DM Diary: ToA. Session Zero.

This week I will be hosting a session zero for the upcoming campaign I am running. We will be running through The Tomb of Annihilation! And I will be setting it in my homebrew world of Anacronis.

While this will be a singular post, I’m going to write it in two separate halves. Before the session and after the session. How I prepared for it and how it went.

ToA spoilers await all who read below!

Also, if you’re one of my players, go away.

Before the Session

Setting the module in my own setting was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I’m sure WotC had that in mind while designing and writing ToA, but I’m still pleasantly surprised. So far all I’ve had to do was turn Chult into an island (instead of a peninsula), plug in my world’s pantheon (a mixture of Greyhawk and Eberron religion), and change a couple of villains to fit Anacronis’ lore (Valindra will serve an entity known as Midnight instead of Szass Tam). There’s a bit more, but this is all that is vital for now.

I’m also changing how the adventure will start. I’ll go into greater detail in the forthcoming session one post but, basically, adventurers have been summoned from across the realm to New Pelroy where a massive teleportation spell is being cast. The king of New Pelroy has learned of the Death Curse (he basically knows all Syndra would’ve known) and explains that he is sending “the bravest heroes from across the continent” to face this evil and end the curse.

And the king has no secret hidden motives for sending away all of these adventurers to combat death itself.

Oh wait, he totally does. The king is secretly a servant of one of the Dragons Below and needs to ditch all of these heroes if his evil plot is to be successful.

So, as the spell is being cast, one of the king’s secret agents kill the archmage casting it. The spell goes awry! Instead of sending all of the adventurers to Port Nyanzaru, they get scattered all across the jungles of Chult.

For session zero the players will first have to decide whether they’re native Chultans or from the mainland. I already know one wants to be a native goblin (a batiri goblin), and another wants to use one of the backgrounds that came with ToA and be an anthropologist. The third and fourth I have no idea.

We will be starting out with three players, with the fourth joining in around December. He’ll have to start skyping in after the first few sessions since he’s currently living in Illinois and we all live in Oregon. I’ve never had to skype in a player before, so that might be a new challenge but I know plenty have done it before. Skype might not be the program of choice either, who knows.

Since I’ve already built the world, there’s not much I need to do in preparation for session zero. I know enough about Anacronis to at least improvise any lore questions that may come up. I have prepped for session one by now and have a decent grasp of what Chult and the adventures within are like. I like to have at least a bit of session one prepared before session zero, just in case character creation goes smoothly and people want to play a little.

ToA is meant to be a potentially lethal adventure. Maybe I’ll have them roll backup characters as well. Or at least have an idea for their next character ready.

And since I intend to run it rather lethally, it’s important that I communicate that to the players. It is super important to always communicate to players what kind of adventure it is you plan to run, and what they should expect. Also, it is super important to communicate to your players just, like, in general.

Maybe I’ll give that idea a post of its own sometime. Right now, it’s time for me to clean the house and get ready to host some Dungeons & Dragons.

After the Session

Things went well! Here’s our cast, for now:

-Loot, the Batiri Goblin Ranger

-Strom Nimmo, the Human Rogue

-Honeygraham Timbers, the Forest Gnome Bard

They all seem on board for everything; potentially dying, no resurrection, playing in a homebrew world. Loot and Honey are both pretty experienced players (Loot is Corros and Honey is the DM of the Maelstragg campaign), and Strom has some experience but it’s been a while for him. We were able to walk him through character creation fairly easily.

I gave them two option for rolling stats. The Mark Hulmes’ method, roll one set and you can re-roll only if your total modifiers added together is less than three. You can then choose that set or the default set in the PHB. And the Matt Colville method, you roll one set and can to re-roll if you have less than two stats that are fifteen or higher. Colville also has his players roll straight down the page, first roll is for strength, next is for dexterity, etc. I excluded that part knowing my experienced players already had classes they wanted to try out.

Anyways, they opted for the modified Colville method. “The Modified Colville Method” sounds like the title of a college research paper, doesn’t it? Oh well.

Session one will take place the week after next. We’re going to play every other week. I have a good feeling about this group, and I think this going to be a fun adventure.

2 thoughts on “DM Diary: ToA. Session Zero.”

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