Epic Experience: A slower campaign.

Five party members in an adventure designed for three to four players. The experience points roll in slowly. I implement one of my most trusted bonus points methods and the party advances a few more days aboard the Wormwood. Warning: This post may contain spoilers about the Skulls & Shackles adventure path. Read with caution!

My level one players are a ways off from gaining their first level. They have been used to my high risk, high reward, style of campaigning for a long while. Typically we gained a level a week for the first five weeks and then every other week after that. Not here. The points come in slowly, and only are given out when certain conditions are met. In Skulls and Shackles, there is no reward for playing safe. Work hard and go to bed? Alright, you save your skin, but that’s that, nothing learned. Sneak aboard the ship, grab some loot, influence some people, shirk from your work duties, alright; now we’re talking.

Since it’s a group effort I use a group experience pool. But, this drags everyone down if everyone isn’t actively getting something important done. The first session, the group earned 150 experience points. They were too worried about being punished that they just worked hard and slept. This week they earned 225 experience points. Much better, but that was in part due to an encounter that was thrown into the mix. Some nasty dire rats needed removed from the bilges.

This is also in part thanks to having a fifth member in a path that is designed for less people. Let’s face it, adding one more enemy here or there in a heavy role playing adventure doesn’t offset the loss of experience. So I re-introduced one of my systems I’ve used in every one of my campaigns. End of the night rewards. But, I didn’t want it to be too heavily relied on.

In this case, at the end of the night, everyone secretly tells me something they liked that someone else did. I read them off, one by one. This lets the players relive the night and also find out that their actions were appreciated. In this case, I decided that 25 experience was the base value participating in the end of the night discussion. In a group of five, this means 125 experience. And, then I ask players something they liked, did during the night, or didn’t like. Participation in this discussion netted 20 experience. So all in all the players got to earn an additional 225 experience.

The good news is that the players are starting to do more. They are actively trying to convert crew members to their cause, trying to get the rest of their gear back, and trying to earn some gold. Though this has slowed down the adventure night. Even with a faster system for taking actions during the day and night, we only got three days done. I think this is mostly due to the  first day containing a fight with six or seven dire rats. Then on the following day a fight with a simple-minded beast of a man, “Owlbear” as the crew call him. This being said, the second session was more fun than the first. While I am still recovering from a bit of a cold, everyone else was on top of their game.

We’re still working the kinks out as far as my wife playing along with us while we handle our four month old.  He seems to stay up on our game nights. I’m thinking it’s going to take one of us moving to a separate room so the noise of my voice isn’t keeping him up. He hears me and thinks playtime every time!

In any case, catch you next time! ~Vexar

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