Iâ€™m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if youâ€™re playing the game yourself.
Sunday before last ((Yep, I’m falling behind. Work stuff.)), we got together and finished off the first stage of The Tomb of Horrors ((The way the adventure is constructed, there are a few different stages, and they don’t run one right after the other. You space them out with some other adventures between them.)).
Considering the track record for this group getting through encounters, and the fact that this was the first game I was running in about five weeks, I wasn’t too confident of getting through the two encounters that were necessary to wrap up the adventure, but the gang really pulled together, and we were able get to the ending.
I was leery about running the encounter with the game tables, which is essentially an extended skill challenge, in large part because the write-up for the encounter had only one combination of skills that could be used to win, and each of those three skills would need to be used to win. This is, I believe, a real flaw in a skill challenge, so I disregarded it, and went with my default style of running skill challenges, which is to let the player pitch a skill and why it should be usable, and then set the DC based on how convincing the pitch is.
They got through the challenge, but sucked up some nasty psychic damage in the process. This, coupled with the way I was playing up the energy-sapping nature of the Garden of Graves ((Basically, every time the group took an extended rest, they recovered one fewer healing surge. So, after two extended rests in the Garden, they were starting their adventuring day two healing surges down.)), they were somewhat wary of running into the last encounter.
And that last encounter was a doozy. I had them all bloodied at one point or another, and dropped the Warlord at one point. Everyone else found themselves down in single-digit hit points during the fight, I believe, but they pulled it together, and killed the various zombies and the plant monster. Then, it was on to dismantling the arcane engine at the heart of the graveyard, and heading back to the mortal world, which we just glossed over.
I awarded the group a few more experience points than the adventure called for, simply to get them all up to 11th level, so we could start Paragon Tier play with their arrival at the city-state of Belys. This means all my players are trying to decide on which Paragon Path they want to pursue.
I’m making some meta-game changes to the way I do things at this point, too. I’ve found that the planned treasure/magic item distribution that is the default of D&D is a real drain on my time, so I’m ditching it in favour of the random distribution set out in the Essentials books. That means I’m ditching the magic item wish list system I’ve been using for the players, and adjusting the magic item economy to make selling unwanted items more profitable. Thus, by giving the group slightly more magic items, and letting them sell them for 80% list price, the group will still get the magic items their characters want ((Some say, “Need,” but I think it’s just pure avarice.)), but the work is offloaded from the GM to the players. Which I like.
I’m also letting the group swap out their current magic items, but I haven’t figured out exactly how that’s going to work, yet. I’ve got a little while yet to think about it.