So much to write, so little time...
Today, I'm at work for the first time in months...um, that is to say, my first time working a Friday in many months. And after yet another late Thursday night gaming session, I have to ask:
How the hell do my players do it?
I suppose they all drink less than I do (well, maybe I'M just a light-weight). But while five hours of sleep is something I can usually get over, even multiple nights in a row, I'm struggling a bit with the "five hours PLUS two pitcher" recovery...it probably doesn't help I was drinking wine with dinner, too!
Ugh. My own damn vault, I know. Anyway, I'm having a bit of trouble focusing at the job and fatigue is definitely part of it, but the other part was that the game went fairly good...good enough that I've been thinking about it most of the morning. It's been awhile since I've really taken the time to write-up an adventure, and this one turned out just fine. Well, so far, anyway...I don't know what future sessions hold, but I was fairly pleased with the results, as I wrote last night.
I won't bore folks with the details but maybe list a few of the highlights/thoughts I had:
- I realize (or at least presume) that the undead-themed adventure is probably a well-worn trope of the D&D game, but it's new ground for me. Mostly, I just find the odd/random zombie, mummy, or vampire floating around the dungeon site...I'm not sure I cna think of any hard-corp necropolis-type settings like my adventure (at least not in the B/X, 1st Edition era of adventure modules). Even as a kid I stayed away from too many undead, as we only had one player who used any kind of "clerical" character (and ZERO paladins, as I've written before). Last night's party was also light on clerical support (um...none, in fact), but we fortunately had a couple of "turners" that could work in a pinch (a necromancer and a witch-hunter).
I found the whole theme (in writing the adventure) a lot of fun and a cool project...having my enthusiasm fired certainly helped in the "tedious" parts of the design process (i.e. map drawing).
- I realize I'm none too fond of "helpful" NPCs. The witch-hunter I made for the adventure was the "motivator" to get the PCs to the dungeon site and is a fairly cool character...one I wouldn't mind playing myself. However, I am having a terrible time using him as an NPC...I want the players to "do their own thing" without guidance from me, which has turned the "zealot" into a "hangs-around-the-back-indecisive-milquetoast" which is NOT what I had originally intended. I find myself thinking of ways to kill him off (might he accidentally slip over the edge of the cliff one misty morning? Perhaps), but his turning ability might be needed by the party. On the other hand, Greg just rolled up a cleric...on the OTHER hand, Greg has a tendency to die rather frequently (the reason he was rolling up a new character)...hmmm...
- There are ways to make 1st level adventures withOUT resorting to stocks of goblins and kobolds. Last night, the players fought a a flock of "harpy-bitches," a half dozen skeletons, and an animated gargoyle. Only one PC (and two men-at-arms) were killed, and the party made off with a nice piece of loot. Quite a decent haul in XP/treasure value and not a humanoid monster in sight. That was neat.
- Miniatures helped PCs visualize their own characters, making them more real in their minds. I think. At least, it helped ME to visualize the characters better. Finding minis that matched their character's description was a bit hard at times, but it was neat to see how the group looked together on the mat. We're playing B/X so the movement and such is still fairly "non-specific" and piece-work, but having the characters' locations plotted on the map certainly helped me when deciding which character was "next in line to get killed" (by trap and by monster). And there was still plenty of decent gaming that went on OFF the mat, if ya' know what I mean.
This is similar to how my friends and I used miniatures when I was a kid: we simply tried to find models that matched our characters' descriptions so that we could look at them and show 'em off. It wasn't about representing anything on a map or battlefield, and it certainly wasn't about 5' steps and attacks of opportunity. Mainly, you just wanted a figurine to mark your place at the table.
However, as I said, I think the minis DID help with the combat/exploration stuff. I don't remember anyone complaining about positioning last night, which was a welcome change.
Well, except for Josh and the harpy attack...what a cry-baby!
- Last night had seven players at the table (besides myself) and the number was just about perfect. I'm still not going to turn anyone away, but if I HAD to choose a cut-off point, seven might be the place to do it. There was no need to use a Caller, and there was a good mix of various adventuring types without ME getting bogged down by "too many voices." On the other hand, they DID need those extra bodies (including the WH)...in a perfect world, I guess, there would have been a couple PC-controlled henchmen, but no one seems interested in that type of relationship (the NPCs are all just "meat shields" to the players).
- I'm looking forward to next week quite a bit, despite knowing how rough the morning after might be (ugh). Having already established the location and "base" and having made a couple forays into the dungeon, I am hopeful that next week will see even more "stuff" accomplished. Here's hoping!
[by the way, I did NOT come up with any pre-gens for the game...instead I have a table of equipment lists based on class and Social Status. This worked great as far as speeding the chargen process, while still allowing player creativity and input...I'll post the tables later or make them available as a download]