A Failed First Session – And Random Encounters

But, not in the way you think. Basically, we had rounded up several players for a first session this past Saturday, only, I got a cold and had to cancel. It kind of worked out in a way because I didn’t have nearly as much prepared as I had hoped. This postponed session gives me a bit more time to flesh out the starting areas I’ve tentatively called – The Bloodsand Forest, The Tainted Bog, and The Goblin Hills. I keep racking my brain trying to get awesome names for my areas and monsters, but they just don’t come. I’ve decided to keep it simple using simple descriptors for now considering the players might name areas something else entirely.

Anyways, so the first session was canceled. Not good because I don’t want to appear to be a flake DM – especially to some of the new recruits. Speaking of recruiting – an update. Basically, I got a couple more players and in addition I’ve teamed up with a local gameshop owner to possibly host the game there and advertise for players. So, that’s a bonus for recruiting.

I’ve done a lot of work making random encounter tables – especially today. I fleshed out the three starting 1st level areas. The 4th Edition D&D rules have made developing random encounter tables very interesting albeit time consuming. Instead of just choosing a bunch of creatures for each region, I’ve had to make balanced encounters for each region based on a number of different creatures inhabiting the region.

I’m still debating the random encounter frequency. For now, I’ve estimated a good amount of time that the party will be outside of town and after those several hours, they roll a “saving throw” to see if a random encounter occurs. I’ve broken down the encounter table into difficulty and used a 2d6 bell-curve roll to determine which encounter occurs. On the rare ends of the spectrum are Too Easy and Too Hard. And from there it goes Easy, Standard, and Hard. I’m worried the encounters I designed today might be a little too hard as I’ve designed them to range from 4-6 PCs on the encounter scale. Meaning, at 1st level, 5 PCs are supposed to have a 500 XP encounter. My standard encounters on my 1st level tables range from 500 to 700. That probably needs to be around 400 to 600. So, I may have to tweak that.

Now that I’ve got my Random Encounter Tables for Areas 1, 2, and 3 setup though, I’m ready to start planting adventure sites. Ruins, dungeons, temples, camps, landmarks, etc… This is going to be the hardest because I’ve still to flesh out my map. I want to start small and flesh out the town and the immediate surrounding areas. Once I’ve got those, I can start planting sites.

I’ve already thought up how to get the first group out of the Admiral’s Rest and into the wilderness. Like Ben suggests, I’m going to use a simple treasure map. Along the way, I hope the PCs will find some clues to further locations.

Another issue I’m having is forcing myself to take a hands-off approach to the game when it comes to scheduling and whatnot. I’ve been pretty good about it, encouraging players (notably my wife) to set up games to get the ball rolling. I’ve taken the time to set up a wiki in order to detail the town (so I don’t have to in-game) and that’s about it. I’ll hand out a rough map at the first session and let the players start filling it in.

Anyways, that’s all I have for now. I plan to get a map and some adventure sites set up next, tweak my encounter tables a bit, and wait for some players to reschedule the game that got canceled.

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