Archive for August 11, 2008

A breather, and an opportunity to plan

Posted: August 11, 2008 by Jay Steven Anyong in 4e, Dungeons & Dragons, Roleplaying Games
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Hey guys,

Our L5r campaign’s going to be going on it’s last session next week, now that the players are all available to show up for the game.  This means I’ve got two weeks to start making good on my job to make good on the D&D campaigns.

Just to recap, I’ve got a group of about 10 regular players at the moment, which I’ve split into two teams.  I’ll be running each team on alternating weeks.  As I’ve discussed in my earlier posts, one team is the more story oriented guys with less focus on tactics (though that’s beginning to change, I feel) and the other is more tactics oriented (which started off on the wrong foot in their first 4e battle)

I’ve decided to allow for changes to characters, swapping out powers and whatnot after this first session since it’s everyone’s first try in 4e.  One of the players in the tactical team is replacing his wizard with a ranger this time, and I’ve allowed him to keep whatever exp he’s earned so far.  Better to keep them all on even ground.

4e presents an interesting opportunity for me since I’ve never really run a full campaign of D&D before.  I’m currently pulling on all my previous experience of having run games such as HERO System, Legend of the Five Rings, Mage: the Ascension, Mage: the Awakening and other games.  Now I find myself tackling the grand daddy of rpgs, and it’s certainly calling for a paradigm shift on my part, both in the planning phase and the running.

I wouldn’t necessarily call it an “old school” style of play, but here’s what I’ve got so far after comparing my usual GMing practices vs that of 4e:

  • Freeform Combat vs. Tactical Combat – This is a pretty much a no-brainer.  WoD and L5R have movement rules, but don’t really rely on grids like HERO and D&D.  This isn’t such a big shift with me, but the moment the grids see use, I have to make an extra effort to keep narrating the scene with vivid descriptions.  It’s just too easy to fall back to the “The goblin chucks a javelin at you.” *rolls* “hits.” *rolls* “And does six damage, are you bloodied yet?”  It’s a big no-no for me as a GM since I’m usually more descriptive when I run L5R or nWoD.
  • Planning dilemmas vs. Planning encounters - Conflict is traditionally an organic development of opposing interests.  Fights, arguments, political maneuvering… all of this happens within context.  My earlier paradigm with nWoD and L5R was to seed the conflicts with opposing interests then put the player characters in and see what happens.  In D&D I find myself looking over lists of enemies first, seeding a dungeon then trying to think of a rationale.  I highly suspect that I’m going about this the wrong way but that’s what the blog is for.  It’ll be good to hear the opinion of others.

These slight shifts to my normal GMing paradigm concern me, but I’ll be re-evaluating how I’m doing things with the help of the blog to see if I can reconcile these while I’m planning out the next few sessions of the campaign I’m running.

Wish me luck!