It has been awhile since I wrote up a post about the Dark Sun game I'm running, but it hasn't been so long since I actually ran a session. The previous post, chronicling chapter 3, was at least half written around the time it was ran. Since then, we've completed chapter 4 (at 16th level) and an interlude/flashback. Due to the fuzzy way my memory (doesn't) works, I won't have as detailed a post about the going ons of those sessions, but will try to relate what I can remember.
If I recall correctly, we were also short on time, even though this particular session was at my house for the first (and possibly last) time. This had to do with players not having leveled beforehand, which gave the rest of us time to play the Drizzt board game. Cool that one, wish I had the cash to get them all.
Continuing my tradition of not being able to properly prepare for one reason or another, I hit the table with little more than a basic grasp of what was going to go down.
A basic grasp which I quickly threw away as undoable.
In the week leading up to the session I had thought to bring the party to meet the Mind Lords before bringing them to Kurn. Upon researching the Mind Lords of the Last Sea that morning, I decided I couldn't do them the justice I wanted to do without a lot more sessions. (As a reminder, this is a mini-campaign while our primary DM is on break to focus on RealLife(TM) projects).
So instead I had them follow a comet to Kurn. The first half the chapter was the journey to Kurn, the second half what they found there and the aftermath. This works out well as one of the PC's backstory is that "the world" speaks to him, so such things become a message from the voices.
Again this is me winging it, a technique which I really do hope to improve upon as time goes on. I knew I wanted them to encounter a ruins and find an artifact from the Green Age. Conveniently, ruins are a ceramic bit a dozen on Athas, so that wasn't a problem at all. For some reason the McGuffin was the problem, but more on that later.
Upon stumbling into the ruins, they found two brothers digging around, a talkative one (Ferger) and a silent one (Stev). I'm not much of a Kevin Smith fan, but even I instantly recognized where I got that from. Somehow the party was persuaded to help with the digging.
Of course, no treasure worth having comes easy. Their efforts were interrupted by a desert aberration which I invented on the spot, quickly grabbing one of the recent monster books and reskinning a creature (I believe it was a 17th level solo dragon). I am becoming convinced this is the better route for me: make up the creatures the party is facing, then steal some other creatures stats for the crunch.
The brothers went into hiding while the heroes did their Hero Thing(TM) and dispatched the creature. Sometime during the battle I decided what the McGuffin would be: an egg. But not just any egg, the last gold dragon egg. The lore for this rolled around in the back of my mind while we resolved the combat, but I kind of regretted it almost as soon as I revealed it.
Of course, the players didn't know what it was beyond a large, petrified egg. The silent brother, Stev, turned to one of the PC's and proclaimed it was his duty to deliver the egg to the Sorcerer King Oronis. Here's the place where the players lack of extensive Dark Sun knowledge came in handy: they were confused as to why an ancient artifact should be brought to one of the despotic dictators.
That wrapped the session. The McGuffin really bothered me for some reason, but I eventually got over it. The down-side of constantly coming up with stuff on the spot is that after thinking about it I really wish I could change it. With each session I run, however, I find myself becoming just a little bit more comfortable with the off-the-cuff style, if not actually a tiny bit better each time. In future articles I may try to focus a bit more on this, and a little less on the "let me tell ya about my game" thing...