Friday, June 28, 2024

Notes from Three Sessions of OSE

I've gotten a weekly-ish game off the ground at the office after work lately.  We'll see if it survives the 4th of July disruption. I've done a lot of theorizing since the last time I actually ran a game and figured it might be fun to keep a kind of scorecard around how well those theories are working in practice.

Wandering monsters as lurking threat - this has worked great.  I don't think they've met a wandering monster head-on yet; instead they hear doors opening and closing and motion in the distance and they haul ass to get away from it or hunker down and hope it wanders somewhere else.  There is one group of enemies who they have heard and seen tracks of but never met face-to-face, which have developed a fearsome reputation which may or may not be accurate.  The monster you don't see is much scarier than the monster you do see.

15-room dungeons - mixed success.  I've built two levels in this style with a third in progress.  Their exploration of the dungeon has been very slow; in three sessions I think they've seen seven rooms, so about half of the first level.  Consequently I have been somewhat lazy with prepping further material.  I do think 15 rooms is a good size to play with a theme without it overstaying its welcome, at least on the DM side; I can come up with 15 interesting ideas riffing on a theme, but 30 would be pushing it.  Whether it overstays its welcome on the player side remains to be seen I think.  I do think the 160ft by 160ft level/tile size that I proposed in that post is too small; the first level, which I built to that size, feels a bit cramped to me.  The second level is a bit larger, maybe 200x200 and feels more right, at least to my sense of how a dungeon level should feel.

How 1st level play is supposed to work - Seems accurate so far.  I started them off with 3d6x100 XP each, which made 2nd level clerics and thieves possible from the start but in practice nobody rolled one.  The cleric and thief just leveled at the end of this last session.  They have been playing very cautiously; in three sessions they have evaded three? random encounters, successfully retreated from two combats (one via closing a door in front of enemies without fingers, the other by blocking a passage with oil - they are learning), and only fought and won two combats (one via sleep and the other via strength of arms, at the cost of the life of one fighter).  The great bulk of the treasure they have recovered so far was from a special/puzzle room where one possible outcome was treasure and another was giant spiders.  So I think our limited impression agrees with the idea that first level is "won" on unguarded treasure.  It's been interesting to see how at first level, characters can be broadly divided into "MUs (with sleep)" and "everyone else, who are bags of HP, AC, and mundane equipment".

Resting in the dungeon - too soon to tell. I've provided securable areas to do this in, and have informed the players that resting in the dungeon will require rations and clean water if they want to go overnight and recover spells, but they haven't done it yet.  I'm still not totally sure how wandering monster rolls will work with this, but I do have one or two things on the table for the second level that may pose a threat to bunkering characters.

No henchmen - This is working well I think; players are assuming their own risks and playing more cautiously than the hireling meatgrinder games we had with ACKS.  I'm almost loathe to introduce henchmen now, but I think by the time PCs start hitting 3rd level, having 2nd level replacements on deck rather than having to go back to 1st will make a lot of sense.

Infravision and mapping - Too soon to tell.  I haven't allowed demihuman classes yet, since they weren't in the OSE quickstart rules.  We almost had an elf the other day; the fighter and the MU both couldn't make that day but we had a new player who rolled Int and Str both around 14.

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