Snook -- 'tis a silly place
We gamed again Wednesday night. It certainly wasn't the best session ever, but we had fun and laughed a lot. So much so, in fact, that it led me to a realization about this group and their style that, in turn, has made me think of some rules changes.
The quick recap: the party exited Tergal's Dungeon and discussed how or if to use it as a base or hideout of some sort. Two strange figures wandered separately into camp. One, an elf, came with a cart of assorted items that were all that was left of a raid by bandits. The other was pursued by some monstrous troll/hobgoblin hybrid. The party defeated those and, of course, the two wanderers agreed to join up.
The still-charmed bandit, Gunter, recognized one of the items in. The elf's cart as a medallion bearing the crest of Snook, a small nearby town. Hoping for a reward, the party went to Snook, only to find Snook had been beset by a string of robberies. The party agreed to help after being promised reward and some equipment upgrades. Learning that the thief was likely coming and going via the town well, they devised a Scooby-Doo like scheme intended to trap the culprit. This, of course, did not work, so the party climbed down the well. In the caves beneath, they fought a giant spider. We had to end there.
There are a couple of take-aways from this session that I am going to implement going forward that I hope will make the game more fun and run more smoothly.
1. Build the Sandbox. I simply don't have time to do a lot of prep, but I need to invest a little time in building the immediate environs for the game and populating it with potential adventure sites. I will likely be using a lot of adventure modules for the actual adventures, but spending a few hours gathering my materials, making a rough map of the area, and deciding where each module "lives" would go a long way toward fleshing things out for me and my players. I can also include my player's three sentences in this sandbox to generate more buy-in. I really felt the transition from Knowledge Illuminates to the next module, The Dragonfiend Pact, was really forced by me. I didn't like such heavy-handedness. Having a better defined sandbox would help the players take more direction. Right now, they don't know where to go because I haven't (literally) given them a map.
2. My players are silly; what's that mean? There was a lot of silliness around the table on Wednesday. Three things stand out. First was the chickens. When new PC one arrived, with a cart, I asked him what was in the cart. he listed a few "adventure-ish" sorts of things, then another player added "two chickens". Those chickens, their care, and their potential magical properties ("Wouldn't it be awesome if they laid already-cooked omelets, and whatever you fed them showed up in the omelets!") then occupied us all for a good 15-20 minutes. Second, the other new PC is a thief. But he has decided he's more of a con-man, so another 15-20 minute conversation occurred during which the players discussed how he could claim he'd written some famous texts and, possibly, bilk senior citizens out of their gold with a real estate scheme. Third, once the PC's were on the case in Snook, they launched into full Scobby-Doo mode, complete with assigned roles ("Okay, you're Velma!") and an elaborate plan. Said plan consisted of a crate propped up with a stick tied to a rope and a gem. You see where I am going with this.
I think I need to mention that all of these players have advanced degrees. :)
I also need to make it clear that, 95% of the time, this sort of thing does not bother me at all. Sure, during the Scobby-Doo bit, I did want to tell them "JUST GO DOWN THE WELL!" but most of the time, I think it's funny, and creative. Clearly they are enjoying themselves. But you don't get a lot of XP for silly banter and witty references in Old School D&D. Given that we play every other week for, at most, three-hours, this means there's not a tremendous amount of time for monster-fighting and treasure looting.
So, change the system? RISUS seems made for this group. But they are all familiar with D&D and seem to like it.
So what I think I may do it adopt some sort of different leveling system, something like the Jovial Priest's 2d6 System.
Also, I need to harness the silliness a bit. More NPC's with which to interact. More adventures that are, well, adventures but feature unusual or interesting elements. I'm still musing on how to best accomplish this.
Still, we're having fun!