Dark Legacy of Evard Live Chat on Thursday

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This Thursday, from 1 to 2 p.m. Pacific Time, we’ll be hosting a live chat with Richard Baker about the upcoming “Dark Legacy of Evard” encounter season. Rich wrote the adventure, so no one knows better than him what it holds in store. Of course, he can’t spill too many beans about that or he’d spoil the adventure’s many surprises, but he can talk about the origins of the story, what goes into designing an Encounters season, how it differs from other sorts of adventure writing, and the trials and tribulations of a Design Manager and bestselling author.


The chat will occur here -- community.wizards.com/go/chat/live. (You can get into that room anytime, if you’d like to have a look around or use it to chat with your BFFs.)


The room will be moderated, which means that we’ll be fielding questions on the side and feeding them to Rich. In the meantime, this is your chance to propose some questions in advance. Use this thread to kick around ideas of what you’d like Rich to discuss and explain. You can submit questions during the chat, too, but the best way to get noticed is to raise your hand when things are quiet, like now.


Steve

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

BTW, there's a terrific preview of DLoE at dungeonsmaster.com. Well worth the read, whether or not you play D&D Encounters.

Steve
 

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

This is a cool idea. Here are some questions, should I not be able to make it due to work.

I am very curious how hard Rich finds it to encourage RP within the format. Encounters needs to have each session be fairly brief for DMs to be able to quickly review the encounter. When we look at any given session and take out the space used for terrain and stat blocks... that doesn't leave much. With the limited space of the format, how does Rich work to create good RP? Is this a struggle design-wise, or does he have a method he can share?

I am also curious how Rich worked to create a feel of continuity between sessions. This seems like a challenge, since players can forget details in a week's time.

With Encounters, is there a feel for what portion of players want to just roll dice vs. really RP and enjoy the story?

Some of the Encounters seasons have ended with a few adventure seeds, should players and DM want to continue. Has Wizards considered providing more within the adventure itself that could foster home games or separate in-store play? For example, an optional encounter that can be done if desired to explore more of the story? A bonus 3-encounter adventure given as a judge reward, which DMs could use to start a home game?

A topic that comes up often is the Essentials-only rule. Will Encounters reach the maturity level where it makes sense to allow all 4E PC options? I see players "graduate" and want to use these other books the game store sells, but they can't use them in Encounters.

Another common topic is how to foster play in living campaigns. Many of us would like to see something that encourages players to play Encounters but also try out LFR and other living campaigns... even go to conventions. Season 1 allowed PCs to transition to LFR... might we see more of that in the future?

Thanks!

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Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

Short Question: How scalable is this season? 

Background: We've got a lot of returning players from the past two seasons of Encounters, and only a couple of them have migrated to home games or LFR.  We've also got a batch of very young players (who are a blast to play with, believe me,) for whom this is a weekly after-school activity.  They would love to play with their veteran 3rd-level characters from the Phantom Brigade.  If I add three levels to all the bad guys (+3 AC/NADs/Attack/Damage, +24 hp), am I going to "break" the adventure?
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
Although I've been loving playing and DMing Encounters, my question is about Rich's latest novels, the Blades of the Moonsea.

I really enjoyed this trilogy, especially the second book.  I remember laughing and grinning madly as I read it at the park during lunch breaks last summer.  I really love the characters, and was a little sad to finish the third book.  I think Rich detailed a great little setting along the Moonsea, with the characters, groups and cities interacting well to create good D&D stories.

Will we be seeing more of the adventures of Geran, Hamil and Sarth?  In other words, are there any plans for a sequel to the Blades of the Moonsea?
Mr. Baker, in your essay on writing the Dark Legacy of Evard you mention the desire to have "traffic circle" style decision points. After the season is over might we see some suggestions as to how one might add more flexibility to this story?

Thank you
Why is there so little support for playing a character from the Heros of Shadow book in the adventure?

I live nowhere near any game store that is running Encounters (I checked the map thingy); is there any way I can get the adventures (after the season is over, obviously) to run in a home game?
======= Balesir
the only way right now is ebay
Why is there so little support for playing a character from the Heros of Shadow book in the adventure?




I'm curious about this one too. I told everyone to roll-up characters from HoS for it, and now I've got a party that will make the NPCs run screaming, not asking for help.

I live nowhere near any game store that is running Encounters (I checked the map thingy); is there any way I can get the adventures (after the season is over, obviously) to run in a home game?



I've got so many requests to buy the modules.  If WotC wants to use these modules to help support the venues, they might want to consider making small runs available at retail (say, as the season concludes.  Perhaps exclusive to the stores running the game!)  That last won't help Balesir, but It would sure help me. I love running the games, but a lot of the players don't buy anything.  The best way to get them to buy something is to have product they want.  You'd be surprised how many people would take the module home to run for their usual groups. 

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

Short Question: How scalable is this season? 

Background: We've got a lot of returning players from the past two seasons of Encounters, and only a couple of them have migrated to home games or LFR.  We've also got a batch of very young players (who are a blast to play with, believe me,) for whom this is a weekly after-school activity.  They would love to play with their veteran 3rd-level characters from the Phantom Brigade.  If I add three levels to all the bad guys (+3 AC/NADs/Attack/Damage, +24 hp), am I going to "break" the adventure?



  I'd advise against it.  My bet is that you will produce a cakewalk or a TPK [only guessing as to which].  However
dungeonsmaster.com/2011/04/dd-encounters...

   has several other DMs with much the same idea [and at least one saying to be careful since some of the monsters would be almost impossible to hit].
Short Question: How scalable is this season? 

Background: We've got a lot of returning players from the past two seasons of Encounters, and only a couple of them have migrated to home games or LFR.  We've also got a batch of very young players (who are a blast to play with, believe me,) for whom this is a weekly after-school activity.  They would love to play with their veteran 3rd-level characters from the Phantom Brigade.  If I add three levels to all the bad guys (+3 AC/NADs/Attack/Damage, +24 hp), am I going to "break" the adventure?



  I'd advise against it.  My bet is that you will produce a cakewalk or a TPK [only guessing as to which].  However
dungeonsmaster.com/2011/04/dd-encounters...

   has several other DMs with much the same idea [and at least one saying to be careful since some of the monsters would be almost impossible to hit].

Yeah, I read that article and reply thread too, but I'm not sure what you read- I saw a lot of people sympathetic to continuing characters from the previous seasons.  I also got that people who scaled up the adventures and had bad experiences did so incorrectly by throwing more bad guys at the heroes instead of scaling up the monsters.  (Increasing/decreasing monsters in an encounter is better suited when you are adjusting for more/less than 5 players.)  You should be able to scale them up a couple of levels without throwing the whole adventure out of balance.  Beyond a couple of levels, yes, I'd look at substituting terrain effects and monsters as some DMs did, but really it's not necessary if you're adjusting +/-2 levels.  The people predicting TPKs are speculating from an adventure they've only read and not run yet.  I'd say the rule of DM discretion applies here; if the PCs are really in hot water (or falling asleep from a simple battle), you might want to step in.  Otherwise, adjusting the encounter level to match the party level is quite within the DM prerogative.

(P.S. And if a 3rd-level PC dies in an Encounters session: boo hoo.  Better luck and tactics will prevail next week with a new character, with a bit more suspense in the game for the surviving heroes.)
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
   The simple fact that people do scale up incorrectly is a reason to at least be cautious, and likely to forget the whole idea.  Assuming you to be a common DM [and just about everybody assumes they are above average], you are working on the fly to revise what some professional[s?] have spent considerably more time creating and revising.  We don't need to see the individual product, or even know what it is.  No matter how much our ego says otherwise, the fact that somebody is paying him and not us is pretty decisive.  The odds that your changes will be improvements are distinctly low.  It is more likely you will have something that can somewhat handle 3rd and 4th level PCs, but it will not be as good, and may fall apart.
   The simple fact that people do scale up incorrectly is a reason to at least be cautious, and likely to forget the whole idea.  Assuming you to be a common DM [and just about everybody assumes they are above average], you are working on the fly to revise what some professional[s?] have spent considerably more time creating and revising.  We don't need to see the individual product, or even know what it is.  No matter how much our ego says otherwise, the fact that somebody is paying him and not us is pretty decisive.  The odds that your changes will be improvements are distinctly low.  It is more likely you will have something that can somewhat handle 3rd and 4th level PCs, but it will not be as good, and may fall apart.



Thanks for the condescending advice to be careful- but since the professionals who design the game gave DMs the tools to adjust monsters to match their particular parties, I think I'll use them.  I think the rules as written (and specific tools like the DDI Monster Slider) illustrate a level of trust in DMs to run and adjust games quite a bit higher than you attribute to them.  

Designers know they can't write an adventure to account for every party situation, even in a nominally controlled format like Encounters.  They trust DMs to adjust for situations such as 9 players showing up to a table, or a group that wants to play 3rd-level characters instead of rerolling 1st-level characters for the fifth time.  Bottom line, WotC has an Encounters program so people with limited time will play and buy D&D.  If they're not having fun at the table, they won't play, and the DM shares some responsibility for that fun.  So I'll see who shows up for my table, and I'll take it from there.
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
I've finished reading it and I think it will be great.  I'm pretty likely to scale stuff up myself, to allow for higher levels and my only comments to the naysayers is this:

Maybe you don't know how to do it properly (or have played under DMs who can't do it) but I have absolutely no trouble scaling an encounter.  Heck, I can run modules from earlier editions  and convert at the table without any preperations.  Scaling 4e levels is easy.
   A point to at least be aware of is that both March [where you routinely end up with no gold at all] and Dark are distinctly stingy in rewards, at least by LFR standards.  That's not too serious for the PC who plays just one.  In a level or two, he is at par.  But playing both means twice as long with twice the distance below the curve.  That is getting serious, and certainly reason for the rollplayer to look elsewhere.  For the DM, it means rewards need substantial improvement.