Thursday, May 21, 2009

Playing the Dunegon of Voorand - traps and tricks

Having had little time to prepare, I came to today's session with the intention of delaying my players. Sometimes it comes like a natural thing when the delving expands out of the dark, and the outer world gets involved in the adventure. It happened somewhat last week, when one of the PCs capable of flying decided to fly high over the mountain of the dungeon and scout the area. He found some standing stones, tracks of cattle rustling orcs and enough to entice him to explore some more. This week I actually didn't have to delay much, since the taster of wilderness adventure and wider and wilder lands made further exploration and research about the surrounding lands something they took on voluntarily! Add to that the fact that another player had decided to use some of the NPCs he had recruited and start some serious carpentry down the dungeon to build bridges and stuff. I love when my players get creative like that!

I couldn't really resist using the awesome Carousing Mishaps table by the inventive Jeff Rients, from issue four of Fight On! magazine. So, they did not only get the opportunity to chase down facts about the countryside, they also was tempted to spend some hard earned gold and get some fun to happen. Maybe getting 1 Adventure Point per spent gold was a bit generous, but whattaheck! Our brave dark elf partied like there was no tomorrow and ended up without any clothes or memory in the temple of the Earth Mother, where the angry priestesses chased out the defiler! Fun was had by all.

When they finally entered the dungeon they decided to go down a hallway where I had basically drawn a long empty corridor and then just filled it with odd traps. I made it fairly clear to them that they were traps, and it's impossible to surprise someone that's so lucky like their rogue. But, it turned out that even if it would have filled me with glee to see some tense moments when the traps went off, we did get some good moments out of them anyway. You see, they didn't just roll a couple of dice and them moved along, and they didn't have to think their way through a mental headache while they were trying to have fun with their friends. I managed to do something different.

Leave a trap out in the open, and players will spend time on it. They will take it apart, prod it with ten foot poles, try to circumvent it and then understand what it could have done when they are finally safe. Remember the fun you had when you put it there for them to solve? Just watch your players as they carefully reassemble the machinery so that they can feel that satisfaction when they come back and see that some other delvers have triggered it! I noted that even if the players hadn't understood how the mechanism worked (and I didn't actually give then all the information needed), they still spend a lot of time safeguarding themselves if the trapped would do this or that when they out of curiosity wanted to test it out after they passed it by. Having the whole party kibitzing and taking different precautions was a very interactive way of handling a trap. Playing a game where traps are a thing unto themselves is a mindset, and my players are good at it.

Talking about minds. I was actually fooling around with their minds a bit today. I had hinted that there was a tavern down on level two, and today they found it! It's not just any tavern, though, and I messed with their heads a bit and placed the Tavern out of Time (AKA The Come Back Inn) from Dave Arnesons Blackmoor in there! They seemed scared by time travelling and plane hopping taverns and left quickly. I hope I learned something from Dave of how to keep the players on their toes.

There was some fighting, and they used some of the stuff I posted about combat, and effectively halved the combat adds of a golem by knocking the not so dexterous creature over! It takes a lot of power to challenge these guys in a fight now. We'll see how long they'll stay on level two. Well, they now got one of the colour coded keys I've left in the dungeon, and some rumours about other areas and the pool of the black one down on level five. We'll see where they go next time.

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