This here post is about the combat end of my session, as well as DM-related worries and concerns, and I’m going to try out a format, here. Yeah, that’s right. Watch out!

In this case, “Cool” covers things I thought worked, were unexpectedly good, or what have you. “Not Cool” is something I didn’t think worked for whatever reason.

On with it!

Cool

Wizards and minions. I think wizards are, in large part, built for fights with minions. They are most effective when there are lots of monsters. I have more thoughts about minions that’ll be enough for another post, but let’s say that for the time being, minions are great when you have PCs that can damage multiple guys. It really fills out the fight.

Roleplaying. With the exception of Evan, I’ve been playing with this group off and on for years, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s good to see everyone get into it, even though I was dumbfounded at times, having failed to take into account a number of factors.

Natural 20. I was going to put this under Not Cool originally, but it really is cool. For the opening fight, I had planned for a token number of guards to join the fight, and for them to die fairly quickly. Then, Alac (Bryan) the Warlord decided to roll a check to convince the guards to participate. He rolled a natural 20.

What can you do at that point? I submit that, sometimes, you just have to take your lumps and add eight more minions to the fight. And that’s just what I did.

Not cool

I made a lot of mistakes.

Deviation from the plan. A real mistake, and maybe the biggest one of all is that this fight was originally meant to have two fronts. The goblins were supposed to split up and come from two directions. However, I erred in my description of the goblins’ movements when I described them to Kay and Sighni’s players, so they all came from one direction.

This is something I need to get over, blog: correcting myself rather than let it sit. It’s a roleplaying game, not some inalterable text. If we’re all going to gather around the table for four hours at a time, I shouldn’t let a small mistake get in the way of that. This, in fact, is a strength of the medium.

Ultimately, due to the positioning, an enemy that was supposed to last for a little while ended up dying fairly quickly, thanks to the tender ministrations of the ranger, fighter, and the wizard.

I also did not intend for the PCs to be inside any of the wagons, and it ended up that three of them were, meaning that the only PC vulnerable to attack in the first round was Lexa. Not good! Not good. The wagons were supposed to be loaded down with supplies, and I could’ve spared a moment to describe this before everyone put themselves in place.

Forgetting monster abilities. Another mistake is that I didn’t use the goblins’ shifty power. This would’ve come up a lot, as multiple people missed, and this would’ve made the fight much more dynamic.

I also created some creatures whose abilities weren’t used. For example, I created some goblin wolf riders. They are for the most part like regular goblins, except they had a power the PCs never saw (because I forgot to use it) and a speed of 8. My little goblin spellcaster guy didn’t get to do much, either, except slow Kay for a little while.

Splitting the party. I did not literally split the party. Rather, since Kay’s player is leaving, only one of the PCs is from Er-Eret. The rest of the party is made up of outsiders, and I’m concerned that this will create more friction in the party than I intended.

I have so many plans.

Which brings me to my last point: one thing I’ve realized is that the DM has an obscene amount of license. If I don’t want something to happen, there are any number of extremely plausible ways for me to nudge things in another direction.

I’m not talking about railroading here. I’m not talking about the blacksmith turning into a dragon and eating you. I’m talking about the DM’s duty to let reality intrude. Players want to be entertained. They want to be challenged. They want to have to make choices.

In other words, it’s the DM’s job to manipulate everyone to put them in situations you want. Subtlety helps, but remember rule 0: it has to be entertaining. I don’t like aggressively fucking people over. I don’t like it when the DM hits people with the plot bat.

But I do like it when players make plans, and reality blithely ignores them. It’s reality’s job to continue on its merry way. And the way is going to be ever so merry, though perhaps the characters (not the players, mind) would disagree.

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