06 July 2010

Next Campaign!

Now that Temple of the Plague Orcs (the first free module the author's produced, a basic site-based adventure for 1st-3rd level characters) is nearly done, it's time for a post-mortem analysis.

The adventure, for the most part, was a good bit of fun when I ran it for my playtesting group. They died once, freed a prisoner, defeated small militant bands of plague orcs, and profitted. Although we never fininshed the module itself since the real world got in the way, it's mostly irrelevant. All that was left was two rooms and the warlord himself. So what went wrong and what went right?
1)Vivid descriptions: Everybody liked the explosively vomiting orc, and the orc that tried to entangle them with his distended intestines. They were disgusting and took the players totally off guard, which is always fun.
2)Good pacing: The adventure proceeded at the pace of the players. They had gotten lucky and there were no guards in the foremost tower, so they could proceed at their own pace. Being orcs, they were mostly busy in-fighting and eating instead of posting guards.
3)Unique Tactics: The players had to defend themselves from an ambush, fight off attacking orcs from the ramparts of the ruins, and flee up a tower. The module was designed as to always have at least moderately interesting places to fight on, although it could use a little bit of tightening.

1)Poor Layout: The entrance to the orc warlord's keep, the central location of the castle and what's supposed to be the most defended part of the entire ruins, was open and directly across from the drawbridge. In other words, it was the second place there was to go. Ooops! Luckily, it can be solved by something as simple as putting the portcullis facing the rear of the ruins, where it would be in an actual castle.
2)No Pressure:While this is more of a stylistic choice than anything, it's good to have an objective or time limit. Some groups like to have all the time in the world to plot out a good plan and dissect the world around them, and some like to be rushed and hurried because the world's ending in 15 minutes unless you slay the dragon or whatever.
3)Not Enough Variety: Realistically, plague orcs would have only plague orcs present. They're not the type to domesticate dogs or have other races around. But does that mean that there can't be subtypes of Plague Orcs, differing only by their performance in combat? For example, a pre-statted crossbow orc, or an assassin orc. It was an omission on my part, although a clever DM can wing it. The point is, a clever DM shouldn't have to.

Bottom Line: My players didn't know that it was me that designed the Temple of the Plague Orcs. For them to think that it was either a professional publisher (unlikely) or at the very least, somebody with more talent than me, that's a pretty high complement.

The next module will likely be an arctic-themed one, featuring Yetis, wolves, and shamanistic minor magic items. It's a shame that Yetis feature in so few adventures, as they really are fairly cool beings. Possibly, the next module will be linked to the Plague Orcs; perhaps their Ogrish leaders are back from a successful raid, with a wagon train full of gold, human slaves, and stolen elf-swords?

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