After the last unhappy post and in light of how well yesterday's session went down, I have to take a moment to give my party the props--or rather, the three members of the party who showed up and made DMing worthwhile.
After a skirmish with a sorcerer and his guards that left some of them dead and the party badly wounded, they made plans to restock and return to the sorcerer's lair to finish things. When they returned, the enemy had already vacated the premises, taking their valuables with them and most of the rest in the front yard. The party found some pythoi of wine, grain, and olive oil, a few empty wooden crates, and a few scrolls containing random bits of information. They also found a grate in the tower floor, below which a carrior crawler waited to paralyze and subsequently mangle to death the character whose player flaked on the session, and which character was sent by the others to peer into the darkness and find out what was there.
(If I ever make an FAQ for our campaign, one of the top items would be a warning to new members to be consistent in their attendance, because when someone doesn't show up when they're supposed to, the players who do show will play that person's character, and they will [I]not[/I] be as careful as they are with their own.)
Now, the party could have done anything, and I hadn't even bothered to consider what they might do. Normally I would make some notes of what certain objects might possibly mean, but all I did this time was consider what a fleeing enemy party might leave behind. My party, bless their hearts, put their heads together and found a way to destroy the carrior crawler. With a noose around the curved mouth of the pythos of oil, they had two men lower it down the ladder with the third underneath to guide it, until they got it to the bottom floor, where they dumped it onto the beast. Then they fashioned a torch of scrolls and rope tied to a broken piece of wooden crate swiped in remainder olive oil, and tossed it lit onto the carrion crawler.
They rolled a natural 20 on their attack with the torch, and the monster burst into flames.
After the fire died down, they yanked at the grate in unison, and their roll with combined BB/LG percentage was sufficent to tear the iron bars out of the floor. One of them went down into the basement and cut open the monster's gizzard to search for treasure. In actuality, the DM had made no provisions for anything like this happening, and had to think quickly as to what sort of valuables the creature might have swallowed along with whoever the sorcerer had fed to it.
It's a little thing, but it's the sort of strategy that warms a DMs heart, or at least it does this one's. It also inspires me to go back to putting as much thought into details like this as I did before, for all the hidden valuables, clues, and adventure hooks that the party ended up passing by without notice in the past.
We also spent the first hour or so of the session discussing ways to improve the game, and a few new house rules will be introduced in the next update.
For the moment, I'm at least interested in the game again.