RotD is a Sandbox
Rise of the Drow (RotD) is described as a “Sandbox”, not a “Scripted” Adventure. What this means to you as a player is that you will need to be creative to succeed. You are not on rails in this adventure. While there are plot elements provided, the overall story is yours to tell. There is not one single path from the start to the finish of the adventure. Instead, you are put into a world (sandbox) where several opportunities to do things are presented and you can choose how to proceed. Decisions early in the adventure will have consequences later in the adventure. There are some NPCs who are vitally important. You may never even meet them if your choices steer you in a different direction.
Also, like most Adventure-a-week adventures, the characters are woefully outmatched and outgunned by the enemy. Murder hobos will die quickly. While the threats are significant and your character(s) will most likely die if you’re not careful, the threats to the NPCs are urgent so if you don’t act fast, then important events might not unfold as they need to for your party to be successful overall.
For reference, Minecraft is the ultimate Sandbox, while World of Warcraft is a Scripted environment.
Characters cannot be Chaotic Evil. Normally, I would say that characters cannot be Chaotic Evil. However, since we’re heading into the Underworld where evil things lurk, many of the Underworld Races are Chaotic Evil. Drow society, in particular, is highly functional, despite most of its denizens being Chaotic Evil. The trick is to figure out, “As a Chaotic Evil character, how can I balance coexisting with a party with being chaotic and evil.”
If you choose to play as Chaotic Evil, it is vital that you consider your character’s personal motivations and customized “code of ethics.” For example, one tenet might be not to kill people who either are or could be, useful to the character. This would include party members, certain NPCs, etc. While a chaotic evil character might have no compunction about killing an enemy and might have trust issues, even with friends, they are not likely to just murder on a whim. Chaotic Evil characters don’t have to be stupid, malevolent, quick-to-anger, spiteful, random, or murderous. Look at the evil characters in Harry Potter to see some of the diversity in Chaotic Evil characters. Bellatrix Lestrange is a typical loose cannon, Snape is cold, calculating, and patient, Peter Pettigrew is a snivelling coward, Lucious Malfoy is wealthy and selfish, Draco Malfoy is a bully, and Voldemort is power-hungry. They are all chaotic evil, and all have very different motivations.
Take the Ahooling, for example. A race of demonspawn, they are usually, if not always, Chaotic Evil. But what does that mean? They are all touched by the Blood Thirst, so they have to feed or suffer. Does that mean that they have to feed on the innocent? Perhaps they simply cast “Wine to Blood” and drink that instead of killing anyone. Or perhaps they only feed on the guilty and condemned. It would be incredibly short-sighted to feed on party members without explicit permission.
Re: Safety and the Evil Character
What if a player chooses to play a Chaotic Evil character and then starts doing things that the other players find objectionable, how should the other characters respond? How should the other players respond?
One mechanism is for the DM or another player to call a Pause. This is a tool for stopping the action so that the players (not the characters) can discuss their discomfort with the direction things are taking.
For example, if a character decides they don’t like the innkeeper and stabs her. Another player might say, “Pause for a minute. If your character kills the innkeeper, my character is going to have to defend the innkeeper and her family and we end up with a dysfunctional brawl between players, which is likely to spoil the game for all concerned.” A discussion on how to remedy the situation would then ensue.
Which gets us to Safety.
“Safety tools are an easy way to ensure everyone around the table is having a good time. They’re not overbearing. They only take a little time to implement, and they put in place some powerful tools to make sure the players behind the characters are having a great time.” – Sly Flourish
For articles on Content, Consent, and Safety, check out these links:
I am a fan of Sly Flourish’s work. His set of Safety Tools is quite useful and I will use them in this adventure.
Before we begin playing a campaign where evil abounds, let’s discuss some of the potentially disturbing subject matter that may come up in the game. I strongly encourage you, my players, to download the Consent-in-Gaming Checklist, fill it in and return it to me. I will also have some available on-site. Only you know your limits. For example, I don’t have a problem with baby flies, but my wife does and would prefer not to have them in her games.
Here’s my checklist:
Lines and Veils
Lines (topics that should never come up at all), and veils (topics to be handled off-screen or in the abstract) will be mutually agreed upon before we start.
Pause for a second
Anyone (including you) can say “pause for a second” any time during the game to break character and discuss the current situation out of character, including stating “I’m not comfortable with where this is going”. The phrase “pause for a second” interrupts anything else going on in the game. It’s used to break character and discuss or ask questions about anything going on in-game. Think of this as a verbal X card.