Observations from the Front
We had another very enjoyable D&D game last night. I feel like the campaign is really rolling now. The players are in the level 1-3 range, with some getting close to 4th level. Interesting enemy plots are starting to be uncovered, and the players are making a lot of decisions about how to involve themselves. Here is a hodge-podge of observations from last night’s game, any of which I may sprout into a larger post in the future:
Little Books – I made a DM’s reference book, similar to the red player’s guide I posted recently, that has the rest of the LL book in it. It’s mostly monsters and treasure, with a few extra rules like naval/aerial combat and hireling stuff that didn’t make it into the player’s guide. Both books are spiral bound 8.5″ x 5.5″. Having one of each behind the screen is fantastic. The spiral binding means I can leave them open to a specific page with the rest of the book flipped completely around, thus taking minimal desktop space. The division of what’s in each book is perfect, I found myself frequently with the DM’s ref flipped open to the current monster the players were facing, and the Player’s Guide open to combat rules. Both were easy to shuffle around with my large binder of notes, and those three things plus dice are pretty much all I need behind the screen.
Screen – Speaking of my DM’s screen, I’m very sad to report that one of the hinges on mine is starting to split. I’ll try to repair it, but I’m worried it will never be the same. I’m tempted to order a second backup one for when this one finally goes. Yeah, that’s how much I like these screens.
Oracular Dice – I’m following Delta’s Item #3 here, and whenever I don’t know the answer to something immediately I give it chances on a d6 and roll. I’m finding it is really easy to make up chances on a d6 on the fly, and some of the stuff this has led in the game has been really fun. I expect to lean on this even more as we continue to play.
Wandering Monsters – Why did I ever dislike this concept? It’s fantastic. I roll for them now whenever the party is traveling through wilderness or in the dungeon. In the wilderness I vary frequency (1-3 times per day) and die type (1 on d6, d8, d10) based on the danger level of the area the players are in. Last night the players set up a trap for some monsters in a dungeon they knew were going to be by in three hours and laid in wait. I started flipping my turn counter, rolling a wander monster check for each turn that had to pass (18 turns for those counting). Though it seemed inevitable one would show up, many of the players felt the tension as I flipped the turns, and everyone hooted with laughter when after 15 some hungry lizard men finally showed up, approaching the party from the opposite direction. (“Shh, the hobgoblins are coming soon,” one player quipped.) I think the players are now taking the lesson to heart, realizing that a dungeon is no place to hang out for long periods of time. Hopefully they will get a similar sense of what wilderness areas are also too dangerous for such, which I think will really help breathe some life into the setting.
Turn Counter – Somewhat related to the above, I love the way my manual turn counter gives the sense of actual passage of time. I don’t think the party realized how long 3 hours of game time was until I started flipping through the turn counter. It’s nice to have a way to give them that sense of time passage quickly without have to just convince them verbally.