This week's session... did not go so well.
How it played out:
In character, the group took a long rest in the chamber where they'd defeated the undead and claimed the treasure - including the onyx ring, which turns out to be a ring of protection +3. However, the cleric didn't immediately reveal that to anybody except the sorcerer. Once they were sure what it did, the cleric asked an intriguing question: would this item respawn (along with the gold) if they left the dungeon and came back in?
So they tried it: walked everybody back out to the antechamber, talked Lord Aldenmier into pulling their banner, and then replaced the banner and went back inside.
Turns out that it does. Also, it turns out that it's only stepping on the dais that opens the sarcophagi and looses the undead; so allowing the cleric to borrow the assassin's slippers of spider-climbing meant that they could claim the chest without going into combat, and with the way the dungeon resets they could do so repeatedly. Unfortunately, Firstborn was bored with the lack of combat, and announced that his character was going to step on the dais and release the undead, whereupon the cleric's player announced that she was going to cast Inflict Wounds and use it on him, whereupon I made everybody stop while we sorted this out.
So in character, none of that happened. Out of character, that was ten minutes of argument and very nearly an in-party murderfest with the potential to end friendships. But with that ironed out and a working system in place, the party (mostly the cleric) sets about farming the room. Barrith (halfling rogue) has meanwhile figured out that a light crossbow suits him better than his longbow, and swaps the bow for one of the crossbows that the party has been keeping with the intention of selling; but again, sorting out how that's going to affect the part treasure takes another five minutes.
With that done, the farming begins in earnest. The group manages to raid the treasure chamber eight times before something goes wrong: as they open the door to leave again, they find an orc on the far side. Both they and the orc are equally surprised and spend a moment just staring at each other; then they go into combat, and Kaz promptly kills the orc (much to the disappointment of Toruv -- dragonborn sorcerer -- and Firstborn, his player). As the orc falls, they hear a gasp and a door slams; Kaz identifies it as the door on the far side of the hall, which they haven't explored yet.
Kaz then takes off at a sprint, heading for the entrance to the dungeon. The rest of the group exchanges puzzled glances; then they cross the hall and open the door. Inside are six orcs, who had been sitting around a table but now are standing up with weapons drawn. The cleric, still wearing the assassin's slippers, is standing on the ceiling with the gold and elects not to speak; next up is Firstborn's pyromaniacal dragonborn, who assesses the condition of the room. It looks like some sort of long-term camp, not like a room full of monsters that the Dungeon of the Mad Mage just conjured up. "What are you doing here?" asks the dragonborn.
"We guards! What you doing here?"
"Exploring the dungeon," answers Toruv. "So now what?"
"You open door. We fight! ...That how it usually works."
Toruv considers this for a moment, then says: "I was thinking we could just close the door and go away, and not kill you."
The orc sort of stares at him. "You kill Arg."
Toruv nods. "Sorry. He surprised us."
The orc furrows his brown, then says: "Okay. You go. We not fight. We not even tell big chieftain!"
"Chieftain Ghazat! Him strong chieftain! Head of Blood Tower Clan!"
"Yeah, let's not bother him." Toruv closes the door.
Kaz, meanwhile, has emerged into the antechamber and is standing in front of Lord Aldenmier, who is staring past him in increasing puzzlement as nobody else emerges. After a moment he asks, "You just left them?"
Kaz looks back: "I thought they would follow."
Aldenmier reaches over to the banner and tries to pull it from its stand; it refuses to move. "They're still alive. You should go back to them."
OOC, Kaz's player considers the relative merits of just continuing to flee, but I point out as DM that lord Aldenmier would consider that a career-ending decision. Reluctantly, Kaz goes back into the dungeon.
Toruv, meanwhile, has started to move down the corridor to the next door that they haven't yet opened. This triggers yet another argument, since they have a good thing going with farming the treasure room and they're carrying a considerable amount of treasure on them; why take unnecessary risks? Firstborn allows himself to be convinced, and at this point we have a bit of an OOC meltdown. (That may be something of an overstatement, but when one of the players suggests that they think they should step out of this session, we definitely have a problem.) We have about fifteen minutes until parents start arriving to pick people up, so I declare by DM fiat that Kaz rejoins the group just in time for everybody to depart the dungeon and head back into town to sell their stuff and return to the Aldenmier estate.
Then we sit down and have an OOC conversation about what we need to do to make this campaign work for everybody.
-Firstborn and Kaz's player really enjoy the combat, and aren't really satisfied if they don't get to fight something. That shouldn't be much of a problem; this is very much a go-in-there-and-fight-things kind of dungeon.
-Aspen's player explains that she really likes the campaign and even the characters, but the OOC stuff makes it almost too frustrating to play; she also points out that Shadow had a distinct personality and motivation when Secondborn was playing him, but with Kaz's player running him he's just sort of turned into an extension of Kaz. Both of these are valid complaints.
-Barrith's player says he really just enjoys the whole thing, and that's kind of been my impression: he's not in it for the combat or the loot or the sneaking around so much as he's there to be a halfling rogue who can cast spells with his friends.
I reiterated that we really need to have characters who can work with each other; it's one thing to do a Guardians of the Galaxy thing where they start out not trusting each other but eventually learn to depend on the group; it's something else to have a Mad Max style character who's so socially damaged that they literally can't work with other characters. (If that's so, why are you playing a game that's designed around a group?)
We also discussed setting up some rules so that everybody isn't trying to talk all at once; I have ordered a Game of Thrones style costume crown to use for this purpose. The person with the crown gets to speak; everybody else has to wait their turn. (We started using Firstborn's dice bag for this to reasonably good effect about halfway through, and I think it will really help. I just want to replace that with something that isn't cloth and hopefully is less like to end in an outbreak of lice.)
I agreed about the issues with Shadow, and we'll be moving him out to work with the Dwarf Barbarian Jax (originally played by the boys' cousin) so that he remains in Lord Aldenmier's employ but isn't part of the banner company anymore. That way if Secondborn does decide to come back in, the character is available; but meanwhile we're not trying to keep him in the party with no player. (We have another kid from the middle school who's expressed interest in playing, but so far neither he nor his parents have contacted me; still, if he does join then that would bring us back up to five characters.)
Mainly, though, it sounds like we need to work on keeping people focused enough IC and OOC that we can pursue the party's goals without a constant stream of interruptions.
Treasure from last session:
-another bronze short sword from room o' spiders where they originally found the cat statue.
-200 GP from the chest
-a ring of protection +3, claimed by the cleric.
-a longsword that they claimed from the defeated wight.
Treasure from this session:
200 x 8 GP
8 more rings of protection +3 - enough to cover everybody in the party, any new arrivals, and still leave a couple that could theoreticaly (though not easily) be sold off.
Treasure from the Griffin mission, which doesn't need to be split with Aldenmier:
-3 light crossbows
-12.5 GP from Barrith selling off his longbow.
Current party treasure by my count is 246 GP and 15 SP, which will increase as soon as I sit down and do the math on all this.