Rushed all the way through study hall tonight, and did some work during this morning’s free period. The Abbey of Gé adventure is now about seven pages long. Did some planning for post-adventure stuff, as well.
There’s now a much more complete town for them to go back to, the thorp of Three Walnuts, and a long-ish river valley to explore, at least in map form and with a number of random encounter tables. The next stage is to develop a few more of the villages in the river valley, and some more specific encounter sites. If anyone has ideas to share about what to do at those sites, and when/how, please feel free to let me know. Remember that in D&D terms, I’m looking for adventures suitable for first through 9th or 10th level.
The game tonight went well, too. Arriving back from town, with a young acolyte of the village temple in tow (the party really suffers for not having a cleric, so I sent them in with an NPC), the players undertook to approach the homes of the kobolds through the old kitchen of the abbey. There, they encountered a guard-post occupied by six kobolds. Quick thinking and some lucky die rolls put four of them under the effects of Sleep. However, the surviving two had some lucky attacks of their own, and felled both the paladin and the ranger. Critical attacks can be nasty to PCs. Suddenly, the youthful cleric and the sorcerer were on their own. The cleric cast Cause Fear and forced one of the kobolds to run away, and the sorcerer struck with a short spear to wound his own opponent. In the next round, the cleric cast Cure Light Wounds on the ranger, and a Magic Missile from the sorcerer ended the combat. None of the kobolds woke during their inevitable demise at the ranger’s hands; the paladin was out another two rounds before the cleric, Brother Matthew, reached him and cast Cure Light Wounds on him, too. During this combat, I actually had to bring out some 1-inch grid sheets, and draw the kitchen, with its two fireplaces and long preparation table. Trying to figure out where the Sleep spell went, and who was affected, was kinda tricky, especially since the sorcerer could target either the two actively involved in the attack, or go after the one fleeing out the room’s back door. BlueGargantua is right: D&D winds up being a tactical combat game, whether or not it’s a role-playing game. (Thanks to the Forge and 20’x20′ room, I’m beginning to have my doubts about it being a role-playing game, but that’s a post for another day.)
Then the players turned away from the direction of the kobolds’ nest, trying to find a back route to the inner chamber. No way are they ready to face off against the Kobold chief, his champion and minions, in my book — but they went a different way, in any case. This time, they found the fire beetles in the cook’s bedroom, and killed all three in a few short rounds of combat. They also found the small containers of valuable spices — which, when sold to the innkeeper in town, will earn them some goodwill and a lead for a possible quest or mission.
Afterwards, they earned about 170XP for their two adventures, plus another 25XP in miscellaneous rewards. They found 40sp on the kobolds, and the FireBeetle eyes will last at most another six game days. They also found three boxes of rare spices. And that was it for treasure.
Task for next week: Organize the kobolds in the nest a little more thoroughly. Sprinkle in some treasure, especially the tribal treasure in the chief’s personal trove. Beef up the three leaders, and beef up their extra muscle. Throw in a couple of Krenshar on the back route. And then start on level two of the dungeon, or develop some wilderness adventures. It’s clear they’re going to need to go back to town soonish, though maybe not until after another encounter or two.
Leads to Follow Up: I showed them the local-area maps I’d been working on. They now know about the kingdom to the west, and the keeps and the major castle up the river valley, which hold the vale against any sort of invasion. This opens up the chance to use the Heroes of Battle book someday, which really does look good. I’ve also staked out two larger villages, and they’ll want to visit them soon-ish, I suspect, and spend some of their treasure. I threw in a shortsword +1 on a whim, giving it to the chief of the kobolds, who will not be easy to take down.
The tribe as a whole numbers about 50 fighting individuals, and the PCs have killed a third of them. I need to put in some traps (since kobolds are such excellent trap-makers), and my notes say that the patrol they killed when they first entered is due back in an hour of game time — so the chief and his circle of elders are about to be alerted to danger, anyway. So next time, they may get one more encounter, and then Boom, it’s going to be hard to get away with anything in there.
The goal is to have the PCs work toward a either a fighting defeat, or a negotiated peace — we stop killing you if you give us the girl back. If the PCs are smart, they’ll arrange for a more thorough treaty, though. I’ve started dangling clues, and next week I plan on introducing the concept of languages and using their skills more. What I wouldn’t give to have a party with a rogue in it! Or a PC cleric! On the other hand, the NPC cleric is going to give me a real handle on the paladin, which it’s clear I need in order to keep the player in line. Always good to have your hand on the tiller of the PC with the moral code, after all.
I think developing some ranger-related adventures would be a good idea. His skills are not much in play at the table. The sorcerer and the paladin have had chances to shine, but the ranger’s player seems a bit out of the loop. We’ll bring him in during the next session, I think, and give him an adventure specifically for him. Not sure how to do this, other than providing him with a creature he can specifically tame. There’s actually a Challenge in the Book of Challenges involving some escaped potential familiars which I could add in without too much hassle.
The push from all three players is to play more often. Frankly, I can’t do it. It takes me too long to prep for a game. I easily spent two hours this week, and maybe three last week — and I didn’t even run a game last week. Prepping for a game is more fun than prepping for a class or grading papers, to some degree, but I still have other parts of my life that need to be accounted for.