The Skull & the Eye Session 2 Reflection

Two sessions, it is officially a campaign. It is now also a sequel because the first character from the previous campaign makes an apperance! The Recap Character Journals are forth coming (along with more character profiles), I want to convey some of the difficulties I was having when going into and during this session; along with how I managed them while sustaining the three pillars of role playing: exploration, social, and combat. All three result in XP during my games.

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The table lay out. Clockwise from the DM: Me, Dan DS, Sam, Anthony, Cariss, Dan DK, Kirstyn, Jeremy, and Rebekah (Justin was in route).

I purposely left off the last session with a “whoa” moment that was on the cusp of drama ensuing. It did not disappoint. Haiko (Dan DK), the tortle bard, had begun holding his breath when an abundance of spores were noticed in the cavern. This coincided with the rest of the party hearing a voice telling them “Go right” in the caverns. Haiko did not hear this voice, but was tapped on the shoulder by a large, six foot tall mushroom with eyes.

No one else saw the six foot tall mushroom. This kicked the session off with a great piece of role-playing. Some characters wanted to go right, as it also aligned with the desired direction. But others were suspicious. I think Malek (Dan DS) flexed his nobility muscle and persuaded Sarril (Anthony), the paladin sworn to protect him, to vote for the right too. Group spent about 30 minutes debating this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Honestly, such a classic dungeon decision to make, but one that with the right placed information and description gave way to a good time. This combined both the social and exploration pillars, quite well.

While I planned on having an up and out right brawl with the goblins when they would be getting closer to their warrens, I also wanted to have a combat with a combination of discovery and debate among the characters. I like sewing discord among the players, especially when they are all locked into a situation. Their goals are all aligned: get out of the caves, but what measures they should take can be dissenting. In this situation, they heard something small, clambering down the cave passages, rapidly. Aleksander (Justin) was able to tell it was small, but not whether it had two or four legs. The group braced for the subject to round a corner when all it was was an unarmed goblin running hard, occasionally on all fours. The goblin did not even flinch at the sight of 10 people (the group is carrying Sven, the NPC caravan master whose leg is broken) with light sources. In initiative order, Haiko went first and snatched up the goblin by his arm. The rest of the group was considering killing it. But the goblin would not cease trying to wriggle free. It was visibly scared. At the same time, a few of the tougher characters went around the corner to look for more goblins. They spotted two, but they were not running, armed, or even moving that fast. There was something amiss about them. This whole dynamic situation made the players figure out priorities, while under the threat of mysterious goblins.

The players did get a knock-down-drag-out fight later with about 15 goblins, which was just good old fun.

The one goal I have is to end each session on a “whoa” moment, to quote J.H. Williams III, “pop and sizzle” moment. This the element that is imaginatively there, but never touched. It may be suspected, but not explicit. Our mind may glance it, but never hit it on the mark while reading/listening/watching. But when it does happen, folks want more. They got a big whiff of how delicious the story can be and cannot wait for the main course. This is what I am going for. That may not always happen, but I can aim for it.

The session concluded with the players captured by the cave goblins, imprisoned. The eladrin, Zenvara (Cariss), had been more and more disturbed by the lack of a connection to the Feywild eventually leading to her not being able to misty step. The group spent half a day imprisoned. What is funny is I denied her use of the misty step eladrin ability due to the feywild not being present in this area (another mystery!). I had not planned on imprisoning them, so this worked out rather well. In the words of Bob Ross, this was a “happy little accident.” They did get free as bar on the door was lifted and the portal rushed open to reveal….well you will just have to read my players’ recaps in the coming week 😉

The group dynamic is starting to solidify, characters are emerging, how they work as a team is coming together. It takes time. Even though the majority of my players have been together as a gaming group for over three years and some have been playing with me for over a decade, it does take time for folks to find their niches. But with how intrigued they are to meet certain characters (former PCs, now NPCs) and start exploring the world a level of anticipation is mounting.

Our next session is December 30th and it will be a doozy. Everyone is 2nd level, with a few having barely breaking 3rd. Should have a lot more photos and will follow up my Behind My DM Screen article with one looking at the other side. Hit me up on Twitter @ OnlyPlayWizards for any comments or questions about my game, but I will let the journals tell the story.