Saturday, March 6, 2010

From play to design

While we take our hiatus from 4e, I find myself with more time to think about role-playing, not because we haven't filled the gap with a different game -- we've yet to start in Pathfinder, but have taken a side-step into the World of Darkness -- but because I'm not currently the Dungeon Master/Gamemaster/Storyteller. Griff has taken over that role for now.

The reason that I'm the DM so often, though, is because I like creating stories, like telling stories, and like causing pain and suffering in others (characters and players alike). Since I cannot fulfill these desires at present, I have to be content with just thinking about how I'll do so the next time I get the chance. And, on that note, I've been working on my latest campaign idea.

Since our 4e experience has so far been solely with the WOTC modules, I've never made any content in the current edition, not campaigns, modules, encounters or monsters. And, even though I've claimed to have forsaken 4e for now, I find that, because of the more recent exposure to 4e and the dwindling (though fond) memories of 3.5, that design thoughts keep steering to 4e concepts of encounters, roles and powers. Thus, I'm taking the challenge to write this campaign in both 3.5/Pathfinder and 4e versions at the same time.

This could be a disaster, of course. Refreshing my 3.5 knowledge is just going to cloud the 4e that I've only just gotten comfortable with, so it will be interesting to see if they can both co-exist at suitable levels in my head as I design this campaign. I haven't decided if it's going to be possible to design encounters in a way that, no matter what the edition you play, advancement is consistent -- that is, if the party survives encounters A1 through A7, they'll make it from 1st- to 2nd-level, in both 3.5 and 4e. On the one hand, it makes planning a lot easier if that was possible, but on the other hand, 3.5 goes to 20th level (before epic rules kick in), whereas 4e goes to 30th level "normally". So should that be the meter for advancement? Or does it really matter at all? One thing I haven't done is try to gauge what the comparable strength of nth-level characters are between the two versions, and perhaps that's what's necessary to determine the progression of each edition's implementation. So, by the time the party encounters Bossman Z, they should be of similar mightiness, not because I can't adjust the 3.5 and 4e versions of Bossman Z appropriately, but because the tone and spirit of the campaign at Bossman Z's point is such that the party should be suitably ... heroic. Mighty. Epic.

Anyhow, as I work on this, I'll occasionally post on how it's going, whether to complain about or praise 4e for how it is to work with from a designer's point-of-view, or to drop a few "well THREE POINT FIVE does this better than FOUR EEE does..."-type of posts. Or, admittedly, how 4e may very well be easier to design with than 3.5. But shh, don't tell anyone I said that.


Matt Conlon said...

Amen sir. Truth be told, my highest level character just hit 6th, and I've been playing (albeit off and on) for twenty years now.

RPGs have never been about the power for me or for my group, it's always been about the story. I love a good character.

boro said...

come back!

Crwth said...

I hope to!

We've not played in nearly a month, 4e, 3.5 or otherwise. Everyday life and the holidays have certainly interfered with our D&D time.

I'm hoping we can renew our sessions soon now that the new year has arrived.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Francis Bousho said...

So I've been working on writing up enough to keep Dungeon Brew loaded for awhile and during that process I thought to myself "I wonder how the guys from D&D Addicts are doing?" I hope to read more of your insight sometime soon, whether it is on fourth edition or some other subject


Keldar said...

Here's a tip for fusing leveling up with really good roleplaying. I just give the players a level up at predetermined points in the story, under the assumption that they will have completed enough challenges to justify it. This gives the players an incentive to find diplomatic or lateral solutions, as opposed to old campaigns where the power gamers would go looking for a fight everywhere.