One of my goals for 2013 is to run a game for my local RPG meetup group. While I have met some people in the group, it's a large group and there's no telling who would come out for an old school dungeon crawl.
Time is running out and I need to get a jump on this.
After some arm twisting, my regular players and some additional friends agreed to "play test" a couple of dungeons to help me pick the most enjoyable one. If I'm going to go out and run a game for strangers, I'd like the adventure to be interesting enough to give the players something to work with.
We started last night and didn't even get inside (they opted to go in via the roof rather than the front door, but that led to some hilarious complications), but already I have learned a few things:
It's best to use pre-gens or have players create their characters before the game session. We lost over an hour and that's even with my menus of equipment packages that were intended to speed up that part.
I want to use physical representations of resources - torches, oil flasks, arrows, etc. Maybe glass beads or pennies or some other token, to give the player a real world representation of their diminishing resources.
Spells, per one of my players suggestions, should be printed out on an index card that the player turns in when its cast. Again, resource representation.
Another player suggestion, make the character sheets modular. The idea is to have the basic equipment lists on index cards, character stats on another, weapons and armor on another, special skills (thieves, turning for clerics), saving throws another (create several for each class in case mulitple players play same class). They could be laid out in a rectangle on the table in front of the player, like an ordinary character sheet.
Since it's a 1 shot, all PCs have the same chance to hit, make that a hard-coded piece of the character sheet.
I'm really trying to step up my game after DragonCon - just going all in. I'm excited about the next session and seeing how they'll approach the dungeon.
In addition to determining which crawl I'll run for the meetup group, I'm on a mission to show my regular players that a dungeon crawl is neither necessarily hack-and-slash or a railroad. Already, I have dispelled some of the players' misgivings about dungeon crawls, just by letting them go in through the roof.