This is a special 2 week rendition report. I failed to write last week, not that I had much to report on. It was a mediocre session. I could have done better, but not by much. The more recent game was better. So we’ll be talking more about what we did right for that, maybe. But let’s get into it, yeah?
First, the week before. I had to implement a new rule for our table: If you are not AT the table, you aren’t playing. This was implemented not for the people who go to the kitchen real quick, but rather for my sisters who just kinda left the table and didn’t come back, one with more excuse than the other. So in the future I have to tailor content to keep them interested. We were kind of slogging through a cave, so it was not as engaging as it could have been.
Second, involving the cave slogging, I think I could have run the goblin boss better. A lot of the cave could have been run better, but Hark should have sent the party to deal with the Blob, instead of accepting a duel. Curse my inabillity to trigger the fight when people are talking!
Third, I didn’t do the Hybrid mode I had talked about. I ended up doing theater of the Mind and i think that worked pretty well. I’m not very likely to to it another way, but that’s in part due to the layout of the game area. Its a big, long table with me at one end. If we every have a night where I know I want very tactical combat, we might change the venue a little.
Fourth, moving onto the more recent game. Schedule for a good night. This may seem obvious, but we’ve been having scheduling issues. We finally moved the game to Saturday night, and Oh, want a glorious change. We had twice as long to play, we had a full dinner before hand, and it went much better. I was a lot more relaxed about the game, because most our Sunday time crunch was things I was involved with. My sisters were not at said game, due to a previous commitment, but I think it will work much better, at least until my Sunday evenings clear back up in 2 months.
Fifth, Let the players pick the course. SKT has this convenient glorified taxi that will pick up level 4 characters, make them level 5, then drop them off at the next plot point. But one of the great things about SKT is that it has a map with keyed encounters on everything with a name. So I put it to party discussion and they decided to experience the realms. So I filed away the cloud castle taxi and instead, they went walking. And they hit a few locations. It’ll be better in the future, when the party is tougher and has a better grasp of the over all plot. Actually-
Sixth, Give the Party things to do. My party has bit of an issue right now in that they’re kind of waiting to become part of the story, instead of trying to do their own thing and let the story grow on them. It may be my fault a little, as I mentioned accepting quests was once of my expectations for them, so they may be worried that trying to do their own thing may be going off rails. Or maybe they don’t have an idea of who their character is and what their motivations are. I dunno. I’ll have a passel of quests for them soon enough, hopefully plenty to keep them hopping.
Seven, Shaping Random Encounters. Actually, I think I did this rather well, but its something that I’ll need to hone a bit. SKT has a cool encounter table. I need to work on when we trigger it, tho. But I did roll a Fire giant on the table, but, since my party is still kinda low level, I crafted the story around it so they could choose to peruse it, if they wanted. They chose not to, but it shaped how they talked to NPCs at the Goldenfields. As they travel more, I’ll keep shaping what they run into to create story.
Actually, the more I delve into SKT, the more I’m excited by it. There is an overarching plot, and some locations do have some encounters, but a lot of towns just give suggestions. You could be running a whole other adventure at the same time and I think you are encouraged to. It’s like Skyrim. There is a big plot, but you can mostly ignore it. There’s just dragons around on occasion.
Eight. I wrote a NPC out of existence. It turns out, there are 2 individuals that are basically in charge of defense of the Goldenfields. Both of them seem to be not great at what they do. And, accidentally, not knowing of the redundancy, I had people complain of just one. So the second guy doesn’t really exist right now. I’m not sure what to do about it. I’ll probably just ignore it and continue on.
Nine. Should I be concerned with party stealth? Its becoming a bit of an in joke, to try and talk with people who are Obviously Bad Guys. But the party was about to ambush the baddies, when one player (who reads this blog under a pseudonym) shouted a challenge or something. So the party lost their surprise round. I’m not sure if I should talk to him, let other players talk to him, or have my NPCs or encourage a PC to talk to his character in game.
Luckily, that player AND another player read this, so they’ve been alerted to the issue. Not that I really have a problem with it, but I could tell the 3 stealthy characters were annoyed by the 1 non-stealthy character ruining their ambush. That doesn’t mean he should stop, because it’s probably in character, but, well… It’s a thing that should probably be talked about.
Hello, players reading this. :p
Ten. Lack of Stage Direction. One of the things I find irksome about SKT is that it occasionally skips over how characters would react to things. For example, the party has to go tell Miros Xelbrin that his parents are dead. There is not a single sentence I can find that tells how he would deal with it, or how the party would be rewarded for delivering the news. And that’s annoying. It’s a small thing, although I guess there are a lot of characters in the book who would need an extra sentence or two, but for direct plot quests, they should have something.
Eleven. Moving to XP. As part of the wandering party initiative, we moved to XP from the milestone system. It also makes it easier for people popping in and out. I’m not sure what I think about it yet, but that’s a thing we did.
Twelve. Factions. There are some cool faction interactions in SKT, and in other adventures, I assume. Something we did at the start is let players choose their factions. They’ve done a little bit to drive the story along. Unfortunately, the location we hit only covers 2 of the factions, one of them being the one no one picked. I probably should have done some more while they were in Waterdeep. I’ll have to think on that and work it in next time.
I think that covers it, mostly. It was the best week so far and I’m starting to get very excited about where the game could go.