Adventure Notes #9 & 10

We finished up the old school module The Isle of Dread. It initially gave me a ton of prep to do, as this is a 1st edition game, and I had to update it to 2e. I'll go ahead and share a couple of the monsters later on, so watch this space.

My overall feelings about modules are that they are a pain, and this one was no different, however, it didn't completely derail my adventure. The module was written brilliantly, it was very neutral and just had encounters peppered here and there, it left the story completely up to the Dungeon Master, which is the way that it should be.

I really wanted the players to fight the book, with little to no input from myself. I added my villains into the random encounter lists, decided what I was going to have them do while on the island, and just let the party explore! It didn't work out so hot.

On paper, a complete wilderness adventure sounds great! Wandering around blind, not knowing where in the hell you are going, or really what you are looking for. In actual play, this was SLOW!!!! So slow that I was getting bored, and it was all the same thing. I thought that it would be fun, but plotting a coarse and deciding of where to go that day is frickin boring! I don't know if it was my fault, or if I did something wrong, or what. I thought about it! I really did. How can I spice this up? But with such a large map to explore, I really couldn't prep anything or describe a scene more clearer then what I was. I really didn't want to spend too much time talking about a day where nothing happens. I did give the place a lot of sounds and smells, but the players weren't all that interested, and I kept failing my random encounter checks.

I actually expected the party to get lost, I thought that this would be a 4 or 5 part adventure, however Shannon just used logic while looking at the blank map that I gave him, and pinpointed exactly where, aesthetically the main dungeon should be on the map, and just went there, and they made it during the first session. They actually got half way through the main dungeon before we decided to call it a day!

While inside, the badguys were 3 days ahead of them, and I was able to enjoy my "Great Race". Inside the temple there is a big god face, reminiscent of "Wizard of Oz" which I decided would be fun if the Villains used it to heckle the party. It worked wonderfully! They were trying to kill this rock face, while all of these zombies are attacking them, and my villain is just thinking that that is hilarious!

I had already drawn my villain route on the map, but there is just so many ways around this monster that it really did turn into a race. I messed with the map some, but for the most part, left it alone. The Players beat me fair and square! Which is what I wanted.

The party can now rip my 6 fingered hand party a new one. They were able to kill my wizard completely on accident. Since they were ahead, they were able to find better cover and turn the tables on them and winning. I sensed that their time was drawing to a close, so I was able to get the two gunfighters a chance to square off. A Sunset dual in a flooded cave, both gunfighters so powerful that they can kill with one attack. The winner of the Initiative would get first shot, and the villain was a bit more accurate then the hero, Sam White.

Sam got the drop on him and pumped the German wannabe full of lead. He made his system shock role, and was able to find cover and barely survive the encounter, however he didn't survive the game. Ultimately his friends fed him to their new master, a monster which almost killed the heroes!

Sam White, played by Shannon, almost dies in every game he plays. Only a couple of games did he need to be saved by divine intervention. I am really terrible, I love the character so much which is a problem. I have vowed to give him no more chances now, so don't you be yelling at me for cheating! But this Sam White is the perfect cowboy hero. I did have to protect him at lower levels, I didn't want him to have some stupid death because of a failed saving-throw. His death should be heroic, and that, I discovered, IS my job. I needed to give the party more opportunities to die a hero, instead of just stupid.

Shannon cheated death twice this game. The first when he proved that he was the fastest gun in the dungeon, and that no European was ever going to be a better gunslinger. And the second time was when fighting the written badasses, the Kupra, brain charming slug monsters with a mean streak the size of Texas. He was horribly beat up, and the monster knew that he was now the weak link, Sam could see this thing swimming right for him, and he has 2 hp to his name, if the monster so much as sneezes on him, he's a dead man! It is all up to the dice, he's got two attacks, and hitting these things isn't easy. He pumped off two shots, and did just enough damage to drop that disgusting cuthulu wanna-be.

The dungeon part was very exciting! But I really need to figure out some way to manage wilderness adventures. I've played them and had a great time! But this thing didn't even have a road.

I did find an excellent article here, that I really like! The dude over at 7-sided Die has translated a bookkeeping free way of managing supplies based on Savage Worlds. This would simplify things.

I don't know how to best handle something like that. There was just to much to do, and I kept it as fast as I could, but sometimes I was just stuck rolling hundreds of dice while the players forgot about the game for 10 minutes, and all because I DID roll a random encounter.

At the end, I didn't even want to go back outside of the dungeon. THAT was probably my own fault. I had spent the day before, brainstorming with my wife about a new world that I want to create, and regrettably, my head was still there. THIS ADVENTURE IS SUPPOSE TO BE MY BABY!!!!

After they took out the undead pirate monster-boss I just started adding up experience points and told them that they were able to leave the island, and the next adventure will take place right outside of the doors of were they need to be. I do want to wrap this game up, I've given myself a quota of 4 more adventure sessions and I do plan on keeping that deadline, however the fact still remains that this IS my baby, and I want to give it justice.

I recant, and I want to have one giant battle and a heroic escape from the Isle of Dread. Next adventure is going to be totally different. The need to win, because this next phase of the adventure they are going to lose, and lose and lose big!

We'll go from totally open gaming, to more of a total railroad job. The mysterious master of the realm, The Red Death, is not going to be playing around any more. The party is just a heartbeat away from gaining a weapon that can kill Gods, his attention will be totally on them, and he is going to hurt them, and hurt them bad! It is now time for the 2nd act, and nobody survives the 2nd act unscathed. Even if the players survive, they're characters will never be the same. SOUNDS LIKE FUN!


Unknown said...

Personnaly, as player and dm, i never found a "you are here and can do whatever you like.. now what?" enjoyable. It's nice if alot of players know alot of npcs/location and can interaction. But in this case, as dm of a group of 15yr-olds, i go for "you have these X number of options (go here, to that, etc) to choose from or if you want to do anything else, please do" type of semi-railroading. It's easier on the brains and usually has the players thinking about the options instead of trying to make up some.

My 2 pesos..

RipperX said...

I think that, like a lot of DM's, I am highly critical of myself. I am always on the look-out for failure, and what I can improve upon.

This is something that I will try again, I think that I know where I went wrong, and I can correct it.

You are correct, Francois B. You always need a goal of some kind to keep the party moving forward. This I had, however I believe that where I went wrong is that I rushed it. Dungeons and Dragons demands slow and leisurely pacing, and I just didn't feel that I had the time to properly pay it the mind that it deserved.

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