This was a bad session.
I was absolutely slammed by work this week, so my preparation was severely lacking. I’d say so far, my sandbox campaign has required far more preparation than running published campaigns. And I knew my players were going to be interacting with a lot of NPCs and possibly stumbling upon a dungeon… unfortunately, all I was able to bring with me to the table were my skeleton notes on the NPCs, and a vague scribbling of “small level 4 – 5 dungeon under marshlands.”
Now previously, the party had been hit hard by the Lumber Consortium, who not only hired assassins to kill the party off, but also falsely accused the players of heinous crimes in the event that the assassins failed. The party also believed the city guards to be agents of the Lumber Consortium, so after defeating the assassins they were toying with the idea of fighting off the guards, as well.
At the last second, the party surrendered (through mush gnashing of teeth), and only two members snuck off. These two members ran into a special task force of the Andoren Eagle Knights who were trying to build a huge corruption case against the Lumber Consortium, and were very happy to meet and help these two players. The rest of the party was transported to the capital city to stand trial for crimes against Andoran and the Lumber Consortium. Their defense lawyer, however, was excellent, and informed the players that the evidence found on the assassins was solid gold.
Wisely, the players immediately begged her to make copies of that evidence and give it to them for safekeeping, but the rules of the prison were quite clear: All personal property and evidence remains custody of the government and legal teams, respectively. But she promised to make copies as soon as the trial was over, since she had to hand it over to a certain task force of Eagle Knights anyway.
This is where I failed as GM: The most important, exciting trial of the last decade was glossed over in just a few minutes. I was dead tired and had very little prepared; there is no other excuse. My players felt the trial was very anticlimactic, but at the same time they said it was ok, they really wanted to get their hands on that evidence and formally assist the Eagle Knights in taking down the Lumber Consortium.
As can be expected, however, they were just a minute too late in being released from prison: Their defense lawyer was shot dead in the street, her body scooped up into the assassin’s bag of holding, and the assassin had a hefty head start in fleeing the city. And though they lost track of the assassin, the Eagle Knights knew he would likely flee to a Lumber Consortium safehouse in the small marsh outside the city. Desipte their power, the Eagle Knights could not assault the safehouse without a warrant — which would take at least an hour to obtain, even in emergency circumstances. The recently freed party, however, operated under no such rules, so the Eagle Knights told them about the safehouse.
And that was it for the session. I felt really bad about how short and unexciting it was for my players, but I had an idea on how to make it up to them. I know that with the constant attacks by the Lumber Consortium and being under arrest, they’ve had little time to acquire wealth along with their experience — they’re level 3 now, with an average wealth per player of 300gp. And they don’t have any special/magical gear to speak of. So, it just so happens that the Lumber Consortium’s payment, 9,000gp in unmarked silver bars, are still sitting in the safehouse. The assassins, ahem, forgot to deposit it safely. That’s 1500gp per player ON TOP OF the treasure they’ll find in the dungeon in the marsh.
But that’s not all. Money is well and good, but I think I’ll make a special encounter in the dungeon — an exciting fight in dangerous terrain.