Roadhouse! With 100% Less Swazye
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Because the presence of a map in the game is the surest way to tell that the shit was going to hit the fan, the party was suddenly besieged by a hail of crossbow fire from the treeline on both sides of the road. All up and down the column, bandits burst forth and assaulted the caravan in force. As other escorts fended off their own attackers, Adventure Co. sprung into action, taking out bandit after bandit before the attackers could deal significant damage. The caravan had been slowed, but not stopped, and none of the carriages seemed worse for wear.
The column arrived at the roadhouse and began the ponderous dance of unloading. One cart at a time rolled into the courtyard where the goods were unloaded into the stockyard. Sturdy goods like timber were stored in the open areas, while tools, crates, and perishable supplies were moved to an enclosed storage room off the main yard. A half-orc named Bog Luck (name generator runner-up) seemed to be running the show at the roadhouse, and was seen hurrying around with the unloaded goods and directing traffic.
The players were assigned rooms on the second floor of the roadhouse, and eyed that walled storage room from the balcony.
* * *
Due to circumstances beyond our control, we missed three whole sessions prior to this one. We spent some time getting back up to speed on the story, and on how to use Fantasy Grounds, before we were able to start.
The thing I didn’t want to happen was to drag this caravan out like the last one. I’m finding that there’s a limit to the kind of session I can concentrate on: it’s either a straightforward, by the book session where I follow a very specific room by room game plan (like a dungeon crawl), or I have to wing it. I apparently can’t do both, as the previous caravan attested to. Mixing an RP situation with plot advancement seems very difficult for me to get my head around, and I always end up feeling like I did neither as well as either deserved.
While there was a blurb in the module about the chance of encounters along the road, I figured that being between the city and the roadhouse would see enough traffic to make incursions by the regional natives fairly infrequent, so I chose to include just one. I just happened to roll “bandits” on the encounter table, and that made sense to me: humans near human settlements, attempting to prey on a semi-regular caravan on the off chance they got lucky and ambushed an inept column. It’s been a while since the party engaged in some real combat, and while I don’t think that a bunch of Generic Bandits is going to stretch the party’s abilities, I think the event was enjoyed and appreciated. We kind of slipped into tactical mode — which was wholly unintentional — but the encounter went fast enough and we were able to ignore the hexes enough to get the job done without the mechanical aspects weighing us down.
Reaching the roadhouse was just a Good Plan, partly because I didn’t want to drag this trip out, and because I didn’t have another encounter map set up for it.
I did realize that a lot of this session was “DMsplaining” if we want to turn an obnoxious phrase. Mostly it was obvious stuff: describing the crowd outside the warehouse, listening to Bryfrehew and Duclose, and observing the protocol in unloading carts at the roadhouse. There were a few things I kind of rambled on about that probably should have been hidden behind Perception rolls. Nobody volunteered to make the roll, and I don’t want to “DMnag”, so I figured it’d be in the best interest to expedite the scenario and throw in those details just to get back into the swing of things. It’s sometimes a fine line between wanting to tell a story and wanting/expecting/hoping the players will “play” the game and not just keep the monologue rolling.
I also keep forgetting that Jamna is with the party, and Jos the Thayan is with the cultists.
The phrase of the night, in response to someone saying “it’s too quiet”: “Yeah, but it’s a dry quiet”.