We gamed Sunday, it went rather well all things considered. My last hour of work was terrifying and tense, but we got out on time and I was able to meet up with the guys to game. I really enjoyed the session, and the guys say they did as well, which is always a plus. We were able to complete the full scenario, which I had thought might not happen. We just went an hour over our planned out time and got kind of rushed. Sorry guys. Heh.
I really thought the final encounter was very very neat. I kind of made Spineplate obsolete for it unintentionally, heh. Oh well, the guys did super fine without him. The whole gate thing holding up the islands worked quite neatly, the guys were terrified of the sorcerous devices though and it took a long time for them to even touch them and they almost ended up taking on all twenty-eight "soldiers", heh. The stealthy, incorporeal, shadowdancer dude worked out kind of well, I wish I would have opted for another one of those instead of the three warriors that spent the battle hacking ineffectually at black tendrils. Which is a nice lead into the next topic.
So, I don't know a lot about my players and what the mechanics of their characters are. I used to be very hands on with the leveling because everyone used to without fail fuck up something or give themselves extra feats of thirty bonus skill points from nowhere (Jeremy), or just make up numbers on the sheets (Tony and Jeremy). Nowadays, I figure we're all adults and if you can't follow the rules to properly make a character, that's on you. Micromanaging four new characters in addition to the gazillion I'm already working on, is not something enticing to me anymore. Anyway, for the most part I try to keep my knowledge of the players limited to what they do in the sessions. Obviously, that is a lot harder with John and Jeremy because I built both those characters from the ground up and neither of them has really tweaked them in the way the Eric and Fred have tweaked their characters. It is a lot easier for Fred and Eric to surprise me, and I like that. Keeping Derf and Xein to themselves allows me to ensure that I am not tailoring my scenarios to the group's capabilities. I generally try to keep the players as far from my mind, at least their abilities, while writing. I try to think in terms of the enemies and dangers and put in what seems reasonable for the situation. If the players can't get past an encounter or hazard, it is up to them to find a way around, and I usually try to give them plenty of opportunities to do so.
Does it makes sense that a pile of young sorcerers out for a lark in the caves beneath their parent's fortress have some spell resistance? Yeah. Should everyone Derf casts spells on have spell resistance? No. But that is the way I used to make scenarios. Everything above a certain level or hit dice had psionic resistance or spell resistance or high saves vs. whatever the group was using to inflict murder upon my NPCs at the time. It is the wrong way to GM. If you built an appropriately difficult scenario, and the players find ways to side step your challenges through cunning (and not rules lawyering or min/maxing), reward them for their efforts.
That said, Feeblemind on a spellcaster and Black Tentacles on a group of enemies, aren't cunning. They're just good sense.
One of my concerns and irritations is that the guys get sent out to kill Fell Human soldiers, they find Fell Humans that do not act in a militaristic fashion. This fact is not only observed, it is brought up by a member of the group, and then not addressed in any fashion whatsoever. Not a "Meh" from the self-proclaimed leader and apathetic member of the group, not by the good guy that claimed he is not a murderer, despite the fact that he has one of the most bloody and destructive melee weapons in Kusseth as his toy. I dunno, minor issue, but still, it sticks with me for some reason. I guess I always have a nit to pick. Meh.
One thing I decided following the scenario, if Derf is going to keep casting Feeblemind without worrying about misfires and the consequences, I'll be creating a Craft (Trepanning) skill.