Thursday, August 3, 2017

Running KOTB

I've been thinking about having a open game table for my old school group.  As we have had a bit of difficulty with scheduling.  My thought is, to shoot for let's say the last Friday of the month every month.  Whoever can make it, makes it.

While I've had a few thoughts on running some different adventures, I keep going back to KOTB, to really give it one more kick.  I ran it once a long while ago for some of the players from the old school group (when we first started).

The nice thing about the module, is that in essence it's a small mega dungeon.  I've read a lot of good things about how to run it.  Specifically +Wayne Rossi blog .  Wayne has had some pretty good success running the keep the same way I'm thinking of doing.

This morning I decided to google search "tips for running keep on the borderlands".  This is what i've come up with thus far.

Here's a few highlights.
From this thread: 
Maxwell Luther writes:  make sure to set up some mini-quests around the place that don't necessarily involve the Keep and the Caves but get players to explore the mini-sandbox around the Keep. A good one I've always used is to have an elf woman show up in the tavern looking for her lost brother who went 'in search of the unknown' (wink wink) and ended up a meal for the Black Widows in the south of the map. 

Another one is to have one of the merchants or tradesmen in the Keep (the jewel merchant, the provisioner, etc.) start a line in reptile skin clothing and send the players on a safari into the swamps in the southeast. 

Finally, to go along with the crooked priest angle, I have the players witness someone signalling the chaos warrior camp from the battlements at night, link him to the hermit (who used to be a priest but was taken into the woods and cursed into madness by the priest years ago to reduce the clerical strength of the keep) and make sure he has some corrupt guards to kill any prisoners taken in for questioning who might reveal too much. I also set up a few hints about the caves to get folks motivated in that direction, like having a lone survivor of a merchant caravan raid make it to the Keep and tell the adventurers about the prisoners in the Hobgoblin cave.

Third, the Cave of the Unknown is a good place to put a dungeon of your own, but a small one, maybe a half-doze to a dozen rooms, so it doesn't distract too much from the main threat of the Caves of Chaos. I actually link mine by putting a Crypt Thing in the bottom of it who 'geases' the characters into retrieving the evil artifacts from the altar of the chaos priest in the caves and returning them to him.

The most important thing to remember, though, is to treat the whole thing as a mini campaign sandbox that rows and changes as the players explore it: allow your players to get lost, waste time and attack retreat as they will, but also have their exploits means something. As my players make trip after trip into the surrounding area or the Caves and come back alive with money, goblin ears (I set a bounty up for enemy ears after they returned form a couple of trips) and freed hostages, their renown and ability to get information and help from important people grows and more potential adventurers and henchmen will come to the keep to get in on the action. Conversely, the enemy will reinforce, send out ambush parties and assassins and otherwise react to the player's intrusions into the caves, requiring them to get sneakier. In my current run, for instance, the goblins have barricaded themselves into the back of their cave and are on high alert, ready to go for hobgoblin help at the slightest hint of PCs reentering their caves. It's a living world, make the characters actions have an effect on it...

I intend to put b1 "in search of the unknown" near the keep for sure. 

Merricb writes in this thread

Oh, I remember when I first tried to run B2... yeah, it's tricky to run the Keep itself without preparation.

My advice to you is: Ignore the Keep at first. Tell the players that they've taken rooms at the Traveller's Inn, and on the advice of the locals, they've travelled to just outside the Caves of Chaos.

This will get them right into the fun part of the game - the exploration and combat! (Running the Keep can be very fun, but you need experience first).

The Caves have a number of entrances. Describe the two closest to the players (they enter from the open end of the canyon, so that will give them a cave to the left and a cave to the right - leading to goblins and kobolds, IIRC).

As they enter the cave, ask for a marching order - who is in front, who is behind. Describe the darkness of the caves, and the monsters and items they see. Be aware the party may need to flee. Have fun!

The map should be on the cover. It shows a canyon with a number of caves and passages. The PCs will enter from the right-hand side. 

You may wish to read the text on page 14 to your players, which begins "The forest you have been passing through has been getting more dense, tangled, and gloomier than before." and ends "You know that you have certainly discovered the Caves Of Chaos.".

After that, I'd say something like this:
Two caves are fairly close to you. One stands on the southern side of the bluff to your left. A little way ahead and to your right, you can see a cave overhung by a large, twisted tree.

That describes cave D (to the left) and cave A (to the right).

Running this, I will have read all of the early cave descriptions, especially cave A (1-6) and cave D (17-21) and cave E (22).

If the players choose to go left (D):
Inside the cave mouth, you see a 10 foot wide passageway running twenty feet before reaching a crossroads; the passages seem to have been carved out of the rock.

If the players choose to go right (A):
Roll a d6; if you roll a 1 or 2: 
As you approach the cave and begin to peer inside, suddenly it's raining small, dog-headed humanoids from the tree above! Kobolds! They run forward brandishing long daggers and attack!

Proceed to your first combat.

Alternatively, if you roll a 3-6:
Inside the cave, the passageway runs twenty feet before reaching a T-junction. A small dog-headed humanoid - a kobold - peers nervously around the corner from the right-hand side before disappearing with a bark of dismay, and you can hear it running away calling an alarm!

Note that there's a guardpost of 6 kobolds just inside the cave-mouth at 1. The kobolds will not step on the pit-trap, although your players might as they chase the kobolds...

Here's a few blog posts of interest as well.

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