Viscount LeMarque

Level 7
2 years ago

The Baron's daughter has been kidnapped, and he has hired you to rescue her from the Viscount LeMarque. An adventure for level 7-8 characters.

I originally built to test the limits of upper level parties. Dialed it back, polished it up. Enjoy.

Level 14
2 years ago (edited)

Oh doing a Dropbox instead huh?

Well I will have to go check it out. I almost missed it because usually I'm checking Nexus. 

EDIT: Just tried it man, says there's no file there. 

Level 7
2 years ago

Hmmm. Guess I'll try Nexus tomorrow. Sorry about that. Link works for me. 

Level 14
2 years ago (edited)

Yeah I get the error message... 

The folder ‘/Viscount LeMarque’ doesn’t exist. 

Is it possible you have the permissions set incorrectly?

EDIT: lol this was to your last post. Looks like we posted at the exact same time. 

Level 14
2 years ago

Ok I'm on it now I'll give it a run through. 

Level 14
2 years ago (edited)

Ok it took a LONG time to do that, and a lot of it had to do with the game not cooperating at ALL. 

The most infuriating and frustrating part of me doing a play test is when the game decides to roll all 1s and all 20s. Nothing cheezes me off more than that. When you do a playtest you want average rolls to establish what an average play will be, and one side getting either all 1s or sub 5 rolls in a game is as useless as getting all 15+ rolls. Its useless and tells me nothing about the combat. So you can imagine how many combats I had to restart when the algorythm starts to hose up like that. Because it tells me nothing, 

Anyway... first of all congrats on your first module. . 

1. Good placement of loot in the starting party chests. Some people forget that you really do need to include things like alternate item slot items for things like Spell Focuses and Holy Symbols. Rangers, Paladins, Clerics, and Wizards all have to use them and they cannot afford to blow their usable items slot on a component pouch, or Clerics may need that neck slot. Paladins and Rangers specifically need their usable items slot open because they are most likely to use it. Good job on including those. Also... cool idea with dividing the items into magical and non-magical chests I liked it. 

2. I know you used primarily Pre-Fabs and didn't do your own design for rooms... and that's ok since this is your first one. But just a note... when you do start to branch off and do more of your own personalizing. You would want a little more rubble in the initial hallway opening part. You give a Lore description, but the hallway looks too clean to match your word description. Don't be afraid to choke that baby up with rubble the party has to jump over and squeeze around to really feel like its a rubble strewn and collapsed hallway. 

3. Get rid of the Fires and Braziers in the secret areas where there's no traffic. One of the things that builds the "this place is not used" feel, is when its actually not lit up, since, well there's no one around to light them in those areas so there would be no fires there. It will really help build the atmosphere you're going for. 

4. Careful of putting Lore triggers in combat areas, in your case, because they weren't overly wordy you can actually read them before they disappear, but there were a couple I missed that got spammed off before I could read them. Overall though you did a good job on the putting in Lore triggers to provide a backstory to help build the mood of the dungeon well. 

5. Good job hiding your crawlspace. That was pretty well done. I may have found it but I did notice your attempts to hide it. The downside though is, you didn't really do much to hide your Secret Doors. In this game you really have to put things in front of a secret door to keep it from being discovered because Caution mode picks them up from a LONG ways away. And sometimes leaving them in obvious areas is like broadcasting there's a secret door there. I'm not talking about your intentional ones that you mean to be discovered, moreso the ones you didn't mean to. Example: That one in the final fight. 

6. The undead encounter was excellently designed, and very believable in the context of what you wanted to do. But that is an example of a secret door you may want to hide better, since this was one of your intended secret areas. Still the actual encounter was really good and believable. Again douse the lights though. 

7. Might be a few too many Magical bows as treasure. I think I had 4 of them combined with a Heavy Crossbow which is a 1d10 ranged weapon. That was probably too many and I couldn't use them all anyway. So you might want to swap one or two of them for something else. 

8. Excellent choices for actual combat areas which included the specific prefabs with cover and walls a good "war zone" per se. 

8. Nice job on the ending, that was probably the best you were going to be able to do for the resolve because of what we were given to work with. It was a very creative solution. 

But now we get to the problem area... 

You asked me this question earlier today and I didn't really answer you but I really think I should... You asked me... why I didn't use Goblin Shamans in every encounter with the Ogres to make it more challenging in Hall of the Ogre Lord. And you felt I should to "make it more of a challenge" with magic using creatures. 

The real answer to this question is... context of the world. Sure I could just throw an Archmage or Shock Wizard or some other caster just for kicks... but this misses the point. You were thinking too much in terms of "game" and 1s and zeros... not enough in terms of the context of the world. 

One of the things that creates a believable world, is not just throwing any random creature in there because you can or to make it a challenge as it makes your world and atmosphere much less believable. 

Believe it or not people really get into these things and emotionally involved in them when the context of the world around them is believable. 

Why are there a TON of level 1 Orcs in Ruined Keep of Agramar? Its not just because that's the only orc in there... because even if we had Orc Berserkers or Orc Chieftains I still would not be throwing entire groups of those at the players, I might have one small room of Elites like that but that would be the only one. I'd be doing it like a real encounter 

1 Chieftain

10 Berserkers

50 Orcs

35 Orc Archers

In the context of the world this is what you would see, it makes it believable no matter how many puny orcs you squash along the way at 5th level... or spam the screen with. Its not done to spam the screen, 

The only thing I might have done would have been to swap out some of the Ogres for Orc Berserkers, That would be the only change. I also wouldn't be adding a caster to every encounter just to make it harder, because again that wouldn't match the context of the world. When you are taking on Ruined Keep of Agramar... it really DOES feel like an actual Orc Hold because you get swarmed by so many Orcs. 

With that in mind... I'll move on to your encounter schemes... 

The real context of the world... a normal human like a merchant or commoner is what you'd call a 0 level creature. Kinda like a Kobald, they only have 1/2 hd and a soldier is only a Level 1 Fighter. There are tons of these and they are the ones who are assigned as sentries and guards. 

a 5th+ level Fighter is never the guy on local guard or watch duty. So throwing a bunch down because they're tough really makes an encounter unrealistic in the context of the world. I know you might be thinking... but but but this will make it more "challenging"... yeah but it won't make it believable in the context of the world. The more of this you do the less immersive it becomes. 

A 5th level fighter (aka multi-attacking fighter) is an Elite Soldier, Kinda like our special forces. A Viscount would not have these. These would be only the special soldiers of a King or Ruler of the land and he'd never waste them on minor guard duty like that. 

So when you're designing a Guard Post encounter if you wanted to make it credible and believable, it would be

20 1st level Fighters

2 2nd level Sergeants

1 5th level Watch Commander

Ergo... throwing down 4 5th/6th level Bandit Captains just feels completely off. You need something smaller. Remember those are the leaders. Its not about just 1's and zeros. 

If you really wanted the adventure you were going for... you should have made it a lower level adventure than 7th-8th if you wanted to give it a challenge and a realistic one in the context of the world. 

Now by context you COULD have pulled that off in the large room as a group of Elite Mercenaries as a special encounter... but then the problem became the other things you threw in there with them. You could have gotten away with the large number of Spies. But once you threw in all the Clerics along with it... it became a serious question of... what exactly are all these clerics doing here? 

One or two might have been ok... but you had like 8 of them in there which made no sense. 

I kept asking myself what are all these Clerics doing here?

Then in your final encounter (I found the secret door by the way)

I suddenly walked into 4 Archmages and 4 Evil Clerics which again had me asking the same question. What is this screwy group all doing together? 

I could not find any "Underground Temple" in your creations, so it made no sense, And I sure as heck couldn't find a Mage Academy anywhere which is the ONLY place you'd see that many High Level Mages in one place at one time. 

So at this point I'm going, ok he just threw down a bunch of random junk with no coherency.  

If you see a High Level Mage he will be alone, unless he's part of a Magic Circle. He might have a couple of lower level apprentices, but not a ton of High Level mages.

What was a High Priest doing there? The Warlord I could believe because he would have been the Guard Captain or Leader of guards we'd seen up to that point... but the High Priest? 4 Archmages and a Shock Wizard plus another 4 Evil Priests? 

This was the only real problem you had in your module really was your encounter design there is no coherency in them at all and they are unrealistic in the context of the world. 

Think in terms of what the actual world around you would be when you're designing these. 

Level 7
2 years ago

Thanks for the suggestions and thorough review. I confess that I started the dungeon simply to test the limits of an upper level party. It's relatively easy to write encounters that challenge parties with levels below 5. But that level 5 is such a big power jump. So if it feels a bit like I just threw folks together to challenge the party, I suppose that I did. Hopefully, when the DM is out of beta, we'll have a full range of monsters that make it easier to craft a challenge for a level 5+ party with a plausible backstory. In the meantime, the temple or mage school is a good idea. Local thieves' guild as well. Or some sort of high-level meeting between such groups. (Interestingly, the Goblin Shaman is one of the most effective spellcasting enemies. It'll pop out that lightning bolt first round where many higher level spellcasters will cast chilling touch or firebolt over and over. I wanted to throw some of those of in and did for my own testing, but left them out for the immersion reasons you suggest.)

I guess that I put too many bows because I'll often run a party full of elves. So four magic bows is just what you need. And in some of the Nexus dungeons, I can't let the high elf mage shoot too many arrows because my sylvan elf ranger or thief runs out. So perhaps a bit of overreaction to my own frustrations.

I didn't work too much on the room design, but I'll spend more time there next time. Glad the crawl space was at least a little difficult to find. I remember how dark the Solasta world seemed the first time I played that initial Sorak encounter in the secret caves. Couldn't see a thing. It seems like the world has gotten much brighter since then now that Solasta lets everyone adjust their contrast at the outset. IMHO, the game makes secret doors a little too easy to find. Six squares over, really? But I'll work on that as well.

RNG can certainly be frustrating, and when you try to design something that really tests a party, it seems like one time in ten, it just all goes bad no matter how good your tactics. Too many 1s in a row for your side, too many 18+s for the other. 

Thanks again for the thoughtful review.

Level 7
2 years ago

Also, in terms of realism and 1s and 0s, I would note that as a real world DM, an effective archmage would crush a level 7 party. But in Solasta, a single archmage is scarcely a challenge. 

Level 14
2 years ago

Well Admittedly the Mages probably did make your final encounter weaker than you intended. 

I would probably change that encounter to remove a lot of them. I didn't really go through the final battle with you but I will take you through it round by round. Remember I hit it through your Secret Door and got surprise. 

Round 1 (Surprise Round)

Mage casts Fireball, only one Priest left standing, 2 Archmages with a sliver left, 2 Archmages in low yellow

Fighter (Mountaineer Sword + Shield) moves forward onto Sarcophagus swings twice killing 2 Archmages, Jumps down Action Surge and swings twice on one Archmage leaving him in the Red. 

Cleric fires Bow at Priest, who had a sliver left, and kills the last Priest. Casts Spiritual Weapon.  

Paladin (Two Handed Sword) steps up Smites the high health Archmage kills him, then the second strike and followup strike killed the last Archmage.  

Archmages and Priests dead at end of Round 1. Badlands Hunters now visible in Fog of War. 

Round 2

Mage Unleashes second Fireball on Badlands hunters bringing them all to the Yellow. (Targeted far back but there was nothing behind them so only got them. 

Fighter moves to Cover wall to engage, gained +2 AC for 24. Swings twice on one does not kill

Cleric casts Spiritual Guardians and swaps to melee weapons and engages same Badlands hunter target as Fighter. 

Paladin Steps up, Smites one Hunter, dead. Moves swings twice on the second Which brings him to Red. 

One Hunter dies to Spiritual Guardians at outset. Hunters swing and miss Fighter multiple times.

Round 3 

Both Hunters with sliver left, Darkwalkers, Warlord, and High Priest have moved to the Wall north of position but did not have the movement to fire. 

Mage Casts Conjure Elementals on their position putting them in melee and removing the Archers and High Priest's ability to fire. (For the remainder of the Summon they don't hit anything but suck up their attention)

Fighter kills both Hunters and moves to the next Wall. 

Cleric moves up behind Fighter for partial cover, Spiritual Guardians still out of Range. 

Paladin moves most of the way to the Enemy cover but cannot quite make it on Dash. 

Round 4

Mage casts Scotching Ray on High Priest, hits 3 of 4 High Priest injured.

Shock Wizard casts Scortching Ray on Elemental hits only 2 of 4. does not kill. Warlord hits elemental 3 times but due to damage resist does very little damage to it. 

Fighter moves up and engages Shock Wizard who has left the cover and moved into party.

Cleric moves up beside Figher so now all Enemies behind the wall are within the Spiritual Guardians damage field. Spiritual Weapon moves up to Priest and Strikes hitting for 10 damage.   

Paladin unable to engage High Priest as Elementals are blocking the way, opts to engage Warlord. Smites twice heavily damaging the Warlord. 

Round 5

Mage Casts Scortching Ray on Shock Wizard, Shock Wizard hit all 4 times left with sliver of health. 

Enemies continue to swing on Elementals doing minimal damage but do kill 1. Elementals all miss. All enemies take damage from Spiritual Guardians. 

Fighter finishes off the Shock Wizard, forced to engage Dark Stalker instead of High Priest as Elementals are blocking the way. 

Cleric Fires arrow at High Priest hitting for 8 damage. Spiritual Weapon swings and misses High Priest. 

Paladin again Smites twice on Warlord, Warlord at red health.  

Round 6

Mage Casts Scortching Ray at High Priest, mystically this time the High Priest decides to counterspell and blocks it. 

Fighter swings twice on Dark Stalker damaging him minimal as he has uncanny dodge. 

Another Elemental goes down to High Priest, Guiding Bolt.

Cleric Swaps to melee and moves up and swings at High Priest, hitting once, Spiritual Weapon hits once. 

Warlord uses Second Wind and Heals, but Paladin Smites, and finishes him hitting 2 of 3 strikes. 

All Enemies damaged again by Spiritual Guardians. 

Round 7

Mage casts magic missiles at High Priest, does not counter and takes all 4 hits. Now at sliver of health. 

High Priest casts cure light wounds healed for 8. 

Fighter swings twice again on Dark Stalker, Dark Stalker now getting low after Spiritual Guardians and blade damage. 

One Elemental performs knockdown on High Priest, 

Cleric Swings and hits, Spiritual Weapon hits and High Priest dies. 

Paladin engages Dark Stalker hitting 2 of 3 Two Hander hits. . 

Dark Stalker dies to Spiritual Guardians. 

Round 8

At this point only 3 Dark Stalkers remain and are heavily damaged by Spiritual Guardians, the party is at mostly full health, and the battle is pretty much over. 

That's your post mortum on the final fight. 

Level 7
2 years ago

The mages and priests are tougher if you don't use the secret door. Perhaps, I should remove it, or as you suggest, hide it.