Our last game went really well. The kids have settled into their new survival mode and we had some gameplay breakthroughs that this DM was pleased with. For example, no one complained about their lost gear (which didn’t travel with them when they were magically bampfed in last month’s game to these unknown lands). With their mercenary questing days behind them, they completely focused on their own personal goals: finding new gear.
The game resumed where we left off: The adventurers settled down for a night in the Watchtower. Before too long, Grok and his hobgoblin henchmen returned to the tower, tripping the ranger’s alarm spell. They fought the creatures on the stairs and prevailed without too much difficulty. The hobgoblins were better equipped than their goblin counterparts and the group immediately upgraded whatever weapons and armor they could.
Daylight provided the heroes with a better view of their surroundings, and a choice. To the north, nestled at the foot of an expanse of tall, craggy mountains, they spotted a stone fortress. To the south, a single plume of smoke rose from behind a distant hill. They judged both the fortress and the smoke to be a three day’s hike along a nearby river that stretched between them and passed just east of the tower.
They quickly decided the plume of smoke indicated a better chance of current activity than a stone wall with no smoke or banners flying, so they chose to go south. Decision making for the group has improved since the reboot. They reach consensus quicker than before and with much more confidence. I think in our previous settings their own desires conflicted with those of their employers – and the pre-printed material – and led to extra debate. They know what they want, and they don’t need some local lord to tell them what that is. Happy players; happy DM.
Another new concept for the adventure was food. For the first time, they were hungry. They had no provisions in their packs – no packs! – and no employer providing for them. Although most of the food they discovered in the tower’s basement was spoiled, they did find some edible food and waterskins. Also, Grok had returned the night before with a freshly killed wild board which supplemented their provisions. They had enough to last them four days. They were ready to set out.
On their first afternoon travelling south they heard gruff voices ahead. The thief used his stealth to investigate and discovered a pair of Ogres talking and drinking at the river’s edge. The group made a coordinated approach. After a surprise ranged attack, the fighters, and especially the barbarian made short work of the creatures. The ranger and the thief remembered to collect their arrows (they still only have thirteen to share between two bows).
The highlight of the game (for the DM anyway) came after their second day on the road. The group had camped for the night and the thief took the first watch. Shortly before midnight, as the rest of the group slept, the thief heard singing in the trees around him. A group of Harpies had settled quietly in the branches overhead and were attempting to charm him with their wretched song. [The player rolled his d20 and missed his saving throw.]
“You are charmed!” I declared, thinking he, and his sleeping companions were doomed.
“Oh frick!” the thief’s player wailed.
“Wait!” other voices called out.
Simultaneously, two of my other players piped up with this tidbit of information that had not previously been discussed at the game table: “My elf has advantage on saves against being charmed. The thief is an elf! He gets another roll!”
The player’s second roll was a success and the thief was NOT charmed by the Harpies’ terrible song. He was able to rouse his companions and fend off the Harpy attack.
So my players actually ARE reading their character sheets and paying attention! I granted an XP bonus on the spot for that one.