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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Scourge of the Sword Coast: 3 Things Game Stores Should Do

I just got back from the game store. I ran another session of Scourge of the Savage Coast. It went fine, I guess. I still think the adventure is completely ill-suited for Encounters, but it's not terrible.

During the game, a Warhammer player just kind of came up to us and interrupted the game. He asked one of the players to mark some numbers on the bottom of his minis. I have no idea why.

It was a little rude to just cut into my game, but I decided to just let it slide. It only took a second. But it got me thinking about how I wish the game store would handle in-store gaming. Here's a few rules that I think any Encounters DM would like to be implemented:

Give us a space with enough room

Our tables are right next to Warhammer guys and customers have to squeeze past us. People are jabbering loudly and here I am trying to run a game where the players have to be able to hear me. I'd really like it if I could have a table off in a corner so that we can focus.

I could tell some of my players were a bit uncomfortable tonight. It worries me because I don't want them to stop showing up, but honestly I wouldn't blame them if they did.

Keep an eye on people and make sure they behave

People are loud. Some of them are still working on their social skills (aren't we all). This seems like common sense to me, but the store managers should have an eye on the people in their store. If they see people behaving in a way that negatively affects other customers, take care of it! There have been many players who have been driven out of this store by loud, rude, weird people who are going unchecked. And you know what they tell other people? "Don't go to that store!"

Sometimes you have to boot one or two people out for the good of everyone else.

Let's figure out a way to get someone to buy something

This is more an issue with Wizards of the Coast than any game store. It boggles my mind. To me, most of the point of Encounters is to get people to play D&D and to buy D&D stuff. They don't buy anything. None of my players buy any D&D stuff. Some of them don't even own dice.

This doesn't seem to bother other people, but it bothers me. I want D&D to stick around for a long time! I want it to be profitable! I wish there was something cheap and cool for them to buy that would help them in the game. Fortune cards didn't work, but it was a nice try. Custom minis, maybe? Or some kind of .99 cent app they could buy? All of my players are tech savvy. Maybe a season-themed kit that has dice, a custom character sheet and a special mini?

It just really bothers me when I have players who have been playing Encounters every week for three years who do not know the rules at all and own nothing. 

Our heroes had finished up Harpshield Castle and returned to Daggerford. From there, it was time to drop the hook for the Lodge on them. What's the hook? An NPC asks them to go. Really dull!

Yes, a hunting lodge has been overrun by gnolls. Let's go.. uh.. kill the gnolls and stuff. Not very inspiring.

The sprawling nature of the complex bothers me. Three buildings and an underground entrance, all with monsters in different rooms that may or may not hear the PCs and join in on a battle. It is so complicated! I made a custom map for myself and I still missed a few instances where gnolls in nearby rooms should have joined in on the battle

On the plus side, there were more magic items in this place than in the previous ones. These adventures are extremely skimpy on loot.

I'm starting to run into a problem in my games when it comes to giving out gold. The PCs have nothing to spend it on! What's the point of even having it? In this edition, if you can pay 250 gold per month, you are considered the richest of the richest - an "aristocrat". I have a number of PCs in this game who have 1,000 gold already.

One thing I really liked in this was Thegger Grym's spellbook. It is trapped so that if you open it, an explosive rune is triggered and destroys the book. My group opened it and two PCs were actually dropped to 0 from the explosion.

Trapped spell books makes sense. It is a classic trope that I feel should be used even more than it is. I'd love to see expanded versions of these traps, creative ways in which the book is destroyed and the would-be thieves are punished. It could suck them into another dimension, or maybe imprison them in the book somehow. Maybe even summon the spirit of its' dead owner? All sorts of cool stuff.

The adventurers showed up at the lodge and killed a truckload of gnolls. They had a cool battle with the wizard, who has a sound burst spell. I narrated that spell as shattering all of the windows in the building. Makes sense, right? It definitely reminded me that I need to do a lot more of that kind of thing - play out all of the logical flavor ramifications to help make the game feel more real and cool.

They started to explore the dungeon level a bit. They slaughtered the gnoll with the wolves with a pile of critical hits. We had to stop there. We should finish the lodge next time.. and I'll probably need to prepare the final dungeon too.

Can't wait for this season to be over!

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