I feel for you; this sounds like an exorcise in abject misery. While reading, I did have a few questions, though...and maybe some comments. Perhaps this might help you be a little bit less frustrated in the future...should you ever decide to give it another whirl!
It wasn't all that bad, and I did enjoy it overall, although certainly some parts were frustrating. Writing about it is therapeutic and gives me and others a chance to laugh at the misfortune of the adventurers
Couple things off the top:
1. Group Size: As you mentioned later, the game is definitely balanced for a party of six. Sometimes NPCs will come and go, occasionally bolstering your ranks to eight, but each game expects that the group start with six. A smaller group will definitely face more frequent TPKs, especially at lower levels.
2. Level Range: Most games have a "sweet spot" in the center of the range, considering a group of characters risen from first level in Realm games. As mentioned above, this anticipates a party of six characters, and also some of the "big prizes," which are routinely won in the treasure hoards of the modules' big bads. Reading through your experiences, I suspect that some of those were never reached, so even when experience and levels were won, the commensurate treasures didn't come along with it. That would definitely create another imbalance!
3. Nol mentioned this already, but I'd definitely recommend a look at the Realm site if the mood ever strikes you to try again. The site offers an order of play in each region, and a FAQ created based on a lot of the questions I've received over the last ten+ years. Certainly, it's not necessary to play the games, but there are explanations of things like the LOOK vs. SEARCH controversy, I believe the AREA VIEW choices, and so forth. The site can be found at: http://therealm.flopsyville.com/Menu.htm
1. Yeah indeed, although its not apparent just from these posts on this forum, all of these were originally wrote on another forum: Dragonsfoot Campaign Journals, as they occurred, so the first post I had was at the very beginning of using Unlimited Adventures in a long time, with future posts being a few days ahead of time. While future posts had me more familiar with playing it. Only the first 3 or 4 parties had 4 members, every other party used 6 people.
2. I eventually learned that playing REF5 Skeletons, was the best adventure to start any party on, as there is a very low chance of TPK, is quick, and gives a sizeable amount of gold to buy armor and better weapons with. After the party that lost to the Necromancer in the mini-adventure, party members were always within the range or above the range. The problem occured with the Bombadier beetles, and the adventure being listed for party members levels 5-8 where level 5 = insta death no save.
3. Oh indeed, and I had considered trying to go on one of the suggested orders, but since you put so much work into making the world map and including mini-adventures on certain spots. It felt more true to participate in adventures as I found them on the map, and of course I had to avoid several due to high level.
This really confuses me, because it sounds like your characters walked directly to the end of the game. You seem to be very well-read in the classic modules, so I'm guessing you recognized A4. What's odd about this is that the version of Game01 that I uploaded back in, oh, something like 1998 or something, had a bug that started the game there. The first reviews came back rather ugly, and a bug-fixed version was quickly uploaded. I have heard about this happening to someone in a looooong time!
Do you recall how you got to the island so quickly? Did you start there? Did you walk there? Even if you chose to walk past the landmark for A1, you should not have been able to get to A2-A4 until you doubled back. I'm really confused by this one!
I got game one from http://frua.rosedragon.org/modulelist/hacked.php
It says Sept. 1998 so it's possible that I downloaded the game without a bug fix. I probably made my party and directly started on A4. It's possible that I saved my game on the worldmap and transferred that save onto Game 1. I simply started at a big Island with lava in it, and apparently people were running away from the slavers, hehe.
I actually have played very few modules. One reason that I wanted to play The Realm, was so that I would have the opportunity to experience these adventures that I would be unlikely to in real life.
You've got some brave adventurers! The description included a level range again...these guys went anyway? One thing that I'm sure you've found is that the adventures for levels 1-3 start with either a Shop event or a town where shopping can be performed. The higher level adventures often skip those events for two reasons. First, they're often unnecessary. Second, almost every game in the Realm ends with a chance to train, shop and sleep. It seems like the biggest problem these folks ran into was that they kept "escaping" modules and moving onto the next. Palace of the Silver Princess, for instance. Without getting to the end, there was no chance to rest. The next game assumed that the previous was completed, and so resting at the beginning would have been redundant (and, back in the day, would have resulted in complaints from more than one reviewer...)
Well, these guys were level 1, since the other party members died at the slave lords. They joined this module, because the description on the world map (unlike other places) did not mention that Drums of Fire Mountain was for levels 5-8, in fact the worldmap says nothing of that module's suggested levels.
The problem with sleeping and resting occurs when you have to reload another module to sleep and rest and buy equipment, and then reload the module you want to play. It's certainly not perfect, but I'd rather have a chance to sleep, train, and buy or sell equipment before being shipped off to a place where I can't do those things.
This was one of the times I wondered how you were going about these games. If you leave one design to move into another, you would need to restart the original game if you were to return it. Moving "Saved Games" from one FRUA design to another is a recipe for disaster, since most games start by setting certain quest flags to specific values. So, the three quests to find Wave, Whelm and Blackrazer that are set at the beginning of White Plume Mountain may well be the variables that govern whether you've cleared the Hommlet moathouse, befriended Otto in Nulb and freed Zuggtmoy in the Temple of Elemental Evil design.
If you aren't moving saved games but instead moving character files (per the documentation in UAShell), then you'll find that all your quests were reset when you return to Temple of Elemental Evil. Effectively, the whole game will re-pop. That's no big deal if you're never planning to return to the Temple, of course.
I'm not sure which route you were taking, but some statements made me wonder a bit, because either will result in games behaving weirdly. For instance, if you started a design before heading to the Slave Lords in Game01, then one of these quest flags could very well have opened the doors to the slave lords' stronghold!
Well originally, I thought you went from design to design by exiting the town, going to the worldmap, saving that game, then transferring that save to another design. Then on the worldmap of the new design, enter the square you're supposed to go to. This worked for a few adventures such as REF5 Skeletons and Journey to the Rock. One only thing which slightly tipped me off was "Do you want to return to Hommlet?" which seemed kinda strange. When I tried this for White Plume Mountain and as soon as I entered the adventure square I got bells cheering that I saved them, I knew that I had done something wrong. It was later that I discovered that you're supposed to save the game, reload the game, and remove all characters to update them, then copy over those characters to a new design.
3. The Designer hates searching and hates sleeping. Quite honestly in actual play I would sleep in the dungeon often. Whenever the party searches,the Designer makes the player wade through scrolling text to try to dissauge them from continued searching. This is silly though since the modules contain hidden items that you can only find by searching. And yes, contrary to your words, the adventurers do have all the time in the world.
I also strongly disagree with the notion that "adventurers do have all the time in the world." I understand it's the difference between playing styles, but the Realm was created to generate a tabletop atmosphere. I can count on one hand how many times players in my games have slept in a dungeon. The logistics of it, and the imminent danger of bedding down in the deadliest spot possible rather than making a tactical withdrawal...It's has happened, but less than five times in the eleven-year campaign I'm running now, and about as many in the ten-year game before that. The 1E DMG is loaded with additional reasons, from leeches to parasites to disease, not to mention the usual throngs of wandering monsters. FRUA won't allow the majority of that; and FRUA's camp-encounter engine is horribly flawed, so the designer is left with two basic choices, either allow unlimited rest or allow no rest at all.
Yeah, I'm sure that FRUA isn't lenient when it comes to flexibility. The problem with no resting happens when the cost of not resting is greater than the danger of resting. When my party has less than 10 hp left each and no spells, they really need to rest. My parties tend to clear entire levels of dungeons, and sleep in areas they found other monsters sleeping.
This is the catch-22 of designing something like the Realm. I don't know whether someone is playing a fifth level group or a twentieth-level group. So I've tried to avoid things that say, "You All Die...So There!" I touch on this in the FAQ over on the Realm site. By the same token, the game was not designed for high-level characters in mind. So, to balance it, I tried to give some clues...and then let the dice fall where they may. Someone playing a high-level group would be sorely pissed if I told them they could not face the misty dragon thing and go home as they pleased. On the other hand, someone playing a low-level group would be equally displeased if they were rendered to ash simply for walking through the door, no warning provided. So, the middle ground I landed on was to divert the party arbitrarily the first time, with a description of what sent them running...and then stat out the "unstoppable monster" if they went back anyway.
Ironically, this is my best attempt at avoiding the railroading that was mentioned earlier. A higher-level party could have killed the monster and gone about their business, no railroading involved. For a lower-level party, they have it in their power to choose the means of their demise, or to go back inside and find another way home!
I went to this adventure within the level suggestions, at this point I had not gone to an adventure outside the suggestions for awhile. It wasn't dying to the dragon that was annoying moreso that a dragon that shot lightning at the party burst into acid killing other party members, funny too of course
This whole section made me think it would be awesome to play a "real" game with you. Of course, you have something like 96 reasons to kill me on sight just in these few posts, so that may not be a very wise choice on my part...
Well technically only 22, but in real life players tend to be less foolhardy and DMs tend to hand out fewer TPKs
It'd be great to game with you in real life
Don't follow the logic on this one. If goblins sleep in a place, it makes sense that their buddies know that they slept there. So, if I'm beaten and exhausted and weak, the last place I want to spend the next six-to-eight hours is in the most likely place for things to come and try to kill me...
Granted, there are some situations where the monsters are all dead, and even I have become frustrated sometimes, but I've never been able to fathom sleeping in a monster's lair, unless it's the largest monster in the region and rules others by sheer terror. And there are some lairs that say as much in the Realm, and sleeping is permitted there.
In the Frost queen's fortress there are rooms that army soldiers sleep in, there is also a room that the lieutenant slept in, that you must bash or pick the lock to get through. The party was down to 3 injured people, dragging 3 others with them. It makes little sense for the party to continue to search the Frost Queen's Fotress, hoping to take her out with half a party rather than to lock the door of the lieutenant's room and rest a bit.
In this instance it wasn't Ray who killed Morgoth III, it was those evil designers. I found an editor program that allowed me to make a few changes in the game for that last battle. I reduced the casting time of Fire Shield to zero, like Delayed Blast Fireball, and then I increased the Soul Gem's Dexterity to 25. Then I Surprised the party automatically in the combat event. Why would I do such a horrid thing? It was the only way I could think of to give the Soul Gem it's defensive aura. The Soul Gem, as written, deals damage back to those who wound it. The fire shield effect mimicked that, but only if I could get the spell cast right away. This worked out, though it has the appearance of cheating, since the Soul Gem casts this spell so quickly...It's actually something the Soul Gem just...does...
Somehow, I don't think that would make Morgoth III hate me any less...
Aw, it's alright
I wasn't aware of the Actual Soul Gem mechanics, but reading that, it seems you did a good way of addressing it using the mechanics you had to work with I must say.
Oh, wow...That's really barbaric of me...
My first thought was, There's just no way I would have done that!
Then I thought, It does sound vaguely familiar...
I believe my thinking was that the minimum level for this adventure was high enough that no one should be killed outright by the cloudkill. Instead, it would linger and inflict 1d12 damage, which is serious, but not immediately fatal. Further rationalization stated that lower-level characters would never survive to make it that far into the design, anyway. I sense an error in that judgment call...
Yeah, the adventure said 5-8 level characters and my party was 5th. If the overland map and module sad 6-8 level characters, it would not be as bad.
Hit the Space Bar! Hit the Space Bar!
That allows you to stop resting!!!
What a horrible image...I've got to bleach my eyes...And my brain...
Wow, I had no idea the space bar could do that!
Just like everything else, there's a story behind that one. B2 includes a second cave, aside from the Caves of Chaos. It's called the Caves of the Unknown. When I was a kid, one of my earliest memories gaming was playing through this module with my Dad. It was one of the two times my Uncle played with us, and it was really a big deal in my childhood. Well, the first game we played led to a crushing defeat in the goblin cave, with the ogre killing my elf and my uncle being captured and hauled off into the caves as a prisoner. After all these years, a part of me is still trying to get back to that game and save him. I know; I'm strange like that.
Not at all man, not at all. I still regret a TPK I inflicted on own and fellow party members when I felt our characters really needed a challenge.
The other game, we decided to go to the other cave. The Caves of Chaos had ended our last characters, so we figured this next one couldn't be so bad. Well, on the way to the Cave of the Unknown, we started to see a large shape fly overhead. Then we got a closer look. This was just my Dad's way of telling us that we were taunting disaster if we didn't turn back. The module doesn't detail what is in the Cave of the Unknown; it was part of the whole "how to" approach of the early D&D modules. Left to his own devices, Dad decided that this was a Dungeons & Dragons module, and so there should be a dragon. Well, my uncle and I weren't to be driven off my any sort of "subtle" hints. We pressed on...and died before every stepping foot across the threshold of that cave.
When the time came to convert Keep on the Borderlands, I immediately thought of that encounter. I loaded up a few warning statements, and then put in the dragon. What works really well is to go there after clearing out all the other caves. Then you get to slay the dragon and really put a capstone on a game full of dungeons, but that was--till that day--sorely lacking in dragons!
Yeah, getting eaten by a dragon wasn't so bad, but it was the fact that I went to the Borderlands as a 5th level party hoping to survive and fighting a green dragon that was the straw for me, hehe.
Bill, thanks again for being such a good sport. I don't know whether you'll ever try again, but I truly appreciate the time you put into playing these designs, and even moreso the time you put into expressing your experiences for us here on the forums. I know you experienced one giant frustration after another, just from reading what you wrote, but it seems you kept a sense of humor throughout. These come from a younger time in my life, but they were absolutely a labor of love. I hope some of that love showed through, ameliorating some of the labor, and that you found some enjoyment between TPKs...
Thank you again for making them. I might play some again, but not for awhile, hehe. I'm sure they were a labor of love and that you enjoyed making them. Take care.