AAR: Off the beaten path, right to the end
I wasn’t enthused about the third adventure in the Bree-land Region Guide — but saying that, I haven’t run it. Also, I wanted to keep doing something with Berelas, as at least one party member was quite attached to her, and there’s no further published material on her, to my knowledge.
So, instead, I asked the group where they wanted to go (ahead of the session), and then offered some hooks. Berelas wants to go to Radagast, which is quite a trip away. The players offered to escort her, and I prepped a long Journey and had some vague ideas for some things to do in Rhosgobel when they arrived.
Although, hmm, how to get there.
It’s very long, by LoTR standards — maybe that’s why everyone stops at Rivendell. In the end, we ended up splitting this into four Journeys. Mechnically the difference is that a long Journey that includes hard terrain mean that all the Events in that Journey will be at the hardest DC for that terrain, to indicate your endurance being worn down.
Having had the first two Journeys in this campaign being pretty brutal, I thought I’d soften the blow. So, of course, the party aces nearly every roll and trips across Eriador, into Rivendell, and across the Misty Mountains to Beorn’s house.
I created a small Ranger base that the players were able to use as a stepping stone halfway to Rivendell. Given the rolls, this turned out to be unnecessary, but seemed to work okay. Some feasting and flavour rolling ensured some fun was had.
Based on the previous adventure’s experience, I only used the Audience at the beginning to permit bonuses. The players were in no danger of being turned aside, just not being welcome at table.
- Rocky Descent for my encounter in the Misty Mountains. Probably a bit too green for the Mountains but I wanted to use the height variation it offered.
- The problem with multiple Journeys is that the events get same-y. Particularly in Eriador which doesn’t have any specialised table to roll on.
- After the first Journey, I pre-rolled the Embarkation and Journey Events, and then had a think about how to make them interesting. I’m pleased I did this, I felt it was a good combo of “involving the players” at the beginning, and then “keeping the pace” by doing my later deliberations offline.
- I wonder if three Journeys would have been better - or just start at Rivendell, because “why not”? First rule of story-telling for me: “is this the most interesting part of the characters' lives?”
More sadly though, two of the four players have pulled out, due to their work-shifts changing (ah, COVID…). As my work-load is also changing, I’ve not felt it this is the best time to recruit more players to replace them, in case I discover myself that I don’t have the capacity to run this game.
So, unfortunately, that’s where we have left our party.
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He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said.