So yeah. I stabbed my finger into the map, right where the trap was, as I imitated the automaton's robot-y voice "Our trap! There!" And Rollo Jr. IMMEDIATELY ran out and opened the door. Rolled the dice and it wasn't fatal, although by rights it should have been.
I didn't include my many rude comments about Too's decidedly unenthusiastic choice of character name (stuff along the lines of "Wow, your parents must have had low expectations for you. I bet you had an older brother who died, and your parents just gave up hope that you'd survive."), nor the comments about the horrid quality of their map. My insults did prompt the mapper to take some shots of the map with his camera so he could put a more cohesive version together at home. The map is spread out over two pages, half of it is upside down, there's no indication where one part connects to another. Not my problem though.
Anyhow, the point of this follow-up post is not to mock my players behind their backs, it's much more fun to do it to their faces. I wanted to bring up some things I've noticed, and ask some questions of You, The Readers.
a. Over the last few sessions, the players have had phenomenal luck with their reaction rolls. Nothing they meet wants to kill them, even with +4 modifiers. I was wondering how often people use reaction rolls? I like them, it means nobody knows what will happen during an encounter. The idea of becoming buddies with the screechmen or goblins in the absence of a Hive Mind seems a little ridiculous though. So I'm thinking of +4 modifiers to those rolls. The morlocks in the first level, I'd leave as normal reaction rolls - humans aren't on the normal hunting list, so maybe they'll want to chat. Or share a shank of goblin meat.
b. On a related note, does anybody ever use reaction rolls for dungeon vermin with animal-level intelligence? Stirges, giant beetles, etc?
c. This one isn't a question. Lt. Hammer is a 4 HD monster with 2 attacks. Two weeks ago, I got to see how that sort of fight would work out in practice with the crystal statues vs. the jury-rigged automatons. Automatons win with heavy casualties. The original encounter, I had Lt. Hammer with two 3 HD buddies. I probably would have left it, except Lt. Hammer is in the way of the dungeon - if he had a bad reaction roll, the party would have to fight their way through him. So the buddies had to go - that would be a TPK every time.
d. So the last-minute scrambling to get the 1st level keyed was sort of pointless, as the party ended up messing around in the gatehouse all night. On the plus side, I'm ahead of the game, which is where I like to be, and I can polish up some of the "meh" encounters on the level.
e. The players started asking about nearby towns last night, as Chelmsfordshire was fresh out of fools willing to die in a dungeon. I described the area as an outer ring of poor farming villages, a smaller inner ring of well-populated towns, and the city of Denethix in the middle. I'm going to need to put together some henchman tables, and some stock NPC's to pull out as the players get more involved in the cities and towns.
f. The players explore, on average, 9 rooms per session so far. They are also gaining XP pretty slowly, as the best loot is well hidden, or in the hands of hideous monsters. They did manage to find the magic shield though, and without dying from the yellow mold, which was a shocker. I had the automatons with the 500gp in loose change let the players walk off with it, because the automatons simply didn't want it - it was there as an afterthought, just the collected pocket-change from the bone-piles they had been stockpiling.
g. The players are very afraid of dusty floors now. I gleefully roll dice whenever they "check the dust." Can't be too careful...
h. Nobody checks the toilets. My green slime continues to be ignored.
i. Yeah my NPC names come from TV shows and movies. And when that doesn't work, I pick the most puerile, adolescent names imaginable. "Stinkborough" is not one of my prouder moments. But, the inexplicable stench of rotting meat throughout the town spooked the players a bit, and made them think I had some kind of evil plan going on.