What I Did Wrong at D&D, Family Edition: Ep 4

Another installment? What, do I do this every week or something?

Well, I try to, at least.

This was another pretty good week. We wrapped up the assault on the Goldenfields and dispensed a bunch of quests, which the party was hoping for. I can’t really sympathize. I’ve not had the chance to play at a table with a large map wandering component, but I’d have loved to. The closest I’ve ever come is playing Trask in Daromir. And I had a blast, because I was able to go a lot of crazy directions I made up as we went. Fun times.

Anyway, since I’ve never exactly been in their shoes, I guess I can’t assume that I’d be dealing with it better.

A lot of today’s WidWad is pretty much me griping at WotC and SKT. There is not much in the way for stage direction in this decently important fight. There’s no good, obvious, way to link the various encounters together. And, at the end, there’s no reason listed for what the armies do. I presume the other 2 big battles for this chapter are a little more straightforward. I don’t know, I haven’t read them yet.

I am very proud of my party. They’re learning how to use the ambush. The warlock shut down a hill giant all by herself for at least two rounds. The fact that she took, like, 28 damage from a giant flung rock a round later has little impact on her contribution to the fight.

I’m also pretty proud of myself. There was an army on the other side of the wall, but I decided as I was describing it, that I didn’t want to deal with the slog. So I described some awesomeness, dropped a couple of redshirts, and let the giant contingent retreat without eating hours of our meta-time.

There just didn’t seem to be any solid “this is the way you should go” connection between these fights. This is probably one of those big encounters that I ought to rewrite, so it’ll make more sense for me to run.

I need to make sure to check out the other big fights before we get anywhere close. I’ve fought in one myself and it was certainly more obvious as to what the goal was.

The other thing that I think I did well was the handing out of quests. The way SKT is designed is probably a good way to run such an adventure. After the low level chapter, the party gets one of three quests to go to these bigger towns. There’s some adventure on the way, then, when the party arrives at the bigger towns, giants attack. The party fights them off, then gets a handful of quests. These quests are there to A. let the party wander around, fighting things, exploring, leveling, etc. and B. Reward them with some goodies to better enable them to fight scary things. After a while of doing this exploration, the main plot has a few hooks to pull the party to the main story line.

So while I could have just said: “Here’s 6 quests for not letting any NPCs die, good job,” I had tried to bring the town to life by having the NPCs meet the party before hand, however I could. So there was a bit of rapport between them before the fight and I was able to capitalize on that and made the quests feel mostly natural.

So what I need to do before the next game is very different from my prep last week. Then, I had to try to stitch narrative to the unconnected encounters, presenting the city as a real place as best as I could, and ensure I knew where the story beats were. Now my preparation becomes one of mapping and understanding. SKT has maybe three paragraphs for an amazingly large city. That can’t stand. I already have a handful of more social encounters for the city, I need to come up with some more. I also need to have a map of the various wards and POI for the City of splendors. And it’s looking like I’ll need to mock up my own version of that map to have what I want.

And then, once that’s done, I need to do something similar for Amphail and Daggerford. Daggerford has a lot more story in it already, but it has it’s ow issues.

I’m not sure if any of this will actually be useful, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t have it at least read and notated by me. The party tends to walk to where you’re least prepared.

I think I’m finally getting into the swing of running for my family, although only the really attentive have been at the table the whole time for the last few games. This week, I’ll have a full complement of players. We’ll just have to see how that goes.



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  1. Knowing this, should I steer our party towards your least prepared route & let the fun begin, or keep us on what feels like familiar, prepared turf?

    1. That’s up to you. My job is to let the fun be everywhere. And I have a bit of time to turn the unknown into prepared turf.

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