D&D University: or how to start bringing players together

I mentioned this in passing in another thread, but thought it might be worth fleshing out a bit more.

WotC are hoping that DnDnext will unite D&D players from all editions; I believe that even creating an absolutely amazing gold-standard set of rules that cater for players of all styles and editions won't be enough on its own to bring people together. These forums show clearly just how far 5e will have to stretch to please everyone, and even once 5e is released there'll be a period of time before players are able to really get the most out of it. Players will only most likely see other playing styles when they attend conferences or official events, so it will take time for word to spread.

My idea is this: to support and accelerate the process of bringing players together, create an area on the WotC website called something like "D&D University". A common maxim for writers is "Show, don't tell" - D&D University should do precisely that - show people how flexible 5e is, how it can accomodate different play styles, show players from all editions sat round a table playing the same game, and show them having fun together. Demonstrate how the modular nature of the game can be used to craft your own version of D&D; demonstrate that administration of the modular system doesn't increase rule management complexity unduly. Show players rolling characters; show DMs creating monsters - and so on, and so forth.

WotC have produced some great podcasts and D&D videos over the last few years, including the ones involving the Penny Arcade and Robot Chicken crews, so it's something they know how to do. Videos or podcasts should include experienced players (perhaps WotC staff) as well as celebrities, so that viewers are able to see different aspects of play (low level, high level, gritty fantasy, heroic fantasy, etc.). Some videos of D&D Encounters / Lair Assault would be good, too - assuming these exist in a similar form for 5e.

D&D University should be about showcasing 5e, but it shouldn't be just about that. D&D University should help players and DMs alike to improve and to broaden their horizons, by showing them styles or techniques they might not have seen, and getting them more involved in the game. There's some great material on the WotC site already to start it off, notably the fantastic "DM Experience" articles by Chris Perkins. His DM commentaries on the Robot Chicken videos were interesting and thought-provoking.

In summary, D&D U should:


  • Demonstrate the flexibility of 5e

  • Show that players of different styles and editions can play together

  • Help players and DMs alike to improve and get more out of their game, through example

  • Inspire and entertain viewers / listeners

  • Keep people returning to the site week after week to learn more


I think something like D&D U would help to build bridges in the community, and I think if done well, it would help with 5e adoption. I'd hope that WotC would be able to launch it alongside the launch of 5e, but (NDA permitting) if WotC were able to produce some carefully edited / screened gameplay videos some time beforehand, I think it'd help their cause enormously.

Somebody at Wizards give this man a job! What a great idea. Kudo's to you sir.
Hello,

Great idea.

Reading this forum with it's various debates about playing stylesn has already been illumating and givem me ideas on to handle my home campaigns.

Thank you everyone by the way.
I think it'd be a great idea. If the playtest is going to be open, then we could really start the ball rolling there.
Great idea. Great great great idea.

Also, if the playtest is open, WotC could even accept submissions from testers too (after screening them), which would even cut the costs. 
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
Great idea. Just a thought: how about The Academy for Dungeons & Dragons? Sounds more fantastic. Or sounds liek the Academy at Athens.
Member of Grognards for 4th Edition
I like.  This could be expanded to include all aspects of the game.  It might help those new DMs in the hinterlands who have the job thrust upon them because no one knows how to play.

 
Thanks for the support - I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone at WotC picks up on it Smile

If there's anything that I've missed that you know you'd benefit from, please do chime in.

I like.  This could be expanded to include all aspects of the game.  It might help those new DMs in the hinterlands who have the job thrust upon them because no one knows how to play.


This is one of the things that made me start thinking about the idea in the first place; we're lucky to have enough people interested in RPGs in the office for us to sustain our own group, but we're all still a bit green and nearby official events are a bit scarce. I'm strongly of the belief that the more effort WotC put into helping DMs and players improve and try new things, the more return they'll see on that investment.
One of the things I've noticed is that "running" the adventure is the easiest thing to pick up.   Running the campaign is a good bit harder.   So going to a game shop and having a canned adventure be ran by a DM is great experience but it also doesn't really cover a lot of important concepts.  

For example
1.  How to design adventures and play the monsters to their intelligence and also fairly.   Just like the characters don't know everything about the monsters the monsters don't know everything about the characters.  So you have to work hard as a DM to design adventures with that in mind.  I also think it is important to have the monsters "plans" somewhat detailed out ahead of time so that you aren't biased by the groups decisions.  If you screw up once or twice and they blow through the adventure, just learn from it and continue.

2. How to design an immersive world.  How to provide background events to add flavor.  For example.  Keep time and make sure the seasons change.  Make sure the city has it's festival days.   It's good flavor if the group returns to a tavern only to discover they are out.  "Are you crazy?  Marde Gre was last night and we sold out"  Now obviously don't use the real name.  Make one up.  Make sure the movers and shakers of your world are moving and shaking.  The characters don't have to always interact but occasionally they might become interested.

3. Get your players to right up their goals and dreams for their characters.  When thinking through the adventures for your area choose things that both make sense but also will be interesting to the group.  If you live in a dangerous world there are always more adventures than adventurers.

4. Make sure to give the characters the appropriate respect.   I often track their reputation even if secretly.  In a big city, they may not be anything special at 8th level but in the small town they started in they are local heroes.

Anyway just thoughts.  World building by the DM is important even in precanned worlds. 
great idea, in fact it could also include:

1) Ideas for using upcoming product (Tiles, Miniatures, mapsets)

2) general questions for running a assault style sessions, one shots for beginners,
help with (or pre gen'ed)  NPCs even.
D&D University sounds like a great idea to me; if WotC knows what they're doing, they will release something along these lines to help build unity among players and to expound upon the intricacies and implications of the forthcoming 'modular approach'.
Pen and paper games made some nice videos about Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Perhaps WOTC could pay them to make a similar series for D&D.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqCxjh3hD28&feat...
 
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
A fellow member of the Book Club has been posting videos from D&D Encounters / Lair Assault sessions:

community.wizards.com/davidgiven/blog/?p...

I always find it fascinating watching how other people play Smile
I love this idea. have playtests, and maybe a place that everyone can post, that way we can see how different groups play the game, and get inspiration on running your game from them.
Please do this and also make alot of youtube videos based on this idea so people researching the new edition can learn about it from the source instead of from a bunch of angry people.
I am Black/Green
I am Black/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both selfish and instinctive. I value growth and community, as long as they favour my own objectives; I enjoy nature, and I particularly enjoy watching parts of nature die. At best, I am resilient and tenacious; at worst, I'm uncontrollable and destructive.
I concur.  Good fun advise, support and information - make it so.

Member of the Axis of Awesome

Show
Homogenising: Making vanilla in 31 different colours
One of the things I've noticed is that "running" the adventure is the easiest thing to pick up.   Running the campaign is a good bit harder.   So going to a game shop and having a canned adventure be ran by a DM is great experience but it also doesn't really cover a lot of important concepts.  

For example
1.  How to design adventures and play the monsters to their intelligence and also fairly.   Just like the characters don't know everything about the monsters the monsters don't know everything about the characters.  So you have to work hard as a DM to design adventures with that in mind.  I also think it is important to have the monsters "plans" somewhat detailed out ahead of time so that you aren't biased by the groups decisions.  If you screw up once or twice and they blow through the adventure, just learn from it and continue.

2. How to design an immersive world.  How to provide background events to add flavor.  For example.  Keep time and make sure the seasons change.  Make sure the city has it's festival days.   It's good flavor if the group returns to a tavern only to discover they are out.  "Are you crazy?  Marde Gre was last night and we sold out"  Now obviously don't use the real name.  Make one up.  Make sure the movers and shakers of your world are moving and shaking.  The characters don't have to always interact but occasionally they might become interested.

3. Get your players to right up their goals and dreams for their characters.  When thinking through the adventures for your area choose things that both make sense but also will be interesting to the group.  If you live in a dangerous world there are always more adventures than adventurers.

4. Make sure to give the characters the appropriate respect.   I often track their reputation even if secretly.  In a big city, they may not be anything special at 8th level but in the small town they started in they are local heroes.

Anyway just thoughts.  World building by the DM is important even in precanned worlds. 



I like all of these ideas - some of them I'd started to think about and use already (tracking reputation, encouraging players to talk about goals / situations they want their characters to experience), but there's always so much more I can learn and benefit from. There'd be plenty of scope for regular podcasts / videos on topics like these.

It'd be interesting to see whether the WotC authors have any tips on creating vibrant, engaging worlds; I'd certainly like to know how they deal with writing novels set in an established world or setting, and how they ensure everything fits together without breaking someone else's lore.

The video series where they ran a game with the robot chicken crew was phenominal. I would love to see more of this- a seasoned, experienced DM playing with some new and some returning dnd players (comedian players at that) would be great.