Sunday, June 24, 2018

My Barrowmaze Campaign: Month Six

I guess there's still one more Saturday left in June, so there will be one more game session this month, but I'll jump the gun anyway—because the campaign is really starting to take off now.  Three games back, after having slain the great red dragon Moltenclaw and claimed as much of its treasure-hoard they could carry back to town, the players decided to take the rest of the winter off from adventuring and just build up some downtime for training, study, and the odd bit of minor item creation.  (I'm using the Holmes rules for scroll scribing, and something similar for potion brewing.)  I really do appreciate how Barrowmaze structures its dungeon to be explored seasonally, as the dungeon is mostly inaccessible during the winter, when the Barrowmoor floods.  It's an excellent mechanic for pacing out the campaign, and also for leaving long stretches from year to year where the dungeon can be re-stocked if need be.

This does lead me to an interesting quandary, though.  Two sessions back, the players started exploring the barrow mounds systematically, moving from south to north and slowly east to west—and, sure enough, during yesterday's game, they finally found the primary entrance down into the dungeons and crypts under the mounds, the Barrowmaze proper.  And, being a party of mostly 4th and 5th level characters now, they steamrolled the first twenty rooms or so (although not without some difficulty from some of the more fiendish traps—the isolation trap and skeleton attack of rooms 2 and 3 very nearly did in the party's reckless Leroy Jenkins of a monk when he Rushed Ahead™ into a room before the party burglar could even glance at the floor and look for traps). 

But now I'm going to have to find a way to keep track of which rooms have been explored and thus need re-stocking—and how much time ought to pass before new monsters and treasures drift into old, explored rooms.  I've run big, living mega-dungeons before; but always from notes, never from a book; and also I've generally held to the notion that once a particular sub-area or level of a dungeon has been "cleared", whatever main route the party takes back and forth through that area is going to be the slowest to re-fill with monsters, just because the party's own traffic keeps that area clear; whereas isolated areas that the party does not frequently revisit are the soonest re-stocked.

But Barrowmaze has that seasonal mechanic which leaves the dungeon isolated from adventurers and tomb-robbers almost half the year; if and when the party takes another winter off, I'm going to have to re-stock everything—which, of course, my players will expect, as nearly all of them have played through my own Shade Abbey dungeons before, and those re-stocked whenever the players spent more than a month away from exploring a given level.  

But as for keeping track of what new things I put in previously explored rooms, I guess I'm just going to have to catalog it somewhere, which means that the up-to-date descriptions of each dungeon room will eventually have to migrate from the Barrowmaze book itself to, I guess, a binder or something.

Or…

Maybe, just maybe, since I hate carrying heavy and bulky things to my games, and because I always have my phone on hand, maybe I can write an app that allows for quick room-lookup and editable descriptions.  Now that would be something.

I'm going to have to ponder this.

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