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Ship of Horrors....Help! 
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Evil Genius
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Post Ship of Horrors....Help!
So as many of you know I am running the Grand Conjunction and have another thread that discussed the overall meta-narrative of the whole thing and the problems that arise from it.

But I have also had threads that allowed me to discuss, module by module, the problems or inherent weaknesses of each module and crowd source ideas from the community as to how to deal with them.

So, let's start with the big picture items:

1. Have you every played this module?
2. How did it go?
3. What did you like the most?
4. What went the most wrong?

Go!

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Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:57 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
1. Yes
2. OK
3. I liked the "haunting" aspect of the adventure, and the laying the ghosts.
4. The Graben family home became a bit of a slugfest, and the Necromancer didn't really feel Ravenlofty


Mon Oct 26, 2015 1:36 pm
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Agent of the Fraternity
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
1) Yes - but heavily modified
2) Good
3) Battle on the ship was fun for my players
4) I modified out most of the ghosts and all of Graben island because I wanted to focus on my Meredoth replacement instead.

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Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:00 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
OK, I am seeing Meredoth as a problem right off the bat, and would really like Azalin to be the big bad lich in my campaign, but how did you guys "fix" things?

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Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:08 pm
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Agent of the Fraternity
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
In my game, when the players were drawn into the realm (via a portal gone wrong) a necromancer was pulled in first...

I replaced Meredoth with this necromancer and had him arrive two decades earlier, setting himself up Darklord of the region, but trapped on the island. (All the power he craved, nobody to use it on).

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Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:20 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
I didn't really, just played it through, tried to play up the undead horde aspect of the Graben slugfest, and picked as many "Ravenlofty" spells for the wizard, it's more a question of tone than playability.


Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:29 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Get the Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer netbook from the library here for Rotiphers excellent write up of Graben.


Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:47 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
The Giamarga wrote:
Get the Nocturnal Sea Gazetteer netbook from the library here for Rotiphers excellent write up of Graben.


He also greatly improved Meredoth! I think his version is quite usable if you don't get your players into a fight with him. Unless they are very high level it would be complete suicide.


Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:59 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Rotipher is not a he, by the way :)

There's no actual need to fight Meredoth. All you have to do is inter the bodies and ride away into the sun set.

I don't remember there being much cause the fight the Grabens either. My players were so freaked out by them that they ran away, which I think worked fine.

The haunting is good. The marine encounters are mostly OK. The captain character is good. It's got a nice character-driven/break the curse/don't have to kill everything you meet idea at the core which is good.

It's been 15 years since I played it though, so I may be misremembering.


Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:23 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Ryan Naylor wrote:
There's no actual need to fight Meredoth. All you have to do is inter the bodies and ride away into the sun set.


Ryan Naylor wrote:
The haunting is good. The marine encounters are mostly OK. The captain character is good. It's got a nice character-driven/break the curse/don't have to kill everything you meet idea at the core which is good.


I think these are the 2 most important aspects of the adventure (although since it came out prior to the Grand Conjunction plotline actually making it into the canon, I don't think the original authors realized it).

From the Grand Conjunction perspective, the sign has been completed once the bodies are recovered. As far as signs go, I think this one is the weakest as it doesn't have the same plane-shaking drama of the other signs (celestial events like the lunar eclipse are a classic prophetic sign, and the creation and dissolution of a new domain, the awakening of one of the most powerful darklords, and a trip to see the origins of the Demiplane all seem more appropriately epic)... but then there's Captain Garvyn. While they didn't describe him as on a "path of corruption" in the adventure's text, that's effectively what has happened: he's a CN individual who has failed a couple of powers checks, gained some unique powers and a curse, and is on his way to darklordship...

...but Garvyn also feels genuinely guilty about what he did to Charlotte. What this adventure does is give the PCs a chance to actually redeem someone on a path of corrupton (and this is a rarity in the Ravenloft series - the only other time I can think of it being made explicit is as a possible ending of Circle of Darkness, and that option was probably the worst of the ending options). While I'm not certain of the best way to make it clear that's what happened without some metaplot, it really adds to the adventure if you make that the primary focus (and makes finding a fairly random dead body much more significant to the metaphysics of the setting).

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:07 am
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Agent of the Fraternity
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Another way that it could be played is that because the Captain himself didn't break the curse, you've not helped him by interring the bodies. He could realize this and it could drive him to another act to push him further down the path.

In keeping with the realms shaking events, this could be the creation of a new darklord, as opposed to creation of a new land or awakening of a powerful lord...

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 9:16 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
So the more I'm thinking of it based on what you guys are saying, the more I'm thinking that the entire Meredoth/Graben thing is narratively unnecessary for the story and for the Grand Conjunction.

It is a neat idea of getting onto another island domain, but the domain itself is even pretty generic.

I mean, what are the themes? Scary family with a dark secret, that secret turns out to be that they are this new and strange type of undead under the control of a random insanely powerful lich of questionable motives?

Further, Meredoth is so powerful that I am certain at this stage that he would kill the whole party.

If I do keep him and that entire section, which goes with my playing a "traditional" Grand Conjunction, that means that I will need to nerf him bad. Possibly just have him be a powerful necromancer of some type? Drop the lich angle entirely?

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:16 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Quinntonia wrote:
If I do keep him and that entire section, which goes with my playing a "traditional" Grand Conjunction, that means that I will need to nerf him bad. Possibly just have him be a powerful necromancer of some type? Drop the lich angle entirely?
Err... what lich angle? Meredoth, as written, IS a living necromancer, not a lich.

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
And.....I may have mentally added that piece as I was researching Azalin. Hahahahaha. Ugh.

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Tue Oct 27, 2015 11:08 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Although Meredoth's not a lich, but that is more by choice than by capability. (In Mystara, a lich is considered a failed attempt at becoming an immortal.) Meredoth is actually two levels higher than Azalin. In general, Ships of Horror was a bit over the top on the levels of some NPCs. Garvyn, some random sea captain who is lazy enough to bother tossing corpses overboard, is an 8th level fighter, and his crew is filled with mid level fighters.

My solution to Meredoth is to require him to put himself on ice once in a while to preserve his longevity. During the time of Ship of Horrors, either a flawed duplicate of some sort (perhaps a failed clone?) has taken his place. Or perhaps illusionist (an agent of the Fraternity of Shadows or the Kargat, perhaps?) has created a simulacrum of him and effectively rules the domain through the simulacrum, at least while the real McCoy is frozen. That way you can justify the snow golems and the other weird stuff floating around his home.

As written, to account for the clones and the snow golems, the real Meredoth would need to be at least 15th level.


Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:20 pm
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