Serpent Skull: Expect the Unexpected

Welcome to a new year everyone!  I have had a great holiday period and I hope you all have too.  Last Thursday we had our first game for 2013 during the afternoon.  I had thought that the players were soon about to go through a massive period of frustration as they tried to find the secret area that was the only access to the dungeons that they needed to get to to complete the module.  This was not to be though as the players got smart, and decided to get a little proactive on finding this entrance.

Expect the Unexpected!  Sanity Check!

Initially as the players took to the table they made an assessment on how well their characters were doing with their resources.  Janthir the sorcerer/rogue/arcane trickster was the only one who was not really tapped out in any major way so the group decided to return topside to their camp and spend an evening cashing in treasure, putting in orders for new treasure, talking to the people of the camp.  They then returned to the fortress in the new day buffed and ready to cause trouble.  They decided that in order to find this place they would need to search the areas of the map that they had as yet avoided and began by delving into some of the more militaristic areas of the complex.  A couple of battles well handled against some guards and officers had them come across some barracks where the players got smart.

They came across three guards in their downtime accidentally and fought them easily but instead of going for the default kill (which is essentially what this group always does) they kept one of the guards alive and pumped him for information.  This is a very new tactic for the group and it caught me a little bit by surprise.  So surprised in fact that when they pushed the guard I had him spill the beans without even asking for an intimidate of diplomacy roll.  Will have to work a little on my ability to expect the unexpected I think.  So, the group managed to find out what room the secret door was in, but not the exact location.  In fact there were two secret doors in the room, one easier to spot than the other and I hoped that this would make up for my spilling the beans far too early.

The group has a super-tracker though in the form of Seleca the Cavalier.  She loves building camps and tracking so she went into the room and asked if she could find any tracks or commonly walked over areas and rolled something like a forty-one on her attempt allowing her to find two areas that had plenty of traffic.  The party surmised the correct door and began the “buff” up process again as they planned to head into the chamber.  One of the NPC’s who is searching for her lover approached the door and opened it, eager to get on with finding him as the players began to buff.  She was surprised by two guards at the door and it became a tough fight to keep her alive and kill the guards.

I left them at this point, ready to enter the final stage of this module and find the prisoner down in the dungeon level.  There were a couple of groans at this point as the players are all eager to get in and find out if the woman’s lover is still alive, and if he is what condition he is in.  They are also keen for more information about what exactly is happening.  They are aware that it is something big, but not exactly certain of what just yet.  They know that the serpent folk are keen to rise to power and it has something to do with their beheaded god, but just what is happening in Ilmurea is still a bit of a mystery to them.

I realised that I had been a bit lax as a GM when I got caught short by the players new tactics.  I had been lulled into a certain pattern of play from them, which largely was kick the door down and kill everything.  So with that style of play I had been slowly reducing the amount of time that I had been thinking of alternatives to what is in the module of how the players will handle things.  Change in tactics noted, work more toward expecting the unexpected.  Also, I have been trying to encourage the players into role playing opportunities by introducing new faces at camp.  Giving them the opportunity for romantic involvement and some time to think about where they want there character to be once the path is over.  I am doing this as a large part of the next module is reliant on role-playing, coercing different factions into joining the fight against the evil that lurks below.

So moral from this game is expect the unexpected!  Next game will be in the next few days and I will add another post then.

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