Monday, June 25, 2018

Valley of the Lords: Expedition Begins!

To boldly go where no PC has gone before!
I finally started my Valley of the Lords game. Woohoo! I've put a ton of work into building a nice explorable area for my players, and it definitely paid off.

Of course, it's hard to build a good arc out of the world when the players are simply wandering from location to location. Thus, I'm building in a few different ways for plots to emerge:

  1. Each player is being encouraged to join a faction. The factions will give out missions, have plots of their own, and have interactions with each other.
  2. Adventure sites will be connected to each other and to the larger world. The players will find small hints of history and conflict amid the ruins of the valley.
  3. Each character will have a personal goal they want to accomplish in the valley. I am using these goals to plant plot hooks into locations in the valley and make the players seek out more of the world.

This means that the players should always have something to do. In this first game, I had several members of the Ashlen army in the group, so they headed towards an adventure site that had been scouted out by the Army. They were only level 1, however, so they didn't quite make it to the site, stopping at a different adventure site to fight some snakes and make some money for supplies so they could head out again.

This actually lead to the first major piece of feedback the players had for me: They felt the supply cost was very steep to begin. This was a result of a few different factors, but largely to blame was the fact that two of them started without gold to spend on their supplies. The Haunted One background from Curse of Strahd doesn't have gold to start with it. I gave each of them a few gold from their factions, but I'm definitely updating the rules to give the Haunted One some starting gold.

The other thing I will be doing is making sure each adventuring site has plenty of sellable items for the players to recoup their gold costs. The characters just barely made a profit from their first trip, but I suspect they might have earned more if they had fully looted all of the monsters they fought. It will be a balance to ensure the players always have the resources to continue exploring.

Of course, there's already a lot of means for a mid-level group to get around the supply costs, so I imagine this will be a challenge for the first few levels only. But those first few levels are vital for character establishment, so I don't want to diminish that challenge - that's how the characters will define themselves! And overcoming that challenge with spells like Create Food and Water will be a big deal.

Finally, I started a Logbook where the players can check up on their progress and see the escapades of their fellow adventurers. The map is still kind of clunky, but I'm hoping to update it with a more streamlined version soon.

Also, we did have a Chaos Quest recently, but I've been so busy prepping for the Valley that I haven't had time to do a recap. Expect that next week!

Thanks for reading!

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