Tomb of Dreams is out to Backers

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/6/2017
F5 F5 F5 F5

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/6/2017
Twilight familiar-binding anima power is nonfunctional within the dream, as spirits trapped within are under durance to the binding and not subject to additional binding.

And if someone has some sort of Charm that lets them discern an artifact's powers, you'll need to start statting out the loot beyond "Here's a bunch of magic weapons you don't know anything about, and there's nothing nearby that might tell you."

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/6/2017
She spent her bonus points differently.

(I think I gave each of them 11 bonus points, to account for their notional Merits and the idea that if their Merits were included, they probably would have spent some BP on 'em. This is, in retrospect, not as good a design decision as seemed to me at the time.)

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/6/2017
It's possible that for elementals in 3e, while Garda Birds are a specific type of elemental, Garda-bird-ness in general is a sort archetypal state that other fire elementals can aspire to or approach asymptotically.

I didn't conceive of Teo as any sort of elemental in specific. (Actually, I didn't conceive of Teo as Teo until like the last day of writing. I'm terrible with names, so Teo and Suma got named frantically at the end of the process -- up until then they were just "The river god" and "The firebird".) You could certainly have 'em turn out to be a young Garda Bird, though!

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Originally posted by CycloneJoker View Post
It's very well made! The one issue I kind of foresee is that the 25 pages taken up to explain the game's rules might be off-putting to a few folks.
You're not wrong. That said, Tomb of Dreams serves a dual purpose. For new players intimidated by the Exalted 3rd Edition core rulebook, Part 1 of ToD is meant to serve as an alternative—a new player can read that and be ready to play, even with a group playing the full game and not the ToD scenario. It's also, if I did my job, true enough to the full published rules that a group can use it as a reference if they'd rather flip through it than something with as many pages as the core.

(Part of this is ego on my part. Two years from now I want people asking "How do I get into Exalted?" to get the answer "Tomb of Dreams!" That was always the promise in Return to the Tomb of 5 Corners, but for a variety of reasons RttTo5C didn't successfully achieve it.)

[#][F] The Demented One - 4/7/2017
Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
It's also, if I did my job, true enough to the full published rules that a group can use it as a reference if they'd rather flip through it than something with as many pages as the core.
You did. I checked!

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
Lea, did you have any thoughts on the general themes of the weapons? Alternately, Vance are you planing on putting them into Arms?
I didn't even give the weapons names! I think Holden added them later. The general vibe of the island and its contents is supposed to be "This is not for you" so the weapons are deliberately cryptic and undefined—maybe someone, somewhere, knows what these are, what they've done and what they do, but that person ain't here and that person ain't you. Or maybe nobody knows; maybe that history has been lost.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

"Short" was not intended to be an insulting word. In fact, sometimes having something short and fairly straightforward is good. In this case, you go to a half-dozen locations and talk to 3 people (well two spirits and a giant snake) and get in 2 or 3 fights. It's the sort of thing you can start and have wrapped up in 3 or 4 hours, or even sooner depending. It's an excellent aperitif to Exalted, a nice way to introduce people using a brief adventure to get them to understand the setting and rules. It includes a lot of the Exalted mythos (returning Solars, demons, spirits, etc). And it manages to crams all of that into a fairly short adventure that only takes up 17 pages, including artwork.

That's honestly pretty impressive.

Thanks!

I spent a lot of time considering how I'd do Return to the Tomb of 5 Corners better. What I ended up shooting for was, in essence, Return to the Tomb of 5 Corners plus Dark Souls' Painted World of Aramais plus "About one Mass Effect planet's worth of story content." (That's ME1, Noveria specifically).

To that end I produced an outline in which a whole ad-hoc court of spirit exiles was trapped inside a demon's dream-space. The dream-space was originally going to be a variety of landscapes and environments connected by portals all based on the demon's memories, with the spirit court sort of primarily focused in an area based on a memory of a Malfean bazaar. The more I developed it, the more the island as a coherent space appealed to me, so the bazaar got moved to the clouds above the island. The demon was going to be imprisoned in the interior of an iceberg, and I moved that to the ocean north of the island, and the PCs would have had to go there after collecting the anchors.

There was going to be this whole conflict where the spirit court actually hadn't been trapped-as-such until recently because one of the gods in it had been a storm-god capable of controlling the storms in the dream that kept the portal to Creation shut, only he'd recently died, and it was a murder mystery and the demon would have been the one to have killed him, and the head of the spirit court wanted to reestablish the entrance but would have tried to kill the PCs before letting them escape with the loot because that would collapse the dream and rob him of his secret headquarters. There were going to be about a dozen spirits, and then I cut it down to six, and then I played with and rejected adding an enslaved population of mortals.

And then as I brainstormed and wrote the thing, I just started cutting all the elements that might have worked but wouldn't have been necessary, until I was left with the realization that I could just have two trapped spirits, one who wants to free the demon and one who wants to keep it, and that they could live on the island instead of in a city in the clouds above, and then I cut the iceberg because the caldera made for a good showdown spot. The end result was significantly less than an ME1 planet's worth of plot, but, as you say, it works for a 1-shot, which is a strength in a demo.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Also the entire undersea trench sequence is just the climax of Pacific Rim.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
So, query: how does one get out of this situation without hurting anybody that doesn't deserve it?
Well, for starters, it'd probably be a good idea to go in with more setting knowledge and occult puissance than the premades have. Maybe something that actually lets you compel the demon to do no harm once it's released, or even just tell with some certainty what it's likely to do if freed.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/7/2017
I should probably note at this point that the phrase "Tomb of Dreams" is not merely a description of the scenario's setting or a joke on Exalted demo adventures always having "Tomb" in the title. (Though it is those things!) The scenario is ultimately a dilemma where your power is sufficient to ensure you're the only one who can force a resolution, but not sufficient to determine what that solution ought to be; if you had dared hope your status as a Solar Exalt would be sufficient to always Captain Kirk Third Option your way out of these things, welp.

(I am very pretentious.)

I'm super-interested in hearing how it plays out at actual tables.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/8/2017
The pregens are written up according to the needs of the scenario, yeah, and are not really the versions of those characters that would show up elsewhere. Volfer doesn't have his signature sword, f'rex.

I may have fucked up her career time, like I fucked up that tentacles/arms thing. I'll check when I get home.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 4/8/2017
Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
The pregens are written up according to the needs of the scenario, yeah, and are not really the versions of those characters that would show up elsewhere. Volfer doesn't have his signature sword, f'rex.
It's kind of like one of those side stories you see when a series of sword and sorcery short stories is compiled in in-setting chronological order, where a character wanders off and has some weird crossover adventure that doesn't really fit into the timeline, then shows up again in the next story as though nothing had happened. (Elric, I'm looking at you.)

[#][F] Eric Minton - 4/8/2017
Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post
If I was going to play in this adventure, what I'd probably try to do is find a way to send the demon back to Hell, once we'd freed it from the wards. Such a plan would likely rely on ST fiat to some degree, partially because the 3e book doesn't really discuss what happens when a task bound demon completes their task (so one could argue a few different things), and partly because the only Sorcerer on the team doesn't have Demon of the First Circle, let alone any of the other spells.
I don't have the book handy, and I recognize that it may not cover this adequately (or that my current understanding may contradict published 3e material), but my understanding is that a bound demon returns to the Demon City when its service is complete—whether because its year and a day of service has expired, or because its task has been fulfilled. A summoned demon is only loose in Creation if the binding fails.

[#][F] Eric Minton - 4/8/2017
Originally posted by BrilliantRain View Post

That was my understanding too, but the adventure indicates that the demon expects to be able to escape into the dreams of Creation's masses if the bindings keeping it here are broken. So, either I misread the adventure and I'm wrong about that or this particular binding had some kind of escape clause in it (well or this demon isn't bound as tightly to hell as the others). Well, or neither of us understand the binding rules correctly.

Or...hrm..... I guess maybe this counts as the binding "failing" rather than the binding coming to its natural conclusion?
Sometimes, things happen the way the story needs them to. Divergence from the rules is mainly a problem when it's a "gotcha" that interferes directly with the PCs' plans, or when it violates players' sense of the setting's internal consistency in a negative way.

But yeah, assuming the rules are actually unclear rather than just me being loopy due to late-night deadlines, Vance and I will chat at some point about how this is supposed to work.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/8/2017
I don't think "Go to sleep and in your nightmares manifest a pocket dimension in which various elements of your personality serve as sentries to guard some loot we're going to stash in you" is something you can normally task-bind a demon to do. This was probably a nonstandard bit of sorcery, maybe a working.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 4/8/2017
By default, the scenario doesn't include a clear way to keep Cseke bound. Either you free it, or it fights you to the death.

Of course, Mirror Flag has an oathsealing power....

[#][F] Eric Minton - 4/10/2017
Originally posted by HighPriest View Post
So, I'm reading the demon summoning spell now from the 3E Core, and I'm not seeing much about summoned demons going home. The only way written there for a demon to end up getting sent back to Hell is if the summoner fails his binding and succeeds at an on-the-spot banishment. Otherwise, I don't see anything about summoned demons going home at the end of an annual duration or completed service.

I'm guessing this was an oversight? Or was it dev intention that summoned demons stick around to... do what unbound demons do when let loose on an unsuspecting populace?
This is clearly an oversight. Demon summoning potentially raises some ethical issues, but "Is every single demon I summon going to wind up free to wreak havoc unless I murder it first?" is not one of them.