This session a couple players expressed interest in buying land near town and building on it. One wanted to build a school, the other a casino.
For reference, the “town” is a palisaded motte-and-bailey built in an ancient, ruined stone city. The population is about 200 people. There is one shop and one tavern. Few women, no children. This will change as immigration occurs, but for right now it’s a pretty standard frontier town.
So I explained that they would just need to go out and “stake a claim” by actually putting down a permanent marker of some kind and inscribing a claim on it for some radius around the marker.
Construction would require hiring workers, scrounging the ruins for stone or chopping down trees for lumber, but in the end it would just be a GP cost and construction time. I need to figure out those guidelines. I also need to figure out how to handle them running a business. I don’t want to write a settlement simulation mini-game, but that’s what I would lean towards.
They decided to explore the rest of the Sunken Grove dungeon. They found a crypt full of (non-moving) skeletons and a pit-nest of vipers. They killed the vipers with arrows and one player took all their fangs. Later the adventurers found a block they could pry up, and underneath was a purple light that shone out and animated the skeletons – and the dead vipers! Luckily they were all defanged and posed no threat. The skeletons dispatched, they pulled the block all the way out and found a toad carved from purple stone, holding a gem in its mouth.
They descended a chasm they found into the next level down. They found, immediately, a further sinkhole leading into a roiling cloud of black smoke that seemed otherwise stable. They left that alone. Exploration of the second level, caves mostly, revealed cultivated fungus and glowing quartz deposits in the walls. They met and attacked some Mushroom-Men, who used defensive spores to overwhelm the intruders with peaceful thoughts or confusing hallucinations. They also telepathically urged the intruders to leave.
A fumble by a party attack dog led to it falling down and rolling around on the ground, destroying little “baby mushroom-men” that were being tended by one of the adults. An angry mob formed and began pelting the party with stones from their wicker-slings (like a narrow lacrosse stick). One party member split off on his own to explore every time they came to an intersection. Now he is separated from the rest of the group by a large upset mob of Mushroom-Men.
Going out on your own to explore is always a bad idea. Not just because you waste time at the table, and secure the referee’s entire attention away from the rest of the players, but it’s dangerous! If the worst should happen, nobody even knows where you are to save you. And the worst will happen more frequently because you don’t have the strength of the others to help overcome obstacles.
With the mind-affecting spores, I just told the players what their characters were feeling. I didn’t tell them what they could or could not do. Until one of them, affected by the Pacify Spores, tried to attack with a Magic Missile. I described how at the last moment he realized that he didn’t want to hurt anyone after all, and he shifted the missile to strike the wall. Until then they didn’t know whether they could attack or not.
But I look at that as an appropriate ability for an opponent. They received saving throws to avoid the spores each time, and even if affected it was not an instant-death effect. And the duration was only three rounds. And the Mushroom-Men were willing to just usher the invaders out rather than kill them, until the dog killed a dozen babies in the nursery.
It’s interesting how it played out. They might still be able to salvage the situation. The Mushroom-Men might become a source of various magic powders and potions for sale. Or the party may flee and return to destroy them, deciding that as monsters they should be killed.
When we started down to the second level of the Sunken Grove dungeon, I had no idea what I wanted to put there. I made a dungeon map, room contents, and creature tactics on the fly as we went. I had ideas floating around in my head, and the Mushroom-Man stats were already finished. But that was about it. I think it came off pretty well, doomed lone explorer aside.