Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday gaming recap: bugs, bugs, and more bugs!

The notorious bear makes an appearance!
Yesterday's session featured a pretty small party for my gaming group (four) and a fairly low-muscle group (warlock, sorcerer, druid, monk) with the highest AC being 15.  With the group feeling a little fragile they decided to avoid heading to either the temple of Orcus (where the previous group had whacked the high priest and everyone would be on high alert), or the monolith level (which is the climax of the dungeon).  Instead they decided to explore some of the upper levels that had been, to date, ignored by the group.

This meant they ended up facing fairly easy opposition: ankhegs, phase spiders, and carrion crawlers.  Actually carrion crawlers are really broken, but the group got lucky on their saving throws.  They also discovered both a heretofore undiscovered level, another sublevel, and a major quest waypoint in the dungeon.  While the XP load might not be that high in terms of monsters, the group definitely broke some ground.

A few observations:

First, the group has developed a delightful sense of tension in the dungeon.  In the old 4E days, every encounter was one to be overcome with a small modicum of effort.  Now the anxiety of the unknown really plays on them.

Second, while there may not be a lot of NPC roleplaying, the exploration-as-fantasy-RPG-genre thing is going pretty well, and seems to be a hit.  The group likes deciding what happens and where they go.  I'm trying to figure out how to work more named NPC's into an exploration-based campaign right now, though.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friday Game Night: Roleplaying Edition!

We are back to having small(er) groups instead of all gaming at once.  After having thrashed their way through the Temple of the Frog, the group has divided up.  One group (last Friday's) went after the temple of Orcus on the fourth level of the Tomb of Abysthor.

Now, I have to be honest here.  The mega-dungeon format of Tomb of Abysthor has been a bit of a learning experience.  After having read about mega-dungeons for years on OSR blogs, actually having a group clonk around one for eight of nine sessions has been wearing a little thin.  There are roleplaying encounters available in the adventure, but they are often buried in obscure places, or require a ridiculous amount of effort to get to them.  As a result, much of the group's time in the dungeon has been of the kick-open-the-door-and-kill-everything variety.

Which is why I was delighted when Sign's player started trying to bluff her way through the temple of Orcus posing as fellow devotees of the dark god.  Good roleplaying plus some truly terrible die rolling on my part resulted in the group getting past several encounters and into an audience with the high priestess.  Once close to her, they ganked her and her demonic pet with little difficulty and scampered away.

I was pretty generous with the XP, granting it for encounters that they successfully circumnavigated through roleplaying rather than combat. I felt that would hopefully reinforce the idea that roleplaying is always a good alternative to fighting.  I'm ready to get the group out of the Tomb of Abysthor and into something different at this point, and that's something with more character, more creativity, and less stabby-stabby.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Some doors and walls

Made with Hirst Arts bricks
I had not realized it had been over a year since I had built anything for my modular dungeon, but after making countless configurations I realized I really needed some doorways to help keep things easy to understand.  I also had a few long walls laying about, so I decided to put everything together and paint them.

Gnolls everywhere!
Here's a look at what I can do with me current pieces.  Not a huge area, but still interesting looking.  I am thinking that I want to do some more of the flat tiles, and then add to the decor.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Gaming a Horde

The charge of the light frog-men brigade
It's been really busy lately, but now is a good time to get caught up on some blogging.

First of all, I will not be doing the April A-to-Z Challenge.  With Easter in April and a lot of things going on, I didn't feel like making another commitment, even a hobby-related one, was a good idea.  Besides, I couldn't come up with a topic.

In this post I want to share with you a few of the lessons I learned running D&D 5E with eleven players at once.  Before the session began, I laid down a few ground rules.

  • No disruptive behavior.  This was primarily targeted at the four youth in my gaming group who were present.  If they started to clown around, start singing songs or talking loudly off topic, I would ask them to step away from the table for five minutes during which they could have no impact on the game (basically the same as being "boggled" in Toon)
  • Transparent initiative order.  Usually I keep the initiative order secret behind the DM screen so that the players are kept on their toes about when the monsters are going to kick in.  This time I decided to post it publicly so players could have a rough idea how long or soon it would be until it was time for them to act.  This helped a lot, but the downside was some of the players started "gaming" the initiative order tactically right off the bat.
  • Look up your spells.  I understand that the monster who are considering attacking might be killed by one of the four people going ahead of you, but I was pretty clear that I would be quickly frustrated if players who had spent the last ten minutes surfing with their smartphones would be caught unawares about what spell they want to cast.  Or special attack power, or whatever.
  • Three combats.  That's about all you get when you have eleven players and four hours to play.  One was against a medium sized group, another against a large group, and another against a singe opponent (who got steam-rolled).  That doesn't seem like a lot, really.
Now, despite my being all heavy-handed, the group said they had a really good time.  That gets back to the fact that my group really does like each other, and sacrificing a lot of game play for the sake of hanging out together and feeling like a big, victorious mass was worth it.

Over at Strange Vistas