So, some reflections on play. I keep a file of tips I run across reading various blogs. Ben Robbins of ars ludi is right on the money when he says "let players see traps." Because my tomb complex is set up in a uniform fashion, my players saw evidence of a trap that had been set off centuries before. This caused just as much tension and drama as having a trap go off killing a party member. More so, I think. There is probably still a place for the awful surprise to a group of a fatal trap, but that is just an instant, and doesn't necessarily mean they understand why the trap went off, leaving them tapping 10' poles everywhere. Knowing there was almost certainly a trap in a certain location left the sense of danger and suspense but allowed for the party to engage the environment and try to find ways around the obstacle.
The statue puzzle was a success, but just barely. Some tips I gather from play, if you are going to have a puzzle with a solution involving steps:
- make sure to signal that there is, in fact, a solution,
- make sure that solution is relatively simple,
- that solution is internally consistent,
- that trying for said solution gives feedback to the players and,
- there aren't too many steps in the solution.
A random assortment of observations:
- Zepharia's player was a great player. Maybe a real natural. Of all the people I've DMed since getting back into the game she has been the best by far, careful but not cowardly, trusting there is a sense to my game world and trying to discover it.
- At one point the players asked if there was a latch to release an iron bar trap. This was something I hadn't thought about at all. So I rolled for it and the dice said they absolutely did. Not sure how I feel about that. Related to that, they asked an npc about a treasure item. I ridiculously had not thought out what he might know, rolled, the dice said he knew everything about the item.
- I had completely missed the exceptional intelligence rule for mages and realized both Zepheria and Ehud should be able to cast 2 first level spells! Huge power differential there. On doing so, made the off-the-top-of-my-head ruling that mages can't memorize duplicates of the same spell. Weird, why have I never heard of that option for Vancian magic? Seems logical and will cause mages to use a greater variety of spells.