I have no photos to share this time, since the latest batch of painted miniatures (some skeletons and pig-faced orcs) weren't used in the last session. More to the point, I am terrible at taking close-ups of miniatures and the few I tried to take turned out horribly. Perhaps I'll entrust the photography at the next session to someone who knows what they're doing.
Session 6 saw our heroes and their growing horde of hirelings descend into the second level of Dwimmermount for the first time. In their explorations, they discovered evidence that someone had been there ahead of them, although it was unclear whether this was recently or further in the past. Several rooms had obviously been cleared of their former inhabitants and they found notes and symbols painted on doors and on the walls of several chambers. They did not, however, see anyone else on Level 2 who might have left behind these clues, so they assume (for now) that they were not recent additions to the dungeon.
Level 2 presented the characters with several new challenges. They encountered more kobolds but, being better prepared for them this time, they didn't instill them with the same degree of trepidation as those they encountered when they first entered the dungeon. They also encountered some strange "beast men" who seemed to be, for lack of a better word, "employed" in maintaining the traps of the dungeon. This was the first hint that someone or something might be "running" the dungeon from behind the scenes, although, again, the evidence was mostly circumstantial. A pack of ghouls -- how I wish Otherworld Miniatures would produce some of these! -- caught the party by surprise. Brother Candor was paralyzed on the first round of combat, which caused the characters momentary worry, since it meant he could not turn the undead and they would have to face the pack in its entirety, one man down, and without access to emergency healing.
The session was quite enjoyable overall. There were some moments of slapstick humor interspered with the seriousness, for which I was grateful. One of the things I most regret about the megadungeon focus of the campaign is the comparative paucity of opportunities for me to ham it up while playing NPCs. I've always been good at breathing life into even minor NPCs and I love having a large number of them to work with. So far, I've had to limit myself primarily to the hirelings, particularly Brakk the Goblin, whose reliable untrustworthiness is a source of much fun. There's also Erik and Ethil, twin brothers who were hired as muscle and have slowly morphed into medieval equivalents of Hans and Franz. So, I think I'm going to push harder to get the party out of the dungeon and set some other events in motion elsewhere. Whether the players bite or not is up to them.
I'm also a little unhappy with my dungeon maps. On Level 1, I mixed natural caverns with traditional dungeon rooms and, while the result was a good one that lent a nice feel to the place, it was hard to map at times. On level 2, I purposefully eschewed standardized rooms of a rectangular or square shape and went with more irregular ones. Likewise, the corridors are often winding and diagonal rather than straight and there are many, many branches so as to provide lots of potential avenues for exploration. In principle, this is a good idea and I stand behind the decision. However, I'm now more keenly aware that it's hard for my players to map this out at times. It's also hard for me to use our dungeon tiles to represent the rooms and corridors, because I frequently just don't have the pieces to do so properly. The result has been a decline in the use of the tiles, which, while not a terrible thing, still bleeds a bit of the spectacle out of the game and I think spectacle is important.
As ever, I continue to learn.