Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ACKS - The End is Nigh!

Summer's end is approaching, and while school doesn't start up again until near the end of August, it's getting close to time to pack up and move back east.  As a result, barring weeknight gaming, we only have one more session of ACKS left this summer.  My current plan is to put the campaign on hiatus for this coming semester; my course load is looking a bit hairy (six classes, two of which are compilers and network security), and I could use a bit of a break from being behind the screen.  However, general consensus among the players is that if I were to pick it back up in the spring, they'd be in.  Since I will have satisfied my reqs to graduate by then, I should be able to take a lighter load of fun / interesting classes in the spring and have time to run a game..

The approaching closing of this chapter of For a Few GP More has put me in both a retrospective and plotting mood.  Currently I have a GM-only wiki page on the Portal with 23 loose ends generated over the course of the game; of those, three and a half have been resolved since I started keeping the list.  This gives me a lot of stuff to work with for the finale session; too much, in fact.  I'm having trouble deciding which loose ends to tie up, and which to leave open for the next season.  It's a good problem, I guess, but also tied to the question of the structure of the next season.  If people are bringing back the same characters, then it's fine to leave personal plots open; if not, then that's less viable.  Bringing back the same characters leads to power disparity issues; I know Jason was feeling it this last game (he missed out on the wish-haul, and has a 3rd-level spellsword in a party where many of the henchmen are 3rd-4th level, and the highest-level PC is 7th).  Technically, the XP math works so that this will correct itself, but it could still be quite frustrating for newcomers.  The alternative, to switch to a low-level party with some of the henchmen replacing PCs (Tim retiring Corinth to play Hulst, for example), with only occasional sessions dedicated to higher-level play, would work quite acceptably, except that Andrew and Tom both have no surviving henchmen.  I guess I'll play it by ear and go for a mix of personal and impersonal plots.

But, some statistics.
Our first session was on the 26th of May, and our last is scheduled for the weekend of the 4th of August.  Thus, we will have played for about ten weeks, minus the week I was out of town.  We also played about three weeknight sessions, for a total of 12ish games.  The lowest number of players in attendance was three, which happened several times, and the highest was five, which also happened frequently.  The smallest party size in-game was four in the first session (Gallivan, Errgumun, Joe's bladedancer, and Corinth), while the largest that I recall (not including mercenaries) was during the first expedition to Bleak, with 12 party members.  During the 12 sessions, fifteen forays were made to three dungeons; six to the fallen dwarven fortress of Sandygates, seven to the ruined Bleak Academy of Necromancy, and two to the Monastery of Madness.  One more dungeon, the Crocodile Temple, was mapped and stocked (mostly), and while the party knew its location, they never visited due to the many miles of perilous marshes between Opportunity and it.  The highest number of expeditions attempted in one session was three, with the fourth, fifth, and sixth expeditions to the Academy.  The lowest was zero; this occurred only once, during the overland journey from Deal to Opportunity.  A total of seven and a half months of in-universe time have elapsed during this campaign, which may be a new record for this group; the only others that might give this a run for its money are some of our Traveller games.

The highest level reached by a PC so far is 7th, by Drew's bard Garwyn.  Drew also wins the Worst Employer Award, for having the most dead henchmen to his name (nine out of the fourteen henchman casualties), and the only actual personal henchman kill of the game.  Joe, Tom, and Andrew tied for most PC deaths, at two each, but Joe has the distinction of being the only player with two PC deaths in one session.  Despite a total of eight PC deaths, we had only one replacement PC come from a henchman background (Corinth) - all other replacements were brought in via reserve XP.  Most PCs began play at 3rd level, a few (elves) at 2nd, and I believe Garwyn came in at 4th on reserve (Carcophan may have as well).  The only player who hasn't had a PC die is Jason, who has also played the fewest sessions of any player.

Sure wish I had kept better track of XP and gold earned for examining monster-vs-treasure XP balance...  I could probably reserve-engineer it from my notes, but don't feel like it at this time.  Drew and to a lesser extent Tom are the only ones to have engaged in campaign play; Drew has a thieves' guild and a town under his control, and is working on constructing a castle to exert his dominance of the surrounding lands, while Tom engaged in arcane research once and has been considering constructing magic items.  He also has ambitions of rebuilding the Academy or launching a chaotic beastman domain.  For his part, Tim has avoided the bookkeeping involved in campaign operations, and Andrew and Jason haven't really reached the levels of power to try it yet.

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