Commenting to something Tim Gray said, I came up with the following pointers to myself for my D&D game on Tuesday nights.
• Pacing: A session where the players don’t sit idle too long, listening to NPCs exchange banter.
• Combat: My group needs to have blood on the walls of the typical 10×10 room. With two warrior-types and a sorceror, that’s the experience they’re going for.
• Perks: The players have to at least try to improve their station in the world.
• Role-play: The more the players act in character, the happier I am.
• Change: Things have to improve as a result of player actions. I sent my PCs off on a mission to rescue a little girl. Their mentor started out almost hostile to them, but became friendlier when they demonstrated they were on the case.
• Familiarity: They do like to have a drink in the tavern in town from time to time, and see familiar faces, hear familiar rumors.
• Challenge: I almost killed my players last time. They’re still excited that this is a real possibility.
• Continuity: One player asked, “Are those spirals still over the walls?” and I hadn’t remembered that detail, so I said, “no.” He said, “Ok, so this part of the complex was built by a different group, or later, than the earlier rooms.” He was determining the layers of history, because he knows that I am a history teacher and care about such things.
• Preparation: My game meets once a week for two hours for four kids. Last year I tried doing it two nights a week, for eight kids, and it caused a lot of ill feeling. Part of that ill feeling was due to how I prepared — not much — compared with now. For that 2-hour session, I need to put in about 2-3 hours of time a week, BUT… with this caveat, I’m typing up all my notes, printing them and putting them into a binder, so that next year (when these kids graduate), I have a substantial amount of prepped material already. For example, I have my first village finished, two more begun, and my first two dungeon complexes pretty-well laid out, described, and partially statted.
• Long-term: If you start at first level, and play out two challenges and some roleplay each week, it’s going to take a month or so to advance to second level. In my case, December will get my kids to second level; January and February will probably see them almost to third; fourth and fifth will get them to June — and then they graduate. I need to plan out material and encounters to see my students to sixth, seventh or eighth level, but then I’ll be starting with a new batch of players in the fall (most likely) and starting them at Level 1 again. So that’s my challenge — to develop a campaign that bears repeat play for first through eighth levels.
[added:]• Variation: I’m thinking about buying the Heroes of Battle book, and developing levels 6-9 as a military campaign, so that there’s a sharp break between the early dungeon-crawling and the later battle-field encounters. With two fighters and a sorceror in my current group, it’s not a bad idea. At the least, I think I should scale back the sizes of dungeons and increase the number of wilderness adventures, developing random encounter tables for the fields, forests and highlands of the Rhodas Valley. That will put the ranger’s talents to better use, too.
Mostly, this was a break from writing recommendations for secondary schools for my English students. It’s hard. Currently I’m washing my dress shirts, but when they’re up on hangers and drying, I plan on going to the café for a beverage, going to the laundry to drop off dry cleaning, going to the supermarket for fixings for dinner, and coming home to do some minor cleanup around my house. Getting the laundry folded and organized yesterday took some time, but it left me with a lot better feeling about myself and my space.
and I are going to see the new Harry Potter film tonight, but I’m feeling antsy because I haven’t re-read the book. I probably don’t have time to do it today. I know I want to re-read the Order of the Phoenix in the near future.
Which reminds me. Book list, soon. I’ve added two new titles, and need to put them on the list.