Running my first session on Tuesday. I've played a bit, but studied a lot, so I definitely have first time jitters but am pretty confident in the game I'm preparing. The lads and lasses I'm playing with are all noobs, save for one seasoned dungeoneer, but every one of them is sharp as shit and mean to boot, and will chew through any holes they can find. It's going to be a dope challenge, but also increases the pressure to provide a high quality experience.
I'm really proud of the story I've developed, but storytelling is my background and this was the area where I was probably least concerned. Where I could really use some help is in developing a travel mechanic I'm working on, as the economics of time and experience in D&D are definitely not my area of expertise..
It's likely that, during the first session, the players will be undertaking a long (month or so) voyage. I know that sounds odd, but it's important to the overall story that the players start where they do, that this first adventure opportunity is where it is, and that the two locations are so far apart. I've planned for alternatives in case the players just have no interest whatsoever in the gig waiting for them at the end of the voyage, but in the instance that the players do opt in, I'm working on a month-long calendar that they will advance through together to simulate their time at sea. Each day, I will privately (and quickly) roll for odds on various situations that would require the players' involvement (attacks by sea monsters, natural disasters, social emergencies, etc.) They'll also have opportunities to make decisions regarding how they choose to spend their free days on board, for example: sparring/training in order to gain xp. This is the option I'm probably most excited about, as it's reminiscent of "grinding" in traditional RPGs so as to be better prepared for future important encounters and make them easier (though this is, traditionally, done through encounters). It's also the issue I'd most appreciate your guys' council on: is this kind of encounter-less leveling a bad idea? The most I could see them growing, even with diligent exercise, is one level (or less), but I could still see the concept being mechanically illegal. I understand that DMing is all about personality and creativity, such that nothing is "illegal", but it's still important to me to be precise, and to create fair, balanced, and mathematically sound gameplay, even where I take liberties with the basic rules. Which brings me to my second main plea for advice: do you this style of smart/slow simulated travel in general, works? Be honest. I understand some of the potential failings, like players who'd rather skip the voyage being held up by those who want to milk it for every opportunity, and am ready to plan for and/or improvise if everyone min-maxes the voyage and it begins to eat up too much of the session, but would like to familiarize myself with any other shortcomings. These are my main questions, as they correspond with my main weaknesses as a first-time DM: the ways in which these ideas could break or injure the game. However, I would also love encounter suggestions! The first half of the journey will be through essentially Carribean waters, which has me thinking pirates/storms, while the destination is a marshy, swampy, vaguely Louisianian continent. There are rocky, foggy, lighthousy corners of this world that this voyage won't intersect, and my instinct is to hide my more eldritch nautical encounters there for later sessions, but I'm not at all averse to throwing an incredibly rare kraken or Davy Jones style encounter on the table and seeing what the wheel of fate has to say about it. I'd also really appreciate ideas for other ways players can opt to spend their free days, like socializing or gambling, ESPECIALLY if you support the structure in general but not the experience mechanic. Incredibly grateful for any and all assistance, and I'll be sure to let any curious parties or advisors know how it goes. Thanks so much!
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