You ever hear of DMs talk about how their players don’t do what is expected of them? Me too. I once ran a campaign that was founded on that principle, in fact. Now I’m older, slightly wiser, and I run a different kind of game now. Everyone who has followed along up until now will know that I run a “DM’s Plot” free sandbox campaign. Which is great for being ready when the players jump the rails, because I myself tore the rails up and threw them away before the game even begins. Which leaves it to the players to look around, pick a direction, and go exploring.
So you wouldn’t think that there would be any rapid plan changes to throw me off, would you? Well, these are human beings we are talking about, and sometimes they change their minds about what they are doing. So they did. Not in a huge way, but I thought that they would sit around in Hamburg for a while while they waited for a ship that was bound for Oslo came in to port. Turns out they are tired of sea travel (Three thunderstorms in a week isn’t too much is it?), so they bought some horses, tack, feed, tents, and set out north through Denmark to find a cheaper ship, as well as run into some adventure along the way.
That’s all fine. But I thought there was going to be more time spent dealing with things in Amsterdam. But our friendly neighborhood Sorcerer-Assassin decided that it wasn’t worth it to explore the house/shop of the butcher he was supposed to scare into silence after he found a notice from the town council declaring it to be vacated and handed over to the Honourable Guild of Butchers. So they set sail, weathered two small storms (the third was a big one which forced them into Amsterdam for repairs) and made it into Hamburg. Once there, they made contact with the harbormaster and arranged for passage on a small ship that was due in to port in about six days. Then they decided to buy some horses (which were cheap), some saddles, (which were not), provisioned up (in theory) and set off.
Which, like I said, is fine. They are totally entitled to do that. In fact, I am happy for them. Because they chose this whole trip of their own accord. Going to Oslo was their idea. I believe their intent is to meet relatives. They probably will, by the way. Eventually. But I was not expecting them to take the land route. Which means I hadn’t looked closely at maps of the area, explored the territory, seen what kind of terrain is between Hamburg and Frederikshaven. I thought it was going to be a week of chilling in the Big City, maybe being mugged again, and then another week (or so) on the sea. I didn’t expect to transition into a land-based adventure so soon. Thankfully, however, I have a few tools that helped me out.
First is my Agglomerated Monster Index Sorting Suite (or AMISS for short). When it’s actually complete I’ll post a copy somewhere for y’all to use. Using that, I can sort monsters by CR, Climate, Environment, Type, Subtype, Name, and Weight. It’s pretty handy when generating random encounter tables on the fly. Which I did. Second is Google Maps. Since my world is Magical Earth circa 1550, I can Google up the distance (and walking time) from just about anywhere (Hamburg, say) to anywhere (Frederikshaven? I haven’t even heard of Frederikshaven!). So that’s nice.
Point being, being prepared for the unexpected with quick, useable tools I was able to roll with the change in plan no problem. Although I’m curious to see what they do to deal with that shade they ran across on the road north…