Unfortunately I started writing this then got distracted. It's several weeks ago now, and I can't really remember much of what happened - so at a certain point, details become very sketchy! But as the next session will be coming up soon, it's probably best to post this up in its somewhat-truncated state.
We had our 10th session of the Rift City campaign on 13th May. This time the party was composed of:
Berg the Dwarf
Cnut the Fighter
Galen the Elf
Gene the Fighter
Gibbet the Thief
Gwynthor the Cleric
Karenza the Elf
Polly the Magic User
Shazam the Elf (and Keith the Orc)
and a new player, running Flenzack the Cleric.
The game started with the party assembling at the inn where they met a new chap called Flenzack who was looking for adventure. They teamed up (naturally - that's kinda the way the game has to work) and went off to the Rift together. Entering the cave-complex at the now-traditional fifth entrance they made their way through to where the finished stonework in the area run by the alliance of Orcs and Necromancers, disturbed only by some bats that were themselves disturbed by the party's lights. Instead of attacking the bats and making the situation worse, the PCs stayed calm and let the bats settle down again.
Continuing through the caverns to the nicer bits of dungeon, the PCs spied some Orcs ahead. Berg the Dwarf immediately threw a handaxe at them and charged. The handaxe missed (it was pretty extreme range) and the Orcs ran back round a corner. Taking a little while to charge after them Berg, Karenza and Flenzack rounded said corner to be met with a hail of Orcish crossbow-bolts. Karenza sustained a fleshwound but otherwise the party was OK and made short work of the Orcs. Looting the bodies turned up some gems for the which the party was quite grateful.
A little further on and the party came to a door. Listening revealed the fact that there was something inside making a rustling, scrabbling noise. So they knocked. The noise stopped.
Eventually, Shazam went in and poked about a bit. It was very dark. A thing moved, and he stabbed it. Turns out it was a sort of giant centipede, which didn't manage to bite him as he's somewhat tank-like (plate is the armour of choice for these guys, they didn't even bother starting with chain until they'd made some cash, they all just bought plate from day one). Not knowing whether the darkness was due to the centipede or the room itself, Polly came in and suggested cutting its head off to take back to Gisuintha the zooicidal Magic User back at the city.
Unfortunately, on going into the room, Polly set of the room-trap (a large pit) that Shazam had not, and failed her saving throw... shinning down a rope to try some elementary staunching, the party wasn't able to save her and unfortunately Polly, one of the the three PCs from the very first session, gasped her last on the floor of a 10'-deep pit. Then Gibbet, who was down in the hole but had tied up everything to the end of the rope to be hauled up, slipped as he was climbing out and fell back in, injuring himself rather... it was a bit of a comic catastrophe. But what can you do? There he was, trusting to his 87% climbing skill or whatever it was. It wasn't enough.
Gibbet, however, survived, and made it out with Polly's equipment. Apparently she's made a Will leaving all her worldly goods to the Home for Retired Cats or some-such. There isn't one of those in Rift City but there is a temple to a southern cat-goddess (which is infested by strays as the priestesses keep feeding them) so that will have to do.
Leaving the room where Polly died (I do need to find out what they did with the body as I now can't remember) they went north towards the room (also pretty dark) where the shambley squishy blobby dwarf-thing was. They found it and they killed it quickly. They also managed to get a little more treasure, but not much.
They tried to search of some of the rooms about, but ran out of time, I'm not sure how, as they didn't seem to do much. Some Robber Flies, and some Skeletons, may have been involved, but I may be mixing up the month before. Anyway, hell-for-leather out of there (fortunately not setting off any wandering monsters) and back to town for them, ready to adventure out another day...
Two things are becoming clear about the area the party is currently exploring. First, the monsters aren't tough enough. The party generally consists of 7-10 PCs, of which maybe 6-8 are around AC2. That makes it hard for monsters to hit them (as they're also mostly around hp4 though, it means anything that does hit them stands a good chance of killing them). Often the PCs outnumber the monsters too. For party that averages at 8xAC3 (let's say, it's a bit wibbly-wobbly) then 4 Orcs at AC5 are not a significant threat.
The second thing is that there isn't enough treasure. There have been 10 sessions so far. Gibbet and Gwynthor did 8, Galen has done 7 as did Polly, Shazam 4 I think. Sven did about 6, and other characters who died also did a fair amount of sessions. Only Gibbet is even close to Second Level at this point. So I need to offer more rewards, I think.
Too often encounters are brutally short and offer no challenge to the party, then the rewards are paltry, barely covering the cost of food for the day. Then once in a blue moon, for no good reason, a massive load of gold arrives. There's just too much faffing around for too little result.
Probably need to toss a bit more magic into the pot too. Healing potions, scrolls and whatnot.
I need to find a way of balancing all that out a bit better. This week I shall try to work on the balance a little more carefully.