First Living Game

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So in 24 years I have never played a single session of a living game of any kind and have never been a part of any RPGA event. Now we have Living Forgotten Realms which my regular gaming group and I have decided to participate in regularly, but I am a little in the dark here.

First problem is that I have hated Forgotten Realms for the majority of my gaming career and have stayed away from it in everything except computer games. I am in the North Eastern US (Corymyr) but I have no idea what to expect in that region.

And the second is the more obvious. I have never done this before.

I was looking to the more experienced of the RPGA to see if there is anything that I should really know when it comes to these games? Reading rules is fine, but hearing about how it works from experienced players is better overall.
I am in the North Eastern US (Corymyr) but I have no idea what to expect in that region.

Well, unlike Living Greyhawk, where what region you lived in had an impact on which modules you could play (or, at least, which you could play without traveling), the regions in LFR don't look to have as much of an impact. Just because you "live" in Cormyr, you'll still be able to play pretty much all of the regional adventures.

Regardless, as the campaign is new, and as the FR game world has just "fast-forwarded" by a hundred or so years, there's not a whole lot we can tell you about Cormyr quite yet, beyond what you might know from your earlier exposure to the Realms.

I was looking to the more experienced of the RPGA to see if there is anything that I should really know when it comes to these games? Reading rules is fine, but hearing about how it works from experienced players is better overall.

Expect that the rules won't be as loose as a home game, even if you always play LFR with the same groups of people. RPGA campaigns are built so that you can play your PC at any RPGA event around the world, so there's a certain level of bookkeeping and structure required. Also, the DM is expected to run the adventures "as written". In a home game, if the PCs decided to totally go "off the map", the DM could let them. Here, it doesn't work that way.
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
A "Living" game is a lot like buying pre-written adventures from the store and running them.

The major difference is that the old "DM can change the rules as he or she sees fit" does not apply. A Living Campaign requires both players and DMs to follow the campaign rules exactly as written.

This is so if a player takes his character to a dozen different games, each in different locations and run by different DMs, they can reasonably expect to be able to rely on the same rules and not worry about this or that DM having their own house rules that clash with previous DMs.

Likewise, a DM can reasonably expect to know the sorts of characters that are likely to show up to a public game he or she is running, because the players all follow the same character generation and advancement rules.

Character advancement and equipment/treasure gains are generally tracked via certified documents. At the end of an adventure, the DM will either issue signed certificates indicating progression or treasure gains, or fill out and sign a tracking form the player carries with him. Or both, depending on the campaign. These certificates (commonly called "certs") are good at all future games set in that particular Living Campaign.

For example, in "Living Greyhawk", at the end of an adventure you receive a full page cert that lists how much experience you gained and any favors or other significant social or reputation impacts that occurred during the adventure that may affect you in the future. It also lists what treasure you obtained, although in Living Greyhawk's case you are awarded a gold piece value (rather than the items directly), which you can then "spend" on items off a list of items you have gained access to purchase.

In the old "Living City" Forgotten Realms living campaign, experience, favors, and gold were tracked via a form the player carried from game to game. Typically each tracking form or "logsheet" had space for 3-8 adventures worth of information, and the player just added more sheets as more space was needed. Magic items or other significant non-gold treasure was issued separately on individual certificates - for example a +1 Keen longsword that you found would have a 1/3 page sized certificate with all the pertinent item information on it. You wrote your character's name on the appropriate spot at the top, and bam, he had the item in his or her possession.

This all may sound really rigid, and in some ways it is. However, it's done so that the you in theory same quality of game experience no matter where any adventure is run, and no matter who is running it.


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard | Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard | Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

AL Character: Talia Ko'bori Silverwane - Tiefling Tome Fiend Warlock

Kalanth,

First, in LFR, your PC may be from any region you wish, regardless of where on Earth you the player reside or play. If you wish to base the character in Cormyr, that is fine. It will likely be more of role playing flavor than any other impact.

Second, as alluded to by others, a Living or Shared-World campaign, has to have some common standards and consistency in rules as you may have a variety of DMs who don't know your characters or their history, in order to have a fair degree of a consistent play experience. In an exclusive home play group (same players, same DM), it is much easier to have house rules and tailor adventures to the situation. LFR will stick to the core D&D rules.

Third, 4E D&D and LFR moves back in the degree of greater empowerment of the DM. (If you have not played in any past RPGA games, then comparisons are pointless.) We hope that rules arguments will be less and rules won't exist for every circumstance. The DM will be expected to make a decision and keep the game moving.

Fourth, it was not clear from your post if your group intends to play exclusively at home, or go as a group to local or regional game events (conventions, game days, etc.). Mustering for tables at bigger cons is about finding a group of players to game with for that game session. Ideally with a mix of character classes among them to avoid, for instance, having 6 wizards at one table. Ideally having similar tastes on combat, role playing, etc., or sufficient courtesy not to complain about their different tastes.

Fifth, you didn't say what you hated about the Forgotten Realms previously so I can't guess if that will be a problem for you or not. Certainly the 100 year jump in the Forgotten Realms timeline will have cleaned out many of the famous NPCs in the Realms (at least the good guys, still lots of bad guys) and reduced the amount of relevant backstory to the immediate situation. No player should need to do research on the setting more than what they want for role playing flavor--such as culture of where their character is from. LFR will be D&D adventures set in the Realms, not story time in the Realms, if you follow my meaning. The adventures will be relevant to the location within the Realms, but not a tour in history or a travelogue.

Just some more thoughts, hope this helps. Did you have more specific questions?

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
Excellent and informative posts all, thank you.

Fourth, it was not clear from your post if your group intends to play exclusively at home, or go as a group to local or regional game events (conventions, game days, etc.). Mustering for tables at bigger cons is about finding a group of players to game with for that game session. Ideally with a mix of character classes among them to avoid, for instance, having 6 wizards at one table. Ideally having similar tastes on combat, role playing, etc., or sufficient courtesy not to complain about their different tastes.

We are not really convention goers (except two of us who attend each Otakon just up the street in Baltimore) so our intention is likely to stay local. We plan on doing this twice over, with a private session and attending a public session once a month. I have heard that the Earth region does not matter in terms of adventures run, but is there more specific information on how that works?

And what about the "one shot" adventures that are not region specific?

Fifth, you didn't say what you hated about the Forgotten Realms previously so I can't guess if that will be a problem for you or not. Certainly the 100 year jump in the Forgotten Realms timeline will have cleaned out many of the famous NPCs in the Realms (at least the good guys, still lots of bad guys) and reduced the amount of relevant backstory to the immediate situation. No player should need to do research on the setting more than what they want for role playing flavor--such as culture of where their character is from. LFR will be D&D adventures set in the Realms, not story time in the Realms, if you follow my meaning. The adventures will be relevant to the location within the Realms, but not a tour in history or a travelogue.

The traditional dislikes, honestly. To many high end NPCs, doesn't feel like I have a purpose as a PC in in the Realms, to much available power, and the Gods put their hands in the cookie jar to often. From all I have heard about the fast forward of the setting I am finding it interesting enough to open up to it and I figured LFR would be the best exposure I could get to it. Our private session games are not likely to ever take place in the Realms (as we are Eberron fans mostly.)

Just some more thoughts, hope this helps. Did you have more specific questions?

Actually, the most specific is this. Is there any way for your character and / or group to reach a level of notoriety or fame? As we plan to keep the weekly game together when we go to the public events we were wondering if we will have a reputation that spreads across regions or the local area, and if it will have an impact on things that come down the line later in the Living campaign.
Actually, the most specific is this. Is there any way for your character and / or group to reach a level of notoriety or fame? As we plan to keep the weekly game together when we go to the public events we were wondering if we will have a reputation that spreads across regions or the local area, and if it will have an impact on things that come down the line later in the Living campaign.

The best way to answer this question is to say that I can name dozens of PCs from past Living and D&D campaigns, even though I never played with or DMed for those PCs. I would say that is a positive answer to those questions.

Shawn
I have heard that the Earth region does not matter in terms of adventures run, but is there more specific information on how that works?

And what about the "one shot" adventures that are not region specific?

The LFR adventures will be released at a rate of about one per week, except for groups that are used, for instance at Gencon or DDXP. When available for home play, you will just order them through the normal RPGA on-line process. The only exceptions I know of are the specials, which I don't think will be available for home play.

While many of the LFR adventures are in effect "one shot," I am not sure there will be any that are not placed somewhere in the Realms. At least not that I know of as of now.



Actually, the most specific is this. Is there any way for your character and / or group to reach a level of notoriety or fame? As we plan to keep the weekly game together when we go to the public events we were wondering if we will have a reputation that spreads across regions or the local area, and if it will have an impact on things that come down the line later in the Living campaign.

I think I am going to be a little more conservative than Shawn on this question and just say things like maybe and it depends. See there is no mechanism other than word of mouth (unless there are websites to brag about PC accomplishments) to spread a reputation across regions or local area. The local area is easier, but only if you normally play in more public events. If you mainly do home play, then that is likely going to remain isolated (results and reputation).

Now as PCs have an impact on events, that should be reflected in later plots and the setting. The theory is in Heroic Tier adventures the effect is all local, helping a person, family or a small village. In Paragon Tier, affecting a broader area, such as a region and gaining a rep as an adventurer to call for help. In Epic Tier, save the world, etc. Fight off the forces of world domination.

So do the right adventures and have a good PR firm to advertize your fine work. :D

Keith
Keith Hoffman LFR Writing Director for Waterdeep
I thank you for those answers, gang. I see that the easiest way to go about reaching true notoriety is to do a write up in story fashion and post it here or somewhere related to LFR. Good thing I love to write.

Man, I wish it started now, I am so excited to get this going.
I thank you for those answers, gang. I see that the easiest way to go about reaching true notoriety is to do a write up in story fashion and post it here or somewhere related to LFR. Good thing I love to write.

Just bear in mind that you should strive to not "spoil" active adventures for other players. If you intend to publically post stories about your characters, don't include details of their adventures, which could give other players hints about those adventures before they play them -- for example, "We accepted the Green Wizard's mission, but when we got to the ruins, we were surprised by the dragon lurking there!"
"Of course [Richard] has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183, and we're barbarians!" - Eleanor of Aquitaine, "The Lion in Winter"
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