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Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






Hi all!

I've just finished my first bit of dnd 5e homebrew and I'm chucking it out there now to see how people receive it!

The Celestial Mare - a Ghost Ship in the Mountains

This is a module for an adventure at lower levels, found in the mountains and whisking them off to a demiplane where they will have to return a stolen gem to a lost temple before they can return to the world they came from. It can fit into any d&d setting where there are mountains!

If you have a look, and especially if you use this, please let me know what you think so I can refine it!

Thanks!

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/04/14 10:00:34


12,300 points of Orks
9th W/D/L with Orks, 4/0/2
I am Thoruk, the Barbarian, Slayer of Ducks, and This is my blog!

I'm Selling Infinity, 40k, dystopian wars, UK based!

I also make designs for t-shirts and mugs and such on Redbubble! 
   
Made in us
Dominating Dominatrix






Okay.

So for starters, I have not finished reading through it yet. That being said, my biggest issue with the adventure is that you followed DnDs terrible format for presenting adventures. Don't take any of this as being harsh criticisms of you. This is you doing what you have seen from the information wizards has given you. If I have harsh criticisms it's for wizards. That being said I am going to be blunt about why this format is bad and what you can do to improve it.

This is written in a way like you are selling me, the GM, a novel. Your opening Blurb above the credits which is also the first paragraph is like the back of a book to get me to bring the book to the counter and purchase it. As a DM running an adventure I don't need that in the adventure. At no point should any of the information be presented to me, the DM, the only one using this document, like I am uncovering a mystery as I read on. This isn't a story for me to enjoy this is a guide for me to build a story with my players. I need information I can use.

Before you get to ANY of the sections of the adventure I need an overview.
Overview
Spoiler:

1) What is this adventure about. Or here is a Legend that encapsulates the whole of the adventure.

"There exists a ghost ship that... "

2) What is actually going on.

Get rid of any of the legend in this part and tell me plainly what exactly is happening. I need to know. And I shouldn't need to flip back and forth through paragraph after paragraph of information in specific sections to get confirmation of this information from text written in story telling format.

3) Who are the named NPCs, their motivations, and their relations to other named NPCs.

This should be some kind of major players list with all the needed information about the NPCs right there. Preferably in either alphabetical order or the other in which you will run into them. By order in which you will run into them I mean it's actually impossible to encounter them out of order. If say... the adventure is a town... then alphabetical because who knows where the PCs are going to go and who they will talk to. In fact, do both. Sub section the NPCs into batches based on mandatory encounter order and alphabetical within the subsections. The point is to make it a page I can tab and move to quickly for all NPC related information without having to dig through text to get the information I need.

4) How the players can get there...

Now give me some adventure hooks. Don't just tell me the story of how the adventurers stumbled onto an anchor in the mountains. Give me 3 options of things the players COULD find out. Maybe they meet someone who encountered the anchor and heard noises and now he's telling the story in town prompting the PCs to explore the mountain. Maybe they hear a bard play a song about the ship that drops anchor all over the kingdom occasionally. Maybe the adventurers are in a mountain and they hear a crash while making camp.

You never tell the players what they are doing. You give them, and thus me the DM, hooks to present the players with and send them in a direction. Keep the in game flavor text italicized and brief. Opening little blurbs to each section. Keep them purely descriptive of the environment. Never explain actions by any of the PCs. For example: you describe what they find when they explore the rope and anchor. Don't. They might not investigate it in that way. But you DO need to tell me that the anchor and rope for all intents and purposes are real. These are physical objects and the anchor is implacable. Now IF my players decide to try and move the anchor I have the knowledge to respond to their actions. Not a few sentences I have to take out of a paragraph of a story that need to be re-contextualized to fit the moment when my players act.


Next: The adventure itself.

So we should now dig into this as acts in a play or chapters in a book.

Act 1: The Ghost Ship.
Begin with one of those italicized blurbs that are purely descriptive and set the scene.

Now list each component of the ship. Within each component of the ship list the events that can transpire there.

So you present this information like this.
Spoiler:

This apparition is encountered when adventuring in the mountains. After a cold wind blows up, and the fog sets in, the players will start to notice the creaking of the hull, the flap of sails and thrum of the rigging. Shortly thereafter, they encounter a great outcrop of rock, thrusting up into the clouds where it disappears from sight. Beside it, they find a rope strung taught toward the sky, with an anchor embedded in the snow and ice. When investigated, the rope feels real enough, and the anchor heavy enough to defy being moved. This is no apparition - it's real!

Boarding
When the players climb the rope, they find a great ship speared on the rocky outcrop - its timbers long since fallen to decay, the last vestiges of paint still clinging to the warped and split timber implying that this ship was once extravagant in the extreme. Icicles hang dripping from the keel (underside) of the ship. Players climbing the rope will arrive on the fore deck, at the front of the ship. The whole ship lists down to the port (left) side, the ribs of the ship jarred against the stone upon which it hangs on its starboard (right) side. The figurehead is a rearing horse, the deep grooves of its carved mane showing traces of pale green paint, its heavy wooden features softened by rot and crumbled by time. The name plaques on either side of the ship read "The Celestial Mare", and a History check DC (20), with advantage for adventurers over 300 years old, reveals that this ship was a notorious pirate ship, which vanished without a trace some 300 years ago. The decks are strewn with detritus and debris; long empty oil lamps, scattered ropes, fallen rigging. The foremast lies at an angle over the cargo hatch, and the central & mizzen masts point accusingly up at the skies from which it seems to have been dropped. One side of the rigging has fallen to the deck and can easily be lowered over the side to allow any less able climbers to board. But this is no skyship - how did a seafaring ship come to rest in such a place?

I would present this same information like this... (I give you blanket permission to use and or change any of this for your own use in any way that you see fit from now until the end of time and forfit any claim to ownership of the following text)
Spoiler:

ACT 1: THE GHOST SHIP


1] The Ship - The Celestial Mare


The creaking of a ship at sea can be heard on the chill winds high in the mountain. A fog settles over the area as the sound of sails flapping and rigging thrums in the air. A rocky outcrop juts from the mountainside and disappears into the fog and clouds above. Beside it, a massive anchor embedded in the ice and snow with a rope pulled tight following the outcrop into the sky.

Here the players first encounter the ship "The Celestial Mare" It has been speared onto the rocky outcrop - it's timbers long since fallen to decay, the last vestiges of paint still clinging to the warped and split timber. It's anchor, embedded in the rock and ice bellow and covered in a dusting of snow is still attached to the deck by a thick strong rope. The anchor is implacable. The ship was clearly extravagant in it's day. Icicles hang dripping from the keel (underside) of the ship. This ship is tilted toward it's left (port) side. On it's right (starboard) the ship is penetrated by the outcrop and the splintered wood creaks and cracks as it grates against the stone. The figurehead is a rearing horse, the deep grooves of its carved mane showing traces of pale green paint, its heavy wooden features softened by rot and crumbled by time. The name plaques on either side of the ship bare it's name "The Celestial Mare". The decks are strewn with detritus and debris; long empty oil lamps, scattered ropes, fallen rigging. The foremast lies at an angle over the cargo hatch, and the central & mizzen masts point accusingly up at the skies from which it seems to have been dropped.

Events

-=The Anchor=-

The Anchor is the first visible sign of the ship, it's rope disappears into the fog and sky with the rocky outcropping. If the players investigate it they will find it very real. This is a massive anchor at least the size of a man and embedded as it is is impossible to move. The rope attached to it is old but in good condition. It is strong and thick, made of rough cord and would be easy to climb if not for the ice and snow.

-=Boarding the Ship=-

Players can enter the ship in a few ways.

-The Rocky Outcrop-
Some players may choose to use the rocky outcrop to work their way into it's hull (Section 3] The Cargo Hold). Those who choose to take the outcrop will need to clear away some of the timbers to make a space big enough for them to fit. Describe the looming ship as it takes shape out of the fog. Describe the outcrops frozen condition. No roll should be needed to approach the ship but that doesn't mean you shouldn't set the stage as cold and dangerous with low visibility. A Strength test (DC 15) can pull away some of the timber to clear the way. Give advantage if they use an axe or other good tool to help.

-Scaling the Rope-
Others may attempt to climb the rope to reach the Deck (Section 2] The Deck). Doing so requires a Climb Check (DC 15). If they fail make a show of the ice that has accumulated on the rope and tell them how close they were to falling off the cliff into the fog, but do not actually drop them. Let them try again at "risk" or retreat down the rope to take the easier rock outcropping. If a player successfully makes it to the Deck there is loose rigging near the side where they appear that can be lowered down for others to climb. Anyone scaling the rigging does not need to make a check.

-=The Ships Identity=-

Any player who either scales the rope/rigging or approaches the hull and say they look around the outside of the ship will see the name plate on the side of the ship (No roll needed). Prompt if they wish to make a History Check (DC (20)). Give advantage for adventurers over 300 years old. Success reveals that this ship was a notorious pirate ship, which vanished without a trace some 300 years ago.


So on and so forth.

See the difference? What wizards does is write you a novela that you read. What they (and thus you) SHOULD be doing is giving a DM the tools they need to run the adventure.

A note on formatting. By keeping the ____Check (DC__) format for all skill checks in text and by bolding them you can make the information very easily readable for the DM. You might even want to color it differently. That way at a glance I can look at my page/notes when a player wants to climb and see a bold/blue Climb Check (DC15) stand out amongst the text and know exactly what to ask for. This could even go a step further and format it as History Check (DC20) Adv: 300+ years old.

This message was edited 8 times. Last update was at 2021/01/21 14:54:05



These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.
 
   
Made in us
Insect-Infested Nurgle Chaos Lord





In My Lab

I’m a creator of 5E brew myself, though I focus more on classes and such, rather than adventures. About to start work, but I’ll check this out later.

Looking forward to that!

Clocks for the clockmaker! Cogs for the cog throne! 
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






 Lance845 wrote:
Okay.

So for starters, I have not finished reading through it yet. That being said, my biggest issue with the adventure is that you followed DnDs terrible format for presenting adventures. Don't take any of this as being harsh criticisms of you. This is you doing what you have seen from the information wizards has given you. If I have harsh criticisms it's for wizards. That being said I am going to be blunt about why this format is bad and what you can do to improve it.

This is written in a way like you are selling me, the GM, a novel. Your opening Blurb above the credits which is also the first paragraph is like the back of a book to get me to bring the book to the counter and purchase it. As a DM running an adventure I don't need that in the adventure. At no point should any of the information be presented to me, the DM, the only one using this document, like I am uncovering a mystery as I read on. This isn't a story for me to enjoy this is a guide for me to build a story with my players. I need information I can use.

Before you get to ANY of the sections of the adventure I need an overview.
Overview
Spoiler:

1) What is this adventure about. Or here is a Legend that encapsulates the whole of the adventure.

"There exists a ghost ship that... "

2) What is actually going on.

Get rid of any of the legend in this part and tell me plainly what exactly is happening. I need to know. And I shouldn't need to flip back and forth through paragraph after paragraph of information in specific sections to get confirmation of this information from text written in story telling format.

3) Who are the named NPCs, their motivations, and their relations to other named NPCs.

This should be some kind of major players list with all the needed information about the NPCs right there. Preferably in either alphabetical order or the other in which you will run into them. By order in which you will run into them I mean it's actually impossible to encounter them out of order. If say... the adventure is a town... then alphabetical because who knows where the PCs are going to go and who they will talk to. In fact, do both. Sub section the NPCs into batches based on mandatory encounter order and alphabetical within the subsections. The point is to make it a page I can tab and move to quickly for all NPC related information without having to dig through text to get the information I need.

4) How the players can get there...

Now give me some adventure hooks. Don't just tell me the story of how the adventurers stumbled onto an anchor in the mountains. Give me 3 options of things the players COULD find out. Maybe they meet someone who encountered the anchor and heard noises and now he's telling the story in town prompting the PCs to explore the mountain. Maybe they hear a bard play a song about the ship that drops anchor all over the kingdom occasionally. Maybe the adventurers are in a mountain and they hear a crash while making camp.

You never tell the players what they are doing. You give them, and thus me the DM, hooks to present the players with and send them in a direction. Keep the in game flavor text italicized and brief. Opening little blurbs to each section. Keep them purely descriptive of the environment. Never explain actions by any of the PCs. For example: you describe what they find when they explore the rope and anchor. Don't. They might not investigate it in that way. But you DO need to tell me that the anchor and rope for all intents and purposes are real. These are physical objects and the anchor is implacable. Now IF my players decide to try and move the anchor I have the knowledge to respond to their actions. Not a few sentences I have to take out of a paragraph of a story that need to be re-contextualized to fit the moment when my players act.


Next: The adventure itself.

So we should now dig into this as acts in a play or chapters in a book.

Act 1: The Ghost Ship.
Begin with one of those italicized blurbs that are purely descriptive and set the scene.

Now list each component of the ship. Within each component of the ship list the events that can transpire there.

So you present this information like this.
Spoiler:

This apparition is encountered when adventuring in the mountains. After a cold wind blows up, and the fog sets in, the players will start to notice the creaking of the hull, the flap of sails and thrum of the rigging. Shortly thereafter, they encounter a great outcrop of rock, thrusting up into the clouds where it disappears from sight. Beside it, they find a rope strung taught toward the sky, with an anchor embedded in the snow and ice. When investigated, the rope feels real enough, and the anchor heavy enough to defy being moved. This is no apparition - it's real!

Boarding
When the players climb the rope, they find a great ship speared on the rocky outcrop - its timbers long since fallen to decay, the last vestiges of paint still clinging to the warped and split timber implying that this ship was once extravagant in the extreme. Icicles hang dripping from the keel (underside) of the ship. Players climbing the rope will arrive on the fore deck, at the front of the ship. The whole ship lists down to the port (left) side, the ribs of the ship jarred against the stone upon which it hangs on its starboard (right) side. The figurehead is a rearing horse, the deep grooves of its carved mane showing traces of pale green paint, its heavy wooden features softened by rot and crumbled by time. The name plaques on either side of the ship read "The Celestial Mare", and a History check DC (20), with advantage for adventurers over 300 years old, reveals that this ship was a notorious pirate ship, which vanished without a trace some 300 years ago. The decks are strewn with detritus and debris; long empty oil lamps, scattered ropes, fallen rigging. The foremast lies at an angle over the cargo hatch, and the central & mizzen masts point accusingly up at the skies from which it seems to have been dropped. One side of the rigging has fallen to the deck and can easily be lowered over the side to allow any less able climbers to board. But this is no skyship - how did a seafaring ship come to rest in such a place?

I would present this same information like this... (I give you blanket permission to use and or change any of this for your own use in any way that you see fit from now until the end of time and forfit any claim to ownership of the following text)
Spoiler:

ACT 1: THE GHOST SHIP


1] The Ship - The Celestial Mare


The creaking of a ship at sea can be heard on the chill winds high in the mountain. A fog settles over the area as the sound of sails flapping and rigging thrums in the air. A rocky outcrop juts from the mountainside and disappears into the fog and clouds above. Beside it, a massive anchor embedded in the ice and snow with a rope pulled tight following the outcrop into the sky.

Here the players first encounter the ship "The Celestial Mare" It has been speared onto the rocky outcrop - it's timbers long since fallen to decay, the last vestiges of paint still clinging to the warped and split timber. It's anchor, embedded in the rock and ice bellow and covered in a dusting of snow is still attached to the deck by a thick strong rope. The anchor is implacable. The ship was clearly extravagant in it's day. Icicles hang dripping from the keel (underside) of the ship. This ship is tilted toward it's left (port) side. On it's right (starboard) the ship is penetrated by the outcrop and the splintered wood creaks and cracks as it grates against the stone. The figurehead is a rearing horse, the deep grooves of its carved mane showing traces of pale green paint, its heavy wooden features softened by rot and crumbled by time. The name plaques on either side of the ship bare it's name "The Celestial Mare". The decks are strewn with detritus and debris; long empty oil lamps, scattered ropes, fallen rigging. The foremast lies at an angle over the cargo hatch, and the central & mizzen masts point accusingly up at the skies from which it seems to have been dropped.

Events

-=The Anchor=-

The Anchor is the first visible sign of the ship, it's rope disappears into the fog and sky with the rocky outcropping. If the players investigate it they will find it very real. This is a massive anchor at least the size of a man and embedded as it is is impossible to move. The rope attached to it is old but in good condition. It is strong and thick, made of rough cord and would be easy to climb if not for the ice and snow.

-=Boarding the Ship=-

Players can enter the ship in a few ways.

-The Rocky Outcrop-
Some players may choose to use the rocky outcrop to work their way into it's hull (Section 3] The Cargo Hold). Those who choose to take the outcrop will need to clear away some of the timbers to make a space big enough for them to fit. Describe the looming ship as it takes shape out of the fog. Describe the outcrops frozen condition. No roll should be needed to approach the ship but that doesn't mean you shouldn't set the stage as cold and dangerous with low visibility. A Strength test (DC 15) can pull away some of the timber to clear the way. Give advantage if they use an axe or other good tool to help.

-Scaling the Rope-
Others may attempt to climb the rope to reach the Deck (Section 2] The Deck). Doing so requires a Climb Check (DC 15). If they fail make a show of the ice that has accumulated on the rope and tell them how close they were to falling off the cliff into the fog, but do not actually drop them. Let them try again at "risk" or retreat down the rope to take the easier rock outcropping. If a player successfully makes it to the Deck there is loose rigging near the side where they appear that can be lowered down for others to climb. Anyone scaling the rigging does not need to make a check.

-=The Ships Identity=-

Any player who either scales the rope/rigging or approaches the hull and say they look around the outside of the ship will see the name plate on the side of the ship (No roll needed). Prompt if they wish to make a History Check (DC (20)). Give advantage for adventurers over 300 years old. Success reveals that this ship was a notorious pirate ship, which vanished without a trace some 300 years ago.


So on and so forth.

See the difference? What wizards does is write you a novela that you read. What they (and thus you) SHOULD be doing is giving a DM the tools they need to run the adventure.

A note on formatting. By keeping the ____Check (DC__) format for all skill checks in text and by bolding them you can make the information very easily readable for the DM. You might even want to color it differently. That way at a glance I can look at my page/notes when a player wants to climb and see a bold/blue Climb Check (DC15) stand out amongst the text and know exactly what to ask for. This could even go a step further and format it as History Check (DC20) Adv: 300+ years old.


Thankyou very much for the feedback! I will certainly take it on board and give the document an overhaul to make it read more like a set of instructions and information than as a novel which needs filling in as you go. As you said, Wizards present it in this way so I leant towards emulating their style, but I can 100% see what you're saying and agree with it. I'll also highlight all the skill checks and make sure they are all formatted in the same way!

@JNAProductions, I look forward to reading what you think!

12,300 points of Orks
9th W/D/L with Orks, 4/0/2
I am Thoruk, the Barbarian, Slayer of Ducks, and This is my blog!

I'm Selling Infinity, 40k, dystopian wars, UK based!

I also make designs for t-shirts and mugs and such on Redbubble! 
   
Made in us
Dominating Dominatrix






Cool. I look forward to seeing the next version. I think you have an interesting story in there that can make for a fun adventure.

Wizards really is the worst. I have been pretty critical of WotC and DnD in general on here and this pretty much encapsulates why. They are the biggest most popular rpg on the market and they do the absolute worst job of it haha.


These are my opinions. This is how I feel. Others may feel differently. This needs to be stated for some reason.
 
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






I am still putting the Celestial Mare together in a more regimented and easy to run format, so for now I will offer only the following magical item and monster profile which I decided to make. Ignore the misspelling of "Fowl" and Enjoy!

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/03/04 14:16:18


12,300 points of Orks
9th W/D/L with Orks, 4/0/2
I am Thoruk, the Barbarian, Slayer of Ducks, and This is my blog!

I'm Selling Infinity, 40k, dystopian wars, UK based!

I also make designs for t-shirts and mugs and such on Redbubble! 
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






Celestial Mare is on the back-burner, I've decided to try my hand at writing up a more in-depth guide to poisons. The goal is to create a list of ingredients for making poisons, and a list of poisons that can be made, all with much more detail than "a bit more damage from poison".

My first entry is based on the real-world Death Cap mushroom, which is the deadliest mushroom in the world. I decided that, it being a magical world, then healing would fix it so it's only really deadly if you ignore it or if you don't have any magical healing.

Please let me know what you think!


12,300 points of Orks
9th W/D/L with Orks, 4/0/2
I am Thoruk, the Barbarian, Slayer of Ducks, and This is my blog!

I'm Selling Infinity, 40k, dystopian wars, UK based!

I also make designs for t-shirts and mugs and such on Redbubble! 
   
Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut






Here's another one I'm hoping for some feedback on - this time it's an entire room encounter which, with the right party with dark backstories, can be a very psychological one to throw at them.



Please let me know what you think, and if you should use this, please tell me how it went!

Cheers!

12,300 points of Orks
9th W/D/L with Orks, 4/0/2
I am Thoruk, the Barbarian, Slayer of Ducks, and This is my blog!

I'm Selling Infinity, 40k, dystopian wars, UK based!

I also make designs for t-shirts and mugs and such on Redbubble! 
   
 
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