How do video games influence your campaigns?

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Hi all,

First and foremost, I must say I am very excited about fourth edition and I cannot wait to get my hands on the books. My group and I have been dreaming about it since it was first announced and now that it is almost upon us the time for me to start writing adventures and thinking of campaigns. I just wanted to ask all of you: how much do video games influence your adventure writing?

I started playing D&D after years of playing the Final Fantasy series (which is no big surprise). I quickly came to love pen and paper RPGs but computer games still had my love as well. As a DM now, I like to borrow a lot from those games and I try to form Final Fantasy-esque storyline and themes. For the most part it has been a success with my players. Sometimes I go back and play games like FFIX to refresh my memory and get some adventure ideas. I have almost every OST from the series on my iTunes and it's not uncommon for me to listen to the music and see where it takes me in making adventures.

Anyway, do computer games influence your D&D creative process?
The reason I know how to design dungeons, tactical encounters, and know which details do what to enliven made-up worlds as well as I do is because of video games.

There are tricks: gameplay systems (say, platforming or spaceship shooter) can be hard to emulate in D&D; depends. What I prefer carrying over are encounter ideas (vertical shaft flooding with lava while a dragon rains fire on you from above) or world-building techniques (tying disparate items/places together with visual motifs like emblems or different alphabets).
2 words: ginormous bosses
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I borrow heavily from every source I can find - film, literature, games (board, computer, other RPGs), absolutely anything that inspires me finds its way into a campaign eventually.

As far as computer games go specifically, well I've been playing a lot of Call of Duty 4 and Battlefield 2142 recently and the squad-based military assault has stuck in my mind. Thus, I am running an Eberron game set entirely during the Last War and focusing on different aspects of warfare over four segments; each corresponding to a range of levels.

1-5: Training and first forays into the horror of war. Have had inspiration from things like 30 Days of Night in the harsh winter of Karrnath, also the snow scenes in Final Fantasy VII.

6-10: Marines and ship-to-ship/ship-to-shore combat. Horatio Hornblower meets Aliens meets Call of Duty/Medal of Honor/Generic War Shooters.

11-15: Dirty 1/2 Dozen. Troops awaiting execution given a second chance under Geas/Quest to undergo a probably suicidal mission deep behind enemy lines. Any mission in a game, be it an FPS or an RTS, where your character(s) are alone and without support inspired this idea. Command & Conquer always has those missions with the commando only - save for the fact there will be 5 or 6 of them, that sums up this concept. I'm looking at the ideas my players have and also thinking Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid, and Assassin's Creed.

16-20: Great Heroes of the Last War. Take any RTS that has commander or hero units and the PCs will be like them. Able to slaughter their way through any odds, requiring the full force of enemy tactics and manpower to even challenge their might. Take a high level character from any CRPG/Action RPG and go back and start a new game with them. That's the feeling I'm aiming at here.

Obviously, so as not to ruin immersion, I'm not pointing out these inspirations to my players, but they *are* there and close to the forefront of my mind when designing encounters and even NPCs.
2 words: ginormous bosses

I wrote a post about making a Shadow of the Colossus style campaign about a year ago, so that game definitely had a big effect on me.

Generally i'd have to say that the fundamental difference between video games and table tops is the amount of combat which is appropriate. It takes longer to get in to and out of combat in DnD, so a smaller number of well scripted combat encounters works better than lots of little fights. There's no need to make the encounters longer to compensate for this, combat can get pretty tiring after 20 or so minutes.

The big thing a table-top has over a video game is the freedom of exploration and conversation, so I'd always recommend playing to these strengths.


EDIT: Here's the thread where i describe my concept for a Shadow of the Colossus campaign.
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