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Ship of Horrors....Help! 
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Criminal Mastermind
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
I've not run Ship of Horrors, really, but my general thoughts on Meredoth have always been that he's the ultimate in Darklords who don't care; he wants to be alone, but his curse keeps fouling that up. Its an about face from a lot of the modules, especially in the Grand Conjunction, where the party ends up rubbings elbows or crossing swords with Darklords...but Meredoth doesn't strike me as the type to want to get into a battle to the death.

So to that end, I'd basically tagged him as someone who wouldn't fight to kill the party, he'd simply send them away, somehow.

Its the ultimate snub, you come to his domain (or at least the bigger island in it), mess around with his henchmen (the Grabens), do a bunch of stuff, and if they push the envelope, simply find themselves being treated to a forceful expulsion, and an exasperated one at that. Depending on the players, it could come as quite a shock to face down what might be the most powerful mage in Ravenloft and have him remark, "You've already wasted five minutes of my time, now go away." and then find themselves floating away from the islands on a derelict boat....and that's it. Just a casual 'you annoy me.'


Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:47 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
I did run it once long ago, when I was running a "campaign" that was basically: "buy a Ravenloft module. Read it once. Run it as written. Repeat." I don't remember much, other than the PCs somehow managing to get Meredoth entangled in a web spell, and then pushing him off the big cliff in his lair, killing him with falling damage. I think the ship parts went OK, and the Grabens were creepy enough, but the Meredoth part fell flat (literally, in the case of Meredoth himself), and the whole adventure seemed pretty linear and boring. I'd have to read it again with fresh eyes (and with the knowledge of Roti's fleshing out of Meredoth and Graben island in the NS Gaz) to give any real advice on punching it up.

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Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:19 pm
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Yes, I have to finish some other reading this week for another purpose before Sunday, but after I am done that I am definitely going to read through the write up on island, more thorough detail might help spark the creative juices.

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Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:12 am
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
1. Have you every played this module? Yes! In the 90's.

2. How did it go? It went well, but it was a weekend in hell style adventure. They came in, blasted the Darklord and went back. Of course, I wouldn't play it that way now, in my 100% Ravenloft campaign.

3. What did you like the most?
4. What went the most wrong?

The Ocean Voyage part went very well and was fun, the players liked the mysteries around the boat's curse and the pitiful ghosts. I think it was the first time we had ghosts that had a personality, i.e. were not only statted monsters. I wrote a 4-5 pages captain log, where he writes more details of his trade with he Grabens (and his opinions). I can share it but it's in French!

Part two, Graben Island was OK, but the players were high level (12-14) fantasy well equiped characters and not spooked at all. They passed quickly there. I would do it differently now, with lower level characters and players (and DM) more accustomed to Ravenloft.

Part three, Todstein was OK too. Basic Hack n slash in a creepy environement. The players again were very confident and didn't fear anything.

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Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:44 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
OK, can we just start by saying that this community is such a wealth of resources that my campaign would never have been half what it has been without the awesome that is the resources and people that I have been able to find here.

So, that being said, I have reviewed Meredoth's Pathfinder and 3.5 builds that have been found for me on this board as well as read the netbook that explains Graben and Todstein. Man, it was good. so good.

One of the things I love the most about GMing is immersing players in new and interesting cultures and trying to make them come alive for everyone. This is one of the reason I love Ravenloft so much, even beyond my love of Gothic horror. It is such a patchwork of seemingly incongruous lands crammed so closely together that I have the opportunity to bring culture after culture alive while ensuring that my players get the sense in each place that something strange and exotic is going on in each one.

Until reading the netbook honestly the setting of the islands seemed very much like (insert generic D&D town #5) and while that is fine, it doesn't make the imagination come alive for me. And frankly, the more excited I am, the more interested the players seem to become.

Now I get it - I think - and I am going to play off Graben especially as homage to late medieval Iceland. I have even been reading about Icelandic foods and drinks to throw their way while hanging out.

Now as far as language, it seems that they speak a distinct one of their own, and there may be fewer in my timeline than when the netbook was written that speak foreign tongues, though I think I am going to have a couple of the more worldly or well educated folk be possible exceptions and speak Darkonian possibly. But there was reference that their language sounded very much like Vaasi, possibly I can have my players who have some familiarity with that tongue be able to pick this one up quickly.

Now, onto the adventure:

1. I am dropping that whole ridiculous attack on the ship by a giant Starfish. Just no. Instead, since I like the idea that they fight an enormous sea monster I am going to have them face a Kraken.
2. It strikes me that the whole ghost thing is interesting and could be fun to role play, as they have interesting characters. And further, I kind of dig the gathering of the bodies thing, but there is no real means within the campaign to let the players get underwater. This is especially problematic with the very clear frigid North Atlantic analog we have going here; this is the kind of water that kills people. I don't know how to gracefully overcome this.
3. Undead sharks? Awesome or stupid?
4. And those strange undead that fall part/have the body parts that can act independently....hat the hell was their name again.....I want to make them horrifying, not comedy. How have you achieved that?

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Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:23 am
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
When I ran it, I replaced the starfish with what I called a "tentacled thing". This was still when we played 4e, but I used a Kraken template and described it an an undead mass of sea creatures seemingly fused together...

My explanation was that it is very boring for an extremely powerful necromancer on an island with nobody else... Sometimes you have to work with what is available, namely anything in the water.

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Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:47 am
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
I don't remember it but I have to say I liked it the least from all the adventures. The first part, with the ship was very good. After that... meh

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Thu Nov 05, 2015 12:44 pm
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
alhoon wrote:
I don't remember it but I have to say I liked it the least from all the adventures. The first part, with the ship was very good. After that... meh



I was getting that impression from my own reading, talking to folks on here, and some of the reviews. That being said, I'm not sure it has to be a dud, it just has to be reworked. I'm hoping that the netbook stuff will help the islands come alive quite a bit more.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:50 am
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Quinntonia wrote:
2. It strikes me that the whole ghost thing is interesting and could be fun to role play, as they have interesting characters. And further, I kind of dig the gathering of the bodies thing, but there is no real means within the campaign to let the players get underwater. This is especially problematic with the very clear frigid North Atlantic analog we have going here; this is the kind of water that kills people. I don't know how to gracefully overcome this.
Is magic off the table? I think that's what's used in the module, IIRC. If your campaign is too low-magic, how about some steampunkish tech? A crude submersible?

Quote:
3. Undead sharks? Awesome or stupid?
All in the execution. More relentless unstoppable killing machine in its natural habitat, and less Syfy presents Zombishark.

Quote:
4. And those strange undead that fall part/have the body parts that can act independently....hat the hell was their name again.....I want to make them horrifying, not comedy. How have you achieved that?
I, for one, love the Lebentod. Again, all in the description. Avoid the temptation to hum and snap the Addams Family theme.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:13 am
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Quinntonia wrote:
3. Undead sharks? Awesome or stupid?


What else to add after this picture? Make them big, fearless and hungry :) Add as many as needed to put pressure on the players.

And perhaps a supernatural power like bend the land? "We're ok, the sharks are staying far from us, let's continue ... ... No wait, they are very near! How could that be? Hey, they look dead! Shark!"

(image from current Paizo's Pathfinder Adventure Path, #99 Dance of the Damned. I love Pathinfinder AP! Highly recommended!)


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Fri Nov 06, 2015 11:49 am
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Gonzoron of the FoS wrote:
Quinntonia wrote:
2. It strikes me that the whole ghost thing is interesting and could be fun to role play, as they have interesting characters. And further, I kind of dig the gathering of the bodies thing, but there is no real means within the campaign to let the players get underwater. This is especially problematic with the very clear frigid North Atlantic analog we have going here; this is the kind of water that kills people. I don't know how to gracefully overcome this.
Is magic off the table? I think that's what's used in the module, IIRC. If your campaign is too low-magic, how about some steampunkish tech? A crude submersible?


It's not that it is low magic, (but it kind of is, more or less, low, not no) it's more that the magical means that appear in the text are a little more limited than what I think would be required for this kind of work.

Maybe I will have a big store of potions of water breathing? Rings of water freedom? Endure Elements spray on in a can?

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:44 pm
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Also, I WILL be using that picture.

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Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:45 pm
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
OK, I still need a little help on the Lebendtod.

I am trying to think of ways that they can be terrifying.

The way they are written, there's nothing mechanically that says to me, "The limbs coming off thing is super integral to this creature" but that's how every description of them reads.

How have you brought them to life? Be specific.

Also, have you done something mechanical? Like limbs being lopped off only to have them attack? I am afraid that even that would end up with a disembodied foot kicking at someone to comedic effect though.

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Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:25 pm
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Quinntonia wrote:
OK, I still need a little help on the Lebendtod.

I am trying to think of ways that they can be terrifying.

The way they are written, there's nothing mechanically that says to me, "The limbs coming off thing is super integral to this creature" but that's how every description of them reads.

How have you brought them to life? Be specific.

Also, have you done something mechanical? Like limbs being lopped off only to have them attack? I am afraid that even that would end up with a disembodied foot kicking at someone to comedic effect though.


I'd agree that the line between creepy and funny can be thin with these creatures.

What I chose to focus on, was the way they re-constructed themselves, both in terms of making them seem unstoppable ("It doesn't matter how many times I cut it's head off, it just keeps coming!") and in making them capable of actions impossible for many, yes a disembodied foot is laughable, but a disembodied hand that crawls through the rafters where the PCs are sleeping and unlocks the door, that's creepy.

In the module IIRC, the lebentod would take themselves apart, for shipping purposes, this could also allow them to hide effectively, this might be of use if your group has a tendency to bar doors behind them. The point being that a dismembered body can fit in a much smaller space than a whole one, the image of a body twisting and contorting out of a box too small to contain it is a shocking image.

Another possibility that I'm not sure was addressed in the module might be putting together parts in a non-standard arrangement, for advantage in combat, stealth or just for shock value. A head supported by a pair of hands might be a creeping spy, but if you link multiple lebentod you get a perennial favourite the human centipede!


Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:37 pm
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Post Re: Ship of Horrors....Help!
Hmmm. I like the idea of them being unstoppable. I wonder if mechanically I should not so much give them a damage reduction or anything, but let them get destroyed and then simply start putting themselves back together again, regenerating until they are fully formed and rejoining the fight again.

Maybe the only way to really stop them then is like fire or acid of something like that?

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Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:55 pm
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