We played this weekend after another long break. It was a tough session for me. The first hour was lost to unfinished business associated with leveling up, during which those kids who were already finished whined incessantly that we weren't doing anything. When we did finally get started, we stalled right out of the gate. The kids were in rare form, fighting with each other for 45 minutes about whether to go left or right at the very first intersection. Voices were raised, feelings were hurt, and one player in particular - one of my own kids - just didn't want to drop it. I should have sent her away, but it kept feeling like we were right on the cusp of having the whole thing resolved. Alas, we were not.
I tried resolving it in-game a couple of different ways. First, I offered to let the main dissenter go her own way. After all, that's what she kept saying: "I go to the right." But when only one person offered to accompany her, she wouldn't actually go. I kept asking, "So you went to the right...tell me about how you're proceeding." And she kept responding, "We all need to go to the right!" Loudly. But the other kids wanted to go to the left, and she never committed to the action of striking out on her own. Mainly because she didn't want her character to get eaten. Safety in numbers has been firmly established as a wise aphorism in our campaign.
Then I tried letting the bickering itself yield natural consequences. The characters were walking on a narrow path that was zig-zagging down the face of a cliff in a vast, dark, subterranean space. One of the characters had morphed into a bird and cast a Light spell on herself so that she could be a glowing bird. So there they were, out in the open, accompanied by a bobbing, living beacon, standing out like sore thumbs, and yelling at each other. Easy pickings, right? I reasoned that one of the dungeon's big baddies, a hungry and foul-tempered wyvern, would hear this commotion and zero in on it for lunch. So that's what happened.
The kids promptly kicked its butt.
The wyvern flew in and attacked the elf, missing her with his tail stinger. The rest of the crew rallied and struck back, bringing it down to just 3 hit points remaining by the time its turn rolled back around. It had been hovering there so that when its turn came around again it would be able to use its full attack (sting and bite and wings, all at once). Rookie mistake, and one I've made and learned from in the past. Not sure what I was thinking. I should have taken advantage of its Flyby Attack. Talk about underestimating the kids, right?
So the wyvern flew off with Elerisa's arrow lodged in its eyeball, but at least it lives to fight another day. And the kids didn't learn a damn thing.