First, I get to run an adventure I've already run, but with a completely different group (Hence the whole "Return to the Crypt of the Lizard King" thing in the title up there. Also, I get to game with may daughter at the same time as I'm gaming with my longterm, adult players (guys in the 30-40 yr. old range).
Any guesses who in the party was the most bloodthirsty? Yeah... my kid. I'm not sure what that says about me as a parent. Hehe. Daddy? Can I go out and... KILL TONIGHT? (<--See? Bloody letters.)
We started out a little later than I thought we might, as John worked pretty late the night before and wasn't up until about 30 minutes before game time. He arrived about half an hour late, and then we got started.
It was clear from the start that our dynamic at the table was a bit different than it has been before. One factor certainly was the kid. She's hell bent on doing SOMETHING! ANYTHING! Sometimes she wants to do it when it's not her turn, and sometimes she wants to do it when it has no bearing on anything else that's going on around her. Ahhhhhhh... to be 11 again. Occasionally, it was disruptive, but not too badly, and it provided many, many opportunities for kid-targeted humor. John's a sarcastic old bastard, and was more than willing to "be himself." Good times. It also didn't help that the kid kept feeding us straight line after straight line, forcing us to suppress our inner Beavises and Buttheads, at least for the day.
In any event, John found that he was able to harness The Girl's bloodthirstiness for some really excellent gameplay. "Sure, kid, you can be in the first rank with your 0-level mooks. Go right ahead." Oddly, The Girl managed to get through the game unscathed, because holy crap can she roll the dice! Lots of high numbers for her, and considerably less for the others.
Jason, another of my longtime players, kept the following gameplay log, which shows a remarkably similar arc to the first time I ran the adventure. This time, though, I noticed a subtle difference. The tension, the fear of losing one's characters, was palpable at the table. Mortality was our constant companion. I'm not saying that the group didn't want to mix it up with the baddies, but there was definitely a sense that IT COULD END BADLY, and a concomitant deliberateness in how the players (except for The Girl, of course) approached things.
Here's Jason's take on things, with some additional material (by me) in orange.
There was some talk of going overland, straight to Ur-Hadad, prior to this. That would have run the adventure off the rails a bit, I think. I probably would simply have gone with Perils of the Sunken City if it had gone that way. It didn't end up happening, though. Instead, they approached Redflood, going past the tannery and the smokehouse. They saw:
Having gleaned the very obvious plot hook from this exchange (Yeah, Jason literally said, "Oh, look! A plot hook!" or some such shit. My players are not oblivious, you know.) they began to negotiate the price of rescue. Instead of trying to budge Ariz, the town elder, on his price for the heads of the bandits and the return of the healer/her daughter, Jason's character instead tried to get them to give up some supplies and equipment. This left me with a little bit of a quandary. How to get through this without over-supplying them?
Well, to me it seemed logical that even a large fishing village like this one probably didn't have a whole lot of war-fighting capability, and that some resources and skillsets used for making weapons and armor might be scarce. So, the blacksmith had time to make them some crude spears, and the tanner was able to patch together a bit of crude leather armor, but in limited quantities.
Yes, sweetie, you can go out and kill tonight. This was actually pretty awesome, her attempt to be stealthy and to kill him silently resulted in a natural 20 roll. With such a critical success, she was able to kill him without raising any kind of ruckus. Well done, Lucy!