Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Reflections on a Session: 29 October

  • Time spent: ~6 hours
    • Presession+pizza: ~1.5 hours
      • Incl 15-30 minutes of restocking rooms and generating NPC stats
    • DMing: 4.5 hours
  • No new rooms mapped
  • 2 rooms restocked, one stocked room updated
  • Dungeon area explored in 4.5 hours of play:
    • Five new rooms:
      • 2 hidden treasure, 1 trapped
      • 2 monster (both negotiated with)
      • 1 trap
  •  Game-time elapsed: 4 hours, 40 minutes of 5 hours the dungeon-portal was open
    • Random encounters checked: unsure
    • Random encounter rolls forgotten: unsure
    • Random encounters rolled: 5
      • NPC party, fought
      • skipped while waiting for dwarfgeld under ratman fire cover
      • Sewer Things, evaded
      • Giant rats, subdued with Magical Music
      • Masked men with polearms, evaded 
    • They were pretty noisy today, and I was rolling high for encounters (if not anything else...)
  • Party composition:
    • Brynja, Bladedancer 3
      • Crapahildis, ??? 1
      • Spike, War dog
    • Chathis, Thrassian Gladiator 2
      • Dogeater, Ratman 1
      • Wardok, War dog (lost an eye)
      • Ascila, Bard 1
    • Scarth, MU 3
      • Rheingold, Cleric 1
      • Thancharat, Elven Enchanter 1
  • Mortal wounds taken: 1
    • Wardok was stabbed in the head with a spear by one of the Seven Dwarves' henchmen, and lost an eye.  He was successfully evacuated while the party was waiting for Mordin the Craftpriest to return with the ransom for his captured compatriots
  • Loot recovered:
    • 1000 gp in ransom for captured dwarves
    • Battleaxe +1, shield +1, and an unidentified dwarven divine scroll
       captured from the Seven Dwarves
    • ~4500 gp in gems captured from the Janitorial Supply Closet
    • Another stash of ~500gp and a magic dagger was located, but not recovered because it was guarded by assassins
  • Traps triggered: 2
  • XP from monsters: ~158
    • Way over the 4:1 ratio, but they're about out of easy treasure that doesn't require tangling with lairs to extract
Other notes:

I considered running a Halloween Horror special, but ultimately decided that low-level ACKS in a hellscape megadungeon was adequate.

Rather underprepped.  Need to finish up stats for the Five-Finger Discount this week; the party cut the Seven Dwarves down to four, and they're going to be out of commission for a bit, so somebody's going to have to fill the NPC Party slot on the random encounter table.  I also need to reload the stocking for the cultist zone into cache; it seems like they might head that way soon.

Brynja's player seemed somewhat underinvolved, but not unhappy.

I'm not totally happy with the way we handled cleaving during the Seven Dwarves fight - the thrassian punched all the way through into the dwarves' back-row without taking any free attacks for disengaging (though he did take some for engaging spear-wielders with lower initiative).  Also man, initiative really is a decisive advantage.

Scarth's player: "Well if I were designing a dungeon to live in, I certainly wouldn't put a pit trap in the only entrance to this room.  So there must be a secret door."
Chathis' player: "That would be sound reasoning if this dungeon weren't designing by a vengeful chaos god who revels in our suffering."
Me, returning from kitchen with pizza: "Hello!  You called?"

The party was actually reasonably diplomatic today, though in both cases (the sewer-things guarding the Supply Closet and the assassins) they weren't sure if they would win a fight if one started.  In retrospect I'm a little surprised they struck first against the Seven Dwarves instead of trying to talk, but they were cornered with an insecure rear area and they knew it.  I think that was a big part of the reason they chose to make a decisive engagement there.  The party also wanted to talk to the Masked Polearm Men, but they didn't respond to hails (instead following the party at the edge of their torchlight).

An awful lot of treasure today...  but they're about out of lightly-guarded loot.  I don't think anyone leveled, but Brynja should be over halfway to 4th if I'm recalling correctly.

Referring back to my estimates on 10 September, I think my estimates were reasonable.  I projected that I had about five sessions of prepped material at their exploration rate from 10 Sept.  Five sessions later, they've cleared out and made friendly about a quarter of the area I've prepped, and explored another quarter.  If I were in charge of their mission-planning, I could probably get another 3? sessions out of areas currently prepped, but they've gotten close enough to the edges of the stocked area that they could wander out if they were uncharacteristically motivated to strike deep, or if they made an area friendly diplomatically.  There's definitely been some slowdown in new-area exploration compared to their first-session rate, though; I expected this, but did not work it into my estimates because I wasn't sure how.

It was interesting that this session they made a point of going back and filling in a hole in their map otherwise surrounded by areas they'd explored (part of this was due to currect suspicion of a secret room).  So far the sort of general progression for dungeoneering in Pox's Quadrant that we've seen was:
  • Blind exploration until centers of opposition are located
  • Elimination of aggressive / proactive lairs
  • Exploitation: easy treasure extraction
  • Consolidation: establishing relatively safe zones, filling in holes in the map and making sure there aren't hidden threats or secret routes unknown in the area
  • Use as a springboard into new areas
Scarth's player commented positively on the time pressure from the dungeon portal window (the portal to the dungeon is in the duke's castle's basement, and the guards only open it for 4-6 hours at a time 1-2 days a week, which means that multiple adventuring parties are often in at a time, and if you stay too long they'll close it and you'll be stuck for a couple of days).  There may come a time when they want to go so deep that six hours will be tight, and at that point they'll either need a safe place in the dungeon to hole up for a couple of days or some very solid mission planning (possibly including reduction of gear for increased speed, and preliminary missions laying groundwork by clearing along the shortest path to their objective).

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