Posts Tagged ‘dungeon crawl’

The Perfect Table

March 25, 2013 1 comment have been GMing DCCRPG recently at our Friendly Local Gaming Store, and week in and week out the party make-up changes by whomever decides to show up that week. It has been a liberating experience in a lot of ways, and has led to tables with as few as one and as many as five players. This got me thinking about the size of gaming tables. The Skyland Games guys have had a lot of fun playing a lot of Pathfinder Society in the last few years, and with any kind of organized play there is a minimum table size (generally 4 PCs, but it can be 3PCs and the GM running a pre-gen in a pinch). I think that got us in a mindset of not even getting together unless we could get most, if not all of the party together.

This last week we had a table of three of the four players from the week before. The party consisted of a thief, a halfling, and a warrior, and I reprised my GM role as Izdren the Useless cleric. We were running through the second week of Doom of the Savage Kings, and had gotten to a section that was a pretty straight forward dungeon crawl. Having just 3 players at the table allowed for a lot of freedom to run little vignettes for each character if they had a specific goal in mind. Normally this kind of “splitting the party” is an RPG cardinal sin (Although that didn’t make our Gaming 10 Commandments). But with only 3 players, if the GM and the PC keep the scene moving it can be entertaining for the entire group.

We had a couple of prime examples this past week. For one, the thief wanted to break in to the temple in town and steal what he had heard was a magical artifact, one with which the priests of the temple were none-too-eager to part. We ran a quick scene of him scaling the walls at night to an open window, scaling back down and falling on his face, alerting some of the priests. As the thief’s character is somewhat of a crazy person (actually a con-man that just acts crazy) he was not met with hostility, but roughly escorted out of the temple. He eventually tried again, and succeeded. Leaving a skull behind in place of the artifact, in his words “Like Indiana Jones in the Raiders of the Lost Ark!” It ended up being a very fun scene. Near the end of the adventure, there is a little crawl space in which a halfling can maneuver fairly easily but it would be tough for just about anyone else. That crawlspace leads to two very important rooms, both with treasure, one with a super-deadly trap. Thanks to some excellent rolls, and the judicious use of halfling luck, he survived. In both of these cases, it gave the opportunity for a particular PC to shine, without grinding the game to a halt.

I’ve run this adventure for a much larger table, and again the PCs wanted to run off and do separate things in the town. With a table of six, it was a much different experience. It becomes much more difficult to get back to each player and make sure they’re engaged in the scene even if they may not be central, or may not even be present; with three it didn’t seem as difficult.

I think ideally, an RPG table should consist of four players and a GM. That being said, I’ve had a great time running for just one person, or a gang of seven. What’s your perfect table?

Delving Dungeons Doesn’t Disappoint

March 14, 2012 Comments off

It’s the oldest and most iconic form of fantasy RPG adventure. A bunch of adventurers of varied skills and backgrounds stumble across a hidden cave, or an entrance to an ancient tomb. Traps and foul creatures stand vigil over gleaming piles of treasure, long forgotten.

I’m prepping for tonight’s Pathfinder Society game. Tonight, I’m GMing one of the PFS intro scenarios, which are free, and pretty awesome. The second one in the series “To Delve the Dungeon Deep,” is about as classic as a dungeon crawl can be. I won’t spoil it for those who have yet to play it (including the guys tonight!), but this little delve has got it all; traps, mysterious lairs and runes, creatures, and plenty of options for PCs to make choices. Which way? Attack or parlay? Poke it with a stick or run screaming?

Recently, I adapted The Lost City for 4e. A classic D&D module, it proved to be one of the most fun 4e experiences I’ve ever had. My sincere hope is that DnDnext or 5e gets back to the classic feel of exploration and mystery. 4e as written seemed to get bogged down on the numbers side of things, (making sure encounters were balanced, treasure parcels were level appropriate, etc.) and lost some of the magic that came from not knowing what was behind the next door (let alone if the door was trapped!).

If you don’t have access to any old D&D adventures (I’m talking late 70s, early 80s) I recommend downloading Part 2 of the PFS intro scenarios. Heck, you might as well download them all. Even if you don’t play Pathfinder, the style of this delve can inspire a GM for any system. Things to consider: What is the history of the location of the delve? Who used to live there? Who calls it home now? What did the previous inhabitants leave behind? What have the new denizens added? Try and tie them all together with a cohesive theme, a goal for the adventurers (perhaps the classic MacGuffin?), and you will have at least one awesome night of gaming ahead of you! If it has been a long time since you’ve explored a forgotten place with a group of adventurers, grab a torch and a ten foot pole and conquer the unknown!