[The Grey Coast] My players are getting soft
When I started my Grey Coast game at Ink Spell, the players were more or less completely new to the old-school style of dungeoneering. The Barrowmaze imparted valuable early lessons: cautious exploration, careful searching, using equipment effectively, and the all-important tactic of running away when things got too hairy. Somewhere along the line, things changed. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been around enough the past few months. The last few sessions, I’ve noticed that the players have gotten real sloppy. No one checks for traps or listens at doors. No one searches for secret doors or hidden features. No one guards the rear. What’s the deal?
I think it boils down to this: Since we’ve shifted to the Barbarians of Lemuria rules, the players no longer seem to fear character death. When you have a large group of PCs, each of whom has 1-4 Hero Points (i.e. chances to avoid being killed, only knocked out) and the ability to slay multiple Rabble with a Mighty or Legendary Success, the challenge level has to be adjusted accordingly to keep the spirit of danger alive. Adding to this, the games DMed by other Ink Spell players of which I have been part have been almost exclusively combat-oriented, often with a very low challenge level. With all this relatively low-risk fighting, it’s no surprise that the players aren’t being the paranoid delvers I initially thought they would become.
Hopefully this last session, for which I shifted back to Labyrinth Lord for ease of encounter planning, helped repair this deficiency a bit. Despite some early player stumbles in the dungeon beneath the ruined monastery — blundering into traps, not searching for hidden stuff, etc. — the players got back into rhythm a bit. Some clever spellcasting (and timely dice results) narrowly averted what would have been a hugely disastrous encounter with four ghouls. I’m really looking forward to the next session…