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October 5th, 2014

...How Much for Just the Dwarf?

We went through the third session of the Silver Coast game last night, and it was a doozy. Spoilers for Lost Mine of Phandelver ahead!Collapse )

This was a very fun session! Heavy on the RP, but still tense moments of high adventure and exciting action. The shift in my thinking away from "scenes" and toward "scenarios" really paid off this time: I had expected the PCs to do something totally different, but what they did instead was so much better.

I was figuring that they'd probably infiltrate the goblin castle by way of the drainage pipe from the dungeons, doing a surgical-style commando strike. In the mode of the games we've come to do over the past few years I would have decided that was "the right answer" and then put all kinds of pointers that way and impediments everywhere else (more guards at the front gate, guards around gaps in the walls, etc.), and set up anything in the path between the dungeon entrance as a cool set-piece encounter. Then any plot-relevant info they should get would be delivered in the form of found correspondence, because obviously, all the monsters would be dead and unable to talk.

This time, I didn't do that. I did put a few interesting things down in the dungeon in case they went that way, but mostly I just created the castle as it would make sense for it to be based on the goblins' psychology and resources. King Grol, while always on the alert for treachery and revolution within the goblin ranks, is not real worried about an external invasion at this point– Cragmaw Castle is remote and mostly unknown. He's got some guards and patrols as a sort of "due diligence" measure, but they are neither mind readers nor paranoid that someone's going to come along impersonating their allies (although this may change if he discovers what the PCs pulled).

Since Grol and the drow continued on their own agendas once the PCs showed up, the players learned all of the relevant plot info they would have gotten from "found correspondence" naturally over the course of the encounter instead, and I was really impressed with how well the group manipulated the NPCs even with the limited information they had available.

So now, instead of a castle full of dead goblins, the campaign has a pissed-off drow who's been screwed over by the players, a very self-satisfied bugbear king who believes he's owed 500 gp by the local crime boss, a local crime boss who's going to have an unpleasant surprise in the days ahead, and a party of PCs who pulled off a brilliant and daring rescue using their wits instead of just becoming yet another goblin exterminator service.

Big win, all around. :)

-The Gneech

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