I felt a little frustrated after last night’s session, so I want to hash out a few things on the forum if people are willing to spend some time. This is part rant, so please forgive me for it. Hopefully this will generate some discussion and improve the game for everybody and not cause any problems.
First, my gaming style is a 'sandbox' game. This article describes this type of play, and an example given ‘Keep on the Borderlands’ was the very first D&D product I ever owned and was definitely a formative influence on me: http://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/662/what-is-sandbox-play
As much as I love the sandbox, I am also aware it has issues. As the article says "It can be problematic because players can feel like they are spinning their wheels and wasting limited leisure time without more guidance..."
In the sandbox, I am not driving the storyline. There are events happening in the world that are based on your player backgrounds and other things, but it’s up to you to decide what you want to do. Being aware of the weakness of the sandbox, I felt I offered a couple of opportunities to give more direct guidance in the form of a benefactor.
First immediately after becoming Fianna, I offered the PC’s to become “Clan” or “Free” Fianna. The player’s deferred and opted to be “Free Fianna” which to me means (to me) you wanted to be left to your own devices.
Later, after the adventure in the owlbear cave, I once again made an offer from Laithan to involve you in the current political issues in Clan Fionn and help him ‘do good things for the clan’ and give you things to do. But I felt that once again the party deferred. Everyone wanted to attend the clan council but no one wanted to make any kind of commitment or even the appearance of a commitment to Laithan. Also, nobody seemed interested in going back to Laithan for any of the stuff he hinted he could use help with.
Frankly if neither of those options appealed to the players, that’s totally fine with me.
Personally I would much rather you picked your own goals and drove them forward.
To help keep things rolling, here is a little guidance on some dangling threads that may help.
You want to solve the mystery of the goblin attacks?
Dig deeper. You’re not going to find out anything very interesting by clubbing a random goblin on the head and asking him questions (although they still might have some useful information). You’ve done a great job of tracking those goblin raiders to their lair, but so far the hobgoblin leaders have eluded you. They are tougher more intelligent foes, and aren’t going to walk up and fall on your swords the way their goblin fodder does. Frankly I don’t know if you can take them by just walking in and fighting, but if you play smart and have a plan, you should at least be able to escape if you bite off more than you can chew. You guys did discuss some good ideas, but nobody seemed to want to put anything into action. Alternately, you could also go back to the owlbear cave (which you suspect is the ‘deep cave’ the goblins are looking for) and explore and find out for yourself what they might be looking for. The omen you received when first tracking the goblin raiders seemed to indicate there was something else happening out in the forest north of Rhan Fionn, but that would be a little bit more random tangent exploration/scouting/patrolling/random encounter situation.
You want to find what’s up with the drug X and those mysterious amulets and the rumors of witchcraft?
Go find a drug dealer and spy on him, set up an informant network, bribe him, or wring his neck until he gives you the name of his supplier and see where that leads. Maybe there will be additional clues back at the owlbear cave where you found those other amulets on the dead spelunkers there. There is also some additional drama in town with the guard that has it out for Rowan and the thug bouncer at the Harlot that is looking to settle scores with Drust.
You want to explore the lore of the ancients, look for ruins, ancient magic and fight strange magical beasts? I just gave a ‘data dump’ to Aed about different areas. Pick a site, research it a little and go to the area and explore to find it. You already know where at least one site is located, maybe go back to the Tor Gweiddan standing stone above owlbear cave and spend some time doing magical research. The section in the players guide about Rituals and Incantations will give you an idea of what may be possible.
You want to get involved with Clan Fionn politics or just want to be given something to do?
Go back to Laithan and work with him. There’s a conflict brewing with a lack of leadership in the Clan, possible corruption, higher taxes, internal conflict and conflict with other Clans. He may even decide to send you after the goblins…
That’s just the immediate dangling threads. If you wanted to focus on some other area or goal, that would be great. Just let me know what direction you want to go and I’ll prep content for it. Whatever way you go, I will tie in your character backgrounds.
Second, I also noticed that there was some talk about the dearth of loot. This is by intention. Goblins and most random unintelligent monsters aren’t going to be carrying around a bunch of gold or magic. You’re never going to find any ‘good stuff’ unless you dig in someplace and work for it, or defeat a tough foe that would ‘logically’ be carrying good stuff.
So far, you did some exploration of the owlbear cave and found some much needed gear in the form of decent armor for Aed and a few potions and other loot, but or the most part you fought only unintelligent creatures on the “1st level of the dungeon”. Otherwise, all you’ve done is killed a few handfuls of goblins.
If you feel like the party is poor, maybe you should pool your resources. Instead of splitting loot, have a party treasure sheet. Maybe you guys figure out what you want and can afford and then look for it. That masterwork morning star is expensive, but probably well worthwhile for the party to invest in it for Aed, and oh look! His cousin has been having trouble with drug dealing thugs, maybe he'll give you a deal in exchange for some help.
When you were presented with a tougher foe (the “large humanoid”), who would very likely have some decent loot, nobody could make a decision about what to do. I was having trouble understanding why it was taking so (very) long to go precisely no-where. Maybe it was just a bad night, but I think that the party has a leadership issue, as in there isnt one.
I think it would really benefit the party if one of you stepped up and took the reigns so to speak and made decisions. I don’t mean electing an autocrat, but making one person the leader and responsible for 'final' decisions can help keep things moving. So when I ask “What do you do?” I’m asking a specific person and not the room in general and everyone doesn’t just look around at each other and shrug.
Let me know what you think.
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