Yesterday, my nine year-old daughter joined in the megadungeon fun, playing a 2nd-level magic-user she named Iriadessa. She'd been watching us play for several weeks and had played D&D before and I figured that, since we had trouble getting a full complement of players at my table each week, having her along couldn't hurt. As it turned it, Iriadessa saved the party's bacon and introduced them to the wonders of sleep -- probably the most powerful spell in the arsenal of low-level casters. Being able to put up to 4d4 creatures to sleep without a saving throw is a potent ability. Who says low-level MUs are underpowered?
Of course, now that my players have realized exactly how mighty sleep is, I expect they'll be using it a lot more often in the future. Fortunately, the players will likely be descending into Level 2 next session. Their map of the first level suggests there are still a few places left to explore but most either lay beyond traps/tricks they'd rather not mess with or near the kobold warrens they fled earlier in the campaign. Rather than brave those dangers, descending into the next level seems a better option. Their adventuring party has already grown quite large with hirelings. Henga the Shield-Maiden has survived, serving as Dordagdonar's movable bow emplacement. Brakk the goblin likewise survives, as does Sam the archer. Brother Candor released Ragnar from service, after the doughty peasant earned 16 gold pieces -- more than enough to afford his fiancée's dowry and keep him living high for some years to come. He was replaced by Hrothgar, a 2nd-level Fighter they hired in Adamas, because they quite rightly worried that the second level of the dungeon would require more brawn than poor Ragnar could muster.
The session went well enough, but I have to admit that I think I need to mix things up a little next time. The initial thrill of a good ol' fashioned dungeon is starting to recede and what we're left with falls a bit flat at times. Granted, I have plenty to work with already: relics of a Thulian cult to Turms Termax, the presence of Tsathoggua-worshipping Ranine, and some peculiar artifacts that may point to deeper mysteries of Dwimmermount. So far, though, I haven't really given the players much opportunity to dwell on these things nor have I pushed them to investigate them. Part of it is that I'm still quite reluctant to take an active role in shaping the campaign's focus and/or direction; I'd prefer to be more reactive. However, I think I may be a little too passive at this stage. Likewise, I think I need to present more opportunities outside the dungeon. I want to keep Dwimmermount as the center of the campaign, but to be a proper center, there need to be things revolving around it and I haven't really set much in motion in the wider world just yet. Since the PCs will be in Adamas for time next session, I intend to use it as an opportunity to do just this.
And, yes, those are some Otherworld Miniatures gnolls in the photo. I haven't yet had the chance to use them in the game, but you can rest assured I'll be rectifying that oversight soon as well.