Ugh....the past few weeks have been awful. Somehow, I got behind on my grading and it just kept snowballing. Well, I either got behind or I'm just inefficient. I don't know which. But it sure felt like every free waking moment has been spent grading papers, or preparing tests, or grading tests, or writing college recommendations....it was just daunting. And I'm trying to run two different AD&D games at the same time. Okay, one's only had two sessions and the other hasn't started yet because we can't get our schedules to coincide, but I'm still trying to prep them. Yeah....the game two weeks ago fell through because 4 of the 6 players were busy with other activities, familial and job related. The same group may have to cancel again this week because I already know 3 of the players are out of town. It's okay. I could use the time to either prep or to get all the college recs out of the way.
So, as for the game last Friday. Well, it was shorter than usual because I had a family responsibility to maintain. For those needing the program book to keep track, this is the half-orc group in Freeport. The cleric's player was out of town on business. The elven ranger/magic-user player was off doing his monthly weekend warrior duty. The missing half-orc fighter's player from last time showed up, though. This made the group consist of three fighters, a thief and a ranger. No spell casters. This should be interesting.
I had prepared two possible scenarios for them (the left shoe bandit and the continuation of the temple search). I had a few other items I could throw out there, but nothing very fleshed out. However, this group needs more direction and tends to prefer to have the railroad tracks in sight even if they don't follow them closely. They ignored the left shoe bandit thread and decided to return to the temple. At least a week had passed since they were last down there, as they went about trying to sell their finds (books and such) to various individuals. Thus, returning to the abandoned house, they found the place boarded up and trapped. They ingeniously used rats to test for poison gases (found one) and then used a torch to burn it off. Once that was burned away, they had to break down a brick wall to find a batch of zombies waiting for them. A short battle later, in which one of the fighters rushed through the crowd (as one player said "yay! no AoO's in 1st ed") to attack the back two zombies, he tripped and sent his weapon flying down the hallway. The zombies took advantage of his condition to deal 13 points of damage to him (dropped him to -4). The thief rushed up and poured their only healing potion down the fighter's throat (2d4+2, he rolled max). Those were the only two hits the zombies landed all night.
The group continued to search the area and found the cleared out temple. However, I had misjudged my players and they were able to attack and kill my snake person wizard before he could use his wand on them. In fact, before he could do anything. It was disheartening as a DM. The group did manage to find Lucius, the missing librarian, who was quite confused after having his mind partially scrambled. At this point the game had to be stopped because I had to go pick up my boy from the school football game.
I've been thinking more about the game and about how I need to make it more challenging to the group. But that's difficult because I don't know if I'll get all 7 players or just a handful every time. I've also been thinking about how each of the players is approaching this game and the rules. I think we have basically three types of players at the table. The first is like me. I have had my fill of large rulebooks, bookkeeping of skill points and feats and such, and stories which must be played out as close to as written as possible (or the "you're not playing this right" approach). I like the freedom of minimal rules. I like the ability to explore different genres as well as different personalities.
The second player is there to have fun. The rules are irrelevant at best. A minimum amount of attention is given to keeping an accurate character sheet. The most important part of the game is the jokes, laughing, and food. Everything else is icing.
The third player there is interested in making a distinct character based upon feats and skill sets and alignment and diety and back story and....He is there to take part in a grand adventure the GM has written and expects the GM to have the skeleton of the story already written at the very least. The gaming table is his stage and he is aware of the edges of the set, staying away from them as best as possible. He is perfectly fine walking through the game, interjecting his creativity to flesh out the story while absorbing the heroics of it all.
I am most definitely not saying that one style is better than the other. I am just noticing the differences and wondering how to make the game work with all three types at the table. This will take some thought....