Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Starter Set Sandbox 19 - The City of Neverwinter

For some strange reason, the city of Neverwinter was never properly mapped in an RPG product until 4E's Neverwinter Campaign Setting, and it was really only described in Volo's Guide to the North and then The North boxed set (the latter product was essentially a copy-and-paste version of the former).

It was, however, subsequently mapped and described in the original Neverwinter Nights and the CRPG's strategy guide(s). That means that there is not a lot of canon material - and in my version of the Realms, I avoid the CRPGs, in the main, as a source of canon - to draw upon but Volo's Guide, in particular, gives a few great ideas from the pre-Spellplague era that can complement the great job WotC did with the Neverwinter Campaign Setting.

This is the final post in my Starter Set sandbox series and is, clearly, long overdue. At first the delay was caused by my desire to finish my first Neverwinter campaign but then the combination of Third World internet and a new baby kept me from returning to blogging... especially when I also knew that this was going to be an extremely long post. I suspect I will also have to go back and edit this post because most of it was typed in 2015 so some of the links and whatnot may no longer work.
   

If you haven't read any of the other posts in this series, the <table of contents can be found here>. The 5E Starter Set tag will also pull up a list of all the posts, but not as conveniently as the ToC. And if this post is too long, just buy Volo's Guide to the North and steal all your Neverwinter adventure ideas from that book. :)

Neverwinter: Ruins of Adventure

While TSR may have been horribly managed, one thing it was able to do that WotC doesn't look it's ever going to be able to do is to find good partners to produce CRPGs. Of course, that was back in the days when computer games were relatively small time, and not part of an industry that (apparently?) exceeds studio films with respect to revenues (although the Marvel films may have changed that).

The first of the so-called Gold Box games was Pool of Radiance which also had a related D&D adventure published called FRC1 Ruins of Adventure. I had intended to post a link to the PDF on dndclassics.com but, for some strange reasons, it isn't there. Odd. That said, as with all of the TSR adventures and thanks to WotC's stupidity in pulling PDFs from sale for about five years, it's only a Google search away. The link is to the Wikipedia page instead. Also, the Wikipedia article notes that the CRPG was based on the tabletop adventure and not the other way around. Interesting.

The adventure's structure is simple: the city of Phlan and the surrounding region are divided up into regions/districts/locations/what have you and each of those regions/districts/locations/what have you includes one or more threats. The end of the adventure sees you fighting the final boss monster: a bronze dragon possessed by what might be referred to in 4E and 5E terms as an evil primordial.

Neverwinter
I find that this basic structure works really well with Neverwinter and you can see echoes of it in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting.  And this really long-winded introduction is basically my way of saying: this post turns Neverwinter into Ruins of Adventure with your PCs accepting quests (or motivating themselves) to clear various zones of the assorted riff-raff that make those zones unsafe for rebuilding by the new ruler of Neverwinter, whoever that may be.

Who Rules Neverwinter?

The Neverwinter Campaign Setting has Dagult Neverember, the Open Lord of Neverwinter, ruling Neverwinter as the Lord Protector and claiming some sort of blood-related link to the last (and maybe only) king of Neverwinter, Nasher Alagondar. That's definitely an option.

With my current Neverwinter campaign, I used Dagult but I made him a cultist of Graz'zt whose fortune was tied to his membership of the heretical cult of Graz'zt at the heart of the church of Waukeen. (In other words, in my version of the Realms, Waukeen remained Graz'zt's prisoner after the 2E era and the adventure For Duty & Deity never happened.)

If either the official Dagult Neverember or my cultist Dagult Neverember are not to your taste, you could also have Neverwinter ruled by a governor on behalf of the Lords' Alliance. This could work really well in the 5E era if you are using factions. (I hope to be starting another Neverwinter/Twilit Land campaign with a new group this year and I am planning to use this for that campaign... although I am actually thinking of having a council of five or so governors, not all of whom share the same objectives....)

If you're setting your campaign in the 5E era, which seems to be about a decade after the 4E era, another option is that the rightful Alagondar heir has been found and is now seeking to rebuild his or her city... and is likely also needing protections from assassins or whatnot.

On the subject of factions, I have been a fan of the Zhentarim since the OGB. A city like Neverwinter with coastal access and roads leading to Waterdeep and the Dessarin Valley would be attractive from the perspective of their trade interests: what if a Zhentarim pawn is Neverwinter's lord instead?

I suppose I could keep posting ideas - and I may edit some more in later - but I think it's important point to decide who is ruling Neverwinter and what his or her real motivations may be. Ideally, those motivations should also tie into elements of the background of one or more of the PCs.

If you're looking for inspiration about how to include politics in any campaign, I strongly recommend <this video> and <this video> by Matt Colville.

Who is the End Boss?

In the spirit of Ruins of Adventure, the idea of an end boss who is ultimately responsible for many of the threats that the city is facing is an attractive one. IMC, it was Graz'zt, or at least an aspect of Graz'zt, and that has worked out well so far in terms of inspiring various encounters and providing a link between various events that otherwise seem unrelated.

Do you want the same in your game?

The Zhentarim can, of course, fulfil such a role and I have already mentioned them in the previous section about who rules Neverwinter. If your game is going to draw on material from the Neverwinter MMORPG, then the ex-Arcane Brotherhood-and-now-Thayan lich Valindra Shadowmantle might prove to be suitable. My next campaign is likely to be focussed on the threat posted by the aboleth of The Chasm (see my notes below) which means it's going to feel a lot like 2E's Night Below and the aboleth are going to be the final boss monsters, plural.

What about the MMORPG?

I have never played games online so I don't know much about the Neverwinter MMORPG, per se; I have, however, used some of the YouTube videos, screenshots, and (most of all) concept art to provide visual cues for my Neverwinter campaign. I can recommend those and a couple of the concept art pieces are used in this post (including the one at the top).

I also imagine there are adventure/quest ideas that can be stolen from the Neverwinter walkthrough guides or wikias. (I remember strategy guides for the pre-online Blizzard games: does Neverwinter have one?)

What are the Zones?

Based on the map I posted above, these are the adventuring zones I have divided the city into:
  • Blacklake District
  • Castle Never
  • The Chasm
  • The Docks (not marked on the map but this is where you can see the Beached Leviathan and Driftwood Tavern)
  • Fisher's Float
  • Neverdeath
  • Pirates' Skyhold
  • Protector's Enclave
  • River District (this is known as the Tower District in the MMORPG)
  • Upland Rise
The rest of this post will provide some notes on opportunities and threats in each of these zones. I should also mention that the rest of this post will make more sense if you have access to 4E's Neverwinter Campaign Setting and 2E's Volo's Guide to the North but I will try and include enough material so you can make sense of my suggestions even if you have only one or neither.

Blacklake District
I may be tackling the zones in alphabetical order, but this is definitely a great place to start. Why? It has sewers and wererats, two staples of any urban D&D campaign or adventure.

Dealing with the wererats, of course, can easily become the primary focus of adventures in Blacklake District, but rival thieves' guilds can also play a part. IMC, I had a band of halflings down by the docks that was able to survive against the wererats in large part because their leader was a halfling vampire. (These were the Kneecappers. The vampire's attack involved knocking someone prone and then feeding from the femoral artery.)

Beyond combat, there is the problem of the Blacklake itself. It's a toxic mess and resettling the district really requires that the lake itself get a clean-up but how to do that? There's a relatively obscure nature deity in FR responsible for, inter alia, pure waters named Eldath. There's an even more obscure reference to a temple of hers in 2E's Prayers from the Faithful which places the Fastness of Green Shadows in the Neverwinter Wood.

What if the PCs are given a quest to cleanse Blacklake and told to seek out the Chaunteans of Upland Rise (see below) to ask their assistance in cleaning up the mess? The Chaunteans cannot help but point the PCs in the directions of the Eldathyn of the Fastness of Green Shadows. The Eldathyn are willing to help but, as committed pacifists, they are unable to deal with a problem that their temple is facing. If the PCs deal with that on behalf of the Eldathyn, they give/loan the PCs an Eldathyn relic which will clean Blacklake. (IMC, I would probably also require a ritual... and then have foul horrors hiding in Blacklake attack while the ritual is being performed. YMMV.)

Castle Never

Despite its prominence on the city map and in the art I showed my players on my laptop - oh, and the fact that it is also on the cover of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting - in 20+ sessions of our Neverwinter campaign they have never once asked a question about it or tried to explore it or even noticed that it was there.

Odd

They were greatly surprised when I used that as part of the campaign's story: basically, Castle Never became the focus of the ritual that Graz'zt was preparing and part of that ritual had the side-effect of causing people to essentially forget about the tower. It seems an in-game ritual had an out-of-game effect....

Megadungeon

As it is highly unlikely that other players would do the same thing, I won't recommend that idea for anyone else. 
Concept Art for Castle Never

What I would recommend, especially for anyone running 5E or (other) old school D&D/AD&D rules is that you turn it into a megadungeon. Assume the Red Wizards of Thay unleashed some evil magic there and go a bit wild in the traditions of, inter alia, Castle Greyhawk and The Ruins of Undermountain.

Such a megadungeon would be fairly undead-heavy in terms of encounters, but you could also have living Thayans conducting experiments, constructs they use as a guardians, weird magical effects that are the side-effects of Thayan experiments, summoned creatures that guard certain areas, and even orcs and gnolls that the Thayans have here as living guards.

Also, the Neverwinter Nine - Nasher Alagondar's legendary bodyguards - are entombed beneath Castle Never. Both the Neverwinter Campaign Setting and the MMORPG turn them into undead as a result of Thayan necromancy: go a step further and make them into death knights! Make the crypts of Castle Never a place to be really feared... but match the danger of the encounters with the best loot in true megadungeon style. <Link to Neverwinter Nine concept art.>

While my own campaigns are focussed on story and much small adventure locations, I still like the idea of Castle Never as a megadungeon in the tradition of, particularly, The Ruins of Undermountain because it offers players a chance to do "normal" D&D adventures even if only for a session or two. My own players sometimes need a break from plots and simply need to explore and fight for a session or so. 

(This actually motivated one of the best sessions of our Neverwinter campaign where they fought a large orc war band and balor in a canyon filled with tar pits. While I tied it in to an important plot point, it really was something they did because they just wanted to fight some orcs for a change. I even avoided orc spellcasters of any sort just to make it simpler... but I also threw in the balor because that's what evil DMs do.)

Similarly, after the smaller adventure locations of Lost Mine of Phandelver, in the main, perhaps your players might also be ready for an old school megadungeon?

The Chasm

It's fair to say that I love The Chasm: the idea of this rift leading down to the Underdark in the middle of a city is simply rife with adventure possibilities.

There is, of course, the challenge of simply getting to the bottom. What does that mean in your Neverwinter? In mine it meant using climbing harnesses and going down an earthmote then crossing the earthmote and repeating the process with the climbing harnesses. (This super-cautious approach was driven by the desire of the players to simply avoid any possibility of falling... but at the cost of time.)

If you choose the same set-up in your Neverwinter, are any of the earthmotes or similar horizontal platforms inhabited? An adventure like 3E's The Sunless Citadel would make sense in a place like The Chasm: perhaps the PCs spy the entrance on the way down or are attacked by the kobolds or goblins that lair in that place?

The primary question to answer, though, is this: What's at the bottom of The Chasm? In the Neverwinter Campaign Setting the answer was plaguechanged creatures including plaguechanged aboleth but I imagine a lot of 5E and other DMs don't want to touch the Spellplague.

I also went with plaguechanged creatures but the highlight for my group was The Sinister Spire. The Sinister Spire was one of the good 3.5E adventures published by WotC toward the end of that edition and, thus, sadly often overlooked.

Assuming I do run another Neverwinter campaign, I suspect I will actually use the Seven-Pillared Hall from 4E's H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth as I suspect I won't be using plaguechanged creatures again.

Anyway, aside from some sort of Underdark trading post, The Chasm is an easy introduction to the Underdark with a safe city only a short climb away. My players encountered troglodytes, aboleth, a gelatinous cube, giant bats, skum, and even dwarven guardian golems plus the drow-flavoured encounters of The Sinister Spire (drow, duergar, spiders, quaggoths etc...). I also threw in some more interesting areas - slaadi vs githzerai where the Elemental Chaos was "leaking" into Toril, hook horror nest, winged sword-armed thing hives etc... - but the PCs stayed with their primary mission and chose not to explore. Hopefully your players and my group will be more adventurous because The Chasm has the potential to be one of the major adventure locations in Neverwinter.

The Chasm V2

In the campaign that I ran in Neverwinter, my players inadvertently - and, to this day - unknowingly broke the elemental bindings that were holding a city of aboleth in the petrified state known as the Long Dreaming and described in 3.5E's Lords of Madness.


(The entire set-up - including the city's name of Golismorga - was stolen from an adventure in the Savage Tide adventure path from the pages of the physical Dungeon magazine. Credit where credit is due, and all that.)

The consequences of this mistake were never explored in that campaign but, if I ever return to Neverwinter, it's definitely going to be a major story arc.

To that end, I used my kindergarten-level Paint skills to fill the Chasm with water: Yes, I was going to make it very easy for the aboleth to have access to Neverwinter. I thought that I might run an adaptation the 3E adventure The Speaker in Dreams and replace the illithid BBEG with one or more aboleth from the now flooded city of Golismorga. I suspect 2E's Night Below boxed set could provide further inspiration for a major aboleth plot as well.

The Docks

So, you're new in Neverwinter and you need a place to stay. Where will that be? If money is tight, chances are you're going to start at the Docks as my PCs did. And the Beached Leviathan - see the picture to the left - is perfect for that because 1. there's a really good picture of it, 2. there are really good maps for it, and 3. there was a DDi article published for it describing it in detail. (And, yes, you do need to be a DDi subscriber to legally download that article... or you can just use Google and grab it anyway. And, no, I am not advocating piracy: I've actually grabbed DDi articles this way by mistake when I have forgotten to include the WotC site in my Google search.)

The Docks are a great place to start because they're a bit lawless. Press-gangs and pirates roam here, and it's the ideal place for an essentially consequence-free tavern brawl. Further, if sahuagin attack the city - always a good idea for a city on a coast if you're a DM - then they will naturally target the Docks.

I had a halfling gang led by a halfling wererat vampire terrorising the docks and I can heartily recommend something similar to any other DMs. The Dead Rats of Blacklake District (see above) may also have increased their influence in this area so wererats could be another threat.

But I think slavers and press-gangs are the way to go. That and a sahuagin attack at some point.

Fisher's Float

The fisherfolk can make a fun diversion which is certainly the way I ran this location in my campaign. Most fishermen I have ever met have been a little bit crazy – and that is not an insult! – largely because their job involves risking their lives in a way that few, even soldiers, would ever understand.

So I made it something of a party place with wagon races, gambling, and whatnot. But it was also a source of information about things on the Sword Coast.

I’m hoping to run another campaign in Neverwinter this year and I plan to reuse the crazed one-eyed dwarven fisherman I used in my last game but, this time, have him talk about the dwarven dungeons behind the cliff that faces Fisher’s Float. With a successful Perception check, the PCs will be able to see the last weathered remnants of dwarven carvings on the cliff which will hopefully lead them to investigate further. Sea level changes in the thousands of years since Haunghdannar was a living kingdom will mean that the entrance is now underwater. (I’ve wanted to include an underwater entrance to a dungeon for decades and I honestly don’t know why I haven’t done it yet!) My version of Haunghdannar makes it a dwarven realm focussed on the elements – based on some references to Madbeards in FR5 The Savage Frontier – so I would have the dungeon reflect that, possibly something inspired by the Temple of Elemental Evil but smaller in scale and with an actual elemental theme running through the dungeon.

As a fairly large earthmote, it would also make sense for Fisher’s Float to include a classic dungeon or two (or more). This might even be linked by portal to the dwarven dungeon behind the cliff face opposite the ‘Float thus providing another means of accessing that location. Perhaps this could be the starter adventure for a new campaign where the PCs are hired by the fisherfolk to come to the ‘Float and end the threat being posed by some creatures that have now found a way to the surface. Basic stuff, but it could be a nice starter adventure that can conclude with a wild wagon-racing party on the earthmote. The party is likely to be more memorable than the bog standard dungeon!


(I’m actually glad I returned to finishing this blog post because I think this idea of building a dwarven dungeon with an elemental theme between the mainland behind the cliff face and in the centre of the ‘Float, with the two parts linked by portal, is just the sort of starter adventure I am personally looking for. If I ever write it up, I may just have to link it here.)

Neverdeath

While Castle Never can be the site for high-level undead-flavoured adventures, the graveyards of Neverdeath should be suitable for low- and mid-level PCs to give them their first taste of fighting zombies, ghouls, and similar undead.

So, a graveyard in a D&D world is expected to have undead but the question becomes: Who or what is responsible for the undead?

Personally, I like the idea of a cult of Orcus setting up shop. This is not simply because of the link between Orcus and the undead, but because I have already mentioned my use of a cult of Graz’zt at the heart of the church of Waukeen with that cult controlling both the Waukeenar and Lord Neverember. Orcus is opposed to Graz’zt so his cult is here to also oppose the schemes of the Dark Prince. That could even lead to the foul necromantic cult in the middle of the graveyard becoming a key ally and source of information should the PCs decide to take on the cult of Graz’zt. I could even imagine a situation where the thralls of Orcus seek to parley in the middle of combat offering to trade the knowledge of the true source of Neverember’s power for the right to continue unhindered in the cemetery for a certain period of time. There’s nothing quite like a bit of abyssal intrigue to keep the players on their toes….

Of course, the cult is not only trying to thwart the schemes of Graz’zt but also buy time so they can complete their rituals to summon an aspect of Orcus who would lead their undead forces to conquer Neverwinter. Or something like that. It’s basic stuff but it still works.


I had an extensive maze of ghoul-dug tunnels beneath Neverdeath in my last campaign which I found made for an interesting, claustrophobic adventuring environment. It’s not something you would want to visit session after session but it made for a good “one off” adventure. It might be even more “interesting” if you include, say, a vampire’s tomb in the centre of the tunnels with said vampire not only wanting fresh blood but wanting to convert one or more PCs into vampire spawn.

Pirates' Skyhold

This became one of my favourite locations in the last campaign because it ended up being the party’s safe refuge. They met an eladrin cleric of Selûne, Lady Moonsilver, whom they never discovered was a dragon in disguise. Lady Moonsilver became their confidant and quest-giver motivated by her status as a follower of Selûne wanting to restore hope to Neverwinter and thus defeat the nihilistic goals of the followers of Shar. (While the Selûne vs Shar rivalry didn’t affect that campaign much, it was there in my background notes in case the PCs ended up investigating the lost flying city of Xinlenal in the Neverwinter Wood.)

Riffing off the “pirates” part of the location’s name, I also included a flying ship in the ruins on the earthmote. Unfortunately, the players forgot about it so it never became an actual part of the campaign but it’s definitely something I would use again making the titular pirates into sky pirates.

It’s also an obvious lair for any sort of flying creatures. I like the idea of harpies – aka sirens – because of their mythological roots as threats to sailors but wyverns – and just call them sea wyverns with a swim speed – would also work.


Another option that might work, depending on how high magic your game is, is that the Skyhold is a broken piece of the flying city of Xinlenal that crashed in the Neverwinter Wood. Somehow, this fragment was made to fly again and, somewhere in the ruins on the Skyhold’s surface, is a wizard’s tower where the controls to the Skyhold can be found. Of course, doing this would radically change your game when you have your PCs flying around the countryside on their own flying earthmote. (And just wait until they get the idea to send it crashing into the campaign’s biggest threat…!)

Protector's Enclave

At the beginning of this post I posed two fundamental questions for your Neverwinter campaign: Who rules Neverwinter? Who is the BBEG? These may inform how you approach Protector’s Enclave.

Of course, if you simply have Lord Neverember as the Lord Protector trying to do his best for “his” city, possibly with the support of the Lords’ Alliance, Protector’s Enclave becomes a largely safe place with higher end shops, well-policed by the Neverwinter Watch (I would model this on the Waterdeep Watch – source material is a Google search away or comment below), and dominated by one or more important temples. Pre-Spellplague Neverwinter’s Hall of Justice was a temple of Tyr. If you’re running this in the Spellplague era this might be Torm instead while the Sundering era can see it revert to being a temple of Tyr.

But if you like evil cults like I do, the Protector’s Enclave becomes a sinister place. Ostensibly safe and wealthy, there is a darkness hidden behind the scenes. Because I had a cult of Graz’zt at the heart of the dominant Waukeenar faith – and the Hall of Justice had become the Counting House, an apt name for a Waukeenar temple but also the name of a temple of Graz’zt in his abyssal realm of Azzagrat – Protector’s Enclave simply didn’t feel right. Shadows were longer than they had any legitimate right to be and sometimes could be seen moving in the corner of the PC’s eye. Abyssal glyphs appeared in stone throughout the district, as did six-fingered black hands seemingly burnt into the bricks on different buildings. All of these pointed to something sinister at work. (Frankly, my players were too scared to investigate until much later in the campaign!)

I have almost mentioned the aboleth of The Chasm. If Neverember is in their thrall, then strange things should be afoot in the enclave. Dreams should be weird due to the influence of the Far Realm and perhaps aberrant cults have been formed, much like Eberron’s Cults of the Dragon Below, among some of the rich merchants of the district.

I would also mention the 3E adventure The Speaker in Dreams at this point. This is nearly perfect for Neverwinter. The principal villain is an illithid but this is easily changed to the aboleth of The Chasm should you choose that as a theme of your campaign (otherwise, keep the illithid). There’s also a diabolic cult that unleashes a pillar hellfire in the temple of Pelor and this could work in the Hall of Justice with the cult of Graz’zt taking the place of the hellish cult. It even has wererats which makes a good fit with Blacklake and the Docks.


It’s definitely worth a read for some inspiration if not outright plagiarism.

River District (aka Tower District)

In some of the earlier posts in this series (I will edit in the links here later), I suggested increasing the threat of the orcs in Lost Mine of Phandelver and a big part of that is wanting to make the orcs of the River District that much more important to a larger campaign.

The Neverwinter Campaign Setting has orcs infesting the River District (this is known as the Tower District in the MMORPG which, frankly, I think is a better name) without giving much of an explanation as to what they are doing there.

Fortunately, Volo’s Guide to the North has some good ideas which can not only help explain why they are there but make it important for the PCs to end the threat that they pose before they find the orc macguffin and threaten the entire region.

Firstly, here’s a bit of backstory about one of the major power groups in this district pre-Spellplague: The Covenant. The Covenant was a group of mages, led by four mages of note, that sought to protect civilisation in the North from, inter alia, the depredations of the orcs. A really solid explanation of them can be found <here in the George Krashos quote>.

The Covenant also ran a School of Wizardry (capitalisation deliberate: that is what it was called) in the River District from where they trained the next generations of mages but also schemed to minimise the orc threat. Part of that scheming including manipulating the Uthgardt barbarians to launch pogroms against the orcs. (Yeah, The Covenant was a ruthless bunch.)

The Covenant had some effect against the orc kingdom of Uruth Ukrypt in the Sword Mountains. The strength of this kingdom was a magic throne – the Bone Throne of Uruth Ukrypt – which allowed a worthy orc to exercise rule over the normally chaotic orcs. My idea was simple: What if the orcs of the River District are here simply because they are looking for this throne so that their leader, a spellscarred female (anathema!), can become ruler of the orcs of the North? It’s a simple idea but it explains why the orcs are here and it means that they could even negotiate with the PCs – “We will let you live if you tell us where the ruins of the School of Wizardry might be.”

In my game, the throne was indeed hidden in the School of Wizardry where the mages of The Covenant had several difficult-to-access extradimensional spaces or demiplanes. The orcs stand no chance of opening or evening finding these spaces but they might trick the PCs into doing it for them.

If you’re going to use orcs here I would make one other suggestion: Don’t make them completely violent. I ran the orcs as really bored so that when the bard PC offered to play ancient orc war songs the PCs ended up spending a drunken night with them rather than simply fighting their way through a mini-horde. Also, if they are completely violent, why aren’t they constantly attacking the rest of the city?


Upland Rise

The Upland Rise used to be a small forest outside the walls of Neverwinter. Now it has been clear-felled to provide Neverwinter with building materials leaving land suitable for farming.

As a result, I not only had farmers here, I had Chauntean farmers led by Chauntean clerics migrate here from Goldenfields. This was also meant to be a safe haven for the PCs but also a place where they could be paid to fight ankhegs and bulettes… and then explore the dungeons revealed by the tunnels of these burrowing creatures.

As a counterpoint to the relatively peaceful Chaunteans, some angry druids could also make an appearance. Perhaps a druid’s grove was destroyed by the logging operations and the druid killed. Now that druid has returned as an undead creature and the farmers definitely need help.


Conclusion
So, this is well-overdue as I have mentioned but it has also become a really long post. Now that I have finished it, I’m looking at bits that could be expanded or made more clear. Depending on the feedback I get, and how quickly I return to Neverwinter for my own game, I may end up writing a few more posts to try and make this a bit more coherent and thus more useful.

I've been running D&D for 35+ years and, for me, running a campaign in Neverwinter has been one of the absolute highlights. I am definitely looking forward to another campaign there ASAP. It really works. You have civilised areas where your players can have their characters feel relatively safe - barring assassins, wererats etc... - and where Bluff and Diplomacy are king and queen, and then you have, inter alia, the wererat-filled sewers of Blacklake, the Far Realm-tainted weirdness of The Chasm, ghoul packs in the Neverdeath graveyard, and the orc-ravaged River District... and it all basically makes sense.

Of course, the purpose of this series of posts has been to expand on the 5E starter set adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver and I hope this post, in particular, has shown how easy it is to expand on LMoP by simply going to Neverwinter and continuing the campaign there.


10 comments:

  1. As an avid player of the Neverwinter MMO, I can tell you that CRPG closely follows 4E's Neverwinter Campaign Setting book (I'm guessing the creators of the CRPG used it as cannon).

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    1. I must admit, I trawl the MMO Wiki on a regular basis. I also collect the concept art and a lot of the screenshots; they're both useful.

      The only thing I don't like is the un-FR names but that's one of my D&D idiosyncrasies.

      Delete
  2. Outstanding. Is Undermountain really the best dungeon to look like the dungeons of a castle? I's love to have Caste Never be the ultimate high level dungeon, but the basic premise (floor plans etc.) are difficult. Suggestions?

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    1. Thanks.

      You're absolutely right: I think I got lazy at that point but, as I wrote that section about two years ago, I may have had something in mind to justify the mention of Undermountain.

      If anything, the High Clerist's Tower from the original Dragonlance modules is probably a better map judging from the concept art - possibly with Dead in Thay as the dungeon level.

      Would that work, do you think? This may be one of the first edits I do on the post as it really doesn't work as written. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Delete
    2. I will check it out and get back to you. In the meantime, keep thinking for perfect options ;-)

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    3. Been thinking about this. As I understand it, Castle Never is in ruins? If so, the High Clerist tower is maybe not such a good fit. If it is not in ruins, I think that Scarwall from Curse of the Crimson Throne AP might be a perfect fit. High level, lots of undead, quest for an item, haunts that tell the story of the place etc. Or maybe Drake's Castle blueprints from 0one games, which is like an expanded castle Ravenloft, and then fill in monsters yourself. High Clerist tower is also a good choice then. Looked at Dargaard Keep from Dl16, also a possibility.
      Regarding the Dungeon, I haven't read Dead in Thay, waiting for the 5e version coming out. There are lots of megadungeons (Barrowmaze, Castle of the Mad Wizard) but they all start low level. Only high level from the start dungeon I can think of, is Maure Castle from dungeon Magazine.
      What do you think?

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  3. Scrivener, your writings are unbelievably helpful. I know you talk about running out of time to make more, but please know that your work is put to great use, and that your community is grateful. Thanks for everything you do, and I look forward to implementing many of these ideas, namely the orcs/throne and Castle Never as a megadungeon.

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    1. Thanks, mate.

      The irony is that this series began as an attempt to make a positive contribution even though I didn't like 5E. I didn't want my only comments to be "I don't like it and here's why..." so I decided to try and expand LMoP so that at least I was doing something worthwhile even though I didn't like the new edition.

      I'm glad you like the orcs/throne idea. I'm actually proud of that as I think it ties together a whole lot of things in the city of Neverwinter but also in my take on the Lost Mine of Phandelver. Plus it gives the excuse to run an orc-flavoured Red Hand of Doom (Bone Throne of Doom?) if the PCs choose not to pursue the adventure hooks.

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  4. Of note:
    You have previously mentioned a Red Hand of Doom conversation for Forgotten Realms; possibly in the Neverwinter region.
    Paizo's next Pathfinder adventure path "Ironfang Invasion" sounds a lot like a reimagining of that classic adventure. It is certainly worth a look.

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  5. Yes, I had read that somewhere. I've largely stopped following Paizo as the two hell series and the Lovecraft series were simply not my thing. But Ironfang could have potential. The only thing I will say negatively right now is that I don't like Paizo's depiction of hobgoblins and goblins in their art. Nevertheless, I'm sure there will be other things to steal for an eventual Red Hand of Doom clone.

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