Got in more hours of gaming on Friday and Saturday than I’d managed in the previous six months, I think. The first session with my son on Friday night was one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever played, and we followed it up on Saturday morning with another (shorter) successful session.
His ranger was dismayed to discover that the trolls are keeping a closer eye on their hoard now that he’s stolen some of it while they were away from their lair, but was excited to check out a little more of the tower he’s been exploring and managed to get back to town with another ivory tusk. Another NPC bit the dust, this time a thief who fell victim to the undead monkeys within the tower when the characters failed to take sufficient precautions.
That evening my wife and daughter rolled up PCs and we had our third-ever whole-family game. The two new PCs joined my son’s ranger and yet another NPC and headed into the wild. After some tense moments when they became disoriented in the trackless jungle, they managed to find their way back toward town and drove off some jungle goblin raiders near town. Unfortunately, the next morning they ran into more goblins and were wiped out.
The first time we all played together, the party was captured out by goblins. The second session we all played together was a successful rescue mission with new PCs. And now the third time was a TPK. Though I want the threat of danger to be very real and want 1st-level characters to be justifiably frail, the death rate is discouraging. My son, in particular, was pretty upset about losing the ranger that had done so well in the first two sessions.
He and I have discussed this extensively and we are going to be making a few tweaks to improve the survivability of PCs. I’m going to up the binding of wounds from 1d4-1 hit points per battle to 1d6, and the overnight healing is going to be upped to 1d6 hit points as well. I think this is in keeping with the sword & sorcery vibe I’m going for. Battles are savage and death is not uncommon, but soon the characters are back into the thick of it. So we’re going to give it a try.
I’ve got another change, much more significant, in mind as well, but I want to think on it a bit. The goal is to increase survivability at the first couple levels without altering game balance or making mid-level characters TOO powerful. I also want the risk of PC death to remain significant, and even a threat to well-played characters. It’s a fine line and one that I think a lot of people have trouble with.