Friday 7 July 2023

Dragons of Despair, pt 3. In which I'm nitpicking

No game this Sunday. So let's get back to talking about how Tracy Hickman started the whole story about dragons, and lances, and three moons. 

Much as I like it, there are some issues that make me wonder. 

Like this one. 

I'm pretty sure that being a cleric is more than just being able to cast spells (if you want to point and make something explode in flames, play a magic-user). You've been a chosen of your deity, and now all of a sudden your link to the deity is severed. Um, forever. You can become a chosen of some other god if you'd like? That's not a big deal, right? 

Well, maybe for people who just want to be able to wear heavy armour while pointing and making things explode, and to cast healing spells. And those who enjoy a chance to roleplay some drama, losing your faith, finding your faith anew. 

It's not a terrible problem, it just seems bigger to me than Hickman makes it sound. 

It's suggested that the players take on the characters specifically written for the adventure, who are big superstars by now, Tasslehoff and the twins and... uh, the rest of them, anyways, those guys, the future Heroes of the Lance. Which, I suppose, is more fun to do now, when we have dozens of books and videogames and an animated film about them. The film could've been better, I admit. 

But if the players are stubborn beasts and don't want to play the characters so generously suggested to them, fine! 

The differences are: clerics are powerless, gold is worthless, and dragons haven't been seen for over a 1000 years so no one believes in them. 

Kind of like our world, in some ways. 

So, basically, "you're poor, you have no divine spells, and no, you absolutely cannot play a dragon!" 

Fair enough.What else do we need to know before we play? 

Uh, okay. What's special about being a Qualinesti elf? There's not a single word about it in the module. Just write down that you're a Qualinesti. Maybe it'll be important later. 

One thing I do love about Dragons of Despair is the mental image of Fewmaster Toede, a fat and cowardly hobgoblin commander, jumping 30 feet up and down in frustration over not getting the crystal staff. 

Also, when you're on your way to the sunken city of Xak Tsaroth, you have to cross the swamps.


I will let you know that Appendix 4 covers the random encounters, and it's more or less usable. If you look at this table, you can figure out which monsters can appear at which part of your characters' travel. 

I just wonder why are giant spiders, ogres, wraiths, trolls, and the ancient black dragon Khisanth herself diving in the swamp. Snakes and will-o-wisps make sense. I'm not a swamp monster ecology purist, but come on. 

Also, there are black dragon hatchlings in the list. Apparently their dragon parents just left them in the swamp to fend off for themselves. I'm getting a feeling that black dragons are not very good at parenting. 

There are other fun things, like the giant eagles who always show the players the wrongest possible direction. 

I have no idea if I'll have a chance to finish playing it with our group. It's kind of sad.

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