Interesting Debate: Can authors play their own mods? Should they?

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This recently came up in conversation because, well, I write a lot. I recently played CORE2-1 for fun (which I co-wrote with Nick) with Nick judging it and had a blast. The other players at the table seemed to have a great time as well. Throughout the experience, I found myself wondering "Is this okay?" I thought it would be an interesting discussion topic on the forums.

How much difference is there between an author playing his own adventure, and a player who has read/judged the adventure playing it? Do you think a DM would mind running an adventure for the author, provided he doesn't step on his toes?

What sorts of ethical questions does this raise? If authors play their own adventures, couldn't they just select item bundles that they want? What if authors that play their own adventures only select more gold, or let someone else (an admin) choose the bundles for the adventure?

Do you authors out there even think you'd want to play an adventure you've written?

Is there even a prohibition of this sort in place, or is it merely a taboo subject?

I'm really interested in hearing peoples' thoughts and in particular, how those people feel about replaying in general.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
For the record, I don't see an issue with authors playing adventures they've written (assuming they want to). I also have no problems with replaying adventures, or judging adventure for replayers. I see it as the same concept as doing an instance run multiple times in an MMORPG like WoW.

I do have an ethical problem with the notion of authors having the power to place items into adventures that they can then select for their PCs.

I'm trying to be as objective as possible
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Feels like a shame if an author could never get to play their own adventure. I'd be all for them being able to play, just not take a found item.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
For the most part, I don't see any difference between the author playing the mod or anyone who has read/DM'd the mod playing it. You are expected to seperate your own knowledge from that of your characters.

It might range from intimidating to useful for the DM...one one hand, the DM may be afraid to "mess up" with the author sitting right there. On the other hand, if something's confusing, he has the luxury of just asking the author something like "hey, does this monster's burst power hit his friends too?" if he wants.

As far as the ethical quandry of cherry-picking magic items for their PC's, I don't really have a problem with it. They would only do it with one item tops, and it's not like only the author gets access to that item. My only objection is if the author loaded in an item and then placed some requirement to get the item that requires serious metagaming. "The Ring of Dragon Squishing is only available to PC's who went down the stairs, knocked three times on the privy door, and told the lumberjack inside "the stench is fowl when the moonlight is brightest."
"What sorts of ethical questions does this raise? If authors play their own adventures, couldn't they just select item bundles that they want? What if authors that play their own adventures only select more gold, or let someone else (an admin) choose the bundles for the adventure?"

That is my only concern. Authors putting in bundles they specifically want into a mod. I suppose it isn't a major problem but it does seem a little off putting.

There would need to be the standard respect a player has for the DM. No, attempts to overide the DM with comments like "The NPC wouldn't do that, or this NPC is that dumb... etc".  But assuming the DM and the author are ok with the arangement I don't see a problem with author's playing. It isn't much different from a player playing through a mod they have already DMed.

If I were an author I wouldn't be jumping* at the chance to play a mod I had written but if I knew the DM and trusted them and it helped a game happen or it gave me an excuse to hang out with a bunch o my gaming buddies I'd probably still play it.

*I would be cuatious simply because I'm picky about my games and when I wrote during the LG days it sometimes made me cringe listening to another DM goof my mod at a table nearby.
I have exactly zero problems with authors playing adventures they wrote.

The "put in a bundle they want" argument is a non-starter for me; there are plenty of already legal ways to get your hands on pretty much any item you like (either by cherry-picking through spoiler lists, replaying, or the multitude of "item of your choice" rewards).  Any specific items that are approved by the campaign to be put in as rewards are just that: approved.  Anyone who wants them can have them - is it somehow worse for an author to have one than for everyone else to have one?

I can imagine people being concerned about this in an abstract sort of way, but in specific terms there just doesn't seem to be any bite to it.  I can't for the life of me think of a single way this could be exploited when considering the actual suite of magic items and character builds that exist.

I guess the closest I can think of would be if I wrote an adventure and filled the slots with Delver's Light, Spiked Soles, Command Circlet, Armblade weapon, Shoulderbow weapon, and Mithral Plating armor (since I exclusively play warforged PCs), but even then I have already managed to equip all of my PCs without specific bundles since the beginning.  Would it really be all that terrible for me to be able to use specific bundles rather than spending gold and taking advantage of errata-granted exchanges and "choose your own" bundles?  And even then I could only take one of the bundles per PC anyway, and only with PCs that happen to be in the right level band.
I have exactly zero problems with authors playing adventures they wrote.

The "put in a bundle they want" argument is a non-starter for me; there are plenty of already legal ways to get your hands on pretty much any item you like (either by cherry-picking through spoiler lists, replaying, or the multitude of "item of your choice" rewards).  Any specific items that are approved by the campaign to be put in as rewards are just that: approved.  Anyone who wants them can have them - is it somehow worse for an author to have one than for everyone else to have one?



Ermmm.... good point. I guess my concern would be the fear of people playing my adventures and thinking "gee, I wonder which PC he put that item in for..."

I think you're right though.

Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
I suspect that if an author wants a particular item, then it is likely that someone else will want it too. 

Ermmm.... good point. I guess my concern would be the fear of people playing my adventures and thinking "gee, I wonder which PC he put that item in for..."



I dunno, I kind of feel like anyone with that much paranoia would assume that authors conspire with each other. "Ha, Sean put that item in for Dave's PC!"

I dunno, I kind of feel like anyone with that much paranoia would assume that authors conspire with each other. "Ha, Sean put that item in for Dave's PC!"



HAH! I just  KNEW it!!!11!

This is why I keep close tabs on all LFR authors and play only builds that mimic theirs. This way I am assured optimal item placement. Finally it is confirmed and I have now won D&D. Yay


Nah, seriously. I think that if we don't trust our authors we have bigger problems. Since I do not share that particular paranoia I think its cool. I would imagine its at the very least interesting to see what someone does with your module


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;
This is why I keep close tabs on all LFR authors and play only builds that mimic theirs. This way I am assured optimal item placement. Finally it is confirmed and I have now won D&D. Yay



I am looking forward to see your sub-optimal tiefling bard at our tables then :P

I'll voice my opinion against authors playing in their own mods . . . .

(1) As a judge, I'd personally be uncomfortable with the author sitting at my table.  His/her vision may not match mine, and it causes a potential source of conflict.  I have less difficulty with someone who has judged the mod, since my interpretation and theirs may differ - and there may not be a "better" interpretation between the two.  Not every author can/should be trusted to "play nice," and while I'd have no problem with dkay at my table, I'd rather not open the door for potential problems.

(2) I don't see what the author "gains" from playing their own mod. Treasure-bundles aside (I don't care), if the goal is to see how someone else interprets/runs your work, setting up a game day as a senior GM and observing (passing-by) seems like it would do the trick, in a less direct way.

To summarize - I have no ethical problem. I just don't see any benefit to the author physically playing at the table, vs. the potential conflict with the table judge.  

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

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

I'll voice my opinion against authors playing in their own mods . . . .

(1) As a judge, I'd personally be uncomfortable with the author sitting at my table.  His/her vision may not match mine, and it causes a potential source of conflict.  I have less difficulty with someone who has judged the mod, since my interpretation and theirs may differ - and there may not be a "better" interpretation between the two.  Not every author can/should be trusted to "play nice," and while I'd have no problem with dkay at my table, I'd rather not open the door for potential problems.

(2) I don't see what the author "gains" from playing their own mod. Treasure-bundles aside (I don't care), if the goal is to see how someone else interprets/runs your work, setting up a game day as a senior GM and observing (passing-by) seems like it would do the trick, in a less direct way.

To summarize - I have no ethical problem. I just don't see any benefit to the author physically playing at the table, vs. the potential conflict with the table judge.  



It's nice to see another perspective. I can see the concern of number 1 above. I guess that's between the judge and the author. I remember co-running IMPI1-3 Lost Souls with Ray Nagle (he ran the mod, I ran the combats) and watching him utterly changing not just the way some NPCs are portrayed, but some raw facts of the module. I bit my tongue at first, but I think he actually made it better... I think every author has to accept the fact that DMs are going to take their mods and make them their own - and that's the whole idea behind LFR and DME. I'd actually prefer it if I were playing a module I wrote. The one thing I can't stomach is when DMs go off-script and then complain that it's too easy/difficult because of what they changed, but that's another topic.

Regarding number 2 above, I can think of a few scenarios:

- As has been stated by the admins, we have a pyramid effect with level bands, where we have tons of low-level adventures, but very few adventures available at the upper echelons. Authors writing adventures for the upper echelons begin to face a quandary where there isn't enough content for them to play. I've spoken with two authors recently who have refused to write P2/P3 adventures because they want to be able to play as many of those as possible.
- Authors are often given the opportunity to write an adventure for a critical story arc. By excluding themselves from playing it, they are unable to get the most out of the story arc with their PCs, or are unable to complete major quests. Just recently, when asking if he could be involved in writing a particular mod, my author friend said "wait, is this in the XXX plot arc? Nevermind, you're on your own - I want to be able to play that with my because I played ."
- Many authors write adventures that they themselves would enjoy. It stands to reason that they'd enjoy playing them (maybe).

Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
I would see a problem with an author putting a magic item in a module that isn't generally available (a boon, for example, or an item from MotP), so that his PC can take it.  Other than that, I don't think it matters.

I think the larger issue would be authors writing stories and story awards with an eye toward their own PC--for (a relatively absurd) example, an adventure in which you meet an exarch of Amaunator and the most devout person in the group gets a glowing sunburst on their forehead to show how holy they are, with the module stating that the award goes first to paladins of Amaunator (and if there are multiple paladins, to male human Charisma-based paladins from Impiltur), or more generally, writers moving from writing the type of adventures they would want to play to writing a specific adventure that fits their character's personal storyline.
(1) As a judge, I'd personally be uncomfortable with the author sitting at my table.  His/her vision may not match mine, and it causes a potential source of conflict.  I have less difficulty with someone who has judged the mod, since my interpretation and theirs may differ - and there may not be a "better" interpretation between the two.  Not every author can/should be trusted to "play nice," and while I'd have no problem with dkay at my table, I'd rather not open the door for potential problems.

(2) I don't see what the author "gains" from playing their own mod. Treasure-bundles aside (I don't care), if the goal is to see how someone else interprets/runs your work, setting up a game day as a senior GM and observing (passing-by) seems like it would do the trick, in a less direct way.

To summarize - I have no ethical problem. I just don't see any benefit to the author physically playing at the table, vs. the potential conflict with the table judge.  



Hmm, but what if the table judge finds it amusing? Use DME to slightly change the mod.
Fellow player: "Dave, why did you make the NPC who hired us a French mime? And why do all the bad guys have English accents?"
Dave: "I didn't write that in the mod!"
DM: "No using knowledge of the mod, Dave."
 
I'm largely fine with authors playing their own adventures.  

I share slightly the concern bgibbons has voiced above w/r/t the potential temptation for authors to to write in loot-not-generally-available or story awards tailored to one of their pcs.  I doubt that most authors would engage in this, but without any controls there might be a couple of abuses.  

You could I suppose prohibit authors from taking any treasure bundles from their own adventure.  But I don't see why, for example, if everyone else has the opportunity to pick up Feystep Lacings, that the author's pcs shouldn't be able to pick them up as well. 

Again, the concern would be most specifically related to items such as bgibbons mentioned like boons or MotP.  I'd hope that these receive additional review which would include checking to prevent this sort of abuse.  Provided that this occurs, I wouldn't see any problem with authors playing their own adventures the same as everyone else.
I dunno, I kind of feel like anyone with that much paranoia would assume that authors conspire with each other. "Ha, Sean put that item in for Dave's PC!"



HAH! I just  KNEW it!!!11!

This is why I keep close tabs on all LFR authors and play only builds that mimic theirs.


I am saddened to report that imaginaryfriend has gone missing. We will shortly purge all of his posts. Please forget his existence.

(just kidding)

Interestingly, I do welcome other authors telling me what they want to see in mods. Not because I will reward them with the item, but because authors have often gone through a lot of trouble to think about good/balanced items at various levels. I have at least a score of items I considered for SPEC2-1 P2... that might be useful to another P2 author. In addition, knowing what their PCs like is useful information. I regularly ask any playtest group that I run (even for other authors) what they might want at this tier. I examine the ideas, then suggest any that might fit the adventure itself. If you look at SPEC2-1 P2, for example, you will see they largely fit the theme of the adventure. The item I suggested to Dave and Nick for CORE2-1 fit the theme, and they used it (I didn't take it, though I might have if I had played it early in that PC's P1 career).

On the overall topic, I think it would be cool to play your own adventures. As I raised in the CCG 2.0 thread, I think it needs to be clarified in both the writer's guidelines (so authors know) and CCG (so everyone knows). I know at least one author that has played their adventure thinking they could. (There is no written rule on the subject).

I do think it is best to have a "more gold only" rule. This prevents deliberate seeding. Sure, you can get items in other ways, but this just seems like a strong incentive for an author to pick "their" item over "an" item. Now, if the admins want this as a reward to authors for doing the work, then they should let authors choose items as a boon. For CORE1-14, to save time, I pretty much used my list of stuff my PCs would want... with the full knowledge I was pretty much ensuring I would not see these items in any other mods (since authors try to avoid duplicating) and thus hurt my chances of ever seeing them (which is ok).

The only other issue really is that of DMs being intimidated by authors. But, to be honest, I suspect most authors would only play their adventure when they know the DM or players and thus it would be pretty non-intimidating. Or, it might be when no option is available. You volunteer to fill a table... oh, it is your own mod... you explain it to the DM and life is good. If I were running something for another author I would just accept that they will likely be amused by something I do and that they will also be fine with that.

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I just don't see any benefit to the author physically playing at the table, vs. the potential conflict with the table judge.  


For me, I've twice written for the "new" tier. It means my PCs are a bit behind in getting to enjoy the new tier. All my buddies play, but I can only judge. They would run it for me if they could. It isn't a huge deal, as eventually more of the new tier is released and I am never noticeably behind. It is just a minor issue initially... I would love to play another P2 adventure, but mine is one of three.

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

I just don't see any benefit to the author physically playing at the table, vs. the potential conflict with the table judge.  


For me, I've twice written for the "new" tier. It means my PCs are a bit behind in getting to enjoy the new tier. All my buddies play, but I can only judge. They would run it for me if they could. It isn't a huge deal, as eventually more of the new tier is released and I am never noticeably behind. It is just a minor issue initially... I would love to play another P2 adventure, but mine is one of three.




Amen, brother. This is the kicker for me as well. I'm always writing for the highest tier available and thus, suffer from limited play options at that tier (which is what I want to be playing).
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
I think the larger issue would be authors writing stories and story awards with an eye toward their own PC



a) I trust authors and campaign staff enough to think that this wouldn't likely happen.  At worst I can imagine a tailored reward that is also of enough general appeal that it is allowed to pass.  A unique story award* exclusively for "Warforged Fighters Named Blokko" would probably not pass muster.

b) Even if it did, so what?

*I think that the "only one of this award per table" unique awards are universally a terrible idea anyway
I have no problem with authors playing their own mods.

I use to write a lot a few years ago and I found some files in an old back-up HD. Read my work and I felt impressed and entertained by my own writing.
Read my work and I felt impressed and entertained by my own writing.



I tend to feel the same way about my own stuff from the past.  lol

(I actually ended up writing one regional LG adventure that I never even got to DM, let alone play.)
On the overall topic, I think it would be cool to play your own adventures. As I raised in the CCG 2.0 thread, I think it needs to be clarified in both the writer's guidelines (so authors know) and CCG (so everyone knows). I know at least one author that has played their adventure thinking they could. (There is no written rule on the subject).

If there's no rule against it, doesn't that mean it's not against the rules?

- Authors are often given the opportunity to write an adventure for a critical story arc. By excluding themselves from playing it, they are unable to get the most out of the story arc with their PCs, or are unable to complete major quests. Just recently, when asking if he could be involved in writing a particular mod, my author friend said "wait, is this in the XXX plot arc? Nevermind, you're on your own - I want to be able to play that with my because I played ."



As the co-author of a special, I would love to play the module I wrote. Not only are there story-based awards that I'd love to have a chance at, the mod is incredibly challenging, and I'd like to see if I'm up to snuff—I DM'd the mod at OrcCon, and the PCs made it through only 2 / 5 encounters before having to turn back.

Honestly, to me there doesn't seem to be an issue with authors playing adventures that replay and DMing before playing doesn't cause. Granted, there may be some additional pressure on the DM, but I welcome seeing how other authors interpret my work (I'm sure Oliver and dkay would get a kick out of my take of DALE1-7 Sealed).
(2) I don't see what the author "gains" from playing their own mod.



Davek made a few points - though I would add that the 'not enough adventures to play' part does not affect me much - though I am likely excluded from more adventures than most others (for paragon:  4 P1s and a P2 - and I only wrote two of those), I dont play much either. My highest PC is 7. I feel confident that should I ever get to P3, there will likely be adventures for me to play. I think. Maybe.

In general, I would advise against allowing it. I think it is best if authors or WDs do not really get involved in play. It seems more professional. You also may get odd situations, and no matter how sincere you are when writing the adventure, people will still complain that you are giving yourself a bennie.
Though yes, there are adventures I written and/or edited that I would have loved to run my characters through. I htink it would be a bit akward though.

Note that while the rule that authors (or editors) cannot play an adventure is not in the CCG, it is still a rule that is in effect (as far as I know). I will have it verified.

Gomez
I think it is best if authors or WDs do not really get involved in play. It seems more professional.



Now, the way I see it you can't have it both ways.  Either your author pool is fully part of your player pool, or fully separate.  You can't have authors who are also players, and yet also have them separate somehow.

In the end, as far as the actual play experience goes, the difference between first-time play and replay is far greater than the difference between replay and author-play.
In the end, as far as the actual play experience goes, the difference between first-time play and replay is far greater than the difference between replay and author-play.


You are comparing apples and oranges. Knowledge of the adventure has never been cited as the primary reason against play by authors of their own adventures (or administrators about their regions*). Conflict of interest is. As an author and administrator you have a vested interest in the outcome of the adventure and full control over its story. Personally I can also see that same potential conflict cause trouble with the DM and/or other players at the table. You are an authoritive figure in regard to the adventure, which might influence how othes play**. Whether or not the conflict of interest is big enough to be a problem is open to debate, but it the reason against allowing it and not prior knowledge on the adventure.

* Administrators are simply not allowed to play adventures from their region, but that does not need to be put in the public rules. Note that there the potential for a conflict of interest in their case is much bigger than for authors.
** Personally I dislike watching others run games for more than a few minutes, especially when it is an adventure I wrote. It is just so hard to remain a silent neutral observer at times, especially when those at the table somehow always try to draw you in the fun with side remarks ;)
Now, the way I see it you can't have it both ways.  Either your author pool is fully part of your player pool, or fully separate.  You can't have authors who are also players, and yet also have them separate somehow.



I don't see it as being separate. I see it as a reasonable rule that ensures a certain impartiality when designing adventures. That doesn't set authors apart - it merely asks them to take a certain responsibility regarding their own work.

Mind, I am not strongly opposed to authors playing their adventures. However, I think it is better if they don't, so I see no real reason to abolish the existing rule.

Gomez
The only "loophole" rule I would tack-on would be allow authors to test-play adventures they write.  I believe there is merit (at the test-play stage) for an author to hand his work to someone else to run and witness first-hand how his draft-writing is interpreted by a judge working from just the mod itself.  Adding the "extra-gold only" caveat makes sense as well.

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

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

I see no problems in letting authors play their modules, or with taking any items they want.  In fact, I'm don't really see why there should be.

Either the item is a good item to allow, or it isn't.  That it might work with an author's pet character seems besides the point: there will be someone's pet character it works with.  The items are vetted, correct?  (And even if they are not, there are guidelines for suitable item levels, correct?  At which point blame can be passed to the designers.)

Either the author can handle not yelling at DMs who get his module wrong, or s/he can't.  If s/he can't, then the author should voluntairly abstain from playing their modules.  If they can, then IMHO they SHOULD, to get better, more real feedback.

For purposes of "which way does the plot as a whole go", I can't imagine 3 tables including an author will matter in the final count when compared to the 3000 tables that don't include the author.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

I was told quite early on that I would not be allowed to play in the adventure I was writing.  The thought had crossed my mind so I did ask.

I fully admit asking friends and even soliciting feedback for magic items.  I did not want, "play XX adventure for item XX", but I wanted good magic items, not dull ones.  I changed items to be balanced for play, and the level I was writing for that made sense for the storyline.

Now, the issue is as you say, would I write again, considering the story line will be ended in next adventure, as also my playing being limited even further.  I have 4, nearing 6 paragon characters, and p2 is the limitation, p3 even further if the followup is written.  I believe any contributor to the campaign will weigh the choices.  Recently, the topic came up that the adventure I wrote was not as paragon as some may have liked.  I had little to do with that, I could have tried to make the combats more paragon, but the story was still the same.  I would love to be able to "fix" that somewhat in the finale however.  For that reason, and a few others I think I would write high tier content, possibly to finish the storyline, I myself might not even be able to finish due to not playing the middle adventure and being the author.  That is a shame in my view.  Perhaps if the unwritten rule is changed, and authors can play then we have continuity and it is a minor reward for authors.

I would say for my part, I have no problems not playing, but I also don't see it as totally fair to authors to limit them in play for the simple fact of checks and balances.  They gave up a good bit of time, energy, and sometimes take it on the chin to write for a campaign, that for the most part appreciates them.  Would it be horrible if authors could play mods?  I don't think anyone is suggesting that.  Is it fair?  I don't even think that is really the question.  I think it is the loophole factor.  Limiting authors to taking extra gold to me is a fair, or potion plus gold.  I believe continuing the story for characters is the main goal.  I think storyline and play opportunity overrides the concerns.  To me, it is another way to say thanks to authors. 

Just my thoughts.
Author of Aglarond 1-6(P1), and Co-author of Aglarond 2-4(2 round P3)


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LG, there was a lotta stuff going on.  You know the restrictions if you played those days.

LFR, you can replay.

Personally, I don't think an author playing an adventure is at all something that needs ethical consideration.  You can replay an adventure as a player, so exactly why shouldn't authors play their own adventures?  (OK, the author might be bitter about heavy editing . . . and might suffer mental trauma . . . but you know, that's on the author.)

As far as what kilpatds wrote, I'm of much the same opinion.  Yeah, an author might yell at a DM.  An author might complain.  Or do whatever.  But that's really just the author being an ass.  It's not a problem at that point that the author wrote the adventure, it's more a problem that the author's insisting on being an ass.

And I think - if we can trust DMs and authors and players to all be mature responsible people, that it shouldn't be a problem at all.

As far as what Madfox11 wrote about conflict of interest - that's another matter.  I can see that point for administrators, certainly, as they have enough control over the process that their decisions could actually change gameplay - besides, administrators &c  may well have been briefed on not being able to play adventures from their region as part of their getting their position.

However, I would say that if authors for LFR are not allowed to play through their own adventure, that that point should CERTAINLY be made in the LFR Writer Guidelines.  (I don't remember seeing that in there the last time I read through the last publically available version; version 1.6).
Oh, one addition re: items:

So then what you end up with is the writer being limited to putting in lame items, or not being able to play any adventure he/she contributed to?
  That's just weird.  I would even think that would make the play experience suffer.

I mean, yeah, if this was LG, no doubt, authors definitely should not play their own stuff.  But LFR certainly isn't LG.

My opinion is that the regional and core administrators need to come up with a schedule of what items should be released in adventures, and work with writers to ensure magical item distribution.

Certainly, certain adventures in LFR have seen more play than others, simply because some adventures have better found magical items.

This is going a little away from the "should writers be able to play their own adventures" topic, though, so I'll leave it at that for now.
It's not a problem at that point that the author wrote the adventure, it's more a problem that the author's insisting on being an ass.



I like it.  Succinct, colourful, and I agree with it.
From a player perspective, I'd rather have the author judging the mod than the DM.    After all, I've seen my fair share of "weak" DMs. Reading the feedback forums, there are plenty of DMs who do not read/prep fully/carefully, and as a result, a particular encounter becomes too hard or trivial.  I'm betting the author has a deeper understanding of the adventure and encounters!

The mere presence of the author at the table can create tension. Do I know players who, not liking the judge's ruling would turn to the author and ask them to overrule the judge?  Sadly, yes. More than I would like. 

The author, by default, IS the authority when it comes to a mod. In any seat other than the DM's, it creates the opportunity for conflict.  (Sadly, there are authors, judges, and players who - will indeed - insist on being an ass.)  

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

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

From a player perspective, I'd rather have the author judging the mod than the DM.    After all, I've seen my fair share of "weak" DMs. Reading the feedback forums, there are plenty of DMs who do not read/prep fully/carefully, and as a result, a particular encounter becomes too hard or trivial.  I'm betting the author has a deeper understanding of the adventure and encounters!

The mere presence of the author at the table can create tension. Do I know players who, not liking the judge's ruling would turn to the author and ask them to overrule the judge?  Sadly, yes. More than I would like. 

The author, by default, IS the authority when it comes to a mod. In any seat other than the DM's, it creates the opportunity for conflict.  (Sadly, there are authors, judges, and players who - will indeed - insist on being an ass.)  



I see your point, but I'm not sure I agree. The authority on the mod is the judge - always. Once the author completes a module, all that exists is what he or she has written. Sure, it's cool to ask the author to clear up confusion or to provide background info or content. However, It doesn't matter what the author says or does - what's written in the module (and what the judge interprets and runs) is what matters. The author can't overrule the judge just as any player who knows the module backwards and forwards can't overrule the judge. In fact, in that scenario, the author is no different from a player who knows the module really, really well. In many cases, players know modules I've written better than I do - they've read them many more times.

Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
I agree with all of your points.  In theory and principle, there shouldn't be a problem. Everyone agrees that "The DM is the judge."

In practice, however, . . .  ? 

(Not everyone can be as cool as you, Dave!)  


Yes, most authors likely wouldn't be a problem. Sure, an author playing with friends shouldn't be a problem.  I guess I've just played with too many people who would make that situation a problem.  

I'm all for allowing authors to play their mods with some guidelines (i.e. more gold only; as a test-play; in non-public events only), but opening the floodgates for open play seems unwise to me.  

(For the record, dkay, I'd have no problem with you as a player at a table you wrote the mod for - I know and trust you to allow the DM to run the table their way. Besides, it'd be nice to see you eat some of the pain you've written!    However, I can't vouch that it would be a pleasant experience with everyone else in the author pool . . .)

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

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

For the record, dkay, I'd have no problem with you as a player at a table you wrote the mod for - I know and trust you to allow the DM to run the table their way. Besides, it'd be nice to see you eat some of the pain you've written!



Noted. Guess who's running the second playtest of Enemy of My Enemy... and guess who's playing?

Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com

The problem at this point, then, is that however we word the rule in the CCG, what we are actually saying is this:

"Adventure authors cannot be trusted not to be big dumb jerks.  For this reason, and this reason alone, they are not allowed to play adventures they have written - even though there are plenty of ways for these big dumb jerks (or other people, in theory, but we all know that adventure authors are the only truly big and dumb jerks) to be big dumb jerks that are not covered in the rules"

What sorts of ethical questions does this raise? If authors play their own adventures, couldn't they just select item bundles that they want? What if authors that play their own adventures only select more gold, or let someone else (an admin) choose the bundles for the adventure?



Do people have the same sort of ethical issues about authors of Dragon Magazine content using the material they wrote for their characters?  I would think that there'd be more danger of people using that system to their advantage by writing into the rules the perfect (and possibly obscure) item/feat/power for their character than an LFR mod writer putting a specific treasure bundle in a mod for a character.  At least the LFR mod writer is restricted to the items that are already out there while someone who submits an article is creating new rules.

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

 

 

 

 

--following quotes by Uthrac

"The author, by default, IS the authority when it comes to a mod. In any seat other than the DM's, it creates the opportunity for conflict."

"I'm all for allowing authors to play their mods with some guidelines (i.e. more gold only; as a test-play; in non-public events only), but opening the floodgates for open play seems unwise to me."

--end quotes

Putting those two statements together, if I understand your position, I think you're saying the author should be telling the DM what to do.  This is naturally going to create a conflict of authority, and result in problems.  I agree with that much.

My position - the one supported by the RPGA documentation - is that the DM is the one responsible for running the table.  The author has knowledge of the adventure, but is essentially no different from any player with the opinion.   The DM is the one responsible for maintaining table discipline, including rules resolution, how the table should be run, player infractions, and so on.  Violation of table discipline results in reports, escalation to senior officials, and the appropriate penalties.

If the DMs do their job, and authors are mature responsible players, there will be no problem.

If someone doesn't do their job - well, there are 5-7 people at the table; they can either talk it out among themselves, or escalate the matter as necessary.  Again - just so long as everyone's mature enough to handle the matter, there should be no problem.


Uthrac, you did mention that people in your area would find this a problem.  I understand that when you're in a region, the players in that region define what your play experience will be, and I'm sorry that you've had such negative experiences.  But that's a regional problem.  You're proposing a system-wide solution that would punish authors, in return for some small marginal benefit to your particular region.  I hope you'll reconsider your call for restricting authors from playing their own adventures in LFR.

Also, I hope you'll find some other people to play with, on account of if things are really that bad in your area, yeesh.  Yell


Noted. Guess who's running the second playtest of Enemy of My Enemy... and guess who's playing?



I've got no problem with that.  ;)

@newpaintbrush:

Yes, WE all agree that the DM is the authority at the table. My concern is that - by the mere presence of the author at the table - the DM's authority comes into question.  There are MANY games I've played where the DM says/does something and I'll ask - "Could you double-check that? It doesn't sound right."  About 1/2 the time the DM rereads and realizes he misread something, and the other half of the time there's an exception/DME going on.  Note: I'm always polite, go along with the judges "final" ruling, and never argue.  It's never been a problem to "verify" that things are being run correctly.

Now add the author to the mix.  It's certainly tempting to turn to the author and ask if something is "being done right."  It's also easy to give the author "feedback" on the spot - and some of the "negative" feedback could be disruptive to the table.

I do NOT think that the author should be telling the DM what to do - - but that's the elephant in the living room.  (If there's a question, and the author is sitting there, why wouldn't the author clarify? . . . . and why wouldn't the DM check with the author - sitting right there - if he has any questions?)  While the "by-the-rules" answer is "the DM is in charge of the table" - - the reality is that the author is the expert when it comes to the mod, and their real-time presence changes the table dynamic (like it or not).

Again, it is not just a DM-author issue. It's the 3-5 other players at the table as well.  It only takes one player who's unhappy with the way the mod is turning out to ruin this table - - because you can either blame the judge or blame the author for the negative experience, and they're both sitting right there!

To quote you: "just so long as everyone's mature enough . . ." - - - the simple truth is that EVERYONE in open play is not.  

I'll pose the question back to you that went unanswered:  "What, exactly, do authors benefit from being able to play their own adventure?"  (i.e. How is not allowing them to play an adventure they have written a punishment?)  

BTW: Most negative experiences I've "survived" have been at big shows like DDXP - in which case it's easy to walk away.  Locally, it's very easy to avoid the few "problem" players locally.

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

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director