Looking ahead to the final session I decided to run a bit of play testing. I used the week 8 map for my home campaign and I kept all of the terrain features and special conditions exactly as they’re printed. I’m very glad I did because it’s a very complicate map. After a fun 2-hour session I gained a lot of insight into what works, what doesn’t and what confused me. I’d like to share some of these learning with everyone and throw a few questions out there as well.
Here’s a direct link to the map.
- Where do the PCs start? Using the map I linked to above I assume PCs begin in the bottom left corner. This makes sense given the descriptive text, but it’s not crystal clear. If this is the correct starting point it seems unnecessarily punitive to the PCs given the maw obstacles that is directly in their path.
- There are a lot of effects going on with this map. Be sure to read and re-read what they all do before the session. Even with adequate prep I found that I slowed things down a lot having to keep going back to the text to discover what each thing did. Additionally many of the special features require checks. The skills needed are all different, the DCs are all different, and the actions required are all different. Crack out a highlighter or make a crib sheet, just do what you need to do to keep them all straight.
- Encourage creativity. There are a lot of things on the map; a lot of unusual things. Emphasize to the players that everything on the map is there for a good reason. Emphasize that they are not obligated to use their standard action to make an attack every round. Sometimes using your standard action for exploration can have a more significant impact on the overall battle than attacking. However, if your players are set in their ways consider letting them use their minor action to perform some of the checks at a higher difficulty.
- Who has which item? It’s exceptionally important to make sure that all 6 of the special items of light are accounted for in the party. I know that at our FLGS players are always switching tables. Some week’s we have 2 Tears of Helm and the next week we don’t have it at all. Regardless of who obtained which item throughout the adventure make sure that all 6 items are present. Even more importantly make sure that everyone knows who has each item. If one PC is the pack-mule and is carry all of them, make sure the party knows that. I’d recommend printing the item cards in the pre-gen resources thread of these forums and handing them out. By using the handouts it’s a lot clearer to everyone where each item is in the party.
These are my just my initial thoughts. If anything dawns on me I’ll post again. Until then I hope this serves as a good reminder for the DMs.