Explore or Skip Ahead?

2009 June 9
by Stupid Ranger

During our last session of the Keep on the Shadowfell, we came to a difference in opinion regarding how much exploration to undertake, knowing that the Big Bad was still ahead of us.

The Debate

Our Explorers wanted to finish opening every door before taking on the Big Bad.  Not a bad plan, all in all; exploration leads to a higher the potential for treasure.

Our Skip Ahead-ers wanted to ignore the mundane sections and just get the combat out of the way.  Why waste time killing off minions when you could productively killing the Big Bad?

The Decision

Based on in-character votes, the majority decided to get the battle out of the way.  Not knowing if the Big Bad had any sort of early detection system in place that would give away our presence, we pressed on and skipped what appeared to be unnecessary doors.

The Result

We might have missed out on some odds and ends of things, and there might be some minions of evil wandering around the abandoned Keep.  But let’s face it, they weren’t really bright, and most were too lazy to think about leaving the dark, dankness of the Keep to seek vengeance against us for killing their leader.

The Metagaming Aspect

This debate in our campaign was a little… skewed.  It’s easy to consider the module and its specific end, as opposed to the unexpected where you don’t know what’s coming at the end, or where the end will be.  This is especially significant as the end of the night draws near… there’s extra pressure to just finish and ignore the peripheral rooms so everyone can get some sleep.

So while I sided with the Skip Ahead-ers during the session, I know that there is value to be had in the Exploration mode.  It’s important to remember as you are going through modules that just because you know there is an end, you don’t have to run straight to it.  Be aware of your character’s motivations, as well as the feelings of the rest of the group, before you decide if you want to open that door or skip ahead to the next.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. June 9, 2009

    That’s funny. Last week we made the same decision in the same module. I wonder if at the same point? We had just taken out the goblin mini-boss and decided rather than roll up every last goblin to keep going deeper into the dungeon to seal up the rift.

  2. Stupid Ranger permalink*
    June 9, 2009

    That is funny! Sounds like you made that decision before we did. We talked our way past the hobgoblin guards on the third level down, and we made it through to a skirmish with some zombies and a ghoul. At that point, we decided we’d rather push ahead instead of checking out the various doors we’d walked past.

  3. June 9, 2009

    I think your last paragraph says it all. These decisions should always be made in character (IMHO). I know it sucks knowing that if you go with exploring that you will run out of gaming time and have to wait until next session to face the BBEG. But if that is what your group WOULD do in that situation, then I think that is what your group SHOULD do. Resist meta-gaming at all costs, when you can, it will make your game all the better.
    (again IMHO)

  4. June 12, 2009

    While it’s harder to do this in a commerical module, the way I handled a similar situation in my 4E campaign was to run the dungeon exploration as a skill challenge.

    Our intrepid heroes needed to sneak through the ancient lava tube tunnels leading to the caldera lair of a red dragon. Rather than have them poke their heads into every last nook and cranny of the tubes trying to find the path (and getting bogged down in all the dungeoneering that goes along with it) I ran it as a Skill Challenge making liberal use of physical skills and dungeoneering skills, with the occasional knowledge check thrown in.

    My goal, as the GM, was to move them through the ‘dungeon’ in about an hour, rather than taking a night or two, because this was our playtest campaign — we wanted to get to the big bad encounter as quickly as possible, but at the same time, the group and I didn’t want to simply wave our hands and say “you arrive”.

    The Skill Challenge approach allowed for a sense of travel and adventure, without having to resort to mapping five foot squares. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS