This week in the megadungeon, I had only a single player, due to people having work school and weather. So I rolled up an NPC an we delved the dungeon together. This is what we found…. (Or found out, in a meta game sense.)
Item the First: New fangled character creation
So I had kind of been suspecting that attendance would be low, as attendance for our Tuesday game has been sketchy of late. I figured it would be good to make the character that I’ve wanted to make since I saw the subclass in an Unearthed Arcana and was excited to see it made it to Xanathars.
That class is the Divine Soul Sorcerer, which basically makes me a cleric, but with sorc tricks. Twincasting Healing Word is a lot of fun. She has a multiclass or two to do before she’s entirely ready, but Thiala Liadon was eager to the task.
One of the fascinating things we got from XGE, though, is the section “Who is your character?” with its many many tables. So I started rolling and I learned so much about this character! There are so many hooks that a DM could use to tie her backstory in to whatever. It was a lot of fun to learn that Thiala has 5 siblings, only 1 of which is an adventure like her, that her dad had a falling out with his best friend, a Halfling paladin named Stacee Appleblossom, that Thiala’s mother was eaten by a Chimera… Lots of fun and interesting things.
On as character creation level, things are moving swimmingly. I need armor and some AOE, so my next level will be one of Cleric (Light domain) and that should solve those problems. She still has a ways to got before she hits level 4, though.
I did use her to test lantern mechanics. They were… Fine.
Item the Second: The Player
Playing D&D with only one player is interesting, as the game gets stripped down to what they think is worth doing and little else. Which occasionally makes some plans go out the window. Also, if they get fixated on something, say a statue that must have a purpose, there isn’t anyone to drag them away to another part of the dungeon.
Its also interesting to see how a group would deal with a problem, as opposed to the sole individual. For instance, the group likely has at least 1 person with thieves tools, so we can unlock doors as opposed to having to try to break through them all the time.
I do need to be more strict about time. Probably in my AL game as well. Occasionally, I might even be bold enough to say normally, in D&D, it doesn’t matter. You can move and open that and the actions are the important bit, not the order in which things happen.
Not so in the dungeon, this one or the one that my Wednesday group was in this week. Things happen in a particular order. People move at the same time, actions happen while people are doing things, and I can’t just move around willy-nilly and cherry pick events.
What I need to do is reveal the Dungeon Clock. Or it’s shadow, at least. I need to let people know that each tick (or “turn,” it says in my notes) takes 10 minutes or so. And, in that timeframe, you get to do one thing. Sometimes, moving might be part of your action. Like saying “I want to go over there and look at the carvings, try to interpret them ” or whatever isn’t just moving.
Actually, I’ll probably steal a page from the DWRPG and have initiative broken down itnto subsets. After polling all characters as to their intentions, Observers go first, Talkers second, Movers 3rd, Doers fourth, and Fighters fifth. Probably. I’ll have to look at their book again. Doers and Movers might be swapped.
I imagine that the more we play with structure, the less we’ll actually needed it. But, until that form of breaking actions down into their time, we’ll want to have the structure.
Item the Third: The Dungeon
There is a couple of changes I’ll need to make to the dungeon. First, I need to figure out a few more doors. I want to have doors that are easily openable from one side, but locked from the other. I think that would be interesting.
Also, directly related to what the player was doing on Tuesday, The entrance to the dungeon is about to get a lot tougher to get in. There wasn’t really any consequence to leaving the dungeon and coming back and leaving again. I’m not going to do much to add consequence, just the simple change that it now officially takes an hour to climb up and down The Pit. If we add four hours of time to our day, we probably climbed out for the last time near the end of the adventuring day.
Also, I have a statue that apparently does things. That’ll be a thing I have to figure out.
It’s nice to know that I can run a game with just a single player, but its not my preferred method. I prefer full tables. You get this social energy feedback loop when you hang out with your friends and that doesn’t build quite right with one player, I don’t know.
I’m learning a lot about dungeon improve, that’s for sure. My other games are getting better because of this experiment, and that makes it worth it no matter what happens.
And if we have fun during the experiment? Awesome.