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 Ancient Book research in Candlekeep
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Memmorath
Acolyte

Finland
7 Posts

Posted - 07 Nov 2018 :  23:25:18  Show Profile Send Memmorath a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Hello,

I've been running a one-on-one campaign for about five years now and the story has taken the player to Candlekeep to research an ancient tome.

The tome in question is said to have the secrets of immortality within, unlockable through alchemical rituals and eastern (Kara-Turan) philosophies.

I'm looking for some ideas how to incorporate book research in a meaningul way to make the stay in Candlekeep interesting. The idea is for the PC (lvl 10 Red Wizard) to stay in Candlekeep anywhere from 3 to 9 months researching this ancient Kara-Turan tome.

The tome, Immortal Alchemy, is supposedly from Kara-Tur and written in a dead language. Deciphering the text should be very difficult and while the scribes of Candlekeep could / would provide some assistance, I'd much rather have the PC do all the actual researching.

I've already read what info I could find about Candlekeep itself and its rules (including the max duration of stay, but I'm disregarding that), but the gameplay aspect of the research is still incomplete.

The game is played on Roll20 and I'm planning on using Handouts to represent various research milestones and to present options to pursue, worded better but essentially "try using this method using this knowledge skill against this DC for this many days".

Anyways, any help with fresh ideas or gameplay mechanics to look at would be welcome, thanks.

Lord Karsus
Great Reader

USA
3197 Posts

Posted - 08 Nov 2018 :  01:47:47  Show Profile  Send Lord Karsus an AOL message Send Lord Karsus a Private Message  Reply with Quote
-Personally, even if you spiced up the language, making a bunch of rolls or whatever else to determine how/how/fast/how accurate/whatever the players are able to decipher the script would be kind of dry for me. Obviously, it would be a very important plot element and "in character" it would be pretty big, but the D&D mechanics for something like that kind of detract from the moment if you ask me.

-If you're looking for ideas, maybe turn it into a side-quest kind of thing? Maybe the monks don't have a full alphabet of the language and the PCs going to some ancient ruin or some collector or something else to get the necessary codex is something to do to add spice to the translation process.

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The Masked Mage
Great Reader

USA
2040 Posts

Posted - 08 Nov 2018 :  02:30:25  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The other thing to keep in mind is that such research in Candlekeep would be not only expensive (and I'm talking much more than most 10th level red wizards could scrounge up) but also would require approved long-term access to the restricted stacks - something reserved for the VERY privileged few. I cannot imagine a circumstance where that would happen, so that would take at least a couple adventures I'd say.
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Memmorath
Acolyte

Finland
7 Posts

Posted - 08 Nov 2018 :  07:23:51  Show Profile Send Memmorath a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm trying to avoid the need for the PC to go out adventuring while researching the book. However, he has NPC companions staying in Beregost and they could be used for "go & fetch" missions while he himself stays in Candlekeep.

I don't see the need to impose costly restrictions on the research (especially after being sponsored by a netherese archmage), but would rather have creative problems while translating and verifying the authenticity of the book. What those challenges / other events are is something I'm trying to figure...
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
4156 Posts

Posted - 08 Nov 2018 :  10:52:06  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Plenty of things you could do in candlekeep while deciphering. I'm sure there are more than a few spies trying to access the restricted area, red wizards, agents, cult of the Dragon, shades, etc. They might be keen to influence the party to get them a book or two. There are plenty of hidden secrets in the library and the catacombs and even hidden in books that you could go searching for.

If you wanted to keep it restricted to translating the book then you could have it trapped so that slime monsters get released if they fail a check badly or they get pulled into a dream state to fight monsters etc.

Or you could use the knowledge checks like combat. Make a check, if you fail then lose hp. When you reach zero you stop studying. If they are racing against an opponent to translate the book or have a certain number of checks to complete the task in then it ups the tension.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
7519 Posts

Posted - 08 Nov 2018 :  16:18:54  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Other ways to maybe make it interesting would be to come up with a bunch of book titles and have something in mind yourself for "the PC's need to pick to research x, y, and z books in that order", such that maybe they list out that they explore y amongst a set of 5 originally, then they do X later, which maybe you then give them a hint to go back to y. Secondarily, you could keep a record for the various books as to WHEN they are available, and so gaining access to a certain book may require some negotiation with someone else because they've currently checked out the book. They may have to do a favor for them so that he'll let them borrow the book for a few weeks and put off his own research.


Along these lines, just to help make a list of books, check this thread from a few months back where we were just coming up with titles and descriptions of some "known" (as in I just made them up) books of strange magical lore from the past


http://forum.candlekeep.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=22383

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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Memmorath
Acolyte

Finland
7 Posts

Posted - 08 Nov 2018 :  16:44:39  Show Profile Send Memmorath a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you for the suggestion, sleyvas. As a matter of fact, I did copy a list of tomes for Candlekeep by George Krashos I found on the site. I then made some of them readable by further copying other submitted poems or fictional in-world writings I found here. That said, they're mostly just fluff without anything tying them to the actual research.

Would any of you happen to know any official D&D product where gameplay rules for research / studying / magical research / investigation, etc. are shown or used? Perhaps even an example of researching a True Name could help me model something for this. Thanks again for the input, everyone.
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The Masked Mage
Great Reader

USA
2040 Posts

Posted - 11 Nov 2018 :  02:18:56  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't remember where, but the prices and means of access for various researches in Candlekeep were layed out years ago. They were higher than one would imagine, and there were restrictions on who could access what.

I am certain someone else will remember that source here.
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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

1746 Posts

Posted - 11 Nov 2018 :  16:52:53  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, There was a lot
There's in-character introduction on the main site.
In Ed's answers, not much, but this complements older lore.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
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TheIriaeban
Seeker

USA
47 Posts

Posted - 12 Nov 2018 :  02:25:31  Show Profile Send TheIriaeban a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How about having the player do the deciphering of the text? That would certainly make it memorable. You could type up the information you want them to find and then encrypt it using a simple replacement cipher. As an example, say you have the sentence "It was at night." It could be encrypted into "An zit is pahls." Then, as they make their research rolls, they would get a clue saying that a=i. That would change it to "In zit is pihls." More successful rolls and more letters until they get it decrypted. That would be one way to simulate research and make it more than just a series of rolls. You could even roll in secret and then give them a wrong character=character result if they really miss their research check.

"Iriaebor is a fine city. So what if you can have violence between merchant groups break out at any moment. Not every city can offer dinner AND a show."
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The Masked Mage
Great Reader

USA
2040 Posts

Posted - 12 Nov 2018 :  02:26:19  Show Profile  Send The Masked Mage an AOL message  Click to see The Masked Mage's MSN Messenger address Send The Masked Mage a Private Message  Reply with Quote
might be an old dragon or poly article
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Memmorath
Acolyte

Finland
7 Posts

Posted - 12 Nov 2018 :  06:39:47  Show Profile Send Memmorath a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the tips, everyone. I've now come up with a system that works well enough for my needs. It was also interesting to read Ed's replies. Thanks.
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