It was a mop-up session, basically; having bee-lined for the prime menace of the dungeon, they now followed back killing leftover monsters and looting. I knew ahead of time that there were not going to be any terrifying combats--particularly since the metagolem was not around to coordinate things.
The major incident of the evening was their meeting a foreign cat-man who was a prisoner of the metagolem.
Now, plan A for this NPC had involved the PCs meeting the NPC before the metagolem. I had even rearranged the dungeon so that that would be more likely if the PCs followed the left wall through the maze--but the PCs managed to subvert that by switching from 'follow the left wall' to 'follow the right wall' midway through.
So I made up plan B for this NPC. That plan got badly battered by Prolix getting a 34 on a Spellcraft check for which I had set the DC to an unreasonably high 25, and by the NPC's failing his saving throw against Prolix's detect thoughts.
So I was hastily trying to throw together a plan C, and at the same time figure out how much information detect thoughts would provide. (Does the spell transcend language barriers, for example? Is there any way to conceal anything from someone using detect thoughts?) It didn't go very well.
Afterward, I still didn't have a clear notion of how much the spell should have revealed, but I decided that Prolix should at least have been able to detect one of the cat's lies, if perhaps not the truth behind the lie. I also realized that the cat should have been more suspicious and less forthcoming about having a spellcaster go invisible and then cast two unknown spells. I sent e-mail to Dani about both points.
Dani's first response was denying that the cat-man had any reason to be suspicious, and reminding me not to let my privileged information influence the cat-man. This is one of the things that's making me cranky. I tested my interpretation with a friend who's not involved with the campaign, by describing the situation from the cat-man's perspective. He didn't guess the detect thoughts, but he did describe his reaction to the invisible spellcaster casting spells as "very suspicious". So that's how I'm going to play the cat-man's response, and I feel that Dani's being willfully naive about this.
Dani's second response was about the detected lie:
This is significant. If possible, I'd like to turn the clock back on this one: If we knew that he was lying about this, we would not have unchained him until he came clean.
Bleah. I don't want to turn the clock back on this. But maybe I'm being unreasonable here, and being reluctant to turn the clock back because that'll wreck my feeble plan C.
Bleah. All my best-laid plans gang aft aglee. Sometimes I feel that every interesting plan I make--NPC interaction, monster interaction, or whatnot--falls apart when it meets the actual game.
(I know that I'm exaggerating things--there have been some good plans. But I'm feeling very 'bleah' right now.)