Season 2 Dropoff

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Over the last couple of weeks at the store that we play, we've seen attendance down from 3 full tables to 2 tables of 5 players. Anyone else noticed a drop off in attendance in their locations? I seem to remember as well around the midway point in season 1 a noticeable drop off. I wonder what suggestions could be made to the Encounters Group to find a way to keep people's interest.
same thing here.  we were up to 2 full tables.  the dm at the 2nd table killed 3 party members in encounter 1-4 and left 2 others unconcious at the end.  none of those 5 came back.  ever since then we've been down to 1 full table.
I wonder what suggestions could be made to the Encounters Group to find a way to keep people's interest.


Stop writing monster-balanced, TPK-heavy adventures.
Over here in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, our attendance has increased. we went from 2 tables to 3-4 tables.
One of the things that disappointed me a bit, was that there wasn't more of a tie in between the characters and the adventure considering they were pregens. I think they may have missed an opportunity there to get people more interested in their characters.
Day one 2 tables of 6. Day 2 2 tables of 7-8. Day 3 we get a 3rd judge lined up but she doesn't have to run because we lost a few players. Final encounter of chapter 1 we get 1 table of 7. Last week we got 1 table of 4 players and that is including myself. (I normally run)
We got great numbers originally but this adventure for whatever reason drove them all away.
One of the things that disappointed me a bit, was that there wasn't more of a tie in between the characters and the adventure considering they were pregens. I think they may have missed an opportunity there to get people more interested in their characters.



Yeah, it was a difficult decision. I didn't want to make the story too dependent on the characters because with tables of four, for instance, i couldn't know which characters would be present. If i made the story dependent on having, say, Phye at the table, then groups without her would be out of luck. Also, i had assumed (for better or worse) that a number of tables would eschew the pregen-only rule, and i didn't want to cripple the story for them.

Instead, I chose to participate in this forum to supply more information for DMs that want to add hooks to the pregens into the developing story. I encourage you to post specific questions about how to make the characters tie closer to the story in the Ask the Author thread

I hope this helps. 
Day one 2 tables of 6. Day 2 2 tables of 7-8. Day 3 we get a 3rd judge lined up but she doesn't have to run because we lost a few players. Final encounter of chapter 1 we get 1 table of 7. Last week we got 1 table of 4 players and that is including myself. (I normally run)
We got great numbers originally but this adventure for whatever reason drove them all away.


I think our Wednesday games are still going well, but Tuesdays are all but dead.
We've actually been getting more. If every single "regular" came at the same time, we wouldn't have room. Luckily, they seem to be alternating weeks. I think some of them come from quite far out. We're in Langley and last Wednesday one group brought their friend from Burnaby, which I know for a fact is about 50km away (a tad over 30 miles). 

 I know we lost a few last season, but that was my fault for letting a certain DM have reign. I ended up telling him that he couldn't DM at our store anymore because he was a player-killer, to which he replied "oh yeah, I know *grin*." 

Bloody crazies. 
One of the things that disappointed me a bit, was that there wasn't more of a tie in between the characters and the adventure considering they were pregens. I think they may have missed an opportunity there to get people more interested in their characters.



Yeah, it was a difficult decision. I didn't want to make the story too dependent on the characters because with tables of four, for instance, i couldn't know which characters would be present. If i made the story dependent on having, say, Phye at the table, then groups without her would be out of luck. Also, i had assumed (for better or worse) that a number of tables would eschew the pregen-only rule, and i didn't want to cripple the story for them.

Instead, I chose to participate in this forum to supply more information for DMs that want to add hooks to the pregens into the developing story. I encourage you to post specific questions about how to make the characters tie closer to the story in the Ask the Author thread

I hope this helps. 

Believe me Nick if I were DMing (which I thought I may have had to based on the first few weeks turnout) I would be all over that thread and many more of these threads. But for now I'm a player, and as much as I like our DMs they don't visit this site much, no matter how many hints I drop. If possible for future seasons perhaps suggest that character tie ins be part of the mod. proper for seasons using pregens. 
Season 1 we had 2 tables, which spiked at 3 full tables about midway through, then dropped back to two 4 players tables at the end. Part of that correlates to some of our players being college students, and the natural ebb and flow of students at different times of the year.

Season 2 we've consistently had 2 tables. A personal friend of mine stopped after the first session of season 2; I suspect due to his personal stance that premades are lame.
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Believe me Nick if I were DMing (which I thought I may have had to based on the first few weeks turnout) I would be all over that thread and many more of these threads. But for now I'm a player, and as much as I like our DMs they don't visit this site much, no matter how many hints I drop. If possible for future seasons perhaps suggest that character tie ins be part of the mod. proper for seasons using pregens. 



I don't think Wizards will be doing pregen-only adventures for future seasons. This was a special preview for Dark Sun.
We were running between 3-4 tables on Wednesdays during Season 1. We started Season 2 with 3 tables easy but it is only session 7 and we're down to two tables and have had a large (60%+) turnover in players but only replaced about 30% since the first run.

However, I wouldn't put all of this on the encounters*. We've had a lot of folks go away for the summer, some are busy with other things this summer (it -is- summer after all), and we've had to move to another location with a busy Wednesday Magic schedule. So it is all understandable, even if we don't like it.

* some of it, sure, the major complaint from players being the pre-gens ... oh how some of them hate the pre-gens. But WotC seems to have gotten that point already.
We had a slow week this week, but it seems to be due to summer plans. We lost two parent groups, for example. I barely made it myself having finished an awesome family camping trip today.

We still have 6 tables a week, which is better than last season. We have turned away players and could have had 7 tables. We hope to support 7 in a few weeks.

I credit our organizer for really creating a good relationship between players, DMs, and the store. I credit the slick presentation of the adventures and pregens (and then our organizer making erratad pregens look just like the originals). I think both seasons had very good adventures that just needed tweaks to challenge level - and here I credit these boards and our DM meetings for keeping the goal of "fun" clear.

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It has gotten slower in Fredericton, NB as well.

I have had a high turnover, and its mostly all new to 4e people (which is great)... but we've gone from 2 packed tables... to scraping a 8th player to run 2 tables.

We've had 15 to 16 different people play at some time, lost some for vacation and travel (so summer does have an impact) and a couple for work.

Hopefully is steadies/gains.
Torracne, CA

I quit cause the DM is no fun to play with. the encounters started running only an hour each week because those of us who survived would run away in round 2. the dm would call us cowards because we didn't stick around and let him kill all of us. he made bad rules calls and when we called him out on it, he refused to see it any other way.

I did notice a drop off in the few weeks before I quit.

Its a shame because i was really enjoying the setting. I don't have much time for encounters. If it was a good DM, i would make the time. but since its not fun, there is no point trying to make time for it.
On the first encounter for season 2 I had 9 players and then it dropped off it 6 and now I am down to 5. The people that showed up for the first encounter wanted to see how 4th edition worked vs 3rd edition. They didn't come back so I guess they weren't impressed with the system ,but they seemed to have fun.
James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.

I had 9 players the first night (fun times w/ me being the only DM) and have since then had a consistent shuffling of old and new players to fill out 1 table of 6+. When we've been over I've had players share characters. We had just 4 players one night where I had players double up on characters too. Overall I think we've had close to 15+ total unique players. It has been a bit chaotic at times and I've had to learn to react quickly to changing player attendance, but it is always fun nevertheless. Laughing

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back up to 10 players (2 tables of 5) last night.  very fun encounter, too.  everyone enjoyed it.
We had two tables of six last night, down from three tables of six at the end of chapter one and three tables of four last week.

The two complaints I heard (acting as the volunteer Encounters organizer) were:

1) Hating the pregens, but dealing with it because they wanted to try Dark Sun. But the way the pregens were leveled up broke the camels back.

2) New/Bad DMs at one of the tables.

The second issue is something I wish WotC would do more to address. Magic has a really awesome Judge development program. D&D needs something similar for DMs running sanctioned organized play.

I'm working on developing some materials for a "how to DM" workshop, but it doesn't seem like something I should have to be doing as a volunteer organizer for my FLGS.
I've noticed that there seems to be less interest in Season 2 on the part of our players. They literally aren't getting excited about their part in the Adventure like they did with Season 1.
I have taken time to talk with most of them & they all love the format of a 2hr session each week, and have all said that they like the way their DM runs the table they are at....
The only thing that I can figure is that they just aren't connecting with the pre-gen characters, because it wasn't based on a concept/back-story which the player personally developed.

I am working on a post-season questionaire in hopes of getting better info on what's going on.
Links that I find very useful, will be added here. http://community.wizards.com/vinciente/blog/2010/02/24/useful_damp;d_pageslinks
I've noticed that there seems to be less interest in Season 2 on the part of our players. They literally aren't getting excited about their part in the Adventure like they did with Season 1.
I have taken time to talk with most of them & they all love the format of a 2hr session each week, and have all said that they like the way their DM runs the table they are at....
The only thing that I can figure is that they just aren't connecting with the pre-gen characters, because it wasn't based on a concept/back-story which the player personally developed.

I am working on a post-season questionaire in hopes of getting better info on what's going on.


I wonder... if you added an RP encounter to one of the shorter sessions, would that change things? For example, the door idea I wrote about... or have the upcoming critters bombard them with psychic energies that force PCs to share their past in some way.

Or, would it be different if you used some of the additional PCs some have come up with, such as the leveled gameday or D&D XP PCs... would that change things?

At our location the pregens don't seem to be an issue at all.

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Pregens aren't bad, requiring pregens is bad.   I would have preferred to make my own character but I'm definitely the minority having pregens is definitely a good idea for new people.

Constantly getting your ass kicked and feeling weak is not very heroic IMO which is really what happened in the first 5 encounters.  

I have no doubt that people who were more experienced would have been able to handle that level of difficulty in the encounters but for new people the encounters were just way over the top.   IMO

Also loot seemed to be very thin.   You should have seen how excited we all were to be able to get bows and shields from the last encounter and those aren't even magic. 

Huge dropoff. We had two tables for Season 1 at the store, but due to having two DMs only both had about 7-8 players each.


We made three tables once, and that third only made because some people came in to do it once.


Players in Season 1 who found out it was pregens didn't want to play because of it. The DM for the table I was with for Season 1 didn't want to *DM* partially because of it.


I'm astonished that the other table hasn't up and quit. They were TPKed twice in the first four sessions and would have been in the 5th if that DM hadn't randomly had the enemies run away.


The loot is both thin and far too specific. Well fabulous, it's an orb. That nobody can use because we don't have a Jarvix currently. The space for 'Gold gained' on the tracking sheet served to remind everybody that oh hey, yeah, you don't get any in the first chapter. We're skipping 2-3 because we lost a week to store vacation and neither of us even wants to run it because it's too fiddly for our tastes.


This last week my table only made because we pulled a player from the other DM's table since two of my people were on vacation.


The reason I *don't* TPK my party every other session is because I look over the monsters, gauge as best as I can as a rather novice 4E DM what's going to screw them over and possibly lead to TPK, and then either use it sparingly or not at all. They still go through surges and heals like crazy even with me pulling punches left and right in the interest of 'hey, the game is more fun if you don't die all the time'. I don't think the other DM is adjusting much. I cheerfully drop monsters, abilities, don't use attacks much or make them recharge, etc. I think I've managed to hit a good balance between 'We're taking a beating but we can do this' and 'Well crap, another TPK'. But I know from some previous DMing experience and from reading up on things that it's OK and good to do such things.


But yeah. Large amounts of dropoff. Largely due to pregens but also due to people not being fond of the railroading and the 'i keel j00 ded nao' tone of the modules. The first part in particular felt extremely unheroic, with the amount of getting pwned going on. Which I suppose is in line with DS, but for most people it's not exactly what they're looking for in D&D.


Hell, I'm DMing because I didn't want to play.

It's spelled Corellon Larethian, not Correlon, Correllon, Correlllon, Corellion, Correlian or any other way of getting it wrong. I'm a total grognard and I still play 4E.
We went from two full tables to no tables over the last couple of weeks. As of the end of chapter 1/session 5, the entirety of one table decided to quit for the rest of the season, as did a couple of people from the other table. As seems to be the case generally, a dislike of (and lack of interest in) the pregens was the primary reason cited, and the many issues with the first chapter's encounters were also a significant factor. Almost all are willing to come back for another look when Season 3 starts.

A few of us who are left will try to continue with a single smaller table on Saturdays (because we can recruit a couple of additional players if we play then, whereas Wednesday simply will NOT work). Today will be the first session of that (hopefully covering 2-1 and 2-2). If it goes well then we'll try to continue for the rest of the season. If not then we'll also have to wait for Season 3.
lost 1 person but gained around 12 new ones.
Attendence has been relatively level throughout Season 2 for us in Greenville, NC. (I didn't play in Season 1, so I can't compare it.) We started with 1 table of 6 players, and we've had that pretty much each week (other than one week with a table of a 5, and another week with two tables of 4 and 5 each).
Season 1:
2 tables; 5-6 players each

Season 2:
   Chapter 1:
1 table; 5-6 players
   Chapter 2:
3 players


At this point I have 3 remaining players, and the only way to keep them was to allow them to make their own characters...


We have been rerunning the first chapter... it changes from Overkill to High power...


Our group is an Elf Eagle Shaman, Warforged Battlerager Fighter, Viniria (DDXP Warlock), and a Shardmand Telepathy Psion.



I have been given a fair number of email addresses from the players that have dropped as they ARE interested in season 3.

The reasons given are two...

1.> It is no fun to play if you die basicaly every week or have the DM play stupid to not kill the party.

2.> It is no fun to play characters that are designed to fail.


Examples;
Had players ask why the archers stayed in the party's range whan they could stay above it. (1-3)
TPK with in 5 miniute of starting... The skill challange and book keeping took longer. (1-4)

I do admit that the second given reason is opinion, but there is truth to it... the party is not designed to take much, if any, advantage from ability scores and power/feature choices...

The loot is both thin and far too specific. Well fabulous, it's an orb. That nobody can use because we don't have a Jarvix currently. The space for 'Gold gained' on the tracking sheet served to remind everybody that oh hey, yeah, you don't get any in the first chapter. We're skipping 2-3 because we lost a week to store vacation and neither of us even wants to run it because it's too fiddly for our tastes.




Yeah, i admit that the loot is not the most inspiring part. I would suggest starting a thread about alternative loot. Dark Sun is supposed to be a low-loot world, but the loot given out should be useful and cool. Unfortunately, it isn't. 
Last couple of weeks we've been down to just 1 table. Man, I hope that at least this sticks because I'd like see this adventure to the end, I really do enjoy the Dark Sun setting.
Here are my thoughts...

The first five sessions were BRUTAL.  I know there was a desire to impart a life of harshness, but those were flat out killers and drove a few folks away.  But 5 weeks of roaming in the desert?  Ugh.

The story is almost non-existent in the adventure.  Really, it's more like a series of encounters.  Season 1 had a story to it.  I am the DM of season 2 and I STILL don't get it beyond a really simple premise.

The season is long.  15 weeks is a lot to commit to, especially for DMs.  There should be a way to make a short adventure up, with more roleplay opportunities, that fits in a shorter time span.

So our numbers:  Season 1 I have 6 tables all full and people clamoring to get in.  Season 2 I have 4 tables, two of which are full, and some of those are waning.

Looking forward to Season 3 once we get  through Dark Sun.  I really, REALLY hope we aren't about to have 5 more weeks of desert roaming.
I started out running one night, and had six players.  Now I'm running two nights a week, and have up to twelve players each week.

So the interest is growing, here. 


The story is almost non-existent in the adventure.  Really, it's more like a series of encounters.  Season 1 had a story to it.  I am the DM of season 2 and I STILL don't get it beyond a really simple premise.

The season is long.  15 weeks is a lot to commit to, especially for DMs.  There should be a way to make a short adventure up, with more roleplay opportunities, that fits in a shorter time span.


Interesting and good points.

Fresh from Gen Con, I am really surprised at the duality of 4E. On one hand, the game can be super-fun. On the other, it can really lack story. When the combat is really bad, such as an adventure where the PCs are continually beaten up or lose their actions repeatedly (daze, stun, unconscious, etc.), then the game is a really bad experience (and made much worse without a good story).

When I look at a number of efforts by WotC, the story seems very weak and this compounds the problem and the way many think of 4E as a low-RP game. The reality is that 4E has as much RP as any system and people, whether new or experienced, have a better time when the story and setting are engaging. For some reason WotC seems to miss that and really try to emphasize the mechanics - when the mechanics already shine on their own.

I find Undermountain and DS to be about equal in story. They both front-load a lot of the reasoning for being there, then add some more at the end. Because DS is longer, it seems like a longer bit of time without a lot of story. The WotC way of having very short blurbs on the setup in one part of the mod (extremely short for the DS season) and then having a separate section for combat (the clear emphasis) worsens the situation - most DMs just skip to combat and run a sequential delve instead of a great RPG. I have no doubt that both authors love good story and setting, but the format drives the end result. 4E is a sound story/RP game and WotC should change their format and emphasis to show that.

I don't know for sure, but I wonder if part of this comes from WotC staff having great home campaigns. When they test 4E products they may be just fine with quick delve-like stuff because they can ad-lib at will and they are just playing a short piece. The DS podcast is a great example - they derail everything every five minutes and basically make it a home campaign fun-fest. They may not see the issues with what they produce.

I do agree that the season is a bit long. I am a huge DS fan, so I don't mind, but I can see others tiring after so many weeks. We work hard in our area to drive interest and add story and immersion, so we are growing all the time. I have no doubt that stores where the adventure is run as-is and that TPKd their tables are losing player interest. Stores that compensate likely see huge growth, but they expend a lot of energy to get there.

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Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Alphastream, what are you doing, specifically, to "drive interest and add story and immersion, so [you] are growing all the time"?

Also, do you pay your DMs? How do you recruit enough DMs to keep up with increased players?

 
By long I also meant 5 weeks straight of roaming the desert = we get it already.  Cool

Once the party hit the caves it was easier for me to breathe something into the adventure... at least I could describe something more than a menacing storm chasing them, and sand, and rocks, and more sand...  I haven't seen Chapter 3 yet, but I really hope it's not going back out there.

Season 1 did have story lead-ins for the following week.  Do a comparison of Season 1, pages 26 and 27 to Season 2, Chapter 1 book, pages 12 and 13.  There is a BIG difference to me in terms of how those things are laid out, and the information presented there that I would need to run a game. 
Alphastream, what are you doing, specifically, to "drive interest and add story and immersion, so [you] are growing all the time"?

Also, do you pay your DMs? How do you recruit enough DMs to keep up with increased players?

 


We don't pay our DMs. Honestly, the first session of Undermountain we were just saying out loud "wow, we will need more DMs" and players stepped up and said "hey, I might DM". The success has since attracted other people. We even have backup DMs willing to help, as well as volunteers that print things, do layout on handouts, etc. We share the load. I do reporting and prepare tracking sheets. I print out the warhorn list for who is signed up. Another person takes that list and signs in each player and helps fill tables. DMs that arrive early put the stuff on tables. Etc.

We do make sure they get a copy of the adventure. We give away extra posters and things like that. I worked with the store to get 20% off on D&D products on any encounter night or on pre-orders. We periodically do a raffle.

In terms of what we do to encounters, I've detailed them in my weekly write-ups. At the highest level, we just get the DMs excited. We do this by having the more experienced DMs share ideas on our DMs Google Group and then fielding comments/questions. This helps make sure DMs are prepped and also that they have some fun ideas. We used to have a quick DMs meeting before each session, but they really get it now and we have skipped that.

An example of what can be done is just to look at the room and monsters in an encounter and ask what the story is behind them. If the room is part of an elemental temple tainted by necrotic energy, then let's think of some ways to make that part interesting. Cover the walls in ancient elemental "prayers". Add a feature or two that can help the combat, such as braziers that when lit help counter the necrotic taint or elemental imbalance. Have monsters communicate with the party as they fight, helping to set the story for what is taking place. Honestly, that's almost as much fun for me to think through as running the actual tables. The DMs seem to share this. One of them was telling me how they added all these elemental aspects to an encounter, such as talking to an elemental spirit to help them open a door. Another DM made a torn map. Good stuff.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

 Good to see Alpha's lfgs is good the DMs. Im lucky in that my lfgs does the same.  Every staff goes out of thier way to thank us and the 20% discount on any D&D products anytime doesnt hurt either.

Alpha you out of an Uncle's Games store too?
I'm second from the left in the picture.


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 Good to see Alpha's lfgs is good the DMs. Im lucky in that my lfgs does the same.  Every staff goes out of thier way to thank us and the 20% discount on any D&D products anytime doesnt hurt either.

Alpha you out of an Uncle's Games store too?


Nope, our store is Guardian Games. We had seven new DCI/RPGA cards this week. Pretty cool.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Our flgs gives us space to play... that is it (and I'm NOT knocking it).

DMs are the big issues in my area, as in not enough of them... and a couple of the ones that will volunteer occasionally I'd rather not use due to poor player feedback.

I can keep 2 DMs going for Encounters (me being one) but have a problem when it comes to Game Days or some of the RPGA events at conventions around here.

One convention I'll be doing for a 3rd year in September runs all weekend... last year, we had 3 tables/slot.. and we have a lot more players interested this year (Encounters HAS added to the player base)... problem is... I have less DMs volunteering and I'm not running 5 tables in a row again.. burnt out on that last year. So instead of going up to 4 tables/slot.. I have to drop to 2/slot and even those are not DM filled...


Encounters is stabalized at 2 small tables... with new players dropping in/dropping off plus vacations hurting.

I do have extra interest for Season 3 (University will be back in and I know of a full table moving to the city)... but finding a 'good' 3rd DM for that table who will commit to TWENTY weeks... might be another issue...
Some thoughts on getting DMs:
  • Do ask all of your players. I was really surprised that 3-4 of our players over time asked us to be DMs. Partly this is because we made DMing look cool.

  • Offer your DMs something. The drink cozies, copies of the mod, discount of x at the store, raffle for some old product, etc. This can be a good incentive and a way to keep DMs feeling happy. I've got a box of cardboard minis/tokens and some other stuff another DM gave me that I will take to the store and give to DMs today.

  • Try sites like Meetup, ENWorld, and other places to request DMs. A lot of times Meetup can have DMs looking to start a home campaign. This can be a way for those DMs to sharpen DM skills and meet players. They may find a home campaign on the side via DMing for Encounters.

  • Run a DMs list and drive what you like in terms of quality. You can see from my recent posts an example of the kind of guidance we provide to DMs. We read each encounter, look for possible issues, dream up enhancements, and send that to DMs. We also provide really clear guidance in terms of our goals - they know TPKs are to be avoided and that the job is only done well if players are having fun. This avoids the worst DM issues. We also try to stress story. We are fortunate that our DMs really seem to like that aspect and do some great dramatic deliveries and story expansion.

  • Worst case, consider running on two nights and having DMs do the work twice. This may require some other compensation. Compensation can be arranged with the store if everyone puts their heads together. For example: organize a discount for players that pre-order new D&D book X. DMs promote the book by handing out a flier about it and the discount. In exchange for the marketing/promotion, DMs get a discount on D&D stuff. The idea being for everyone to win. I organized a raffle for any player that showed me a receipt in a two-week period and I saw 12 store receipts for $20+. That is meaningful to the store and helps everyone.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Annnd the forced 2-week break seems to have just about killed it here. We made a single table of six last night, with me playing. Three of my group, two of the other DM's group, and yes, they all knew of the break and its length in advance.


Perhaps it's just a one-week thing and next week it'll pick back up. Then again, Dark Sun isn't really the cup of tea of pretty much anyone who plays at the store, and nobody has really liked the module. Or the pregens.


I even advertised last Thursday to the people in the FR campaign another person is running that hey, we can make characters now.


Can't say I blame them though. A lot of people only really want to/can play once a week, and a home game where your choices matter and the world responds to you is far, far more appealing than one where you're on rails and nothing really changes with your actions.


 

It's spelled Corellon Larethian, not Correlon, Correllon, Correlllon, Corellion, Correlian or any other way of getting it wrong. I'm a total grognard and I still play 4E.
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