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Fight off mutants, monsters and... magnolias(⁉️) as you descend into darkness in this thrilling level 1-5 adventure module for D&D 5e
179 backers pledged £6,953 to help bring this project to life.

Through the Thicket - Mental Manifestations preview

Posted by DeepDark Designs Ltd (Creator)
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Hi folks, today we want take the opportunity to thank everyone who's supported Thunder of the Thorn so far, and also take a deeper look at the adventure's bespoke way of handling mental manifestations. It's really exciting to see that we're already more than half way to achieving our first stretch goal, which will allow us to develop a player primer for the adventure. Okay, so let's dive into mental manifestations.

Mental Manifestations 

Within the context of Thunder of the Thorn,mental manifestations are 'specific quirks, foibles, or eccentricities that a PC might acquire as their persona begins to unravel as a repercussion of prolonged exposure to the malaise that permeates the Ragweed Tumble'. Advice is given to game masters to help them decide if the system suits the kind of game they want to run and whether it matches the preferences of their players, how to incentivise the players to interact with the system, and a way to enforce the rules mechanically if you feel like some of the players are gaming the system by downplaying or ignoring their manifestations. The book also provides rules on how to handle the PCs acquiring and escalating their manifestations, and there's even guidelines for how a player might use the compulsions of one manifestation as a coping mechanism for another.

Some integral things you should know about the mental manifestation system are that:

  • Manifestations are merely roleplaying prompts, in much the same way as personality traits, bonds, flaws, and ideals.
  • The system's use is completely optional and can easily be disabled/ignored by groups who don't want to use it. And, it's also possible for individual players to interact with the system to the degree that they enjoy.
  • The system is unique to Thunder of the Thorn and unlike anything you'll find elsewhere.
  • There are 10 different types of manifestation and each comes with 4 stages of severity.
  • The manifestations are tightly themed-around the idea of a humanoid creature's thinking becoming more like that of a plant.
  • It's possible for a single PC to acquire all the manifestations simultaneously.
  • It's designed so that the PCs acquire manifestations very slowly in the early stages of the adventure, and then begin to unravel quickly once they're ready to push on towards the adventure's climactic conclusion.
  • Some of the manifestations might cause a character's personality to pull them in two directions at once, or stoke friction within the group.

So, to recap, what are mental manifestations? Essentially they're a way for the players to challenge themselves to roleplay a character who's undergoing a rapid descent into madness. This unravelling of their character's persona also creates a tremendous sense of haste throughout the latter portions of the adventure, where the PCs are incentivised to race against the clock as they begin to fall apart at the seams.

Let's take a look at one of the adventure's 10 mental manifestations, "Grotesque Incandescence".

  •  Stage I. "I'm drawn to natural sunlight & love the feel of the sun's warmth on my skin. I avoid the shade & shadowy areas."
  •  Stage II. "My heart sinks each evening as the hour draws late. I've come to dislike & distrust the night time, longing to feel the sun's sweet embrace once more."
  •  Stage III. "I detest wearing clothes while out in the sun & the thought of being locked away inside a gloomy building during the day fills me with dread."
  •  Stage IV. "Even just thinking about being underground, away from the nourishing touch of the sun, terrifies me & induces feelings of panic & nausea."

As I'm sure you can imagine, a group of players roleplaying a party of PCs with a multitude of these quirks would have quite a hurdle to overcome in their quest to cure the Ragweed Tumble of what ails it, and save themselves in the process. One thing we're really pleased with is the idea that how serious an impediment these roleplay prompts represent really depends on how much an individual group chooses to 'commit' to the bit. Groups with no interest can ignore the system altogether and enjoy Thunder of the Thorn as a more traditional experience, those with a few players mildly interested can engage with it a little bit and have the best of both worlds, and groups who LOVE roleplaying strange and unusual characters can use it to immerse themselves fully in one of the most unusual adventures of recent memory. 

I think that just about covers it for today. Thanks so much for reading and for supporting the project. Please continue to do so by helping us spread the word to others who might not have seen the Kickstarter yet. All the best! - Daniel McDonald, DeepDark Designs

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