Playing Community Advocate Catch-Up

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One of the biggest problems with LFR is that it is nearly impossible to play any sort of cohesive campaign. You are just playing a whole bunch of random adventures that have nothing to do with each other. Trying to have a character follow a plot line or story arc is next to impossible. (The few that exist) I had to stop playing my primary character for a long time just to keep him from leveling in order to play the (Zhent story arc) specials. I had to metagame XP rewards to make certain I could play the story arc with out leveling out in the middle.



You say this as if this is unique to LFR.  This happened to people in LG as well, especially in the early years.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
Yeah, it took a while. Years, in some regions. We learned a lot over time.

Is there any reason we can't take the best of what we learned from LG on fun, immersion, and community, and apply it to LFR?

Or do we have to throw everything out, start all over and make all the same mistakes again?




-np
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
One of the biggest problems with LFR is that it is nearly impossible to play any sort of cohesive campaign. You are just playing a whole bunch of random adventures that have nothing to do with each other. Trying to have a character follow a plot line or story arc is next to impossible. (The few that exist) I had to stop playing my primary character for a long time just to keep him from leveling in order to play the (Zhent story arc) specials. I had to metagame XP rewards to make certain I could play the story arc with out leveling out in the middle.



You say this as if this is unique to LFR.  This happened to people in LG as well, especially in the early years.



Karma's  answer echo my own thoughts.

Yeah, it took a while. Years, in some regions. We learned a lot over time.

Is there any reason we can't take the best of what we learned from LG on fun, immersion, and community, and apply it to LFR?

Or do we have to throw everything out, start all over and make all the same mistakes again?




-np




It strikes me as getting lost in ones own house.


Hey, even in year 2, Bissel was pretty fun. You had some genuine cohesive nature to your region, such as the intrusion of the Gran March, the threat of Evard, the role of outside influences, how much to contribute to Geoff, the recent changes with Ket... there was some serious stuff going down... and that's before it "got good"!

I do see good things happening in story in LFR. I truly don't know the answer to this, but I wonder how good it can get with the current system. I still fall back on my primary (do people even still use that term much?) PC being from the East Rift but only playing 5 out of 38 adventures in the East Rift.. and that's with a major concerted effort. I just don't see story being significant. Let's look at my distribution for Drom:
EAST = 5
LURU = 1
WATE = 3
IMPI=3
DALE=1
CORM=1
AKAN=3
MOON=3
DRAG=1
TYMA=2
BALD=1
CORE = the rest

Now let's look at the story arcs based on the bottom of this page. It shocked me to no end to find out that my main PC has played all of one story arc (SPEC1-1 and 1-2). I recall trying to get a few story arcs (I wanted to do QUES1-1, the MOON one, etc.) but it never happened. It is unbelievable to me. No wonder Drom feels so separated from his sworn mission to protect the East Rift. Not only is he not spending time there, but he has pretty much no reason at all to have been anywhere else! It's a grab-bag of nonsensical quests and random happenstance. It has not been very "campaign" for Drom, even if often it has been "living".

All of this to say that I go back to what I have said before.
  • We need to shed some regions. Shut 2-3 down and focus on story.

  • Fewer mods as well, because we do not need 160+ adventures. We just don't need that many when you can replay. The campaign should look at real demographics and not the needs of the vocal few. The real demographic is likely in the H2 or H3 range - those are the needs of the majority. And while some may not cry for story or RP, it is what retains players.

  • While I want to check out P3 as much as any hardcore player, it really isn't more important than quality adventures. I would be happy to shelve P3 and see a more inclusive schedule at Gen Con.





I agree with all of this. Alpha is just better at expressing it than I am.

Incidentally , my "primary" character is also from East Rift.
The Global Admins are considering the option of reducing the number of regions starting in 2011 as well as other changes to the campaign.  Some of their ideas have been submitted to WotC and we are waiting on feedback/approval/disapproval.

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
Hey, even in year 2, Bissel was pretty fun. You had some genuine cohesive nature to your region, such as the intrusion of the Gran March, the threat of Evard, the role of outside influences, how much to contribute to Geoff, the recent changes with Ket... there was some serious stuff going down... and that's before it "got good"!

I do see good things happening in story in LFR. I truly don't know the answer to this, but I wonder how good it can get with the current system. I still fall back on my primary (do people even still use that term much?) PC being from the East Rift but only playing 5 out of 38 adventures in the East Rift.. and that's with a major concerted effort. I just don't see story being significant.



Isn't that in part to three things:
Your main character comes from a region where story arcs are at a very low level at the moment. They haven't even had a major quest start yet as far as I can tell.

You made up your main character before you knew what your region's story was going to be like. You want to protect the East Rift, but the East Rift isn't focused on that kind of story.

You started play before there were enough mods to have the choice of leveling by concentrating on an area. If you started now, you could easily play a character who exclusively played EAST, TYMA, and AKAN. I'm not sure that's the best set of regions for concentrated play as they don't have a lot of arcs going on.

-----------

Think about what would have happened had you played your main character starting out in Waterdeep or Dalelands? 
Hey, even in year 2, Bissel was pretty fun. You had some genuine cohesive nature to your region, such as the intrusion of the Gran March, the threat of Evard, the role of outside influences, how much to contribute to Geoff, the recent changes with Ket... there was some serious stuff going down... and that's before it "got good"!

I do see good things happening in story in LFR. I truly don't know the answer to this, but I wonder how good it can get with the current system. I still fall back on my primary (do people even still use that term much?) PC being from the East Rift but only playing 5 out of 38 adventures in the East Rift.. and that's with a major concerted effort. I just don't see story being significant.



Isn't that in part to three things:
Your main character comes from a region where story arcs are at a very low level at the moment. They haven't even had a major quest start yet as far as I can tell.

You made up your main character before you knew what your region's story was going to be like. You want to protect the East Rift, but the East Rift isn't focused on that kind of story.

You started play before there were enough mods to have the choice of leveling by concentrating on an area. If you started now, you could easily play a character who exclusively played EAST, TYMA, and AKAN. I'm not sure that's the best set of regions for concentrated play as they don't have a lot of arcs going on.

-----------

Think about what would have happened had you played your main character starting out in Waterdeep or Dalelands? 


I have a PC from Waterdeep. It was my second PC and is now 16th. I have played 3 of 38 adventures in Waterdeep, completing the Necromancer quest arc. I have completed a two-mod AGLA Something Smells story arc and the 2-mod Missing Children core arc, for a total of three completed arcs. That's probably the most arcs of any PC.

My other PCs have not fared any better, regardless of whether they are recent or old PCs. I am working on playing DRAG with my rogue, but she has just the 3 out of 24 adventures in that region.

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 have a PC from Waterdeep. It was my second PC and is now 16th. I have played 3 of 38 adventures in Waterdeep, completing the Necromancer quest arc. I have completed a two-mod AGLA Something Smells story arc and the 2-mod Missing Children core arc, for a total of three completed arcs. That's probably the most arcs of any PC.

My other PCs have not fared any better, regardless of whether they are recent or old PCs. I am working on playing DRAG with my rogue, but she has just the 3 out of 24 adventures in that region.



But think about if you started LFR right now, knowing roughly how much you would play the mods and having a general idea from a friend "Hey, here are where the better LFR mods are."

One of the things I'm doing is making 3 H1 characters who have specific mods that they're supposed to play.

Huilliam: Barbarian 3 - plays any mods but the following 6 regions.
Ava Lumineiri: Psion|Avenger 2 - plays DALE, CORM, DRAG mods. Will play the Ravens Bluff MINI mods at GenCon because that's right near Dalelands.
(to be made by Tuesday, probably some sort of hybrid) - plays WATE, BALD, and MOON. My Sword Coast character.

I expect that they'll level relatively slowly compared to normal, but I think I'll have a lot of opportunity to concentrate on that regional feel as a result. As I'm my group's organizer, I'll have the ability to help my group probably move down that path...
But think about if you started LFR right now, knowing roughly how much you would play the mods and having a general idea from a friend "Hey, here are where the better LFR mods are."


That assumes that choosing adventures is my only constraint. See, I hate replaying. So, my top priority as a player is to try something new. A new H3 comes out, and it is in Waterdeep. My Waterdeep PC is 16, so let's look at who we have that can play it. Well, my Invoker hasn't played it, and has one other Waterdeep mod, so I'll play it with them.

Next mod comes out and so on and before you know it you end up with PCs that have played all over the map.

Holding a PC just for a series is a possibility. From what I hear, it sounds like many others are in my shoes - I will hold a PC back for a good series, but I won't otherwise. And, I won't wait forever. I really like playing my psion, who is at MINI1-5. I am waiting on some buddies to resume play, but we last played many moons ago (we had planned it for the release date, then had things crop up and could not play it once it released late). Every now and then I consider ditching and just playing something else, but so far I've waited on my group. I held my rogue back for DRAG1-5 and -6 for a couple of months even though I really want to get her to paragon, all based on how strong and fun that series was.

If I look at most of the story arcs, they aren't worth my waiting months. But, again, this is all due to the system.

Here is how my regional career went for my first/primary LG PC, Krelor Deepforge (who would go on to retire and become the head of a sub-region in Geoff):
8 Geoff adventures in a row, 4 core, 1 Geoff, 4 core, 1 adapted to Geoff, 8 Geoff, 2 Keoland, 1 Geoff, 3 core, 5 Geoff, 1 core, 5 Geoff, 5 core (Winter Fantasy convention), 3 Geoff, etc.

This equals:
32 in the region of Geoff
17 core
2 Keoland.

That is how you create a living story! Yes!

For comparison, let's take a look at my tertiary PC, the weathered and ancient Flan monk, Weary Fox. Weary had the primary region of Keoland, created for the times I would go up there. Over time I came to really like Bissel, so he was my main PC for trips to cons there. I would sometimes play him when I traveled. So, here is how he began his carrer:
Bissel 1
Keoland 3
Nyrond 2
Bissel 8
core 2
Keoland 4
BK 4
Bissel 1
Onnwal 1
Nyrond 2
core 2
Bissel1
Keoland 1
core 1
keoland 3
Bissel 1

Total for Weary Fox:
Bissel 12
Keoland 11
Core 5
BK 4
Nyrond 4
Onnwal 1

While Weary was weary with travel, he still managed to keep the vast majority of his play in the regions he liked.

It is no wonder at all that my play in LG is so full of memorable story. The contrast between my ability to play in region vs out of region with LG vs LFR is incredible!

Edit: I almost failed to note a really important point that just dawned on me. As I was looking over my ARs, every out-of-region mod was really memorable. Onnwal, "hey, that's where I picked up the tankard of Wenta!. BK, "oh, that mod, boy, did my heroism surprise those BK players!" The cores as well ("ah, the Brendigund series!"). It dawned on me that because out-of-region play was infrequent, the core and other regional adventures actually left their mark. They were different and you noted the differences and enjoyed them. The current LFR is a stir fry that leaves nothing as distinct.

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).

The Global Admins are considering the option of reducing the number of regions starting in 2011 as well as other changes to the campaign.  Some of their ideas have been submitted to WotC and we are waiting on feedback/approval/disapproval.

Keith


I hope that starting character above one is not a change. (Yes I know theres another thread)

So far the changes are making me worry much more than hope. Thats an honest statement not hyperbole.
But think about if you started LFR right now, knowing roughly how much you would play the mods and having a general idea from a friend "Hey, here are where the better LFR mods are."


That assumes that choosing adventures is my only constraint. See, I hate replaying. So, my top priority as a player is to try something new. A new H3 comes out, and it is in Waterdeep. My Waterdeep PC is 16, so let's look at who we have that can play it. Well, my Invoker hasn't played it, and has one other Waterdeep mod, so I'll play it with them.



As you know, I hate replaying too. But there are roughly 120 something mods/year. You could go to 6 conventions and play 6 mods each and then on top of it play a mod a week, and you're really only coming close to 3/4s of the available mods.

People really do have the ability to say, "Hey, there are more mods than I can play. I'm going to set up characters designed to wait on the mods to come out." - 3 regions seems to be the right number for focused play.

My LFR is usually limited to once a week, a saturday game about once every two months, and about two conventions. I know I'm not playing everything, so I don't have to rush to play things as soon as they come out.

Edit: I almost failed to note a really important point that just dawned on me. As I was looking over my ARs, every out-of-region mod was really memorable.



By definition, though, you're usually meeting a whole bunch of new players and learning how the rest of the world plays D&D. Almost any mod can be more exciting in that context, especially when you surprise them or they surprise you. And most people going to conventions are more serious about gaming. I'm pretty good with codes. At a battle interactive for the last Weekend in Dyvers, I shocked the table by decoding the coded message we found in real time. As in I read the 1st 5-6 words or so out loud as soon as the DM showed it to us. The expression on the DM's face will stay with me a long time.

When you play out of region now, odds are you are playing with the groups of people you normally play with for the most part...so you miss out on some of that surprise and shock value.
Yeah, it took a while. Years, in some regions. We learned a lot over time.

Is there any reason we can't take the best of what we learned from LG on fun, immersion, and community, and apply it to LFR?

Or do we have to throw everything out, start all over and make all the same mistakes again?



Well, if you form community and immersion then you are a "hardcore elitist gamer" who doesn't want new poeple to experience the campaign and whose cliqish hate-mongering behavior knows no bounds.  At least according to the thread discussing starting characters over 1st level.

In all seriousness, I feel the issue on immersion was a bad combination between regions releasing 1/2 as many mods per year than they did in LG (It's hard to get much goign with a 4+1 release schedule for a region per year) and to top it off, the first year was focusing more on trying to release a wide variety of mods to allow peopel to advance instead of keeping the campaign progressing more linearly.  Our first wave of mods was H1, next set was H2, next was H3, etc.  Add to the combo that all of the story arcs jumped level bands and it made it worse.  You did the first part in H1, 2nd part was in H2, and third was in H3.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
If you are thinking of reducing mods, please consider cutting the "CORE" series so that more focus can be placed on the regional adventures.  12 regions was spreading the campaign, and adding the CORE just spreads it out even more.

I like the thought of a dedicated regional reviewer maintaining the flavor across a region. Continue to do this.

If you are keeping any CORE, please consider using them to "set-up" cross-regional quests/arcs/etc.

Save the other regions for SPECs, ADAPs, and MINIs. 

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

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

I'd go the other way than Uthrac. Core adventures are a good way to bring up "global" threats and to play in areas other than the main regions. As much as folks might not like loosing their favorite region I'd really stick with removing one or more of the regions. You could even consolidate regions rather than loosing them entirely.

Of  course, that's only if you're going to try and reduce the region count or try to consolidate staff for some reason.
Rambling, random thoughts on stuff I'd like to see -

Recurring threats to the Realm.

As things seem to me now, you have one or two mods, then BAM! threats gone and you get the quest reward.

Now, if we could have lots of mods where this threat was just lurking in the background (example: That daughter your rescuing was kidnapped by thugs trying to prove themselves to the Zhents). Mods dealing with parts of the threat (Example: Zhents chasing gnolls into another area and then seeking employment to kill those gnolls.) Which finally lead up to a big confrontation (Zhent Special).
Instead of the few mods we had leading up to it.

Do think the "In Slumber Remains" quest line is doing a little better with the for-shadowing. Would be fun to see some mods actually dealing with the separate tasks. (Something along the lines of a scholar interested in the moldy tome and thinks there's a ruin that can help him figure it out - need adventures.)

OK, enough rambling.
I'd go the other way than Uthrac. Core adventures are a good way to bring up "global" threats and to play in areas other than the main regions. As much as folks might not like loosing their favorite region I'd really stick with removing one or more of the regions. You could even consolidate regions rather than loosing them entirely.

Of  course, that's only if you're going to try and reduce the region count or try to consolidate staff for some reason.




Frankly, I think that Heroic tier modules should all be local regional adventures, Paragon tier modules should be regional adventures linked with other regions, and Epic tier modules should be core adventures that span multiple regions.

Throw in the occasional exception if you like, but I'm not really sure that level 3 adventurers should really be part of multiple-region-spanning story arcs in 4E - that is clearly a paragon thing.
I'm not a big fan of core adventures as a concept. They really work best as spot visits to fantastic/iconic locales. But, any core that just happens to be in place x and could be instead in place y...

I would really like Cores to take a back seat to regionals. While I get the globe-threat concept of Epic, there is no reason why it can't be based in a region and impacting others. Abolethic Sovereignty is a good example: It can happen in any of several Sea of Fallen Stars and can certainly be regional/meta-regional, but a large enough threat affects the whole Realms. It can still be a regional adventure.

Ok, getting on a plane and out of touch (probably) for the week.

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 don't have any news on the backlog, but I have overhead the Globals discussing bits and pieces of the problem.  I'll ask for an official quote on the matter, but I know it's something that's very much on their minds right now.



Poke on the backlog question. All of this other discussion is kind of interesting, but ultimately pointless if modules don't get released. What is going on?
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.

Poke on the backlog question. All of this other discussion is kind of interesting, but ultimately pointless if modules don't get released. What is going on?



The issue has been covered, in depth, in numerous threads in the "LFR Adventures" sub-forum, including this thread:
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

In short, we *have* had several modules come out over the past few weeks; it does look like the logjam is beginning to break up.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"