Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

D&D Apprehension

I've just come back from Origins, I'm feeling somewhat gamed out--and I realize that the next session of my D&D game is on Thursday.

I'm feeling apprehensive about this game--particularly so because I felt that the last session did not go well. (On the other hand, the people who commented on it in their journals have been positive about it, so maybe I'm just being too harsh on myself.)

Some particular flaws I have in mind:

- I feel that I'm not very good at evoking a mood. Part of this is that I forget to provide rich descriptions of places, creatures, and actions. (I could be more descriptive, I think--I just forget, particularly when there's action going on.)

It is also true that this group of players has so far tended to minimize the emotional impact of events. Perhaps I should enlist the players' help in trying to evoke emotion...
I've been reading Ken Hite's fabulous GURPS Horror recently. (Horror is of course all about evoking emotion.) One of the recurring themes in that book is that making horror work requires the commitment and participation of all the players, not just the GM.

- I have a habit of glossing over some of the challenges, particularly when the players say, in effect, "We're going to solve this by exhaustive search." Some examples of this include the final resolution of the pool of pus, and the discovery of the trigger mechanism for the secret door in the last session.
There are worse things I could do, admittedly. (This is a link for Pyramid subscribers of an example of something worse that I could do.) But I still feel that I'm shortchanging players of some challenge and excitement there.

- I had put a lot of effort in trying to elevate this module from a bad module with a few good bits to an adequate module, but I hadn't been thorough enough. The Cloudkill trap took me by surprise, and my fudging to make it survivable was really obvious. I don't regret the fudging--what sort of goober puts a trap that is likely to kill half the party in a place where it's necessary for the plot? But I do regret that the fudging was obvious. By contrast, I have no regrets at all about leaving the dragon out of the module. (By the way, both of the AEG "Adventure Boosters" I've run have been really really bad, with rules errors, illogical developments, and impossible challenges. I don't think I'm going to use them any more.)
As a side note: I don't like instant-kill effects. (Instant petrification is equally bad.) At the moment, I think that as a matter of policy, I'm inclined to refrain from using such instant-hose effects until the players use them first. I may change my mind on this, though, as PCs get more badass.
(Come to think of it, I may need to figure out what to do about this roc. Being picked up and dropped by the roc could be instantly fatal to many of the PCs. But I've already foreshadowed the roc in... stupid module.)

- I think that I'm not challenging the party correctly. I don't want instant-hoses, as I said before. But one challenge appropriate to their level per game day is just free XP and treasure; they can recover their spells and heal up without using any of their longer-term resources. I would like to have the players be more familiar with the "uh oh, need help badly" zones of few or negative hit points.

- I get flummoxed sometimes. In particular, Prolix's illusions often throw me for a loop. I fear I may be too generous with how I handle them. On the other hand, I want to err on the side of generosity--I think a too-generous game is probably more fun than a too-stingy one.

Oh well. On the plus side, I can see how I've improved, when I think to look. And there is justification for some pride in the simple fact that I've managed to keep the campaign going for almost a year--I wasn't sure that I would manage that. So I will muddle through somehow.
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