So I've thought about it a little more, and I guess there's two things I'd have done a little differently:
1) I'd try to incorporate alternate ways to solve conflicts violently — triggering traps (like cave-ins, for example), turning the dogs against one another somehow, etc. This is tough, since you want to provide enough information to let the players think outside the box, but you don't just want to give it all away.
I think I said this before, when you said that you had expected us to try to get the guide who brought us to the lair to come with us, but I'll go ahead and say it again — a lot of that just comes down to the players thinking up this sort of thing and you running with it. I think a lot of it is just communicating to the players subtly that you are willing to let them think up alternate solutions.
But, as a concrete example, what would you have done if we had, instead of just running from the Alpha's lair, dragged his body further out into the cave, so that one of the dogs would find it? Thinking about it now, knowing what you said happened after we were finally leaving, that would have been an interesting way to get the dogs to fight one another for position.
Again, a lot of that is on us for not even really thinking about that, but I think some of it just comes down to setting up a pattern of accepting new paths and solutions.
I know that's really general, but it's hard to come up with something concrete here. The quest was very tightly constructed, so everything made sense, and it's a little difficult to think of new paths through it.
2) On a more "macro" level, I probably would have run with the question I raised early, early in the quest: Why would the dogs attack all of a sudden? The answer given, as I recall, was that the dogs started losing workers because of a plague. That works, and I really give you credit for actually providing an answer to a question that most GMs would have glossed over with "Dunno, they're evil."
This could have been the source of something deeper, however, and perhaps it could have provided a way to maybe solve the quest (more) nonviolently.
Maybe, instead of a plague, there was an issue with a monster deep in the mines, and by killing it we could convince the dogs to release the prisoners. Or maybe they needed more workers because a civil war had killed off many of the dogs, and we could somehow exploit that.
These are things that really would only matter, I think, if you had gone in a less "traditional" direction. As you said, you wanted to do what was basically a "dungeon crawl," and that succeeded marvelously.
Don't think of what I said as advice to address "problems" so much as input on how to make future games different.>>46552
Cool. If you've ever played FUDGE, the way the game breaks down skills is really basic — superb/great/good/fair/bad/awful or something like that. Maybe something like that could work. Whatever it is, I'd keep it basic and abstract.