So last Saturday saw us playing the last session of Bitter is the Bark, a three-parter I wrote around the party having to find the material components for a cure for lycanthropy for a minor princess whom they were supposed to be safely escorting through the wilds.
The penultimate scene was a fight against an evil tree, a war tree and some twisted tree-sprites. My son was rolling on a roll in the fight against the war tree, throwing a massive 38 points of damage (Raise, Joker, Mighty Blow). As he then took up sword against the limbs of the evil tree, the rest of the group were cheering him on: “El-a-than, El-a-than, El-a-than!” I think that will be a treasured memory for years to come and all the confirmation that I needed that my family is into this as much as I am and that it was a good idea to include them.
The last scene was a hell-for-leather 60 mile ride against the clock to get the last ingredient back for the potion to be brewed. Everybody really enjoyed themselves (well, apart from the absent druid’s player that is, who’s PC is now embedded in a Blood Oak, but that was all part of the plan any way). A write-up of he last episode is found under Karickbridge Tales above.
Trying to dissect the game afterwards to determine what was so enjoyable, we came to the following conclusions:
- Ownership; the princess was a PC turned NPC – they had personal involvement in seeing her cured.
- Clear objectives; they started out the adventure knowing what they had to get, not necessarily knowing where to get the components, but knowing where to start looking.
- Some memorable foes and combats; as well as the war tree, there was the wyvern incident. Cool fight.
- Risk; there was a real sense that they could fail the task right up until the last horse-ride.
- A good dose of puzzles and dramatic tasks.
Now to take those lessons and run with them.