This is a cross-post from my "official" game blog for my online play-by-post S&W game. I was really nervous about this first encounter, having up until now only been a player. Would it be too hard for the players? Too easy? Would I totally botch up the flow of things? Would my players call me a nOOb? Well, here's what happened.
First off, let my just squee about how cool it is to have Matt "Mythmere" Finch joining in! Like I said joking with my husband, "Oh yeah..he's JUST the guy who wrote the rulebook I'm using. Uh-huh..No pressure, nope. None at all. Nosireebob!"
So.how do you insert a new PC into a game in-progress? Easy! He was there all along, but none of the nine-dozen other folks in the adventure-procession really noticed.
Anyhoo, whilst bashing down the door to a randomly treasure-seeded room, our brave adventurers called down a posse of three gnolls on themselves. Again I used the random-encounter chart to generate a wandering threat in the hallways, but to be honest I was kind of worried I had served up more than the players could chew. Gnolls are dang hard to hit, much less to wound and kill. And they're deadly. I should know. In a solo outdoor adventure last winter I lost my 3rd level elven PC and six hirelings to a patorl of gnolls. This was in spite of being armed with magic and lots of longbows.
I had no idea that Charm Person could be so much fun. Good thinking on behalf of Paraphin (Mythmere's Magic User character). If for whatever reason the gnoll had passed a Saving Throw, it could have been bad for the fighters up in the middle of the scrum.
So..what do you do with a pet like that? Well, you ask it to be your native guide as you tour the rest of the dungeon, that's what. To see how the gnoll reacted to the idea, I consulted the monster "Hostile/Friendly Reaction Table" from the Holmes Basic D&D book. I gave the charmed "person" a +6, and as it turned out, he was "enthusiastic - volunteers help". Then he had to convince his two gnoll comrades of the validity of Paraphin's idea. Being that they are of the low-intelligence follow-the-leader sort, I rolled for them on the table, but with disadvantages. One got -2 simply for being an unreasonable brute, and the other a -6 for having been shot at by the archer. The former turned out to be 'friendly' while the latter turned and bit the elf.
The dwarf Brag Ironballz (gotta love that name) jumped in and defended Chu-toi (gotta love that name too) and bravely killed the ever-lovin' bejimmies out of the gnoll. The DM gleefully awaits the Save-or-barf results.
So now comes the time to dole out XP. With so many players to divvy up experience points, I may have to up the danger level just a bit. I suppose they won't want to be low-level forever. But for what it all is worth, I'm really enjoying running a game and surviving my first encounter.
In other slightly-related news, I just ordered and received a small Chessex wet-erase game mat with 1" squares on one side and hexes on the other. If I ever hit my stride as a PbP referee, I'm wanting to run something face-to-face in realtime. I'd like to be ready for that by ReaperCon at the end of May.