City of Spiders

PrinceofNothing

High Executarch
Staff member
Also, @PrinceofNothing I enjoyed you Veins review.
I'm glad. I think my conclusions hold up pretty well. I get a bit vicious but its disappointing to see Stuart essentially throw the match by committing several unforced errors in quick succession after a brilliant opening display of creativity. I have bought the hardcover.

No, it's pretty specific about the lodge being too wet to ignite.
Only a small percentage chance per round of success because of the general dampness of the area, and burning down the hall will mean the loss of the treasure but concentrate the giants on the lower floor. If you can coordinate it properly, wizardlocking all three doors and throwing a cloud kill in there might be a better move. I just finished my review of G1. Spectacularly good module.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
Only a small percentage chance per round of success because of the general dampness of the area
Yeah, that was never going to fly in my group, too many people who know how to start a fire in the winter - particularly considering that most adventurers carry accelerants. You don't set a match to the wall, you build a large fire against the wall and let it go. There are several rooms with fireplaces, presumably with flammable wood to fuel them, so dry wood shouldn't be a problem - the kitchen would be a good example, since they are cooking things.

Or for that matter, building a fire against the exterior wall, since there are no windows and no mention of exterior patrols (the content of the wandering monster table implies there is none), so the party apparently has all the time in the world. It's a great dungeon, but a lousy stronghold.

I don't think I would be alone in attempting this, I am betting the nerfing of fires resulted from either knowledge of his own players, or an on-the-fly nerf when they actually tried it.

burning down the hall will mean the loss of the treasure
Easy come, easy go. I might not try it until the outer areas were looted, since they are pretty soft, and I would likely take one look in to the great hall and realize there were too many enemies to handle in a straight up fight. But I tend to be pretty mission focused.

Also, I'm pretty sure the precious metals will survive, although maybe not as coins.
 

PrinceofNothing

High Executarch
Staff member
The newyear brings its bounty early. I shall savour this. Lighting ok? Wagner in the background? Let me open this fine bottle of Ballantines. Ahem.

Yeah, that was never going to fly in my group, too many people who know how to start a fire in the winter - particularly considering that most adventurers carry accelerants. You don't set a match to the wall, you build a large fire against the wall and let it go. There are several rooms with fireplaces, presumably with flammable wood to fuel them, so dry wood shouldn't be a problem - the kitchen would be a good example, since they are cooking things.
Aktually...

As one can may surmise from the contents of page 2, subsection Upper Works, the heavy rainfall means that the entire area is damp, giving normal fires a 2% chance per round of setting a blaze, this presumably already assumes accelerants are being employed, as there is a caveat even for 'magical fire' which is set at 8%. This would still render your plan of setting fire to the inside feasible, but there is a caveat, as the noise and the smoke of such a construction would surely provoke wandering monster checks, and it is certainly possible these attempts are interrupted by giants before the fire catches on properly (in fact there is a 91,8% chance a non-magical fire will not catch on the first turn), and thus risk having the attempt disrupted.

Or for that matter, building a fire against the exterior wall, since there are no windows and no mention of exterior patrols (the content of the wandering monster table implies there is none), so the party apparently has all the time in the world. It's a great dungeon, but a lousy stronghold.

I don't think I would be alone in attempting this, I am betting the nerfing of fires resulted from either knowledge of his own players, or an on-the-fly nerf when they actually tried it.
Aktually...

Consider that the average party does not carry with it a large supply of firewood. One would have to acquire it from the surrounding area, possibly drying it, or perhaps the party has reasoned that they already carry such a supply at their cavern basecamp. In this case, in the intervening time, the GM is arguably free to invoke p.2 subsection Start where it is stated there will be guards at the door of the Steading if the party leaves the Steading and then returns as the snoring Giants guards will have presumably been caught and placed back on guard. There is another dozing hill giant Guard in tower 1.B., who can oversee the entire area and ring the alert by hammering on an iron hoop. This one would clearly not be dozing if the party is foolish enough not to exploit this clear god-given fluke that has put such a massive hole in their defences and so the kind and merciful GM would presumably have him ring the Alarm as the party moves up with firewood, just in time to have them greeted by all manner of raucous, angry hill giants, possibly still drunk but certainly not as vulnerable as in the opeing conditions.

It is certainly possible the scenario was amended after play-testing it or running it on the fly, but this is irrelevant, the material as stated takes it into account, and takes a semi-reasonable approach in doing so.

Easy come, easy go. I might not try it until the outer areas were looted, since they are pretty soft, and I would likely take one look in to the great hall and realize there were too many enemies to handle in a straight up fight. But I tend to be pretty mission focused.

Also, I'm pretty sure the precious metals will survive, although maybe not as coins.
I would be remiss in not pointing out that a second sally would be considerably harder then the first, but your instincts r.e. the great hall are solid. It seems best to either prepare some sort of ambush and fireball the lot or avoid them. There's a possibility of a pitched battle involving the orc slaves but such a battle should be backed up with heavy magical support, which the 9th level party presumably has access too.

The melting point of those precious metals is between 950-1063 degrees Centigrade, so I think its reasonable to assume a wood-fire in the open, no matter how big, probably wouldn't be able to transfer enough energy into each coin to do anything but blacken it a little. I'd have the magic items make the usual item saving throws. Jewelry is essentially destroyed, and precious stones are definitely destroyed. It is not only a question of surviving the fire, but retrieving the treasure that would be hard work. The coins would be buried under tonnes of ash, half-burned wood etc. I can see some sort of concerted digging operation recovering some small amount but it would be unhealthy, gruelling, dangerous and success would certainly not be guaranteed. I wonder if the frequent rains would not reduce the temperature of the ash-pile to manageable levels far within the stated week duration, but perhaps the outer layers of ash would absorb most of the moisture, allowing the lower layers to smolder on.

Of course the more architecturally minded may inquire how a gigantic steading of perpetually damp untreated wood stays up for longer then a week in any case, but this is best solved by smiling smugly and closing one's eyes as one contentedly states 'Magic.'
 

squeen

8, 8, I forget what is for
Haven't argued with anyone yet this years, so lets pick on Beoric...:)

Yeah, that was never going to fly in my group, too many people who know how to start a fire in the winter - particularly considering that most adventurers carry accelerants. You don't set a match to the wall, you build a large fire against the wall and let it go.
I build a bonfire ever week in our backyard for family cookouts during the fall, gathering fuel from our woods. Even with lighter fluid (which is a last resort), the day after a rain is still a PITA. Even using some wood I've keep dry...nothing seems willing to burn---just smolder. The turning of liquid water into steam sucks energy out of the system. Even if eventual success is achieved, it's a long, drawn-out smokey mess. Winter, in comparison, is very dry. So, this thinking does not really match my experience.

Also...your group feels empowered to veto whatever explict game mechanic doesn't sit well with them?
Just saying...
 

PrinceofNothing

High Executarch
Staff member
Also...your group feels empowered to veto whatever explict game mechanic doesn't sit well with them?
Just saying...
This is a good point. I once argued with my GM over an interaction with a captured bandit chief that I, and the other players felt, was handled entirely unreasonably. We had two prisoners. I told them whichever would speak up first and tell us the location of his camp would get to live. The GM shrugs and rolls reaction. 4 for the first one, shrug and refusal, 12 for the other, "I'll take you to the camp." I nodded and ordered the other executed. The Bandit suddenly became unco-operative. This was absurd. I had clearly stated my intention to kill the one that did not speak up and he had not offered a condition to his co-operation so it could be assumed he had accepted my conditions. Regardless, the GM dug his heels in and we kept the game going afterward. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with that decision, as the Judge is trusted to make those calls. Now if afterward the GM admits the possibility of the error, and takes feedback, then this is to his benefit, not his detriment, but during play he should make the calls as he sees fit, possibly after listening to the players, with retconning kept to a minimum.

Is it possible Beoric games with a band of bikers and football hooligans and he fears they would defenestrate him if he makes the game too hard on them?
 

EOTB

So ... slow work day? Every day?
There's playing smart boy within the game, that furthers the game, and there's playing smart boy at the expense of the activity.

"Haha, the module's contrived reason isn't true and so we win" is at the expense of the activity. I'd be inclined to either let them pick any reason they like that the lodge wouldn't burn, but it doesn't burn, or, say "OK you burn the entire lodge down, all the giants are dead, it wasn't challenging so no XP for you but we can all go home now - session over".

But smart boy behavior at the expense of the activity is never, ever rewarded.
 

The1True

My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
Now we're talking simulationist lawyers vs rules lawyers. I play with rules lawyers, which we're all pretty comfortable with. It keeps our game honest and satisfies everybody's sense of justice. When we encounter a situation where the terms of the scenario or challenge are explicitly spelled out as is the case with attempts to burn the Steading, the DM says "sorry guys; says right here: there's a 2% chance the fire will start under these conditions", we make our roll and move on. No further argument. Those are the terms of the scenario inwhich we are supposed to find a solution. A simulationist like my brother would say he spent an autumn out in the wet Canadian wilderness with the Reserves and he knows six different ways to get a fire going in under half an hour and we'd have a fight to the death instead of a game session...

The DM in our group is definitely the last word, but if the Rules as Written support something the players are attempting to do, they are absolutely welcome to present their case and there's no shame in the DM's initial ruling being overturned (although we try to avoid retcons).

An autocratic DM style makes for a swift and smooth early game, but unless you've got an encyclopaedic memory, you're going to set precedents contrary to RaW which, though initially fine, you later risk forgetting and making contradictory rulings to that will confuse and frustrate your players who are just trying to work within the paradigm you've built around them leaving them feeling helpless and with very little recourse.
 

PrinceofNothing

High Executarch
Staff member
The DM in our group is definitely the last word, but if the Rules as Written support something the players are attempting to do, they are absolutely welcome to present their case and there's no shame in the DM's initial ruling being overturned (although we try to avoid retcons).
Yeah overturning core-rules with house-rulings is another matter altogether, I agree. We had a D20 GM that kept improvising which would fuck everyone up to no end. You should keep to RAW, core-RAW, unless you explicitly state you are using house-rules. Very often its more of a question of adjudication or interpretation rather then outright super-cession of RAW though. If the GM says that combat is suddenly resolved by riddle-solving and platemail only gives you 9 AC then probably ask what the fuck is going on.

Now that I consider the matter further, burning down the Steading at attempt I is very stupid. One of the objectives is to find information about the power that is behind the giant attacks. A failure to do so merits execution. The high humidity is there more to protect the players then the giants. Burning down the Steading doesn't make the scenario unplayable but the players have no way of knowing this if they do not first explore.
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
You guys sure like to stretch out rationalizations and dissect straightforward situations where a simple "no" from a DM suffices. This strikes me as a common-sense thing. Are people incapable of talking to their players like adults?

I have run G1 (the whole G series, actually) - if my players had been annoying enough to just burn the whole adventure down, my answer would have been "you try, but it doesn't work". They'd accept and understand that. Then they'd move on with the game as intended, because we are all adults capable of understanding that burning down the steading wouldn't be a very fun adventure.

Contrived or not, attempt #1 or not, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just say "no, that would basically spoil the whole adventure", and have your sane, rational, mature players understand that point and move on with play. There's no need for "2% chances while wet" or "executed if you don't bring back information"; just a need for sanity and an understanding of how to be a good player.

Are so many groups this adversarial?
 
Last edited:

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
I build a bonfire ever week in our backyard for family cookouts during the fall, gathering fuel from our woods. Even with lighter fluid (which is a last resort), the day after a rain is still a PITA. Even using some wood I've keep dry...nothing seems willing to burn---just smolder. The turning of liquid water into steam sucks energy out of the system. Even if eventual success is achieved, it's a long, drawn-out smokey mess. Winter, in comparison, is very dry. So, this thinking does not really match my experience.

Also...your group feels empowered to veto whatever explict game mechanic doesn't sit well with them?
Just saying...
What I meant was that they would not accept that wet wood can't be made to burn, and would step up their efforts to change the default assumptions of the module, eventually ending up with something that would work.

Also, the DM absolutely has the right to veto mechanics that don't make sense in the circumstances.

Green wood harvested from the outdoors in winter is not only wet, because it has not been cured, but is frozen, so you have to melt it before you can dry it. The key is to light a small fire with thin kindling first; the wood is thin enough that it dries quickly as you light it and goes right away. (The kindling can be made by splitting slivers off of larger pieces of wood.) You add thicker kindling to that fire, and the small fire dries the kindling to that it can light. Once the heavier kindling is lit, it burns hot enough and long enough to light even green wood, as long as it is split. A fire of split wood could easily dry out and light a wet wooden wall that it was stacked against.

I'm a bit lazy, so I usually build it all in one stack, larger pieces on top of small pieces, with a couple of larger bits of wood on the bottom which I build the pile on so you get air circulation underneath. Using no accelerant, but a bunch of balled up newspaper, I can usually get a stable fire lit indoors (that is, the split logs are burning reliably) in about ten minutes. Outdoors can take a bit longer, with wind blowing out small fires, etc., but I would say 20 minutes, max, as long as it is not actively raining. I would guess that sacrificing a torch, which has a wick and (in D&D, not RL) burns for an hour would easily replace the paper even in less ideal conditions.

If you are using supersaturated, rotting deadfall that was half buried in the ground you might have a problem. But you have to assume the place was built with green logs, not rotting logs, or it would collapse.

@EOTB, doing all of that in hostile conditions isn't not work, and if the PCs take the time to assemble the materials, make the kindling, and get the fire going then I'm going to let it play out however it wants without punishing the players for it. The PCs probably don't know about the secret door in the great hall at this point, so it is possible that a bunch of drunk giants in a burning hall where the main doors are barred could find their way to the dungeon just like the module says. Or the fire could be discovered early, and the giants could form a bucket brigade trying to deal with it, which could also help the PCs. Whatever, it's my job to adjudicate whatever mess the players decide to make, not nerf their attempts to draw outside the lines.

I view the rules as an aid to adjudication, to be used as long as the assumptions for which they were designed exist, and to be ignored when said assumptions are no longer valid. I'm not running this as a tournament module so colouring outside the lines is allowed and bizarre contrivances are not necessary. I assume Gygax' admonition regarding the lighting of a fire applied to the assumption that players were not taking significant efforts to start one - in other words, that they were just holding a torch to the logs on the assumption that it would go up in flames (like anyone whose experiences with lighting fires come from watching TV and movies). If the players decide to kick it up a notch, and accept the consequences, then I'm going to let them.

Keep in mind, there are still interesting things coming out of this. If the players light the fire outside of the building, it may well be discovered before it gets too far in, is probably easier to put out (the exterior wood is setter), and they have given themselves away. If they light it inside the building, they either have to stay inside a burning building to make sure it keeps burning, killing anyone who finds them to make sure it is not discovered; or abandon the fire and hope for the best. Then, once it is well underway, they have to find their way out amidst chaos, with giants very active and running everywhere. Every different location where they might build the fire carries potentially different consequences. Not being able to light the fire is the least interesting of them.

@PrinceofNothing, G1 does not contain an admonition to gather information, that comes in the later modules. The players are to "punish
the miscreant giants ... deliver a sharp check, deal a lesson to the clan of hill giants nearby." They are only to follow clues if they find them, they have not been charged to actively seek them out. This is an assault mission, not a recon mission.

Also, I assume Gygax included the mechanic because either someone attempted it at the table, or he expected that someone would. Players do dumb things all the time.
 

EOTB

So ... slow work day? Every day?
@EOTB, doing all of that in hostile conditions isn't not work, and if the PCs take the time to assemble the materials, make the kindling, and get the fire going then I'm going to let it play out however it wants without punishing the players for it. The PCs probably don't know about the secret door in the great hall at this point, so it is possible that a bunch of drunk giants in a burning hall where the main doors are barred could find their way to the dungeon just like the module says. Or the fire could be discovered early, and the giants could form a bucket brigade trying to deal with it, which could also help the PCs. Whatever, it's my job to adjudicate whatever mess the players decide to make, not nerf their attempts to draw outside the lines.

I view the rules as an aid to adjudication, to be used as long as the assumptions for which they were designed exist, and to be ignored when said assumptions are no longer valid. I'm not running this as a tournament module so colouring outside the lines is allowed and bizarre contrivances are not necessary. I assume Gygax' admonition regarding the lighting of a fire applied to the assumption that players were not taking significant efforts to start one - in other words, that they were just holding a torch to the logs on the assumption that it would go up in flames (like anyone whose experiences with lighting fires come from watching TV and movies). If the players decide to kick it up a notch, and accept the consequences, then I'm going to let them.

Keep in mind, there are still interesting things coming out of this. If the players light the fire outside of the building, it may well be discovered before it gets too far in, is probably easier to put out (the exterior wood is setter), and they have given themselves away. If they light it inside the building, they either have to stay inside a burning building to make sure it keeps burning, killing anyone who finds them to make sure it is not discovered; or abandon the fire and hope for the best. Then, once it is well underway, they have to find their way out amidst chaos, with giants very active and running everywhere. Every different location where they might build the fire carries potentially different consequences. Not being able to light the fire is the least interesting of them.
It has nothing to do with rules, adjudication, or coloring outside the lines.

It has everything to do with this:

Yeah, that was never going to fly in my group, too many people who know how to start a fire in the winter
As soon as this attitude comes out, it is not encouraged by treating it neutrally or considering it on some merit; it is discouraged in whatever way is necessary so that it does not surface again - even if I would have entertained the merits if voiced differently. This attitude is the difference between smart within the activity vs smart at the expense of the activity. It is not a difference of opinion, it is a disparagement of the scenario with side dishes of superiority and contempt.

We all have people we just don't mix with. I don't mix with this. It's the same sort of asshole that would critique the food prepared by the host in the guise of offering ways to improve it, when nobody asked.
 

Beoric

8, 8, I forget what is for
It has nothing to do with rules, adjudication, or coloring outside the lines.

It has everything to do with this:



As soon as this attitude comes out, it is not encouraged by treating it neutrally or considering it on some merit; it is discouraged in whatever way is necessary so that it does not surface again - even if I would have entertained the merits if voiced differently. This attitude is the difference between smart within the activity vs smart at the expense of the activity. It is not a difference of opinion, it is a disparagement of the scenario with side dishes of superiority and contempt.

We all have people we just don't mix with. I don't mix with this. It's the same sort of asshole that would critique the food prepared by the host in the guise of offering ways to improve it, when nobody asked.
You're inferring a lot about my group from a single line, bub. Erroneously. I wasn't planning on writing an essay about my group's backgrounds and experience (I'm pretty sure I've already spoken about it at length), or how they interact. I know if they wanted to burn something, they would take "it's too wet" as in indication that the approach wasn't going to work, not that no amount of effort would improve their chances.

I would have to flat out tell them that they couldn't improve their chances no matter what they did - which probably would spark some grumbling, because they have the reasonable expectation that the world will work the way the world works, and my job is to facilitate verisimilitude, not blow it up because it's inconvenient. I want them to try crazy plans, why would I want to arbitrarily discourage that?
 

EOTB

So ... slow work day? Every day?
I think we're talking past each other. I'm talking about a personality type that's over-weighted in gamerdom, instead of a group of 8 specific individuals, so there's not much reason to keep at it.
 

Malrex

So ... slow work day? Every day?


Sorry..couldn't help it.
The 2% chance to light a fire (8% chance with magical fire...really? Wall of Fire?..Log of Everburning...magic sucks?) though does give me a bad taste in my mouth...like the adventures that 'punish' the characters, making certain spells not work or whatever. I hate that. I think a fire could and SHOULD light (ya, I'm a nature/bushmaster enthusiast)....

I also can easily side with EOTB though with the 'smart boy--at the expense of an activity.' I've seen that a few rare times, and it's not pretty. Don't take away the spirit of the game..

Sure...the PCs could start a fire...why not? But they may regret it with the shitshow the giants could bring and it may not go as planned, but could add to a chaotic battle with potentially ALL the giants and residents of the fort coming out at once. I think barring the doors would be more difficult...they are giants with great strength--they could chop through the wall if the doors don't work. Or do the walls have a 2% chance that axes don't work too? See? it's stupid.
 

The1True

My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
I guess it all comes down to clearly broadcasting the rules of the scenario and each encounter ahead of time so your rulings don't seem arbitrary. Clearly state the environment is saturated and the simulationists in the crowd will quit trying to do things the hard way. There are players who think inside and outside the box. One way or another, it's up to the DM to clearly define that box.
 

PrinceofNothing

High Executarch
Staff member
I guess it all comes down to clearly broadcasting the rules of the scenario and each encounter ahead of time so your rulings don't seem arbitrary. Clearly state the environment is saturated and the simulationists in the crowd will quit trying to do things the hard way. There are players who think inside and outside the box. One way or another, it's up to the DM to clearly define that box.
This. Saying 'Because its the rules' when reason would state otherwise is a last resort. Necessary at times to check certain ruinous impulses but inelegant.

G1 does not contain an admonition to gather information, that comes in the later modules. The players are to "punish
the miscreant giants ... deliver a sharp check, deal a lesson to the clan of hill giants nearby." They are only to follow clues if they find them, they have not been charged to actively seek them out. This is an assault mission, not a recon mission.

Also, I assume Gygax included the mechanic because either someone attempted it at the table, or he expected that someone would. Players do dumb things all the time.
P.2

1609784918727.png
Now technically you could probably mount some sort of defence that since it doesn't explicitly tell them to look for clues, only to follow up on any that exist and to return immediately once they have the exact reason, or that the beheading only explicitly covers the punishing the giants bit, not the figuring out what is going on bit, it is in fact not stupid to attempt to burn it down, merely unwise, but why bother with such a position?

Clearly some people attempted burning down regardless, or would employ fireball within the hall, which makes perfect sense, after you first do a sort of Where Eagles Dare/The Kitchen/The Orgy infiltration and you knife the sleeping bastards where they lie. There's opportunities for disguise, different ways down, interrogation, it's a damn good module.
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
Now technically you could probably mount some sort of defence that since it doesn't explicitly tell them to look for clues, only to follow up on any that exist and to return immediately once they have the exact reason, or that the beheading only explicitly covers the punishing the giants bit, not the figuring out what is going on bit, it is in fact not stupid to attempt to burn it down, merely unwise, but why bother with such a position?
He's just replying to the fact that you had originally said:
Now that I consider the matter further, burning down the Steading at attempt I is very stupid. One of the objectives is to find information about the power that is behind the giant attacks. A failure to do so merits execution. The high humidity is there more to protect the players then the giants. Burning down the Steading doesn't make the scenario unplayable but the players have no way of knowing this if they do not first explore.
The purpose of Beoric bothering with such a position is that your original point was wrong, and therefore doesn't constitute a proper argument that burning the stead is outlined in the adventure as inherently being a "really stupid" option. Ergo, it falls upon the DM to impress upon the players that this is a bad/not-fun idea, since the adventure doesn't do it. I agree with you that it should have something baked into it to the same effect, but alas it doesn't.
 

PrinceofNothing

High Executarch
Staff member
DP, I have no desire to walk you through the exact formulation in a vain attempt to illustrate my point. Communication with you has shown to yield nothing worthwhile. If you wish to discuss a matter, I suggest you do so in response to others.
 

DangerousPuhson

So ... slow work day? Every day?
Jeeze, so touchy. I was just clearing up your confusion.

Why ask questions if you're going to ignore the answers?
 
Top