December LFR Report

45 posts / 0 new
Last post

Here.

This bit is very interesting:


LFR Adventures Premiere in Public

Starting in January, new Living Forgotten Realms adventures will be available first to those running public games scheduled through the Wizards Play Network. It’s our hope that local organizers will find this of great benefit, as game stores and conventions will now be able to premiere almost all LFR adventures approximately 3 months before these adventures become available for home play. So, head to your local game shop or convention to try out the hottest new offerings for Living Forgotten Realms!




I think that's a reasonable change, for whatever my opinion is worth. I will take this opportunity to ask for a review of the status of online play. In my eyes, the MapTool LFR forums and the OnlineGameDay mailing list are public: anyone who's interested can play, signups are posted in the same format and using the same tools as a physical venue might use, and so on. You could make a case that non-players can't stumble across these forums, but particularly in the case of the MapTool forums, the LFR activity shares a forum with several other systems.

I recognize that this question is lower priority than many other things; just wanted to bring it up again. Thanks for all the administrative work it takes to get us a ton of free content and some really excellent game play.  

Almost forgot! I have a selfish question regarding this change.



I'm currently running a home game with the Embers of Dawn modules. I think probably at our current pace we won't be playing MINI 1-6 until Marchish anyhow, but just in case, would it be possible to have MINI 1-6 exempted from the new policy? I imagine there are a few people who've been playing this as a home game, particularly since it's a double slot. It would be nice not to have that interrupted.

That is a huge change, and I think should really boost con attendance.

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).

That is a huge change, and I think should really boost con attendance.


Me too. I am in general wildly in favor. Heh, I wonder if there's about to be a surge in DDXP registrations?

That is a huge change, and I think should really boost con attendance.


Me too. I am in general wildly in favor. Heh, I wonder if there's about to be a surge in DDXP registrations?





Some of the DDXP events do not premiere until months after the show so add three months to that for home play and you might be getting to play stuff almost a half a year early.

Dave
The article also does a great job (finally) of collecting the various bits of info about D&D XP, such as the Battle Interactive, all the core/special/BI mods being thematically linked to a story about Elturgard and the paladins taking on the spellplague, Dark Sun, and more.

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).

Some other minor tidbits:

(1) Late Mods: Will mods currently scheduled to release in 2009 (but are late) but are not released until 2010 fall under the 3-month waiting period rule, or are the grandfathered in? (Showing up in both databases.)

(2) Q1 2010 Schedule: For those of us scheduling a con in Q1 2010, when will we see the anticipated release schedule so we can begin building a schedule for our Public Play con? (These are due fairly soon, so it would be great to anticipate the first mods that will be rolling through this system.)

Thanks for the answers!

Dan Anderson @EpicUthrac
Total Confusion www.totalcon.com
LFR Calimshan Writing Director
LFR Epic Writing Director

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

So what is going to be released publicly in january then?
I *was* counting on people playing DALE2-1. if having it at DDXP means it won't get released to the public for 6 months that doesn't sound so great an idea...

Gomez
So is there going to be a three-month hiatus with no new mods released for home play?
I think that's a reasonable change, for whatever my opinion is worth. I will take this opportunity to ask for a review of the status of online play. In my eyes, the MapTool LFR forums and the OnlineGameDay mailing list are public: anyone who's interested can play, signups are posted in the same format and using the same tools as a physical venue might use, and so on. You could make a case that non-players can't stumble across these forums, but particularly in the case of the MapTool forums, the LFR activity shares a forum with several other systems.

I recognize that this question is lower priority than many other things; just wanted to bring it up again. Thanks for all the administrative work it takes to get us a ton of free content and some really excellent game play.  



While online play maybe similar in it's level of access, I think classifying it as "public" sort of conflicts with what I believe the intention of this policy to be. Making the the mods exclusive to public venues for the first 3 months is to increase attendance at cons and in-store play by giving them a little extra draw. Classifying online play as "public" would sort of cut the legs out from underneath the effort.
I think that's a reasonable change, for whatever my opinion is worth. I will take this opportunity to ask for a review of the status of online play. In my eyes, the MapTool LFR forums and the OnlineGameDay mailing list are public: anyone who's interested can play, signups are posted in the same format and using the same tools as a physical venue might use, and so on. You could make a case that non-players can't stumble across these forums, but particularly in the case of the MapTool forums, the LFR activity shares a forum with several other systems.

I recognize that this question is lower priority than many other things; just wanted to bring it up again. Thanks for all the administrative work it takes to get us a ton of free content and some really excellent game play.  



While online play maybe similar in it's level of access, I think classifying it as "public" sort of conflicts with what I believe the intention of this policy to be. Making the the mods exclusive to public venues for the first 3 months is to increase attendance at cons and in-store play by giving them a little extra draw. Classifying online play as "public" would sort of cut the legs out from underneath the effort.



That's also an excellent point! I don't think either side of the debate is unreasonable by any means.
I also wonder about Major Quests and Story Arcs. There was already a significant time gap between these adventures, and delaying Private Play release could put even more of a strain on maintaining story lines that were started in 2009, but not be available to play the sequal until late 2010.

Dan Anderson @EpicUthrac
Total Confusion www.totalcon.com
LFR Calimshan Writing Director
LFR Epic Writing Director

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

This wouldn't even be worthy of comment if the policy were in place from the beginning, but adding it now raises some issues for me.

As has been noted, implementing this now is equivalent to simply not releasing any modules for the next three months for private play.  That's fine if the point of the campaign is public play, with home games being a less-supported afterthought.  That is not, however, the way the campaign has heretofore presented itself.

I might be a bit on the Lawful side of the spectrum, but if the difference between public and non-public play is going to become of significant importance, it's problematic that the rules on that subject currently consist of a single sentence at the time you sanction a module.  Considering that it is common for even that rule (as well as rules about date restrictions) to be entirely ignored in order to run slot zeroes, on the basis that it's within the spirit of the rules if not the letter, I would expect some pretty expansive definitions of "public" to be used.

Beyond that, with the decision (which I still consider bizarre) to go with undated unverified log sheets that don't list the event an adventure was played at, anyone who doesn't brag about their group's playstyle is likely to pass without notice even if they ignore the rule entirely.

While I think this would have been a fine way to go from the beginning, this direction meshes very poorly with the paradigm the campaign has been operating under so far.
The delay does seem like a good way to help convention play. About the only thing I will truly miss with this change is not being able to order and report slot 0 games as non-public (since they were not) at the time of the game rather than when it is run at a public venue.
Perhaps a compromise: Allow the events that premiered at DDXP to be convention/public play only for Q1 of 2010, with the other mods that come out over the rest of the quarter being public or home play. And then, in Q2, all mods get the 3 month delay. We already had that happen more or less with SPEC 1-3 and ADCP 1-1 in 2009, so it isn't a huge change. And it gradually moves the campaign toward this direction.
I think there's an angle on this that a lot of people haven't considered.

When you go to a local convention to play LFR, have you ever noticed that the people there tend to be:

1) Shall we say, not very tactically savvy?

2) Have less than "optimal" PC builds?

3) Aren't as interested in the latest, greatest mod as they are interested in just having fun?

Note that this is less true about the big cons -- DDXP, Gencon, etc. -- than it is about local cons.  But I've *consistently* noticed this.

For me, this makes playing LFR *less fun* at local conventions!

Now, what I've typically done is to play -- and *run* -- mods online.  I generally play in venues that are NOT "closed," meaning that the public is free to join and play as well.  Why should "public" play of this nature be penalized?

I understand that from a financial perspective, it's in WotC's best interest to support local conventions by having a 3-month delay on the release of LFR mods for private play, but what that also does is tilt the scales of LFR more in the direction of people who have a passing interest as opposed to people who enjoy playing with more experienced players, who enjoy creating optimized builds, and who enjoy a challenge.

Isn't there a better way to support local conventions instead of limiting ALL released mods to public play only for three months?  Maybe create more public play-only events, but still release a reasonable subset of mods for private play immediately?

Otherwise, what WotC is doing is pissing off a significant portion of their customer base.  I don't think any of them would stop buying WotC products as a result, but still, that's NOT a good thing to do.

Damon

Almost forgot! I have a selfish question regarding this change.



I'm currently running a home game with the Embers of Dawn modules. I think probably at our current pace we won't be playing MINI 1-6 until Marchish anyhow, but just in case, would it be possible to have MINI 1-6 exempted from the new policy? I imagine there are a few people who've been playing this as a home game, particularly since it's a double slot. It would be nice not to have that interrupted.





Yes, this is almost certain to be the case. Given that the other 5 adventures were available immediately for homeplay, we expect to do the same for the finale (MINI1-6).

While online play maybe similar in it's level of access, I think classifying it as "public" sort of conflicts with what I believe the intention of this policy to be. Making the the mods exclusive to public venues for the first 3 months is to increase attendance at cons and in-store play by giving them a little extra draw. Classifying online play as "public" would sort of cut the legs out from underneath the effort.



I pretty sure by public, Chris means "Where people can see you playing." They want to increase the actual in person visibility of games.

Isn't there a better way to support local conventions instead of limiting ALL released mods to public play only for three months?  Maybe create more public play-only events, but still release a reasonable subset of mods for private play immediately?

Damon



I wouldn't expect to see ALL adventures have the three month embargo. MINI1-6 (as I said above) will not, and it seems like that the My Realms will also not have that issue. There may be others as well (we are working on the 2010 schedule now so I can't list everyone specifically). You will see the majority of events have the three month delay for private home play, but we will make certain that doesn't mean there is absolutely nothing new for home play in Q1 of 2010.

Almost forgot! I have a selfish question regarding this change.



I'm currently running a home game with the Embers of Dawn modules. I think probably at our current pace we won't be playing MINI 1-6 until Marchish anyhow, but just in case, would it be possible to have MINI 1-6 exempted from the new policy? I imagine there are a few people who've been playing this as a home game, particularly since it's a double slot. It would be nice not to have that interrupted.





Yes, this is almost certain to be the case. Given that the other 5 adventures were available immediately for homeplay, we expect to do the same for the finale (MINI1-6).


Thanks!

I wouldn't expect to see ALL adventures have the three month embargo. MINI1-6 (as I said above) will not, and it seems like that the My Realms will also not have that issue. There may be others as well (we are working on the 2010 schedule now so I can't list everyone specifically). You will see the majority of events have the three month delay for private home play, but we will make certain that doesn't mean there is absolutely nothing new for home play in Q1 of 2010.



As far as a "majority" being embargoed, I think that's a huge mistake, which I think WotC will find out when they do it.  IMHO, a good balance would be 30% embargoed, 70% available.  That would create more of a draw for conventions, but would still leave private play -- which is currently where the vast majority of play happens right now, to the tune of 95% or more -- feeling like WotC takes them seriously, too.  Again, there are better ways to create the kind of draw that WotC wants for conventions without making those who can only run things as private play feel like they are being neglected.

I think the points I made above are very valid ones.  I'd really like to see some serious answers to them, because right now it feels like that vast majority isn't being heard.

Consider...what kind of an atmosphere does WotC want to create for public play?  Do they want, as I wrote above, one that caters to people with a passing interest, a place where you can bring your brother, your friend, or even your kids and introduce them to this thing called D&D?  Because as someone who ran eight slots of CORE1-13 at Gencon this past year, who ran two mods at Florida Fall Fantasy in 2008, and who's planning on going to DDXP, I can tell you from personal experience, that there are a LOT of people like this who will go to a convention but who won't show up to a local gaming group, even one in a public venue like a gaming store.  There's nothing wrong with that kind of environment, but what kind of message is WotC sending by making more modules as public play only for three months?  Is it one that caters to this group?  Because I don't see that.

Is WotC hoping to draw out the gamers who typically play privately (either because they can't afford to go to conventions or because there's currently nothing there that appeals to them)?  Because right now this tactic isn't telling gamers why they should attend a conIt's only telling them how they'll be penalized if they don't!  This is dumb marketing!  DUMB!!

A negative message isn't going to work.  You need to find a way of telling the kind of gamers you want to attract what makes a local convention -- or a national one like Gencon or DDXP -- worth going to that they can't already get from private play.

The battle interactive is one fantastic way of doing this, and for that, I applaud WotC's decision to have one which has convention-only rewards which will not be in the released version later in the year.  The Dark Sun premiere is another great example.  But again, if these things aren't galvanizing more of that silent majority to come to conventions, WotC really needs to ask why not, rather than making them feel less important by penalizing them in this manner.

I think for many, the economy has a lot to do with it, but even setting that aside, it's that local conventions are seen to cater to a different audience.

Here's one example from my personal experience.  I attended The Summoning 2008 in Miami and played SPEC1-1 with a group of five players -- one of which had to leave early, leaving us with four -- of which I was the highest level player at the table, with a level 3 Rogue.  Even playing low tier, we had a VERY tough time of it.  I ended up dying about 2/3rds of the way through the module, and at that point we had to quit playing because there was no way to finish the mod with the remaining three players.  Later, once SPEC1-1 had been released for private play, I was able to play with a more experienced group of six higher-level players.  We played at low (as I was concerned about how difficult the mod had been last time) but ended up cakewalking the mod.  Why?  Because for our more experienced group, with a larger base of available players, it was just dead-easy!

In my case, what was the different audience?  Well, considering that I had to actually troll around and repeatedly ask if people wanted to play SPEC1-1, because otherwise we wouldn't have had a table at all, it was a group who was coming to the con because LFR was new and mysterious back then.  It was a group that wanted to try a little of this and a little of that, but wasn't necessarily interested in the "convention-only" special!  (Mainly because it took a lot longer to play.)

Get it, WotC?  Unless you find a way to cater to the audience you want to attract, local convention attendance simply isn't going to get much of a bump from this decision.  All it's going to do is create resentment from people like me, who would love to support WotC by coming to more cons, but don't feel like they'll have a really "special" play experience by doing so!

I'm really, really hoping I'll get heard, but given WotC's proclivity for going silent when they're not going to change their minds about something, I doubt I'll get more than a dismissive response.  But I can always hope...

Damon
PS.  You should also know that originally, I wasn't planning on going to DDXP.  But when I saw the event lineup, including the battle interactive and the convention special, I changed my mind.  This was before I saw that new mods would be public play only for three months.

Again, WotC should really be asking how a local convention can better cater to the kind of players who would otherwise be perfectly happy with private play, instead of merely focusing on restricting the availability of mods.

PPS.  If I'd seen that WotC was restricting new mods to public play only first, before seeing the event lineup, the great likelihood is that I would've chosen not to go.  I don't like supporting bad marketing decisions.

That would create more of a draw for conventions, but would still leave private play -- which is currently where the vast majority of play happens right now, to the tune of 95% or more -- feeling like WotC takes them seriously, too.


Whoa, I hadn't heard that stat. Where does it come from?

By the way -- I assume you get this, but you keep saying conventions and public play as though they were one and the same. You know that local play can also be public play, right? Anything in a registered venue that is open to all comers is public. So game store play is generally public, the people running in bookstores are public, etc. It's only private if it's in your own house.

1) I suspect the size of the bleeding edge of efficiency crowd is much smaller than you think.
2) Of course the vast majority of D&D is played in the privacy of one's own home, but I think the point of the public->private holding period is to lure out the subsection of the D&D population that plays LFR at home.
I think they should release _some_ things to private play during the first few months just as a transition case, but I think it's a pretty smart idea to set the public play line. It encourages people to go to cons and stores, which helps support the hobby, and folks like me who get most of their play in at home or online can just be a little patient or make it out to a store or con more often. It's only during the initial transition period that it's even a problem because once we're past that first three months private play gets just as many mods as usual.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
By the way -- I assume you get this, but you keep saying conventions and public play as though they were one and the same. You know that local play can also be public play, right? Anything in a registered venue that is open to all comers is public. So game store play is generally public, the people running in bookstores are public, etc. It's only private if it's in your own house.



Not true. Private play is defined as a closed group, not open to the public, whether it meets at someone's home or at the local game store.

Public play is a game that is open to new or outside players, whether the venue is the local game store, public library, game convention, or someone's home, as long as it is open to most anyone.
Consider...what kind of an atmosphere does WotC want to create for public play?  Do they want, as I wrote above, one that caters to people with a passing interest, a place where you can bring your brother, your friend, or even your kids and introduce them to this thing called D&D?  Because as someone who ran eight slots of CORE1-13 at Gencon this past year, who ran two mods at Florida Fall Fantasy in 2008, and who's planning on going to DDXP, I can tell you from personal experience, that there are a LOT of people like this who will go to a convention but who won't show up to a local gaming group, even one in a public venue like a gaming store.  There's nothing wrong with that kind of environment, but what kind of message is WotC sending by making more modules as public play only for three months?  Is it one that caters to this group?  Because I don't see that.



Damon...I'm curious.  Were you active in Living Greyhawk?  Did you play at conventions in Living Greyhawk?  Because the sort of players you describe at the conventions you've attended for LFR are *very* different from what the RPGA saw during Living Greyhawk.

At that time, the "carrots" for attending conventions were regional play (i.e., in order to play a region's adventures, you had to actually travel to that region), and convention-only adventures like interactives.  As a result, many convention attendees *were* the hardcore, serious players you feel aren't currently attending conventions.  I know that, now, many of those players are still playing LFR...but they'e playing the modules at home, or in very small events, because they want to play them as soon as they become available.

When LFR was announced, many predicted that the lack of regional play and convention specials would kill or cripple many of the smaller RPGA-focused conventions.  I don't know if that's what's actually happened, but it wouldn't surprise me.  I'm involved in helping to run a few local conventions in my area, and I know for a fact that we no longer attract many players from outside of our immediate area (because there simply isn't much of an incentive to do so). 

I think this change does have the potential to improve convention attendance, or at least create more public events.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
By the way -- I assume you get this, but you keep saying conventions and public play as though they were one and the same. You know that local play can also be public play, right? Anything in a registered venue that is open to all comers is public. So game store play is generally public, the people running in bookstores are public, etc. It's only private if it's in your own house.



Yes, I get this.  There are a few local gaming shops in the area.  One of them is running paragon mods -- and I currently have no paragon characters.  (I used to go there quite often when they were running lower level mods.)  The others are a bit far to drive to.  And also, the people who play at this local gaming shop, while they have decent tactics and reasonably optimized characters, pale in comparison to the gamers I can play with online.

Damon...I'm curious.  Were you active in Living Greyhawk?  Did you play at conventions in Living Greyhawk?  Because the sort of players you describe at the conventions you've attended for LFR are *very* different from what the RPGA saw during Living Greyhawk.

At that time, the "carrots" for attending conventions were regional play (i.e., in order to play a region's adventures, you had to actually travel to that region), and convention-only adventures like interactives.  As a result, many convention attendees *were* the hardcore, serious players you feel aren't currently attending conventions.  I know that, now, many of those players are still playing LFR...but they'e playing the modules at home, or in very small events, because they want to play them as soon as they become available.

When LFR was announced, many predicted that the lack of regional play and convention specials would kill or cripple many of the smaller RPGA-focused conventions.  I don't know if that's what's actually happened, but it wouldn't surprise me.  I'm involved in helping to run a few local conventions in my area, and I know for a fact that we no longer attract many players from outside of our immediate area (because there simply isn't much of an incentive to do so). 

I think this change does have the potential to improve convention attendance, or at least create more public events.



No, I wasn't active with Living Greyhawk.  I started playing pen&paper D&D just a few months before 4th edition was released.  I enjoyed the last couple of months of the Living Xen'drik campaign, especially since it gave me the opportunity to try out higher-level character concepts without having to wade through tons of modules to see if the characters were any good.  (By the way, I played these at the local gaming store I mentioned above.)

As far as the lack of regional play and con specials killing/crippling smaller, RPGA-focused conventions...it's very possible that that's what has happened.  In any case, I don't think anyone has bothered to answer my original point.  While this may indeed raise local con attendance, it's doing so via a negative message.  Come to the con or we'll penalize you by making you wait for the latest modules.  That's a terrible marketing strategy.

I think WotC needs to come up with a better marketing plan.  Maybe not regional mods again, but certainly a few different ways that local cons can distinguish themselves and be more appealing to the avid gamer vs. someone-with-a-passing-interest gamer.  You even said it yourself.  The lack of regional play has led to a decline in the attendance of local cons from people who live out of the immediate area.

Anyway, I myself enjoy running games.  I enjoy the feeling of being able to tell a good story to players.  I've invested time and energy into attending conventions as well as making online play more memorable for people.  In fact, when I first started running online on OpenRPG, nearly everyone was using hand-drawn (well, scratchpad-drawn) maps!  But I changed that by photoshopping maps for every mod that I ran, plus quite a few mods that other people asked me to make maps for.  Those maps are available here.  When I ran CORE1-13 at Gencon, I printed out the photoshopped maps in sections and used transparencies on top of the printed pages so that we could do things like draw area effects on the maps.

I'm willing to go to conventions, not only to play, but to make things special and memorable for other players by running mods.  But right now I don't feel all that inspired to do so.

I'm hoping that as a DM who's run at Gencon, my opinion would have a little more weight than the average gamer.  But I doubt the powers-that-be are going to change their minds on this.  Hopefully they'll figure out that this wasn't such a good idea in 3-4 months, tho, and start coming up with real solutions to attract more people to local conventions.

Damon
PS.  FYI, earlier this evening I talked to someone who often runs at local and national conventions who was b*tching about how much of a hassle it is to try to schedule public play events using the new system.  He filled out the form to add a venue a month and a half ago and only today found out that although the venue was actually added, for some reason he still couldn't order events for it.  So, I think WotC is making a big mistake by trying to force people to use what, imho, is a "broken" system, both in terms of technical glitches and in terms of not adequately meeting their customers' needs and expectations.

Consider...what kind of an atmosphere does WotC want to create for public play?  Do they want, as I wrote above, one that caters to people with a passing interest, a place where you can bring your brother, your friend, or even your kids and introduce them to this thing called D&D?  Because as someone who ran eight slots of CORE1-13 at Gencon this past year, who ran two mods at Florida Fall Fantasy in 2008, and who's planning on going to DDXP, I can tell you from personal experience, that there are a LOT of people like this who will go to a convention but who won't show up to a local gaming group, even one in a public venue like a gaming store.  There's nothing wrong with that kind of environment, but what kind of message is WotC sending by making more modules as public play only for three months?  Is it one that caters to this group?  Because I don't see that.



Damon...I'm curious.  Were you active in Living Greyhawk?  Did you play at conventions in Living Greyhawk?  Because the sort of players you describe at the conventions you've attended for LFR are *very* different from what the RPGA saw during Living Greyhawk.

At that time, the "carrots" for attending conventions were regional play (i.e., in order to play a region's adventures, you had to actually travel to that region), and convention-only adventures like interactives.  As a result, many convention attendees *were* the hardcore, serious players you feel aren't currently attending conventions.  I know that, now, many of those players are still playing LFR...but they'e playing the modules at home, or in very small events, because they want to play them as soon as they become available.

When LFR was announced, many predicted that the lack of regional play and convention specials would kill or cripple many of the smaller RPGA-focused conventions.  I don't know if that's what's actually happened, but it wouldn't surprise me.  I'm involved in helping to run a few local conventions in my area, and I know for a fact that we no longer attract many players from outside of our immediate area (because there simply isn't much of an incentive to do so). 

I think this change does have the potential to improve convention attendance, or at least create more public events.


But is it the responsibility of Wizards of the Coast to maintain conventions (outside of the one that they do, in fact, directly contract someone to run for them)? I was very involved in the LG convention scene, in part because I didn't have the option to play my local adventures and in part because I wanted to see what other regions were doing. When they first announced that convention exclusivity was largely going away, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and my checkbook did the same - going to Ohio, Indiana, or Ontario every other weekend was getting quite expensive. I still attended all the more local conventions (read: within 2 hours of me) I would have gone to anyway, didn't feel like I was missing out by playing at home or online, and still went to the Big Three cons to get my large-play experience.
Also - and this should be the big one to the people playing the marketing game - *I've bought more Wizards of the Coast product per month during LFR than I did during LG.* That's right, a lot of those costs of hotel rooms? Went into books or minis instead.

I should note that one of the statements early on in the campaign was that the RPGA-only conventions that people were afraid of losing didn't fulfill the marketing purpose of the organization, that being to bring in new players. Largely, because they were targeted toward experienced players, they were inherently less friendly to new joiners (not that I'm saying that the organizers of these conventions weren't incredibly friendly to new players, because they were). It was said at the time by someone in an authority position (forget who) that the death of the small RPGA-only convention was a byproduct of the focus being redirected to public play that has more opportunities for acquisition. I don't think this policy was designed to encourage convention play - I think it was designed to encourage game store play and other small public play venues, and I will say that it's likely to get me looking for a regular nearby public play venue that will accomodate RPGA gamers (yes, we have been told by a couple stores that they don't want roleplayers taking up their valuable CCG space, and one store owner asked us not to play there because he was *worried we would break our chairs* - not a great customer service environment here).

My one request is that if we go to this three-month waiting period, communication with WPN organizers needs to improve. When trying to add a venue for a convention, it took two different submissions, three CustServ e-mails suggesting what I had already done, calling CustServ, spending 20 minutes trying to find out who my WPN organizer was, and an escalation to discover that I couldn't sanction events at my new site because I had incorrectly entered the site's zip code. While I'm greatly appreciative of Mark's help - once I was able to find his contact information - that's the kind of error that can have a message generated over e-mail or when initially entering the site; it shouldn't be something that just sits unusable until the customer finally decides to call and complain.
John du Bois Living Forgotten Realms Writing Director, Netheril story area Follow me on The Twitter: @JohnduBois Follow my presence on The Intertubes: johncdubois.wordpress.com
I don't know if it is a terrible strategy. It does not seen a particuarly good one. But it may be the cheapest one.
The thind is, most suggestions for cons are to provide con-only or con-premiere extra modules. BI's and such.
Few people would have an issue with those adventures being released for home play 6 months later.

The problem though is resources. And I am not talking the fee you get for writing an adventure - I am talking the extra time and effort you need to get it written, edited, published, and the games organized.
I know the globals and Chris already have way too much work right now with the adventures we write. The regionals, the bonus regionals, the specials, adaptables and WitR are already a lot of work - possibly too much.
If we add extra Con-only specials to it,  we risk getting (more) seriously behind on schedules.

As much as I like the idea for extra stuff, I think that as long as we have a capacity problem the only easy way for WotC to make Con 'exclusive' material is to premiere the regionals that way .
I don't like it much, mind. But I can see how it would be the easy solution (or so people hope)  to dwindling con attendance.

Gomez
By the way -- I assume you get this, but you keep saying conventions and public play as though they were one and the same. You know that local play can also be public play, right? Anything in a registered venue that is open to all comers is public. So game store play is generally public, the people running in bookstores are public, etc. It's only private if it's in your own house.



Not true. Private play is defined as a closed group, not open to the public, whether it meets at someone's home or at the local game store.

Public play is a game that is open to new or outside players, whether the venue is the local game store, public library, game convention, or someone's home, as long as it is open to most anyone.


I would love for that to be true, but I'm not sure that it is. When you sanction a public event, there's this little warning:


"PLEASE NOTE! This D&D event must be run at a public location and should be open to any players who wish to participate."


On the other hand, the venue registration form no longer has that clause saying the venue must be a public location and can't be a home, and in fact "home" is one of the options in the pulldown menu for type of venue. Um, did that change while we weren't looking? Cause that would certainly remove all the concerns anyone's expressing.

Clarification would be appreciated! 

The problem though is resources. And I am not talking the fee you get for writing an adventure - I am talking the extra time and effort you need to get it written, edited, published, and the games organized.
I know the globals and Chris already have way too much work right now with the adventures we write. The regionals, the bonus regionals, the specials, adaptables and WitR are already a lot of work - possibly too much.
If we add extra Con-only specials to it,  we risk getting (more) seriously behind on schedules.

As much as I like the idea for extra stuff, I think that as long as we have a capacity problem the only easy way for WotC to make Con 'exclusive' material is to premiere the regionals that way .
I don't like it much, mind. But I can see how it would be the easy solution (or so people hope)  to dwindling con attendance.

Gomez



Thank you for being honest about one of the reasons behind this decision, because that, in turn, can lead to a better answer than what WotC has chosen to do.

Note what I mentioned above.  A better breakdown between public-only mods for three months and mods that would be available immediately would be more like 30%/70%.  Here are suggestions for reasons that mods might end up in one group vs. another:

1) Public play only mods for three months for the ones which premiere at DDXP and Origins.  (Adding the ones premiering at Gencon might be a bit much; either that, or not adding ALL of the ones premiering at either Origins or Gencon, since they happen so close to one another.)
2) Public play only mods for three months for mods with local cons willing to "sponsor" them and find ways to make playing them feel more special.  (Like having the mod author at the con, having an informal scoring mechanism for the purpose of winning prizes, etc.)
3) More direct lines of communication between mod authors and local conventions.

The last, especially because being able to have the mod author's contribution to telling the story, balancing the fights, highlighting interesting plot details or references to other modules, etc., would make it easier for local conventions to make playing such modules more special.

If WotC basically can't afford the time and energy to put out more specials, that's easily understandable.  But that doesn't mean there isn't a better solution, because there absolutely is.

Damon

Couple comments to add to what's already here.  They have already been addressed one way or another but feel they need to be singled out again.

I used to attend a fair amount of local (by local I mean within about 500 miles of me) conventions.  I rarely go to conventions any more for the following reasons -

1)  Lack of conventions special events.  ie. Interactives.
Delaying mods for private use by 3 months will not fix this problem.

2)  The messed up search function for finding public games/conventions.
I very much miss the old search function where you could search the public games State by State.  Used to be when I was driving through a state and knew I had a weekend free there, I'd do a quick search for games on that old calander.  Now I don't even bother.


Delaying the release of mods to private events by 3 months, will not, in my opinion, boost the attendeance of local conventions.  I can see it boosting the attendeance of major conventions but only becouse of the die hard fans that want to play the newest mods.

So if you want to open up LFR for more public play I see Wizard's needing to do
 
1)  Streamline the ease of getting public events signed up and posted.

2)  Search function has to be alot easier to use and allow searches by different means.  Then once you find a game, allow links for contacts.

3)  Allow local conventions the abilities to run Interactives with "fun" awards.  Either as loot or story awards.  (Examples like the Pixie dust you get for story award AGLA01.  A award that's simple, fun, and grants a small benifit to the character.)

4)  Then making it easier for these Interactions to get the OK and 'legal'.


I don't know how true it is, but I've heard horror stories of of people waiting weeks and weeks for word back and then getting very little support to no support for volunteering to run LFR at local gaming conventions.  Allowing these people more freedom to do stuff, within a set guideline, is one of the biggest things that can be done to help increase attendence in local conventions.

3) More direct lines of communication between mod authors and local conventions.

The last, especially because being able to have the mod author's contribution to telling the story, balancing the fights, highlighting interesting plot details or references to other modules, etc., would make it easier for local conventions to make playing such modules more special.




I'm not sure why this isn't happening now, or at least couldn't. The vast majority of the authors are all volunteers who are not WOTC employees in any way (beyond the small freelance fee they get for writing the adventure). Nothing stops a local convention that has questions from posting here, sending an email or PM (using this community site), or otherwise contacting the author. If you can't find contact info for the author, the POC for that region should be able to forward your message to them.

As I read your comments some more, maybe I am misunderstanding. Do you mean contacting them after the mod is out about questions, or did you mean that they put additional guidelines or suggestions for running the adventure in the adventure text?



3) More direct lines of communication between mod authors and local conventions.

The last, especially because being able to have the mod author's contribution to telling the story, balancing the fights, highlighting interesting plot details or references to other modules, etc., would make it easier for local conventions to make playing such modules more special.




I'm not sure why this isn't happening now, or at least couldn't.



Err...I think you're misunderstanding.  That's why I said more direct lines of communication.  Of course this kind of thing can happen now.  How often does it actually take place, though?

Let's put it this way.  When a DM runs a module, he often has no direct insight into the author's intent for the story flow, etc.  But if there were a mechanism where con organizers could directly communicate with module authors, and for module authors to submit additional information pertaining to the mod that won't necessarily fit into the mod format itself (because of space limitations, for instance), that would help to make convention play more special.

To give you a good example, I recently discovered that DALE2-1 was intended to be a sequel of sorts to DALE1-4.  We didn't find that out from the blurb.  Also, a recent mod I ran had minor story connections to several different mods from the same region.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a backstory writeup for that mod, directly from the mod author, for the convention DM to refer to?  (If the author so chooses, of course!)

The point is that while such communication would be driven by willingness on the part of the mod authors to give a little extra, and on the part of the con organizers, to reach out to the mod authors, right now we have no centralized way for the two to communicate.

In any case, this was just one idea I had.  I'm sure there are other, equally good ones out there.

Damon

Thank you for being honest about one of the reasons behind this decision, because that, in turn, can lead to a better answer than what WotC has chosen to do.



Just be aware that I am speculating.
What I say about the workload is true, but whether that is the actual reason is my speculation.

Gomez
Just be aware that I am speculating.
What I say about the workload is true, but whether that is the actual reason is my speculation.

Gomez



Yeah, I sorta realized that after I wrote the post.  :-)

Damon

Regarding Author-to-DM information, this was achieved in the past (in LG) via conventions and premieres and the regional system. An author would write a regional adventure, which would be scheduled to premiere at a local convention. Playtesting would take place locally, in-region. That created 1-2 tables of people that know the adventure, all in the local area. Then, slot 0s were scheduled. Because the game was so con-focused, slot 0s were a big deal and an incentive for judges. It was almost unheard of to have a mod not have a slot 0 before a convention. The slot 0 was usually run by the author or by someone they trusted that playtested. This resulted in direct information being passed onto everyone as well as RP tips, backstory, and other information. The convention then had premieres with really prepared judges. This was less true with cores, since all you had was a slot 0. It is worth saying that adventures could be late, but with regionals/metaregionals you knew the people involved and could usually get them ready (avoiding them being late by working locally) or had advance warning for judges.

In the current LFR campaign, prior to this news, a convention usually turns to what the players recommend as good adventures to run again and for new players that aren't hard core. The active players will have played most adventures. As early as 4 months ago, there weren't that many mods, so it was very easy to have just about all players involved in LFR homeplay having played everything that was out there. They became their judges, judging mods based on that experience. They could replay, but if they at all liked judging they probably did that instead. Conventions seldom booked new mods because you never knew if they were of decent quality and if they would come out on time. Even if they came out two weeks prior, you might have them already played. There was no real premiere status. Slot 0s were run largely to recruit a few more judges, but were not really needed. There was no real author to DM information and no benchmark for quality for how an adventure was judged.

With this change, premiere status is back. Conventions again have an edge. While regionals are largely dead (few care what region's mods are featured at their local con), there is now some incentive to at least run slot 0s. If an author happens to be regionally based, that might create some quality benchmarks, but it remains to be seen if this will be any true effect. However, the hard core players do have an incentive to slot 0 and to judge and to attend cons. That should change the con experience, making it attractive both to casual and veteran players. In addition, things like ADCPs (and perhaps some of the other ideas like Expeditions, etc.) make conventions a more special environment.

Things will need to shake out, but overall I see positives. I still want changes to the regional system.

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).

Things will need to shake out, but overall I see positives. I still want changes to the regional system.



It's the shaking out process that I'm concerned with.

Overall, I see a mix of positives and negatives.  From a publicity standpoint to the general masses, I see this as either a don't-care (since a lot of people aren't necessarily interested in the latest mods) or a negative (because people will gripe about having to go to a con, and not see any benefit to this change).  THAT is what I really hope to see change.  Right now, I don't see any positive side to this that's being sold to WotC's customer base.  Oh, there are implied positives -- and you pointed out some possibilities yourself.  But I don't see anything from WotC that does a good job convincing the public that this is a Good Thing (TM).

In the meantime, I've already been asking to run slot zeroes of DDXP mods.  So far I haven't gotten much response.  I'd also love to sponsor a mini-con myself, online or otherwise, but I feel like I'd have to go through a lot of hoops for very little return.

About eight months ago, I sponsored an online convention and even got convention support for it, which I distributed to the judges and players.  That was before the WPN system was put in place, though, and I've been told by CustServ that in order to schedule a WPN event I need to have a separate address for a public venue from the home address I entered for private play.  So at this time, I'm *(un)able to sanction a whole con's worth of events and I'm also unable to sanction public play only events.

One of the things I enjoyed about the online con that I ran before was that a lot of new players signed up.  I even scheduled running "Beyond the Door" which, although it wasn't a big hit, at least gave some players the opportunity to try out high-level characters.  I feel like the way the system is organized right now, there's no real motivation for me to put myself out to try to organize anything, because I won't be able to give people a good play experience without access to the public play only events.

In any case, I really hope that WotC will eventually come around and offer more compelling reasons to go to (or organize) local conventions than simply penalizing private play.

Damon



In the meantime, I've already been asking to run slot zeroes of DDXP mods.  So far I haven't gotten much response. 




Most D&DXP mods (if not all) aren't beyond playtesting and editing.

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).

I do think the policy change is a decent decision to drive people more towards public play (though obviously there's a good debate about whether or not to try to do that.)

If they are going to make this change, however, I think the campaign should change it's policy towards adventure release schedules.  I understand the campaign staff is overburdened, and I don't think it's their fault- these people work incredibly hard and I'm very appreciative of their efforts.  I love the campaign.

But with the now chronic tardiness of adventures (for a multitude of reasons) it is difficult for local conventions/public venues to draw people to play games significantly in advance when many of the games do not get released on schedule.  I recently watched a local con have a few problems with adventures that didn't come out on time, which put additional pressure on already taxed organizers and GMs who volunteer their time to give people a fun time and get stress and relatively little thanks in return.  I'm worried that this policy change may put more stress on these people unless a significant change occurs.

If they are going to do this, they should not post adventure release dates until the adventures are finished, or at least until they are 100% sure the adventures will be finished by that time.  Otherwise, the people that attend local cons (who will feel that they are spending money to play these adventures earlier) will feel that they are getting gipped.  I think the campaign should debate having a time of a siginficantly less ambitious release schedule in order to fall in line with this idea. (Unless I'm missing something?)


Most D&DXP mods (if not all) aren't beyond playtesting and editing.

 


Claire and I completed our editing and playtesting of WATE2-1 by mid October, although we have been fortunate to have our proposals and editing usually go well.  Brad did IMHO a great job on that adventure.   But this may be the best case, rather than the average case.

Sometimes problems arise with adventure preparation, WotC feedback directs major changes, plot concepts don't work out, etc. and with multiple levels of review, it is difficult to predict any specific adventure will conform to the general timeline. 

Keith

EDIT: For a more fair answer to avoid misleading players.
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep