A few random observations from my Monday night game:
1. It's always funny when the wrong monster becomes the star. The session led off with a battle, after a flashback to establish a bit of background for the villain. Here's what the PCs faced:
* A cleric of Iuz
* A necromancer
* A devil the two summoned
* A demon the necromancer summoned on round 1
The devil and the demon, despite being lower level than the two casters, were the stars of the show. I think I rolled below a 15 for the devil once. The cleric's big trick was using an illusion to escape with his life (and a map writ on burning dragon hide). The necromancer managed to die horribly in 2 rounds, thanks to the avenger.
2. The best part of the early sessions of a campaign lies in watching one particular die roll or trick shunt the campaign along a path. Such as:
* The aforementioned cleric's successful escape, thanks to some blown Perception checks
* The avenger's laying a spell on the cleric that lets him track him basically forever (thrown on the cleric without any idea he could escape so easily)
* The PCs' seeing through the captured elf diplomat's lies, tracking him to a clandestine meeting with the thieves' guild, confronting him, and watching him die when the demonic heart forcibly implanted in his chest tears his innards to shreds
All those sequences came down to die rolls or player tactics, and they've had a big effect on how things have (and will) play out. I think a good campaign has that throughout, but early on it's more obvious.
3. I started the campaign with a short dungeon crawl, then shifted to a lot more story and investigation. I think that worked well. It gave the players a chance to learn their PCs and work out their basic tactics, plus it set some stuff up early on (the escaped cleric, the rescued diplomat, tensions within the church of Corellon) that paid off in last night's session.
I liked the tempo switch of starting with a small dungeon that had lots of fights spiked with story bits in between, a flashback to establish the villain, a big fight with that villain, and then an extended roleplay/investigative session.
Last night's session ended with the PCs caught in a trap sprung by a treacherous wererat who was supposed to lead them through the sewers to the villain. Running one hour sessions at work has trained me to design just enough concrete stuff to keep things at a brisk pace.
In essence, I try to end each session with a clear line to the next scene. I can spend a lot of time on that scene, knowing it'll take 1/4 to 1/3 of the next session (figure fight/confrontation, plus immediate scene afterward), then line up the possibilities for the game to go from there.
Anyway, that's what's up with my Monday campaign. I should post a bit about my lunch time campaign, too.
And Then There's John Bellairs
2 hours ago