Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reflections on a Session: 10 Sept 16

Some fools went into a dungeon yesterday, and almost all of them came back out alive and unmaimed!  This is a novel flavor of DMing report, with the in-game events secondary to the out-of-game events.

Some stats:
  • Time spent: 14.7 hours over the last week
    • Actually DMing: 3.5 hours
    • Chargen and otherwise talking to players, but not running the game: 3.5 hours
    • Mapping dungeon: 2.7 hours
    • Stocking dungeon (about half done): 2.5 hours
    • Constructing random encounter tables for sub-zones of the dungeon level: 1.3 hours
      • high variability
    • Setting cosmology: 1.1 hours
      • honestly half of this was in the shower
  • Dungeon area mapped: ~80% of a single sheet of graph paper, right around 100 rooms not counting hallways
  • Dungeon area stocked: ~48 rooms
  • Dungeon area explored in 3.5 hours of play: 8 rooms (and some hallways)
    • 4 keyed monsters, 1 random encounter
    • 1 "trap with treasure"
    • 1 empty room
    • 1 "empty with treasure"
    • 1 special (portal room)
  • Assuming no retreading and similar rates of exploration in future, about five projected future short sessions' worth of material currently ready for use. 
    •  ~6.5 hours of real prep (cosmology doesn't count) for 6*3.5 -> 21 projected total hours of play
    • For another 4 hours of prep on encounter tables and stocking the other half of the dungeon, probably another ~20 hours of play.
    • Projected amortized "real prep : real play" ratio is ~1:4 before reuse/retreading - not bad at all.
  • Game-time elapsed in dungeon: ~2.5 hours (16ish turns)
    • Random encounters checked: ~6
    • Random encounters that I forgot to check: probably 2-3
    • Turns spent returning to exit from point of furthest exploration: 4
  • Party size: 11
    • Mage 2 (old player)
      • Assassin 2?
      • L0 woman with 18 Str?
    • Explorer 2 (new player)
      • Fighter 2
      • War dog
    • Dwarven Craftpriest 2 (old player)
      • Spellsword 1
      • Dwarven Delver 2?
    • Bladedancer 3 (new player)
      • L0 woman with 16 Str?
  • Mortal wounds rolls taken: 3
    • Bladedancer knocked to 0HP, treated within 1 round, got up fine
    • Assassin knocked to 0HP, treated within 1 round, got up fine
    • L0 woman with 18 Str knocked to 0HP, got up with minor scarring, subsequently injured while in need of bed rest and killed instantly
    • They got pretty lucky with all the "exactly 0 HP" bonuses.
  • Loot recovered:
    • ~5kgp in gems and coinage
    • Three magic swords
    • Magic ring
    • Boots of elvenkind
    • 3? potions (growth, climbing, heroism, ???)
  • XP from monsters: ~600
    • hm, my "monster xp : gold xp" ratio is around 1:8 instead of 1:4.
      • To be fair, they did kill a high-value lair via trickery.
    • In another 5-7 sessions with XP awards like this, the party will have "outleveled" the stocked portions of the dungeon (modulo casualties, slow-leveling classes, etc).  This could guide my difficulty decisions in stocking the unstocked parts.
Other notes:

Chargen was unusually slow, at around 2.5 hours.  Contributing factors: late players, new players unsure what to play, old players vacillating about what to play, same process repeated with henchmen.  Should maybe have brought pregens, pregen henchmen (especially given that new players were largely guided by Convential Wisdom from the old guard; somewhat predictable proficiency selections resulted).

Ability score rolls seemed unusually high/good (except for Drew :P Although he still ended up with a mage with 18 Int and 16 Con, so I guess they must not have been that bad...).  I'm not sure I like the "reduce other stats to boost prime req" rule, honestly; at least three of the four PCs have 18s in a prime req as a direct result.

My equipment kits saw some testing, and were a mixed success - people bought a bunch of them, and then had to decide which ones to carry and which ones to leave on the mules because they had bought too much gear and were over-encumbered.  So that's a win for resource management gameplay and a loss for time.  The simplicity and singularity of the old Starting Equipment Package was a virtue that I failed to recognize.  Maybe having a Dungeon Equipment Kit, a Wilderness Equipment Kit, and a Medkit is the right level.

New players were fairly passive, with old players plotting the course, taking the risky actions, and choosing when to enact the sudden but inevitable betrayal of the deceived monsters.  I do not know the new players very well yet; unclear if this is just a learning period before they start initiating, or if it's a personality / party composition thing.  They did both pick up the initiative system and THAC0 quickly though, which was great.

Relaying mapping information felt extra-slow due to new architectural features not seen in previous dungeons; noticeable pacing lulls (which aren't inherently bad, but not necessarily ideal for a first session where you're trying to catch interest).  Did do a bit of temporary player-viewable scribbling at the beginning of the session, which helped, but sort of backslid to purely verbal descriptions as time went on.  This might be a good lever to use for conscious pacing control.

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