Saturday, July 4, 2009

Shadowrealm: The Twilight War Book III by Paul S. Kemp

Below I'll be discussing some things I'll try to remember and apply when I'm running my Forgotten Realms 4e set in 3e campaign. It's going to be a quote and spoiler filled discussion so if you're not hunting for any spoilers for Paul S. Kemp's Shadowrealm, read no further.

"Rivalen recalled his own fight with the green dragon outside the walls of Selgaunt. He'd learned a lesson in that combat, one he intended to teach to Kesson." (p.274)

While the comic, Order of the Stick, did what Rivalen is speaking of, it could be any stragety that the players themselves did not think of. When breaking out the big guns or unusual methods when having the monsters battle the characters, remember that the characters could be impressed enough by these actions to take them as their own. Then as a Game Master you've got to figure out a way to make sure it doesn't become the default strategy. Few things are more boring than having every fight go the exact same way. This may involve using more opponents, it may involve using enemies who have a completely different specialty. It may involve a shift in the campaign focus while you try to figure out how to get the game moving again.

"A sculpture of glistening black stone dominated the courtyard. It depicted a tall, faceless woman in flowing robes. A circle of tarnished silver, ringed in amethysts, adorned her breast. Before her in a fighting crouch stood a shorter male figure, a man clad in a long cloak. Leather armor peaked from under the cloak and he held a slim blade in each ahnd. A black disc adorned his chest." (p. 200)

Shake things up. If all of the players know that certain deities act a certain way and have certain relationship with other deities, don't be afraid to take what's in the settings history and flip it on its head. Prior to the books of the Twilight War, Shar and Mask have little interaction in most Forgotten Realms products. One of the last books on the gods of the setting noted that Shar had taken an interest in claiming Mask's portfolio. Some may find it works too much against the history and not appreciate it.

However, from the players point of view, from the characters point of view, what they've experienced and encounterd in your own campaign should count for more than antying written in a supplement that they may or may not have read.

"Furlinastis," Cale called into the shadows." (p.231)

When a player does something with no expectation of a reward, the Game Master can take those times and provide one. In this case, Cale is calling on a shadow dragon that he brought back from the dead because the creature had been ill used by a former chosen of Mask. Without asking for anything, the creature agreed to perform one service for Cale in the future. There is no reward system like this in most role playing games. This requires the Game Master to roll up his sleeves and decide if something like this is warranted. It's a reward that has no gold piece value. It's a treasure that can't be spent easily.

Note that unlike previous books in the series, this one includes an epilogue. If the campaign has reached it's organic end and the players and Game Master know what the future of the campaign is going to hold, an epilogue may be appropriate. Give the players a taste of what's to come. Let them know what happened to all of the friends and enemies they made. Let them know what happened to the cities they walked through and the treasures they once had. Allow them to share in it even by allowing them to describe how they imagine their own characters, those that survived it at least, enjoy retirement.

Shadowrealm takes a lot of high powered action to a level where chosen and dragons must ally themselves with former enemies to have a hope of fighting stronger evils. Lot artifacts must be recovered and friendships taken to the ultimate level of sacrifice. Game Masters should be able to pilfer themes, elements, and scope of elements that a campaign can enjoy