A Quick Guide to Changing Mods with DME

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This guide has been updated! The original DME rules allowed more latitude. You can still find the old post here.


A Quick Guide to Changing Adventures with DME and Creating With MYRE


Index:

What is DME and why is it important?
   Where are the rules for DME found?
   I hear DME changed. How did it change and why?
   Can DME be used to settle rules disputes?
What is MYRE?

Understanding DME in Detail
   Adjusting Tactics
   Adjusting Levels
   Adjusting the Number of Foes
   Adjusting Skill Challenges or the Story
   Things not explicitly covered by DME, but likely allowed
   Suggestions for the Wise Use of DME
   What should you not do with DME?

Understanding MYRE in Detail
   (forthcoming)



What is DME and why is it important?
DME stands for Dungeon Master Empowerement. DME refers to what creative liberties an RPGA/LFR DM can and cannot take with an RPGA/LFR adventure. (If terms like RPGA and LFR are new to you, check out the RPGA and LFR FAQ threads, as well as the CCG documents. This document assumes you have some familiarity with RPGA and LFR games and have at least played and looked over one LFR adventure.). 

DME is important because it regulates what DMs can do. If they use their powers well, DME can allow DMs to do cool things and tweak an adventure to meet the needs of the player, improving the fun at the table. If they abuse or misuse their DME power, this could lead to really bad experiences for the players.

Two simple examples:

1.    A DM runs the first combat encounter as-is. The players are largely new, having a tough time with what should be a moderate encounter. The players are bummed, feeling inefective. The DM uses DME to lower the level of the monsters in the next encounter. The players feel effective and their enjoyment increases.
2.    A DM overestimates how good a party will be, increasing the level of the foes. The players have trouble being effective and two PCs die. The players start questioning if the DM changed things and threaten to walk from the table. 


Where are the rules for DME found?
Each LFR adventure refers to DME in the introductory part of the adventure. The actual rules constraining DME are found in the CCG, starting with version 1.9.

I hear DME changed. How did it change and why?

DME used to be ill-defined. It was essentially the idea that a DM could change things so as to ensure fun, without a true definition of the extent of those powers. As a result, some gamers argued that DMs could do whatever they wanted, from substituting monsters, to entirely revising encounters, to changing the entire module to function as a battle interactive. A few gamers published their own versions of LFR adventures, testing the intent of these new rules. Many realized that if LFR adventures could be changed completely, rather than ensure fun, DME could mean players would not know what to expect when they sat down at the table. The brand identity for LFR was threatened. In addition, while only minor negative incidents occurred, it was likely a matter of time before some tables had truly horrendous experiences. With version 1.9 of the CCG, introduced June 2009, the administration defined DME more closely to narrowly focus what a DM could do.


Can DME be used to settle rules disputes?
Yes, to the limited extent of making an unbiased decision. As described in the CCG, the DM should listen to players in any rules dispute, then make a decision and move on with the game. The DM has the final say. However, it is important to note that DME does not allow the DM to create or change rules. The DM cannot impose their view of the game, make up new rules, ignore rules, or deny rules. This question typically comes up because a DM may not like a rule. DME does not empower the DM to change the rules. There is a big difference between adjudicating (which is about interpreting the wording of the rule) and imposing a DM’s desire for how the game should work. DME does not allow the later. At all times, it is the responsibility of an RPGA DM to follow the core rules for the game, as defined in the CCG.

Ok, so DME is for what a DM can do to tweak an adventure. What is MYRE?
MYRE is the prefix for the My Realms series of adventures. Similar to CORE or regional prefixes (EAST for East Rift, CORM for Cormyr), MYRE indicates that an adventure is a My Realms adventure. Each has a suffix, which is a series of two numbers. The first indicates the year (roughly) of the campaign, and the second is the order of release. For example, MYRE1-1 is the first My Realms adventure for the first year of LFR.

My Realms adventures were introduced in late May 2009, and were a response to the original DME rules. It was clear that some DMs wanted to try their hand at making their own adventures. My Realms adventures are basically a shell of an adventure with information on how to flesh it out. The suffix, such as 1-1, reflects a level range. To write a My Realms adventure for 1st-4th level PCs, you sanction/download MYRE1-1 and then follow the instructions to write the adventure.

MYREs have several rules. Amongst them, you cannot share what you create. You can run it for as many tables as you want, but you cannot give it to someone else to run, you can’t share it online, you can’t give it to judges at a convention, etc. You are also limited as to the rewards you can offer. (You can co-author a MYRE with one other author, and then you can both run it.)

MYRE is a great way for DMs to try their hand at authoring, especially if they want to practice before applying to author an LFR module. Submitting a MYRE to an LFR administrator can be a good way to demonstrate you have the skill required. MYRE is also a great way to get creative, to fill in plot gaps between regional adventures, or to do special things only you can dream of. This guide covers the rules in more detail later, including some things to watch for and some tips on authoring them.


 


Understanding DME in Detail

Historically, RPGA games strove to establish a common experience at each table, in the name of fairness. The idea was that at a convention, it should not matter at which table of adventure xyz you sat… each should afford the same difficulty level and play experience. Campaigns such as LG (Living Greyhawk) worked hard to ensure each table was run consistently. If your DM didn’t let you use Arcana to open the lock, it should be because no table allowed the use of Arcana to open the lock. The concepts of fairness and table equity were prime directives.

With 4E and its emphasis on bringing in new players and striving for fun play over realism, the RPGA took the opportunity to change its directive. The new prime directive is FUN. A DM should do what they can to ensure fun. When a player asks if a lock can be opened with Arcana, the DM should consider what is logical and fair, but they should especially consider what would be the most fun for everyone. Fun often does involve fairness and balance, of course, but fun is the prime directive. Because of this, each LFR adventure comes with a section on DME and encourages the DM to make small changes to adventures to ensure players have a fun time.

DME allows the following, which we will examine in detail.

Adjusting Tactics
DME allows a player to adjust the monster tactics. Sometimes, the combination of foes and terrain may suggest a different tactical approach. Other encounters may choose an easier approach, such as using a monster power early when it is likely more effective later, or spreading damage when it is more challenging to concentrate fire on one PC.

Most experienced players feel that monster tactics alone can easily make a battle much harder. Knowing the adventure, knowing the monsters and their powers, and understanding how the terrain can be used are huge factors to encounter difficulty.

When adjusting monster tactics, make sure you first understand the author’s intent related to how the encounter should play. Perhaps the idea is a challenge related to denying powers and being defensive, rather than one based on damage. Maybe the encounter is supposed to be easy because the next one is very difficult. Maybe the encounter is supposed to be hard because this is the culmination of a major story arc and the aim is for PCs to dig deep before claiming victory. Taking the author’s intent into consideration can help greatly to avoid providing an overall adventure experience that would be too much of a slugfest with little accomplishment or one that is too easy for the story.

Adjusting Levels
DME allows adjusting the levels of one or more foes by 1.

Changing levels can be a great subtle change, influencing the chances that monsters will hit and that PCs will miss. It can be great across several encounters, making for just enough of an increase to keep the challenge level interesting for players or just enough of a decrease to give the PCs a chance.  It can also be done very quickly, making for a great on-the-fly adjustment when a DM sees the PCs are particularly effective or new to the game.

With 4E, building encounters is easier than ever. Even easier is adjusting the level of the monsters. While it isn’t critical for every DM to understand the rules for building encounters, every DM really should understand and memorize (or write down) the rules for adjusting monster levels. The rules are really simple and can really improve player fun.

The rules are worth memorizing in their entirety, but in a pinch or for speed, all you have to remember is this:

Quick and Complete Rules for Modifying Monster Levels:
For each level you add/subtract, add/subtract 1 to attacks and defenses. In addition, add/subtract 8 HPs.
(In reality, the amount of HPs varies by role. It is 8 for Skirmishers, Soldiers, and Controllers. It is 6 for Lurkers and Artillery. It is 10 for Brutes.)

For every 2 levels you add/subtract, also add/subtract 1 to damage for all the monsters attacks (don’t modify damage for which you don’t make an attack roll).

Elites and Solos have more HPs. So, for them, for each level you modify their HPs differently. For Elites, double the HP gain for each level. An Elite Controller would gain 16 HPs when it gains a level, for example. For solos, it is a bit more complex. A solo uses the following rules for HPs: 8*(level+1), plus con. If level 10 or lower, multiply result by 4. If level 11 or higher, multiply result by 5. So, if you have level 10 or lower solo and drop it by 2 levels, you would subtract 2*8*4=64 HPs.

All of the above can be done within the excellent Monster Builder, though output should be carefully checked as errors can occur. You can use this to print alternate stat sheets if you know that an adjustment is warranted (based on prior runs of the adventure and/or with the same table of PCs). 



An insubstantial monster is a special case, but they roughly have 2HPs less per level than a normal monster.

It is debatable whether skills or initiative should change, but you could do so by 1 for every 2 levels.



Rules for adjusting traps are present in DMG 2.

One thing to keep in mind is that raising a level technically changes the XP value of the monster (though it will not change the rewards for the adventure). If enough levels are changed, this can change the level of an encounter.  This can be tricky, because you can easily end up in the wrong tier of play or with foes that PCs may not be able to defeat.

Examples of effects of monster levels on XP and Encounter Level:
A level 4 encounter (875XP) with just 3 creatures would mean each one is around 6th level if they are all the same level. Leveling them all up to 7th would mean 3*300=900XP, which is still below a 5th level encounter, and thus should be ok just on XP value alone (see below for more). But, leveling them by two would mean 3*350=1050, which is a 5th level encounter.
The effect is more pronounced when you have more foes. If there are 5 4th level foes, increasing each by a level would create a 5th level encounter and by two would create a 6th level encounter!


Finally, the overall monster level should be considered. In the first example, a 6th level foe is already a substantial challenge because of their damage expression and their defenses. Going to 7th, though still permissible on the level of the encounter, is a bad idea for a low-level party. Similarly, going to 8th is really pushing things.

Adjusting the Number of Foes
DME allows you to add or remove a foe of a type already present.

Adding a foe is a great idea when you are looking for an immediate increase in challenge. Sometimes, an encounter might just have one of a certain foe, but two would work better. This is often because of a particular monster power that will pressure the PCs. The author of the adventure had to carefully balance XP levels, but you can use DME to give a stronger challenge.

In general, this is a more pronounced effect that changing a level. This is because you create a whole new monster with its own attacks that has to be handled separately by the PCs. You can think of changing the level of a monster as a subtle change, a nudge to the difficulty. A new monster is a substantial change.

Adding a foe can be a powerful effect on encounter difficulty:
For example, if an encounter had 5 level 2 creatures (5*125XP=625XP), this would be a normal 2nd level encounter (the target for a 1-4 Low tier adventure).  Adding another level 2 foe takes us to 750XP, which is a level 3 encounter and probably a suitable challenge. However, adding two level 2 foes takes us to 875, which is a level 4 encounter. Now you are running high tier, which is not what the party signed up for!


It is very helpful to consult the DMG (p56) for help with establishing what is appropriate.  If working on the fly, you should either know the module well and thus know that adding one more foe will not be a problem, or be prepared to take counter-measures when needed (such as dropping off some HPs on a foe so it dies quickly). The players should never be punished for a DME mistake.

It is important to note that you cannot add foes that do not appear in the adventure. You cannot change the type of foe (such as changing a white dragon to a blue one or changing a goblin skirmisher to be a hexer).

Adjusting Skill Challenges or the Story
DME allows the DM to change ““little things” in the adventure such as the way in which characters obtain information, minor NPCs, adding depth or campaign flavor to an encounter, etc. However, the DM cannot change the overall plot of the adventure or its location”.

This rule allows DMs to make sure the story progression works and that you can work through any player confusion. An encounter might provide a clue leading the PCs to a tavern but the players miss it and decide to go to a marketplace. The DM can have a merchant provide a new clue, which routes them back to the tavern. The key is to eliminate frustration, keep the RP high and engaging, and keep the story moving forward.

This often happens in skill challenges, where there can be several scenes and options and the players can lose track of clues found over time. In many ways, DMs should expect some confusion and be ready to adjust as needed with DME. Confusion can actually make for a great time and gives you a chance to have some RP with the PCs.

DME does not specifically allow or prohibit adjusting the difficulty of Skill Challenges, but it is likely within reason. Skill challenge DCs are found on p42 of the DMG.

In assessing difficulty it is again important to understand adventure construction. Many authors mean for a skill challenge to play out as story, rather than to be a true challenge. Thus, adjusting difficulty may stray from the adventure’s intent. An important consideration is how to adjudicate failure. The failure conditions can often tip the DM as to the importance of the skill challenge and whether failure will be a big disappointment.  Additionally, check the DCs to see if they are difficult, moderate, or easy, and how the level and complexity compare. 

When adjusting skill challenges, the easiest change is to bump DCs by 1-2. More than that can affect the odds too much, making failure too easy (or, if lowered, make the challenge inconsequential).

It is likely better to not worry too much about skill challenge DCs and instead concentrate on how it plays out, helping the story play out in ways that are evocative to the players. For example, in an all-diplomacy skill challenge, allow some additional skills to be used by other PCs to keep everyone involved. Reward player/PC ingenuity when appropriate and instead of saying no to tangents, let players take them and assign new skills with the results bringing them back on track. DME can make skill challenges more organic.

One common DME use is the situation where x successes are needed, the PCs feel like they have accomplished what is needed, but essentially need more dice. DME can shape the story to present a new challenge. For example, PCs are trying to find a book. They roll well, finding the right library and the book… but still need two more successes… that’s when the DM shows that this book seems to be a cheap copy. They make a few more rolls, finding that the real book is hidden cleverly behind a related book.


Things not explicitly covered by DME, but likely allowed
As described before, skill challenge DCs are likely allowed.

The language suggests level adjustments are limited to 1 level up or down, but modifying by 2 should be plausible if done for just a single foe with an eye towards not exceeding DMG guidance for the level of the foe (a foe should not exceed PC level by more than 7 or be below by more than 4). If you have a copy of the LFR guidelines, the table for foe levels should be used instead. For example, for 1-4 high tier, the maximum level of a normal/elite/solo should be 6/5/4.

It is not clear whether terrain effects can be modified. DM judgment should be used, though the effect should likely not be more than one change on the difficulty level chart for any skill check DC or more than a +1/-1 level adjustment to damage or similar effects. DMs should be careful with any adjustment that impacts the flow of combat as these are generally playtested extensively. For example, changing ice to become challenging terrain (and require a skill check or the PC falls prone) can change the flow of combat, making movement too difficult.

Other things you can do with DME is help different players/PCs shine in skill challenges, reward creativity, and provide greater RP by tweaking the story to react to PC initiatives. In all cases, these should be minor adjustments that just accommodate the players and their PCs. For example, if a PC has a love for history, the barkeep could be a retired historian or history buff, and deliver information in those terms.

DME can likely be used to help keep an adventure on track and on time.  For example, if a combat no longer presents a challenge and is unlikely to use any PC resources, the foes could surrender or flee, saving time.

 


Continued in the next post...

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Suggestions for the Wise Use of DME

1. Experience.
The best tool in your arsenal is experience. If you are new to judging 4E and/or LFR, you probably should not be using DME to adjust difficulty. This is because 4E and LFR can be ‘swingy’, in that one encounter can be really easy for a party and the next really hard. This is a factor of the way adventures and encounters are built, as well as the way parties are built and how the die rolls can distribute over time. An encounter can seem really hard when the monsters have high damage and the party lacks a healer, or when they have high defenses and the striker rolls poorly for several attacks in a row. An adventure might deliberately start with a really hard encounter, then tone it down for an easy encounter, then finish with a moderate encounter. The more experience you have as a DM, the more you can recognize these factors.

2. Know the Adventure
The more you understand how the adventure’s encounters tend to play, the better you will be able to know when DME is appropriate. Maybe the skill challenge is designed to be a strong social encounter because the next skill challenge is all about non-social skills. Adding in non-social skills in the first challenge changes that balance. Maybe the first fight uses minions and is really easy so that the players will feel good… and not be frustrated when they face a more denial-based encounter in the next room. One of the first cores, for example, has two pretty easy fights up front, using several minions. A DM might think the adventure needs tweaking. However, the last encounter can be very difficult depending on how PCs handle the bundled skill challenge and one of the foes. That final fight can be challenging enough to threaten a TPK for some tables. If a DM increases the difficulty based solely on how the first two fights play, they could be making a big mistake, using up vital resources too early!

3. Know the Party
DME is especially useful if you have a good understanding of the party’s capability. Understanding the roles they have, the skills they have, and their level of proficiency with the game is important. Understanding the style of play they prefer is important as well. Some players would appreciate DME that provides more RP. Some players are happy optimizing their PC and having a cakewalk and don’t want the DME to up the challenge level. Maybe the party just finished having a TPK in their previous adventure and now they sit down looking for a cakewalk, and you decide to up the challenge level…

4. Use DME Cautiously, With an Eye Toward Options
DME is best used carefully. Tweaking monsters by a level may seem by very little, but a missed daily power or two can have big effects over the course of an adventure. Plan ahead for how you can back out of DME changes. For example, if you increased several foes by a level and the party is having trouble, and the party likely knows the foes’ attack bonus or defenses, you could just reduce their HPs back to normal or even a bit below normal or change monster powers to refresh less often. Don’t forget tactics. Bad or great tactics are easily worth more than a level adjustment if done well. After all, just the simple choice to flank or attack a foe with/without cover is a difference of 2 on an attack roll. Combine with a marking penalty and you can be increasing/decreasing your monster’s chance to hit by 4!


What should you not do with DME?

1. Don’t automatically use DME to make up for a party being effective
An optimized party may or may not be a fun party. Your job is to ensure fun. If you see the PCs having an easy time, check with the players before increasing the challenge level. If they seem bored, you can likely adjust the challenge level. Be mindful of new players, however, as they may be riding on the coattails of experienced players and you don’t want to overwhelm them, if possible.

2. Don’t use DME to punish an optimized player
While severely optimized players can be un-fun (both for the table and for the DM), keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their own play style. If one PC’s optimization seems to be causing a problem for the whole table, talk to the player to try to reach a compromise. Or, ask the table as a whole if they want a higher challenge level. Trying to ‘punish’ the optimized player by increasing difficulty can be a big mistake if it ends up making the game too difficult for the other PCs.

3. Don’t use DME to issue a rules edict.
DME does not allow you to ignore core 4E or LFR rules. You are bound by the 4E and campaign rules at all times, including using the latest rules clarifications in the FAQ, errata documents, and CS (Customer Service) replies.

DME should also be viewed as being there for the benefit of players and the table. It isn’t for the benefit of the DM, other than the increased satisfaction of knowing the players had a great time.

4. Don’t overstep your bounds.
Know the limits of DME and obey them. Just as you expect players not to cheat, they expect you to understand and follow the limits imposed by DME.

Creating Adventures with MYRE


Understanding MYRE in Detail

(This area to be fleshed out later, with ideas including:

The authoring process – different for everyone

How to craft a story

How to create realistic NPCs

Understanding how to build a combat encounter
XP Budgets
Monster Roles
Terrain
Traps
Timing and other constraints


How to build a skill challenge

Resources

playtesting

Finding a table to play the actual adventure

How does MYRE differ from the process authors use for official LFR adventures? )

Links:

So, now you want to actually write for the campaign?

Your feedback and ideas welcomed! Please help with this guide!
Thanks, Teos

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Maybe this should be in the module discussion sub-forum?
when I have time to sit down and really read it, it may well end up stickied over there.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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My attempt at a guide.

Teos, may I and other "reskinners" use this guide in our "reskin / re-imagined" documents, so as to explain and rate how much change our reskins our modifying the original scenario?
Teos, may I and other "reskinners" use this guide in our "reskin / re-imagined" documents, so as to explain and rate how much change our reskins our modifying the original scenario?

Absolutely. I would appreciate help with properly setting the levels of "Minor". "Moderate", and "Extreme", if those are even proper terms!

I've been thinking that we could also use a index thread that points out the various reskins for mods. Basically, a list of mods with any available changes as links to the posts/threads capturing those changes. The idea being, if you go to run a mod, you can see what others have done, cherry pick changes, run the mod at a really high level of fun. This is what I felt happened with the WiR mod, and it was great for me to have the benefits of what others had thought through.

Oh, and I'm fine with this ending up in either board. I put it here because the other one seemed specific to individual modules, while this thread is more general. No issues either way.

Teos

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how big of a change would it be to change say a boss mob. just one of his capabilities...?? to provide flavor for those that have repeated the mod say 3 or 4 times...I like the capability that say a solo mob cannot be marked in any form (fighter, pally, swordmage, ranger, cleric, warlock, etc). true it may prolong the game a bit but ive had bosses that died in 1 round cause the players knew exactly what was needed to be done ( CORM1-1 ). So would in this instance be allowed that kind of change?
how big of a change would it be to change say a boss mob. just one of his capabilities...?? to provide flavor for those that have repeated the mod say 3 or 4 times...I like the capability that say a solo mob cannot be marked in any form (fighter, pally, swordmage, ranger, cleric, warlock, etc). true it may prolong the game a bit but ive had bosses that died in 1 round cause the players knew exactly what was needed to be done ( CORM1-1 ). So would in this instance be allowed that kind of change?

Is there a power that prohibits marks as well as curses and quarries which aren't marks? I hadn't come across it yet and it seems like an awfully powerful ability.
how big of a change would it be to change say a boss mob. just one of his capabilities...?? to provide flavor for those that have repeated the mod say 3 or 4 times...I like the capability that say a solo mob cannot be marked in any form (fighter, pally, swordmage, ranger, cleric, warlock, etc). true it may prolong the game a bit but ive had bosses that died in 1 round cause the players knew exactly what was needed to be done ( CORM1-1 ). So would in this instance be allowed that kind of change?

Off the top of my head, it would be a minor or moderate change, depending on the type of power. For a good example of a change, compare the creature in the first combat in the adaptable Menace of the Icy Spire to the creature it is obviously based upon - the power changes are very reasonable and do not affect the power level. That's a minor change, IMHO, even though several powers were changed.

If I were to take a boss and make a very different power, say, something that heals or your example that cancels a class feature, that is likely a moderate change. A lot of these are judgment calls. We can try to categorize changes roughly, but the nature of the game and of players is why the guide exists - it is really easy for something not to work as you intend it to work.

Not allowing a class feature to work may really rub players the wrong way. Think of the many LG mods that do things like prevent animal companions from coming along... a player is right to say "Why was I unfairly prevented from using part of my class capabilities?"

Aside from that, looking over the MM can show you examples of what powers are reasonable and unreasonable at different levels. Generally, an "always up" defensive power is pretty darn strong. More likely you will see a once per round immediate interrupt power, though these are also viewed as really strong. For your example, I could see an immediate interrupt that either redirects the mark to an adjacent foe (similar to the power of a goblin hexer) or a minor or move action to cancel a mark as an encounter power. Both seem to me ok, assuming you are removing a power of equal value. Remember, you aren't getting the benefit of WotC development teams, their playtesting, the module's author, the mod's reviewers, and the mod's playtests... thus, be ready to scale back on the fly or try this only after you have a really good sense of your options as a DM if this ends up annoying the players. For example, if it ends up being too strong, you could retroactively knock of 10 hp per use and have the player that is annoyed make a spot check with a low DC. You announce "you spot a trickle of blood coming out of your foe's mouth. You think they are paying for that capability with their own blood!"

The more you DM 4E and LFR, the more you gain a sense of balance and can feel out whether this is a minor change or may be something to which players could react negatively.

For example, the Arkanul changes I suggested include some fairly strong enhancements to combats. Giving a set of critters ropes for swinging allows them a terrific movement advantage, with little downside. It isn't even a power and requires no skill! That might be a moderate change or even extreme, except that the encounter is a really easy encounter. The final effect, in the context of that encounter, is just a minor change that greatly improves the fun without really changing the difficulty at all.

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Scott Roberts e-mailed me the following, which I have added into the guide:

-====-

I really like the guide. I would add the following (unsure where to
do so, perhaps under extreme changes):

X. Guidelines for Extreme Changes

Outside of home play, extreme changes should follow these guidelines:

a) The treasure bundles, total experience, and gold awards must be
identical to those in the original module.

b) The number of encounters and the relative size of the encounters
should be as close to the original module as possible, as these are
carefully tested to ensure that the module falls within the suggested
play time of the module. This is less important in events and locales
where time is not an issue (single module events); in convention and
multiple-slot events this is a necessity as it interferes with the
players' ability to join in other slots.

c) The story awards MUST make sense within the scope of any extreme
changes--favors from NPCs must remain logical and flow within the
storyline and roleplaying of the changed module.

d) It is *highly* recommended that if you do decide to make extreme
changes outside of use for a home game, you do so only with groups of
players that have already played the original module as written with
another character. In this way, the players are aware of how the
original module is played, in the event that in your changes you have
altered something which will be important in a future module. There
are several modules which contain NPCs and encounters that appear to
be benign and seem insignificant in the course of the individual
module but which may well be key to future modules. In this manner,
players know what their characters SHOULD have encountered and can
therefore make adjustments in sequel modules their character plays in
the future to reflect what they WOULD have experienced with that
character had they played through the original module.

(For D... I'd include some examples, but I'm uncertain how spoilers
work on this list. Needless to say I believe that *most* modules with
this sort of element have some obvious hints and thematic elements
which are particularly obvious setups for something in the future that
aren't associated with story awards or even potentially the encounter.
Off the top of my head, I can think of two mods with RP encounters
with characters who have little bearing on the individual module's
story awards but whose nature is ominous, curious, or otherwise odd
and foreshadows possible future involvement. This indicates to me
that there may very well be other elements essential to future modules
that aren't as obvious.)

--
Scott Roberts
General Manager
The Gamer's Gambit

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I edited the second post to contain Reasons and Methodology for making changes. Feedback wanted!

Teos

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I don't have any feedback for you other than this:

Thank you, Teos, for writing this up.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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Regarding the second post.

I'd think that the (or at least a) primary reason for using DME to change a mod would be to mix it up for replayers...
Regarding the second post.

I'd think that the (or at least a) primary reason for using DME to change a mod would be to mix it up for replayers...

I'll mention that. My own bias is against replaying. No matter what a good DM does with a mod to make it different, a replay generally is, to me, sub-par. I look for really good engaging experiences, a story that immerses me and my PC, compelling heroic goals, and continuity of plot across mods. With reasonable DME, there will always be some repetitive feel... getting a few "oh, nice change" moments is seldom going to make the mod as fun as a new mod. (Any mod, replay or not, can be fun if you play with a great table, of course, but then the fun would just be better for having a new experience).

I do realize that many people like to replay. I'll make a mention.

Teos

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It's a bit OT, but I'll add that for me, replaying has let me really focus on my own characters a lot - I have played 7 PCs to 2nd level or above now, and each of them has a more-or-less fully formed personality, a feat which took a much longer amount of time for just 3 PCs back in the days when I was focusing much more on the modules. I would try to "maximize" each adventure when I knew it would never be playable again, to the detriment of actually playing the game.
How about this one? If your DME change involves giving multiple energy resistances to 3/4 of the monsters in the entire freakin mod, you should sit down and start over again. I'm fine with adding a bit more story to a mod, but if every monster in the module suddenly acquires fire and necrotic resistance (and starts with high reflex defense making Eldritch Blast a poor choice) then even a warlock with a good spread of energy types (in my case, Thunderwave, Scorching burst, vampiric embrace, eldritch blast, flames of Phlegethos, and dire radiance) may find that almost all of his powers are ineffective.

Resistances are supposed to be relatively rare in heroic tier. Adding multiple resistances to most of the monsters for the entire mod should be a no-no. Find some other way to communicate your fire goblins or at least toss in a few non-fire goblins.
How about this one?

Sounds very non-fun! I've added the following to the end of the new post:

D) The changes should not unreasonably increase the difficulty of the encounter. It can be appropriate to make an encounter harder or easier, but this can be very hard to estimate and change correctly. DMs that use DME to adjust monster abilities or encounter difficulty should be ready to pull punches if the adjustment does not play out as intended. Few things will irritate a player more than a perception of a change being unfair, especially if it results in character death.

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I added a link to Corwyn's template for reskinned scenarios.

And now one to mine.

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An update from Shawn Merwin, global admin.

I do look forward to guidance from above. I'm lawful that way!

Additional comments about the intent of DME and coming guidelines.

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A challenge has been issued!

Take part in the Regional Flavor DME Challenge and help increase the flavor of LFR!

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Some DME ideas here for CORE1-1. (Check posts 13 and 14).

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As everyone likely knows, the My Realms modules are out, providing a (limited) outlet for DMs to create their own adventure within the LFR format.

The CCG 1.9 should come out, widely expected to clarify DME.

When that comes out this guide will either shift its focus (getting a major rewrite) or add on additional ideas on DME within the revised context and that of the MYRE concept.

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Now that CCG 1.9 is out, greatly limiting DME, it looks like we will need to change the focus of the Quick Guide.

Even some of the examples under the "Minor Changes" category might have to be removed.
Now that CCG 1.9 is out, greatly limiting DME, it looks like we will need to change the focus of the Quick Guide.

Even some of the examples under the "Minor Changes" category might have to be removed.

My take on this would be that the side that originally pushed for DME lost, and the advocates of "consistency of play" won. By and large, it's tough to say that DME exists any more in anything but name.

The changes can be summed up in one quote from the new section: "The adventure should be essentially the same no matter who runs it."

(Contrast with what one campaign admin said when the concept was released: "[DM Empowerment] is stressed to specifically defuse the notion that the RPGA is striving for some mythical 'consistency of play' within an adventure from one table to the next in its Living campaigns.")

Several cardinal examples that campaign staff have used in the past for how DME should work (replacing a creature with four minions of the same level or a creature of another type; replacing a combat with a skill challenge when appropriate) are explicitly disallowed. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if the specific example of what is not allowed (changing the color of a dragon) was directly recommended by campaign staff in the past.

This isn't a clarification of DM empowerment; this is a flat-out disavowal of it.

I'm not sure how much I'm bothered by them throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because, after all, it was a particularly ugly baby. Still, this was a 180º turnaround.

I hope that this section finds its way to the standard adventure template, as these are the sort of guidelines that need to be clearly expressed and accessible to all DMs.
This guide indeed needs to change drastically. I am thinking it should cover the many scenarios under which DMs have to and can make adjustments (such as increasing a level, adjudicating player ideas that the rules don't cover, deciding between CS responses, etc.) and also the basic concepts of how encounters are built, designed, and balanced.

I might also add in the concept of MYRE and how you can write those, but that might be best as a separate thread.

With regards to the changes that took place, I fully support them. My (probably obvious) intent with this thread was to bring the issues to the forefront and provide guidance given that there was a lot of confusion. It didn't seem as if the admins wanted to draw a hard line, so I wanted there to be some idea on how to avoid huge failures.

I am happy to see really major and even moderate changes removed. Ideally, the adventures don't need them. In truth, some do, but I think RPGA plays better when players can count on getting a play experience that is genuine to what the authors and admins crafted.

With MYRE, you can ignore a bad mod and instead write your own. If you don't like REGION1-X, you can skip it and write your own to still take place in that region. You can borrow elements (ideas on terrain, for example, or the concept of a search and rescue plot) that you liked and ditch the rest. MYRE provide a creative outlet and help DMs become authors, which is good for the craft and the RPGA. And, if you create something that turns out poorly, only 4-6 people suffer and you likely learn from the experience.

I have some major work to get off my plate and will then set to revise this guide. I'll probably end up making a new guide and asking WolfStar to unsticky this one. I'm not sure the older comments in this thread are helpful given the enormity of the changes.

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This isn't a clarification of DM empowerment; this is a flat-out disavowal of it.

I'm not sure how much I'm bothered by them throwing the baby out with the bathwater, because, after all, it was a particularly ugly baby. Still, this was a 180º turnaround.

I thnk they tried it as an experient, tried to gently mention that it was only meant for small changes and not wholesale reskinning, etc. but saw that people were taking that inch and turning it into a mile. Experiment failed. So I'm not surprised.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
I'm just glad the DME change came in _after_ I ran Spellgard, rather than early on... cause this mod needs DME later on sooo badly
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
I think they tried it as an experiment, tried to gently mention that it was only meant for small changes and not wholesale reskinning, etc. but saw that people were taking that inch and turning it into a mile. Experiment failed. So I'm not surprised.

I think one of the problems was that there appeared to be a wide divergence (even among staff) as to what DME was supposed to be about.

Here are a few quotes from regional POCs (who shall remain nameless) that seemed to think that the whole thing was about encouraging creativity, not just allowing small changes when necessary:
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LFR is less restrictive than previous Living Campaigns! We have DM empowerment, now. We WANT to tap the best and most creative DMs in the community to DM for LFR because DMs don't have to try and shoot for a uniform experience anymore. Share your creativity and DMing skills with our huge and incredibly diverse community!
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But with DM empowerment there will be huge table variation. A good DM is worth a lot more than the adventure he's running. Adventures are easier to run so that means a larger pool of DMs which means butt head DMing will not be widely tolerated. Overall it means more personalized (less canned) and generally better gaming experiences. Expect a few truly terrible gaming experiences as well. Though they suck at the time, they make great stories which last forever.
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The idea is now to give DMs an adventure that they CAN run exactly as written if they want. This gives those without the confidence or skill to make changes the ability to run the mod at a mediocre level. But it lets those who are extremely creative and adaptable do what they want and have free reign. Yes, there will likely be some people who are bad DMs who are going to abuse this freedom. However, I believe the number of people who will actually cause more problems with this freedom than they did without it is extremely small.

I'd like to believe that there are more good DMs out there than bad. I'd also like to believe that given the freedom to explore their creative side and some encouragement a lot of average DMs could actually get better.

I do have more friends who like D&D and consider sitting down at a random table of non-RPGA D&D at GenCon to be a LOT more fun than going into the RPGA room than I have friends who think the other way around. We aim to change that.
The proponents of the "Rah! Rah! Consistency is dead; cast off the shackles on rampant DM creativity!" mindset seemed to me to be largely campaign staff, not players. Indeed, there appeared to be a distinct disdain from some campaign staff for DMs who would choose to just run an adventure as written, which always struck me as more than a little counter-productive.

If players chose to take these kind of statements at face value, I can't say I blame them.

An update is coming. I'm serious. I hope for this to come soon and for lots of feedback!

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(This post now houses the original discussion. This used to be the original first post, back before the changes to DME. Captured here for historical reasons).

original guide:


My attempt at a guide.

1. The golden rules: Fun and reasonable Any DME changes should make the game more fun. Changes should be seen as the players as reasonable. It is easy to overstep the bounds of what players see as reasonable. Therefore, the greater the changes, the more important it is to check with players to ensure they are ok with the types of changes you are making. Consider whether you know the players, whether this is a con or a home game, how the author might feel, and impacts on the players/PCs when they play future mods in the series that may be based on this mod.

2. Respect copyright/ownership Any DME changes you make can be shared as adjustments, but you should avoid the use of trademarked/ copyrighted information and any document or post should still require another DM to have the original module. Reposting a completely remade module is not allowed.

3. Minor changes are encouraged by all. A minor change typically includes an adjustment to something that impacts an encounter but that is not fundamental to it.

For a skill challenge, this could include adding a skill that can be used, modifying the effect of a success or failure, creating impacts for RP and/or tactics, and adjusting the effects of a high or low roll.
Example: A player rolls really well on Diplomacy and does some great role-playing; you reward two successes instead of one.
Example: Intimidate is not allowed, but the party found some solid ground on which to threaten the NPC. You decide to allow the use of Intimidate.

For combat encounters, this could include adjustments to terrain, addition of minions, swapping of minions for other included monsters, changes to the map, changes to lower the hit points of monsters if combat drags on or is too challenging.
Example: You change the nature of difficult terrain to provide more opportunities for combatants without greatly affecting the overall difficulty.
Example: You have minions appear in waves, so as to improve their utility. (You might remove a minion or two to compensate for the advantage if it is a potentially difficult combat)
Example: You swap a power of a monster for another power from the MM of a similarly-leveled monster. The first combat encounter of ADAP1-5, Menace of the Icy Spire, contains a monster that has been changed in several minor ways to best fit the cold/ice theme and is a good example of minor changes.

Changes to the story can be minor if they do not impact the overall story or change NPCs, locations, rewards, or other important factors. An example would be to have a foe that was left unconscious by the party give information to help clear up any confusion the players have about the plot. Another example would be to include a new NPC that helps guide the players when they are having trouble with the story or with a skill challenge. In the retired adventure, Weekend in the Realms, any of the caravan NPCs could shed light on the Cormyr-Elven-Eladrin politics, clearing up the events of the attack and helping players better understand the module. Minor changes are an excellent way to adjust for replayers, to increase the regional flavor of modules, and to improve potential weak points of modules.

4. Moderate changes are possible under DME Moderate changes include changes to the story, the premise, the NPCs, the order of encounters, or major portions of encounters.
Example: Removing a trap and placing a monster of your choosing. Changing a monster for another. (Using the DMG rules to ensure proper balance).
Example: Changing the premise of the story to contain regional aspects, such as the Dwarves of the East Rift asking the party (composed entirely of PCs from the East Rift) to go to that region and secure a trade agreement, then having the mod run basically as it is written but including bits and pieces that carry the theme of securing a trade agreement.
Example: Adding RP encounters with NPCs to further the story, lengthening an intro to contain better story and RP.
Example: Changing the terrain in a drastic way, changing the placement and tactics of all monsters (with potential impacts on difficulty), etc.
Example: Changing a combat encounter that does not add XP to be a skill challenge instead. In Weekend in the Realms 2008, you could make the encounter with the iron dog and the clay homonculi into a skill challenge, having the parties search for clues as to how to appease them.

The number of encounters and the relative size of the encounters should be as close to the original module as possible, as these are carefully tested to ensure that the module falls within the suggested play time of the module. This is less important in events and locales where time is not an issue (single module events); in convention and multiple-slot events this is a necessity as it interferes with the players' ability to join in other slots. Too great a deviation can be an extreme change. With Moderate changes it is best to check with the players. While the rules seem to pretty clearly support this type of DME, some players may object to not getting the module as it is intended or to having changes that impact their chances of survival, RP, or continuity with future mods in the series. The rough nature of the changes should be shared prior to running the mod.

While moderate changes can improve on a module or make it a new experience for replayers, moderate changes run the risk of being too drastic - unlike the original module, your changes did not go through several sets of eyes and two playtests before reaching your table! Moderate changes are best employed by DMs who are very experienced and comfortable with the core DMG rules and who know the players and/or the module very well.

5. Extreme changes are not encouraged and may not be part of DME A complete rewrite of DME is discouraged by the campaign staff.

The language of DME suggests adjustments and not complete changes. Taking DME beyond moderate changes likely changes the module in fundamental ways the author, admins, playtesters, and WotC did not intend and would not recommend. The module may be unrecognizable and may harm continuity based on future releases for the series. Many players will find extreme changes to be the opposite of fun. In general, extreme changes should be attempted only with the approval beforehand of players you know and DM for frequently. It should be a home setting with plenty of time to handle any disagreement over the balance and scope of the changes.
Example: Completely change the nature of the encounter. For example, a combat with a solo monster of your choosing (say, oh, a Dragon...) instead of a mixed set of monsters provided in the mod.
Example: Changing a combat encounter that awards XP to be a skill challenge instead. In general, this is an extreme change that vastly changes the nature of the module. While an adventure without skill challenges may seem to call for one, it really provides a different play experience and can vastly affect the resources available to players for the remaining encounters. The reverse, changing a skill challenge to a combat encounter, is even more trouble-prone.
Example: Rewrite the plot to one of your choosing, such that the new story is not similar to the original plot. Example: Change the setting/theme to include some overriding theme of your choosing (insert TV show, movie, or other non FR idea of your choosing).

It is very easy for players to become upset over drastic DME. They may like it initially, then have a huge problem if it results in an impact to their XP, gold, awards, PC death, etc. Extreme changes should only be attempted by DMs and players with many years of experience who are comfortable both with the scope with changes and with working through any arguments that may come as a result of the changes. It is very poor form to run extreme DME changes without player consent! Admins and authors may be offended by your changes, particularly if they come with the idea that you thought the original work they produced was something that you could easily fix... (whether that is true or not).

Keep in mind that it is very likely that DME of this type will be strictly prohibited in the future. Consider these types of changes very carefully. Extreme changes are probably best for two situations: a set of friends agree to massively change a published module to fit some desired theme or provide some very different opportunity, or the rewriting of a published module to serve as a convention special event (preferably with admin approval, such as the event manager).

6. Prohibited under DME DME certainly does not allow you ownership of the module, republishing the whole module, changing rewards, or otherwise changing core 4E or LFR rules. Some guidelines on prohibited changes:
A) The treasure bundles, total experience, and gold awards must be identical to those in the original module.
B) The story awards MUST make sense within the scope of any changes (especially extreme changes) - favors from NPCs must remain logical and flow within the storyline and role-playing of the changed module in order for future modules to make sense. Story rewards are often an indication of a hook that will be used again in a future module.
C) It is highly recommended that if you do decide to make extreme changes outside of use for a home game, you do so only with groups of players that have already played the original module as written with another character. In this way, the players are aware of how the original module is played, in the event that in your changes you have altered something which will be important in a future module.

There are several modules which contain NPCs and encounters that appear to be benign and seem insignificant in the course of the individual module but which may well be key to future modules. In this manner, players know what their characters SHOULD have encountered and can therefore make adjustments in sequel modules their character plays in the future to reflect what they WOULD have experienced with that character had they played through the original module.
Example: The story awards for DALE1-1, The Prospect, are obvious tie-ins for authors to use in future adventures. Any changes to that module should keep the NPCs/organizations and have a valid story reason leading to the favor.

D) The changes should not unreasonably increase the difficulty of the encounter. It can be appropriate to make an encounter harder or easier, but this can be very hard to estimate and change correctly. DMs that use DME to adjust monster abilities or encounter difficulty should be ready to pull punches if the adjustment does not play out as intended. Few things will irritate a player more than a perception of a change being unfair, especially if it results in character death.

Template for 'Reskinned' Scenarios, by Corwynn.
An example of a moderately reskinned scenario, using my ideas for AKAN1-1.
Extreme reskin of CORM1-1 by Corwynn Reskin ideas for CORM1-1, may need some work
Reskin ideas for CORE1-1
Regional DME challenge, where you are invited to contribute minor changes to establish better regional setting and tone to the 1-1 mods.

This guide is yours! Please feel free to comment, refine, etc.
Teos

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This is part 2, capturing the final part of the original thread.

original post, part 2:

Reasons and Methodology for the Use of DME to Modify a Mod

In general, DME is used to improve upon the module. This can be due to perceived shortcomings, or due to desired aspects that are not present. DME can also be used to give a table of replayers new experiences (though, generally, a new module will always provide a better overall experience).

A) The module is unclear
A lack of clarity can kill a module. If the players can't follow the story, don't understand the importance of taking heroic action, don't understand what to do next, or otherwise are lost, they typically will lose faith and interest in the module. Minor changes can be used to smooth the transitions between encounters or clarify encounters. Examples include providing a handout that captures the information they might learn via a skill challenge, providing a handout with a check-list of tasks, or including a clue that one of the creatures in a combat encounter may actually be an ally they are seeking.

B) The module lacks diversity
A convention may have two modules in a row that feature the same monsters. Or, a single module may rely too heavily on the same monster type (goblins, orcs, kobolds). Making a few minor to moderate changes can keep the battles interesting. Many times, simply changing terrain and conditions can make the battles different while continuing the logic of a dungeon of a single species of monster. For example, the preview adventure in the back of the DMG is really about the skull game and the giant stone sphere, not about the wacky kobolds. Making the environment interesting, giving the monsters names and uniforms, using different tactics, and enhancing terrain and traps/hazards can make a monotonous module fun.

C) The module runs long
When a module runs long, you can always shave a few HPs off of a monster or two on the fly as a minor change. (This is best done when you do it a bit before the end, such as to two of the last three monsters, as this can hasten the heroic feel of the combat or preserve PC resources).

Modules often run long because there are too many brutes or soldiers with lots of HPs, because the skill challenges are complex, or because the PCs spend a lot of time wondering what to do. A module may run on time, but lack opportunities for proper RP. And, a table may end up enjoying one aspect of the module more than another.

With time to plan, you can reduce HPs, trade monsters for minions (best done in a fight that is not the mod's primary challenge), trade a brute or soldier for another type of monster, increase the skills that can be used in a challenge, prepare NPC responses to typical PC questions, provide maps and handouts, provide NPCs that review what has happened, and so on. Many of these can be done on-the-fly as well.

D) The module lacks a regional feel
Many LFR modules could use improvements to their regional aspects, so as to make the region iconic and provide a setting that has meaning and gives players an emotional investment in the outcome (and that of future modules). Ideally, each module teaches PCs something about the region, creates regional ties, and provides memorable locations, foes, or allies.

Minor changes with DME can add regional flavor. A very simple addition to any module is to use the FRPG and allow PCs to roll the skill checks listed for each region, providing them with the noted information if the succeed. This can be done right at the beginning, or with a bit of planning, the information that would be learned can be woven into the introduction (perhaps the NPC responds to a question from the PC and provides the information).

With a little more work, the mod's setting and story can be linked to the locations and themes in the FRPG and FRCG. For example, show players the Faerun map and show them where they are, then show them distances to other surrounding towns and features (forests, mountains). Add references to regional character (For example, in the East Rift: "You notice that the Gold Dwarves have well groomed beards and display finely crafted jewelry with pride. One particularly well-groomed dwarf now approaches you..."). Throw in gossip and rumor ("Leaving the fabulous city of Airspur and it's floating spires behind, you can't help but recall what you overheard in a tavern... Arkanul and the Genasi face several threats along its borders, especially the Abolethi... could it be that they needed you for this mission because Airspur cannot spare the men to look into common goblins, or are these goblins a bigger threat than expected?"). Little tricks, such as detailing treasure ("you find some Cormyrian coins and a statue depicting their famous ruler...") can go a long way towards reminding players that they are in a particular region.

E) An Encounter is Poorly Designed
An encounter might be too deadly, easy, boring, or otherwise need work to meet the desired standard of quality. Be careful to measure this objectively and not personally or based solely on a single previous game. One table may hate an encounter two other tables will love. If an encounter can use improvement, try to isolate the root problem (too deadly because there are two monsters with AoE rechargable powers... a few lucky dice and the table will take massive damage), then consider several solutions (change one of the monsters, fudge the dice if you come up with too many recharges, change the recharge value so it comes up less often, change one of the monsters to have a different rechargable power). Generally, a choice you can tweak on the fly or which has a strong basis in core rules and the encounter (such as using a different monster of the same level already found in the module) is best. Be careful not to change encounter difficulty (such as by raising Skill DCs significantly) without really knowing the PCs well.

F) DME for Replaying
The replay rules allow a player to play any particular mod multiple times (once per character). A DM that knows ahead of time that they will have replayers at the table can use DME to keep the module from becoming stale. The DM must balance the desires of replayers against the desires of first-time players. Minor DME can often be used without changing anything notable for the first-time players. Moderate and extreme DME may be contrary to the wishes of first-time players, as they may wish to experience the module as it was intended by the LFR staff and the author. In general, it is best to honor the desires of first-time players.

When using DME for replay with some first-timers present, consider ways to keep the central story intact but change aspects that add color. In RP and skill challenges, you can change any NPCs that are not critically important or shift the emphasis of NPCs. For example, shift more of the conversation to the barmaid and introduce a local bard who can answer questions. Consider a voice or mannerisms that will make an impression and solicit RP. You can shift skill challenge locations (instead of a blacksmith who can make keys, they need to talk the former owner into giving up the old set of keys they still have).

For combats, analyze the critical pieces that affect tactical decisions, as those are often the most repetitive/boring and subject to abuse. Swap minions in or out (though you may not to deprive a first-time player who has minion-slaying powers), change the starting locations of monsters, move the traps around and change their description (wall panels instead of the statues) change the terrain description, start the combat with some RP that deteriorates into combat, and add some RP to the monsters (such as smack-talking or comical disagreement between leader and subordinates) that liven the combat. Keep the basic challenge and nature of the encounters intact so that first-time players get an experience that is true to the module.

==

Feedback appreciated!

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(Content moved to first posts, but help needed with the MYRE portion)

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Feel free to post with ideas!

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Two questions about the limits of DME.

Is changing a weapon, a relatively aesthetic change ok?  I find a monster with a battleaxe, and see no shield and think hmm Executioners axe.  This is an interesting change, because overall it adds more damage potential, brutal, high crit, bigger damage dice etc.

Is giving a monster an action point, or another action point ok?  This has happened in several adventures I have played in.  I don't mind unless it pushes the combat over the edge.  A tough combat should not be tweaked, but an easy combat could easily get a step up with an action point or few to the bad guys. 


 
Author of Aglarond 1-6(P1), and Co-author of Aglarond 2-4(2 round P3)


D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

Two questions about the limits of DME.

Is changing a weapon, a relatively aesthetic change ok?  I find a monster with a battleaxe, and see no shield and think hmm Executioners axe.  This is an interesting change, because overall it adds more damage potential, brutal, high crit, bigger damage dice etc.

Is giving a monster an action point, or another action point ok?  This has happened in several adventures I have played in.  I don't mind unless it pushes the combat over the edge.  A tough combat should not be tweaked, but an easy combat could easily get a step up with an action point or few to the bad guys.
 



Neither change is supported by DME. You cannot actually change a monster in any way beyond increasing or decreasing its level.

It is all a fine line. If everyone at the table wanted the DM to play around and try some things to challenge them because they are so OP as to walk over every LFR mod, I don't see the problem. But, if some people at the table don't want it, or if it is done without players knowing... that's exactly why these rules exist.

As I said on another thread, you never know what players want without asking. I had an otherwise fantastic DM stealth-run my friends and I through a table at High when we asked for Low. I knew and had read the mod, so I recognized the changes. He worked hard to challenge us, killed one PC... and he probably had no idea that in the preceding con slot we had a near TPK and wanted a nice easy going.

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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).

I don't see why you'd need to start a new thread... just edit the original posts and replace the original text with the new stuff.  Should work well enough.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
First posts edited to contain the new content, old content retained above for historical benefit (if any).

I could use some ideas for MYRE, should anyone want to share some wisdom. I see Elder Basilisk's nice thread and have linked to it.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

I stumbled across this in an effort to find out more about My Realms creation, and I am about to go read Elder_basilisk's thread after I post this, but I just wanted to say thanks. This helped me understand more about DME and My Realms both.
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