|He looked a little like this, but much dirtier|
Naturally they met a woodcutter right out the gate. He was the nice man who had let them stay in his cabin to heal some while ago. The woodcutter informed them that he had taken the money they paid him and had bought him a fine wife to chop the wood while he brought it to the market. He thanked them for allowing him to double his business. They continued south for a day and a half, passing said wife, before their next encounter - a young ogre! The ogre surprised the party and caused their donkey to dump the cart and flee, but they managed to dispatch it pretty easily. They retrieved their ass, and continued on into the hills where they encountered a stag and managed to take it down. The dim witted hired man managed a terrible field dress of the stag and they got a meagre amount of meat from it. The next day had them travelling the hills uneventfully and they passed the ruins where Hollaway met his demise. They decided to give it a pass for the moment and continue on to find the monastery. They were waylaid by goblins that night and managed to dispatch them - but not without a decent fight. They travelled through some forested hills and there was a bit where Henril fought a pair of wolves. They eventually managed to find the high hill that the monastery was on, and after searching the area they found a promising cave entrance. However it was getting late and since they were near Red Towers castle they decided to press on to rest there before entering the caves.
I like that the random encounters shape the story. I would have never planned for the woodcutter to be such a campaign fixture but he has become one because I keep rolling woodcutters. I would have never thrown an ogre along the road by design, but it came up on the encounter table and provided some needed colour. I am also pleased at how the revised hit points are working out. I think that the battles are a little more reasonable now, especially the fight with the goblins. It was much more balanced where four goblins managed to incapacitate two party members before they were dispatched. This didn't cause any permanent damage to the party and there was little doubt that the party would win, especially with Henril being a 3rd level fighter, but it made the fight a lot less one sided than it would have been in the past. Also Kane was still a very effective force in the combats - firing magic missiles often and dealing enough damage even with the reduction in HP.
I also found that there was a still lot of D&D hangover happening even with players a bit familiar with Beacon. It was obvious that the players were basing their play on other similar game rules and not the Beacon rules. There was still a tendency for the players to try to 'use their skills' rather than describe their actions. I had to actually stop players from saying things like 'I use my Subterfuge to...'. I found that playing with the novices during my camping trip was a lot different in this respect, as they had no problem with the narrative aspect of the game and therefore were much less skill orientated and much more creative in their actions. Skill based games have poisoned the whole hobby in this respect I think. I also noticed that the players didn't really leverage the combat phases and so would do stuff like ready a bow in the missile phase - and then have to sit out the melee phase and wait till next combat round to attack - a basic misunderstanding but one causing a lot of dissatisfaction. I was told that they thought that missile phase was the 'ready weapon' phase - but it clearly isn't. Some of this stuff requires the player to have knowledge that they can ready a weapon or move in either (or both) phases and then leveraging their actions accordingly. But some of that is stuff I can fix - mostly by renaming the phases to 'Ranged' and 'Close' as was suggested by the players. I also think I need to make some types of weapons available instantly (like throwing daggers) because of the way the phases work they will otherwise get nerfed. I think I better take this phased combat discussion off to another post however. I like how it works - I feel it's almost there - but there are still a few tiny tweaks needed I think.