As previously mentioned, it’s important to reward the players periodically if they haven’t managed to accomplish their objective, if it’s a long-term goal they’re striving for. One way to do this is with minor quests, clear checkpoints, and lots of experience and treasure. One of the problems we’re experiencing with the Pyramid of Shadows is we have no real sense of progress. We’re also getting crap for treasure. The EXP are okay, I suppose.

To avoid the issues I have with playing Pyramid of Shadows, I’ve come up with a series of points of interest for the characters to travel between, with encounters occurring depending on the path they choose. The party is given a couple different paths to choose from at each junction, making it possible to play the adventure through several times and experience different permutations of encounters.

Once things start going wrong, the first clear objective is to find a safe place and either figure out what’s going on, or find someone and ask if they know what’s going on. From there, they learn that whatever’s happening can certainly be fixed by the headmaster, if only they knew where to find his office. For that, they have to travel to the security tower.

By my estimate, the party will have overcome a score of encounters and be nearly two levels higher just by the time they find the headmaster’s office, at which point, I have yet to determine what happens next. Of course, they can go out the front door, with the only thing to discourage them from being a slew of difficult encounters. Still, they do get a real choice between almost certain death and foregone conclusion death.