Roleplaying in LFR?

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You present that to most convention LFR organizers and they'll look at you like you had three heads, though. Many conventions they're just having trouble getting enough judges. Most just slap together whatever list of adventures they think haven't been run in the area overmuch. They get the PDFs, put together a list of slots based on how many players they can handle, and that's it. They simply don't have the luxury in time or resources for this kind of elaborate structure.



You don't need to have conventions do that. You base your decision on which conventions you're going to go to based on the mods they're offering. If a convention as an example is offering a bunch of WATE, BALD, and MOON mods at a particular tier, then you go to it with your character intending to play those mods. If they're not offering the mods you want, you either don't go or you go intending to play your non-WATE/BALD/MOON character.


Okay, that helps YOUR situation out, as ONE INDIVIDUAL PLAYER.

That's assuming you HAVE enough conventions available to you that you can pick and choose. Not many players have that luxury.

I'm discussing changes and additons that might help the ENTIRE CAMPAIGN OUT.

And it's not even like it's stuff that hasn't come up before. Literally EVERY OTHER LIVING CAMPAIGN manages some form of the character involvement I am discussing. Even all the previous RPGA-run ones. Regions. Factions, Meta-orgs. Etc.

But, for some reason, not LFR.

Apparantly it's too much work. Despite there being quite a few volunteer folks that would jump at the chance to have such work delegated to them.


So that if a player travels halfway across the country to a convention and states to a table of complete strangers, "I am a Knight of So-and-So!" or "I am a citizen of X!", it actually MEANS something significant beyond his or her personal make-believe.


Which you can get with every major quest solved or with the right story awards. One of my characters is actually a Knight of So-and-So with documentation.



Yes, there's a few story awards that do pretty well with this. But for every one I can think of, I can think of five others that so badly missed the boat on an opportunity to hook characters into the world. SO many throw-away organizations and factions that pop up maybe once or twice and are never heard from again, many of which are relegated to background fluff when they could be wonderful player involvement.

A compiled database of such organizations for authors to draw from might help in this regard. Hell, just more major quests and similar linking threads would be welcome.



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

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

You don't need to have conventions do that. You base your decision on which conventions you're going to go to based on the mods they're offering. If a convention as an example is offering a bunch of WATE, BALD, and MOON mods at a particular tier, then you go to it with your character intending to play those mods. If they're not offering the mods you want, you either don't go or you go intending to play your non-WATE/BALD/MOON character.


Okay, that helps YOUR situation out, as ONE INDIVIDUAL PLAYER.

That's assuming you HAVE enough conventions available to you that you can pick and choose. Not many players have that luxury.



Most players who can go to conventions have that luxury. If the conventions you can go to don't offer MOON/WATE/BALD mods as an example, then you need to ask your organizer to offer those mods instead.

And it's not even like it's stuff that hasn't come up before. Literally EVERY OTHER LIVING CAMPAIGN manages some form of the character involvement I am discussing. Even all the previous RPGA-run ones. Regions. Factions, Meta-orgs. Etc.

But, for some reason, not LFR.

Apparantly it's too much work. Despite there being quite a few volunteer folks that would jump at the chance to have such work delegated to them.



Actually, I think the problem is quite clearly relating to something else:
Exclusionary material is bad.
Mechanical benefits from exclusionary material is really bad.

The problem is that you've got players that are happy to have the character involvement stuff only if they get mechanical benefits to optimize around that they can only get from doing X(i.e. exclusionary). If it isn't there, then they don't.

What's the real difference between an Adventuring Company and a Metaorg? One had real mechanical benefits and the other didn't.

Personally, I really disliked how metaorgs/regions/metaregions/interactives in LG worked, so I'm happy to see them gone. I'd much rather have the ability to have a large selection of mods to play than have the exclusionary material and get stuck in a horrible region/metaregion.

Okay, that helps YOUR situation out, as ONE INDIVIDUAL PLAYER.

That's assuming you HAVE enough conventions available to you that you can pick and choose. Not many players have that luxury.



Most players who can go to conventions have that luxury. If the conventions you can go to don't offer MOON/WATE/BALD mods as an example, then you need to ask your organizer to offer those mods instead.



Okay. How does that help out all the other players in my region, who all might have wildly varying different needs on what adventures they need run?

You seem to be under the impression I'm only discussing my personal wants and needs. I'm not.

If someone came up with a fantastic campaign-level plan to get players more engaged and involved and emotionally invested, but that plan required that I, personally, was required to rip up all my characters and not play at all, I'd applaud and step out without reservation.

I do that on a regular basis, actually - sometimes we have a problematic number of players show up, and me stepping out to go play a boardgame or something fixes it. No big, I'm okay with it.


And it's not even like it's stuff that hasn't come up before. Literally EVERY OTHER LIVING CAMPAIGN manages some form of the character involvement I am discussing. Even all the previous RPGA-run ones. Regions. Factions, Meta-orgs. Etc.

But, for some reason, not LFR.

Apparantly it's too much work. Despite there being quite a few volunteer folks that would jump at the chance to have such work delegated to them.



Actually, I think the problem is quite clearly relating to something else:
Exclusionary material is bad.
Mechanical benefits from exclusionary material is really bad.

The problem is that you've got players that are happy to have the character involvement stuff only if they get mechanical benefits to optimize around that they can only get from doing X(i.e. exclusionary). If it isn't there, then they don't.

What's the real difference between an Adventuring Company and a Metaorg? One had real mechanical benefits and the other didn't.

Personally, I really disliked how metaorgs/regions/metaregions/interactives in LG worked, so I'm happy to see them gone. I'd much rather have the ability to have a large selection of mods to play than have the exclusionary material and get stuck in a horrible region/metaregion.



You are mistaking badly implemented exclusionary attempts for my larger arguement. Missing the forest for the trees. Yes, there ave been badly implemented attempts in the past. But their INTENT is good, to draw in characters and create immersion for players. To get folks to have a sensation of home and belonging.

I'm not talking 'mechanical benefits'. I'm not talking 'exclusivity'. Or any such small petty things.

I'm talking simply of characters having the opportunity to join communities and be a part of things larger than themselves, things that are tied to the game world and create a sense of immersion and belonging.

As opposed to characters being the eternal strangers that show up, fix something, and vanish again.

Yes, we'd have to keep an eye out for problematic isues, prevent stuff like old boy's clubs from cropping up, make sure folks aren't locked out out of no fault of their own.

It's work. It will take effort and careful observation.

"Simpler" and "easier" isn't always "better".



-karma

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

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


Actually, I think the problem is quite clearly relating to something else:
Exclusionary material is bad.
Mechanical benefits from exclusionary material is really bad.

The problem is that you've got players that are happy to have the character involvement stuff only if they get mechanical benefits to optimize around that they can only get from doing X(i.e. exclusionary). If it isn't there, then they don't.

What's the real difference between an Adventuring Company and a Metaorg? One had real mechanical benefits and the other didn't.

Personally, I really disliked how metaorgs/regions/metaregions/interactives in LG worked, so I'm happy to see them gone. I'd much rather have the ability to have a large selection of mods to play than have the exclusionary material and get stuck in a horrible region/metaregion.



I don't understand your responses to Karma. Your arguments seem to hinge on things he is not saying.

From my end, there is a big difference between exclusionary factors that are a menu of options (I choose meta-org x, you choose meta-org y, we each get different opportunities) and real exclusion (you didn't choose meta-org z, your options are limited). There is plenty of room to design systems that allow for options but do not exclude. In LG, the problem with meta-orgs was that some of them (especially in some regions) had incredible benefits. Others had no benefits or had incredible costs but were essentially mandatory (such as army meta-orgs). It was the lack of balance that really hurt. The RP side was fantastic - their presence added depth and belonging to many regional adventures. Speaking with the Druids and you are a member? This is what happens, because yes, the adventure recognizes your special role - you are a part of this region. But, really, LFR can't have metaorgs like that because PCs don't spend any real time in-region and you can't cover all AdvCos in an adventure, if any at all. AdvCos are terrible because you can't even keep the PCs playing together without meticulous planning, they offer no RP, and the few adventures that could use them don't actually require them or really do much as a result of them.

But, you don't need exclusionary factors. You just need what Karma was talking about with regards to creating a sense of belonging. Focus and provide worth for previous experiences. Have one thing feed off of another. Use the same NPCs, who should value the PCs. Have PCs meet real movers and shakers, perfrom real deeds of value, and have real connections to lands.

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The RP side was fantastic - their presence added depth and belonging to many regional adventures. Speaking with the Druids and you are a member? This is what happens, because yes, the adventure recognizes your special role - you are a part of this region.



Yeah, see, here's where you guys aren't recognizing my PoV. I thought the RP side of LG metaorgs was horrible. Just flat out horrible. And they usually detracted from mods except when the mod writer was so terrific at writing mods that he could overcome the limitations. And yes, you lived in a region where you ultimately had who I think was the best writer of LG running your region at one point. In most regions, every single regional mod had to have some metaorg shoved into it because otherwise, they'd never appear in region at all.

I don't want to be recognized by the Druids because off camera, I decided to join the Druids. I want to play a mod where I am offered the opportunity to join the Druids and in the mod itself, make the decision based on what I understand are the options.

And that is actually happening in LFR.

But, you don't need exclusionary factors. You just need what Karma was talking about with regards to creating a sense of belonging. Focus and provide worth for previous experiences. Have one thing feed off of another. Use the same NPCs, who should value the PCs. Have PCs meet real movers and shakers, perfrom real deeds of value, and have real connections to lands.



And that too is happening in LFR. There are some very good reasons that I listed the six regions that I did...


I don't want to be recognized by the Druids because off camera, I decided to join the Druids. I want to play a mod where I am offered the opportunity to join the Druids and in the mod itself, make the decision based on what I understand are the options.

And that is actually happening in LFR.


Where is this happening? I can think of zero mods where the players get the meaningful decision to join some kind of faction, where being in that faction has a meaningful effect in later mods.

Yes, there are plenty of mods where the primary goal is to help some faction (say, the Flaming Fists) and then get a reward that they like you now. However, that's not a choice, unless you count "not doing that quest" as a valid choice. Also, it doesn't have meaningful effects later: it may be specified in later mods that some people recognize you, but that doesn't affect their reactions or the adventure.

Have PCs meet real movers and shakers, perfrom real deeds of value, and have real connections to lands.



And that too is happening in LFR. There are some very good reasons that I listed the six regions that I did...


I count one out of three. Yes, you get to perform some real deeds of value, as in saving any number of people and villages from the shadar-kai or the zhentarim. Meeting movers and shakers, not so much. Looking back on the past year-and-a-half, the only recurring NPC that stands out is that lich that keeps trying to kill us. And I'm not seeing a connection to the lands either: most of the adventures could be transposed into a different region without anyone noticing.

Come to think of it, this lack of continuity is rather troubling. Is this caused by having too many regions, and a lack of focus on how an adventure fits in that region rather than the damsel-in-distress of village X which might as well be anywhere?
There are a few mods where you can become a knight or similarly entrusted/recognized by a land.

But, this pales to the connection players and their PCs had with their lands in LG. How often does a Tiefling and a Dragonborn play out their tensions? In Akanul? (I've seen it, but very infrequently). In Geoff, put a Gran March PC at the table and even the players were taking the RP-fictional struggles too seriously. I mean, players wore insulting T-shirts to each other's cons ("Got Hochoch?" being the funniest I saw, based on the Gran March having "liberated" the only town Geoff had and always claiming to own it... to the resentment of both sides).

Similarly, the battle in-region between the Old Faith and PC-driven efforts to bring other faiths (notably We Jas) were legendary. Players even staged mock battles at midnight madness slots at cons just to have some PvP action and try to claim superiority (Old Faith won...Yes!).

Then there was the way players reacted to events, which actually mattered. When Keoland withdrew troops, players talked about it. It really mattered. When a random PC from Ulek showed up in Hochoch on the online list, Geoff PCs turned it into diplomatic efforts to gain support. Player actions mattered and the setting and PCs interacted.

Now, some of that was exclusionary. A player like me, in it from the beginning, enjoyed the game more than a new player. That was unfair. The playing field needs to be fair. But, fairness can be had and RP and story-PC interaction still had.

The key is this:
  • Make choices matter. Make them happen often, track them, and both reward and punish for choices.

  • Have choices lead to things. Have the sum of an adventure matter. If most players defeated foe x and accomplished task y, then z happens and it is a thing PCs care about. If they fail, z2 happens and PCs care.

  • Have membership matter, without being unfair to achieve. Flaming Fist membership should matter in a big RP way, not in a minor +2 on a skill check.

  • Make in-region matter. And, don't just hand-wave something, but make it big on RP. From the East Rift and a dwarf and speaking to the dwarven NPC? You get to instead talk to super-important NPC x at a special meal. If it is an auto-success in a skill challenge, explain it via RP so it isn't a one-second and done thing everyone barely registers.


The reason many of us liked meta-orgs is that they cemented who you were. Geoff had lots of archers, but a Longbowman of Geoff or a Olwythi of Geoff were very different and respected organizations. You were proud to be a part of them. With membership came a number of responsibilities that impacted your RP. Some doors would open in adventures, some NPCs favored you, but mostly it was about belonging and understanding your place in the region. You could be very low in level and join or be working on joining. And, unlike LFR, you were doing important things from the beginning. In Lord of the Rings, the hobbits don't deliver packages for a month, then sign on to guard caravans, then go talk down some bandits, then... No. They jump right in on a meaningful quest that matters. Their sense of purpose and belonging is established at every sense of they way. Their meta-org, the Fellowship, defines them and brings them both weal and woe.

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The key is this:
  • Make choices matter. Make them happen often, track them, and both reward and punish for choices.

  • Have choices lead to things. Have the sum of an adventure matter. If most players defeated foe x and accomplished task y, then z happens and it is a thing PCs care about. If they fail, z2 happens and PCs care.

  • Have membership matter, without being unfair to achieve. Flaming Fist membership should matter in a big RP way, not in a minor +2 on a skill check.

  • Make in-region matter. And, don't just hand-wave something, but make it big on RP. From the East Rift and a dwarf and speaking to the dwarven NPC? You get to instead talk to super-important NPC x at a special meal. If it is an auto-success in a skill challenge, explain it via RP so it isn't a one-second and done thing everyone barely registers.



Gosh darn it, Alpha...this is it.  Well stated.  Choices need to matter; tradeoffs need to matter.   LFR, imho, is failing to find ways to tie players to their characters and encourage really caring about the choices that they make and roleplaying that should arise from those choices.   There isn't a thread of grand story to latch to, to be a part of, to really care about.

Even again, yet another kick in the teeth to roleplaying:  http://community.wizards.com/lfr/go/thread/view/76817/23866361/Starting_Characters_Above_1st_Level?sdb=1

*sigh*  No, it hasn't happened yet...and we don't know how it's going to happen.  But it was a rumor 2 months ago...and now confirmed to exist and in discussion.   

For the love of God Powers-That-Be, please do something big to encourage roleplaying and character choices within LFR.

-Pain
Diwinyth Healer
Army of Liberation



The thing is, there are a lot of good story arcs. The DRAG one I played was excellent. I like to think that the Radiance Against Thay arc is good. The Waterdeep necromancer one. The Elturgard series are cool when played at one place. There are some cool ones out there. They are just wattered down, on a PC basis, by all the other non-arc things you play. The erratic mercenary worldhopper role just gets in the way of the hero who wants to relate to one or two regions.

On the starting at higher level thing, I don't even know what to say. I just hope there is a living campaign to replace what will become a fun LFR delve program.

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 think the "new" WATE series (Gilding a Noble) could be good as well.  The Arts & Crafts -> Pain & Suffering could be interesting.  CORM 1-6 is supposed to have started a new quest - that was a promising start.
There are some meaningful choices to make in some Dalelands adventures. Not all of them are big: the choice you made in DALE1-1 (who gets the deed) had only a minor effect (though the political implication was actually fairly significant). The choice you make in DALE1-6 is more significant.

The Restoring Splendor quest (WATE2-1, WATE2-2 and WATE2-3) is both specifically about House Moonstar, an old, famous noble house that was the pillar of Waterdeep, AND a representative example of the flavor and challenges of Waterdeep today.  The players have the chance to impact not just the future of House Moonstar but perhaps help Waterdeep turn the corner on a century of troubles and ancient enemies.

Yes, Claire and I want to do more on presenting choices with clearly different paths/outcomes due to those choices.  That does make individual adventures more complicated for DMs, but satisfying for players.  As we get past the introduction phase of the campaign and LFR evolves, we hope to see the options grow.  It is hard to pack everything into one 4-hour adventure.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
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