DM Diary: Short-cuts and fast play

So it happened, we played another game of DnD.

***Spoliers if you have yet to play The Mines of Phandelver***

Its been a slow affair. Everyone in the game has things going on and stuff happening but with dedication we might finally finish The Mines of Phandelver. In order to achieve that goal I talked about streamlining the game in my last entry. And thats exactly what I did. The problem with the campaign from our point of view lied in its open world aspect. Unfortunately planning out all eventualities is something my brain cannot handle. In this game I streamlined the process in order to allow me to focus on one thing and keep the game moving at a fast pace.

Our merry band of adventurers where off this time to see a Druid named Reidoth in an old ruined town by the name of Thunder Tree.

Before this i gave the Group an option to heal up and re-stock on supplies. Instead of making them act it out i just had them pay a 5 gold upkeep cost. This is another way to try and keep the game progressing faster.

Thunder Tree has allot of small houses and shops to explore; all of which have been abandoned. The map for Thunder Tree is also very much non-directional, meaning that the players can do whatever they wish and miss out bits completely. This raises the issue of giving the players to many options and not a focused objective.

I redesigned the village to be more linear. Took out half the options and made the whole thing one quest. This allows me to preempt the parties action easier and allow me to spend more time planing out things they will likely do. Before it was a case of covering everything just incase they do something; and I ain’t got time for that.

On entering the village the group meet Reidoth. He asks what the adventures are looking for and they reply by asking if he knows the location of Cragmaw Castle. He replies yes; and is willing to hand over the information if the group can accomplish one task for him. kill the dragon occupying the tower on top of the hill.

Yep we are fighting a dragon in a tower, pretty original.

Before this the party investigates the abandoned buildings in the village. They kill a few spider and collect some loot. In order to reduce the time spent discussing the loot and who gets what i introduced a new system where they can sell the loot to the DM instantly at a marked down cost and split the money evenly.

This idea of a “quick-sell” allows the adventures to avoid long conversations about selling items or keeping track of the stuff they need to sell. All they need to do is keep track of the money. For more weighty goods; like diamonds, emeralds, trinkets etc the group can choose to keep them and barter with a tradesman in town. But for things like silver rings and old swords they can sell instantly.

The adventurers then entered the tower to fight the dragon. This was probably the group first real fight were they could actually loose. It started off with an acrobatics check to see if they could avoid the dragons fire. For some this worked, others it did not work so well.

We have slowly moved away from the grid system and now describe and act out what we wish to do with everyone coming to an agreement of the state of the fight as we go through it. This is fine but i still feel the state of the fighting in the game is a bit stale. Choosing to move ‘x’ and then do action ‘y’. In the future im going to make my enemies do unpredictable things and move more. At the same time give the player freedom to do more in their turn. They have the option to use a major and a miner action, which i think could be utilised better.

I also want more enemies with lower health; and larger enemies to have more turns per fight. This way more stuff can happen and it adds another level of difficulty to the game.

So next game I will be introducing more enemies, who do more. But also give the players more freedom.

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