Last time, I talked a little bit about the adjustments I was making because of a player on extended hiatus. Well, just to prove that I shouldn’t bother trying to plan things, he came back this session. I met with him before the game to talk about how we should handle it and we came up with the following story:
His character, a young human swordmage, has managed to gain an apprenticeship with an ancient and powerful eladrin swordmage. Training takes place at the eladrin’s sanctum in the Feywild. This master swordsman is very demanding and somewhat whimsical, and only allows his student leave at certain random times, and is prone to summon him back very abruptly. So, this allows the swordmage to pop in for a session through the magic of his mentor, and then get popped back just as suddenly, which allows for the character t come into play only when the player is there to play him.
Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy, but it addresses my primary concerns about the situation, namely that there is an in-game believable reason for the character to come and go session by session, mitigating somewhat the burden of multiple characters being played by one player.
It does create a bit of a situation in the encounters – do I build them for five characters, or for six? Do I adjust them when the sixth player shows up? I decided that, from now on, I’m going to build them for five characters (at least until we get six characters on a regular basis), and not adjust them if the extra character shows. Adding him in will make the fight easier, and will reduce the individual experience point awards. So, that means that when he shows up, the encounters are easier, which makes his contribution to the group a little more meaningful.
And I’m giving all characters the same experience point awards, whether they are in the session or not, so that he won’t fall so far behind as to be useless to the group.
The game itself was a little… let’s say scattered. It had been a while since most of us had seen our prodigal player, so a lot of the time was spent socializing and catching up. Also ordering and consuming food. I had expected the group to make it to the temple and begin scouting it this session, but no go. I realized fairly early on in the session that it just wasn’t going to happen, so I tried to drop some hints about the increased freqency of humanoid tracks in the area, and the fact that there were more than one type of humanoid group stomping around. This gave them some more information about the shadar-kai and their plot to organize the local humanoid groups into an army.
And then I threw a couple of fights at them.
I tossed a party of orcs at them on the plains, and ambushed them with gnolls and hyenas in the forest. The orcs were tough to put down, but not all that exciting in the fight. The gnolls and hyenas were a lot more fun for me, with their powers focused on swarming a single target and putting it down. I managed to give a couple of the characters some bad moments with those, and only the fighter’s Tide of Iron and the warlord’s Wolf Pack Tactics managed to control the positioning to give some relief to the targets.
And that was about it for the game. They managed to make it into the Trembling Wood near the temple, so that’s where we start next time.
And I’ve got some interesting things set up at the temple.