Excerpt: Quests

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From: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4ex/20080516b

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Everyone knows that in Dungeons & Dragons you earn experience points to gain levels. Heck, even people who have never played D&D know this— it’s become so ingrained in the pop-culture idea of the game and its mechanic has replicated itself with great frequency into the realm of digital games. But just how you gain XP has evolved since the game’s inception, and with 4th Edition it’s continued to evolve. One of the biggest evolutions in 4th Edition D&D is the inclusion of quest XP rewards.

Now, I can hear the old timers quibble: “Come on, Stephen, quest XP is nothing new, I’ve been doing it for years.” And if you quibble thusly, you’d be right. Almost every D&D campaign out there grants a bit of bonus XP for completing story objectives, and this has been going since the first time a gamer lifted a d20 and stared at it in glossy-eyed wonder. The big difference between 4th Edition and older D&D editions is that we designed it into the game; it’s not just an afterthought, an ad hoc idea, or a suggested house rule. We actually took into account that people already do this, then gave better guidelines on how to do it well, and crafted the numbers behind character advancement with quests in mind.

Dungeons & Dragons is both a combat game and a storytelling game. Fighting foul beasts and despicable villains is fun. The grand majority of pages in our rulebooks give you the means and the toys you need to play that part of the game. Storytelling by its nature is more fluid, more natural; it has few (if any) hard and fast rules, but many guidelines and points of advice. While D&D abounds with levels, powers, shifts, opportunity attacks, effects that push, ongoing damage, and grabs, it also features heroes (or, soft-hearted scoundrels) who take chances to achieve goals that we can only dream of doing and in ways that are only as boundless as our imagination. It’s purely in the realm of action adventure. And when action and story fuse perfectly, it’s gaming ambrosia—the perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends.

Quest XP, and the idea of quests as benchmarks for rewards in a larger sense (the story chapter ends where characters gain a pile of rewards in the form of XP, treasure, favors, titles, castles, whatever) is a rare, evocative, satisfying, and natural way for those two aspects of the game to talk to one another directly.

Quests also serve as the DM’s dangling carrot. Not only do they say “fun lies this way,” now they also point to rewards with some amount of transparency. People like to have an idea of the rewards they will get for tasks… or at least the minimum rewards. Your players are no different. Quests are a way in which they’ll have a basic idea of the minimum rewards for what they do, and they’ll appreciate it. You’ll find this very handy if you create a more sandbox approach to quests. Throw a few of them out there, and see which ones they bite at. Using quests in this manner allows you to make your world seem larger than it really is, and let your players make more choices for their characters, encouraging them to invest themselves even further in your creation.
XP Evolutionary Dead Ends

Quest XP is one of the newest evolutions in how PCs gain experience in D&D, but it didn’t get to this point without some other experience point ideas dying off. Let’s take a quick look at three XP evolutionary dead ends that got us where we are today.

Treasure Worth = XP

Isn’t treasure supposed to be its own reward? The problem in early D&D is that it wasn’t. In fact you couldn’t do a whole lot with treasure except for accumulate it and gain XP from it. That’s right; you gained XP just for picking up a gold piece. To be fair, how much you gained was based on how much challenge the treasure’s guardian represented, but a simpler method is to place the challenge XP fully in the guardian (in 4th Edition, this means the monsters, traps, hazards, or skill challenge) and let wealth be the reward wealth is by its very nature—purchasing power.

The Teeny, Tiny, Micro Story Reward

Back in my early days of the RPGA (2nd Edition AD&D), we used to get “story rewards” for the craziest things. Did you talk to the mayor? Gain 10 XP! Did you pick the flower that the mayor told you not to pick? 15 XP! Did you buy a pickle from the vendor on the Avenue of Swords? 25 XP! These story rewards were so pointless, small, and absolutely endemic that you would spend large chunks of the adventure talking to everyone you could just so you would get them all. These ideas were prevalent in a period of time where writers wanted to write wacky guess-what-the-writer-is-thinking stories, not sword and sorcery action stories, and pulled the PCs along a long line of encounters as “helpful” benchmarks. The problem was that it didn’t feel like D&D. This was especially true when you played through adventures based on the lyrics of 70’s pop songs or adventure where you got to play characters that were magic items, children, or furniture (I’m not joking).

The Roleplaying Reward

I’ve seen a lot of games (both in early RPGA and home games) that gave XP for good roleplaying. By good roleplaying do I mean the quality of your character acting? The problem with the roleplaying reward is this: You’re almost always going to give out the maximum to everyone at the table. Why? Because telling someone that they didn’t do a good job of roleplaying in a game where everyone is there to have fun seems overly judgmental, can create hurt feelings, and is… well… just downright crappy. It’s also so very meta and arbitrary that it begs questions about other forms of bonus XP. Why not give similar bonus XP for rule knowledge? Playing well with others? Bringing the most snacks?
--Stephen Radney-MacFarland

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/excerpt_4E_questxp.jpg)

Quests are the fundamental story framework of an adventure—the reason the characters want to participate in it. They’re the reason an adventure exists, and they indicate what the characters need to do to solve the situation the adventure presents.

The simplest adventures revolve around a single quest, usually one that gives everyone in the party a motivation to pursue it. More complex adventures involve multiple quests, including quests related to individual characters’ goals or quests that conflict with each other, presenting characters with interesting choices about which goals to pursue.
Using Basic Quest Seeds

When you’re devising a simple adventure, one to three basic seeds are enough to get you started. A classic dungeon adventure uses three: The characters set out to explore a dangerous place, defeat the monsters inside, and take the treasure they find. One simple quest can be enough, such as a quest to slay a dragon.

You can combine any number of basic seeds to create a more multifaceted adventure. The more seeds you throw in the mix, the more intricate your adventure will be. You might add timing elements to one or more of the seeds to create more depth in your adventure.

Once you have your seed or seeds, you can start getting specific. Go back and answer the questions in “Components of an Adventure” on page 100, keeping your quest seeds in mind. Again, you don’t need to follow any particular order. You might come up with a set of monsters you want to use first, you might invent a cool place or item, or you might choose a seed or three. You can then use Chapter 4 and the “Adventure Setting” section of this chapter to help flesh out your adventure.
Major Quests

Major quests define the fundamental reasons that characters are involved. They are the central goals of an adventure. A single major quest is enough to define an adventure, but a complex adventure might involve a number of different quests. A major quest should be important to every member of the party, and completing it should define success in the adventure. Achieving a major quest usually means either that the adventure is over, or that the characters have successfully completed a major chapter in the unfolding plot.

Don’t be shy about letting the players know what their quests are. Give the players an obvious goal, possibly a known villain to go after, and a clear course to get to their destination. That avoids searching for the fun—aimless wandering, arguing about trivial choices, and staring across the table because the players don’t know what to do next. You can fiddle with using another secret villain or other less obvious courses, but one obvious path for adventure that is not wrong or fake should exist. You can count on the unpredictability of player actions to keep things interesting even in the simplest of adventure plots.

Thinking in terms of quests helps focus the adventure solidly where it belongs: on the player characters. An adventure isn’t something that can unfold without their involvement. A plot or an event can unfold without the characters’ involvement, but not an adventure. An adventure begins when the characters get involved, when they have a reason to participate and a goal to accomplish. Quests give them that.
Minor Quests

Minor quests are the subplots of an adventure, complications or wrinkles in the overall story. The characters might complete them along the way toward finishing a major quest, or they might tie up the loose ends of minor quests after they’ve finished the major quest.

Often, minor quests matter primarily to a particular character or perhaps a subset of the party. Such quests might be related to a character’s background, a player goal, or the ongoing events in the campaign relevant to one or more characters. These quests still matter to the party overall. This game is a cooperative game, and everyone shares the rewards for completing a quest. Just make sure that the whole group has fun completing minor quests tied to a single character.

Sometimes minor quests come up as sidelines to the main plot of the adventure. For example, say the characters learn in town that a prisoner has escaped from the local jail. That has nothing to do with the main quest. It pales in importance next to the hobgoblin raids that have been plundering caravans and seizing people for slaves. However, when the characters find and free some of the hobgoblins’ slaves, the escaped prisoner is among them. Do they make sure he gets back to the jail? Do they accept his promise to go straight—and his offer of a treasure map—and let him go free? Do they believe his protestations of innocence and try to help him find the real criminal? Any of these goals can launch a side quest, but clearly the characters can’t pursue all of them. This situation gives them the opportunity to roleplay and make interesting choices, adding richness and depth to the game.
Hmm...seemingly people are highly excited about this article...;)

Anyway, it seems like some good starting advice for novice DMs. I don't imagine that it's anything I'll pay that much attention to (I was actually kind of expecting an XP chart of some sort since they talked about quest XP so much.)

Oh, and my favorite line?
This was especially true when you played through adventures based on the lyrics of 70’s pop songs or adventure where you got to play characters that were magic items, children, or furniture (I’m not joking).

Sentient End Tables unite!
Yeah; my first reaction to this was that it was a non-excerpt; after pointing out that quests provide a concrete framework for XP advancement, the excerpt failed to show anything about the mechanics of the quest-based XP rewards. Robbed!

But the more I think about it, the more I suspect that this excerpt isn't so much about quests as the level of support the game gives to people trying to master the craft of dungeonmastering. Yes, it's probably "well, duh" material for many of the people on these boards, but for your more casual players, the explanation shown in the excerpt is actually a good introduction to adventure plotline design considerations.

(And if you're anything like me, you've suffered through an adventure or two by a beginning DM that could have benefitted from the advice given in this excerpt, so you appreciate its value.)

In particular, I liked that these suggestions were backed up by saying why the suggestion is being made and explaining what can happen in your game when you don't follow them. This serves a dual purpose: first, it may help a novice DM avoid that pitfall, and second, it helps a novice DM who has suffered that problem diagnose and resolve it.
quest-based xp rewards were shown in the previous excerpt, economy and rewards. no need to show it again.

overall, not much to this excerpt. pretty much exactly what i expected/already knew. not a bad thing, but not an 'OMG THIS IS AWESOME' thing either.
Just thought you should know. the countdown continues...
quest-based xp rewards were shown in the previous excerpt, economy and rewards. no need to show it again.

Thanks for the heads-up. Somehow, I'd missed that one.
Thanks for the heads-up. Somehow, I'd missed that one.

Yeah, I missed it too (well, more like forgot about it.) Thanks for the heads up!
They did mention that they expect all quest xp rewards to be divided equally among the group, even single character subplots. I think that was about the only thing new I learned from the excerpt.
The first edition concept of XP for treasure was a bad idea. It is good that D&D does not use it anymore.
XP as micro story rewards is nothing more that the "new" concept of XP for completing a quest.

XP for good roleplaying was IMO a good idea (especially if there are no alignments) for rewarding those players who really play their characters and not themselves with a sword/axe etc. in their hands.
In my campaign there will still be XP rewards for good roleplaying, but there will be no XP for combat or just solving a riddle. Those should be part of the overall story reward, if they are an essential part of the adventure. You should not get XP just for provocing a bar fight or attacking some kobolds who were just fishing or etc.
You should not get XP just for provocing a bar fight or attacking some kobolds who were just fishing or etc.

Kobolds ain't just fishing; They are fishing in an Evil manner. Must smite.
Kobolds ain't just fishing; They are fishing in an Evil manner. Must smite.

That would only give you some XP if your character hates kobolds with a passion and it would be ooc for him not to attack them. But starting a fight just for gaining some additional XP should never be rewarded.
Back in my early days of the RPGA (2nd Edition AD&D), we used to get “story rewards” for the craziest things. Did you talk to the mayor? Gain 10 XP! Did you pick the flower that the mayor told you not to pick? 15 XP! Did you buy a pickle from the vendor on the Avenue of Swords? 25 XP!

Saw this while skimming the article to see the pictures, and the word "pickle" caught my eye. Had to read the section to see WHY the word pickle was in it.

I can see why so many people play so badly or expect XP for the stupiedest things these days. Because retards giving XP for nothing of value. I am sorry, but people giving XP for eating a pickle is just stupid. XP is a reward for advancing the story. So you pick the flower, or eat the pickle; does it advance the story, or create a subplot or something for adventure?

Does it help the PC party in any way to pick the flower? Did the pickle gain some knowledge for the eater?

This is exactly the stupid stuff I was talking about in a previous thread about XP, where each little action like opening every door, or every step taken should NOT get XP for the PCs. Mundane actions do not get XP, and any DM that ever gave such should be flayed, flogged, then drawn and quartered.

I hope this crap is not directly in the book to give people stupid ideas TO DO these things. Crap like that statement has no reason to belong anywhere near the book or even first look at such for new players. It will only add more confusion to them rather than help them learn.

I hope the article contains better stuff as I go back and actually get a chance to read it, and not just find more stupid pickles in it.
"pickle"

Now that you've read it and seen that the dev was actually criticizing the "get XP for pickles" bit, do you feel less outraged? ;)

Now, excuse me while I join the choir of "nothing new, but this should be helpful to rookie DMs". :D
Now that you've read it and seen that the dev was actually criticizing the "get XP for pickles" bit, do you feel less outraged? ;)

Now, excuse me while I join the choir of "nothing new, but this should be helpful to rookie DMs". :D

Not really. From what I see in many of these articles, that are littered with extremely bad examples, that may be confusing to new players. You can give an example without going into detail for new players on how to make truely bad ones. They may get confused if they don't have an experienced player to interpret the sections of the book to them.

Would it be so hard to jsut say that XP is given for various activites that the PCs overcome, but not mundane ones. Not every action that a PC may do will earn XP, but ones that advance the plot/"quest", further the enjoyment of the other players do gain XP for the PC. I know these are meant as extreme examples, but extreme stupidity is not required to make extreme examples.

Also whatever bad DM that gave out XP for easting a pickle should have been erased from memory with just a mental note "never play with this person again".

Yes there are some truely bad DMs. because someone got screwed by one, doesnt mean they need to take it out in a product or its readers. A little more civility in these excerpts with regards to others or the players themselves is needed. If 4th edition books will just make fun of everything and everyone from older editions, then I will never feel less rage for it or its presentation. Since the announcement of 4th edition there has been just one big constant train riding the tracks of making fun of everything dealing with previous editions, including the gamers themselves.

I had quite enough of that (company making fun of and/or disliking gamers) at the end of the TSR era, and even how much I dislike Wotc itself, feel others shouldn't have to suffer through it from them, or anyone else that makes D&D.

How much faith can you really put into these designers that make so much fun of their previous creations, to do it right this time when they admit they screwed up so badly last time?

Thank you-know-who at least that Greenwood, Salvatore, Weis(?) can at least write decent novels still in this maelstrom into the depths of the nine hells (astral sea?) that 4th edition is.

As for quest themselves, then yes, ADVENTURES are the main focus for getting XP. DUH! D&D is an adventure game after all. But since the name has changed I expect to see Quest Booklets replace Adventure Modules in the near future. I guess all in all I am getting sick of the attitudes in the articles, and the change for the sake of change aspect of 4th edition. Doesn't appear to be a very professional product line.
Saw this while skimming the article to see the pictures, and the word "pickle" caught my eye. Had to read the section to see WHY the word pickle was in it.

I can see why so many people play so badly or expect XP for the stupiedest things these days. Because retards giving XP for nothing of value. I am sorry, but people giving XP for eating a pickle is just stupid. XP is a reward for advancing the story. So you pick the flower, or eat the pickle; does it advance the story, or create a subplot or something for adventure?

Does it help the PC party in any way to pick the flower? Did the pickle gain some knowledge for the eater?

This is exactly the stupid stuff I was talking about in a previous thread about XP, where each little action like opening every door, or every step taken should NOT get XP for the PCs. Mundane actions do not get XP, and any DM that ever gave such should be flayed, flogged, then drawn and quartered.

I hope this crap is not directly in the book to give people stupid ideas TO DO these things. Crap like that statement has no reason to belong anywhere near the book or even first look at such for new players. It will only add more confusion to them rather than help them learn.

I hope the article contains better stuff as I go back and actually get a chance to read it, and not just find more stupid pickles in it.

Um.. he was saying.. "yah.. that was stupid. dont do that"...
I’ve seen a lot of games (both in early RPGA and home games) that gave XP for good roleplaying. By good roleplaying do I mean the quality of your character acting? The problem with the roleplaying reward is this: You’re almost always going to give out the maximum to everyone at the table. Why? Because telling someone that they didn’t do a good job of roleplaying in a game where everyone is there to have fun seems overly judgmental, can create hurt feelings, and is… well… just downright crappy. It’s also so very meta and arbitrary that it begs questions about other forms of bonus XP. Why not give similar bonus XP for rule knowledge? Playing well with others? Bringing the most snacks?

Quests are very meta and arbitrary also. The idea that this task is a quest worth 1000 XP and that task isn't is horribly meta. Yes, they are not always easy to use, but rejecting something just because it is hard is a bad idea also.

Quests are the fundamental story framework of an adventure—the reason the characters want to participate in it. They’re the reason an adventure exists, and they indicate what the characters need to do to solve the situation the adventure presents.

I don't object to the idea of quest rewards, and I've certainly done it myself. But the statement that quests are the fundamental tool rather then a fundamental tool for framing adventures worries me.

Not all adventures involves any quests at all. The best gaming I've experienced often involves situations where the players and characters are driving the plot, and in that sort of adventure there is no DM declared quest or arbitrary quest bonus. That type of game can be hard, it take more work on the part of the DM and more experienced players. But when it works, it is great.

It also makes me nervous because I've seen a lot of DM's abuse quests as a way to railroad the party. Doing something the DM doesn't want you to do? No quest bonus for you. But that isn't a big concern, bad DM's will always find a way to screw up the game.

Jay
Not really. From what I see in many of these articles, that are littered with extremely bad examples, that may be confusing to new players. You can give an example without going into detail for new players on how to make truely bad ones. They may get confused if they don't have an experienced player to interpret the sections of the book to them.

Actually that was a hell of alot easier to understand than anything WOTC or TSR has ever put out interms of explaining non-encounter XP. IMHO

Would it be so hard to jsut say that XP is given for various activites that the PCs overcome, but not mundane ones. Not every action that a PC may do will earn XP, but ones that advance the plot/"quest", further the enjoyment of the other players do gain XP for the PC. I know these are meant as extreme examples, but extreme stupidity is not required to make extreme examples.

Because newbie DM's and players might not get this unless you tell them?

Also whatever bad DM that gave out XP for easting a pickle should have been erased from memory with just a mental note "never play with this person again".

Um.. that was an RPGA module. As in.. it was WRITTEN that way.. not DM'd that way...

Yes there are some truely bad DMs. because someone got screwed by one, doesnt mean they need to take it out in a product or its readers. A little more civility in these excerpts with regards to others or the players themselves is needed. If 4th edition books will just make fun of everything and everyone from older editions, then I will never feel less rage for it or its presentation. Since the announcement of 4th edition there has been just one big constant train riding the tracks of making fun of everything dealing with previous editions, including the gamers themselves.

1) they are critiquing themselves in the RPGA early on.. saying it was an inappropriate way to give out XP..
2) how are they attacking gamers?

I had quite enough of that (company making fun of and/or disliking gamers) at the end of the TSR era, and even how much I dislike Wotc itself, feel others shouldn't have to suffer through it from them, or anyone else that makes D&D.

How much faith can you really put into these designers that make so much fun of their previous creations, to do it right this time when they admit they screwed up so badly last time?

They are talking about early RPGA.. 80's and 90's when TSR ran things.. not WOTC. sheesh

Thank you-know-who at least that Greenwood, Salvatore, Weis(?) can at least write decent novels still in this maelstrom into the depths of the nine hells (astral sea?) that 4th edition is.

your idea of "good" is radically differant then mine. i dont consider Greenwood's ego jacking fiction to be high literature thank you.

As for quest themselves, then yes, ADVENTURES are the main focus for getting XP. DUH! D&D is an adventure game after all. But since the name has changed I expect to see Quest Booklets replace Adventure Modules in the near future. I guess all in all I am getting sick of the attitudes in the articles, and the change for the sake of change aspect of 4th edition. Doesn't appear to be a very professional product line.

do the booklets give you information on how to run the encounters and background of the plot for the game? Then what does it matter what they are called?
Quests are very meta and arbitrary also. The idea that this task is a quest worth 1000 XP and that task isn't is horribly meta. Yes, they are not always easy to use, but rejecting something just because it is hard is a bad idea also.

There is a differance between quests and RP rewards, though. RP rewards are a subjective judgement(unless you vote on it as a group, which i believe some do) and take place out of the game. Quest rewards have a set place within the game.. its a way of saying you accomplished something in the game and are rewarded for that. Is it meta? yes.. a bit.. but not as nearly as much as RP bonuses and it can be applied fairly and honestly without hurting feelings.

I don't object to the idea of quest rewards, and I've certainly done it myself. But the statement that quests are the fundamental tool rather then a fundamental tool for framing adventures worries me.

Not all adventures involves any quests at all. The best gaming I've experienced often involves situations where the players and characters are driving the plot, and in that sort of adventure there is no DM declared quest or arbitrary quest bonus. That type of game can be hard, it take more work on the part of the DM and more experienced players. But when it works, it is great.

Your right. And the article does state that it is another way of doing it. Again.. Quests arn't required, simply recommended, especially for less experienced DM's and players.

It also makes me nervous because I've seen a lot of DM's abuse quests as a way to railroad the party. Doing something the DM doesn't want you to do? No quest bonus for you. But that isn't a big concern, bad DM's will always find a way to screw up the game.

Jay

Well the way they are describing it here.. the DM gives you a specific goal - rescue the miller's daugher - and you are rewarded when you accomplish that. I dont see how you can twist that without the DM being a jerk anyway.
Not all adventures involves any quests at all. The best gaming I've experienced often involves situations where the players and characters are driving the plot, and in that sort of adventure there is no DM declared quest or arbitrary quest bonus. That type of game can be hard, it take more work on the part of the DM and more experienced players. But when it works, it is great.

Jay

I can agree with this, Jay. Although I don't see this style of gaming mutually excluding quests. I have run many games where the plot/adventure is steered primarily by PC set objectives. It would be very simple as a DM to take those objectives that the PC's set for themselves and apply a Quest Reward to them.

Daegan
Not all adventures involves any quests at all. The best gaming I've experienced often involves situations where the players and characters are driving the plot, and in that sort of adventure there is no DM declared quest or arbitrary quest bonus. That type of game can be hard, it take more work on the part of the DM and more experienced players. But when it works, it is great.

Keep in mind that just because there's a quest and a reward, doesn't mean that it's a "DM plot". The DM can take the characters' "PC driven" goals and assign them XP and other rewards. He can even hash it out with the players to find out what they think "successfully" resolving that character's motivation would entail.

EDIT: DaeganBT = Ninja!
As a newbie-DM*, I GREATLY appreciate these kinds of guidelines and advice. I'm looking forward to the Dungeon Master's Guide being primarily a guide to good DMing, rather than a collection of rules the players aren't "supposed to" see.

*In case of curiosity; I've run four games. Two were quickly aborted and only one was anything other than a big mess.
The Expanded Psionics Group You don't have to be psychic to join, but it helps!
Not really. From what I see in many of these articles, that are littered with extremely bad examples, that may be confusing to new players. You can give an example without going into detail for new players on how to make truely bad ones. They may get confused if they don't have an experienced player to interpret the sections of the book to them.

Would it be so hard to jsut say that XP is given for various activites that the PCs overcome, but not mundane ones. Not every action that a PC may do will earn XP, but ones that advance the plot/"quest", further the enjoyment of the other players do gain XP for the PC. I know these are meant as extreme examples, but extreme stupidity is not required to make extreme examples.

Also whatever bad DM that gave out XP for easting a pickle should have been erased from memory with just a mental note "never play with this person again".

You sure have a lot to say for someone with 'mute' in their name. Not being mean, it just sets off my sense of irony. Maybe your alias means something like 'speak no evil'. There may be some more irony in that.

Anyway, I thought I should point out that at the beginning of each article the devs put in some notes that give context to the excerpt being given. Some of it is their personal opinion, some based on research. None of that will be in the books.

Dev's note
-Sig (ends the note)
Excerpt Header with Actual Excerpt

The big colored header bar stretching across the web page is where the excerpt begins. Nowhere in the actual excerpt does it have the word pickle. I did a search to make sure. I also mention this because some of these articles have multiple note and excerpt sections and I want the confusion removed.

The new books will in no way condone or even suggest that pickle-eating should be a plot device in any campaign, let alone provide XP.
Is anyone else getting real tempted to come up with a way to make the purchase and consuming of a pickle of crucial importance to a campaign?
Um.. that was an RPGA module. As in.. it was WRITTEN that way.. not DM'd that way...

Will edit this with more as I have time to respond to other points, but for this part I wanted to quickly get my thoughts down before lightning strikes.

An RPGA DM must DM the material as written so that all people have the same experince. That is the point of organized play to my understanding. One reaosn I don't care for that crap that the RPGA is. Simply because a good DM will not play with fecal matter while a D&D game session is being had. Wash you hands of it, and fix stupid stuff.

If the RPGA has some rewards for eating pickles in the modules, then I would suggest firing all the people responsible for creating RPGA adventures, and hire new ones, or scrap the whole organization. Other than a quick snack by pregnant women with weird cravings, who really thinks of eating pickles as the first thing when thinking about D&D? Seriously? Is that the best the RPGA has to offer? eXperience Pickles?
You sure have a lot to say for someone with 'mute' in their name. Not being mean, it just sets off my sense of irony. Maybe your alias means something like 'speak no evil'. There may be some more irony in that.

mute = to make quieter.
What do you tell people when you want them to mute themselves? Shut up.

Insert the first half of my name into "shut up" in the most common manner you would hear it. ;)

Something one of Jeff Dunham's puppets tell people when the puppet gets upset at them. ;)

Anyway, I thought I should point out that at the beginning of each article the devs put in some notes that give context to the excerpt being given. Some of it is their personal opinion, some based on research. None of that will be in the books.

Dev's note
-Sig (ends the note)
Excerpt Header with Actual Excerpt

The big colored header bar stretching across the web page is where the excerpt begins. Nowhere in the actual excerpt does it have the word pickle. I did a search to make sure. I also mention this because some of these articles have multiple note and excerpt sections and I want the confusion removed.

The new books will in no way condone or even suggest that pickle-eating should be a plot device in any campaign, let alone provide XP.

It is hard to tell how they present information on the new ediiton so far, so I can only see it as possible to be the entire article is wholey part of the excerpt without additional commentary. But I will take a look at them again with that in mind. It just seemed like the author of the section was the article author and was presenting his/her portion created for the book as it is written therein.
In particular, I liked that these suggestions were backed up by saying why the suggestion is being made and explaining what can happen in your game when you don't follow them. This serves a dual purpose: first, it may help a novice DM avoid that pitfall, and second, it helps a novice DM who has suffered that problem diagnose and resolve it.

I think too many here are dismissing this information and regulating it to "the novice Dms". Any information that gives another way to look at the game or to expound upon something that you never considered before is good information. I think every 'experienced Dm' should read all the information and make at least a passing attempt to use that information, instead of just dismissing it for the 'novice Dms'

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

Will edit this with more as I have time to respond to other points, but for this part I wanted to quickly get my thoughts down before lightning strikes.

An RPGA DM must DM the material as written so that all people have the same experince. That is the point of organized play to my understanding. One reaosn I don't care for that crap that the RPGA is. Simply because a good DM will not play with fecal matter while a D&D game session is being had. Wash you hands of it, and fix stupid stuff.

If the RPGA has some rewards for eating pickles in the modules, then I would suggest firing all the people responsible for creating RPGA adventures, and hire new ones, or scrap the whole organization. Other than a quick snack by pregnant women with weird cravings, who really thinks of eating pickles as the first thing when thinking about D&D? Seriously? Is that the best the RPGA has to offer? eXperience Pickles?

The whole point of the article was to get rid of the "pickle!"

WotC is saying that "eXperience Pickles" were a bad idea, and that they had been actively searching for a better idea. One that could be clearly defined in writing for published adeventures.

By the way... the RPGA adventure with the pickles? Was from first 1st editon AD&D! Current adventures are much better than that, from what I understand, and WotC is trying to make then even better!
Will edit this with more as I have time to respond to other points, but for this part I wanted to quickly get my thoughts down before lightning strikes.

An RPGA DM must DM the material as written so that all people have the same experince. That is the point of organized play to my understanding. One reaosn I don't care for that crap that the RPGA is. Simply because a good DM will not play with fecal matter while a D&D game session is being had. Wash you hands of it, and fix stupid stuff.

If the RPGA has some rewards for eating pickles in the modules, then I would suggest firing all the people responsible for creating RPGA adventures, and hire new ones, or scrap the whole organization. Other than a quick snack by pregnant women with weird cravings, who really thinks of eating pickles as the first thing when thinking about D&D? Seriously? Is that the best the RPGA has to offer? eXperience Pickles?

You'd do well to avoid throwing insults around when you discuss things you have no real knowledge of.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
For my first post on this board I decided to go with controversy. I believe Savage Worlds has the right idea in the xp department. For those who aren't familiar, every 5 xp = an advancement, and the GM is encouraged to give out 2 or 3 at the end of each session. I've been running a campaign for a while using SW and it works like a charm, I usually give out a total of 5 every 2 sessions, and the most amount of thinking I have to do on the subject is "how many did I give them last week 2 or 3?" Much less stress and math and lets you get right to the fun, and everyone can count on having more options to play with every 3rd session.

Now don't take this the wrong way, I'm not here to bash D&D in favor of SW, I'm just saying, for me, its a better and simpler model, and one I will probably bring over to my 4e games. No figuring out how much who got for what during what encounter, more like "fun game folks you all get ????? xp. see ya next week."
Is anyone else getting real tempted to come up with a way to make the purchase and consuming of a pickle of crucial importance to a campaign?

Only in the most sarcastic of ways.

I suppose that you could have a devil with an allergy to ambrosia (food of the gods - I may have the wrong word here), and have a farmer that grows pickles with ambrosia in them. If the devil eats some of the pickles, he becomes poisoned and easier to "kill". If a PC eats a pickle, he gains some temporary stat bonuses. This could be a way for lower level PCs to deal with a devil. ;)
I think too many here are dismissing this information and regulating it to "the novice Dms". Any information that gives another way to look at the game or to expound upon something that you never considered before is good information. I think every 'experienced Dm' should read all the information and make at least a passing attempt to use that information, instead of just dismissing it for the 'novice Dms'

You're right of course. Every DM has room for improvement. I didn't mean to imply that the information is worthless except for "noobs."

But I still think it's true that the value of a discussion like that is particularly valuable for the DM who is new to the craft. I don't know about you, but I wish I had content like this when I was gamemastering my first campaign. It's somewhat less valuable to me now than it would have been then, not because I'm some godly DM or anything, but because I've already learned many of those lessons the hard way.

I believe Savage Worlds has the right idea in the xp department. For those who aren't familiar, every 5 xp = an advancement, and the GM is encouraged to give out 2 or 3 at the end of each session.

If that's the level of XP detail you like, I don't see what would stop you from adopting that system for D&D. The 4e designers have even indicated the rate at which they envision characters to level up: once every two or three sessions. It's almost exactly the same as Savage World's rate of advancement, so you should be able to drop it in with little or no effort.

The only thing I can see standing in the way of this is if 4e has a mechanic where xp can be used as a spendable resource such as fuel for item creation or something, or can be damaged in some way. You'd have to figure out something to deal with those cases, or simply not use them in play.
The only thing I can see standing in the way of this is if 4e has a mechanic where xp can be used as a spendable resource such as fuel for item creation or something, or can be damaged in some way. You'd have to figure out something to deal with those cases, or simply not use them in play.

XP isn't a spendable resource in 4e, so you won't have to worry about that. In the podcasts and in previews we've seen, removing XP costs was a conscious design goal for 4e. We've had some glimpses of magic item creation, and it doesn't involve XP. As far as we've seen, all you need is knowledge of the Enchant Item ritual, the right materials to create the item (or an equal amount of residuum), and your character level has to be at least equal to the item level.
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Keep in mind that just because there's a quest and a reward, doesn't mean that it's a "DM plot". The DM can take the characters' "PC driven" goals and assign them XP and other rewards. He can even hash it out with the players to find out what they think "successfully" resolving that character's motivation would entail.

QFT. I've found this is the best approach to games that use XP as a story reward. If the characters' actions advanced the plot, they gain a reward -- notwithstanding whether it was the DM's plot or the player's plot. The point of the quest reward structure is that this is no longer an ad hoc reward in D&D; it's part of the core game experience and there is a benchmark for how much XP story rewards should be worth.
QFT. I've found this is the best approach to games that use XP as a story reward. If the characters' actions advanced the plot, they gain a reward -- notwithstanding whether it was the DM's plot or the player's plot. The point of the quest reward structure is that this is no longer an ad hoc reward in D&D; it's part of the core game experience and there is a benchmark for how much XP story rewards should be worth.

While I agree XP doesn't need to be given for just DM created "encoutners". What do you do in these situations?

DM created: Give much XP and the characters level. The players hated the events and story, but you have something good waiting for them that the little bit of level-work got them ready for.

Player created: Give much XP and the characters level. The players hated the events and story, and they get past the level you have prepared for. Now the only thing for them to do is wait until you can meld the story back together, or continue with player created which they may not liked any better than the first?

My problem with the concept of quests is a further degradation of the DM. Now you don't need a DM at all to run the game. Just do silly stuff and give yourself "quest" XP. The story aspect is gone save for a finish-this-sentence type of story. Where is any surprise in that? Have a DM just to throw predictable scaled but random monsters at you? Or jsut have no DM and the players themselves role for some level appropriate monters, and have the proper treasure parcels delivered to the PCs by the local postal service. :P

trust me why I say that you cannot leave the whole game in the hands of the players is you want something that lasts. It may work for short-term games, but for long running games, aka campaigns, you need a DM with a good bit of control of the story that gives wiggle room for the players. It is never fun to be playing and not have anything to do next, either because of DM block, or player block of ideas. That is where in the past player created concepts kept the game alive when the DM was running short on ideas to bridge one section to the other.

So while the concept of "quests" is not a foreign one to D&D it needs to be made sure that the players don't run rampant with it and created a power struggle of DM vs player in who gets to decide what happens next. The players always get to decide what they do next, but you shouldn't demean the DM in the process of helping player learn that it is their decisions that drive a game.
While I agree XP doesn't need to be given for just DM created "encoutners". What do you do in these situations?

DM created: Give much XP and the characters level. The players hated the events and story, but you have something good waiting for them that the little bit of level-work got them ready for.

Player created: Give much XP and the characters level. The players hated the events and story, and they get past the level you have prepared for. Now the only thing for them to do is wait until you can meld the story back together, or continue with player created which they may not liked any better than the first?

My problem with the concept of quests is a further degradation of the DM. Now you don't need a DM at all to run the game. Just do silly stuff and give yourself "quest" XP. The story aspect is gone save for a finish-this-sentence type of story. Where is any surprise in that? Have a DM just to throw predictable scaled but random monsters at you? Or jsut have no DM and the players themselves role for some level appropriate monters, and have the proper treasure parcels delivered to the PCs by the local postal service. :P

trust me why I say that you cannot leave the whole game in the hands of the players is you want something that lasts. It may work for short-term games, but for long running games, aka campaigns, you need a DM with a good bit of control of the story that gives wiggle room for the players. It is never fun to be playing and not have anything to do next, either because of DM block, or player block of ideas. That is where in the past player created concepts kept the game alive when the DM was running short on ideas to bridge one section to the other.

So while the concept of "quests" is not a foreign one to D&D it needs to be made sure that the players don't run rampant with it and created a power struggle of DM vs player in who gets to decide what happens next. The players always get to decide what they do next, but you shouldn't demean the DM in the process of helping player learn that it is their decisions that drive a game.

Ok, I'm not sure what you're getting at here. At no point are players in any way taking over the game with player created quests.

The DM is still in charge.

The DM says, "The baron tells you about the princess kidnapped by the dragon. If you want, you can go on that quest and earn x-thousand experience points." That's a DM quest.

A player says, "I want to find the six-fingered man who killed my father. Can that be a quest?" DM says, "Sure, we'll call that x-hundred XP." Or the DM says, "Maybe, let me think about it." Or the DM says (for some reason), "No, I don't think that will work with our campaign."

So, no need to worry there.

(And really, if the players can somehow pull off playing without a DM, and are having fun, that works as well. While it works well in D&D, not every RPG needs to have one guy "in charge".)
My problem with the concept of quests is a further degradation of the DM. Now you don't need a DM at all to run the game. Just do silly stuff and give yourself "quest" XP. The story aspect is gone save for a finish-this-sentence type of story. Where is any surprise in that? Have a DM just to throw predictable scaled but random monsters at you? Or jsut have no DM and the players themselves role for some level appropriate monters, and have the proper treasure parcels delivered to the PCs by the local postal service. :P

trust me why I say that you cannot leave the whole game in the hands of the players is you want something that lasts. It may work for short-term games, but for long running games, aka campaigns, you need a DM with a good bit of control of the story that gives wiggle room for the players. It is never fun to be playing and not have anything to do next, either because of DM block, or player block of ideas. That is where in the past player created concepts kept the game alive when the DM was running short on ideas to bridge one section to the other.

I'll address these two paragraphs, since they seem to be the core of your argument. In the games that I've played wherein PC plot driving has contributed to XP gain, there was still a main plot that the GM had made up and that was continuing regardless of player contribution. Basically, the GM had created a story and decided how it would go on without PC interference, and then altered the story based on how the PCs interfered -- IMO the proper method of crafting an RPG plot. When a PC advanced a plot based on that PC's own background, or advanced the main plot that the PC group was supposed to be pursuing, the character got a story XP reward for it. This isn't a "choose your own adventure" plot or "mad libs" D&D; it's a sophisticated solution that allows the players to take part in crafting the story of the game and be rewarded for doing so -- a much more intuitive and balanced solution than any story XP model that has been presented in any previous incarnation of the D&D rules.
The quest XP is a good thing IMHO. This is mainly because it made me reflect on something I always had in mind and never quite got an answer for. Also, they provide a nice table with a proper scale for quest XP, which is nice for those of us who don't want to invent it.

The thing is, in 3.5 (or at least, when I DMed in 3.5), people got the same amount of XP from killing the giant before he destroyed the village and AFTER HE DID. That was wrong. Now I have an answer to that: if they kill him before he does, they get a minor (or maybe major) quest. Nice, easy, quick.
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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.
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I'll address these two paragraphs, since they seem to be the core of your argument. In the games that I've played wherein PC plot driving has contributed to XP gain, there was still a main plot that the GM had made up and that was continuing regardless of player contribution. Basically, the GM had created a story and decided how it would go on without PC interference, and then altered the story based on how the PCs interfered -- IMO the proper method of crafting an RPG plot. When a PC advanced a plot based on that PC's own background, or advanced the main plot that the PC group was supposed to be pursuing, the character got a story XP reward for it. This isn't a "choose your own adventure" plot or "mad libs" D&D; it's a sophisticated solution that allows the players to take part in crafting the story of the game and be rewarded for doing so -- a much more intuitive and balanced solution than any story XP model that has been presented in any previous incarnation of the D&D rules.

The problem, from what I hear a lot about 3rd edition which I have only played once now to try it out, is that so many new players came to the game not knowing a thing about it and overran the DMs with demands. While the PCs are the main focus, the new players rocked the boat quite a bit. It made for unpleasant experiences for former DMs. The players just didn't udnerstand the DM was setting forth the main part of the game. So quests and other PC driven plots are great when used correctly. It is just new playes read the books and take their words as law and can often ignore the DM and even other players. So the presentaion of how these PC driven areas is where I have a problem with. Thankfully as a DM I have a very sturdy spine and I don't stand for this sort of thing in older editions. rarely had to deal with it save for a few rules-lawyers that quickly found out the game was not fun for them to play against me as far as rules lawyering, because I could dish it out twice as much as them, and the games became quite stale.

So for new people they need to be guided more than some of these articles present thing to be. It just becomes a problem when you have players trying to decide they want to go hunt for X artifact, when you have no intention as a DM to let such a thing exist to disrupt your world. New players don't really understand this from the books. Maybe it is just the poor choice of exceprts in the interest of gaining interest int he material, but it turns me away from the edition because they are not being very helpful to the whole gaming community with these exceprts, and only the experienced players.

For a large part even the experienced players are all new players with this new edition, so while they are learning as well, there is too much room for chaos to run rampant from extremely new to RPG players. Which can only serve to hurt gaming by adding more bad gamers. yes there are bad gamers. Read the articles for the examples of things done "wrong" and you will see the designers agree with me.

D&D isn't the game for everyone, but tries to be at the cost of its own integrity sometimes.

So have PC driven plots, but makes sure to explain to newer playerss that the game is not entirely made up of them. The DM does have a purpose. Otherwise why waste time putting effort into creating a game enviroment if it won't be used?
The problem, from what I hear a lot about 3rd edition which I have only played once now to try it out, is that so many new players came to the game not knowing a thing about it and overran the DMs with demands. While the PCs are the main focus, the new players rocked the boat quite a bit. It made for unpleasant experiences for former DMs. The players just didn't udnerstand the DM was setting forth the main part of the game. So quests and other PC driven plots are great when used correctly. It is just new playes read the books and take their words as law and can often ignore the DM and even other players. So the presentaion of how these PC driven areas is where I have a problem with. Thankfully as a DM I have a very sturdy spine and I don't stand for this sort of thing in older editions. rarely had to deal with it save for a few rules-lawyers that quickly found out the game was not fun for them to play against me as far as rules lawyering, because I could dish it out twice as much as them, and the games became quite stale.

I've not seen this. Players being more rules lawyer yes.. making strange demands of the DM, no.

So for new people they need to be guided more than some of these articles present thing to be. It just becomes a problem when you have players trying to decide they want to go hunt for X artifact, when you have no intention as a DM to let such a thing exist to disrupt your world. New players don't really understand this from the books. Maybe it is just the poor choice of exceprts in the interest of gaining interest int he material, but it turns me away from the edition because they are not being very helpful to the whole gaming community with these exceprts, and only the experienced players.

Which is a problem with the 3.X books then, isnt it? And frankly, the DM should due 2 things:

1) in character: "all you research and all the sages you speak to have never heard of such artifact and you can find nothing about it"
2) OOC "guys, i have a story idea written up. I'm glad you want to do alot of roleplaying and help drive the story along, but I haven't included that artifact in my game world, so can you drop it? It doesn't exist here"

Any reasonable Player would be fine with that. If they really through a hissy fit at that point, i dont want to play with them anyway.

For a large part even the experienced players are all new players with this new edition, so while they are learning as well, there is too much room for chaos to run rampant from extremely new to RPG players. Which can only serve to hurt gaming by adding more bad gamers. yes there are bad gamers. Read the articles for the examples of things done "wrong" and you will see the designers agree with me.

Bad gamers - yes. WOTC staff saying problems were caused by bad gamers - No. They said the rules were rather flawed and the worst examples were caused by bad players exploiting the rules in horrible fashion.

D&D isn't the game for everyone, but tries to be at the cost of its own integrity sometimes.

um.. its a book. It doesn't have integrity. And the people that it should turn away are people who either arn't into fantasy or arn't into ANY roleplaying game. It should be understandable by anyone who sits down at a table and understandable in 5 minutes of breif explination. Any other attitude is the same elitist BS that keeps this hobby so small. More people playing the better.

So have PC driven plots, but makes sure to explain to newer playerss that the game is not entirely made up of them. The DM does have a purpose. Otherwise why waste time putting effort into creating a game enviroment if it won't be used?

I think your missunderstanding what "PC driven" means. The Player doesn't get to make up the plot at that point. He gives the DM a plot hook to expand upon. Take the example of the 6-fingered man - Who is he, where is he, what really happened, who will they meet along the way? Is someone else looking for him? is he under the protection of someone or something more powerful? etc.. All of that is up to the DM, not the player. PC driven means that the plot point is centered aroudn the PC(s), rather then one the PC's involve themselves in later.
More people playing the better.

Yes and no. More people playing RPGs the better yes. Everyone and their brother playing D&D, no.

There are plenty of games just anyone can play. I do not want to play D&D with every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there.

Call me elitist if you want, but I have a right to choose who I play with, and I do not want to just play with anyone. Some people have to accept they are not welcome everywhere, and that includes certain gaming groups.

There is one reason a lot of people that play Magic and other games do not play tournaments. They jsut don't want to deal with those kind of people. And they should not have to. People that would be disruptive to their enjoyment do not belong in their games.

thus why D&D is often played away from gaming stores so people have have a decent game without interruptions from the peanut gallery.
Yes and no. More people playing RPGs the better yes. Everyone and their brother playing D&D, no.

There are plenty of games just anyone can play. I do not want to play D&D with every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there.

Call me elitist if you want, but I have a right to choose who I play with, and I do not want to just play with anyone. Some people have to accept they are not welcome everywhere, and that includes certain gaming groups.

There is one reason a lot of people that play Magic and other games do not play tournaments. They jsut don't want to deal with those kind of people. And they should not have to. People that would be disruptive to their enjoyment do not belong in their games.

thus why D&D is often played away from gaming stores so people have have a decent game without interruptions from the peanut gallery.

Well, just because new people are coming to D&D doesn't mean you have to play with them, does it? You can keep playing with your normal play group while new ones form elsewhere. A greater selection of players in no way interferes with your right to choose who you play with.
Well, just because new people are coming to D&D doesn't mean you have to play with them, does it? You can keep playing with your normal play group while new ones form elsewhere. A greater selection of players in no way interferes with your right to choose who you play with.

The problem comes into play with the fact that there is no support for older editions. Thus why I do not take part of any store event. Plus anywhere you go to dicuss D&D you only hear about the newest edition because the company tries to wipe all older editions under the rug.

So I don't have to play with people new, or using the new editions, but the market also doesn't have any room for the more experienced player to offer anything unless they play the newest edition, making the potential for lesser games in the future because it degrades the quality of play as the norm.

Watch the CaddyShack movie with Dennis Quaid to see what I mean.