Our first week of proving grounds. Our guest DM was Travis, who built a level 1 adventure.
The plot was, goblins attack your wagon. While you are fighting, the other goblins come and grab the shit. You go into the goblin hole to go get it back.
The adventure was four encounters: the attack on the caravan, an ambush on the way to the goblin cave, the first cave with pillars, and the final cave with a couple of BBEGs and waves of goblins coming in from outside.
I really enjoyed the game. I am a player at heart, not a DM. I played well and the scenario gave me a chance to try out a wizard, which character worked really well and I was very pleased with. What I want in a DM is turns that move ahead briskly and rules calls that are not egregiously bad. So Trav’s DMming rules-wise was perfectly fine as far as I am concerned – it didn’t get in the way. There’s nothing worse than a ref that kills play, and Trav did not do that. We did not have extended rules discussions, and even though we did four fairly big encounters, we finished the night not excessively late. Trav definitely enabled the game to happen, and pulled of a fairly ambitious mini-adventure.
We really only isolated a couple of areas where we thought Trav could improve.
We survived the adventure with no fatalities, but only because we are awesome. We did feel that a less experienced group of players would not have managed as well. It’s difficult to get balance right – we are all still learning the game system, really. So that’s mostly cool. He did as well as I could have done, there, if not better.
Trav is a competitive guy (shit hot Magic player), and I expected that he would take a DM vs Party attitude. To a great degree he managed to pull his horns in. DMming will actually do that, because killing the party is a matter of saying “a rogue god pops out of the ground and smites you”. So it becomes no fun do do. Trav’s goblins, however, did use metagame information here and there – targeting the healer. But substantially he didn’t and played them straight. So – not a full-on killer DM, but with a couple of impulses in that direction that could be worked on.
Although the understanding was that we would not be doing role-playing so much, we would have liked just a little more story. Why did we care about the contents of the wagon, enough to risk our lives in a goblin cave? During the final encounter, extra waves of goblins came in. It felt like Trav was just throwing them in. That was not the case, but even without role-playing, an in-story excuse is as easy as “you hear someone beating a complex rhythm on what sounds like a hollow log”. Ok, cool, the goblins from the other caves and warrens are taking a moment to get here.
Oh, and Trav screwed up the first encounter, allowing us to move the wagon forward to a point where it was unlikely that the goblins could actually have stolen the gear. Ooops 🙂 .
Still, we all felt that Trav did well.