Le Bouche hireling
The party started out . . . shopping. They'd found some pearls recently and were looking for a pearlmonger. After some dallying in Nidus in which they heard two predominate rumors 1) a fleet of threatenting shipes was seen a day's sail out, and 2) people were disappearing on the outskirts of town.
After more dallying they encountered a weeping man who had two sons gone missing. He paid gold to have them seek them out and pointed them in the direction of the temple.
The party set out porting their canoe. The party being fairly familiar with the entrance to this temple they pressed forward to a room with an open well leading down. They had gone down this once before, but only just before turning back. Athydas shimmied down a rope and encountered thigh-high water. And the party decided . . . not to go that way. They backtracked to the room of the 50 brass urns and through a west-pointing door. A hallway, a damp plank over a muddy stream, a door. Cautiously negotiating all these led them into a medium room with three rows of floating cubes which . . . they wanted absolutely nothing to do with. A door led to a hallway, another door, a chamber with all the walls covered in velvet curtains. A door, a hallway and a shimmering in the air.
The party advanced toward the shimmering and something clear and gelatinous was glistening with coins floating in the air. A brief battle ensued. One party member was dropped unconscious (Gail? Can't remember) the party collected the gold and decided to head back to Nidus without looking further for the weeping man's sons.
The session was sort of blah, for me. I hadn't developed my ideas for the world map to the extent I was satisfied to give it to them. I had an idea of having an invading army attack the whole city forcing the party to help the defense or flee, but changing things either way. But again, I hadn't sketched out the details enough to where I would want to try to improv it with my tired brain. But I thought it would be okay for at least one more session because:
I'd heard two different players mention exploring a section of the temple that they'd barely breached previously. If they did I knew there was 1) lots of treasure 2) an interesting magic item, and 3) stiff opposition by some weird creatures. Of course all thought of going that direction was forgotten sometime after play started.
Another possibility was that they would push a little further in a different direction and enter the temple's main chamber, where there is a bad cleric, a lot of fly worshippers, a baby brundlephant, and a floor literally covered with treasure (mostly copper pieces). They have been in the chamber right next to this room. But nope, they went a completely different direction on the first level and left after a single battle successfully yielded treasure.
I know you can't predict what players will do, but I was disappointed that their exploration was sort of random, even though they had several possible logical goals. If playing this game is like being in a band I felt they were all playing flat, or out of time or something.
Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of laughter and fun was had, but I want to up our game.
Two important rule changes that have come from this session are 1) I'm ditching experience for gold spent, I might write a post on this, but essentially it undercut any feeling of achievement by the treasure found at the end of the night and seems to just push characters to buy crap (there's enough of that in the real world) and 2) an explicit guild system for each of the three classes. I think this will give them logical goals, incentives, and a realistic way for me to offer them hooks and choices.
Also, my failure on the Angel of Color. I guess it was hubris to expect them to interact with it when they had no gain from the last experience. Maybe the angels should all drop gems or convey a vision or something. I'm also remembering that these are organisms, as alien as they appear, not just tricks. So maybe they will follow the party around and try to communicate or something.