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Bleak House ***(SPOILERS!)*** 
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Post Bleak House ***(SPOILERS!)***
... is the next stop in my campaign. For the last sessions, I've peppered here and there that VR is having trouble sleeping at night, and needs to rest.

Am I mistaken in that nobody ever published a journal made on this complex adventure? After rereading it, I wanted to read what others did with it, but I found nothing.

Joël

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Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:20 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
I think the reason for that is Bleak House is an utter "Head-$#@$@" for the DM to run, let alone document every session.
I hope you have fun, as I wish I had the time to run this but, alas.
I also look forward to reading your DM Journal :)


Last edited by Gonzoron of the FoS on Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:40 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
jimjams wrote:
I think the reason for that is Bleak House is an utter "Head-$!#@$#" for the DM to run, let alone document every session.
I hope you have fun, as I wish I had the time to run this but, alas.


It is indeed, but my PCs have had their own fear / horror effect in the last ten years, these fears are now mature enough so that Heinfroth exploits them :)

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Last edited by Joël of the FoS on Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:13 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
I believe Stuart Turner once mentioned that he ran Bleak House as a sequel to his campaign, but there's no summary to how it turned out. Perhaps if we engage in a séance and prepare a mystick cage we can summon him for some DM do-and-don't tips?

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Fri Oct 23, 2015 3:15 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
Joël of the FoS wrote:

It is indeed, but my PCs have had their own fear / horror effect in the last ten years, these fears are now mature enough so that Heinfroth exploits them :)


One thing that you may need to think about/one problem that I spotted just reading this adventure that would make it still harder to run is the following question...

How do I keep player X, Y, and Z, engaged in the adventure, while I need to take time and deal with only player A and character Alpha who is getting "treatment" from the Doctor at the moment?

If you give each individual player/character their own treatment... then you need to spend time interacting solely with that character/player which may lead to the others feeling bored rather than horrified, especially if they're made to go out of the room so as that the player does not know what the character does not know.

I sadly have no idea how to solve this problem since it seems sort of inherent in the adventure set up... but I wanted to make you aware of it as a heads up so you don't get taken by surprise when it pops up/let me know if you have any bright ideas for what to do about it.


Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:46 pm
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Post Re: Bleak House
jamesfirecat wrote:
Joël of the FoS wrote:

It is indeed, but my PCs have had their own fear / horror effect in the last ten years, these fears are now mature enough so that Heinfroth exploits them :)


One thing that you may need to think about/one problem that I spotted just reading this adventure that would make it still harder to run is the following question...

How do I keep player X, Y, and Z, engaged in the adventure, while I need to take time and deal with only player A and character Alpha who is getting "treatment" from the Doctor at the moment?

If you give each individual player/character their own treatment... then you need to spend time interacting solely with that character/player which may lead to the others feeling bored rather than horrified, especially if they're made to go out of the room so as that the player does not know what the character does not know.

I sadly have no idea how to solve this problem since it seems sort of inherent in the adventure set up... but I wanted to make you aware of it as a heads up so you don't get taken by surprise when it pops up/let me know if you have any bright ideas for what to do about it.


I would suggest giving the rest of the group some problem/puzzle/riddle to get on with while you're dealing with the other player, maybe even something as simple as "I want to hear an escape plan when I get back" just to keep them focused on the task at hand

EDIT
if an escape plan requires a few components (like the folding boat for example) then maybe the rest of the group could be tasked with acquiring said component (though this might require some toing and froing on your part)


Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:47 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
A typical technique for that problem is to let the players control some NPCs in that time. On either side of the fence is possible. And they can very well be redshirts or mooks. Not sure if/how to do this in Bleak House though... In book 1 could they play other inmates/patients? Make a few evil a few good, and colorful characters. This could sure drive up the paranoia. Or is it secrets you're concerned with?

Will you use the netbook stats for VR? The items he has there are quite unique..,


Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:41 pm
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Post Re: Bleak House
*spoilers a plenty, mate, arrr*

I reread book one and three, book two (haunted house) still to be re-read. I have a few things I want to discuss on the most difficult part of the adventure, the part in Dominia's asylum.

1) My players already know Van Richten. I need to change the adventure intro : they know that VR isn't feeling good (I already seeded this in last sessions) and while the PCs were gone adventuring, VR inscribed himself for a stay in a famous sanatorium, Dr Heinfroth's.

I know there is a sanatorium in Mordent, but I think I will have the warden of Mordent's sanatorium recommend Dominia to VR, whether because the warden truly believes Dominia's high reputation, or he was paid to do so and arrange the trip for VR to Dominia.

Eventually, people in Mordentshire will worry from not getting any news from VR, and will ask the players to investigate.

That doesn't work with the adventure as written, i.e. shipwrecked and saved by the Mercy. That would be an extreme deus ex machina coincidence to have the PC's boat wreck while they are going to Dominia, then to be saved by the Mercy, the boat serving exactly the place where they are going. And that far enough from Dominia (if it was close to the island, it could work), so that the PCs have a few days to possibly investigate the Mercy's real business.

So I will probably skip the shipwreck part, and have the players board the Mercy in Martira Bay (they will learn the Mercy links Martira Bay - Dominia two times per month).

2) escape with their stuff or not? IIRC, the adventure isn't saying where the PC's stuff will be kept while they are in the sanatorium under bad treatment. And If there is a chance to retrieve their things before they flee the island.

I know my players would never forgive me if they leave the island only with their patient's robe. I need to think of a way for them to get back their things, without it being too much deus ex machina. And it will help the escape and the rest of the adventure.

Ideas?

3) one of my PC is a lycanthrope and that will be a surprise for Heinfroth. This PC will probably try to escape in hybrid form. I will have him recaught (so many unfriendly wolves on Dominia, they will corral him back to the asylum, where people will show him his cell). Afterward, at night, he will be drugged with an anti-transformation serum.

Other ideas to DM this are welcomed.

4) VR do know the PCs well but I will have him very confused over their identity. Everyone is masked. It will be very difficult to get VR's trust, as he is paranoid and suspects every other patients to be in fact part of the asylum personnel.

I think the players will identify VR quickly through the masked patients, but it will be difficult for them to get VR think the heroes are really who they say they are.

Also, each PC has a separate room at night (VR too), plus that are not working during the day at the asylum (gardening, painting the walls, ...) in the same group everyday, and that will make planning anything very difficult. And during the day, there will always be a patient or two nearby (or is it a patient or a personnel?). Moving things will be extremely slow. I guess I will ask the heroes to stop talking while they are not in contact with other players. Paranoia!

5) the night treatment question and how to DM many "one player one DM" encounters. I think I will have a full session devoted to this, i.e. take one PC at a time, while I leave the others to think about what is going on, or to have them focused on an escape plan, as kristhomas suggested.

Then I will use the two weeks delay to play by email separately, with each player. I already used this technique, and it worked well. It won't have the same effect with each player, but I know some will get very troubled by their PC's fate when they come to the next game.

In this play be email, I will describe one night's treatment, and ask them how they react to this. Then next night, etc.

I haven't thought of making them play other patients, as Giamarga suggested, but that could be interesting, as they could have access to knowledge of things that happened before the PCs came to Dominia, in a type of cut scene technique.

Garudos Celestar wrote:
I believe Stuart Turner once mentioned that he ran Bleak House as a sequel to his campaign, but there's no summary to how it turned out. Perhaps if we engage in a séance and prepare a mystick cage we can summon him for some DM do-and-don't tips?


Good idea, email send (I hope I stu at kargatane still works) and I gave him the link to this thread.

Joël

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Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:55 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
Joël of the FoS wrote:

3) one of my PC is a lycanthrope and that will be a surprise for Heinfroth. This PC will probably try to escape in hybrid form. I will have him recaught (so many unfriendly wolves on Dominia, they will corral him back to the asylum, where people will show him his cell). Afterward, at night, he will be drugged with an anti-transformation serum.

Other ideas to DM this are welcomed.


What kind of lycanthrope is your PC?

I mean both what type of animal are they and are they natural, pathologic or maladictive? I'm guessing not maladictive since those frequently lack a hybrid form but pathologic lack them also now and again...


Also in addition to not taking away all your PCs hard earned gear, I have one more important suggestion.

Given that the not so good Doctor who runs the place does not feature at all in parts two or three of this adventure... make sure your standard/main plan for the PCs escaping involves giving them a chance for revenge against Daclaud Heinfroth... this adventure puts the PCs through hell and then some even by traditional Ravenloft standards (only "Thoughts of Darkness" is in the same league) and as written, Heinforth gets away with it scot free with the most comeuppance he gets is the PCs might possibly steal a ship from him.

Give them a chance to make Daclaud suffer.

Being a cerebral vampire and a darklord there's no need for him to be completely taken out of the picture in case you want to use him against, but give them a chance to MAKE HIM SUFFER your players will thank you for the catharsis since this adventure is depressing enough already without needing a conclusion that doesn't give the main villain of it even a slap on the hand.

My personal favorite ironic fate is to (through whatever means you feel is appropriate) have the PCs manage to drive Daclaud insane/make him think that he's only imagining that he's a vampire, after all vampires are supposed to drink blood and he doesn't, vampires are supposed to not be able to go out in the sunlight, but he can, vampires are supposed to hate garlic, but he doesn't..... culminating with him eventually getting locked up in one of his own cells wearing the traditional robe and face mask of all patients in his asylum.

You don't have to go down that particular path to revenge... but this adventure is will put the PCs through the wringer, they will probably deeply appreciate a victory that consists of more than "we didn't die and after a few months of actual medical treatment we might be sane again... yay...."


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:10 pm
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Post Re: Bleak House
He's a werewolf, now natural (moonchild PRC).

Yes, giving a shot at Heinfroth could be a bonus indeed.

Joël

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Mon Oct 26, 2015 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Bleak House
Joël of the FoS wrote:
He's a werewolf, now natural (moonchild PRC).

Yes, giving aa shot at Heinfroth could be a bonus indeed.

Joël



I have a major suggestion, go a library/bookstore/the internet get a copy of Animorphs #33 The Illusion.

I say this because it contains a lot of material that you may find useful when dealing with this character in this situation.

If you're not aware of it/have never read this book, it involves a character who got shapeshifted into a hawk form, stuck that way and then got shapeshifting powers back after being a hawk for like a year or so, and can only turn resume his human form for 2 hour periods at a time (trust me it makes sense in series).

That character as part of a plan has to be captured and subjected to some really horrid torture like, torture so bad I'm amazed it got into a children's book, even if its done through rays/machines/is all in his head rather than actual physical harm.

It digs deeply into how he as a human, and how he as a hawk react to the situation in different ways, and how he manages to stay sane against the horrible pain he's being put through by bringing the hawk mind to the forefront, because it can endure pain without being "broken" by it much better than his human mind could. Your Lycanthrope might be better able to bear up under mental trauma than any human would by bringing the "wolf" to the forefront at the right times.

On the other hand, knowing what I know of Heinfroth he may see this as a challenge and try to divide the wolf and man personas, or come up with treatments designed to make one hate the other.

The fifth level of Moonchild one of the most important captstone abilities out there when it comes to describing a character's growth/development. Does it represent the human managing to win their mind back from the wolf spirit which has invaded their body and lock the beast in chains, or does represent reaching an accord with the wolf within just like how humans and wolves learned to hunt together eventually leading to dogs, except in the lycanthropes case two minds/two mindsets are working in syncronization within the same body?


What approach has your werewolf been taking?

Maybe your Lycanthrope goes into it feeling like he has complete and utter control of the beast, and only manages to overcome Heinfroth's experiments when he realizes that it isn't about trying to hold half of his mind/personality down, it's about making the two halves work together for a common goal.

If you do that he may actually have a chance to end up emerging "saner" from the whole ordeal, no thanks to the vampiric doctor...


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:03 am, edited 3 times in total.



Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:19 pm
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Post Re: Bleak House
Garudos, the summoning has worked, I can feel it :) Stu did indeed DM this adventure and he should be around within a few days.

---

Interesting idea, jamesfirecat, I was looking at something like this (beast/humanity) for his "treatments" at the asylum.

Joël

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:48 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
Joël of the FoS wrote:
So I will probably skip the shipwreck part, and have the players board the Mercy in Martira Bay (they will learn the Mercy links Martira Bay - Dominia two times per month).
Perfectly reasonable. Too many shipwrecks in Ravenloft anyway. :)

Joël of the FoS wrote:
2) escape with their stuff or not? IIRC, the adventure isn't saying where the PC's stuff will be kept while they are in the sanatorium under bad treatment. And If there is a chance to retrieve their things before they flee the island.
Yeah, it's cheesy, but it's one of those cases where good game play has to trump realism. Let them stumble on all their stuff on the way out somehow. A locked storeroom can replace one of the cells, or they could find a storage shed on the grounds on the way out.

Joël of the FoS wrote:
3) one of my PC is a lycanthrope and that will be a surprise for Heinfroth. This PC will probably try to escape in hybrid form. I will have him recaught (so many unfriendly wolves on Dominia, they will corral him back to the asylum, where people will show him his cell). Afterward, at night, he will be drugged with an anti-transformation serum.

Other ideas to DM this are welcomed.
I wonder if Dominiani might try to gaslight him into thinking his transformations are simply repressed magic or something? Or that he's really a wolf and his human form is the false one?

Looking forward to see how this goes for you. My players are heading there soon too.

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:53 am
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Post Re: Bleak House
I would take caustion handling the lycanthrope recapture. If you rig it such that he's automatically recaught, then it can make the ability seem worthless and thus worsen immersion. You might enlist the other players in pushing him to "play nice" for a little bit such that they can time their escape together.

As for strategies on splitting the group, I recently ran an asylum adventure partially based on Bleak House. I found that breaking down the action into segments and switching back and forth between split player groups in succession. Some of the times to switch might be based on discrete amounts of time or action you set. However, some might emerge naturally when a person needs time to think on a plan of action.

You can also have a focus on "group therapy" if you so choose.


Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:47 pm
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Post Re: Bleak House
Do what I do: play with a bunch of children running around. Then someone's always busy tending to the kids, and you can RP with one of the others while they are gone. :)

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