Jump to content
Puckohue

The Smoking Ruins : GM questions *SPOILERS*

Recommended Posts

There's quite a few unanswered questions in the tribal edit thread, but I'd like to distinguish between copy editing and content discussions. At the moment I have two questions:

My guess is the choice of Sea Season was made in order to tie the adventure to the adventures in the GM Screen Pack. The last of those take place in Storm Season 1625. But as noted, the High Holy Day of Ernalda is in Earth Season. The easiest solution is of course to run it in Earth Season. But then again - the weather is expressively mentioned as important to the adventure. I can easily change "High Holy Day" to "Seasonal Holy Day", but that does make it less obvious why the adventurers are supposed to have a tight deadline. And that makes me wonder: why is the tight deadline so important? It's mentioned many times as a major point to consider when choices have to be made. What's the dramaturgical significance of it?

The deadline is supposed to be important when the adventurers decide on the route between Duck Point and the Smoking Ruins. Three routes are described on p. 62-63. Why does the approximately three times shorter route (option 3) take three times as long to travel as option 2? Am I missing something obvious?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The tight deadline is important because the mirror is wanted for the Seasonal Holy Day, like yeah there are other Holy Days, but let's be clear the Sea Season Holy Day for Ernalda is very much focuses on ahem "the storm fertilizing the earth" as it were. That's why the holy day that plays out at the end of the adventure is about the marriage between Orlanth and Ernalda, it happens during this day on Clayday Fertility Week Sea Season to bless the planting of the crops for the year to come. The mirror specifically is an important artifact from the myth the Marriage of Orlanth and Ernalda, it's one of the gifts that Orlanth gives to Ernalda to prove his worth as potential husband.

Why didn't people attempt to locate the mirror for previous Sea Season Holy Days for Ernalda? Well it comes down to a couple things, Daravala had found out the info for where the mirror is just recently, and is willing to fund it now that she thinks that she can use it to get some recognition for herself, also honestly, others *have* probably attempted to find the mirror before the PCs, they just became the victims of the Smoking Ruins, and their knowledge was lost along with them like many others before. Before the Dragonkill this wouldn't even have been a problem, the Smoking Ruins were populated and lived in then, the mirror only became lost post-Dragonkill.

Also for the travel options, I don't know why you think Option 3 is the shortest, just looking at the map in the adventure, Option 2 is pretty much as straight a line as you can get from Duck Point to the Smoking Ruins. Whereas Option 3 has you following the river for a bit until centaur's ford, then crossing through the Ten Ridges separately than the Dragonspines to near Queen's Post, and then crossing the Dragonspines which has an even more roundabout path than Option 2's crossing. It's just not the shortest path by any mean.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Mirza said:

the Sea Season Holy Day for Ernalda is very much focuses on ahem "the storm fertilizing the earth" as it were. That's why the holy day that plays out at the end of the adventure is about the marriage between Orlanth and Ernalda

Thanks for clarifying! The marriage thing and springtime fertility rites makes perfect sense.

Quote

Also for the travel options, I don't know why you think Option 3 is the shortest,

Again, thanks for clarifying. It was some wordings in the text that made me confuse routes 2 and 3. It says on p. 63

Quote

down and around the Dragonspine through Seven Foals Vale

which made me think "down" was "south" and "through Seven Foals Vale" meant the route drawn directly over the words "Seven Foals Vale" on the map. I guess just numbering the descriptions and the drawn routes on the map would have helped someone as easily confused as I am.

I now also notice the quote about route 2 going north of Wild Temple, which of course is as clear as it gets, even to me ;)

Thanks!

Edited by Puckohue
English

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The maguffin is not the explicit object of the quest when the party takes off, only proof of the existence of the holy place. A piece of masonry with inscriptions or a statue would be the expected outcome for the quest giver Daravala. See p.36 which states the objective for the adventurers.

I was slightly puzzled how the item that - had its existence and location been known would have been retrieved long ago - is pushed onto the party like that.

Daravala appears to have done a bit of research on old Ernaldan myths of Dragon Pass to locate that ancient temple. (I'd like to learn about her sources and connections.) And she must have connected the interior of pre-Vingkotling locations (Ernalda's house, as there are places like the kitchen represented as a location in Kerofinela) with Vingkotling and Dawn Survival ones.

I know hardly any Vingkotling myths from their founding time. Any such stories would have been passed on to their descendants, and become more and more diffuse. There is little known about Korol, the (presumed, could have been his children or grandchildren) founder of Korolstead. Off the cuff, Korol was part of the four brothers' great raid into Dara Happa, his daughter became queen of part of the survivors of the Lastralgortelli after the disastrous Lastralgortelli raid, and Heort the Swift is descended from him in direct male lineage. No known domestic achievements like Ulanin's cattle raid from the giants that we learn about in the Red Cow saga.

 

The wedding of Orlanth and Ernalda is a myth that predates the Vingkotling era significantly, and the Orlanthi population would have been the (descendants of) the followers of Orlanth on the Downland Migration from the Spike, Durevings. (The wedding of Durev and Orane is a foreshadowing of the wedding of Orlanth and Ernalda.)

 

Now the majority of the people in the founding of the Vingkotling tribes would have been Durevings following their demigod leaders who dispersed the Vingkot bloodline through the population over a few generations. (Luckily Vingkot was a lot more fecund than Sartar, making the third and fourth generation "House of Vingkot" a lot more populous than the families of Yoristina, Saronil and Eonistaran that make up the House of Sartar.)

 

I wonder whether the temple and the item are really only the place of the wedding of Heort and Ivarne and the props used in that Silver Age event. While there is no information on whether Heort actually lived with the Koroltes during his feats that led to the I Fought We Won battle and his rescuing Ivarne. It doesn't look like King Heort had a fixed seat of power, probably having a moving court that would visit all the Heortling towns on some irregular schedule, but an event like his wedding may have taken place at Korolstead.

The Earth remembers, but it is all interconnected, and Godtime events may be "smeared" all over the map as the various scales of magnitude of the mythical landscape correlate to what remains of it after the spider collected the shards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't want to ask / comment on the tribal edit thread because I think we may return to the Smoking Ruins, but we did go there and retrieve the super-item.  And, along the way, my character "did the dance" and swapped with her mom.  Another PC swapped too.

Within literally 10 seconds we ruled that the other PC did not swap his Storm Bull.  End of story.

My mom is actually another Vingan, and I'm a very flexible player, so I considered it.  (I've had previous non-chaotic Lunar characters reborn out of the Sea of Chaos!)  But soon realized that a caring parent would not accept the switch and would do everything within their power to restore their child.  Fortunately, our GM (and we) were creative, we worked out a cool way to de-swap, and it actually worked out great.

But for most it would be a disaster.  I think many players would just quit.  Never to return.

Given that the warnings were given by a surly ghost (who easily could have added why) and a metagaming by the GM "are you sure?", I sincerely believe that almost any proper roleplaying character would do the accidental swap.  In our group, the PCs who didn't were either helping the trollkin, or there was one Humakhti who had cult ghost / undead issues.

There were no "saves", either some POW v POW thing, trying to Dodge, whatever.  Just "you lose".

I'm surely biased cause I was a victim, but, in my opinion, this aspect of the scenario, as written, is one of the worst ideas of all time.  The other players didn't like it either.

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's also important to note that nobody knows the mirror shard is there. The priestess just asks for any artifact that would be of significance to an Ernaldan temple. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I'm surely biased cause I was a victim, but, in my opinion, this aspect of the scenario, as written, is one of the worst ideas of all time.  The other players didn't like it either.

Your post is good feedback to hear for me, as a gamemaster. I've considered running this adventure for my group, especially because part of one adventurer's gimmick is his bloodline and I thought it could be interesting to offer him the chance to play instead as the progenitor reborn. But hearing that it's a big roadbump for a variety of players is good to know in case I do run TSR.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Crel said:

Your post is good feedback to hear for me, as a gamemaster. 

Yarp I'm not keen on having ancestors swap in for PC's. It's fine for the NPC as a plot device. For me as well the intro doesn't really work  because the party have been kicking round for a bit now. 3 of them are initiated into Orgvale Summer (See The Dragon of Thunder Hills) and although as a group they do have some loyally to Lekia and the Colymar they also do to the Feathered Horse Queen and other interests. I think Orgvale is more likely to ask (via all sorts of divine style hints) to recover her mothers mirror than the complicated plot in TSR. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Thaz said:

I think Orgvale is more likely to ask (via all sorts of divine style hints) to recover her mothers mirror than the complicated plot in TSR. 

That's a solid plot hook. Nice and simple (and works with any variant of land goddess).

The place my brain went when I did my read-through of TSR back in December was "oh, huh, that's a neat option for players." But from Rodney's experience, and how I recollect the text, I do see that it probably comes across less like a "choice" and more like a "gotcha!" on the player side of the table. I've made similar mistakes on my own before, not sufficiently explaining a decision's consequences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I don't want to ask / comment on the tribal edit thread because I think we may return to the Smoking Ruins, but we did go there and retrieve the super-item.  And, along the way, my character "did the dance" and swapped with her mom.  Another PC swapped too.

Within literally 10 seconds we ruled that the other PC did not swap his Storm Bull.  End of story.

My mom is actually another Vingan, and I'm a very flexible player, so I considered it.  (I've had previous non-chaotic Lunar characters reborn out of the Sea of Chaos!)  But soon realized that a caring parent would not accept the switch and would do everything within their power to restore their child.  Fortunately, our GM (and we) were creative, we worked out a cool way to de-swap, and it actually worked out great.

But for most it would be a disaster.  I think many players would just quit.  Never to return.

Given that the warnings were given by a surly ghost (who easily could have added why) and a metagaming by the GM "are you sure?", I sincerely believe that almost any proper roleplaying character would do the accidental swap.  In our group, the PCs who didn't were either helping the trollkin, or there was one Humakhti who had cult ghost / undead issues.

There were no "saves", either some POW v POW thing, trying to Dodge, whatever.  Just "you lose".

I'm surely biased cause I was a victim, but, in my opinion, this aspect of the scenario, as written, is one of the worst ideas of all time.  The other players didn't like it either.

Have them fail the Dance roll... 

Have the ancestor refuse, and not raise their hands...

On 2/29/2020 at 5:44 AM, Puckohue said:

Why does the approximately three times shorter route (option 3) take three times as long to travel as option 2? Am I missing something obvious?

As for the 3 options, you aren't the only one confused! The word "down" (and others) had me confused as well... And since there's been sufficient errors elsewhere in Chaosium products, and need for another set of eyes, I just presumed this was another!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Crel said:

That's a solid plot hook. Nice and simple (and works with any variant of land goddess).

I DO like the options for the Ritual back in Clearwine with the various politics and factions. So If I use this it will be to return it to the nearest major earth temple...ie Clearwine 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Have the ancestor refuse, and not raise their hands.

After my character's experience, this is exactly what we did for two other PCs to "save" them.

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
Clarify

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, does anyone have opinions on how Urvantan's Tower runs? Of the adventures in TSR that's the most likely for me to play, since it's least attached to a specific region. I'm a little skeptical of the finale since it seems more like "sorcerer does cool cutscene stuff" than "adventurers save town."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Crel said:

By the way, does anyone have opinions on how Urvantan's Tower runs? Of the adventures in TSR that's the most likely for me to play, since it's least attached to a specific region. I'm a little skeptical of the finale since it seems more like "sorcerer does cool cutscene stuff" than "adventurers save town."

I didn't play it, but I do feel like Urvantan's assistance isn't actually required to win, since the real winning move is beating the boss (in a duel or otherwise). He's also very apt to die if the adventurers don't intervene... So that's fine. Honestly, I expected Urvantan to be way more overpowered, and "win" the adventure for the players.

It sounds like the most fun adventure in the book to me anyways. 😊

 

As for the Smoking Ruins... I feel like the whole putting-the-ancestors-to-rest-side-quest is fun, but you get absolutely nothing of worth from doing it. You could easily just get the mirror, say "nice, an easy quest!", and skip over the rest. It needs something... Deeper? Like you can only help one of them with their ritual, and the choice you make affects the rest of the story in a big way (or something in that line).

Edited by gochie
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, gochie said:

absolutely nothing of worth

IMG helping the spirits of their ancestors opens a lot of possibilities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Puckohue said:

IMG helping the spirits of their ancestors opens a lot of possibilities.

It could, but that's not expanded upon in the adventure at all. It would be completely GM-created content.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...