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FurtiveNoises

House of Dust & Ash

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I'm finally going to give this adventure a go, and think I've got a good enough grasp on the game to roll w/ its more free-form nature.

 

I think I can forsee what'll happen when the Widow speaks and all hell breaks loose.  Once Greel paints a target on himself, the groups rank 6 psyker will unleash on him, likely killing him.  Now, the group may get savaged in response, armed w/ only what weapons they buy at the auction, but I feel its likely Greel is gonna go down.  It seems too easy (easy as in puzzle wise, not combat wise) to figure out where his big black sun amulet will go, and they may escape (or die) long before a supposedly tense 13 hours pass.  Maybe I'm just assuming and they won't piece it together that easily, but I'm curious to hear of others experiences in making the end of the scenario exciting and fun. 

 

All the parts up to that I've got figured out, have some new campaign appropriate auction-goers, have some new items up for auction.  Would love to hear of any other npcs or items that stood out for your groups. 

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 I recently ran this one by instant messenger with my recent-regular group. That some of the players were vaguely familiar with scenario details which meant that the scion's blood/Greel was imminently obvious to them and I couldn't really avoid it. 

However, there's some nice points about this: 

1- Alter it so that Greel isn't the executioner, name a lesser Mourner and have them do it, have Greel 'look like death with his powerscythe' from earlier on, but not be immediately "the" baddie
2- Make one the of the Acolytes the Scion. My group figured out that simply 'bleeding' the scion rather than out-right killing him would work (and I allowed this), but necessitating a series of wounds nonetheless
3- Don't skimp on setting up other attendees as heretics they feel duty-bound to see killed and ensure not escape
4- Give Greel some degree of psychic-resistance

Good as the end of House of Dust & Ash can be, it presents a nice scenario for doing alot of things. Managing in-group conflict is one of them, play up the involvement of others in the group. And, most importantly, don't have the widow displayed before *any* of the big items are auctioned. I ran them through the auction, let them set their sights on various artefacts as 'of prime importance not to be allowed to fall into the wrong hands' (one of the acolytes gaining a corruption point from just briefly perusing the 'Unbound Tome' added to that effect) and thus setting up as 'potential need-to-kill-for-bonus-EXP' foes the people who bid against them in the auction.

I thus had the Widow displayed about halfway through the list of 'big items', rather than at the beginning.

Though my acolytes escaped in less than two hours, I felt they still had a pretty good roleplaying session from the 'final section', and also some good opportunity (in the case of my Sorceror's player) to pursue a bit more in his own 'extracurricular interests'.

It wasn't short of deaths, but they handled themselves well and I didn't want to press too hard against them with alot of the enemies; team deaths aren't strictly necessary, but the lingering shadow of their very possibility does add to the fun. (So when Nonesuch started one-shotting their allies to 'clouds of ash' with his disintegrating necrotic sceptre when they tried to ambush him with their two-dozen allied PDFers I felt the 'WTF is going on!?' factor rised immensely!)

Don't feel too bad about them easily beating the session, but bear in mind there's plenty of 'hairy opportunities'. Making it from the Garden of Lost Saints to the Tomb, despite having killed Greel, needn't be an immediately obvious or feasible endeavour...

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 Once the countdown begins, the key is to keep things moving.

 

Use all of your GMing tricks to keep it moving.  Harrass players, have bad guys jump out of nowhere, give them only 5 seconds to make decisions, use a timer.  Above all, they have to feel pressed for time!

 

 

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One trick you can use for Dust and Ash (or alot of other dramatic countdown to Doooooom! missions) is to use the sheer scale of the settings as an opponent.  Look at the scale on the island map!   That thing is effin' HUGE!   So even relatively "close" locations are still an annoyingly long distance to run when the clock is ticking.   "Bob really could use some medicae attention and I bet those PDF troopers have some medkits we could use, but it will take us at least 45 minutes of brisk running to reach their last known location.  Longer if Joe insists on carrying that thing he found...   Is it worth the time, or do we press on?"   I likewise endorse the "so many heretics, so litttle time" idea.  My group can get pretty righteous (as good Imperial citizens should!) and can usually be counted on for "maximum purgation" once the fit hits the shan, so they can be counted on to be doing the Emperor's bloody wrath thing up to the last possible moment.   "We still have about 20 minutes before the shuttle arrives and perhaps another 10 before the reactor blows. I still have 3 magazines for my bolter and half a flask of promethium left.  That **** Jaguar cultist is NOT leaving this planet alive unless he is our prisoner!  Get him!"

There is also the cheesy trick (use sparingly!) of messing with fixed quantities:  "We set the timer for 3 hours, but apparently the dumb-as-monkeys local bomb-makers have an ancient tradition of using LOCAL time instead of Sidreal time, and a local hour is only 47 minutes!  Crap! Pick up the pace, boys!"

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