Game Night went …. interestingly.
It had to be interrupted when two students got way out of line and decided to draw on another student’s walls with sharpie marker. Ben you get two guesses who it was, and the first three guesses don’t count. I cleaned it up, and gave them the job of doing all the dorm jobs upstairs and downstairs. The school nurse reported a student absent from evening medications, and I had to make a new character for a student in about 15 minutes.
We now have a four-player line-up, plus an NPC cleric. The next time they go back into town, the cleric will drop from the picture, and we’ll leave it just the four of them. We have…Salahaldin, a sorcerer; Sharp-eye, a ranger; and Deathblade, a paladin. We also now have an as-yet-unnamed druid with a wolf companion named Shadow. The Paladin has something to learn about paladin-esque names, but the roleplaying is starting to happen, which is exciting. The NPC is Brother Matthew, an initiate of the priesthood of the Nine Sages, who is very wise but not very smart.
Tonight, once all the interruptions were covered, we got the first three to meet up with the druid. The paladin was very nice and presented some of his personal treasure stash to the druid in exchange for assistance. The ranger realized the Druid was a colleague of his, and the uncle of the young girl they’re looking for. The Druid correctly surmised they were hunting kobolds. Some unusual role-play took place, which heartened me. Admittedly it was all involving the PCs, but progress was made.
Then they got into combat. This time they approached the door cautiously, and engaged in a fairly standard wedge formation, with the paladin in the lead, the ranger and druid backing him up, and their cleric and sorcerer to the rear. A couple of bashes later, some nice dice rolls, and a well-spoken action by the paladin followed by a 20 made for a successful night. Six kobolds down.
Next tuesday we have a fencing match, so I’ve arranged with the guys to do a second night of combat tomorrow night, followed (possibly) by one next week. With four players, an NPC cleric, and a wolf, they’ve got some muscle to handle the chief and his personal body-guard, which is likely on for next time. If they go up the back steps, it’s a chance for the druid and ranger to exercise their tracking and outdoor movement skills, and both players would like that, I think.
On the other hand, it means the kobold leadership abandoning most of their tribe to the slaughter. So, it’s time to start thinking about a recurring villain, one that can carry the players up to at least third level, maybe sixth, and who is behind the kobolds’ kidnapping plot.
It’s scary, but it’s time for me to be thinking about the second adventure, and the third. Along those lines, I’ve begun developing two towns for the later stages of the campaign, the small town of Casterbridge (they’re middle school students. Why not?), and Castle Rhodas, which sort of a large town, I guess, and serves as a focal point at the eastern end of the vale.
These two places, and the NPCs in them, will give them some focus and attention in the event that we can carry this game forward long enough that I can stage an invasion through the East Mountain Gate, the pass down into western Môna, and make use of some of the battlefield tactics I’ve discussed in this journal.
I’m also getting a better feel for the game. It’s flowing a lot more smoothly now, with initiative followed by combat actions; when a magical action and a military action tie in the initiative, I announced today, the magical action goes second (or last). House rule! First House Rule! Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but it feels right, and maybe it will give the NPCs an advantage some day.
I’ve not done a very good job of ramping up the kobolds’ tactical thinking very much. I’ve been treating the players very much on a “room at a time” basis, and the kobolds in one room don’t really rush to the defense of the other rooms nearby — though they should. When I revamp this for next year, I have to remember to put in alarm bells, tripwires, and chokepoints where the kobolds can defend their home base more thoroughly. On the other hand, they don’t have a rogue or anyone likely to think much about being one, so they’re limited in that regard.
I think I’m also going to design the map a little more carefully, so that it follows a more precise layout. This one isn’t bad, but it could be better, and more suited to a dwelling place for an esoteric order of followers of the Sage Ivar.
The biggest difficulty with playing remains the time put into it. Over the long haul, this will yield ample rewards. My binder runneth over with adventure ideas and materials to work with: maps, random encounter tables, etc. But tonight, the three hours of work over the previous week was mostly ‘wasted’, in that dormitory disruptions meant that I couldn’t get to those encounters. On the other hand, this means I can put more effort into designing and developing the next few adventures — one set in a ruined broch, I think, left behind by the people at the time of the Grey Witch, and a chance for the paladin to make use of his turning skills. Another should be some sort of wilderness adventure, possibly a quest for the ranger to uncover his first animal companion. There also needs to be an adventure relevant to the sorcerer, some sort of quest to a place of ancient power to seek access to new spells.
I also want to have some handouts for the players. The druid should get the ogham code, so I can send him secret messages in Druidic. The paladin already has the code of his Order. Something similar for the ranger, maybe? What about the sorcerer? His spellbook, maybe. No, not that. Too potentially icky. Got to think on that one.
Between familiars, animal companions, and the paladin’s mount, this is going to be a very animal-laden party by fifth level. I need to factor that into my planning for this game, in particular.
The SSATs were a royal pain in the neck this morning, but I did get some work done. It wasn’t that bad.