By the Book: Campaign Considerations


I've been thinking about how to deal with the Sommerswerd in my LW campaign, all the more so since discovering just how potent Mongoose has made it.

Initially, I was thinking about toning its bonus down somewhat, but ultimately I think that the roll-on effect, as other items would also need to be scaled back, might make that solution more problematic than helpful.

Anyway, here are a few issues that I've considered, relating to the Sommerswerd and other things, and some potential solutions (as per the norm -- comments, questions, criticisms welcomed):

General Power Levels
I started the group at 4th level - near enough to Lone Wolf's starting point, but with a little more leeway for the players to get to know the system before their design decisions start to have serious long-term ramifications.

My original plan was to advance a level per book, with a two-level increase between Kai-Magnakai, and again between Magnakai-Grandmaster.

Looking ahead, I don't this advancement is sufficient. Darklord Haakon appears in book 5, and even if I make him a lot weaker than the CR25 Mongoose are proposing for the weakest Darklords, anything that can be defeated by a Level 8 group isn't really going to work as a Darklord for the purposes of versimilitude.

So, I'm thinking that instead, the group will gain two levels per book throughout the Kai series. This will put them at twelfth level when they face Haakon. With the Sommerswerd, the Dagger of Vashna, and whatever else they've picked up along the way, this would make a Haakon of around CR 16 a terrible, but defeatable opponent, and one less likely to rouse disbelief that a Darklord could be so feeble. (I may need some additional in-game explanation for why he isnt' at full power ... I can't recall off-hand if the book itself has some such explanation.)

Thereafter, the group will gain one level per book -- meaning that they stay exactly on-par with Lone Wolf's progression throughout the Magnakai series. Chances are, at later epic levels, they won't need a further level boost to remain potent enough to deal with the Grand Master books.

The Sommerswerd
As stated, I was thinking of toning it back. I also planned to keep it out of the PCs' hands until at least level ten (and this was before I saw thte +10 bonus). With my revised level progression, I will be able to hand it over for book 5, with the group at level 12. (The sword will remain in Holmgard for safekeeping until then.) It's still going to be a little unbalanced, but if I can play up the "acts as a beacon" side of things, the group will hopefully decide to keep it sheathed most of the time anyway.

The Dagger of Vashna
Instant kill with no save. Against really nasty things, "Save or Die". Ugh. Appropriate, but ... ugh. I will almost certainly apply the corruption rules from the Darklands with respect to use of this weapon. That should keep it out of harms way (heh ... a subtle but unintentional pun there) except in exceptional circumstances. Further suggestions with regard to the Dagger would be most appreciated. As things stand, it is far more potent than the Sommerswerd, IMO.

As mentioned, he is faced early. I have no solid ideas yet as to how to make him formidable yet defeatable, without showing him too much disrespect in the process. One option is to allow the PCs to devise or come across a method of defeating him outside of a direct confrontation ... a digression from the books that I would in some ways prefer not to make (I want to stay as true to the gamebooks as possible), but which could nevertheless offer the best real solution.

There are probably many other similar issues that need to be considered when running a campaign from the books. Please feel free to expand this discussion to those aspects of the series as you recognise them.
Well don't forget the Sommerswerd can shoot sun-fire at Darklords (yes, I know that in Shadow on the Sand you can't use it against Haakon as you are underground, though the LWRPG doesn't state you need sunlight). Of course, to stay true to the gamebooks, you could say that a shaft of sunlight penetrates the Tomb of the Majhan or something. Also, remember that in the gamebooks, the Sommerswerd needs a korlinium scabbard to prevent it from being detected; this means that as soon as they get close to the Tomb of the Majhan, Haakon will know they are there...

Or, as another alternative, you could sy Haakon is weaker for being outside of the Darklands, which I feel is a good and believable option.

Your level advancement makes sense, to get them to 20th level by book 12.
Perhaps there could be a single beam of light coming into the room and if the SS uses it to blast Haakon, his stats (already low for being out of the darklands) reflect his wounded status. :)
If you didn't have the Sommerswerd in book 5 Lone wolf could get hold of Haakon's doomstone(?), after defeating his creations I think. When this was turned on Haakon he and the stone just dissapeared. If you took this approach it would give you much more flexability as regards advancments and the Sommerswerd. Otherwise you are going to have to explain how the characters were not able to take the Sommerswerd on a combat mission, books 3 and 4, but are allowed to take it on a diplomatic mission book 5.

Just a few thoughts. :)
That's a potentially good solution.

As to the Sommerswerd dilema, I don't think it's a major difficulty. Initially, after coming so close to defeat at the hands of Zagarna, the King will be ill at ease with the idea of the Sommerswerd leaving Sommerlund. By book 5, with a twelfth level party, I don't think it's much of a stretch to think that his faith in the group would be sufficient for him to place the weapon in the hands of the only people that can use it anyway.
In the end of Book 5 Lone Wolf tries to use the Sommerswerd (if he has it) but it sputters and fizzles, being underground and away from the sunlight. Darklord Haakon must be fought (and if you've got The Darklands supplemen Haakon's lethal.) The only balancing factor that makes it achievable is that Haakon has been outside the darklands for something like two weeks by now (it took him something like 5 days to get from the Vassagonian capitol city to the Tomb of Majhn and that he had come from the Darklands to Vassagonia before that). It reduces him to something like 150endurance which gives Lone Wolf a minor chance to defeat him before being utterly massacred.