So, pop quiz, where do you think my players went? While you think about it I'll give you some more behind the scenes info. The Dwarven outpost I already had prepared from a different set of friends I ran through it. I had maps for all three caves. I had maps ready for Moss End and Gilworth. I didn't really have anything else ready-- no wandering monster tables for the roads or the plains. Not even interesting treasures and monsters for the caves. Trying to prepare four possible dungeons was just too much. I can see why someone would want to by a product that would have at least the bones of this laid out.
Okay, got an answer? The clue is that they just cleaned out a dungeon last session. Heavy with coin, of course they wanted to go shopping. I should have guessed. They made a beeline to the trading post and then after shopping for a long time, headed to Red Crystal Cave, explored a bit, got in a battle and then left the cave to camp outside an end the session. I think I'll just drop some bullet points of things that stood out to me:
- A player sold a ring of water walking and a wand of mineral detection. For pretty cheap. He had put on the ring and nothing seemed to happen but never tried pointing the wand. I should probably make magic items more apparent- it's the toyness/toolness of them that I put them there for, because it's fun to see players use them, so this coyness of not knowing what is magic left over from my 1e days seems counterproductive. I did say outright after he sold the things, "if you find stuff in a dungeon it is probably good stuff", but maybe I'll make them glow or something.
- I have been on a silver economy trying to make gold feel more exciting but it's like swimming against the tide. Every equipment list I have is based on more expensive prices. I found I am unable to convert on the fly. I think I'm dropping that and just make everything more expensive from now on.
- I know people have mentioned plat mail being easy to get before and boy is it true. Chain mail doesn't really exist in my game because plate mail is clearly better and only a little more expensive. I think I might require anyone buying plate in the future to be fitted for it. And require at least a session's wait before it is ready for the players, maybe multiple sessions.
- You can see "Beorht" written on the map. That is a note to myself of the trader's name. I was picking Anglo-Saxon names off a list. Afterwards I decided it sounded a little too alien. I want this to feel like Grimm's fairy tales and might go to English or Germanic names.
- I told my players that I am still working on my wilderness rules but that there were three simple things I could tell them 1) stay on a road or by a river and you won't get lost, moving away from those and there is a chance you will 2) you need one ration of food a day and 3) you need one wineskin of water a day or "bad things will start happening". I told them it would probably give them a negative in combat and start reducing their encumbrance. With a list-based encumbrance this turns out to be super easy to do, instead of worrying about percentages you can just say "you can carry x less slots, drop some stuff."
- The simple rule already had an effect. Ashborough could only offer two rations worth of food so the party had to go talk to the local knight to buy more. Players bought extra waterskins and one was freaking out about not having enough water. I made it a running joke about her being very thirsty all night :)
- I already knew this but I was reminded that I need three things to run a dungeon: a map, monsters- including a wandering monster chart, and treasure all pre-made. I can improv details, atmosphere, dialog, tons of stuff, but I need to have those things as a minimum already existent. Part of it is that my brain can only do one thing at a time, so if I'm describing the movement through the dungeon to the party I can't come up with monsters and treasures for the rooms they haven't reached yet as well. The other thing is that I don't want the risks and rewards of the dungeon to be my decisions-- I want as much of that responsibility to be taken by the dice.
I'm not sure what they will want to do next time. (I know I should have asked explicitly but it was late.) They may want to go back into Red Crystal Cave and explore it more since they are right outside. They may want to go to the Dwarven outpost because they found good treasure in the last one ( a player said this). Or they might head to Gilworth because I think they are interested in getting dogs.
I need to prepare monsters and treasures for the caves. I need to prepare a price list/ selection for the dogs. I though iy might be cool to either have a chart randomly determine the type of dog or let some of the dog loving players choose from a selection, the type of dog that Gilworth breeds.
I would like to expand the map so they start getting a sense of more options. Maybe growing the sandbox a little each session would be a good goal for me. I scavenged the remnants of an easal pad from work and can center my map on it and that will provide a~2x2.5 ft map to work with and gradually fill up.
I need to assign health scores to the villages. I am excited about how excited my players were to that idea. I wish I had a simple goods system so that not everything on an eqipment list was available at every trader/merchant. But that is a place where computers have me beat. I don't want to roll for every stinking good to see if it's present. Maybe just roll once with a percentile and that item is out. But I don't know, seems ripe for a mini-game.