Session 8 – Escape and Aimless Wandering

This session we had just two players. Two others were out of town and one had to work. I might try to pick up one more player, 6-7 is a good maximum. You don’t want to get too many because one night they’ll all show up at once.

The PC stuck behind the line of enemy Mushroom Men saw an Elder wander up with bodyguards. They used telepathy spores, against which he failed his save once and so he could “talk” with them. They reiterated that the group was not welcome here and let him escape through their lines.

Honestly I should have been harder on him, after all they did trash the nursery. But it wasn’t due to their decisions, it was a bad roll. So I didn’t think it right for him to lose his character. I’ve decided to not go easy on them in the future when this kind of thing happens – he brought this on himself by exploring away from the rest of the party at every single opportunity. If someone gets caught in a trap or encounters a monster, the world needs to act appropriately.

The two of them then got back to town, picked up an NPC hireling, and wandered around the wilderness mapping to gain the EXP for exploration. The latter 3/4 of the evening was this. Just pointing out which hex they were going to next, me rolling random encounters, them trying to hunt at the end of the day, searching rolls for each hex, and a little exploration of the things they found.

It was a little boring from my perspective, though they generally came across interesting things. The multiple encounters (and subsequent tree-squatting mass butchering) with wild dogs and wolves didn’t help. Rather than have them roll each attack, I averaged out based on how many they would hit per 20 shots, average arrow damage, and average wolf HP. Every 10 shots I rolled morale for the wolves to see if they would flee.

But is it really my place to steer them toward the most interesting stuff? I can’t outright tell them that the thing they’re doing is boring, especially since maybe they’re having fun doing it. I won’t even draw the line if they decide to settle down and found a village or something, as that’s clearly a legitimate direction for D&D play at high levels.

I talked with the players last week and got their feedback on how to handle treasure hoards.

Up until now I didn’t have a treasure type table. I explained to them that I was going generally off the 1E D&D table, but with more averaged hoards. The standard way to do it is to take a creature’s treasure type (let’s say it’s Type A) and then go across the line rolling for what treasure is in the hoard. First there is a percentage chance that any Copper Pieces are there, and if so then you roll how many. And then move on to Silver Pieces. It’s quite possible to encounter creatures with no treasure, and then others of the same species with the full treasure. Over time it evens out, but you experience a boom-and-bust pattern.

Previously I was placing treasure as if the chance of appearing was averaged. That is, if you had a 50% chance for 1d6 x 1000 CP, instead I just gave 1d6 x 500 CP. Over the long term it’s the same, but the boom-and-bust cycle is severely weakened.

I think there are good arguments both for and against the way it’s written in the old books (boom-and-bust). For one thing, it allows for occasional truly huge hoards by compensating and giving less elsewhere. Huge hoards are just plain awesome. But an argument against is that players don’t always show up to every game, and might participate in 90% of the struggles while missing the Boom Hoard on the session it comes in.

They liked how I was doing it before. Normally I wouldn’t explain my reasoning or rules for something like this, but I could go either way and it strongly impacts their fun level. I think it was a good choice to talk it over with them and get their opinions.

Summer is coming on, which means people will have other activities they want to do. Usually gaming winds down during the summer, in my experience, but perhaps this group will be different.

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