5 Added details from the fourth and fifth sessions.
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  • In the first session, with 5 players, they fought through 3 rooms occupied by ordinary enemies, then one room occupied by a big (CR 10) boss monster. This took 40 minutes of in-game time.

  • In the second session, with 3 players (all casters), they took a long rest, had one encounter with two-and-a-half rooms' worth of enemies (although a well-placed conjure woodland beings tipped the balance in their favour), then killed another big (CR 10) boss monster. After the rest, this took 1 hour of in-game time.

  • In the third session, with 3 players (2 casters), they took a short rest, killed a relatively strong monster, found a source of healing, fought two gorgons, returned to the gatehouse, twiddled their thumbs and restocked for what I declared to be 9 hours, took a long rest, returned to the dungeon, and fought a small room's worth of enemies.

  • In the fourth session, with 4 players (2.5 casters), they had 3 combat encounters.

  • In the fifth session, with 3 players (2.5 casters), they dealt with a minor trap, had one combat encounter, took a long rest, had one large combat encounter, then took a short rest.

So far, we have had 914 encounters, 23 long rests and 12 short restrests. Over an in-game time of 2849:4520, the party has only spent 23:4555 inside the dungeon, with the rest of the time sheltering in the gatehouse - far from a fast-paced assault! Typically, the call to take a long rest was done because the casters were out of spell slots, and with small party sizes the casters needed their spell slots for the party to deal enough damage to push through the encounters. While the players have found ways to recover hit-points within the Doomvault, nothing they have lets them recover spell slots besides a long rest.

I do not believe this to be a fault in the party (besides being too small half the time), but rather a characteristic of Dead in Thay. Page 84 of the DMG talks of the Adventuring Day, which is how many encounters a party can have between two long rests. For three level 9 PCs, an adventuring day contains 22,500 XP worth of encounters. Between the lastfirst two long rests, my three level 9 PCs had 31,900 XP worth of encounters, so it is hardly surprising that the party's resources are so taxed. Between the second two long rests, we had 29,050 XP of encounters, mostly for 4 PCs, 2 lvl 9 and 2 lvl 10, which is around the right amount for an adventuring day. 

If I had all 6 of my players, they could probably get further, but their adventuring day would still be much, much shorter than a full day. And because of this, and how a character can only benefit from a long rest once every 24 hours (PHB 186) (a rule I have already stretched a little), I anticipate that this will result in many more periods of inactivity in the gatehouse.

  • In the first session, with 5 players, they fought through 3 rooms occupied by ordinary enemies, then one room occupied by a big (CR 10) boss monster. This took 40 minutes of in-game time.

  • In the second session, with 3 players (all casters), they took a long rest, had one encounter with two-and-a-half rooms' worth of enemies (although a well-placed conjure woodland beings tipped the balance in their favour), then killed another big (CR 10) boss monster. After the rest, this took 1 hour of in-game time.

  • In the third session, with 3 players (2 casters), they took a short rest, killed a relatively strong monster, found a source of healing, fought two gorgons, returned to the gatehouse, twiddled their thumbs and restocked for what I declared to be 9 hours, took a long rest, returned to the dungeon, and fought a small room's worth of enemies.

So far, we have had 9 encounters, 2 long rests and 1 short rest. Over an in-game time of 28:45, the party has only spent 2:45 inside the dungeon, with the rest of the time sheltering in the gatehouse - far from a fast-paced assault! Typically, the call to take a long rest was done because the casters were out of spell slots, and with small party sizes the casters needed their spell slots for the party to deal enough damage to push through the encounters. While the players have found ways to recover hit-points within the Doomvault, nothing they have lets them recover spell slots besides a long rest.

I do not believe this to be a fault in the party (besides being too small half the time), but rather a characteristic of Dead in Thay. Page 84 of the DMG talks of the Adventuring Day, which is how many encounters a party can have between two long rests. For three level 9 PCs, an adventuring day contains 22,500 XP worth of encounters. Between the last two long rests, my three level 9 PCs had 31,900 XP worth of encounters, so it is hardly surprising that the party's resources are so taxed. If I had all 6 of my players, they could probably get further, but their adventuring day would still be much, much shorter than a full day. And because of this, and how a character can only benefit from a long rest once every 24 hours (PHB 186) (a rule I have already stretched), I anticipate that this will result in many more periods of inactivity in the gatehouse.

  • In the first session, with 5 players, they fought through 3 rooms occupied by ordinary enemies, then one room occupied by a big (CR 10) boss monster. This took 40 minutes of in-game time.

  • In the second session, with 3 players (all casters), they took a long rest, had one encounter with two-and-a-half rooms' worth of enemies (although a well-placed conjure woodland beings tipped the balance in their favour), then killed another big (CR 10) boss monster. After the rest, this took 1 hour of in-game time.

  • In the third session, with 3 players (2 casters), they took a short rest, killed a relatively strong monster, found a source of healing, fought two gorgons, returned to the gatehouse, twiddled their thumbs and restocked for what I declared to be 9 hours, took a long rest, returned to the dungeon, and fought a small room's worth of enemies.

  • In the fourth session, with 4 players (2.5 casters), they had 3 combat encounters.

  • In the fifth session, with 3 players (2.5 casters), they dealt with a minor trap, had one combat encounter, took a long rest, had one large combat encounter, then took a short rest.

So far, we have had 14 encounters, 3 long rests and 2 short rests. Over an in-game time of 49:20, the party has only spent 3:55 inside the dungeon, with the rest of the time sheltering in the gatehouse - far from a fast-paced assault! Typically, the call to take a long rest was done because the casters were out of spell slots, and with small party sizes the casters needed their spell slots for the party to deal enough damage to push through the encounters. While the players have found ways to recover hit-points within the Doomvault, nothing they have lets them recover spell slots besides a long rest.

I do not believe this to be a fault in the party (besides being too small half the time), but rather a characteristic of Dead in Thay. Page 84 of the DMG talks of the Adventuring Day, which is how many encounters a party can have between two long rests. For three level 9 PCs, an adventuring day contains 22,500 XP worth of encounters. Between the first two long rests, my three level 9 PCs had 31,900 XP worth of encounters, so it is hardly surprising that the party's resources are so taxed. Between the second two long rests, we had 29,050 XP of encounters, mostly for 4 PCs, 2 lvl 9 and 2 lvl 10, which is around the right amount for an adventuring day. 

If I had all 6 of my players, they could probably get further, but their adventuring day would still be much, much shorter than a full day. And because of this, and how a character can only benefit from a long rest once every 24 hours (PHB 186) (a rule I have already stretched a little), I anticipate that this will result in many more periods of inactivity in the gatehouse.

4 adjusted title to reflect question in body; bolded question to make it clearer
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Running "Dead in Thay" for For a single groupparty, how can I make Dead in Thay a "fast-paced assault" and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes?

The lengthy preamble to the adventure says:

My question is this: For a single party, how can I make Dead in Thay a 'fast-paced assault' and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes.
For a single party, how can I make Dead in Thay a "fast-paced assault" and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes?

  • avoid the "15-minute working day" in a module densely packed with encounters (I am aware of several questions which handle this question generically; advice specific to Dead in Thay is thus preferable),
  • avoid burn-out in this mega-dungeon, and
  • make the Alert Level meaningful (although this is a minor point compared to the above two),

Running "Dead in Thay" for a single group

The lengthy preamble to the adventure says

My question is this: For a single party, how can I make Dead in Thay a 'fast-paced assault' and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes.

  • avoid the "15-minute working day" in a module densely packed with encounters (I am aware of several questions which handle this question generically; advice specific to Dead in Thay is thus preferable),
  • avoid burn-out in this mega-dungeon,
  • make the Alert Level meaningful (although this is a minor point compared to the above two),

For a single party, how can I make Dead in Thay a "fast-paced assault" and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes?

The lengthy preamble to the adventure says:

My question is this:
For a single party, how can I make Dead in Thay a "fast-paced assault" and not a drawn-out series of skirmishes?

  • avoid the "15-minute working day" in a module densely packed with encounters (I am aware of several questions which handle this question generically; advice specific to Dead in Thay is thus preferable),
  • avoid burn-out in this mega-dungeon, and
  • make the Alert Level meaningful (although this is a minor point compared to the above two),
3 Tweaked "avoid 5 minute adventuring day", and acknowledged similar questions
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  • avoid the "5"15-minute adventuringworking day" in a module densely packed with encounters (I am aware of several questions which handle this question generically; advice specific to Dead in Thay is thus preferable),
  • avoid burn-out in this mega-dungeon,
  • make the Alert Level meaningful (although this is a minor point compared to the above two),
  • avoid the "5-minute adventuring day" in a module densely packed with encounters,
  • avoid burn-out in this mega-dungeon,
  • make the Alert Level meaningful (although this is a minor point compared to the above two),
  • avoid the "15-minute working day" in a module densely packed with encounters (I am aware of several questions which handle this question generically; advice specific to Dead in Thay is thus preferable),
  • avoid burn-out in this mega-dungeon,
  • make the Alert Level meaningful (although this is a minor point compared to the above two),
2 edited tags
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