Monday, April 13, 2015

Random campaign thoughts

Session Thoughts So Far:

Everything seems to be moving along pretty well. I'm perfectly fine with how the 52 pages are working so far, although near the end of Session 3 there was a mini-revolt about the shooting through intervening characters rules, which the players thought were too restrictive and unrealistic, plus some initial confusion about the difference between shooting two grappling targets and past a different target. It was definitely exacerbated by the fact that I hadn't carefully read the rules at that point - I assumed Isotype and concision were enough, but my momentary hesitation drew out the discussion. However there wasn't a peep at the start of Session 4, especially as Sloth's player brought an erasable battle map allowing everyone to set up precision defilades. Which is good, because I really love Roger's system here, as it rewards planning. You get a pretty harsh penalty for intervening targets, and absolutely none if you think ahead. 

The injury system is also really nice, because it gives losing your hit points a serious punch but keeps fatalities fairly uncommon against low-damage foes. Plus it's a great way to ludically eat up in-game time*. By the end of Session 5, we'll be two and a half months in, and summer will begin. (And with it, the terrifying peryton rutting season.) 

Now I will admit to going easy on everyone so far - true DM's will laugh at my weakness in letting them resurrect Vlad for the pittance of 1,000 gold. And the goblin spiders by rights should have taken down Sean, as well, but I had them stop to wrap their first two victims in webs until they took damage, giving the players more of a chance. Finally, I've been hand waving the post-injury Handiwork rolls for healing, saying that they're close enough to the surface that they can get back to camp and "take 6" on the rolls. 

Well, things are definitely going to get tougher. Moving from the Gatehouse to Level 1 will make it easy to transition into actual rolls for injury healing, as nobody will be able to daintily carry an injured man up 100+ feet of stairway. The Scientist's resurrection machine will have a 1 in 3 chance of breaking after they next use it. Also anyone who uses it has a tracking device implanted, so good luck if you try to bite the hand that raised you. And future Crab Spiders encountered will be living in a full dungeon, not some Moktar gang's coddled pets.

Speaking of Scientists, I am truly mystified by their decision to get Temple support in exchange for 50% of the loot. Pat's players balked at a 15% cut, what gives!? I really wanted to encourage them setting up as an independent group first, with the Gatehouse as a private secret entrance after they open the first level, and I thought I'd accomplish that by having all factions treat them like the overconfident riff-raff they are. My best guess is that they were feeling vulnerable after the crab spiders, but they have so far rejected getting hirelings. 

A few other behind-the-scenes notes - I saw a suggestion somewhere, possibly at Roger's blog, that encounters should be rolled for any crazy battle sites or destruction the players leave behind, and so the Automaton Abomination had cannibalized the jury-rigged the players slaughtered in the second session, gaining 9 hit points. It didn't help though. 

On that subject, the automatons have proven to be really useful allies, precluding the need for any henchmen. But they might find that uniting them could have some (yet-to-be-determined) long-term consequences they won't necessarily enjoy.

Also I've decided that the Church of Starry Wisdom is behind Purple Lightning and the Inn of Alabaster Surprise, so Tuan Fen may find himself with some strange bedfellows pretty soon. 

Finally, Elves using CHA and the free henchmen seem dissonant to me - even in regular fantasy, and much more so with ASE's alien cannibal elves. For instance, when I pre-rolled Slezgar he got 18 CHA and a Fighter henchman as equipment which really doesn't seem in character. I feel like maybe switching the core stat with Prophets, since free henchmen make sense as devotees or temple minders. I guess it could be balanced by making this leader-prophet have a Wizard's HP and attack bonus.