Nov 19

Faculty Meeting Episode 63 – City of the Damned Recap

cropped-New-RPG-Academy-Crest-Hi-Rez-clean-edges.pngHello and Welcome to Faculty Meetings: The general advice and discussion podcast from The RPG Academy.  This is  where we discuss topics that came up at our gaming table or yours

I am Michael, and this is Faculty Meeting  # 63: City of the Damned Recap


In this episode Caleb and I review the synergy session I used to make up this adventure. We discuss a few points that stand out and I talk about my biggest failure in this episode – a point where I improved poorly.



I’m including the two outlines I used to run this adventure. The rough one was the initial run through of the overall story and the table outline is what I had at the table with me.


I also attached two pictures of the maps I made for the Sunken Temple areas.

CotD Rough Outline

CotD Table Outline


CotD Temple Map Upper level

Yuan-Ti Temple, upper level









CotD Temple Map lower level

Yuan-Ti Temple, lower level










As always, thanks for listening!



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    • Andrew "That One GM" Young on November 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm
    • Reply

    I like the new outro voiceover. 😉

    Also, I still REALLY love the outro music. So awesome!

    1. Thanks! That was all Evan. He recorded all the music we’ve used. I re-purposed the one he did for our original Show and Tell episode as the new intro (just like it better).


    • Jonathon on February 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm
    • Reply

    Would have been nice if Michael would have placed the cards he used upon the website just like he did in episode 62; it looks like they are all from the Magic 2014 Core Set.

    Plummet, Master of Diversion, Shock, Elvish Mystic, Lava Axe, Duress, Goblin Shortcutter, Scroll Thief, Mark of the Vampire, Celestial Flare, Tenacious Dead, Stonehorn Chanter, Howl of the Night Pack, Indestructibility, Swamp, Saproling

    I could see several cards being an easy placement into the adventure (Elvish Mystic & Goblin Shortcutter), and some being harder to place (Duress & Mark of the Vampire).

    Yeah I could have seen the manticore fight being the boss fight, though the dire wolves were a good boss fight. I think that the manticore should have pursued as I would have loved to see a skiff/manticore aerial fight. Maybe this time there would be no body for Ando to catch 20 feet below the skiff if he fell off. 😉

    But not saying that players throw monkey wrenches into the adventure; actually it happens all the time; but if they did what they said they were going to do, just go get the ball and return, then that is what they did and no monkey wrenches.

    Now whether Michael would have been guilty of railroading the players by shutting the door, which is only really seen if he would have altered the adventure and made them fight the manticore.

    True about playing vs listening. It is like people that complain about movies saying that they could have written the movie since it was so predictable. Of course it is predictable, you are seeing it as it happens, not writing it at the moment and not able to see the future.

    Ohhh… So I can see how the adventure was dabbled with a bit of everything here and there. Michael was catering to Dustin and letting him see what D&D is all about.

    Loved the dream sequence. Definitely a good time to set up foreshadowing, information giving, etc…

    Adventures seem like video games where if you find that bag of healing potions, you know that you should take them because there is going to be something soon that they are needed for.

    Dead Ends vs Players Shining – Creating an adventure and having this encounter for the rogue to shine is what I would do. Though I would not make it a dead end where only a rogue is needed to get past this encounter. In Call of Cthulhu, they have a stat called Idea where the Keeper (aka DM) helps you out a bit if you are stuck. In D&D they could just do an Intelligence check (straight d20 roll and roll lower than your Intelligence). I like this idea since we are not physically there performing the actions, but have to think what action our character should be performing. By the DM saying, do not forget you have healing potions is like the players succeeding on the Idea roll and the DM just tells them that; though it might sound a bit like. “Hey player you do not know what you are doing.”

    DM interaction is definitely a fine line. When a DM rolls out in the open all the time and then rolls behind the screen during a life and death situation, I feel like I am being cheated, not being saved. Same way if Michael would have brought in a cleric to help heal the players; it just seems like, “why is a cleric down here?”

    I like the idea of having the players kind of picking a path of which direction they want to go, but not letting them know that they are doing it. So if they did get the lava axe, then you would throw an ice-based monster at them with the same CR as what you had in the podcast. But since they did not get the lava axe, then they went up against what they did. I did this in an adventure I wrote where the players had a choice of going by open road, going on a road through a valley or going on a boat. Each encounter had different monsters to deal with, but the same CR.

    When Caleb says, “How much do I give them, how much do I hold back?” It seems that Michael did a good job with this especially with a new player there. I think that the more experienced the player, the more you would hold back and then slowly give when you see them start getting frustrated. By holding back or killing off a new player would make them not want to play D&D again or maybe even not want to play under you as a DM.

    Missing players are tough at a home campaign. By Michael playing those characters as NPC’s was a good play. I never did see the reason why the DM did not do what Michael did when I played at a home campaign; they just did not have the player’s character come with us.

    Whether the players do what you want or not, the thing that took me a long time to understand was that maybe it is their character’s background that is not making them want to go after the dragon’s gold or down the hallway even though you as the DM told them certain things. Just speak the box text and let them do what they do. I like what Michael said by using less words and more opportunities.

    Oh yeah Caleb… It is hard to give away the reigns of narration. I think it comes down to the DM thinking that it is their baby and do not want others to touch their baby.

    “Live by the improv sword, die by the improv sword.” ~Michael

    Looking forward to the next MTG Synergy Card One-Shot Adventure.



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