After the last two sessions of being over-prepared and under-prepared, this week I ended up somewhere in the middle. I had read ahead in the adventure path to get an idea of where things were heading, but my main preparation had been the section immediately ahead, namely, the farms allegedly infested with ‘walking scarecrows’.
Our heroes headed out into the farmlands (on foot, since their horses were stolen on their last adventure…) to find the monsters terrorising the local farmers. The setting for this part was pretty awesome: the affected farm was completely surrounded by a corn field that was taller than all the PCs. This meant they could only see a few feet ahead at a time, paving the way for surprise encounters with the scarecrows and the odd human survivor.
Of course, the sorcerer’s first attempt to get around this was to set the corn fields on fire! As if the poor farmers hadn’t lost enough, what with being turned into ghouls and all… Too bad the wind blew the fire away from the farm house, destroying crops and who knows what else in the opposite direction instead. Sure, this was me as the game master forcing the players to go the way I wanted, but I’ve found that a certain amount of railroading is actually useful in telling a story effectively: I’m not experienced enough to run unplanned encounters, but I am getting the hang of running things I have planned.
The PCs had little trouble dispatching the ghouls that were infesting the farmhouse, and they even saved a couple of farmers from the same fate even though it was well out of their way to do so. Still hot on the trail of the murderer, they made their way to the infamous and haunted Foxglove Manor. We only got part way through the manor because it was late (and because I hadn’t had time to draw all the maps), but I can say that I absolutely loved playing a haunted house. I’ll write more about it when we’ve finished (wouldn’t want to accidentally give away anything to my players), but I can hardly wait for the next session.