On Monday I got together with my group for our second game of Dennis Santana’s Expedition, which you should really check out, by the way.
We added a third player, and thus Grok von Pintel and Rad met Sindri, who is quite the character. My friend has watched a bit too much Vegan Black Metal Chef, and thus wanted to create a character who embraced the metal. I told you this alpha playtest was silly territory.
Nonetheless, aesthetic trappings aside, we needed rules. Due to being a playtest, we needed Rules As Written. Sindri is a Rogue, and we decided that his guitar (or “devil lute”) uses the same rules as firearms. Every five “shots” he needs to “reload” by getting another pick from his bag.
Formalities out of the way, they reached Castle Barderin. Base Camp was a patch of dense trees on a hilltop overlooking the land. Several elves patrolled the area, and many more were inside the walls of the castle itself, having set up a number of tents in the main yard.
The players discussed several plans. Attacking head on was not really an option, and they did not have enough Magic to disguise everyone. There is a Magic Boon that allows you to bypass an area, and they asked me if they would be able to get into the keep by burrowing magically through the wall. I decided I would allow this, but they were still worried about the elves. They wanted to distract the scouts, lead them back to their (now-Fortified) camp, and then go about their way.
I sketched out a rough map of the hillside, they drew in the details of their camp, including a spiked pit they established, and I divided it up into zones and added some effects for each. This is one aspect I truly enjoy about the game. In D&D, no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to make terrain matter. There are just too many intervening squares of nothing between any interesting thing. In every single game I’ve ever played in, combat tends to clog up in one particular area. Expedition’s Zones, for whatever reason, have led to more interesting and dynamic movement.
The pit trap proved to be too much for the elves and the wolves they brought with them. I think I adjudicated its effects a little too much on the side of the players, but that’s all right. Even when I had the elven mooks do the smart thing and run around to where the pit trap was not, they would simply get forced into it by the characters.
Grok’s player commented that “This was the kind of stuff I imagined this game to be about.” Rather than rushing in, hacking all the monsters to bits room by room, there were strategies and abilities in the game that allow you to circumvent challenges at the cost of your resources.
Now I must prepare for next week, when they storm the keep itself. We haven’t done too well on the “delving” portion of the adventure, so I want to change that up a bit and see how it goes.