few quick jots in my notebook and Evelyn, the Princess Escalla was born!  She was an Elven Ranger/Enchanter and was key to the Elven resistance movement in the Underdark.

It has been a glorious set of mysteries and neither the characters nor the players have figured out the ultimate mystery.  That Tharizdûn, through Asmodeus, is manipulating the demons to get what he wants; his resurrection and freedom from his cage.

It's going to be great.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tharizdûn Link Round-up

Doing some more Tharizdûn related research.
I figure I can put this links in a document somewhere OR I could post them here for others to take advantage of and maybe even give some feedback.

From the D&D page at WotC
The Return of Elemental Evil
Monster Mythology
Zuggtmoy Demon Queen of Fungi

Greyhawk Grognard
Here are some other posts I consider "must read" on my goal to build this gigantic conspiracy of evil.
Now gone longer than he was with us there are some good posts still to be found in James' output.

Power Score
No one does the deep dive like Sean does.
The History of Elemental Evil

YouTube: Dungeons and Dragons Lore: Gods of the Realms: Tharizdun (Video)

Interesting idea. Is Ravenloft the plane that imprisons Tharizdûn? Or was it caused by his dreams?

My own Tharizdûn label.

The Village of Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil
Links I am currently reading for "inspiration".

EN World: 5e, Elder Elemental Eye,  Ghaunadaur, Tharizdun, and the Forgotten Realms.
EN World: 4e Stats
EN World: 3.5e stats
EN World: Theoparts of Tharizdun

Dragon Magazine #294, 3.0 stats for Tharizdun
Avatar of Tharizdun, 5e

Giant in the Playground: Tharzidun

More soon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rise! Tharizdûn!

Spent some quality time with the Order of the Platinum Dragon this weekend.

These guys:

They just cleared out the first level of the Hall of the Fire Giant King and are now headed down to the second level.  They have encountered the first bit of solid proof of the Drow interference.

We (You and I that is, not the players or the characters) that they will eventually encounter Lolth.

She should put up a pretty good fight.  What happens to her depends on the actions of the characters.

After that there is a real good chance that they (or they along with the Second Campaign Characters) will also have to fight Orcus.

He looks a lot tougher.

But the problem is that they are not the "big bads" of my 5e games.  All my campaigns will link up at the end to fight the mastermind pulling all the strings.


Yup. I know that is a WoW figure (Demon Form Illidan Stormrage), but he works perfectly as Tharizdûn as I envision him.  Part drow, part demon, part dragon, part devil.

Tharizdûn, through Asmodeus and Graz'zt, have manipulated the characters (in all three campaigns), Lolth, Orcus and scores of other demons to locate the Chaos stones. Once collected the PCs will think they are using them to save the world, but really it is the key to Tharizdûn's prison.  Blocking out the sun is a herald of his return.

I'll get more details on how this is all going to work in future posts.
Right now I need to make some minor alterations to that figure.  I need to find some chains to wrap around his wrists and ankles to show that he had been imprisoned.

My players have not seen this figure yet. I plan on keeping it hidden till he is released.

Now to come up with some appropriate stats for him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Class Struggles: Cthonic Warlocks and The Return of Tharizdûn

Working through my "end game" for my Come Endless Darkness campaign.  Like the Gygax book of the same name my main Big Bad is Tharizdûn.  Also like the books I am sure that the universe is going to look very different when I am done.

Through the various adventures, the big plot emerging is that Orcus, Lolth, Yeegnohu and others are taking advantage of the death of all the Sun Gods, but no one has yet confirmed or not if they have any actual involvement in it. They suspect Orcus.

In truth it is all going to be Tharizidûn.  This is something I have built up over the last couple of campaigns.  The "Dragonslayers" (the generation before the "Order of the Platinum Dragon") uncovered the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdûn.  His big plan, of course, is to get free.

Currently, I have him in a cage deep in the lowest part of the Nine Hells. Asmodeus is still his jailer and in many ways is the very first Warlock of Tharizdûn.  He has been siphoning off Tharizdûn's power for centuries, it is how he took control of Hell in fact.  But Tharizdûn knows this and while Asmodeus has been doing this, Tharizdûn has been pulling him deeper and deeper into his thrall.

In my games Tharizdûn also has another title, "The Whispering God".  This comes from his warlocks who say their god whispers in their ears and tells them secrets. And convinces them to do terrible things.  He is also known as the Elder Elemental Eye and worshiped by elemental-demon cults. He is also worshiped by the Drow that do not follow Lolth.

Recently Strange Brew: Warlocks was released.  It includes a version of the Whispering God that I used in my games. I am particularly proud of it to be honest.
Deep in forgotten tombs, hidden in forsaken forests, and haunting long-abandoned churches of long-dead gods, you can hear it. It is soft, but it is there. Once you hear it, then it is always with you—day and night, sleeping and waking. It is the voice of the Whispering God. No one is for sure who or what the Whispering God is.
There are no churches or priests dedicated to him. No stories of creation. No heroes. No tales of battles. Just the constant whispering. Those warlocks who follow this entity are blessed and cursed: blessed with great power and cursed with the voice of their patron in their ears forever. No one knows what the Whispering God wants or even why he/it needs warlocks and not clerics.
The speculation is that he is a god trapped in prison so dark and so perfect only his voice can escape, but just barely. He needs these warlocks to spread the word so he can escape. Others claim that the god is nothing more than the madness that will consume all “his” warlocks.
For Pathfinder this is a "Cthonic" Patron.  For D&D 5 this would be an "Old One".
For my players, it means trouble.

Here is a Cthonic Tradition for the Basic Era Witch.

New Tradition: Cthonic

Witches of the Cthonic Tradition honor and some say are slaves of, very, very ancient powers. Some are inhuman powers from beyond our reality and understanding. Some are ancient Primordial Beigns from before the times of gods or mortals. A few are Dead Gods whose worship continues and whose power remains.

More so than any other witches, these are most often called Warlocks.

Role: These witches and warlocks represent a tie to the ancient past or to other unworldly powers.  They represent classical villains or the scholar that has delved too deep into things that mortals were never meant to know.

Joining this Tradition: To join one must either discover the Cthonic Patron of be discovered by one.  For example, the Cult of the Whispering God hears their Patron's whispers when they uncover hidden knowledge about the God or venture deep into areas that were formerly His centers of worship.

These witches tend to be Solitaries or be involved in small cults.
They are for the most part are chaotic, with some gravitating towards neutral. Rare is the lawful Cthonic witch, but it is not unheard of.

Leaving this Tradition: Often there is no way to leave this tradition; not even in death.

Occult Powers
Minor - 1st Level: Grimoire. The warlock does not gain a familiar like other witches, but rather a semi-aware tome known as a Grimoire.  These tomes replace the Book of Shadows for these witches. These Grimoires are often sought after by occultist, magic-users.

Lesser - 7th Level: Immune to Fear. Exposed to so many horrors or alien minds warps the mind of the warlock to a point where normal fear has no effect on them.  Magical fear is also given a -4 bonus on saves.

Medial - 13th Level:  Alien Mind. The Cthonic witch has become so accustomed to dealing with alien and ancient minds that she becomes immune to charm and hold spells. Her mind can't be probed or read via telepathy, ESP or similar powers.

Greater - 19th Level: Curse. The warlock can place a powerful Curse on a single creature. She can only do this once per day (for a single creature). The curse can be of any sort, but usually the curse will bestow a -4 to all to-hit rolls and -2 to any saving throws. Other curses may be allowed, such as the Bestow Curse spell. Witch curses are quite powerful and require the use of two (2) remove curse spells to be fully removed.

Major - 25th Level: Shape Change. Once per day, the witch may change her shape to any type of aberrant monster, like the spell Shape Change. For 1 turn per level, the witch may move freely back and forth between her aberration and human forms. Once the form is chosen, that is the only form she can use for the day. So, a witch may choose to change between the forms of human and a roper but cannot go between roper, human and bird. Once the duration has expired, the witch reverts back to human form.  The witch does not have the special abilities of the aberant form save for those that she can manage with the form.  So the roper's tentacles would be replicated, but not the basts of a Sphere of Many Eyes.

Superior - 31st Level: Apotheosis.  The witch becomes something else. This new form and powers are dependent on the Patron she serves.  For witches of the Whispering God her voice barley rises above a whisper, but her voice can be used as a Command spell once per day, a Charm spell 3 times per day, and a suggestion seven times per day.

I am up for an ENnie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! W is for World of Greyhawk

W is for World of Greyhawk.

The WG or World of Greyhawk adventures take place, naturally, in the World of Greyhawk.  This was the default setting of most of the 1st Edition AD&D adventures, and explicitly so for T, A, G, D and Q.
The first named adventure was WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, which I covered briefly on "S" day.  But wait, if it is the first why is it numbered "WG4"?    Well according to the ole' Wikipedia "WG1 was earmarked for The Village of Hommlet (T1), and WG2 was earmarked for The Temple of Elemental Evil (T1-4). WG3 was to be Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4), a loosely tied prequel to WG4."  So they do make a series of sorts.

WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure is an interesting one and might just be one of the last adventures Gary wrote for AD&D1 and TSR.  It is a high-level dungeon crawl featuring a unique demon and lots and lots of hack n' slash action.  It does feel like one of the older modules (though it was out in 1984 so it is "old" as well).   I could fit in with the TAGDQ series somewhere I am sure.  It could even be another one of the alternate worlds in Q1.

I don't know much about WG6 Isle of the Ape, save that is was one of the first adventures for characters above 18th level.

I do know about WG7 Castle Greyhawk.  WG7 was supposed to be another Gygax penned adventure, but it didn't happen like that.  Instead, we got a "joke" module.  The idea was sound, the levels get harder and harder with all sorts of strange monsters.  But is was played a huge joke.  At the time (when I was 15) I thought it was funny, but even running it I knew it was bad.  In the history of D&D Castle Greyhawk was a significant part of Gary's original game. For years we were teased with Castle Greyhawk but never got one. Even today we don't have the real thing.  This makes WG7 all that much worse really.  It's too bad really. The authors of WG7 do read like a who's-who of mid 80s game designers.

Of the others, only WG12 Vale of the Mage interests me these days.  I think it is because I was looking for more information of Greyhawk and the Vale of the Mage (home of the Valley Elves. No, I am serious) was one of those places I wanted more detail on.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! T is for Temple of Elemental Evil

T is for Temple of Elemental Evil.

Confession time.  I have never run or played through The Temple of Elemental Evil.
I think I was in the Village of Hommlet (T1) once, but that was back in the early, early days of the game.

Since then there have been three more updates and expansions to the T series.
I have read all of these. Recently I also read the novelization of the Temple of Elemental Evil and played part of the old Atari PC Game.  T1-4 also made the top 30 D&D adventures of all time.

So I have to admit I really want to run it now.  Though I want to tie it into my current D&D5 game.

Trouble is that the characters are now already 8th level and near the very end of the Slave Lords.  I didn't want to start with T1 because for me it was more important to start with B1 and B2.

So I have the T1-4 supermodule on PDF, but there is a lot going on that I am not a fan of.  Not that it isn't good, it is, but not what I need or want.  Plus I am no fan linking Zuggtmoy to the temple.  Her powers are not elemental in nature.  Plus I always liked the idea that some remnant of Tharizdun especially in the guise of the Elder Elemental Eye.  Maybe this is an elemental themed patron for a warlock.  The idea is of course to play into the larger "Come Endless Darkness" plot line.  So yes this evil is related to the larger evil. Which might be Tharizdun. At least that is what I have always considered over the years.  Turns out that +Joseph Bloch agrees with me.  I already did S4 and WG4, so I guess I am going in reverse.

As usual I have an embarrassment of riches. Too much material actually.

I found some 5e Conversion notes that look really nice. And I have a lot of choices when it comes to plots, ideas and adventures.  Of course I will use T1 The Village of Hommlet and likely a good portion of T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil.  Given my particular desire to make an easy job far more difficult I am also going to look at versions for other editions.
I read through most of those last night.  T1 is easy, T2 will be a bit more work.  I think I am going to steal a lot of ideas from Return and Princes of the Apocalypse.

While doing some research, I discovered this blog post that talked about T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil as promised  back before T1-4 came out.  It is a very interesting read to be honest. That is where the image to the right came from.

Here are some other posts I consider "must read" on my goal to build this gigantic conspiracy of evil.
To me "Expert" level (as listed on the T2 cover) is 4 to 14.   When I first had this idea I was going to go with a parallel group, now I think I just want to up the threats and have it after the Queen of the Demon-web pits.   Make it 14th to 20th level.

So it is settled.  Zuggtmoy is out. Tharizdûn is in.  What is his plan?
Simple. He wants out.  He has convinced all these different evil factions to blot out the sun and deliver the essences of gods to him they think they are going to obtain godhood, but in truth they will be freeing him.  Maybe each has a Shard of the Elder Elemental Eye.  Lolth has Air, Orcus has Earth, Dagon/Hydra has Water and someone else has fire.  I kinda want it to be Asmodeus, but that is a whole other issue really.

But I am leaving out the mindflayers.  Why Air for Lolth when she is underground?  Air represents what she has lost. Plus I like tying her to the Queen of Air and Darkness.

I know there are places I can put the Elemental Shard of Air in Q1.  I am sure I can find places in the D series for the Elemental Shard of Water.  That leaves Earth and Fire.

That's what I love about all these old adventures.  So much you can do with them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! Q is for Queen of the Demonweb Pits

Q is for Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

What else could it be?  Well...funny you should say that. There is also a few Vampire Queen adventures out there and there is the adventure path I am playing around with, War of the Witch Queens.  But I guess really there is only one queen and only one Q module.

Queen of the Demonweb Pits is the ultimate finale that began with the characters looking into some giant raids. Behind it all was the Drow and Lolth! wait. Wasn't supposed to be the Elder Elemental Eye? Tharizdun? I mean that is what is going on in T1 Village of Hommlet.

Well as it turns out Q1 was supposed to be different. It wasn't the vision that Gary wanted. Now the official story is that Gary was too busy to work on Q1 because he was working on T2 The Temple of Elemental Evil.  We can see bits of his thinking in T1, S4 and WG5.  So David Sutherland came in to finish it off.  At least that is story we have been told.  According to Shannon Appelcline this was the start of Gary's eventual ouster at TSR.

Regardless of how, what and why, Q1 is fondly remembered to this day 36 years later.  As part of the GDQ series it is considered to be one of the greatest adventures of all time.

I remember playing this back in the day and that confusing as hell map.  I remember talking to friends in the days WAY before the Internet and how we would speculate on Q2 and Q3.

Like T1 and the mythical stand-alone T2, a DIY Q2 would be great.

SO TO MY REGULAR READERS:  What would be in YOUR Q2?

Would you have the characters look into the Elder Elemental Eye connection?  Maybe there would be a civil war among the drow; those that support the EEE and those that support Lolth.

I suppose I could take a few pages from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits for 3.5 edition of D&D to.  I do know I need to work out this Lolth-Tharizdûn issue before my players get there!

3 Different Editions, 1 Basic idea

Friday, April 8, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! G is for Giants

G is for Giants.

Ah. Few adventures get my geek nostalgia into overload quite like the Giants series.  The opening act of the great GDQ series.  G1-3 Against the Giants

The premise is simple.  Giants are making forays into human-occupied settlements and raiding.  The adventurers must find out why and stop them.
Raids by hill giants lead to encampments of frost and then fire giants.  Each controlling the weaker till finally it is discovered that all are being controlled by the evil drow of the D series.

The original adventures were:
  • G1 Steading of the Hill Giant Chief
  • G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
  • G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King
There are even some stone and cloud giants thrown into the mix, but no Storm Giants that I recall.

I always wondered though, what were the Stone, Cloud and Storm giants doing while their kin were being played by the drow?  Well many years later (and now some years ago) more Giant adventures were written by fan R.C. Pinnel.  These new adventures rounded out the other Giant kin.
  • G4 Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord
  • G5 Curse of the Cloud Giant Queen
  • G6 Forge of the Formian Smith Lord
  • G7 Giants in the Deep
  • G8 Manor of the Mountain Giant King
  • G9 Secret of the Swamp Giant Steward
  • The Verbeeg Valley

They turn an opening chord of a concert into a Spinal Tap guitar solo!
All together the adventure is over 100 pages.  This is a bit more than I wanted to be honest.  The Giants are tied up pretty close to the Drow of the next series. So for me the Giants are just the pawns of the Drow.  The Stone and Mountain giants I can see.  Maybe even the Cloud, if they are more on the evil side.  I have not read all the adventures yet, but maybe the Cloud Giant queen has something to do with the Sun being blocked out in my adventure.  Plus I have an awesome female cloud Giant mini I could use.

l-r Hill, Frost, Fire, Storm, Stone and Cloud

The really nice thing about running these classics so many years later is all the material out there to support them.  For a while there WotC was publishing maps for the Giants series (among others).

Plus there has been at least two waves of minis that support the Giants.

Linking the A Series to the GDQ
The G modules introduce the Drow as the "big bad" and one of those big bad drow is list as "EHP" or "Evil High Priestess".  Her name is given as "Eclavdra" and I talked about her on D Day.  Her protégé is the drow priestess Edralve in the A series.  In my campaign Eclavdra and Edralve represent the drow interests in the Slave Lords.  Both were clerics of Lolth but have become warlocks of Tharizdûn; whom they know of as the Elder Elemental Eye.

Eclavdra is one of the big NPCs of the Greyhawk world and I think I'll need to dedicate a full post to her one day.

So lots of great stuff out there. I might need to print these all out and get them into a binder or something.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! D is for Descent into the Depths of the Earth

D is for Descent into the Depths of the Earth

Growing up in the 80s it was not uncommon to have multiple, independent groups of people playing D&D.  I have fairly vivid recollections of different groups talking about this adventure or some other book.  But the epic of the time was GDQ series and everyone was playing it.  I'll talk about the Giants series on "G" day and Queen of the Demonweb pits on "Q" day.  But today I want to talk about the "D" series, Descent into the Depths of the Earth and Vault of the Drow.

Once upon a time, back in the days of Walkmen, MTV, and Rubik's Cubes, the Drow were not what we think of them today.  This was the Pre-Drizzt Do'Urden days.

For those that didn't live this at the time the Drow are dark elves, cursed to live underground and worship the demoness Lolth.  Elves were good, and fair and full of light.  Drow...not so much.  The big reveal of the Drow as the main enemies of the GDQ series of adventures is akin to the Classic Star Trek episode "The Balance of Terror" that introduces the Romulans as a big bad. Not just as another race, but an offshoot of the Vulcans.  Evil Vulcans if you will.  The drow were everything the elves are not and they are also the cause of the giants and the kuo-toa raids.

These two (originally three) adventures are the action sequences to the big plot build up, though even the drow are just pawns in a larger threat.

I have such great memories of these adventures. I started playing them, but like so many others I never finished them.  They are the next adventures for my kids and I in our "Come Endless Darkness" campaign.

The one thing I have struggled with though is we live in a post-Drizzt world now.  Drow are no longer the scary dark-elf threat of the unknown.  Today they are potential heroes and a viable race option.

I want to take the drow back to the days where they were a mostly unknown threat.  Also I have proposed a number of other changes to them as well.  Making them more blue in skin tone like the Morlocks of the Time Machine movie.

These days the drow you are most likely to run into are not so much evil, but more emo or goth elves.
I covered some of this a while back in my post "Drow should be Lawful Evil, among other things."  So instead of covering that ground again I will let that stand and move forward.

The nice thing about running these adventures so many years after the fact is there is a wealth of information about them out there.  I have read reviews, play-by-plays and even read the novelization by Paul Kidd.  The book was actually kind of fun and the characters, introduced in the earlier White Plume Mountain, are likable.   I am thinking of introducing Evelyn, the half-pixie ranger as my own homage to the novel.  She would be the daughter of the two main characters Escalla and The Justicar.

One of the best things about these adventures and the G series before and the Q after, is the number of really cool NPCs.  Top of that list has to be Eclavdra, drow priestess.  She has been described as being a priestess to Lolth, an attaché to Grazzt and even a convert to the worship of the Elder Elemental Eye, who in my game is another name for Tharizdûn.   This fits in so nicely with my plans that I feel the need to detail her more.

We know she is a drow and an exceptionally beautiful drow at that. She is introduced in the module G2.  Here is what is said about her there:

Eclavdra (10th level cleric/fighter; H.P.: 60, Wisdom 17, Dexterity 18, Constitution 10, Charisma 18; Armor Class -8 = +3 shield, +5 chainmail, and +4 dexterity bonus), the one who fomented all of the trouble.

The Vault of the Drow (D3) features her on the cover (see above) and describes her as a 10th/4th cleric/fighter.  These are of course AD&D 1 stats.  I am going to use here under D&D 5.   Also, I want to emphasize her "conversion" to Tharizdun more.   I am going to make her a 10th level Cleric/4th level Warlock with a Pact of the Blade and Tharizdûn as her patron.

To prepare I have also been buying up Drow minis.

Really, really looking forward to running these.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Show. Don't Tell.

I was thinking about my post from this morning about Tharizdûn, the Temple and various things that happened in the wee hours of history.
While I have a nice little mythology going here with bits that date back all the way to when I first started playing my players, my kids, do not have the same investment.

I told tell them the story of course, but that is just a story.
Then I recalled the old adage; "Show. Don't tell."

So via a dream or flashback sequence, I am going to have my players participate in the Dawn War.
Here they are going to be figures from that mythical age in the fight against Tharizdun.

Here is what I have so far. The participants in the war are Tharizdun, Orcus and Demogorgon, though he only had one head at this point. I will also have some of the other Elder Evils there too.
On the side of good are He Who Was (who will be killed here), Bahamut (as a PC), Samuel (a PC, HWW's right hand and the future Asmodeus), Corellon Larethian (also a PC) and some others.  Maybe Wee Jas.
Tiamat and Lolth will be there, but they do not fight.  This is why Tharizdun hates them.

I am going to let the battle play out.

I thought I would stat up all these gods in 5e and put them at 30th level.  Sure I could make them all 3rd level and the battle will be similar, but I want my players to feel like these are really powerful beings.
But I started thinking about D&D 5. It is great, but I have not done a lot of gaming at 20+ level with it.    So to add to the dream-like quality of it all AND to get the characters up to the 30+ level AND to have them be true immortals I am going to do something fun.

I am going to run this dream/flashback battle using D&D Basic.  Though OD&D is also on my mind.
The players know the rules, but they will be just off enough to make them have to think about what they are doing.  Plus looking down and seeing 31st level and over 100 hp will impress them.
It will also give me the chance to use some of my favorite B/X-BEMCI material.

Now I need to make some good looking "God" sheets and figure out who was there and who is going to play who.   Obviously if a character worships a god that is who they will be playing.

I have done this in the past, use a different system to invoke a different feel in the players.
When the dream is done each character will get a boon from that god to help them out later on.

The more I think about the more I like it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tharizdun and Tiamat

Yesterday I talked about the Devil as embodied in Satan.  As I mentioned I don't like the idea of using such impossible evils to kill (if it has stats it can be killed).  But near-impossible ones are fine.

I have talked about Tiamat a lot here.  Not just the D&D concept of her, but the ancient myths and what she means in my world.  She is the current "Big bad" in my kids 3rd edition game.  They began as just a small group looking into researching dragons.  In the process they discovered the rise of the old Cult of the Dragon (I am using what appeared in Dragon Magazine before it was went over to the Forgotten Realms) into a new threat.  The feel the only way to stop this evil from taking over the world is go to the source.
The twist I am planning is the artifacts I am having my kids gather up to summon Tiamat are also just what she needs to come into this world to rule it.  I am using ideas from the old Doctor Who serial "The Key of Time" and the Come Endless Darkness book by Gary Gygax (more on that book later).  They have gathered up all the relics they need; and these are true relics, they are the remains of dragons that are now "saints" in Tiamat's evil pantheon.   They are going to summon her using these relics and a few other items. Then there is going to be a big no-holds-barred fight on the Dragon Isles.
There are some parallels here with my last campaign/game "The Dragon and the Phoenix", but this one should be a lot bloodier.
Here are some of my relevant posts on Tiamat

Tharizdûn is closer to the classical idea of "The Devil" than Tiamat is.  Though I do recall at one point thinking that Orcus was the son of Tiamat and Tharizdun.  Not keeping that, but I might revisit it one day.
Unlike many of the other creatures, I have posted here Tharizdun was created whole cloth by Gary Gygax and expanded on in later books.  He is the main bad guy in the Gord the Rogue books including Come Endless Darkness (he is on the cover in fact).  In my games, he is god chained at the bottom of Hell and Asmodeus is his jailer still.  Though the millennia of Tharizdun whispering in his ear it is hard to say how much of the original Asmodeus is actually left.
He is hinted at in the T1-4 modules and then bits and pieces in S4 and WG4.  I think it would be very interesting to do the entire GDQ series under AD&D but instead of Lolth being the big bad, make her an unwitting pawn of Tharizidun.  Get the Shard of Pure Evil (from 4th Edition) so he can escape his prison and destroy the world.
Sure it is an awful lot like my Tiamat arc above.  But it works, and the stakes would be much higher.

Can't wait for my kids to fight these two!

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Satan

I have talked a lot about demons this month and about Hell prior to this.  The one thing I have not talked much about is the Big D himself, The Devil aka Satan.

Here are two things you likely didn't know about Satan in RPGS and D&D in particular.
First, he usually doesn't appear in them.  In fact, there are no official stats for Satan/Lucifer in D&D in any edition.  Plenty of stats in third party products, but none for the guy himself.
Secondly, I never use Satan in my games.  Not because I don't want too or have any fear of it, simply put there is no way he could ever live up to the expectation of the players.
One lucky roll and all my carefully laid plans become, oh hey we just killed the Source of All Evil.  How many XP do we get?  There is just no way that stats on paper can match up with the expectations of the players.  With a character like Dracula, it is easier.  He can be just as evil, just as much of a threat to the characters, but we know something else about Dracula. It's the same as Smaug, or Voldermort, or Vader or Sauron.  These evils can and were defeated.  Satan is, or at least should be, an unstoppable dreadnaught of evil. He is not the Monster of the Week, he is not even the Big Bad.  He is the Biggest Bad EVER.

Despite the lurid tales from the 80's (check out Asshat Paladin's review of "Playing with Fire") or Pat Robertson's claims, D&D players are not Satanists.  Sure, maybe some are. But no more or no less than say the general population (which is much smaller than people generally think).

Lucifer as Satan has appeared in the pages of Dragon Magazine and in the various Tome of Horrors books.

Satan made his appearance in Dragon #28 from 1979 in the infamous Politics of Hell article.  Here are the stats he had then:

MOVE Whatever desired
HIT DICE 333 hit points
% IN LAIR 5%
TREASURE TYPE H(*2), l(*2), U(*2)
SPECIAL ATTACKS +3 or better weapon and purity of heart required to hit
ALIGNMENT Lawful evil
SIZE Variable
Attack/Defense Modes Special

and his more recent S&W stats:
(Satan from the Tome of Horrors Complete, Copyright 2011, Necromancer Games, Inc., published and distributed by Frog God Games; Authors Scott Greene.)


Hit Dice: 25 (150 hp)
Armor Class: -6 [25]
Attack: Rod of Infernus (3d6), bite (2d4 plus poison) or 2 claws (2d8), bite (2d4 plus poison), tail sting 1d8 plus poison)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Gaze weapons, spells, summon devils, +3 or better weapon to hit, immunity to fire and poison, regeneration (4 hp/round), magic resistance (90%), see in darkness, telepathy 100 ft.
Move: 21/30 (flying)
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 40/10400

The Pathfinder stats are even more powerful.
EVEN then there is some character out there that could take this guy.  Maybe not many, but they are out there.

Lucifer and Satan have appeared as separate entities in the old Death's Edge Games Inferno games.
Which got me thinking, what if "Satan" isn't a person, but a title.  Not "Satan" but "the Satan", similar to what I did for Demongorgon.  The idea is not really an original one, Piers Anthony covered it in his Incarnations of Immortality series and it was covered well in the Charmed series with their Source of All Evil concept.
So the idea here is take a demon, already powerful, and juice him up on all the power of evil, or Evil, and he becomes the ruler of all demons.  Take a page from Lexx and His Divine Shadow and make it so that the new host of this evil power, the new Satan, has all the memories of all the previous Satans AND the knowledge of the new host.  That is a very dangerous foe.

So lets combine this idea with Dante's Inferno and some from the the D&D game itself.  In D&D there is a god of Evil, Tharizdun (who I'll talk about more tomorrow) that is roughly the same as Lucifer/Satan.
Tharizdun is trapped in a prison where his jailer was Asmodeus.  Asmodeus is now the leader of Hell and Tharisdun is forgotten.  There are a lot of clues to his whereabouts and even Gygax himself featured him in his Gord the Rogue books.  So my solution is to split "Satan" up into a couple of beings.  Part of him is the imprisoned Beast and another part in actually part of AAsmodeus

Another part...well I have not figured that one out yet.

The real question that in a world FULL of demons, devils and all sorts of monsters what purpose does Satan serve? What does he do?

The recent Kelley Armstrong book "Thirteen" finally features Lucifer.  He is very different than what is typically expected.  Two of my favorite versions was Peter Cook's in Bedazzled and Viggo Mortensen in The Prophecy for different reasons.  Maybe I should do that for my next October Movie marathon, only watch movies that feature the Devil/Satan as a character.

I also have something to say about RPGs and their role in the Satanic Panic of the 80s.  But that needs to be for another day.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Return of the Dragon Slayers!

I got a chance to play with the boys again today.  We continued the DragonSlayers game from a while back.  To recap they had just entered the Temple of Tharizdun and had held off the advancing hordes with a Wall of Flame spell.

I upped the stats of all the goblins, trolls and norkers in the place to make them partially demonic.  Centuries of interbreeding has made them them evil, but dumb.  The boys cleared out one side of the temple and found the access to the Black Cyst.  

They recovered the Lament of Tharizdun, but the mostly Neutral Good party wants nothing to do with it.  They have no issue with the legendary 333 gems of Tharizdun.  

I am setting Tharizdun up as the next big bad.  But not till the next generation. That is the 1st Ed AD&D game I started with the children of these characters.

I printed out the newer symbol of Tharizdun and had it ready. One of the demonic trolls had it on his armor, so I showed it to the boys.  After some Knowledge Arcana, History and Religion rolls I announced that they didn't know what it was.  My youngest, playing a half-elf Sorcerer/Ranger/Arcane Archer stated "I know exactly what it is. It's a target!!" and he fired two flaming arrows into the troll.

I have to admit, I was pretty amused by that!

They finished the adventure and high tailed it back to Glantri City.  They are planning on taking a couple of months break before the next leg of their adventures, but I doubt it will be that long.  There is some trouble brewing in Two Lake Vale and strange cloud over the land.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dragonslayers: An Epic Epic of Epicness

So after my Book of Vile Darkness enhanced version of S4:The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth, the characters all for the most part hit 20th level and frankly I don't want to stop.

So I am pouring over the Epic Level Handbook now.  This is not something I used back when I was play 3.x, and it has taken this long for the boys to get to this level.  I have some issues with it, for example the editing seems bad in places. But man this book is just full of great ideas.  Some of which would be great for Epic Level Play in D&D4 or 20+ level in D&D Bacic/BECMI.
Really it is kind of a fascinating book.  It takes the rules into places the original designers I don't think expected, but yet there is such an enthusiasm for it that it makes the reality of a 30-level D&D4 a no brainer.

They have not leveled up yet, they are still in the caves.  I am merging the 3.x rewrite of the LSotT with the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdûn.  I now have the temple far, far underground where the dengerate Norkers dwell and keep millennia old rituals alive to a God no one remembers.  There will be demons, monsters of pure chaos and all sorts of evil.  Maybe even a rogue Brain Collector.  Love those guys.

To keep the sense of evil, dread and most importantly fear, I am still going to use the Book of Vile Darkness (both the 3.0 and 4.0 versions) but I'll also include some elder scariness from the Epic Level Handbook too.

The idea here is to build to something big, apocalyptic even.  That is why I bought this thing.

The Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon to stand in for the full Goddess form of Tiamat.  That is the 3.x era Aspect of Tiamat and the 4e Orcus.   I am not sure how powerful she is going to be, but I am expecting HP in the low 1000 area, at least 30-35 HD and enough magic the stomp a small city-state.  I want it to be so epic that the boys will tell their own kids one day.  Just like the time that my characters had to defeat Orcus in the original H4 Throne of Bloodstone back in that far off time of 1987 and that mystical land sages once spoke of, Southern Illinois.

But since I also want to make all the battles leading up to this one epic in feel I am also reading other's play experience with these two modules.

Beedo over at Dreams of the Lich House has a great post on his group's battle in the Temple of Tharizdun.  This is a great run down and shows that all in not quiet in this so-called Forgotten temple.  James of Grognardia gives us his retrospective as well.  What both bloggers offer me is something I already knew, but was glad to see it all spelled out again.  The Forgotten Temple is not a simple dungeon crawl. Sure it looks like one, but it isn't one. This is alien horror.  This is Lovecraft meets the Satan Pit.
There is no over ridding goal to this adventure.  This is uncovering a plot and then running the hell away. I'll give them chances to acquire some magic items, even face some ancient, eldritch evils.

If I ever do Tharizdûn it will have to be even bigger than the Tiamat battle.

Tharizdun. Now there is name.  You don't need to know anything else about this guy other than his name to know he is up to no good.

In Gygax's Oerth he is the next best (worst) thing to Satan.  He is the Source of All Evil, to borrow a page from Charmed.  He is the biggest baddie there is.  I'll take his "Satan" aspects and his "Thasaidon" aspects and maybe even pepper in a bit of Lovecraft for good measure.

Links I am currently reading for "inspiration".

Anyone else run an Epic level game?  Or take on the Temple of Tharizdun.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Post 666

I have reached a momentous milestone here at the Other Side.  This is my 666th post.  I feel compelled (by the Power of Satan!) to post about something devilish.

I have talked about Hell before and some of it's inhabitants and some potential inhabitants.  If I follow this logic then devils would be the ultimate foe for the elves.  Not that I don't mind this idea at all. But I think I might focus it a bit more.   Combine the story of Dante's Inferno, Milton's Paradise Lost and Lolth's shunning/betrayal and I can paint a pretty detailed idea of what Hell is in my world.

Hell is the ultimate prison for the fallen.  Gods, Angels and other powers are cast out and into hell.

Let's start with a couple of Goddess that give me some problems.

Tiamat is a Goddess and Queen of all evil dragons.  She has always been listed as having a domain on the first level of Hell.  I have never really liked that to be honest.  Tiamat is in Babylonian myth primal Chaos.  If anything she should be in the Abyss.  Using the new 4e cosmology that would place her in the Elemental Chaos, which is really the perfect place for her.  In Dragonlance her home was always called "the Abyss".  In my games I always called her realm Tehom, which means Abyss in Hebrew and is associated with the mythical Tiamat.  So she really has no place in Hell.  Who should replace her?

Lolth on the other hand is better fit.  Her story is more in line with the casting out of the Angels into Hell.  Though I am not sure I want her in Hell proper, maybe more of the Ante-chamber to Hell, near the Underdark. This would be similar to the first level of Hell that Dante claimed the Pagans went too.  So I am trading a giant dragon for a giant spider.   For a bit of tongue in cheek continuity I would make Tiamat and Lolth allies.  They have different goals and motivations, but I see them as felling they have a common history so if it benefits them to share an alliance, then they would. Lolth's realm is still called the Demonweb and she still has a number of demons in her employ.

Devils in my Game
Demons are easy.  They are evil, chaotic outsiders bent on destruction of everything.  Devils are much more complicated.  I say in my game Devils are only Fallen Angels.  That means there are a finite number of them and once they are gone, that is it.  There are a lot of creatures that are called devils, but most of them are demons pressed into service.  Since they have been forced into service by the Devils they have changed, they can evolve into greater forms.  Pit Fiends are those fiends that have reason up in ranks.  The True Devils still look down on them.

Since I started this post, Dreams of the Lich House posted a bit about using Satan/The Tempter in your games.  It is a good read.  It also ties in nicely with the Milton/Dante-ish cosmology I want to use for Hell.  I would keep the 9 layers.  The top most being the "Ante-Chamber of Hell" and the rest each ruled by an Arch Duke.  Also each Arch Duke is responsible for one of the Seven Deadly sins.

Layer Name Arch-Duke Deadly Sin
1 Avernus none na
2 Dis Dispater Envy
3 Minauros Mammon Greed
4 Phlegethos Belial Sloth
5 Stygia Geryon Wrath
6 Malbolge Glayssa Lust
7 Maladomini Baalzebul/Beelzebub Gluttony
8 Cania Mephistopheles Pride
9 Nessus Asmodeus *

Glayssa was given Lust, Asmodeus' old sin since he is now in charge.  His though is the sin of betrayal.
In the 4e cosmology Asmodeus was the angel guarding the prison that Tharizdun was held in.  Tharizdûn corrupted him and Asmodues and his angels all fell.  I have decided that Tharizdun is still chained, but the greatest deceit is that he is not where all the gods think he is.  He is in fact buried deep in Hell where Asmodeus taps his power. This is how he has been elevated to near Godhood.  Of course this might be Tharizdun plan to to trap Asmodeus in his thrall even more.

Chances are good that the Dragonslayers will run into the cult of Tharizdun sometime soon.  I just need something to do with them.

I am not planning on the Dragonslayers going to Hell anytime soon, so this all might be for nothing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Orcus as the Boss? Immortal level D&D? What's my End Game?

I have been thinking about the whole Orcus as the big bad in 4e.  It's cool and it has a lot of fun about it. But there is a big issue I have with it.  Orcus is a brute.  He his not a planner or plotter.  He smashes and destroys.

In my game multiverse Orcus used to be a Primal God.  In 4e I am fine with this being called a Primordial, but now he is a demon.  He is a demon prince and a very, very powerful one, but an over arching plot seems a bit cerebral for him.  I am thinking that maybe Orcus is nothing more than the weapon being used by someone more powerful, but behind the scenes.  But who and for what ends?
I mean Orcus is no dummy, but as a demon he is more concerned with destruction than labyrinthine plots.

Here are some thoughts on some potential players.

Vecna - God of evil knowledge and a lich, but what does Orcus have that Vecna wants?  What could Vecna be using Orcus for?

Asmodeus - The Blood War may be in cold war mode now, but maybe the Arch duke of Hell needs Orcus to get the seed of evil.

Tharizdûn - This one is easiest.  Tharizdûn wants out of his prison.  While everyone thinks Tharizdun is imprisoned either in the Abyss or the Astral, he is in reality imprisoned in the lowest point in Hell.  Asmodeus is still his jailer.  I would make him a bit like Lucifer in Dante's Inferno, chained to very bottom of hell. Asmodeus thinks he is draining power off of Tharizdûn, which is why he is a god-like power now.  Tharizdun is allowing this knowing that he gains a little more control over Asmodeus.  Who is using who?  Well I guess that depends on who wins in the end.

Iggwilv - The Witch Queen wants the Abyss, and Orcus is one of the big things in her way.  I have been dying to use her is some way.

So here is my plan.

Iggwilv and Asmodeus are working together to manipulate Orcus.  He is being propped up as this huge threat so the PCs take him out.  Iggwilv is directing the PCs to do this while also working on Orcus telling him that doing this will make him a god.  The plan is to have the PCs kill Orcus and deliver his wand somewhere it can be destroyed.  The PCs end up in Hell and hand over the Wand to Asmodeus. Asmodeus has told Iggwilv that he wants the extra shard and she can keep the Abyss.  In truth Asmodeus is being manipulated by Thaizdun.  Orcus' Wand and Asmodeus' Rod together will free him.

Yes, this is bit much for a D&D plot, especially a D&D4 one, but I like the idea.   If the PCs play this right they could defeat Orcus, Iggwilv and Asmodeus all in one fell swoop.

The old AD&D adventure H4 Throne of Bloodstone is an influence here since the goal there is to destroy the Wand.  The E1-3 series for D&D4 focuses on Orcus wanting to become a god.  So I will merge them a bit.  The whole Tharizdun bit is a bit recycled from the Gygax "Dance of Demons" book, but that is fine really.

Part of this though also depends on something else.
To defeat Orcus in the E series takes the characters right to 30th level. To then take on Iggwilv, Asmodeus AND Tharizdun then is something else altogether.

So I had yet another idea. What about Immortal Level D&D.  Reading over the Mentzer D&D BECMI set I do see how well Immortal level play can work and that is something Immortals would do, stop the imbalance of Tharizdun coming back into play.   I am just not quite sure how to do that in D&D4 just yet.  I am sure I'll figure it out.  Though I did ask about it on RPG.Net.

Presently I am working on finishing my 3.x campaign.  Since the 4e characters are the kids of the 3.x ones I can start planting some seeds now.  Drop the name Tharizdun and Iggwilv.  Mention Orcus' and Asmodeus' rise to power.  Might need to figure out how Vecna and Raven Queen fit into all of this.  Maybe once Orcus is dead Vecna becomes the new patron of the Undead.  Am I ready to get rid of Orcus once and for all?

Hmm.  Interesting thought.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

4e Purchases

I picked up some new 4e books this weekend that are not due out till July 20th.
Benefits of living near a huge game store.

First Up, Demonicon
An interesting book and I have always liked demons as the ultimate foes in D&D.  Of course I dislike the name, but it has been with us since Module S4 so it's a little late to part with now.  At least it is better than the 2nd Ed era wimp out "Fiendonomicon".  Gah.
The cover, to me anyway, brings up images of Eldritch Wizardry, the first D&D book to feature demons.  The blonde on her back in obvious sacrifice.  These are not misunderstood monsters, these are demons and they are evil.
Lots of demons. Lots of history on the Abyss.
I like the way they have tied in Tharizdun to whole mythos now.  So this will be great when I run S4-WG4 for my kids and they actually find a copy of the Demonomicon of Iggwilv.  I like that Demogorgon, Orcus and Baphomet were once Primordials.  Something I was doing anyway.  I like that there is more for Tharizdun, even though I can see he will also soon get on my nerves if he keeps popping up.    But I always liked him since reading about him the "Gord the Rogue" books by Gary.
There are some cool demonic lairs that can be used on their own or as part of a larger campaign in the Abyss.
Now see this is where not having the PDFs of the books is a real pain.  I would have loved to have had a PDF of this to print out and put in a binder with all the information on the Abyss from The Plane Below and Manual of the Planes, all the information from various Dragon and Dungeon articles, and all the demons from the Monster Manuals all in one place.  Made a complete Demonomicon if you like.  I had started this exact idea for 3.x, though rather late in the game and never got everything printed out.
I dislike the whole "Asmodeus is at the center of all evil plots" idea that has pervaded the last two editions of D&D, but with some of the new information in this book, I have some ideas.  All in all, I like this book, but I expected that I would.  I do have one quibble.  They do list Malcanthet as a demon lord.  Well, she was demon lord of the Succubi in the last edition.  Succubi are no longer demons...

Tomb of Horrors
There are very, very few adventures as notorious as the Tomb of Horrors.  It is also held up to some unrealistic standard for modules that it must be a "good thing" to kill off characters.
Well I am reasonably certain that Tomb of Horrors for 4e will get cries of "blasphemy" and "sacrilege" from certain quarters; but I am also reasonably certain that those quarters were never going to buy this book anyway.
The new adventure is not just one, but 4 Tombs scattered all over the new D&D4 cosmology.  Clever really if you are wanting to introduce what is cool in this new world to players that pick this up remembering the original ToH.
Speaking of the Original Tomb, it is here, in it's abandoned form.  Note: WOTC Guys,  you copied the original Tomb map perfectly, too perfectly in fact.  The scale of the original map was one square = 10 feet.  Scale on the new map is the more common for 4e 1 square = 5 feet.  So our entry hallway is now 10 feet wide instead of 20 feet wide.  Minor quibble, I can explain it away in any number of ways, but still.
There are rules and notes in here about how to play the Tomb just like the old days, but they explain why they didn't design the module like that to start.  All in all it is a neat module and adventure.  It is still a killer module, as in it will kill characters if they are stupid.
I am not going to try to blow any sunshine up your ass, if you love "Tomb of Horrors" and hate D&D 4 you will hate this. If you liked ToH and like D&D 4 then this is nice little "Return to the Return of the Tomb of Horrors".
What I like about it is it assumes that the characters do not live in a vacuum.  The Tomb of Horrors is legendary to players and characters. This module assumes it was cleared out in the 70's and 80's and now the next gen is here to see what is new.  It's the exact same thing I doing with "B3 Palace of the Silver Princess" and the same thing I did with the whole "Road Stories" arc of "Season of the Witch" for my Willow & Tara game.

While reading through them both I can see elements that I will use in my big D&D 4e campaign against Orcus.    Acererak could be allied with Orcus, or more likely Tharizdun.  Though I had not considered Tharizdun to be a huge player in this game.  He is chained up after all.  In fact it has helped me solidify a few ideas.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Revised Plan; Generational Mega Plots

I plan to come back to Cartoon Action Hour here in a bit, but I have something I want to get organized first.

So a while back I posted a plan for the adventures I wanted to run with my family using 4E.

Well since that time, some gaming has happened, some looking over various adventures and some tests on my part has brought me to the conclusion that I can't run some of those old school modules under 4E after all.  Certainly I am still working on my current 3.x adventures with my kids.

Now mind you, this is not a bad thing nor is it reflective of the modules, 4e or "Old School".
But it has forced me to change my plans.

So for the "Dragon Slayers" game I am running I'll add some of those classic modules.  The characters are all right around 13th level now, with one just on the verge of 10th.  The ultimate goal of this game is to defeat Tiamat in the "Graveyard of Dragons". What can I say, my kids like the old D&D cartoon.    The rules are under 3.x edition, which has an odd mix of D&D 3.0, with some 3.5, minor bits from Pathfinder, BESM d20 and Star Wars d20 (the revised one that came out after Attack of the Clones).

Also some of these modules are going to be played by me under Pathfinder in either my "Big Kids Group" or the "Little Kids Group".  Currently the LKG is going through "B2 The Keep on the Borderlands".  I have already used bits of "X1 Ilse of the Dread" and "B4 The Lost City".  I know that in the one of the Pathfinder groups we will go through the GDQ series at some point, most likely the Little Kids Group.  I will be running "C2 Ghost Tower" under the Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space game.

After that those characters will retire and their descendants will complete a new Quest.  The defeat of Orcus.
I'll run this one under D&D 4E and I do plan on it taking many years.

I am not 100% certain how the adventures will pan out, but I do want to use the D&D4 ones for ease.

Part of this is my desire to have them battle Orcus at the end. Plus I like to overall plot of involving the Raven Queen vs Orcus and Orcus getting a hold of some ancient artifact of Tharizdûn.

Those modules will get them from 1st to 30th level.  But I might want to add a couple here and there.  Not sure yet since I have not read them all in detail.   I also know some people have had issues with these modules, both in terms of how they fit together, plot and playability.  So I want to get things that are out now, and then tweak them as I need.  Afterall, if this is about fighting Orcus who gets an artifact from ancient Tharizdûn then I can lay some ground work in my 3.x game now for that.

So after all that I have some modules left over.

  • B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, levels 1-3 (using bits from both the "Green" and "Orange" versions).
  • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4
  • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 (place it in the Shadowfell, which is the new Ravenloft anyway)
  • I6 Ravenloft, levels 5-7. That is if I don't use it as a convert Ghosts of Albion adventure. Use some of the Ravenloft campaign/world setting stuff here too.
  • S2 White Plume Mountain, levels 5-10
  • I10 Ravenloft II, House on Gryphon Hill, levels 8-10.
  • S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (with some of the info from the 3.5 update), levels 6-10
  • WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, levels 5-10
  • S1 Tomb of Horrors, levels 10-14 (though I might just wait for the new D&D4 version)
  • S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, levels 8-12
  • CM2 Death's Ride, levels 15-20. 
Then there are these modules:
  • H1 Bloodstone Pass, levels 15+
  • H2 The Mines of Bloodstone, levels 16-18
  • H3 The Bloodstone Wars, levels 17-20
  • H4 The Throne of Bloodstone, levels 18-100

Like the E series for D&D4, these send you to Orcus's layer to defeat him.   Of the lot, H4 would be the best one to use, maybe as a buffer between E2 and E3.   The others seem more suited for the Dragon Slayer's Pathfinder game.    Of course, I could convert the H1-H4 Bloodstone series to feature Tiamat instead of Orcus.   S4 and WG4 are linked and deal with Iggwilv, her Demonomicon and Tharizdûn.  They are good to set up the history of Orcus and Tharizdûn.  They can happen in either game. In the 4th Ed game I'd stick it in between H and P.  CM2 Death's Ride has some cool stuff in it. Good to set up the whole Orcus wants to be a God thing in the 3.x game.  Plus it would give me a good arch-nemesis for the characters to fight throughout.

The Ravenloft ones would be great for the Sunsword (a good weapon against the undead) but there is the Board Game coming out and I want it.  Plus I'd rather run Ravenloft these days under True20.  So I might have to find something similar.  If I use the new Tomb of Horrors then I could place a good aligned sword there.  There is a D&D4

There is a lot to do and figure out here.  But I see this as a good thing. Look at all the time I have.  I can plan out a mult-year arc of adventuring that would take my kids all the way to college.  Wouldn't have died to have done something like that?

Though I do need to figure out a way to get more dragons into the 4th Ed game for my oldest.

Now this is my attempt to bring Old Schoolers and New Schoolers together.

NEW SCHOOLERS:  What things should I be aware of when running the HPE series?

OLD SCHOOLERS: What classic, epic modules are a "must run" for a group of kids that were not even alive when Clinton was in office, let alone Carter.  What memory of "D&D" is a must have?  Barrier Peeks?  Tomb of Horrors?

Clarifications on Games being Played
- "Dragon Slayers" is a 3.x game that I play with my two sons and sometimes my wife joins us. The goal of this game is to defeat Tiamat.
- "Big Kids Game/Group" is a Pathfinder game where I play a Paladin.  In this group are my kids and the DM's kids (6 players, 1 DM)
- "Little Kids Game/Group" is a Pathfinder game where I play a Witch (same witch as I do in Dragon Slayers).  This is the group with the Problem Player.
Both Pathfinder games have the same DM.
- "Untitled 4th Ed Game" is a 4e game where the players are the same as Dragon Slayers, but the characters are their children or descendants. The goal of this game is to defeat Orcus.