This past Monday marked the fourth session of my Tyranny of Dragons campaign. My group meets up every two weeks. Because we play at my local game store we only have about two and a half hours to play before they close. I was concerned that the brevity of our sessions would negatively impact the play experience, but up until this week it hasn’t been a problem. In fact, it’s actually been great as we spend practically all the time playing, with next to no small talk and other distractions.
Because of these time constraints I feel like we need to make sure that we get the most out of each session. This week the characters began the Dragon Hatchery chapter and this is where things bogged down a bit. Part of it had to do with the way they campaign is written and part of it had to do with the dungeon crawl nature of the chapter.
The first part stems from the fact that in the last chapter the PC’s managed to gather a bunch of info on the raiders camp that is no longer true when they return. While wasting 30-45 minutes of game time planning out how to proceed in a 4 or 5-hour session is annoying, doing the same for a 2.5-hour session is devastating. I tried my best to get things rolling in a way that seemed logical, but in the end just felt like not only did I waste the player’s time but undermined their efforts from last session.
As for the dungeon crawl, I had already planned on removing 2 encounters (the stirges and the troglodytes), but ended up getting rid of the battle with the guard drake training area and the kobold barracks too. I basically kept 2/3rds of the dungeon as is but added 2 more berserkers with Cyanwrath. Word of warning, the beserkers have a lot of hit points and I ended up giving them 30 hp each instead, otherwise I probably would have had a TPK on my hands. My real issue was with the slow and overly cautious exploration of the dungeon. While it was prudent, it was boring and time consuming. Again, if we had more time to play I wouldn’t have a problem with this but I really wanted to make sure we hit the action and made the most of the time we had.
In the end, we had a great battle scene that saw the cult leader Mondath, her champion Cyanwrath and his berserker warriors go down for the count. The group had fun as did I. But I still wish that there was a way to speed up play in dungeon scenarios like this. I know this wont be the last time dungeon exploration will happen in the campaign. To that end I’d really like to find a way to run a location based scenario that made better use of the groups time without all the deliberation and Dungeon CSI minutia.
That’s all I have for now about the Campaign. I’m still trying to get session reports for episodes 1-4 done. But in the mean time I’d love to hear in the comments how all of you out there manage your dungeon scenarios and avoid them turning into an exercise in monotony?