All I needed for the best D&D ever was PHB1 and PHB2 from 4E

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I played 1E D&D once when I was a little kid and loved it.  I played 2E D&D a few times as a young teen and loved it.  When 3E came out I bought the books and got three friends together and played the best D&D I had ever seen at that time.  Eventually our group fell apart and we all moved on in our lives. 


But then 4E came out.  After reading the 4E PHB I for was amazed at the possibilities. However, I have grown so weary of the belief that every game made has to have a system that starts your character out at level one and requires killing and questing to earn "experience points" in order to "level up".  I really liked some of the new philosophies in 4E and decided to build a D&D campaign that would be what I always wanted.


I started by going through all my painted minis.  I had a huge collection from being an avid D&D minis painter for over 20 years.  I then using my art skills and computer made a world map with tons of character and npc art work.  I filled up several notebooks with all of the names, places, and maps for the capaign world.  It took me about 2 years to finish building everything I always wanted in a campaign.  I then contacted 4 of my best buds and got them together to have some drinks and look at what I had been working on.  They were excited and we all made plans to play 2 times a week.


Next, we had a long talk about our characters.  My best friend wanted to play a 2E cavalier "knight in shining armor" and another guy wanted to play a fully armored knight who was more into demon and dragon slaying.  I got them to play a fighter and a cleric multiclassed paladin.  The other two guys settled on a wizard and a rogue.  They all chose to play male humans.  I explained at first we would start off in a "heroic campaign." I had them build their characters using a 16,14,12,11,10,10 stat array and told them to pick their powers as if they were level 10 characters and to ignore feats.  However their HP would always be a static number equal to their con score.  Everyone had the same to hit bonus and plenty of powers to choose from every fight. I turned combat into a very simplified system similar to the D&D minis game where they would never level up.  Goblins,zombies, kobolds were always one hit to kill but yet no matter where they were in the game they would always face the fear of knowing goblins can kill you. 


It worked beautifully.  Their characters were fully built heroic characters yet always took every combat seriously.  They started fully geared and armored and worked hard as a team wether they were fighting a small group of kobolds or a small black dragon.  I made magic weapons and armor a rare and hard find.  Yet there was no numbers system that required they have any magic weapons at all.  The game was so much fun.  Nobody looked at their character sheets any more during combat.  They knew what powers they liked to use and used them.  They were happy when they found masterwork weapons and armor and they used them for much of the game.  I allowed them to aquire npc characters to travel and fight with them using the same system.  Eventually their group was up to eight which worked out great as combat would get scary and npc would die. 


They looked forward to exploring the game world as new towns meant new npc they would hire or possibly teach them new powers.  I allowed the wizard and cleric to find or buy scrolls and learn new spells beyond what the rule book would have allowed.  Special npc would teach the fighter or rogue even more daily powers if paid enough gold. 


They never "leveled up" yet as they played they became more powerful and were able to explore further into the game world.  I did not need the DMG or MM. I knew how to DM and already knew enough about D&D monsters to inlcude the ones I wanted and how I wanted them to perform.


After much exploring, dungeoneering, monster slaying, treasure finding and dragon slaying we took some time off and then evolved our characters into paragons.  We took the campaing to a new level and loved it but due to work and families we no longer play. 


If WOTC wants to spend time and money on a new rule set that is their thing.  Not my friends or myself care as we found what made the game fun and challenging had nothing to do with character levels or feats or builds. We built our characters in our minds and then grouped up and played.  If WOTC wants to see anymore of my money then I would like to see large campaign boxes with maps, minis, and lots of story.  I don't have time to build large game worlds anymore but would pay for them.  I do not need tons of books on rules or stats and I do not need another system as the very simplified version I and my friends play does not need it.


 

Yeah, you had fun, so you did it right. I have to sort of agree, the fixation on the rules being a this exactly or that exactly just gets in the way of people having fun.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

If WOTC wants to see anymore of my money then I would like to see large campaign boxes with maps, minis, and lots of story.  I don't have time to build large game worlds anymore but would pay for them. 




+1
To the OP: I enjoyed your post. I love to read stories of people going way out on a limb with the rules (provided the rest of the group is onboard). Have checked out what Pathfinder (Paizo) is doing with Golarian? It's pretty cool--books, supplements, maps, player resources, adventure paths with accompanying minis and pawns. Really good stuff!
And I'll add to the list of cool in terms of setting with what Wolfgang Baur is doing over on the Kobold Press with the new Midgard Setting and various supplementary materials.