Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Close the door, put out the light...you know they won't be home tonight...

"Close the door, put out the light. 
You know they won't be home tonight. 
The snow falls hard and don't you know? 
The winds of Thor are blowing cold. 
They're wearing steel that's bright and true 
They carry news that must get through." Led Zeppelin

One of my favorite sections in my AD&D game (when I am the DM at least) is what the players do come nightfall. Usually the party are camping out in the wilds, and after a long-ass day of troll slaying, and gold hauling, there is nothing better than putting your feet up and shooting the breeze with your mates. Some DM’s handwave this section, going straight for the guard roster and the wandering monster chart. Not me, I like to slow it down and get the most out of it. My players do too; they do some of their best role-playing in the ‘quiet’ times.

It’s almost a bit of a ritual, one that we never tire of. Firstly the ranger will scout out a suitable place to make camp. Somewhere defensible of course, there are a whole lot of monsters who hunt at night. Then the thief will lay out some rudimentary traps or early-detection systems on the most likely direction of approach. Then, depending on who had a really crap day, and rolled the worst, they will find their character chopping wood and hauling water to make amends for their poor performance, while the rest of the guys get the tents up (if they have them) and get the fire going. Once that’s done, the Ranger (usually) will have done some hunting and will  prepare dinner. If there is nothing to roast on the fire then it’s a festive night of Iron Rations and river water.

Round about now the role-playing usually starts with the fighter taking a whetstone to his long sword to maybe take out a nick in the blade caused by a fumble roll earlier in the day. Or someone is bending a breastplate back into place or sewing up their leather armour. All those little things you do that will make them adventure effective come sunrise. The mages will usually take a look at their spell components and see what they need. The cleric might spend a bit of time in reflection, and the party store man will look to see if they have enough oil, or torches, or rope, or any number of things you need to pull off a successful Treasure Hunt. My players all have actual cards for these pieces of kit, and if they use something like a torch, then they pass it to me.

Once the admin is out the way, it’s dinner, bullshit talk about the day, what they did wrong, what they did right, how they could possibly improve, and what they plan on doing tomorrow.
I use this time to get myself ready for the next day, make sure I have the maps I need, or ensuring that I have all the treasure and monster stats ready. They then give me the guard roster for the evening and it either kicks-off into a midnight toe-to-toe with a werewolf or something cool, or they get their beauty sleep. And believe me, when one of the party has a charisma of six, is missing most of his nose and his forehead (not to mention a hunk of ear) they could use all the beauty sleep they can get.
So how do you guys play it? Do you make it an evening of pipe smoking and ale sipping? Or do you skip it almost entirely?

“A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed.
'Hobbits!' he thought. 'Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There's something mighty queer behind this.' He was quite right, but he never found out any more about it.”
-J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

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