Regional Flavor - LFR vs other models

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Out of sheer curiosity, would you then prefer if, instead of say, 12 regions there were a single central region of some sort all characters started in?  Or some in-between option?  Or some other option?






Here is my suggestion/opinion. Core adventures continue much the way they are with adventures released in all tiers and without much overarcing plot. Regional adventures will be completely remodeled. Each Region would write around 4 adventures a year, all released at once. (12 regions, 12 months, one a month) These 4 adventures would be a major quest and cover a plotline, along with being in one tier so they could be played in a row if desired.  Then to add a little more regional flavor give an advantage for playing in your "home" region. I am thinking a mild XP bonus. Or maybe for completing a major quest in your home region earns you a special cert.




Those are godd ideas. The key to me is that you can play a PC and be in one storyline. Ideally, it is a regional storyline.

So, if I like the Dragon Coast, then I would like to be able to start a PC and play a bunch of Dragon Coast adventures. It is where I am from and it is what I care about. I don't have to play just in the DC, but a good amount of play should be there. What the exact balance should be, I'm not sure. In LG, it felt like the majority of play was in a region. Later, it also included a meta-region, which worked well since LG had grown to have solid reasons for caring about one's neighbors.

Right now, most PCs/players have 0 reason to care about their own region, let alone the neighboring regions. There is little regional flavor in adventures. While AKAN1-1 is a famous example (you start with a summary of having been in the capital, but you never are told about the insanely cool city), AKAN1-7 basically does the same. You start in a wondrous city but only the barest description is provided. You then leave that location. Some adventures have done a good job, suck as DALE1-6 and AKAN1-2, giving you a feel for what the place is like. AKAN1-7 has solid cultural bias information.

For LFR play to really be flavorful, you need more information and more links between play experiences. Just having story arcs is not enough. While I am happy with an arc like the Radiance Against Thay, it does get watered down... 3 adventures amongst 30 means the 3-adventure arcs don't stand out as much.

If doing things all over, my pick would be to either embrace regions or remove them entirely. If you embrace them, make fewer of them and more mods per region, with more admins per region. Aim for strong story links, cross-regional links, and focus on the stories of those regions. Mimic the LG experience, but open to eveyone. Have story awards strongly integrated and predicated on results/choices. You choose a group to befriend in one adventure, having implications in the next.

The other alternative is to remove the regions. Just write stories and have the stories matter. Plan out a set of three arcs that are related, each with 2-3 adventures, and have various writing directors for the arcs. As a player you latch onto a story and then want to follow it to its conclusion.

In both models a key is for the story to be playable without leveling out too easily.

In the interest of full disclosure, how could LG have "major history changing storylines" when the history was never recorded?  Yes, to the regional participants, they were (in their mind) making history, but is it a history that can be and will be viewed by anyone on the outside afterwards? 
If it was recorded, where is it?


What is stunning is that LG is arguably more real and more carefully recorded (in adventures, meta-org books, online teasers, etc.) than the "canon" LFR play. Because it had solidity, it was tracked, at the very least in players' minds. WotC revues proposals... but I haven't heard of anyone recording results! If they did, then sure, this might matter. But, no one at WotC is making a note based on what the recent BI accomplished, what each story arc did, etc. It is canon as protectionism, not as impact.

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But, no one at WotC is making a note based on what the recent BI accomplished, what each story arc did, etc. It is canon as protectionism, not as impact.



That's not actually true. We hope to post a web article with a summary of the events in the near future, but remember that WOTC web content is planned out a few monthes ahead, so it will likely be a month or two before it gets posted on the official site. We can probably have something on the Community site quicker.

I didn't play LG, so I have no basis for comparison; I would like more regional flavor. Some random ideas...

Bonuses for playing in-region. I think getting rid of the penalties was a great idea, but maybe we could compensate by going in the other direction? It's probably silly to try and solve two problems at once, but what if you only got more than two reward cards in your stack if you were playing in-region?

Something DMs can do: play up regional events. I had to cancel my MYRE this weekend thanks to our local blizzard, but if it happens next weekend I'm going to have some of the Sambral NPCs quiz the PCs about these rumors they've been hearing about Elturgard. "Hey, we heard there was some kind of huge battle? And maybe they're going to need reinforcements? Were you guys involved in that?"

I don't think you need a MYRE to do that; I could drop that sort of thing into a normal adventure too. And not just for big BI-type stuff. Maybe we could have a list of plot rumors for each region? I think players could handle that without needing admin involvement, even.

Tighter story arcs. Arts & Crafts was excellent, story-wise. More like that would be good. We're seeing a lot of recurring NPCs, which is also great. 

I'll chime in here to agree with Alphastream--at the moment, I don't get anything out of regions except a minor degree of quality control. (In general, I expect Baldur's Gate and Impiltur mods to be good and East Rift mods to be bad).

Except for a few regions (Baldur's Gate, Waterdeep, Impiltur), even after playing most of a first year of adventures, I don't have much of a sense of what the region is about or what is going on there and except for Waterdeep and Impiltur (and Baldur's Gate to a much lesser degree), I haven't had a good sense of any continuous storyline in the region and because all of the quest adventures that could provide that have been spread out over several tiers, those stories have been highly diluted by trips to Sembia or the Moonshaes in between parts 1 and 2 and then again between parts 2 and 3.

Either way, I would support either of Alphastream's suggestions:
1. Fewer regions with more adventures per region.
This would allow players to play series of adventures in region and would give us a means to understand and become involved in storylines more complex than the dungeon of the week. The increased number of regional adventures is essential for this. To use an analogy, you can pick nearly any Star Trek or Next Generation episode, watch it, and get the full alien or conflict of the week experience. But if you were to select a random episode of Babylon 5, 24, Heroes, or (as I gather) Lost, and watch it, you would struggle to understand what was going on. And if you went a month or two and then watched another episode of that show, you would still be lost. That's just how things work. If you want to tell a story over several episodes, you need to be able to play or watch those episodes in sequence without a lot of other things in between. If we want players and adventures to have a stronger connection to the setting, we need to have enough adventures in each tier and in the region that we can get a sense for the region without baldur's gate, westgate, and waterdeep all blending together.

I suppose we wouldn't really need fewer regions to have more adventures per region but assuming that the current level of staffing and administration is necessary to produce the adventures that are currently being produced, more adventures per region would require less staff or more regions.

2. Eliminate regions entirely. Rather than regions, have administrators assigned to various story arcs. This would be a more radical departure from the current system, but I think it would focus more on what at least I would like to get out of LFR. It would also allow more flexibility in setting. If you want to tell a story in the Moonsea region right now, it has to be core (though Dalelands might be able to get away with it I suppose). Thus some regions of the Realms are necessarily unexplored while others get a lot of exposure. The danger of this approach would, of course, be that having everything non-core be a long and interlinked story arc might not be a good thing for LFR. Initially, the administration was wary of such an approach and I can see why. I played my 4th level rogue low-tier in order to avoid leveling out of the mini-campaign before I can play Mini 1-6 and another character (who is committed to playing all of the Minis in order) is languishing at 2nd level because our "lets play the minis in order" group seems to have collapsed. I wouldn't want to see that become more widespread.

One other suggestion would be:
3. If the current system is to be unchanged, please produce and approve fewer off-flavor adventures. Naturally, every adventure proposal for a region will not be classic "region X" flavor; some will be generic and some will be playing against type. And administrators might even have very good reason to accept some of those adventures from time to time. Maybe the author is very good and the adventure is good enough to outweigh regional considerations. Maybe they had another adventure fall through and need something to replace it right away. But even so, with only a few regional adventures per year in each band, selecting adventures that play against type for the region dilutes the regional feel very quickly. In my area, the local joke is that if you want to go underground, go to Aglarond but if you want to traipse through forests on the surface, go to the east rift. That's not entirely fair, but there's some truth buried in it. Just like there is (barely) room for one angsty good drow with scimitars, but making many more will change the flavor of the drow who otherwise make excellent villains, you can't have many adventures go against regional type without changing/destroying the flavor of the region.
To re-iterate (while being more succinct) one of my earlier comments:  the key to me is a sense of "ownership."  LG at its best (and in the right regions) had a sense of ownership.  The Triad really drove the storyline and players were active participants.  The Triad would release story interludes and updates -- keeping the player base informed as to what was going on.  The regular mods would get things going and then interactives would really enhance the process.  Then, the results -- especially of interactives -- would get reported back to the player base -- recharging the whole process.  Further, story awards really mattered.  You could have influence points to use or face sanctions if you were viewed unfavorably, etc.  You always felt like your actions had consequences and that those consequences mattered.  IMO, this is what LFR is lacking.

I don't want to comment on the suggested fixed yet, because I think its first important to identify the problem/issue.  And for me, "ownership" is it.

Daren
To re-iterate (while being more succinct) one of my earlier comments:  the key to me is a sense of "ownership."  LG at its best (and in the right regions) had a sense of ownership.  The Triad really drove the storyline and players were active participants.  The Triad would release story interludes and updates -- keeping the player base informed as to what was going on.  The regular mods would get things going and then interactives would really enhance the process.  Then, the results -- especially of interactives -- would get reported back to the player base -- recharging the whole process.  Further, story awards really mattered.  You could have influence points to use or face sanctions if you were viewed unfavorably, etc.  You always felt like your actions had consequences and that those consequences mattered.  IMO, this is what LFR is lacking.

I don't want to comment on the suggested fixed yet, because I think its first important to identify the problem/issue.  And for me, "ownership" is it.

Daren

I get what Drezden is saying about ownership. The trick is to avoid "exclusive ownership" at all costs. You need to find a way for a n00b playing his first adventure to start to feel that ownership, or at least the potential for it. LG didn't always have this.

I've posted about it several times over the years (even back into LG days). It is VERY hard to recognize an Old Boys' Club from the inside. Personally, I was a very active and reasonably visible member of the LG Old Boys' Club, so everything seemed custom-designed just for me (and my friends). For years I loved every minute of the campaign, travelling to play in other regions, writing modules and interactives, joining Triads (I was on two), making suggestions that were actually implemented, and generally feeling like a part of the machinery that ran the campaign.

Eventually I ended up taking on a smaller role in the global scene and a larger role in the local scene, trying to work on my local club membership. It was at this point, as I tried to explain LG and the RPGA to entice new players, that I realized that there were problems with the model. Part of it was the 100+ page rules document, sure. Another part of it was that the epic, decade-spanning plotlines were not really approachable. The more important part, though, was that there was always this unspoken assumption in every module that the DM and all the players would already "get" what's going on. Not just plot or regional background, but how the whole thing was supposed to go. It was very intimidating for new people to try to get on board. Sure, some folks made the leap, we added new members to our club right through the end of LG. But the proportion of new players retained in LFR is far ahead of what we managed in LG.

I'm not sure how well I'm explaining this. Rereading it looks like a jumbled mess...

I think that in the end, the one thing we need to always keep in mind is this: could a new group of players, presupposing a basic understanding of the D&D core rules, pick up any of the latest modules (we'll assume that they're picking up the start of a story arc, not midway) and the latest CCG, and have all the information necessary to run the adventure more-or-less as intended without any other outside help or information? So far in LFR I'd say that the answer is almost universally YES. After about 2002 in LG I'd say that the answer was generally but not always NO.
It may be a little too late to re-vamp the region system. It would require a lot of work and really runs the chance of disrupting the campaign enough that players lose interest and go elsewhere. I've seen too many times where an overhaul of a system causes many users to leave, even if the final resulting system is better than it was before.

Rather than altering what's already in place, add to it.

Perhaps factions can be introduced. Groups that in the next year or so get worked in and feature prominently in many adventures. Some might be tied to regions, others to agendas or ideals. Eventually players should be able to earn membership in one or more of these factions.

Membership really needs to be earned, because that which is free has no value. I don't say that to be funny - people just don't value things as much unless they feel like they had to work for it. It can't be too difficult to gain entry, but it should take some effort.

The factions don't really have to offer major benefits. What they need to do, however, is be intimately linked to what the players do. They need to show up in most gameplay to some degree, perhaps having a sub-mission for members in one event, or perhaps members have a social option in another event that non-members can't access. Whatever, it can't be stuck in the background, not affecting the player characters most of the time.


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard | Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard | Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

AL Character: Talia Ko'bori Silverwane - Tiefling Tome Fiend Warlock

I wonder if there might be some sort of perk a character could get after playing some number of mods from a given region. Something to encourage players to focus their character's efforts along fewer potlines. Ideally, it would be something that would grant a sense of ownership maybe even a vote in which direction the plot goes through either in or out-of-game means.
I'm not sure how well I'm explaining this. Rereading it looks like a jumbled mess...



Actually, it made perfect sense to me (but then, I was also pretty involved in my LG region).

You've hit the nail on the head, I think.  It's clear that the RPGA wants to be able to continually attract new players into LFR.  Given that, anything that would be done to increase regional flavor / ownership would have to be balanced with maintaining the low "barrier to entry" that the campaign currently has.
"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"

I think regions with tighter association to level bands would be a good idea. For example, Impiltur has more 4-7 mods than the other regions. The quality of the mods is fine, but being able to play them together in a short time period makes the whole experience more enjoyable for me. Dragon Coast has its Falling Petal series in a tight and easy to play series of modules as well. That I can play all 3 adventures in order makes it more enjoyable for me. 

This was brought up several times after the 1st two quarters of modules were released.  It is Epic Fail on the part of WOTC and the RPGA.

You would have thought that after 8 years of the trials and tribulations of LG they would have learned something and kept what worked.  Instead they just threw it out the window.

Fail Fail Fail
Which is probably why LFR player & play numbers are much higher than LG.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
This was brought up several times after the 1st two quarters of modules were released.  It is Epic Fail on the part of WOTC and the RPGA.



And if they didn't have stuff in higher level bands then people would have been complaining about that.  And if we went the opposite way, if they had all had tight storylines that you could play in order,  they would have been releasing nothign by H1 mods for several quarters if not all year and then people would have been complaining about that.

Epic fail?  Please.  There would have been complaints no matter what they did.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
This was brought up several times after the 1st two quarters of modules were released.  It is Epic Fail on the part of WOTC and the RPGA.

You would have thought that after 8 years of the trials and tribulations of LG they would have learned something and kept what worked.  Instead they just threw it out the window.

Fail Fail Fail




Keith makes valid point. Success or failure of a product is in it sales/usage. In the case of LFR that means play numbers. So LFR has been a success for WOTC. It is irrelevant if you (or I for that matter) do not like certain aspects of it when measuring success or failure.

The truth is that this discussion is not about ranking RPGA campaigns. It is about adjusting LFR in ways that will attract and keep more players. In my opinion 4E and LFR does a great job with new players, but could use some work on keeping the vetren players around and interested. My hope would be that a discussion such as this would give the capiagn powers that be some ideas to make the campiagn even better.

It appears to me that the common theme in the critisism is story arcs and the method they are released.
The truth is that this discussion is not about ranking RPGA campaigns. It is about adjusting LFR in ways that will attract and keep more players. In my opinion 4E and LFR does a great job with new players, but could use some work on keeping the vetren players around and interested. My hope would be that a discussion such as this would give the capiagn powers that be some ideas to make the campiagn even better.

It appears to me that the common theme in the critisism is story arcs and the method they are released.


Well, that and I haven't heard a good thing yet about the DM rewards program. The local public group seems to have new players come in but not new DMs stepping up to the plate. My goal was to play at the same table as my son but run every other session, under the assumption that a 3:1 play/GM ration would help them with their shortage. I'm currently at a 7:3 ratio and really, it's not worth it.

Players play, their characters level up, they're on their way to Paragon...

The DM reads the module, considers strangling the writers/editors because he can see the places where the players are all going to say WTF, runs the session, and when it's all said and done he gets... he gets...

Well, in a public setting, it's unrewarding. It's not like this is a world you have any influence on. You're running someone else's one-shot adventure. It's not hard to see why the local public group has a DM shortage. What I don't have a solid answer to is what to do about it and still insure new players, those players who really contribute, and those people who DM continue to come back without giving the store and the local club a bad reputation.

But that's probably yet another discussion.

I like the direction Encounters seems to be going.
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

2. Eliminate regions entirely. Rather than regions, have administrators assigned to various story arcs.



I think a problem here is that as a WD (writing director), it is easier to manage a region's adventures - there is little fear that others will mess with NPCS or locations and create an inconsistency. If you assign them to story arcs, unless you put them far apart (which then doesn't solve the problem), you risk getting in each others waters.
It is a lot harder to check if you can use NPC X if you do not know the WD who is responsible for it (though I admit I have created some regional overlap with some NPCs as well).

Gomez
2. Eliminate regions entirely. Rather than regions, have administrators assigned to various story arcs.



I think a problem here is that as a WD (writing director), it is easier to manage a region's adventures - there is little fear that others will mess with NPCS or locations and create an inconsistency. If you assign them to story arcs, unless you put them far apart (which then doesn't solve the problem), you risk getting in each others waters.
It is a lot harder to check if you can use NPC X if you do not know the WD who is responsible for it (though I admit I have created some regional overlap with some NPCs as well).

Gomez


No doubt. Going region-less and story-centric is harder. But, clearly, the call for more story continues unabated. I hear people thanking LFR for adding more story, but then calling for more of it. So, regardless, assuming the admins agree, the focus needs to shift to more story. That means more of an approach like Elturgard (or ether threat, or Rary, or Sheldomar common foe, or ... insert more LG parallels). In the end, it is about what is organizationally best.

Regions seem to be, first and foremost, about an organizational scheme for the three admins. The three admins can work together on their one bit, send it up the chain, repeat. But, that organizational scheme does little for the players. The players are region-less and in fact suffer for the illusion of region. They come in thinking they will be from/with something, then find themselves adrift. The organizational scheme sets players up one way, then delivers the opposite. Be from Akanul... don't play in Akanul. Choose a rich and exciting region... then don't deal with it. Be a great RPer... but don't expect any story continuity. These are at odds with one another.

I'm hearing a bit of burnout from some of the locals. This may be nothing. Or, it could be something. I know they all want more story. I know they would like more quality. There are a lot of mods and, to them, too many of insufficient quality. By quality, it is primarily around the story. There is a little about challenge level, but I think they would all be pretty fine with cakewalking if the story were strong and logical.

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With the tight level bands and the way releases bounce around these bands, I will be curious to see how LFR handles continuity between modules released later which will necessarily be played before modules released earlier.

By which I mean that the obvious tendency would be to have a region's Year 2 adventure exist later in time than the region's Year 1 adventures, but if the former is H1 and the latter H2, that's continuity on the player-level but actively harmful to continuity on the character level.

For example, if you introduce an NPC in a L4-7 adventure with the explanation that he's new to the region (e.g., DRAG1-2), that interaction isn't going to make much sense if players have been interacting with him on a regular basis in L1-4 adventures.  (Conversely, if there aren't reocurring NPCs, where's the regional cohesion?)

I am dubious that authors can both (a) develop a regional flavor to create a sense of continuity when playing multiple modules in the same region, and (b) have every single L4-7 adventure make sense if played after every single L1-4 adventure from that region, even though some L4-7 adventures will have come out months or years before the most recent L1-4 adventure.

Absent that, the idea that "Hey, you don't have to hop from region to region; new PCs can focus on one region for large chunks of time" is a red herring.
With the number of regions, is it possible to still give any one region much meaning and still have modules for that region at all ranges? Most regions don't have enough mods to get a new character to level 2. They'll come back in for another mod or two at the H2 level and then later at H3. It's like visiting family for Christmas.

What would it be like if a region simply decided to write all of it's mods for a single level range?
In LG, it felt like the majority of play was in a region. Later, it also included a meta-region, which worked well since LG had grown to have solid reasons for caring about one's neighbors.



And yet, the majority of play wasn't in region - 8 regionals, (later) 8 meta-regionals, 20 cores per year. This suggests that just a small structural change in structure could change people's impressions of LFR substantially.

Drezden, among others, suggests we reward PCs for playing in-region. If we can do that, then all other modules for that PC are effectively "core", and we have something reminiscent of LG. I don't think this is actually workable at the moment, given how few modules each region produces per year (now spread over 5 level bands), but I think it's the right direction for our thinking.

Which is probably why LFR player & play numbers are much higher than LG.

Keith



The LG data for play would be an incomplete data set compared to the LFR data set since LG was not tracked as well as LFR is.

I just know that LFR is all but dead locally and the areas that I traveled to to play before dont offer the conventions they used to and the couple that do exist dont draw the numbers they did previously.

David
The LG data for play would be an incomplete data set compared to the LFR data set since LG was not tracked as well as LFR is.



I'm not at all sure that I agree with that statement.

For most of the run of LG, you had Player Rewards, which meant that most players had a vested interest in getting the table reported (so they could accumulate points).

In LFR, particularly now that we (a) only have GM Rewards, and (b) no longer have the online character tracker, there's even less incentive to report tables than LG had.
"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"
That means more of an approach like Elturgard (or ether threat, or Rary, or Sheldomar common foe, or ... insert more LG parallels)



I think people forget that quite a few LG story arcs took several years to finish. LONGER than LFR story arcs. I'm just saying.

Regions seem to be, first and foremost, about an organizational scheme for the three admins.


True. Regions are there to facilitate the administration. It is easier to admin a region. The problem is that with 4 or 5 adventures a year, a regional arc takes time to build. Cross regional works better but is not always an option.
A possibility is to make story arcs in one region in ione quarter (with one WD in charge),a nd another regoon the next quarter (with another WD in charge). That does need some coordinating though, and I don't know if it would be too taxing for the main WD. Realizing (say) 3 adventurs in one quarter is a LOT of work.

In any case, I think for story consistency we need to cooperate. I feel it is evry hard to set up a continuing story on your own.

Gomez
With the tight level bands and the way releases bounce around these bands, I will be curious to see how LFR handles continuity between modules released later which will necessarily be played before modules released earlier.



I try to keep that in mind, i.e. by refering NPCs in a neutral way or by using follow-up events only in hiher tiers, but does not always work.
I.e. playing DALE1-4 after DALE2-1 is going to be really awkward.

Gomez
That means more of an approach like Elturgard (or ether threat, or Rary, or Sheldomar common foe, or ... insert more LG parallels)



I think people forget that quite a few LG story arcs took several years to finish. LONGER than LFR story arcs. I'm just saying.

Regions seem to be, first and foremost, about an organizational scheme for the three admins.


True. Regions are there to facilitate the administration. It is easier to admin a region. The problem is that with 4 or 5 adventures a year, a regional arc takes time to build. Cross regional works better but is not always an option.
A possibility is to make story arcs in one region in ione quarter (with one WD in charge),a nd another regoon the next quarter (with another WD in charge). That does need some coordinating though, and I don't know if it would be too taxing for the main WD. Realizing (say) 3 adventurs in one quarter is a LOT of work.

In any case, I think for story consistency we need to cooperate. I feel it is evry hard to set up a continuing story on your own.

Gomez



I have tables from Gencon and DDXP that were never reported.  So I do agree with that statement.

Plus we dont know what they are counting as higher interest etc.  Is it tables reported or modules ordered.  There will be a HUGE difference in those numbers.


Drezden, among others, suggests we reward PCs for playing in-region. If we can do that, then all other modules for that PC are effectively "core", and we have something reminiscent of LG. I don't think this is actually workable at the moment, given how few modules each region produces per year (now spread over 5 level bands), but I think it's the right direction for our thinking.



I thought there was supposed to be more done with "Regional PCs" than what has been done so far. Seriously, I've run maybe 8-9 mods, and maybe ONE of them(I have seen, anyway) have written *anything* about regional PCs in the party. Undecided

What if one of the regional benefits was being friends with/knowing of a smattering of prominent NPCs from the region? Perhaps even getting to pick one as your general sponsor/best friend/etc...

Just use the major repeating NPCs already in mods from the region, include them in future mods, etc...

This does a few things:
Gives a minor mechanical benefit, but nothing that will really change anything.
Encourage players to research their region to figure out which NPC really fits their background.
Gives a fast hook to PCs from the region to get into almost any mod. Why are you visiting Dragoncoast? Because PC X wanted to visit his best friend and it was on the way from wherever you were. And hey, he needs you to solve a problem that came up.

Another option might be to include an extra story award option that overrides one of the possible options available to other PCs. So while a quest might involve working for the Flaming Fist for anyone from outside of Baldur's Gate, for people from Baldur's Gate, they might get the identical award, except that they're assigned to work for a particular captain on a 'special assignment'(and the DM tells them to write it onto the printout, so no need for printing out lots of extra, perhaps unused pages)

If that captain then comes up in another mod...
For me, LG wasn't about PC benefits. The appeal was story, a sense of belonging, a sense of contributing, and a sense of things happening of which you wanted to be a part.

I don't want more power for my PC. I do want some connection to regions. Some of it is there. Waterdeep has painted a good picture of the city, but I don't have a wattering whole or too many strong NPC contacts that I feel attached to (the guilds are employers, but I'm not close to them). Tymanther has perhaps the best, with a smallish town I can grasp, some NPCs I recall, and consistent setting.

Ideally, adventures would make me care about the region. DALE1-6 and CORM1-6 are examples, with both getting my PC involved in the region and caring about it. I only wish that had happened earlier.

I think it works like this:
  • You need something like a home base or port of call, with an organization you care about.

  • You want NPCs that are interesting, powerful, and appealing. You look up to the king or queen. You envy the grand wizard. You are curious about the leaders of the knights. You recognize the power of the large church. You want to work your way up, gaining prestige, acceptance, notoriety, and true tradable influence.

  • You want the adventures to place some responsibiity in your hands for how those organizations fare. Ideally, you are responsible for NPCs that you can become attached to as their fate is determined.

  • You want, over time, to learn more about the place. Secrets appear, are uncovered, yielding more secrets.


Now, that needs to be balanced with the goal of LFR.
  • The extent to which NPCs and story matter should be mitigated, so you don't create the old boy's club. The biggest thing is to not assume that players know what has come before. The easiest way is to remove any assumption regarding retired adventures.

  • In addition, keep the story focused on the now, vs. the past. Feed off of the past, but keep on the present. The king remaried. Rather than rehash that, just make mention of it, and focus on the next thing that happens with the new queen. Keep the setting rich but the action on the current story arc.

  • Make prior involvment matter from a story perspective, not a mechanical or adventure success one. Because you know the NPC, you have more fun and depth out of the play experience, but you don't auto-succeed (nor auto-fail for not knowing the NPC).

  • Bring new parts of the story at low levels, rather than the traditional method of adding more to high levels. Low level play should be interesting. The recent SPEC2-1 H1 having one of the coolest story aspects is an example of what I am talking about.


Ok, must stop. Just throwing some ideas out there.

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Plus we dont know what they are counting as higher interest etc.  Is it tables reported or modules ordered.  There will be a HUGE difference in those numbers.


It's hearsay, but from the quotes I've overheard, I'd expect that it's reported play.

And considering that (as others have pointed out, above) GenCon08 and DDXP09 never made it into the system (though I'm sure Dave presented play numbers, so they're not *total* voids) the increases that WotC is so happy about must be standing out quite well.
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Dave said he had a 21% increase in DDXP10 over DDXP09, which is good.  Consider that is mostly LFR; the delve and miniatures play was pretty minor relatively.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
We have a con coming up over the Presidents Day weekend here in Los Angeles, so I will do a headcount and report it back to this thread on Tuesday. I will post headcounts from every con we run (and I attend) from now on here or in the form of a blog on my community wizards page. I actually have older data as well-maybe I will dig it up.

From past reported conventions (this is firsthand knowledge) in this metro area the LFR numbers are higher than LG of 2008 but lower than LG of 2006.  Our Game store play however is much much higher. I would have to estimate yearly numbers, but I would say before we had 5-15 tables per month with LG, and now game store play for our metro area (Los Angeles is a huge metro area) is at 20-30 tables, thats the low estimate.


I would spitball DDxP 2010 at 25-30 tables per slot.

I would spitball our local cons:
Fri -8 tables per slot x2
Sat-12 tables per slot x3
Sun -9 tables per slot x3
Mon - 6 tables per slot x2

Our local con hasn't experienced growth since LFR only play, it has however, become much easier to staff. We do refer people to FLGS play as well, so it could be most people are deciding they can get  games for a much lower price and closer to their house at the FLGS then at the con.


Actually, I think it was higher then 25-30 per slot. The battle interactive consisted of 28 and 25 tables respectively. At the time there were at least a dozen other tables going on, likely more. 40-50 sounds more likely.

Regardless, I don't think there is anybody who denies the fact that LFR does not carter very much to the medium sized conventions and those have seen a large drop in play numbers compared to LG. Due to its regional structure, medium sized conventions were a good opportunit for people outside the region to travel and play in other regions. Similarly, due to the existence of BIs that were just available at those conventions, there was a big draw to visit medium sized conventions. LFR on the other hand is much more friendly to home games, gameshop games and big conventions (especially general gaming conventions). The increase in LFR compared to LG is not seen in an increase in convention gamers. The ADCPs are an attempt to give convention content, but it has to be balanced with energy put in its development (spending weeks designing a BI that is only played once is a waste of resources) and keeping it fair for all conventions regardless of size or location does place limitations on what we can and want to do in that regards.
We've seen similar results to what mind_flayer_monk is describing. At the convention in New England I run we'd seen drops in RPGA play from 2006 onward, with our biggest dip last year. This was the first year that we've seen growth (year-to-year) in our total number of tables played but we're still far below the 2005-6 numbers. In terms of local FLGS play, though, we've gone from no tables to between 10-16 tables a month.
Interesting to note that DDXP had little delve activity but GenCon and especially Pax 2009 had huge delve play. DDXP seems to be all about LFR players, the others a wider audience.

From past reported conventions (this is firsthand knowledge) in this metro area the LFR numbers are higher than LG of 2008 but lower than LG of 2006.  Our Game store play however is much much higher. I would have to estimate yearly numbers, but I would say before we had 5-15 tables per month with LG, and now game store play for our metro area (Los Angeles is a huge metro area) is at 20-30 tables, thats the low estimate.


From what I understand, our local (Portland, OR) conventions have held steady as compared to late LG play, but below mid-LG play, just as you describe.

Our game store play is ridiculously high. I thought Virginia LG store play was incredible, but the store play around here is nuts. We have three stores that run periodic play. One basically does a monthly game and the special events, largely because they are already full of game nights for other systems (Magic, wargames, etc.). They are adding the weekly D&D Encounters. A second store has a weekly 2-sot Friday game, and has in the past run more (recent organizer change). A third store is deep into the insane category, running about 10 slots per week (they have so much interest they run different tiers of play on each day, so everyone can just live at the store and advance every PC they have on different nights...).

Overall, area play is as high as I have ever heard of it being, and higher than I saw it at the end of LG. Any loss in con play (which is minor) is easily made up through the weekly play. There are people that are basically playing a con's worth of gaming every week at stores!

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MOVED FROM ORIGIONAL THREAD: This is a response to some folks saying its the responsiblity of the player to find the story in LFR.

What is LFR's responsibility to story? None? I think some of the attitudes about player responsibility for the "story" are short sighted.

If part of the enjoyment of the game is not just playing 4e, the rules, that just happens to be set in the Forgotten Realms, rather it is participating in a story and feeling a connection to a location within the Realms, then what is the campaign doing to make this experience possible?

The MINI campaign is a good start. It is really the only adventure series I can point to where a new player can jump in and have a sense of going through an arc.

Otherwise, it takes extraordinary effort on the part of the player to manage leveling while mapping their play to certain mods. Unless they are playing in a steady home game you are going to have some difficulty finding all the adventures you want to play because you the player don't have that much influence on what the organizers are running.

If you are offloading that responsibility of story to the players and only providing minimal sign-posts on how follow a story arc in LFR you are throwing up a huge barrier to enjoyment. I think this is a mistake.

Instead of saying hey, this is not my problem. Take a look at what folks are saying and start looking for ways to say yes. You know, the way a DM is supposed to do. I am not saying you have to bow to what everyone is asking for here, but if you can't find a way to balance the needs of players need for connection to the story and the ginormous size of the campaign you are making LFR less than it could be.

My two coppers,

Bryan Blumklotz
AKA Saracenus
WPN Organizer in Portland, OR
One of the FLGS in the Los Angeles area that I regularly attend and DM has so much attendance that it has reached the level of a small convention. One day a month, 3 Slots with an average of 30 tables spread out between the three. This is counting for LFR, 3.5/3.0, a 4E KotSF game, older edition play but does not include the zeroes and one-offs that happen 3-4 times a week throughout the month.

And there is demand for more.


But on topic, I would like to see more consistant storylines with regional adventures. BALD, WATE, DALE, AGLA and CORM have the most consistancy when it comes to storylines (WATE 1-3, 4 and 6; AGLA 1-3 and 6; CORM1-1 to 1-3, for example). DRAG has improved with the White Petal arc. East Rift, and I am embarrassed saying this because I'm in that region, has the most horrible low level adventures. And the swag, or lack there of, sucks.


But on topic, I would like to see more consistant storylines with regional adventures. BALD, WATE, DALE, AGLA and CORM have the most consistancy when it comes to storylines (WATE 1-3, 4 and 6; AGLA 1-3 and 6; CORM1-1 to 1-3, for example). DRAG has improved with the White Petal arc. East Rift, and I am embarrassed saying this because I'm in that region, has the most horrible low level adventures. And the swag, or lack there of, sucks.


The Dragon Coast has improved? Sheesh, every single adventure we have and will release is part of a tight story arc! They're even consecutive releases, which addresses some general concerns about delays between installments of an arc. It's the one thing I thought we'd never be called out on...  Frown

DRAG1-1, 1-2 & 1-3:                Light, Gray and Dark
DRAG1-4, 1-5, & 1-6:               White Petal
DRAG1-7/DALE1-7:                  Arts & Crafts
DRAG2-1/CORM2-2/DALE2-2:  Pain & Suffering
DRAG2-2, 2-3 & 2-4:               Treacherous Waters

I get the sense you looked up a website and recited a list of regions with major quests as if that equalled consistent story. Yet you've left off regions with great story integration imho.

LFR may not yet match the regional flavour of LG but that will come as the campaign matures. People seem to forget that was a criticism of the first two years of LG as well. Also, many naysayers weren't around for those times and thus compare LFR with a campaign that had 6,7 or 8 years to grow into itself. That just isn't realistic or fair, ymmv.

Joe Fitzgerald
Event Manager
Dragon Coast
Joe Fitzgerald | joerpga[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au LFR Global Administrator
(this may be a bit disjointed because I have a lot of thoughts, but trouble forming it into a cohesive whole. Figure that is what threads like these are for though, spew ideas)

Regions... to be very honest I don't really care about them. Stories? Those would be great.
Well, ok to add some nuance; i do care about regions, but as an administration structure I think they may actually be in the way of stories. 

I would much rather see multi-adventure (2-4, not dozens) story arcs within a fitting scope. To me that would translate to regional stories at heroic, meta-regional (to borrow a term) stories for paragon, and the world enders at epic. 

Stories need to be pre-planned and pre-announced as to level bands. Giving players the possibility to play the story. If possible release whole stories across multiple adventures at the same time. 

Administration could be re-organized to keep story arcs with one admin (as happens with the MINI now i think). This would ensure the adventures fit together and keep the stories from jumping in feel/focus from part to part.

Presenting the players with stories like this would allow them to pick a path. Develop their regional interests at the low tier, flesh out the experiences of their characters, grow to leans more of the bigger picture.

Not every story needs to be world encompassing or otherwise huge in scope. Why would 4-5 adventures not be enough to flesh out a story arc?

There is room for things happening off-stage that don't need to be IN the adventures. Community tools could play a role in this, where the broad picture unfolds on a site while the adventures are marked chapters. Essentially putting player involvement at key points.

I do realize this would be a significant change and likely take a lot of effort. But I am fairly sure there are a lot of people willing to invest in it.
 
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
MOVED FROM ORIGIONAL THREAD: This is a response to some folks saying its the responsiblity of the player to find the story in LFR.


You misquote me. I never wanted to imply that it is the SOLE responsibility of players to do so, I said it is just as much the responsibility of the players as the administrators.

The fact is that many of the adventures are already tightly related storywise, but that apparently many players miss it. Hibiki for example forgets that DRAG adventures are all actually part of storylines, and that if you take a close look at IMPI you would note that they also seem to be telling a single story even though the story is more about the region and not the players. Players are complaining that they do not know what is going after playing hundreds of adventures, sometimes one specific adventure dozens of times and doing so in random order. Now, I admit that it is difficult to plan if you just play at game stores and conventions, but what do you think would have happened if you played ALL regional adventures in LG  in random order with random characters or when you run MINI in random order? ;) There is story. It needs work and planning from the players and help from the DM, and it is mostly only possible in home games and game clubs. It is to that fact that I refer when I say that the player have a bit of their own responsibility. Although I admit that we as administrators can make it somewhat easier for the DM by being clearer about the connections (although that poses the risk of spoilers for future adventures).

Personally, I really think that a problem with tight storylines lie more in two facts:
(1) The lack of a large regional community where everybody knows what everybody else did. The regional conventions in LG were great in that regards. If you never or rarely visited those regional conventions though you missed 80% of the LG story. In this regards replay actually hurts the story, even though it helps the community in other ways. Playing the same adventure with dozens of people at the same time are a great recipe for swapping war stories and generating a much bigger sense of community. It also forced people to plan more - they simple could not play adventures randomly.
(2) The tighter level bands in LFR, making it harder to plan storylines and forcing people to play several ones at a time and/or the number of adventures per region/core.

As for Imaginaryfriend's remark about instead of having a regional administration, making it a story one, there is one downside to that. Now we have much less chance of contradicting one another in different stories since the same people are involved with the same adventures. The workload for globals and administrators becomes higher because now we have to review all adventures instead of focussing on a select number and even then our memory is limited and the chance for errors is bigger. Not sure it is an unsurmountable problem, but it is something to keep in mind.

As for Imaginaryfriend's remark about instead of having a regional administration, making it a story one, there is one downside to that. Now we have much less chance of contradicting one another in different stories since the same people are involved with the same adventures. The workload for globals and administrators becomes higher because now we have to review all adventures instead of focussing on a select number and even then our memory is limited and the chance for errors is bigger. Not sure it is an unsurmountable problem, but it is something to keep in mind.



As stated it is a non consolidated set of thoughts, not a guideline
Contradiction like you refer to is a problem, but as I said, it is not about global scope in all the stories. As long as you do not cross scope boundaries too often between admins it should be manageable. (And I apologize. I just read that back and that last line could have gone right into a management briefing. Urghs, again sorry )
I don't quite see why you would not need to review all adventures.

Yes, you would need to keep track of what happens at least at the non totally regional level. I don't know, maybe build like a an ongoing ehm,  Grand History of the Realms?  
Seriously, I do understand there would need to be tracking and checking and keeping things updated, but then that is something I think people could and would gladly help with. 




To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
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