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General Small and frightened creatures

My group recently decided to take a break from our long-term epic campaign until we can reliably all get together again, and in the meantime play short one- or two-session adventures. I volunteered to DM, and created an all-halfling party to go on a quest for a dragon's treasure. We've played one session, and it was great: being first level again, and having to bypass encounters that could easily result in a TPK, presented an exciting but low-stakes challenge.

To hold on to that feeling, I'm considering not giving XP. Instead, I'll award feats or other bonuses, like a few extra HP or +1 on a save. Hopefully, this will give my players a sense of progressing, without losing the "smallest, pluckiest creatures in the forest" idea.

Has anyone tried this before? Thoughts, suggestions, warnings?
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If you want them to actually have a shot at getting a dragon's treasure, but not be badasses... you need to figure out now how you intend them to do that.

Handing out specific bonuses takes away player agency in the character development, which may be an issue.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
How long is this going to last? I mean, there's no reason to change a single thing for a short set of adventures - they start and end the campaign at first level. Maybe they get some better gear, but that's it.

Personally I'd just level them up using milestone levelling but they never get past 2nd or 3rd level. If you wan to hand out alternative bonuses, consider doing it buffet style. Present options and let each player pick one.

Oh, and as Umbran said, you'll have to be careful to give them hints and options on how to succeed. While catastrophic failure can be fun at same time having no chance to succeed would be quite frustrating as well.
 

Thanks for the input. As matters stand, I don't think they'll actually encounter the dragon, just lots of other encounters along the way. As for how long it's going to go on: I really don't know. Depends on how long this pandemic thing lasts, I suppose, or how soon we get bored and try something else. In the meantime, this is a way to keep things light and simple. Probably a buffet-style reward thing would be best.
 

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