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Advice on running the Cradle


Soccercalle

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My PCs are in Pavis and will help Garrath with bringing the Cradle down to the Sea in our next session (Sea season 1621). They have just helped Garrath perform a short Lightbringers Quest to help Gonn Orta bring a baby to the world. They didn't participate in the LBQ itself but supported the hero quest and guarded the bodies when they were away.

The cradle is a great scenario but it is sooo looong with a lot of fighting. My players like roleplaying but is not huge fans of spending whole sessions just running battles.

Have anyone tried running the Cradle in different ways than the "official" one? I have read how Andrew Logan Montgomery did it on his blog. But I would be glad if anyone else had any suggestions.

The start of the scenario will be different as the players already know Garrath and is aware of the giant baby.

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Well, if your players are interested more in the RP aspect they could also support Argrath's efforts that are 'off script' from the action in The Cradle.

- Finding, vetting, and assembling adventurers to do the combat lifting

- Negotiating with or organizing the assistance of the River Folk

- Helping suppress Chaos along the route

- Sabotaging Lunar and Sun County efforts.

If you want them on the Cradle itself, then perhaps they're detailed to physically protect the Baby at all costs, as well as providing support for those involved in active fighting. Lots of RP possibilities dealing with the many disparate groups Argrath recruited and possible hostility between them.. the Trolls and Orlanthi are going to need a little smoothing over, for example. A situation like this might involve:

- protecting Ernalda, Chalana Arroy and Xiola Umbar healers and getting the wounded the help the wounded need

- keeping the Baby calm amidst all the ruckus

- combat once the Cradle Protectors are driven below decks

- smoothing over relations between groups that have to work together to survive.

Those are few ideas that come to mind right off the top of my head.

Something else to consider is that YOUR version of the The Cradle doesn't have to be 'canon'. Do what you think you need to entertain your table.

Edited by svensson
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1 hour ago, Soccercalle said:

The cradle is a great scenario but it is sooo looong with a lot of fighting. My players like roleplaying but is not huge fans of spending whole sessions just running battles.

an other option is to choose what fight will be played with attack dodge parades rolls and what fight will be played with the battle skill roll or with some "wargame light rules".

you may propose your players for this or this step to determine how they prepare the defense of the boat (so more rp, maybe with some carpentry, orate, ... rolls ... or not) then add if needed (is there any pc with a good battle skill ?) some bonus depending on their choices.

maybe play the first fight as a fight then discuss with the players if they want to play the other fights in the same way (in case of there will be other fights... who knows ?) and if they feel it boring, coincidentally, Argrath noticed them during the first fight and asked them some organization tasks :

1) lead the groups (if they were good) = wargame light rules;

2) support the groups (if they are too wounded for example) = battle skill to survive + heal and other activities;

3) explore and do some weird tasks in the boat's hold (if they were too ridiculous for example) = what you need to play it

 

 

In all cases the boat will probably succeed to escape, with or without the pcs, thanks to Argrath and the giants magic, the main point is to determine if pcs will survive

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Eh, I played it the hard way. It took multiple sessions. It was quite the slog. But we wanted to say we had done it. 

And despite its reputation, and me beefing it up a bit, my PCs were tough enough I kept adding opponents and complications to make it tougher. A few extra enemy rune lords and such (Radak the Iron Centurion in Pavis, Invictus and Belvani at Sun County, etc), some extra Lunes and Lunar Demons, and a few of the Coders appearing in the final scenes. Two of them ended up having to DI , but no one died. 

But I don't really recommend it unless you just really want to say you have done it. RQG rules probably make it a bit easier/faster if you are skilled enough, the rules for skills over 100% subtracting from parry make tough characters a little more dangerous.

My PCs ended up finding fighting shield walls full of Lunar hoplites or Sun County phalangites very annoying, with successful attacks so often just hitting a shielded location harmlessly, until they took to just waiting to the end up the round and doing an aimed blow to head, and then the shield walls went down like harvesting a field of wheat. 

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2 hours ago, davecake said:

My PCs ended up finding fighting shield walls full of Lunar hoplites or Sun County phalangites very annoying, with successful attacks so often just hitting a shielded location harmlessly, until they took to just waiting to the end up the round and doing an aimed blow to head, and then the shield walls went down like harvesting a field of wheat. 

There is some VERY interesting video on the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Platea in Greece. Reenactors dressed out as hoplites recreating the battle. You might find that educational. *I* sure did.

The second thing is that they could have specifically targeted the shields with aimed attacks with the intent of destroying them. That wouldn't work so well here on Earth, but with spells like Fireblade available, that becomes a valid tactic. It also serves to burn off the enemy's Magic Points as they desperately pump MP into Repair spells instead of Heal spells...

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Well, IIRC, Argrath buggers off for a while, and comes back to be the hero near the end.

Do yourself a headache and write up whatever he did at that time, and then have the PCs do it instead (ie, Argrath sends them off on a special quest to get the magic back).

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You could also make the Cradle a lot shorter not having the PCs present for the whole thing, thus cutting out large chunks. For example, you can miss the first few large fights by having the PCs join after the Cradle has been been boarded in Pavis. 

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I wrote an extended version, where the Adventurers got on board somewhere up near Leaping Place Lake, and added a whole bunch of extra stuff including a bunch of ever-increasingly desperate and ludicrous broo attempts to get on board. Broo pyramids on logs in the river, a huge catapult...

It definitely made a difference that I used the Stormbringer rules in my campaigns though. A lot less dice rolling and calculations for combat

The most recent time I ran it, years ago now, I think there was an Adventurer death, and a couple of others died but managed to make DIs

IMO it needs to be realistically deadly

One option I have used in other circumstances is to have the actual Adventurers have smaller roles, and use temporary (hero-level) adventurers as PCs

I'll probably recommend that this time whenever we reach that point in rewriting the campaign into the new P&BR series

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On 1/16/2023 at 10:42 AM, davecake said:

But I don't really recommend it unless you just really want to say you have done it

I have to disagree.  I ran it many years ago, the players were low rune level, and it was easily the most memorable adventure of the campaign.  But everyone's style is different, of course.

 

Responding to the original post, the scenario is combat-oriented of course.  If you want to increase the role-playing, you might modify or expand the second stage, when the characters are wandering about the cradle.

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On 1/16/2023 at 7:38 PM, Soccercalle said:

The cradle is a great scenario but it is sooo looong with a lot of fighting. My players like roleplaying but is not huge fans of spending whole sessions just running battles.

Heh, if you think the Cradle Scenario is long, you're gonna LOOOOVE the Hero Wars.   That being said, French Desperate WindChild's suggestion of using Battle Rolls is a good one.

Edited by Darius West
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On 1/16/2023 at 8:38 AM, Soccercalle said:

Have anyone tried running the Cradle in different ways than the "official" one? I have read how Andrew Logan Montgomery did it on his blog. But I would be glad if anyone else had any suggestions.

In our River Voices (Arganauts) Campaign, the River Voices found the Land of the Giants. They then did some funky fertility stuff to quicken and enliven the Giants, with the result being a pregnant True Giant. They then found the Giant Cradles, each of which had a dead baby, as the Cradles were not allowed to pass down the Zola Fel. They had received a prophecy, or curse, that the next Giant Cradle to travel the Zola Fel would bring death, so they decided to sail the Giant Cradle with the dead Giant baby down the Zola Fel first, to absorb the curse. They ended up raising an army of undead that fought the Lunars who tried to stop the Cradle. I think they left it on the oceans and returned. They then took the newly born baby in a new Giant cradle and sailed it down the Zola Fel, facing off against opponents such as the Coders, Broo catapulted onto the decks of the Cradle, Dragonewt mercenaries, a seemingly indestructible Iron Dwarf with a suspiciously Austrian accent, and many more things. Starting the journey in Giantland meant that I could squeeze some extra encounters. They sailed the Cradle down into Magasta's Pool, onto the Styx, where they found a Waertagi Dragonship, but the size of a True Dragon, with a Golden Barge impaled in its side. They realised that this was a River Voice's Barge, from an earlier age, and tried to restore the Dragonship. After a few scenarios, they managed to fix it, rescued Dormal from the Hell he was trapped in, restored a lot of people, put a True Dragon's soul into the Dragonship and sailed it to the Heavens, thus restoring the Boat Planet and breaking the Closing.

Of course, this took many sessions to accomplish.

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