|Only three characters: Demifee, Holly & Sharper.|
I'm sorry I didn't get a screen shot of this before the fighting began. This is just two rounds into the combat. Sharper opened the door on the top right, surprised the zombies (the third time in a row I rolled a two or less for surprise!) and rushed in. It took a round for them to get into position. Demifee leapt on the table (easy, as she had the bench to step on) and hit the one zombie for three damage. Holly then hit the other for six and Sharper ran along the benches and missed. The zombies attacked back, hitting Holly for not enough to stun and two of them smacking Demifee around for 10 damage - enough to stun her. This is where the running finally ended (this was the last combat round I ran).
I want to remark on how my bad luck will seriously affect the party's game. I can set up really cruel and miserable monsters, but if the party comes into the room and I consistently roll that the monsters are surprised, then lose initiative to the party after that, I'm giving two free attacks to the party every damn time. This gives them enough starting hits to cause the enemy to be more easily stunned, letting the party walk through tough monsters even though they do have heavy hit points.
I don't mind. As I always say, I'm not invested - if the party gets lucky, good! The risk going in was the same - it isn't the party's fault if I have a pair of threes when they pull a full house. I know that there are DMs who will shift and re-balance the adventure as their luck proves to be bad, but I think this is wrong. The party ought to be rewarded for good luck just the same as if their luck is bad and mine is good.
This is a full dungeon and there are plenty of opportunities for my luck to change. I don't believe in empty dungeon room after empty dungeon room; thus I build my monsters so that I can attack the party again and again with something, even if that something is so minor it's only good for attrition. Attrition counts! When the party comes to the end of the combat, having already expended their healing powers (oh my gawd, I'm not talking about the ridiculous pathfinder/4e healing bullshit here), all I want is for them to pause before finally being faced with the big bad. Attrition throughout the adventure will make a big, big difference when the end game comes around.
I'm surprised that many DMs don't seem to get this. Minimalizing healing is a huge part of the game. How can the players possibly give a crap about characters who more closely fit the Wile E. Coyote stereotype (can take damage endlessly with no effect) and not John McClane? When they get to the end, we want their characters bleeding, limping, sore, broken and tired; not with every hair in place, strolling in without a care. How is it that the same fanboys who bitch endlessly about a scar that was obtained in scene 23 is now missing in scene 24 want to run characters who do the equivalent of rushing off to the make-up trailer before having to fight the big bad?
Anyway, the benches in the above image are all original work - and like everything else in the dungeon, they're interactive. Some might have noticed in this series that several of the chairs have been moved around as necessary, for characters to get past.
Here's a shot of all the underground in one picture, showing how much was explored and where the characters are now in relation to each other:
|As of Saturday, Jan 30, 2016|
If anyone wants to see any of these features close up, let me know and I'll post them on the blog on on twitter, whichever is easier. For those who don't know, my twitter is @Tao_of_DnD. For example, here's a look at the crossbowman Fehim who is up in the keep's yard:
|I really, really like how sharp I've made the crossbow.|