Archive for Elminster

The Many Faces of Elminster

Posted in Rants, RPG Rants with tags , , on April 18, 2014 by Charlie Brooks

Is he super-competent or super-crazy? You decide.I’m a Forgotten Realms player from my 2nd edition AD&D days, which means I got exposed to the setting right around the time that Elminster the Sage was crammed down players’ throats everywhere. He showed up in the majority of Realms fiction, bothered PCs during official adventure modules, and even showed up to meddle with affairs in the Baldur’s Gate videogames.

I’ve discussed how annoying I found Elminster in those days, and I’ve tried to avoid turning the uber-powerful mage of my own setting into a character with those same flaws. However, I don’t think that Elminster is necessarily bad for the Forgotten Realms setting. It’s just his presentation that tends to be bad.

Here are a few optional takes on Elminster that might make him more interesting. Each of these takes assumes the same Elminster that appears in the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting – the 30+ level character with silver fire and a +5 longsword that he has no reason to use. So in each model, he’s a being of demigod-level might who can wreck worlds. But that doesn’t mean he has to be as smug and boring as he appears in official fiction and adventure modules. Continue reading

The GM’s Pet NPCs

Posted in Pathfinder, Rants, RPG Rants with tags , , on February 28, 2014 by Charlie Brooks

The old sage, in all his Mary Sue glory.The longer a campaign set in my homebrew Pathfinder setting of Blackwood goes on, the greater a chance there is that my pet NPC Garyl Shadowslayer shows up. That finally happened over the weekend in an adventure that ranks as one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve ever run. Despite the fact that it ultimately went well, I was fairly nervous going into it because I was faced with the big question of how to introduce a GM favorite NPC without making him annoying.

I guess the obvious answer is to just not include pet NPCs. However, I game for my entertainment, too, and this particular NPC is as intrinsically tied to my setting as Elminster is to the Forgotten Realms. This session went well, as did the previous time I introduced Garyl as a major NPC in the campaign. By comparison, each and every time I used Elminster in a Forgotten Realms game was met with annoyance and complaints from the players. So what made this time so much more effective than all the times I’ve tried to use Elminster?

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The Worst Adventure Ever: Making it Work

Posted in Rants, RPG Rants, The Worst Adventure Ever with tags , , on May 26, 2011 by Charlie Brooks

This can be a decent adventure. Really.It’s been a while since I dubbed the Avatar Trilogy the worst adventure ever, but there is one question remaining: why do I even have the modules if they suck so badly?

Years ago, I picked up Waterdeep at a yard sale. I tried to run it, but never got it off the ground – very few of my campaigns lasted beyond the first few levels, and I usually shied away from doing mid-level one-shots. Years later, in a 3rd edition game, I decided that I wanted to shake things up in my campaign setting with a Time of Troubles-style event, so I hunted down Shadowdale and Tantras on eBay.

Yeah…I actually bought these monstrosities of my own volition.

And you know what? The game I ran with them turned out to be a lot of fun.

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The Worst Adventure Ever: Waterdeep, chapter six

Posted in Rants, RPG Rants, The Worst Adventure Ever with tags , , on January 11, 2011 by Charlie Brooks

It's finally almost over.At long last, we are on the last chapter of this adventure. Chapter 6 is a long, convoluted mess that ends with a huge insult both in game and out of game. But let’s take it one step at a time.

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The Worst Adventure Ever: Waterdeep, chapter five

Posted in Rants, RPG Rants, The Worst Adventure Ever with tags , , on January 11, 2011 by Charlie Brooks

Khelben and Elminster...a double dose of suck.As Chapter 5 begins, the PCs have been separated from Midnight. They have also lost the Tablet of Fate to the god of death. But wait…didn’t the text in the previous section state that the PCs could hold onto the tablet if they took special pains to do so?

“If the PCs managed to hang onto their Tablet of Fate through the battle at Dragonspear Castle, they should lose it before they reach Waterdeep. Harry them with more night riders, or have Myrkul himself steal into camp invisibly and steal the tablet from its sleeping guard.”

Yeah…should’ve known better.

“Once they lose the tablet, the PCs still should head for Waterdeep. They can guess that is where Myrkul will be, with one or both tablets. Besides, they still want to meet Elminster, so that the sage can help them find Midnight.”

There is no part of that paragraph that I like.

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The Worst Adventure Ever: Waterdeep, chapter one

Posted in Rants, RPG Rants, The Worst Adventure Ever with tags , , on January 11, 2011 by Charlie Brooks

The third and final module in this trainwreck.Who will be the new gods?

The God of Strife is dead, destroyed in his attack on Tantras, and Midnight and the player characters have recovered the first Tablet of Fate – one of a pair of mysterious artifacts that will return the gods to their former glory and save the Realms from the fallen deities’ wrath.

But the quest isn’t over! To find the other Tablet of Fate, your heroes must travel across Faerûn to Waterdeep, the City of Splendors. But both Midnight’s former ally, Cyric, and Myrkul, the Lord of the Dead, want the tablets for their own dark ends, and they will stop at nothing to capture Midnight – even if it means the destruction of the Realms!

Waterdeep marks the third and final portion of the Avatar Trilogy. It is also the most epic, with the PCs taking on multiple gods and meet Ao the Overlord himself. Perhaps because it has so much epic potential, it’s also the worst of the three modules, repeating all of the mistakes in the first two modules and then ending in the ultimate screwjob to the PCs. (Well, maybe not as ultimate as the “Rocks fall, everyone dies” ending of Neverwinter Nights 2, but it’s right up there.)

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The Worst Adventure Ever: Tantras, chapter six

Posted in Rants, RPG Rants, The Worst Adventure Ever with tags , , on January 9, 2011 by Charlie Brooks

Time for some epic adventure...for the NPCs.And now we’re on the final chapter of Tantras. In a good module, this would be a massive and memorable set-piece that would have the players talking about it years later. Bane is about to invade Tantras, meaning that he’s going to be doing battle with Torm. While chaos rages in the city, the PCs have to find their way to the Tablet of Fate, all the while dodging the two brawling gods in the streets.

But this is the Avatar Trilogy, meaning that interesting choices and perilous scenarios aren’t really allowed. The PCs are accompanied by Midnight, Adon, and Kelemvor, who will do everything for them if necessary. Additionally, Elminster is around this time, grabbing the heroes by the wrist and leading them along the way.

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