starting LFR PCs at higher level

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In this thread you will find some debate about the rumor that CCG 2.0 will allow players to create characters for LFR play at any level. The thread itself seems to have devolved into tangentous debates, which in itself is fine, but I am left with some questions and things I really wonder about. So starting a new thread to see if I can get people to help me find answers and/or understand the various views.

The possibility that players might create such higher level starting characters drew a lot of negative and some positive reactions. The posts provided some insight into peoples thoughts, but left me unsure of the negative impact and with some related questions:

If you play with a group of random gamers at a convention, do you remember their characters from the past? How often do your recall if a character has played in previous adventures with yours? How much do you recall?
I personally play in a fairly small community and even there I cant manage to recall all the people I have shared adventures with. I can still manage quite a few, but even then recalling which of their PCs was involved is far from guaranteed. Remembering IC becomes even trickier. I find that often the IC memories dont come up at all because nobody is entirely sure of what happened.

If you havent played with them before, can you somehow tell if their war stories are made up or if they truly happened? And does it really matter?
I cant tell, and honestly, if the story is good and it works out to a fun table, I dont much care.

Based on the above I have difficulty seeing why allowing PCs to start at higher level would make a big difference in random play situations. There is not all that much cohesion as is. When you sit down you go around the table to find out who plays what and go from there, how the PCs got to where they are rarely seems to matter.

If you play with a group of close friends that like the same play-style, how often do you think they would change to completely new PCs? Do you expect they will still rebuild/change their character even if they like it and the shared story?
There are people I play with regularly. My PCs know their PCs and have shared enough adventures to have IC expectations in place. I would be very very surprised if all of sudden people started to bring in new or radically different PCs just because the rules say they can.

Would you want them to keep playing a PC even though they really hate it because that is the only way they can keep gaming with your group? Would you replace a person in your group if their PC fell behind and can no longer play at the same tier as the rest? Do you think people don't already speed level (or hold back) their PCs to play with certain people?
As I said, I would be surprised at major changes, but I would expect minor ones and I do not see any problems with those. I honestly think that on that small scale it is already happening.

Would letting people start PC's at higher levels truly mean a big increase in the number of people that don't know how to play their chars?
We already have people like that now. They may have worked their way through the levels, but they still don't know to play their PCs. We also have people that are natural munchk..err optimizers. I think they would know how to play their PCs at a high tactical level regardless of playing through the levels.

All in all I do not see the problem with letting people start at higher levels. If I and my friends want to play as a cohesive group with shared experiences, we still can. We just gain some options to deal with possible problems. If other people want to play a different PC every adventure regardless of the tier, they can too. Would that really bother people? Is it a case where they have done less to get there? Is what other people do really all that important?

I am really curious how other people feel about all this. Some people in the previous thread on this subject have already given me a lot to think about, but I am looking for more insight. There may be concerns I am currently blind to and enlightenment never hurts.
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;

I actually do try and keep track of who I've played with, with some success. I have a notebook. Color me a geek.


For me it's a satisfaction issue. Reaching goals gives me definite pleasure. But if I know that the goal is self-imposed -- if I'm taking a trivial task and making it more difficult -- I lose interest really quickly. Once I dip into cheat guides, I usually get bored with video games, because I've removed all the challenge and it's not difficult any more.


Leveling up an LFR PC creates very obvious goals. That's not the only thing I find enjoyable about LFR, but it's one of them. If there was no time investment, I'd find it less interesting and I'd lose one of my sources of pleasure with the campaign.

If you play with a group of random gamers at a convention, do you remember their characters from the past? How often do your recall if a character has played in previous adventures with yours? How much do you recall?


At a big convention, I don't remember.  At local events (say gamedays with 6 concurrent tables worth of players), I generally do (especially since I built a significant fraction of the new players' characters myself via pregens).  This isn't a factor that concerns me, though.


If you havent played with them before, can you somehow tell if their war stories are made up or if they truly happened? And does it really matter?


Probably not.  However, at this time I can assume that they aren't made up.  With the other rules, I might assume they are made up.  This isn't a factor that concerns me though.


If you play with a group of close friends that like the same play-style, how often do you think they would change to completely new PCs? Do you expect they will still rebuild/change their character even if they like it and the shared story?


I have some friends that would indeed change out PCs every couple of weeks.  This isn't a factor that concerns me though.


Would you want them to keep playing a PC even though they really hate it because that is the only way they can keep gaming with your group? Would you replace a person in your group if their PC fell behind and can no longer play at the same tier as the rest? Do you think people don't already speed level (or hold back) their PCs to play with certain people?


Liberal retraining rules help with a lot of this.  As do replaying rules.  We wouldn't lose a person who fell behind, we'd make new characters and help them catch up (as we've done time and time again already).  This isn't a factor that concerns me though.


Would letting people start PC's at higher levels truly mean a big increase in the number of people that don't know how to play their chars?


Yes.  I know many people who can't play their characters that well already, even by level 7-8, with actual experience.  I've played some pre-gen Classic-style games with these people, and it is more or less hopeless.  The trouble is that the people who have the skills/knowledge/experience to play any PC they are handed without prep (such as me, he said modestly) are the people least likely to actually be doing so because they already have the PCs they want.  This is the first one on the list that is a factor to me, but it isn't the major factor.



The real factor for me is the sense of accomplishment that comes with levelling up a character.  Yeah, it's just a game of make-pretend, but it is no less serious than any other hobby.  Call it sour grapes, or whatever term you want to apply to it, but I'm proud of my PCs and would feel cheated if someone sat down next to me and said "Oh, you have a level 13 barbarian?  Me too!  I just whipped him together this morning.  Say, how does 'raging' in 4E work again?"
I think much of this comes down to driving product sales, in particular D&D Insider sales.

If your starting at first level and working your way up, thats a considerable amount of content you can't use-and if you don't play consistently may never use. If your able to make a paragon tier character from day 1 the amount of Insider content you can use becomes significant and a purchase of insider (or move to a full year subscription) becomes much more attractive.

Now that Insider has been going for more than a year-without adding many more features-it needs a way to drive more players to it. This seems like a solid way to accomplish that by increasing its potential customer base.

The existing player base will either suck it up and keep playing or they will bring some of their friends into the campaign (at the same level their current characters are at).  If you have one person from a home game that plays some LFR, he/she can invite one or two of the people at the home game to play with them for a few games at a higher level where its more fun for many. 

There are a few problems with this rule-one problem I could see is the guy that plops down at the table with only level 4, 8, 10, 14 etc characters that is a "scene stealer" and ruins the fun for everyone else. 

The decision to allow any level PC at character creation may have already been made though. 

The existing player base will either suck it up and keep playing or they will bring some of their friends into the campaign (at the same level their current characters are at).  If you have one person from a home game that plays some LFR, he/she can invite one or two of the people at the home game to play with them for a few games at a higher level where its more fun for many. 


Or they'll quit playing, or they'll give it a try and slowly stop playing over time. If a significant portion of the player base does either of those two things, then either the influx of new players will make up for it, or it won't. I'm not sure we really know.

Or they'll quit playing, or they'll give it a try and slowly stop playing over time. If a significant portion of the player base does either of those two things, then either the influx of new players will make up for it, or it won't. I'm not sure we really know.




Fair enough, but people quit playing LG all the time-both DMs and players-and the campaign rolled forward. Most people are going to stick around and suck it up because they want to play with their friends or continue to support their game store etc.

They have been slowly eliminating lots of stuff-such as the player rewards (remember 8 pts for playing XE at Gencon?) and most people are sticking around. DM rewards? getting eliminated-I have a Dark Sun box next to my 12!! white owlbears. Con support looks like its on the way out as well-people keep sticking around. Campaign staff? Yeah, attrition really shows there, and we may lose a few more over the next 6 months.

Or they'll quit playing, or they'll give it a try and slowly stop playing over time. If a significant portion of the player base does either of those two things, then either the influx of new players will make up for it, or it won't. I'm not sure we really know.




Fair enough, but people quit playing LG all the time-both DMs and players-and the campaign rolled forward. Most people are going to stick around and suck it up because they want to play with their friends or continue to support their game store etc.



The change apparently under consideration is significantly more dramatic than any that were under consideration in LG. Retraining, item replacement, item purchase, character tracking, etc are all changes that play at the periphery of the campaign. It is doing the same thing, but somewhat differently. Allowing the creation of any PC at any level (presumably with appropriate equipment) is a fundamental change in the campaign. At that point, while you could theoretically continue to treat it as an ongoing campaign, it isn't one anymore.

People quit playing LFR all the time too. The question is not whether people would quit given the elimination of the living campaign aspect of LFR, but rather whether enough people who would not otherwise have quit would quit or scale back their involvement to reduce the viability of the game. The assumption that we are a captive audience is both insulting, possibly incorrect, and is likely to lead to worse decisions than would be made without the assumption.

There are other ways that players could continue to play with their friends and support their local gamestore that do not involve LFR. A "home" game in the gamestore playing with WotC's non-LFR published adventures or Goodman Games adventures would accomplish both of those goals. For players who are not attached to the 4th edition system, there is also pathfinder society which at least in my area is already chipping away at LFR. (Now, by comparison, you could say that Living Arcanis was available as an alternative to LG back in the day but never stole LG's lunch in any of the big changes. That is true, but I think there are a number of important differences between the situations: First, whatever did change in LG, it remained a living campaign to the very end. The change apparently under consideration for LFR is more fundamental than any of the LG changes. Second, for all that it had going for it, Living Arcanis had some barriers to entry that Pathfinder Society does not have. First, it was much more heavily plotted than LG was and it was easy to be overwhelmed when you first played and to lose track of the plot if you played infrequently. (That does not appear to be the case in Pathfinder Society). Second, it was more distinct in its vision--Arcanis is less generic and less mass-market than Greyhawk was. (Again, I can't see much difference between Golarion and FR in this sense). Third, it introduced a vast number of new rules to the game system. While pathfinder society is not the same system as LFR, it does stay primarily within the core of the pathfinder system which will be familiar to many gamers--perhaps more familiar than 4e is if their experience with previous editions dominates their expectations. Finally, while I rather liked many of Paradigm concepts innovations and rules for Arcanis, their sense of balance was highly questionable and I fully expected half of the rules in any supplement to be unusuably bad and another 5-10% to be unbelievably broken. Paizo has done a better job than that with Pathfinder. In short, I think that LFR has more credible competition from Pathfinder Society than LG had from Living Arcanis, so it is not true that there is nowhere else to go.

For that matter, there is non-tabletop competition too. If organized tabletop play becomes unsatisfying, it would be trivially easy to spend the time I currently spend on LFR playing WoW, Eve, or any of the other MMORPGs.

Finally, the assumption that new players will magically appear to replace an exodus of old players is just that: an assumption. The D&D minis community lost a lot of players when they switched from 1.0 rules to 2.0 rules and the community crumbled in about a year. The game still survives as a community organized game, but when the core of commited players left there wasn't enough of a remaining community to attract new players. What was once a vibrant SF Bay area minis community disappeared almost entirely and that experience was apparently typical enough that WotC discontinued official support for the game. It is quite possible that a sudden mass exodus from the game could weaken local gaming communities to the point where even if after the changes it would really otherwise be more attractive to new players, those LFR communities no longer have the resources to attract or retain new members.

WotC would be hard pressed to do itself more of a disservice than to say, "who cares about our existing customers, they'll just suck it up and keep playing no matter what we do." History is littered with the corpses of companies who thought that way. The american auto industry, for instance, still hasn't recovered from coming to that conclusion around the 70s and even if any parts of it other than Ford survive, they will probably never recover their dominant position.
You make a good point. WotC does need to keep in mind what will keep and grow it's playerbase. The question is - does that mean it should pander to the few who started playing from the beginning, or should it facilitate ways that more people can sit down and play?

New players are getting increasingly shut out of the picture. Even if you can get into some level 1-4 mods, what happens when your character hits level 5 and the slots look like this?

Slot 1                                         
Lvl 1-4
Lvl 11-14

Slot 2
Lvl 1-4
Lvl 14-17

The organizer is trying to accommodate new players, but our hero in this situation has to suck it up and DM or make a new lvl 1-4 character. Or, more likely, find something else to go do.

People quit playing LFR all the time too. The question is not whether people would quit given the elimination of the living campaign aspect of LFR, but rather whether enough people who would not otherwise have quit would quit or scale back their involvement to reduce the viability of the game. The assumption that we are a captive audience is both insulting, possibly incorrect, and is likely to lead to worse decisions than would be made without the assumption.




Well the fact is that someone feels attracting new customers is more valuable than losing old customers. If you can keep them both, great. If you have to choose one, you take the new customer.
Your opinions are valid and certainly those situations have happened in the past, but there is probably some very nice person from Hasbro with an MBA in Marketing that feels differently than you do. They might be applying some ideas that worked for another Hasbro brand that may or may not work for D&D. There might have been a meeting to come up with ideas of how the RPGA can improve some aspect of revenue-and this was both the easiest to implement and the most reasonable.

Whether this is a good business decision or not we don't know. It looks like the RPGA will find out through direct experience.

Also, if it doesn't work out, can't you just change it back? You would probably lose a little, but it seems like the risk is worth the reward.

Whether this is a good business decision or not we don't know. It looks like the RPGA will find out through direct experience.


Idle note:


The D&D Encounters program makes a big deal about the fact that your Undermountain season characters can be ported into LFR once the season is done. If CCG 2.0 allows character creation at any level, that's not at all significant.


This is pretty much reading tea leaves and making crap up, but so is the assumption that it's a done deal.

If you play with a group of random gamers at a convention, do you remember their characters from the past? How often do your realize IC whether or not that character has played in previous adventures? Can you remember if their war stories are made up or if they truly happened? 

If you play with a group of close friends that like the same play-style, how often do you think they would change to completely new PCs? Would you want them to keep playing a PC even though they really hate it because that is the only way they can keep gaming with your group? Do you expect they will still rebuild/change their character even if they like it and the shared story?

Would letting people start PC's at higher levels truly mean a big increase in the number of people that don't know how to play their chars? If so, why? And why do we have people like that now, while they work their way through the levels? Do you think people don't already speed level (or hold back) their PCs to play with certain people?



It depends on the campaign in question.

In L5R (Heroes of Rokugan), you create a single PC and you play that PC. You find a person or two that create more than one PC (usually because they are that kind of person or because they haven't really liked their "primary"). You also see some people start to make a few PCs around their second or third year of play because they can no longer play rank 1 adventures. But, primarily, the experience is all about playing out the story for one PC.

Spycraft is the same way. You really just have one PC. The rules for creating secondary PCs are there just to help make tables for new players. DMs get XP they can apply, but it is really just to encourage play. Play numbers are/were low enough that there really couldn't be many issues from the rule. (If that were not the case there would have been huge issues).

In LG, for many/most, the experience of LG was in traversing the storyline (especially regional, unless you had a really poor region) with one PC. As time passed you accumulated more PCs, but your primary was THE primary. Later, as the primary outgrew the lower adventures, you might see that second PC develop enough identity to really start claiming another region (if you traveled) or a core arc, or even (especially in years 5 and beyond) an arc from the region of your primary PC.

In LFR, the initial offerings were very strange. On one hand, you had these very low story/setting initial adventures scattered all over the realms. On the other, it was the default campaign and we are all ready to play our one PC. Then you realize how quickly you level... you level out of a band before the next one is released... and there are so many low-level adventures plus the ability to replay that you end up with tons of PCs. Tons of PCs, low story, no regional identity, low RP...  Now, LFR today is different than at the beginning, but the underpinnings still define and plague player behavior.

In LG I could absolutely tell you what most of the Northern Virginia crowd had played and when. I could tell you stories about the other PCs and what tables they played with. For any premiere mod I could remember which tables failed, which ones blew it away. I still remember some of it, but I certainly remembered it for several years. I recall the all-wizard table at an interactive and which one died. I recall the rogue in mod X that snuck in and did the cool thing. Etc., etc. I recall four stories about Lamont the wizard being disintegrated even though I was only present at two of them. There was a ton of shared memory.

In LFR, because of the structure of 4E and the campaign, most players barely know which PC they are playing with, let alone which mods they have played and with whom. It is a very disposable "in-the-moment" play. You have so little chance to be emotionally connected to the plot of any given adventure. You have no alignment rules really shaping behavior. You have no meta-orgs driving connections. You have very few connections to NPCs, places, regions. You have no notable allegiances. You don't have a guess as to where the story in any given region will go.

With no disrespect meant, Adventuring Companies like team Wootzor are a clear indication of this. They are known for playing hard and being loud, not for anything they do IC. Most AdCos aren't loud, and thus have no reason to be known. (And, really, what could the do IC?) In contrast, the adventuring companies in LG had the capacity to reach near-legendary levels. In Geoff the deeds of PFLOG, Boomkegs, Gryphons Wrath, etc. these were cemented into the campaign. What they did could actually become part of the campaign.

Even in the current LFR environment, very few of the players I play with would change out their PCs in a significant way. At level 1 or 2, probably. But I think most are wanting to play out a PC. You can easily make a new one. Those that want to can do so fairly easily, since the story isn't very PC-centric. There are enough play opportunities in our area that it isn't so hard for them to just start a new PC if the first doesn't work out. Also, because you end up with so many PCs (four being a big number to me), it is sort of expected that you will have some favorite and some not-so favorite PCs. And, the favorite status can shift. A crappy warlock can get an article in Dragon and suddenly be almost a striker and be fun. There are so many rules that it is fairly hard to be on the wrong path - you have to really build poorly.

Similarly, people that DM all the time have to understand the implication that they won't be leveling as often. This is the perfect reason for them to encourage others to DM. But, in the end, if you love DMing you DM. If you don't, you don't. Getting free leveling doesn't really solve the DM equation. It adds some incentive, but it also has many negatives. It is easy for DMs to only DM an adventure they want for their PC. (Sorry, I need item X, so I have to run this adventure on high...) It does result in players knowing their PCs less. Skipping a level isn't horrible, but combined with a large stable of PCs it does lessen how well a PC will be played - especially a complex one.  When I haven't played one of my leaders in a while I play it less effectively, especially if I leveled since last playing... "wait what is that new power I have and what does it do?"

In the end, the rules shape the campaign. LFR is and has been conflicted. It wants to be disposable play so it is completely approachable. It wants to have more plot than even the Elturgard series had. It wants to have rich story and deeply involved and linked adventures, but also tons of regions and lots of different writing directors. It wants to be centralized, decentralized, and player empowered.

To me, D&D Encounters, published modules, Dungeon, and other stuff already provides disposable play where you can bring some PC of level X and just play. I want a living campaign. Many things can make a living campaign. But, what rings true to me is that the best aspects of a living campaign involve a shared story. The story is the central bit that everything else revolves around. That story is best when played with the same PC and in order. It isn't that you can't do it another way but it isn't as much fun.

If we really think DMs need to earn XP, then they should only get XP for low, regardless of tier, and they can only take more gold. They should earn their choice of story awards, but cannot earn any story award that is unique (earned by only one PC at the table). It prevents abuse. Similarly, retraining should be by core rules, and any non-core retraining should be once per calendar year once the PC has become third level.

But, mostly, the flagship RPGA campaign should be all about story that immerses. If that is LFR, it should try to make Elturgard (and better) happen on a regular basis. The number of regions should be shrunk. The writing directors should submit story arcs to a higher admin who works only on story and coordinates links and pacing and it should all ensure that you aren't lost and feeling like a mercenary (unless you want to be one).

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what happens when your character hits level 5 and the slots look like this?

Slot 1                                         
Lvl 1-4
Lvl 11-14

Slot 2
Lvl 1-4
Lvl 14-17




The glib answer is "Make a new level 1".

A serious answer follows.

While I certainly don't have universal experience, I have a hard time imagining a club that can support full gameday tables of P1 and P2 adventures not running more than two other tables.  I know that my club is still waaaaay behind the max level curve (my level 13 is the highest in the club as far as I know), and yet we still pull off 6 tables per slot.  Our lineups look more like this

slot 1 (two tables of each)
Lvl1-4
Lvl 4-7
Lvl 7-10

Slot 2 (two tables of each)
Lvl 1-4
Lvl 4-7
Lvl 11-14


Scheduling takes a higher level of care.  We keep detailed records of adventures played, and we try to keep our fingers on the pulse of the club.  For instance, after we finish the MINI arc, we're going to shift our focus to H2 (while still offering older H1 adventures that are still new to fresh members).  Once this has gone for a while, we'll lower H2, focus more on H3, and ramp up the H1 again a bit (while still offering the occasional P1 and eventually P2).

Frankly, I expect that most of the P1 and P2 play in the area will be in semi-private games indepentent of our gamedays.

The existing player base will either suck it up and keep playing or they will bring some of their friends into the campaign (at the same level their current characters are at).  If you have one person from a home game that plays some LFR, he/she can invite one or two of the people at the home game to play with them for a few games at a higher level where its more fun for many. 


Or they'll quit playing, or they'll give it a try and slowly stop playing over time. If a significant portion of the player base does either of those two things, then either the influx of new players will make up for it, or it won't. I'm not sure we really know.



Two thoughts. One, that it isn't just about the on/off switch of staying or quitting. It is also about the quality of the experience. When you are having a great time, you work hard to make it better, to DM, to recruit others, to man gamedays and cons, etc. When it is lame, you stop contributing. While I really like Spycraft, when there were some changes I didn't like it took the wind out of my sails. Even with the campaign asking me to help, I couldn't motivate myself to contribute.

Second, it is all about how much someone wants something. If you DM for group A but would like to be playing with this or another group, then you have to either convince people in A to DM or recruit a new group B. When I worked in Houston there was one LG group that had played every adventure. So, I recruited a new group. A month later I was playing again. Sure, I had to post far and wide, but I totally found that second group. Anyone can do that outside of really small towns. It does take work. I'm not sure that auto-leveling is worth the cost in other areas. I also think that many of the complaints come from DMs that are not yet seeing that the people they DM will make a second round of PCs. At one area store, for example, there were complaints by the judges that they never got to play. All the play was H1 and they never played. Then some people started to reach H2. But, the casual players had not. Fast forward and now that store runs several games almost every night at different tiers of play and there is a fair amount of sharing of DMing. Everyone wins. Auto-leveling the DM's PC would not have been as good a solution, as fun, driven as much business, etc.

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This is pretty much reading tea leaves and making crap up, but so is the assumption that it's a done deal.




Hah yeah but it is really fun to talk about, and people have some great ideas and points here so it makes for interesting reading. My gut instinct is against it (for similar reasons to E_B), but a few posters have made some good points on how this could help public play in some areas. I didn't see this right away, but after thinking about it I can think of some places where this would help out.

Anyway guessing which way LFR is going to go is more fun to me than guessing the Final Four or an NFL game.
Starting a new PC at higher level suck.

This was perfectly fine for Delve Nights were I can pour all my cheese into the bowl and have fun. They should just make pregens for H1, H2, H3 and P1 if that is the case.
Starting a new PC at higher level suck.

This was perfectly fine for Delve Nights were I can pour all my cheese into the bowl and have fun. They should just make pregens for H1, H2, H3 and P1 if that is the case.



If so, I predict hybrid gnome barbarian|wizards with MC: cleric and wisdom based paragon paths to be par for the course as far as P1 pregens go. I further predict that before anyone can chime in to say, "that's unplayable," there will be a chorus of "I'd totally play that character" posts.
The change apparently under consideration is significantly more dramatic than any that were under consideration in LG.

Let's not overstate this.

One guy has a friend who heard from someone else that maybe there could be a potential change being considered.

I've heard urban legends with better sourcing.
Starting a new PC at higher level suck.

This was perfectly fine for Delve Nights were I can pour all my cheese into the bowl and have fun. They should just make pregens for H1, H2, H3 and P1 if that is the case.



If so, I predict hybrid gnome barbarian|wizards with MC: cleric and wisdom based paragon paths to be par for the course as far as P1 pregens go. I further predict that before anyone can chime in to say, "that's unplayable," there will be a chorus of "I'd totally play that character" posts.

Well...Str/Wis build, using Wizard for autodamage conjurations/zones, very good utilities, and powers that don't need to hit to have an effect, taking Warpriest...You could make a decent defender out of that.

This is pretty much reading tea leaves and making crap up, but so is the assumption that it's a done deal.




Hah yeah but it is really fun to talk about, and people have some great ideas and points here so it makes for interesting reading. My gut instinct is against it (for similar reasons to E_B), but a few posters have made some good points on how this could help public play in some areas. I didn't see this right away, but after thinking about it I can think of some places where this would help out.

Anyway guessing which way LFR is going to go is more fun to me than guessing the Final Four or an NFL game.



Ha! Me too. And I am pretty convinced that something needs to be done about level band problems. I'm just not sure what...
Let's not overstate this.

One guy has a friend who heard from someone else that maybe there could be a potential change being considered.

I've heard urban legends with better sourcing.



This is pretty important to keep in mind.

I'd like to address the concerns about the CCG2.0 and it's tie to DDI sales, if I may.

It is my understanding that the LFR portion of the next CCG is being written by our beloved Globals at this point.  While keeping WotC happy is certainly among their list of goals, I suspect it takes a far back seat to things like - keeping the LFR playerbase happy.

I can't prove it (I'm not a Global) but I suspect that our discussion here in this thread is likely to have more impact on the final decision than a desire to move WotC product/DDI subscriptions.

We're kinda playing in "our own treehouse" now, from all the indications I've received.  WotC is still involved via Tulach, but our Admins run the LFR show now - Chris is now (ideally) just lending support from WotC and advising the Globals when asked - or so the picture stands in my head now. 
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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Well if LFR helps DDI succeed, thats just going to be good for LFR players. We will get more content and more commissioned articles in both magazine, and maybe even some nice feature improvements. Seems like a good (and useful) arrangement. DnD Insider is already a great product. 


Yeah I am just speculating here, and in fun. I have no idea if they are going to allow play at any level or how much they care about DnD Insider sales. I just looked at D&D as a business model and considered the current business climate. These days in the world of finance there is a huge emphasis on a company being able to keep inventories low and also on being able to produce a high profit per employee ratio. DnD Insider seems like a great product to do both.  I've sat through a gazillion meetings on how to keep inventories low and how important it is to the bottom line Laughing

And as a mind flayer, with the ability to suck out brains, management expects you to keep inventories low and reduce the number of employees.
*nods*  

I can't fault the logic - if WotC were run like one big, well-oiled profit making machine.

While I have no doubts there ARE people internal to the company who watch profit margins (or externally from Hasbro) - WotC is a bit more faceted than that.  

Now, it could be that any advice Chris is giving the Global Admins would include "Oh, and try to pimp out ‹product›" but I'm highly skeptical of that.

Then again - I think when (yeah, I'm still in the "when" and not the "if" camp) they finish the Game Table and we have a default online play option accordingly, DDI will be selling itself - especially for RPGA games.  ;) 
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

I think the issues you raise are almost beside the point, as they're purely about how such a change would affect a player-as-passive-consumer.

My general thought is that as long as LFR is based on players volunteering their time so that others can play, with little or no personal reward, the primary point of view that matters is how changes would affect those who DM and organize LFR games.  How they affect someone who just shows up and plays might be interesting, but ultimately not that important.

It might be obvious to say, but there's a strong correlation between the amount of time that someone spends participating in the campaign and the percentage of that time spent in support activities.

It's not a linear relation: someone who participates in 10 modules a year likely spends all of them just playing; someone who participates in 20 modules a year might be DMing for 2 of them; someone who participates in 50 modules a year is likely DMing for at least 10 of them (perhaps 20, if the group is composed of a lot of the first two types).

As another obvious observation, of those who have hundreds of hours a year to spend on a campaign, a meaningful proportion do so because the expenditure of time affords them options and opportunities not available to players who don't.  If you change the system so that someone who doesn't have the ability or inclination to spend hundreds of hours playing in the campaign has the same options and opportunities available to those who do, a certain percentage of the latter group will choose instead some other activity that they feel rewards them sufficiently for spending a lot of time on it.

I am not arguing that someone who spends hundreds of hours gaming deserves to have a higher level character, or a casual player who's just starting does not.  What people deserve rarely matters.  I'm merely noting that if you build a campaign's incentives so that it rewards casual play, you're going to have a lot more casual players than hardcore players, which is a problem if your campaign is based on having hardcore players giving of their time to provide services for casual players.
Couple of things here:

1. How about an "open enrollment" period, where you could make a PC of any level during say the months of May/June/July/August, but the rest of the year you would have to start at level 1? This basically would be to get people playing at cons.

2. How about a soft level bump where players could start a PC of a level at the bottom of every tier-such as 1/4/7/11/15?

 If we are trying to get more people to play WPN-RPGA play, I can see how many would not want to start at level 1. Level 1 is a little boring. Level 1 is better than it has been in the past, but having 1 encounter power and 1 feat is not as fun as being 7th level.
Couple of things here:

1. How about an "open enrollment" period, where you could make a PC of any level during say the months of May/June/July/August, but the rest of the year you would have to start at level 1? This basically would be to get people playing at cons.

2. How about a soft level bump where players could start a PC of a level at the bottom of every tier-such as 1/4/7/11/15?

 If we are trying to get more people to play WPN-RPGA play, I can see how many would not want to start at level 1. Level 1 is a little boring. Level 1 is better than it has been in the past, but having 1 encounter power and 1 feat is not as fun as being 7th level.



Or simply limit the number of characters a person can create at a level higher than 1. 

Allen.

While I haven't quite gotten to paragon yet (should happen this friday), I have heard higher level mods tend to go longer.  Should this ever come to pass and I sit down at a table at a con and wind up only getting through 20% of a mod because new players are still trying to figure out (or get built at the last minute) their high level characters, I will NOT be a happy camper.
While I haven't quite gotten to paragon yet (should happen this friday), I have heard higher level mods tend to go longer.  Should this ever come to pass and I sit down at a table at a con and wind up only getting through 20% of a mod because new players are still trying to figure out (or get built at the last minute) their high level characters, I will NOT be a happy camper.



But you will be ok with only getting through 20% of the mod because a leveled-to-paragon is still figuring out their character? My experience has shown me that leveling is far from a guarantee of skill or speed. 

My guess is that you would be equally upset. So its not about how they got the char at that level, its about their skill. Which is a different ballgame.

Rules wise that would be a slippery slope though, cause why would we we guard against lack of skill in people that don't level while don't in those that grow their chars?

(edited the post to change wording..  every now and then I trip myself up on english sry) 
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;
I think I'd be far more interesting in a way to do accelerated leveling, rather than a way to insta level.

For example, I'm 100% okay with the concept of someone needing to play only one module at each level, rather than 2.5.

I guess I'm also okay with the idea of 'spotting' someone a level or two, temporarily. "Okay, we've almost got a low tier group together for this 7-10... what did you say you have, again? A 6? Okay, you're deputized to 7th as long as these people approve - okay, they do, so pick a 7th level encounter power and go ahead and play.

Or, maybe even more flexibly - "Okay, you can _act_ like one level higher. Your powers, gear, etc stay the same, but you gain a +1 to attacks and defenses and +5 hp. Get playing, go go!"
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
If you play with a group of random gamers at a convention, do you remember their characters from the past? How often do your recall if a character has played in previous adventures with yours? How much do you recall?

I usually don't remember people's characters from conventions.  I actually assumed that no one really did, but I was recently very surprised - some random guy that I thought I had never even met before asked me if I was still playing my Cleric of Ilmater.  He threw some other details about my character at me, so he had clearly played with her before.  I was shocked.  It turns out that I had played one mod with him at a convention over a year ago.  I didn't remember him at all, but he remembered me and my character.  (I guess pretty girls stand out at D&D conventions.  Wink)


If you havent played with them before, can you somehow tell if their war stories are made up or if they truly happened? And does it really matter?

I don't know if I'd be able to tell, but it honestly doesn't matter to me.  It's all make-believe anyway, so why does it matter if it's make-believe based on "fact" or make-believe based on the ideas someone has in their mind?  It's much more important to me how good/interesting the story is or how characteristic of the PC.  We recently had a new guy join our home campaign.  His made up stories were much more vivid and exciting than the "real" stories the rest of us had.  Perhaps he's just a better story-teller, but the stories were fun and entertaining - it didn't matter whether they "actually" happened or not.


If you play with a group of close friends that like the same play-style, how often do you think they would change to completely new PCs? Do you expect they will still rebuild/change their character even if they like it and the shared story?

I play with the same group of people most of the time.  I asked them about this and most of them said that they would probably completely change their PCs only rarely (mostly citing the fact that they're lazy and making a completely new character is a lot of work Tongue out).  With the new retraining rules, I think my group will mostly use them to maybe retrain 2 things a level.  If a new book comes out they might retrain a bunch of things, but would probably keep the same theme/style of their character.  I did that with my Cleric when Divine Power came out.  I kept almost all of the things that made her her the same, but I changed some powers to one that were similar but fit the build better (or were just better).  My friends still know that when they sit down at the table with her she will be able to pass out tons of healing, but exactly how I do that might be a bit different now.  (And I actually have better options now than spending 3 feats on skills...) 

I think the one time people will drastically change their PC is if they don't enjoy playing them anymore for whatever reason.  For example, my first LFR PC was a CON-based Star-pact Warlock.  I created her when the Player's Handbook was the only book out (and made it sound like a CON-based Star Pact was a good build).  When she hit level 11 and I realized I didn't like any of the paragon paths out there, I stopped playing her.  I still don't know what I'm going to do with her now, but being able to retrain her has opened up a lot of doors and I might be able to change her into a character I enjoy playing again.  I still intend to keep some of her core elements the same.  For example, she has earned a reputation/nickname as a "Horse Killer" because she used Dire Radiance in at least 3 or 4 mods to keep the bad guys from escaping on their horses or horse-drawn wagons.  I even wrote Dire Radiance into her backstory as the first power she ever used - it saved her life (from getting trampled by a horse).  I can't possibly bring myself to retrain her so completely that her entire personality/backstory is gone.  (Whatever new build I come up with, she will definitely have Dire Radiance as an at-will power.)


Would you want them to keep playing a PC even though they really hate it because that is the only way they can keep gaming with your group? Would you replace a person in your group if their PC fell behind and can no longer play at the same tier as the rest? Do you think people don't already speed level (or hold back) their PCs to play with certain people?

No, if someone really hated their PC they should be forced to play it just so they *can* play.  I've had to do this quite a few times.  I have one PC that somehow ended up in a black hole of the level bands.  I like playing her, but none of the people I game with have a PC of that level.  (It's especially weird since we have 8-10 characters each.)  All of their PCs leveled out.  Eventually a different group of their PCs caught up with her and I played her for a little while, but then SHE leveled out.  So I played her with the higher level group of PCs until they leveled out again.  Since we all frequently play together, I'm sure she'll continue to be in this weird place where I can't play much with their lower level PCs or their higher level PCs.  So she'll keep going on the shelf, coming back off after a few months, quickly going back on the shelf again...  But at the same time I have another character I don't like very much that I ended up playing a lot just because she was the right level band. 

If a person in our group falls behind, we usually start playing a tier they can play or they DM for the rest of us for a while at that level band.  We have one main DM and the rest of us trade off DMing duties as secondary-DMs.  We also have a local gaming community that plays LFR.  If one person falls behind the rest of the group we might just tell them to go play a bunch of games there to catch up with us.

People definitely already hold back or speed level PCs.  Our group got tired of making new PC after new PC after new PC but we enjoy the challenge, so usually we'll play all our games at high tier but take low tier rewards (XP/gold).  If we don't level up so fast we can play the new mods and we don't have to keep making new PCs.  We've also let people "time travel" where they temporarily pretend they're a level or two higher and then count that adventure once they've actually reached that level.  (It's a pain record-keeping-wise and you're always less powerful because you still have your crappier equipment, so I try to avoid it as much as possible, but it's better than not playing at all.)  For a while we talked about "freezing" our favorite character in multiple level bands just so we could keep playing new mods without having to make a new character.  (For example, when your PC levels up to 8th, you'd keep a 7th level version of your PC to play 4-7 mods and never collect any new XP/gold/items while your real PC would continue playing and gaining levels.)  In the end we never did, but it would solve the problem of leveling up way too fast.  We've also speed-played some of the simpler mods to gain levels quickly.  One midnight-maddness involved us playing two sets of characters in the same mod at the same time.  The DM ran one combat for one set of characters and then ran the combat a second time for a second set of characters.  It was pretty crazy and fun, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.  We had all replayed that mod 4 or 5 times, so it's not like we lost any story or content.  (I think we managed to play the mod twice in 2 hours or something crazy.)  I've heard of some people that just credit themselves with having played a mod or two so they can be the same level as all their friends and get to play with them.


Would letting people start PC's at higher levels truly mean a big increase in the number of people that don't know how to play their chars?

I don't necessarily think so.  There are plenty of gamers who play all the time that have a lots of experience with 4e/LFR.  They are usually competent enough to make a higher level character and actually play them well.  Honestly, one of the biggest problems I have in knowing how to play my character is that I have so many of them.  I have 10 LFR characters and some of them are waiting on the shelf for a long time before they can play again, so that means it's usually been a long time since I've played Character X and I have to remember what they can do again.  I think I'd have a much better handle on a new high-level character that I play all the time than an old character I played from level 1 but who I haven't seen in 6 months.  Besides, if someone makes a brand new character, they've just spent a bunch of time looking at what all the powers do. 

It depends on how the campaign does it.  I'm assuming they wouldn't stop putting out new 1-4 mods completely.  I would also imagine that new players would still be encouraged to start at a fairly low level to get their feet wet and figure out what's going on.  And I'd guess that most new players would WANT to start slow and easy.  What's happening now is that the "veterans" are all making new Level 1 characters and are taking up seats in the 1-4 tables to power-level their PCs up to a higher level.  New players frequently get edged out in favor of a veteran's 8th new PC.  If we were allowed to start at a higher level, the veterans (who are likely bored with replaying the low-level mods over and over again) would probably start playing new PCs at higher levels.  That leaves room for the new players to start at lower levels and allows the veterans the freedom to not have to slog through all the painful low-level stuff again.  Win-win for everyone!  Laughing 

I know there are issues.  There's problems and down-sides to every system.  But personally I think it would enhance the play experience for both new players and veterans.  I would love to be able to play new mods without needing a PC or two at every single level band.  I'd love to not have to replay 1-4 Mod X a 7th time.  With the current system it's going to continue to be a pyramid with TONS of level 1-4 mods and very few level 14-17 (or higher) mods.  Since everyone starts at level 1 you have to do it this way.  If people were allowed to start their PCs at a higher level, maybe they'd release more high-level mods.  I'd love to be able to play my higher level PC more frequently and not have to keep waiting for new high-level mods to slowly trickle out. 

Lori Anderson

WotC Freelancer, LFR author

@LittleLorika

 

Dragon Magazine #412: Unearthed Arcana: Ships in Your Campaign

Calimshan Adventures (LFR): CALI3-3, CALI4-1, and QUES4-1

Epic Adventures (LFR): EPIC5-1 and EPIC5-3

Other LFR Adventures: NETH4-1, ADCP5-2, and MYTH6-3

 

 

 

 

Couple of things here:

1. How about an "open enrollment" period, where you could make a PC of any level during say the months of May/June/July/August, but the rest of the year you would have to start at level 1? This basically would be to get people playing at cons.

2. How about a soft level bump where players could start a PC of a level at the bottom of every tier-such as 1/4/7/11/15?

 If we are trying to get more people to play WPN-RPGA play, I can see how many would not want to start at level 1. Level 1 is a little boring. Level 1 is better than it has been in the past, but having 1 encounter power and 1 feat is not as fun as being 7th level.



Isn't this what true casual play is for? D&D Encounters, the Delve book, Delves at cons, one-shots? If we need that, then let's provide that. You also have tons of low-level adventures. If we need pre-gens, let's provide them.

Giving away levels makes no sense to me. Anyone trying to catch up to an existing group will fail if what they are doing is just playing at a completely different rate. The only way to fix that is to allow any level at all and it will make the campaign very disposable. There is still a sense of danger, to some extent, in adventures. There is still a sense of permanence, in that some titles or awards can be gained or missed based on choices. All of this much less than in LG, but still there. And there is that knowledge that you can't go back... making the same 16th level PC all over again from level 1? Forget it, you will make a new one. And that is a good incentive to care about what you do. If, instead, you can make a mistake in a mod and then just make a new PC that is the exact same PC but without that failure... what is the point of any choice? This would not be a living campaign. It would be some weird series of one-shots that have a shared setting and some story aspects but no PC links at all.

I really don't see people not playing because they are low level. If their group plays often then that group will end up with new PCs and the other player can help. Or, the casual player will just find a different group - after all, they are probably playing very differently if they are seldom playing.

Example: I play with my old DC crew (old LG gang) once a year at Gen Con. We played the first year with new PCs we all rolled up. We reached 3rd level. My PC is now 16th. Their PCs are 3rd level. When I went to Gen Con last year, I made a 1st level PC, played a few times to get to 2nd, and joined them. We had a blast because we are all buddies and we love to RP. But, their play was not at all expert 4E play (though they are expert gamers). No problem for me, since this wasn't about that. Bloodied and bruised, we made it through. This year they will be 4th level and I've kept that same PC at the same level for them. No problem.

Now, they would have loved to have played my mod, CORE1-14 (P1). I would have loved to run it for them. After all, they taught me some 50% of what I know about gaming and authoring. But, I would have just destroyed them. TPK guaranteed unless I pulled punches. The end result, that they could not play my adventure and that we continued at H1 was the right outcome for us and for the campaign. With a little luck I'll run the adventure for them before it retires.

I don't think any of the ideas put forth thus far will work without making the LFR campaign less of a living campaign. The solution is not to water-down normal play (especially when so many want more story, more of a sense of belonging, etc.). The solution is to create good reasons for groups to play with new PCs.

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Ok, my devil's advocate post.

Here are some rules I could consider. I don't like them, but I could consider them.

  1. You can play your PC at a level you previously attained. You must down-level your PC in a valid way (ideally back to what you were, but not required), retaining your class, race, etc. The campaign could even require the CB. You receive the gold and XP rewards for the tier. You can take items (but you probably don't want to do so). Basically, a way to play with people that can't play often and have a low-level PC. There probably needs to be a control clause capping any "your level" rewards.

  2. A Mini campaign or discrete arc could allow down-leveling of up-leveling of PCs so as to make it more accessible. This could be a good idea for a central theme story arc, such as some core plot that is important to general play and which all players may want to experience. (Such as the Ether threat was in LG).

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Giving away levels makes no sense to me. Anyone trying to catch up to an existing group will fail if what they are doing is just playing at a completely different rate. The only way to fix that is to allow any level at all and it will make the campaign very disposable. There is still a sense of danger, to some extent, in adventures. There is still a sense of permanence, in that some titles or awards can be gained or missed based on choices. All of this much less than in LG, but still there. And there is that knowledge that you can't go back... making the same 16th level PC all over again from level 1? Forget it, you will make a new one. And that is a good incentive to care about what you do. If, instead, you can make a mistake in a mod and then just make a new PC that is the exact same PC but without that failure... what is the point of any choice?



LFR already is very disposable to a lot of people. Only in non-random groups it is usually not. I just do not get why letting "other" people make their PCs at higher level has to have an impact on how you play. If you prefer connections, consequences, caring about your character, I would expect you to still play that way. And I am sure there would be plenty of people who would as well, me being one of them.

The rewards/mistakes issues I see. While I do not see why other peoples levels matter, the same does not go for story and item awards.  I Would not like it if people creating a higher level PC could just shop at will from the existing modules to create it.

As for mistakes. Well one thing I was thinking about; if LFR allowed creating PCs at any or higher levels...would we keep our current replay rules? I think I would prefer no going back to an adventure to correct mistakes..

This would not be a living campaign. It would be some weird series of one-shots that have a shared setting and some story aspects but no PC links at all.

 
 
I think this is exactly what LFR is at the moment, unless YOU make the choice and effort to have it come alive.  You can make that choice now and play a living character that has friends, enemies,  shared background in the adventures played. You could still make that choice if other people could make their PCs even more disposable. 

This works the other way around too. If people are never allowed to make higher level characters, I would not care. I can still play the way I like to. 

I am just still trying to figure out why peoples connection to the living aspect of a campaign is so dependent on everybody else. So some choose to play a different LFR or rather play LFR differently, more power to them? Make your own choices, choose the people that matter to you and play LFR how you want to. Changing the level rules would not suddenly make everyone choose to play animatronic PCs (built adult size and then plugged in).
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;
LFR already is very disposable to a lot of people. Only in non-random groups it is usually not. I just do not get why letting "other" people make their PCs at higher level has to have an impact on how you play.


Because I want it to get increasingly better, not increasingly worse. I give up playing the amazing RP I can find in L5R to get the better game play of 4E. I give up the setting of Shadowrun, the non-cheese of Spycraft, etc. But, at some point, if the setting/story doesn't continue improving... then I'll dispose of my LFR and find something else.

Elturgard was a huge step forward. A lot of the newer arcs, both core and regional, are big steps forward. If the campaign would have started this way... I become energized about the campaign because of things like this. I wouldn't be writing and contributing without that energy.

I want to continue seeing improvements away from disposable and towards "living". A change the other way is a big deal to me. The replay rules... I never was a fan but I understood them back then when there were few choices. I would love to see them gone now. The retraining rules... I didn't like the core 4E retraining rules but I understood them. The latest CCG retraining rules are way too much for me. And it is because it changes what I encounter at the table. Everything becomes less unique, less RP, less experienced, less meaningful. "What is the strongest build out there for my class? Oh, I should make that. In fact, what is the strongest class at each level of the game? I'll make that and just always play that. I'll call all of them Mr. McCheesy. Sweet." There is a place for that, and it is one-shot programs (like delves).

Living should be about the ability to show up and bring your PC, with all the levels you earned and all the stories you accumulated and be able to continue a chapter in an ongoing story, even if the people at the table are playing PCs you never met. That's the difference between one-shot and living. Insta-play of any PC/level/whatever is not living to me.

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I am just still trying to figure out why peoples connection to the living aspect of a campaign is so dependent on everybody else. So some choose to play a different LFR or rather play LFR differently, more power to them? Make your own choices, choose the people that matter to you and play LFR how you want to. Changing the level rules would not suddenly make everyone choose to play animatronic PCs (built adult size and then plugged in).



It matters because we're gamers and the LFR campaign is a game just as much as the at-the-table experience is a game. To LFR players that care about the living aspect of the campaign, they're also gaming the story arcs, the major quests, etc. To those players, starting characters at higher levels is the equivalent of saying, "NCAA basketball is only really interesting in the last five minutes, so let's let one team sit out the first three-quarters of the game and join in with 90% of the points of the other team managed to score." Sure...the team that played has an advantage, but it probably makes the rest of the game less fun.

It's funny, I've got some people in my regular group that are a lot more flippant about the living aspect than I am, and it's odd—like we're speaking a different language. They can't seem to understand why I'm so ridiculous about playing specific adventures and following the rules, while I can't understand why they would want to give level bumps or have a DM gain XP like a player.

I think it comes from the two groups enjoying different incentive structures from the same system. I think both sides of the argument have to recognize that and try and balance the enjoyment of both.
I still don't see the fun in starting PCs at higher levels in LFR.

Let's say I go to a convention and signed up my only character to play a P2 mod. Hold on, I played her in that mod already.. D'oh! But they need one more player for the table to kick-off. If the rules allow me to make a fresh P2 character with stuff, I'd rather let the table fall apart and have them find a new player instead of having them wait for me to make a new PC and bog them down trying to figure out how he/she works and how to play the character. I'd rather roll up a fresh PC and slip into the H1 tables.

I kinda feel like playing in P1 and P2 are a privilage. If you haven't suffered through heroic, you don't have enough experience to play in Paragon. It's more a growing point of a player learning how to play their PC.
(I guess pretty girls stand out at D&D conventions. 


That depends on whether you wear a chainmail bikini...

I myself recall most adventures quite well. Recalling individual PCs depend on how well the player participated. I still remember the dwarf priest of Sune, for instance, from one of the very first games with my wizard (at Gencon UK 2008, iirc). Sometimes, I am less sure if I met a certain PV in a specific adventure, but when people team up there is often some recognition of previous situations (such as when my character was sold in slavery at the end of one adventure, and bought free in the next).

For me, what I like in LFR is the feeling that there is a continuing story, and that I am not the only person in the world that is pretending the continuity.
And as a WD, it is hard enough to make a continuing story in the way LFR is set up. I would prefer it is not made even more difficult. And I would prefer if people would follow the story adventures with mostly the same PC - so there is at least a chance that they notice that there IS one.

I don't want LFR to change so that less and less players play for the story, so that I may at some point be designing the story for naught.

Gomez
Phew!  I thought I only had 1 idea to put in here, but upon reflection looks like I'm about to ramble.  lol

I am just still trying to figure out why peoples connection to the living aspect of a campaign is so dependent on everybody else.



I hesitate to bring it up, but hopefully another analogy will help.

Trying to play a consistent, "living' character in a ruleset with free PC creation at any level is kind of like trying to be a hardcore RPer on a non-RP server of WoW (or the MMO of your choice).  Yes, you are free to RP however you like, and if you have a couple of buddies to RP with, you can go right ahead and RP with them all you want.  But, you have to be a strong enough person to ignore/deal with the constant WTFs from anyone else you happen to encounter, and you have to be prepared to generally be surpassed by all comers at in-game mechanical achievements.  You are voluntarily playing a game within the game that limits your options compared to your peers.

It's easy to say "Hey, play the way you like, what everyone else does shouldn't matter".  It's another thing to actually pull it off.  "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a real motivation, whether it should be or not.

Coming back to LFR for a minute, in my local club we tend to really celebrate when people get their first character up to a new tier (especially H3/level 7, which seems to come at about the time when people start to really hit their stride in the club and with the whole RPGA/WPN scene).  A major part of people's motivation to play is a phrase I hear over and over again, variations of:  "I can't wait to get my Rogue into the next tier - only 2 more H2 to go!".  The sense of accomplishment comes from advancing PCs - the only recurring story we ever really care for is the relationships between our PCs.  Even us old hands get pretty excited when PC #8 finally climbs up into H2, or when the fourth and final member of an Adventuring Company finally catches up to the others in P1.

OK, so it means that our goals for LFR are not adventure/story based.  I bet fewer than 5% of the PCs in the club give a flying fart what their home region is (and the player probably couldn't tell you what it is without looking on the character sheet), and we're lucky if 1 in 6 players can remember the name of the NPC their character met 5 minutes ago.  It is a true challenge when we have to go through our Adventure Logs to see if anyone has the right Story Awards for the current adventure, since none of us can remember which adventures we've played with which PCs.  But we have a fantastic time, running 24 unique tables a month (closer to 30 with Slot Zeros), and 3 multi-day convention-type-events a year, and our club membership is growing in leaps and bounds right now (our Gameday this Saturday looks to have 5-6 completely new members, and another 5-6 who have been to fewer than three previous Gamedays).

I really think that our approach to the game is pretty typical for a medium-sized game store-based club, with the one exception being that our hardcore players are far less demanding of playing at the bleeding edge of tiers.

A change to free PC creation at any level, or even one of the halfway approaches bandied about in this thread, would put a serious dent in the enthusiasm of our club members (remember, our chief motivation is getting PCs to the next level band).
The replay rules... I never was a fan but I understood them back then when there were few choices. I would love to see them gone now.



I bet my club would dissolve within 6 weeks if the replay rule was eliminated...
The interesting thing to me is that I agree with a lot if not most of the things being said against starting higher levels. 

  • I would not ever want to start a PC at higher levels unless in very very special circumstances. Having a PC without developing it, giving it some character (or gimmicks as the case may be) and  having it be affected by the adventures it plays, not for me. 

  • I want less disposable LFR and more story, more living. I like my PCs to have a place in a bigger story. I try to look for the bigger arcs, major quests etc. And Eltugard was awesome. Still looking to play my paladin through it, because its fits the character.

  • I don't much care for replay, I see the reasons for it, but I think it is a lot more damaging to the idea of a living campaign than higher levels could be. It creates a market situation where people pick and match their adventures to their gear choices.

  • I do not like the emphasis on "Look what broken thing I can do" that comes with random tables after the new retraining rules. Although considering I did use the rules for a char I may be a tad hypocritical in that (my goal was not new cheese though ). 


And still I do not see the huge problem with giving the people in the "other" group, the disposable PC LFR players, what they want. If anything I think the people who do not want to treat their PCs as coke-cans to drink dry and toss, would gain some options. And lose little.  I am not trying to be flippant about the living aspect, it matters to me quite a bit, but this is just not where I would draw the line in the sand. 

But thats just my logic. It works for me, but I would never expect it to work for others. I appreciate people sharing their views as it gives me a lot of insight.
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;

Yes, I know "do your own thing" is easier to say than it is to realize. My views are coloured by what I have available in people to play with. I do not see them suddenly throw their PCs overboard and start new ones, so I don't see the major concern.

If your daily reality is full of players that are only sticking to their PCs because the rules say that is the only way they can get to the level where char-op says their cheese starts really working.. well ok then I see where higher level starts would be an issue. 

Heck, I am not even saying they should allow people starting at higher levels. At the moment I don't really know and I see a lot of negativity. To me that says that its probably a bad idea and definitely needs careful work and balancing if they should decide to go that route.And if it would indeed mean that all of the people I like as players, writers, etc start leaving, well then it is absolutely a BAD idea.

I am just trying to find as many views as possible so I can get off the fence.

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;
running 24 unique tables a month (closer to 30 with Slot Zeros), and 3 multi-day convention-type-events a year, and our club membership is growing in leaps and bounds right now (our Gameday this Saturday looks to have 5-6 completely new members, and another 5-6 who have been to fewer than three previous Gamedays).



That much participation must be nice, and also would heavily skew your view of LFR in general, I don't think the majority of groups have that many new players coming in all the time or nearly that many tables a month either.  It doesn't invalidate your opinions, and I agree, without replay things would die, since there are not enough mods to allow new players to join if the existing players can't replay to play with them again.

I guess I honestly don't care which way they go on this issue.  Which is odd since I'm posting in the thread about it =) 
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