Saturday, February 27, 2016

Head-Game

Just waiting for the first people to show up so we can play our game tonight.  Starting right off with a fairly meaty monster; party is already hurting somewhat for hit points, so this is going to be particularly nasty (potential for 40 hp damage if a save isn't made).  Sorry I can't say what the monster is; it's part of Ternketh Keep, part of my crowdfunding proposal.

It could kill someone.  That's the point.

In my game, that's a lot of tension.  The players got sight of the thing at the end of last running, two weeks ago, so they're bound to be ill at ease as they come in tonight; I know that my partner has been on tenterhooks for the last few days, worried that she's going to lose her 4th level henchwoman fighter, Holly.  I don't think she will - they've got plenty of healing, poison antidote and both slow poison and death's door as spells if it comes to that.  Still, I want the party to worry - so as they come in, I'll wait for just the right moment to express sorrowfully, with concern, "I hope I don't kill someone tonight."

The key is to say it with honest regret; to sell the moment as something that I, as DM, have legitimate reason to be anxious about it.  Moreover, the moment it is said IS very important; not as the party has just come in, or as they're working themselves up . . . but in that sweet-spot moment when it is plain they're gathering their courage.  When is that?  Well, one has to get a feel for these things.

See, they're going to mention it themselves; they're going to mention it to each other; they'll need to, because that is a part of building each other up.  It is like the chatter that goes on before the start of a football game, sometimes between plays.  This is not the moment; the moment is when this crests.

We must listen when our players talk to each other (if they're not talking to each other about the game, you have party troubles).  We want to hear what they say.  We won't get into their heads if we don't.

4 comments:

Oddbit said...

By the way,
I'm one of those strange folks who likes summaries of these things,(I'm honestly not huge on the player turn by player turn detailed stuff)

Did you kill anyone?

Alexis Smolensk said...

It was a hell of a night.

The party had three encounters and fought two combats; the first, the one that concerned them the most, did do about 80 points of damage to the overall party and this wound up soaking a fair bit of the party's healing. The party nicely avoided the second combat by backing off; and then dove into the third combat (which they won by midnight, an hour after my usual shut-down time).

This third combat included me rolling maximum damage on a d8 approximately 8 times - and at one point in the combat, I rolled four 20 criticals in four rounds, for 12, 14, 16 and 16 damage. In all, the party took 194 total damage in about 15 rounds. Considering that this was typical AD&D and that no single person had more than 45 hit points at the start of combat, the mess was awful; luckily for the party, no individual was trapped by the combat so they were able to fall back when struck hard, with others to step forward and take their blows in turn. At one point, the 2nd level illusionist was put into the position of "holding the line" - if that tells you how bad it was getting at one point.

Most of the rest of the party's healing was soaked up; they have virtually no healing left and are contemplating their difficult options at this point.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh, I should say that the total experience for the last combat (that gave no treasure experience whatsoever) was 11,057, divided among 11 party combatants, none of whom died.

The party caused 297 points of damage in taking the room. I know these numbers because I still have the sheet I use to calculate experience.

Oddbit said...

Yep, I could see that 2nd level illusionist now.
Not that I haven't been in those boots.