Session 3 of my Dwimmermount campaign occurred yesterday, despite the absence of two of the players. This left only Brother Candor, cleric of Tyche, and Dordagdonar the elf, along with their hirelings to return to Level 1. Because their explorations last time stalled owing to the discovery of a large chamber they believed to be occupied by a great number of orcs, they hired an additional hireling -- an archer named Sam -- for additional muscle, given the fact that both Pike and Vladimir weren't present.
Their explorations led them to encounter primarily orcs, who seem to have taken up residence in this area of the dungeon. They even discovered yet another hidden entrance from the outside -- a mountainside cave -- that they presumed the orcs used to enter in the first place. These orcs seemed to have a penchant for using wolves as guards and companions. Unfortunately, I didn't have any wolf miniatures.
Along the way, they made great strides in mapping out more of the first level, discovering several more sets of stairs they assumed led to a lower level, although they have yet to test that theory. They also circumvented a few traps -- they're getting better at detecting them -- and stumbled across a few unexplained oddities whose purpose they haven't yet determined to any degree of satisfaction. This was the first session without any deaths in the adventuring party, so, by that metric, it was a great success.
I continue to find the unfolding of the campaign enjoyable and enlightening. I won't go so far as to say I'm watching history recapitulate itself, but there is a sense in which I am seeing my players go through a similar process as many early gamers did in coming to grips with what a megadungeon campaign is and how best to proceed within it. I take particular pleasure in the way that the map has been used. They've been able to intuit the likely location of secret doors, traps, and other obstacles simply by looking at the map and that makes me very happy. Dungeon mapping really is a lost art and I genuinely believe a lot is lost by its having fallen by the wayside over the years. Likewise, the lack of a thief class had been a boon to my players, who've developed very good instincts about when, where, and how to look for traps, as well as ways to overcome them.
I'm alslo enjoying watching the characters slowly take on distinct personalities. Brother Candor, for example, is genuinely concerned about the fates of his hirelings, whereas Dordagdonar treats non-elves as "ephemerals," as he calls them, and shows a certain nonchalance about their fates that's at once disturbing and strangely endearing. Brak, the goblin torch bearer, has proven his worth on more than one occasion. He's also become a source of comic relief, which I think is important. In my experience, most roleplaying campaigns need moments of light-heartedness and the secret to preventing their becoming too "jokey" is to find a good in-game "safety valve" for such humor. Brak is it in the Dwimmermount campaign and it's helped keep our sessions fun without descending into utter silliness.
Once again, a good session. Of course, we had brownies and ice cream, so of course it was a good session.