LFR Weariness

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Some players in my regular group are BORED NOW. Without changes, the adventures are too easy, and every adventure is repetitive because the format is too cookie cutter. Both are things a good DM can fix, I'm not too worried about these issues.

The key complaint which I have no solution is since your characters really don't matter in what is happening around them. I notice we get lots of pieces of paper after each adventure which have absolutely no effect on anything, ever. This campaign seems even less living than Living Greyhawk. My players want to be more central to the story.

Any suggestions or solutions to re-energize the weary?
I must admit after every single LFR game I tend to get a bit weary but a quick look through the PHB and thinking about the possibilities for my character tends to revitalise me.

I do think however that you guys need to have a break for a few weeks or so and play something else. It can only help.
I notice we get lots of pieces of paper after each adventure which have absolutely no effect on anything, ever.

Well, you should really bear in mind that the campaign is six months old. Story awards may well come into play over time...but when you've played no more than 2 modules in any one region, which may or may not be of related storylines, it shouldn't be surprising that those story awards haven't come into play...yet.

My players want to be more central to the story.

If you've got a regular group, and you're essentially using LFR as your "home campaign", then a Living campaign is probably not going to be the best way to achieve this. In a home campaign, you, as DM, can craft adventures around what your players want, and create situations in which their PCs, and their decisions, are more able to drive the story. The ability to do that in a Living campaign is, by its very nature, more limited. It seems to me like your group may have some unrealistic expectations as to what they can get out of LFR.
"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"
As others have said, it's still very early in the game here. There will be interactions with the story awards later on, for sure. The most obvious aspect will be the completion of major quests when that starts happening, but even now I know of at least two story awards that have some benefit. A story award from MOON1-1 gives RP benefits when playing MOON1-2. A PC who holds certain story awards from both ADAP1-1 and ADAP1-5 gets additional benefits from those awards. Those are the only ones I'm personally aware of at the moment, there may be more, but they do exist.

You have to realize that you're playing heroic tier here. Your characters' actions shouldn't be seriously influencing the world around them as a whole. They may save a specific person or even a small town from some danger and have that person's / town's gratitude (represented by the appropriate story awards, which will certainly come in handy if you run into that person again) but you don't get entrusted with the fate of the Realms for quite a few levels yet.
If you've got a regular group, and you're essentially using LFR as your "home campaign", then a Living campaign is probably not going to be the best way to achieve this. In a home campaign, you, as DM, can craft adventures around what your players want, and create situations in which their PCs, and their decisions, are more able to drive the story. The ability to do that in a Living campaign is, by its very nature, more limited. It seems to me like your group may have some unrealistic expectations as to what they can get out of LFR.

I agree with what you are saying Kenobi, but keep in mind that with DMs Empowerment in mind a DM can actually give a home campaign feel to LFR as long as he runs the game always with the same players/PCs. The more the DM knows of the PCs at the table, who they are and what they did in previous adventures, the more he can change window dressing to give it a more continual feel. Of course, if the players also like to visit conventions and game days, doing so is problematic. I have heard of enough examples on these boards off people that did turn LFR into a home campaign though.
I agree with what you are saying Kenobi, but keep in mind that with DMs Empowerment in mind a DM can actually give a home campaign feel to LFR as long as he runs the game always with the same players/PCs.

And, I don't disagree with you, either...but, the OP said, "my players want to be more central to the story." Without knowing precisely what he (or his players) mean by that, it struck me that what they're looking for may well be beyond what even DM Empowerment can legitimately let you do with LFR modules.
"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"
Indeed, it is hard to give players a sense of continuity - but not impossible. You can give players some choices about where they travel to next, possibly dropping rumors of the adventures that await before them.

Also, I've found that there is a fair bit of variation. One module has 3 skill challenges, another has none. Some do some interesting things with traps. Heck, one even combines a skill challenge and a combat together. The only restriction is the relative shortness - its easy to be comfortable when you know that you only have to make your dailies and surges last about 4 hours.
Well, you should really bear in mind that the campaign is six months old. Story awards may well come into
*snip*
If you've got a regular group, and you're essentially using LFR as your "home campaign", then a Living campaign is probably not going to be the best way to achieve this.

To an extent. A Living campaign should still create a sense of belonging, heroism, caring, and depth between setting and PC. A living campaign does this by providing a setting that immerses the player in rich descriptions and in compelling situations and by using NPCs, events, locations, and organizations that are recurring and which feed upon each other. You sit down to play a module, then later sit down to play another, and realize events in the one affected the next. Because of this, your PC reacts differently, as you are immersed in the setting.

You have to realize that you're playing heroic tier here. Your characters' actions shouldn't be seriously influencing the world around them as a whole.

Depends on your definition of the 'world as a whole'. PCs are adventurers. Initially, their world is small - the local environs and wherever their ship/caravan may take them. They think small. Within that scope, their actions matter tremendously! They are heroes! They just rescued that maiden or put an end to that goblin threat! What awesome heroes!

Over time, connections appear as the scope of their involvement broadens. Those goblins were hired by a fell wizard... and it turns out the maiden actually had plans of her own... she is not so fair after all! Heroically, the PCs travel to the lair and drive the wizard away while quelling a political problem involving an adjoining nation.

Later, if they are lucky, the PCs are truly global heroes that have mighty powers that attract the notice of friends and foes alike. They are called to action by nations near and far in matters that feature foes that have similar reach and power. The NPCs they deal with are savvy politicians that affect the regional and global stages, and their foes are legendary and have taken actions that personally affect the PCs. The PCs continue to affect the world around them - it is just a much bigger world (it includes planes of existence, in fact!).

LFR needs a massive injection of ties between player/PC and setting. I know the campaign is six months old. Still, we just finished the second truly huge and popular living campaign, and that campaign had a number of awesome player-pleasing links between setting and PC. LFR should build upon what was learned, not weaken or merely restart with a slow climb.

This means drawing the player into the setting. This means increasing regional feel. This means having events that impact the PCs - their land is threatened, their favorite tavern burned, their ally NPC murdered, their Duke missing, etc. This means having story awards that play out. This means that modules require the DM to ask PCs what side they are on, what happened in the last mod they played, and what rewards they have.

From what I hear, this message is being heard and I think changes will start happening. PCs should always be treated as heroes. The world (the story) truly should revolve around them. The events they take part in should directly influence the events in the future. There should be mysteries, outrage, pleasure, and all the wonderful things we saw in the best LG regions.

Teos

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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).

To an extent. A Living campaign should still create a sense of belonging, heroism, caring, and depth between setting and PC. A living campaign does this by providing a setting that immerses the player in rich descriptions and in compelling situations and by using NPCs, events, locations, and organizations that are recurring and which feed upon each other. You sit down to play a module, then later sit down to play another, and realize events in the one affected the next. Because of this, your PC reacts differently, as you are immersed in the setting.

This, I don't disagree with. But...

When the OP said that his players wanted their PCs to be "central to the story", that sort of thing (immersion) isn't what I interpreted their request to be. I interpreted it that the players wanted a campaign in which the story revolves around the PCs, their backgrounds, their goals, and the choices they make.

The aspects you describe certainly can make the campaign come alive for the players...but, depending on what the players want, it may not be enough. If you've got players who want to see direct, immediate effects of their choices, and want a campaign that lets them shape where things go, *any* Living-style campaign is probably going to leave them feeling less than satisfied. For example, if the players say, "we've all decided we want to go to Thay and kill undead"...that might work in a home game, where the DM can then start creating adventures to give his players the sort of adventure they're looking for. But in LFR, if there aren't any modules for that, they're out of luck.

Then again, only the OP and his players can say for sure if my interpretation is correct. :D
"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"
This means drawing the player into the setting. This means increasing regional feel. This means having events that impact the PCs - their land is threatened, their favorite tavern burned, their ally NPC murdered, their Duke missing, etc. This means having story awards that play out. This means that modules require the DM to ask PCs what side they are on, what happened in the last mod they played, and what rewards they have.

I like all of those ideas. One problem with 'just wait and see' is everyone is going to quit playing before it potentially gets interesting.
It's not the only restriction. Thus far, only one single round mod has allowed for an extended rest. I am assured by the various people who I know that this is a necessity imposed by 4th edition and cannot change. It does, however, effectively preclude any wilderness exploration modules. Restricting a story to a single day (or maybe more with increasingly contrived "reasons you cannot rest"--yet another storm that keeps you up all night fixing the boat for instance) not only restricts the flow of adventures but restricts the kinds of stories that adventures can tell.

The requirement that the writers use dungeon tiles also imposes a number of setting restrictions on writers as well since there are quite a few kinds of settings that are difficult to do with dungeon tiles. (For instance, the burning remains of a half-destroyed village, the staple of Mordheim scenarios or Warhammer boards is very difficult to portray with Dungeon tiles).

The only restriction is the relative shortness - its easy to be comfortable when you know that you only have to make your dailies and surges last about 4 hours.

LFR needs a massive injection of ties between player/PC and setting. I know the campaign is six months old. Still, we just finished the second truly huge and popular living campaign, and that campaign had a number of awesome player-pleasing links between setting and PC. LFR should build upon what was learned, not weaken or merely restart with a slow climb.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not intend any of these comments to come across as defensive. I think it is fair to say that all of us on the campaign staff want the campaign to be as engaging as possible. That means different things to different people, but I certainly don't disagree with the notion that one of the things that can be great about a Living Campaign is the potential for drawing players into the setting and making them feel like they are involved in shaping the evolution of the story at both a regional and worldwide level.

With that said, I think you are perhaps passing judgment on LFR a bit too soon in this department. (I use the term "passing judgment" only because you went to the trouble to boldface the phrase "massive injection" in your post.) Yes, many if not most of the LG regions did a phenomenal job of developing plots, NPCs, and storylines that people cared about and that unfolded over time in a satisfying fashion. There were likewise a number of core plotlines that unfolded over several years and spanned many adventures. (Love him or hate him, you could only have an NPC like Brendigund in a Living Campaign.)

So I will be the first one to say that LG knocked the ball out of the park as far as offering opportunities for player engagement. They (or I guess I should say "we," since I did write or co-write a number of regional adventures and special events for my home LG region of Gran March) also had eight years in which to make that happen. So far you have seen two regional adventures from each region in LFR. Exactly how far down the rabbit hole do you think any given region could take you in two adventures? I don't remember unraveling a vast web of conspiracy and lies to set things right in my home region until at least the second year of LG. The first year was mostly spent establishing the regional "flavor" (which I would contend the LFR adventures are also doing) and setting up the things that were going to happen in future years.

I will grant that many avid LG players probably feel like they have "lost" a lot with the end of LG and the beginning of LFR. (I had a 16th-level character too, and I traveled to a number of conventions both inside and outside my region along with the "big shows," so I think my participation in LG was fairly representative of the most-engaged tier of player.) I am certainly not going to sit here and try to claim that LFR has the same breadth of opportunities right now that LG had by the time it ended. We don't (currently) have meta-orgs. We don't (currently) have battle interactives or other "sanctioned" special regional events. The writers for LFR have to meet a much stricter standard in terms of getting plots approved and not making certain types of changes to the continuity of the campaign world than the writers for LG did, because the Forgotten Realms is a property under active development by Wizards of the Coast, particularly through novels. This means that at some fundamental level, we flat-out do not have and probably never will have the same level of freedom that the LG staff and writers did. So, it's true -- in some sense we have "lost" some things. We may never have some of the things that LG had, and if we don't, I hope we will come up with clever and, yes, engaging ways to replace them. On the other hand, we might also gain some opportunities that LG never had, specifically because Greyhawk was not a property under active development.

But regardless, I think it is a bit disingenuous to compare the current state of LFR with the end state of LG. I don't remember LG having meta-orgs or tons of battle interactives or world-changing plotlines in its first six months of play either. It took a while for people to get their feet wet and start figuring out how best to provide those kinds of experiences in the context of a new campaign and a new (3rd) edition of the rules. We are in a similar position at this point in LFR's evolution (and it absolutely will continue to evolve -- look at all the differences between the initial release of the CCG and the current release, with another update coming this month). There is certainly a case to be made that LFR should not take as long to evolve as LG did, because LFR should (and, I hope, does) learn from LG, just as LG should (and, I think, did) learn from LC before it, but I still contend that we just have not had very much time, whether you measure time in terms of months or in terms of adventures.

I also think that it is not necessarily the case that everything that previously existed in LG absolutely positively needs to be recreated in LFR. For example, I personally think that despite multiple iterations, LG never really got meta-orgs quite right. Conceptually it's a great idea, and I certainly loved reading some of the 100+ page regional meta-org documents for the regions where I created characters -- but as a system, I think it got bogged down in a morass of rules and unbalanced benefits. It got better with each iteration, and I joined a few meta-orgs with a couple of my characters where it made sense from a story standpoint, but I always saw them as being far more trouble than they were really worth, both for the players and for the campaign staff. I don't know if LFR's version of Adventuring Companies will be the right answer, but I do know that they will be a lot less overhead, while allowing far more individual players to create their own ACs than were able to create their own meta-orgs, and on balance I think that's a good thing.

For that matter, I'm not sure that we need to (or can) have interactives in precisely the same way LG had interactives. (Bear in mind that I absolutely love these kinds of special events, and to the best of my knowledge I am the author or co-author of some extremely large BIs. I know exactly what it feels like to have 40+ tables with 300+ people simultaneously going through a BI that I wrote, where some of them traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles specifically to be there because they knew it would be a one-time-only world-changing event, and it is freakin' awesome.) But for every interactive or BI that I have ever participated in that was edge-of-your-seat gripping and ZOMG-plot-affecting, I also sat (or stood) through at least one other interactive or BI that was boring or unbalanced or just plan dumb. Heck, some people probably thought that about some of my events.

Just because every convention *wants* to have a unique event that no other convention can offer, doesn't mean that every convention actually *needs* or *should have* a unique event that no other convention can offer, because the work of producing those events is extremely high, at least if you want them to be done well and if you want them to be integrated within the larger context of ongoing story lines. Add in the fact that WotC currently expects every adventure outline to be reviewed not only by Chris Tulach, but also by R&D and Novels before the plot gets the green light, and I just don't see how it would be even remotely possible to sustain the same level of output in LFR that existed in LG. (And yes, I realize that some folks are using DME to "re-skin" adventures and offer them as convention specials; whether I agree or disagree with that practice is irrelevant to this discussion, since we are specifically talking about "engagement" in the form of allowing players to affect the ongoing plot, and by definition there is zero chance that a homebrew "convention special" is going to affect the ongoing plot or even necessarily conform to the established regional canon, such as it is.)

Now, to be clear, I am not slamming the door on any idea, nor do I think people are entirely off base with some of the suggestions and criticisms that have been aired in this thread and elsewhere. I absolutely appreciate all the feedback and comments that we get on the boards, in person at conventions, and in private conversations. In no way would I ever seek to discourage folks from telling us what they want to see. And if players are not feeling a sense of engagement with the campaign, then that is certainly something that I, and everyone else on the campaign staff, should be concerned about. It does not matter what the administrators think if the players all go away.

But I do think it is a bit premature to compare six months of LFR to eight years of LG and conclude that the former is hopelessly lacking by comparison.
Talk to you later -- Sean ---- M. Sean Molley | sean [at] basementsoftware [dot] com LFR Global Administrator
Excellent post, thanks for the inside scoop on the thought processes and activity at the studio.

I am personally using a lot of DME to forge a very cohesive campaign based in Waterdeep and Moonshae weaving what is now about 2/3 of the modules together. It is certainly possible to enjoy overlapping tasks and contacts from different modules together (oh, we need ironwood to fix this here decrepit ship/church, we helped save the shipment from the Unicorns, so let's go talk to them!).

I know I am engaging my players very directly and giving them a sense of accomplishment growing their contacts and achievements together, and weaving NPCs across a wide range of modules. That's what is great about it. . . I also know I have to be vigilant to ensure my future DME doesn't step on canon as it is being forged beneath my feet by you and the boyz. That's my risk and onus, but the reward is worth the work!

I have had several requests for my writeups for how to create a full campaign in Waterdeep using existing mods. I will work on compiling my notes this over the next month and provide access here in the forums.

RTM
Let me preface this by saying that I do not intend any of these comments to come across as defensive. I think it is fair to say that all of us on the campaign staff want the campaign to be as engaging as possible.

I want to be sure to say that I really appreciate your excellent post and that it was very useful for me to read it. It was really well written and came across the right way.

The things I wrote are really based on what I see at the gaming table. I think LFR does have the added difficulty of both trying new approaches and yet having to measure up to different and good aspects of LG (or LC). Those comparisons can be unfair, from the perspective of the campaign staff. You want time to deploy what you are creating.

From the player/DM base, the comparisons aren't unfair. We are leaving a campaign that offers great connection between setting and PC, with tons of history and regions you know like the back of your hand. We want that and you want that quickly. I don't think anyone expects it immediately, but I think we see reactions to seeing very little of it, even as compared to the first two years (in some regions) of LG.

I in no way mean any disrespect. I have tremendous respect for everyone involved. I am simply trying to communicate what I see in both the new players and grizzled ol' veterans I play with. In many cases I see less energy than I did in year 1 and 2 in LG. I do agree/think it is due to the first round of mods being written in a setting without the setting books and without the rules being fully available. But, as a person that is currently largely outside 'the system', I want to communicate what I see now, so that it can help influence change. I want to share my perspectives and push for continual improvement.

My main area of feedback is the need for better immersion and connection to the setting/regions. I know these are the early days, but the reality is that many of us ARE measuring this by the better LG standards. Because players now play 20 LFR mods of which maybe two are in the same region, the ability to feel a part of something is reduced. Because WotC must control the intellectual property, the ability of authors and plot coordinators to follow their internal stories may be reduced. The state of the 1-1 series of mods, of which some really missed on providing setting (written before the setting books), further create a difficulty here. That's just where we are. I think judging this at this time, is appropriate, because that's what we have at the table, which is the perspective of players, DMs, con organizers, etc.

We should all have patience and faith in the LFR staff. When I look around the table, I don't personally see anyone quitting. I don't see anyone being unfair. I do hear and see patience. I am personally hopeful that the next two rounds of mods will placate our worries and grant us immersion, heroism, continuity, and all that good stuff. I do trust in the people I know that are at the helm. But, the world often works best with feedback.

I offer this benchmark. Right now, if I turn to the average player and ask them to tell me something about each region, I think there would be a high failure rate. If I ask the DM that is running a regional module, as I did tonight, to tell me about the region I am playing in, I also get a high failure rate. (With all the aforementioned reasons for that). We all want that to change. We aren't burning our RPGA/DCI cards, we aren't quitting. We're having a good time. LFR is fun and 4E is fun. But we are also eager for the next level of involvement.

The responses I read from campaign admins are good indicators that these values seem to be shared. I do take heart in that. I continue to play, to judge, to volunteer, and to think of how I can do my part to make LFR awesome.

Thanks,

Teos

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).

As many ahve pointed out, we've only had two mods for each region. I am sure there will be many recurring themes, characters and effects on the world.

Heck, I've already noticed a couple of ongoing plot elements that potentially hint at something sinister going on behind the scenes. Maybe it's coincidence, but I hope not.
Teos,

As another player/GM who is not now, nor has ever been, associated with any of the campaign administrations, I think you are still jumping the gun a bit.

First, it is difficult to compare 6 months work to 24 months work. The 6 months is always, always, always going to come up short. It isn't so much comparing apples and oranges, IMO, but comparing a bushel of apples compared to two full harvests of an apple grove.

However, there are, indeed, several factors that are affecting LFR that worked significantly differently in LG (at least as I knew LG). One major factor is the total difference in the way regions work. In LG, you were, for the most part, limited to playing Core modules and the modules for your region. Which makes immersion in a region's atmosphere/ambience much easier than it is in LFR's you can play anyplace, anywhere system.

Maybe after 24 months, you can compare LFR's first two years to LG's first two years with some semblance of comparing similar things....

Then again, I still want to play in an LFR adventure set in Neverwinter. ;) Which also goes to show where most of my background with FR has come from.... (All the way back to the Curse of the Azure Bonds game series, really. Surprised me to hear of Myth Drannor during BHH/WitR).
But I do think it is a bit premature to compare six months of LFR to eight years of LG and conclude that the former is hopelessly lacking by comparison.

This sounds like the typical complaint I get when I request another development group make a reasonable software enhancement. Their estimate comes back as taking a year, or its impossible, so I find the code, make the change in an hour, show it to them.

Its not premature becuase the people I play with are bored with LFR now. Make it more interesting, now. You may be disappointed that some players don't think LFR is that great, but telling them that you don't care isn't going to fix the problem.
I offer this benchmark. Right now, if I turn to the average player and ask them to tell me something about each region, I think there would be a high failure rate. If I ask the DM that is running a regional module, as I did tonight, to tell me about the region I am playing in, I also get a high failure rate. (With all the aforementioned reasons for that). We all want that to change. We aren't burning our RPGA/DCI cards, we aren't quitting. We're having a good time. LFR is fun and 4E is fun. But we are also eager for the next level of involvement.

I agree with the benchmark - I'm really puzzled why your PC's region (and to a lesser extent, your alignment) have absolutely no effect on anything in LFR. WotC even published two whole books on the subject, but no effect on gameplay.

"Hi, I'm a Wizard from Thay" should have some in-game effect...such as everyone hating your guts or constantly getting arrested. Its something anyone could add easily, but its puzzling why the admins don't care to add this to the campaign.
Its not premature becuase the people I play with are bored with LFR now. Make it more interesting, now. You may be disappointed that some players don't think LFR is that great, but telling them that you don't care isn't going to fix the problem.

Numbers are way up
Players are way up
Reported games are way up

I am not arguing that the campaign may not be giving you what you want currently but at the same time it's only you. Every other indicator for the campaign is saying that things are going great and should keep improving as more regionals rollout and the stories unfold.
This sounds like the typical complaint I get when I request another development group make a reasonable software enhancement. Their estimate comes back as taking a year, or its impossible, so I find the code, make the change in an hour, show it to them.

Its not premature becuase the people I play with are bored with LFR now. Make it more interesting, now. You may be disappointed that some players don't think LFR is that great, but telling them that you don't care isn't going to fix the problem.

Who, exactly, said they don't care?

The posts I'm seeing, to sum up are saying, essentially:
"We're working on it"

If you want "better" mods faster, I encourage you to contact your Regional Writing Coordinator and write a better mod.
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I think there's some additional factors in, for lack of a better term, "LFR ennui."

* The drastic change of the setting. LG took place in a setting that had remained virtually unchanged since its inception; heck, the Greyhawk box set could still be used for good, solid background.

In comparison, FR has gone through a couple of mind-bending evolutions since its inception, not just the 4e Spellplague. The original FR materials are about as valid to character and world background now as a roll of toilet paper. Elminster's now in a porch rocking chair playing addled gentleman farmer with The Simbul, for crying out loud.

* The fact that we're only seeing heroic tier, low-level, "maiden in distress" adventures. There's some exceptions (BALD 1-2 being a notable one), but we're very much still in the fetch the foozle/smite the orc phase.

That said, Dave, make it two people who say the campaign isn't really giving "me" what I want. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but for a 'grognard' who did heavy convention travel and really enjoyed regional flavor, I just don't feel the same excitement about going to a convention and playing the game as I did previously.

And as far as "the campaign's young" thing goes, well, yeah, that's true. But, it's pretty obvious what some of the things that really sold people on LG were - metaorgs and regional pride. Those were the two things that kept people really excited and driven about the campaign. To mostly take those elements out... you gotta expect some pushback.

And as far as BIs go, my most memorable experiences from travel play, and some of LG in general, were them. Getting to immediately effect, in real time, the course of a region? COOL.

As a final note, Dave, I wouldn't be so cocksure about play numbers being indicative of the total playerbase's satisfaction with the campaign. We've been and still are in a 4e afterglow phase where the launch and heavy promo of LFR on the Web site has driven play traffic.

While forum feedback is the feedback of your most engaged and passionate 5 percent, that 5 percent are also typically enablers of play and evangels for the product. I think it's risky to insult them and just write off what they have to say.
Who, exactly, said they don't care?

The posts I'm seeing, to sum up are saying, essentially:
"We're working on it"

If you want "better" mods faster, I encourage you to contact your Regional Writing Coordinator and write a better mod.

I don't quite unterstand the vitrolic responses, since Taos and Sutro and others both seem to understand the 'Ennui' aspect, and posters like RTM gave a constructive response of simply adding background to a region he likes. I think the players have a valid complaint about LFR, and I've asked a good question which deserves an answer other than 'its just you' or 'stop complaining'.

If it helps, what I meant by 'BORED NOW' is they players in the group who are complaining are well aware the story might get interesting in the future, but that doesn't help them want to play two dozen or so adventures which, in their opinion, all kind of feel the same with characters who really are uninteresting to play. They need some help now, in the next adventure we play, not 18 months from now when they have given up completely on LFR. I could tell them that LFR is popular, or 'they are working on it', or 'its just you' but I just don't think that would help.

DME has be a good way to fix the myriad problems with LFR, just the campaign has no guidance for this issue of how to make the PCs feel more a part of the story. I think Sutro and Taos did a good job of elaborating on the problem. Not everyone is super creative, and I feel this is material LFR admin staff or WotC could add via Dragon or a campaign guide update because it wouldn't be subject to the release schedule of the adventures.

The campaign is working on, in my opinion, the wrong solution. A lovely story arc which takes a couple years to develop on via your decisions vs. something like metaorgs which would affect your character in every adventure you play. We certainly need the macro story, but the micro stories of factions and regions are important too. A few gave some suggestions how to use DME to add regional flavor, others felt this was well outside of DME unless it was specifically allowed by the campaign.

I still would like to hear more solutions, what kinds of things you think would help as part of DME. If campaign staff read this, I would like to know the pros/cons of adding some additional material to the campaign, outside of adventures, which we can consume more quickly than a story arc. Thanks for your help!
Numbers are way up
Players are way up
Reported games are way up

Regional con attendance is way down. People that used to travel to regional cons aren't going because there aren't interactives or region-specific play opportunities. Maybe there are other ways to get people to travel to regional cons again. I'd love to hear what WOTC has in mind, if they do, in fact, care about the health of regional cons. I don't think getting a few rewards cards 6-months in advance of the general populous is going to do it.
Since I seem to be doomed today to answering posts rather than working on editing adventures, we might as well go for the gold! :-)

Some players in my regular group are BORED NOW.

I will speak on behalf of the entire LFR staff and say we are sorry that your players are bored. We do not put in the time and energy we do with the hopes that everyone is bored.

Without changes, the adventures are too easy

This has been discussed elsewhere. Some feel adventures are too easy. Some feel adventures are just right. Others feel that they are too hard. I ran a playtest of an upcoming adventure a couple weeks ago, and in the final encounter I TPKed the party before any of the monsters were bloodied. I had another playtest run with an easier version and a more "power-gamey" group, and the only reason it was not a TPK was because some PCs fled. If I released this version to the public, a minority of the players would be happy for the challenge, while scads of players would say, "I see what this campaign is about and never play again." If we are going to err, we are going to err to the side of easy, and let the DMs increase the difficulty.

Every adventure is repetitive because the format is too cookie cutter.

In the adventures that I have edited, I have tried to make as different as possible, considering the format and rules set WotC has given us to work with. I have tried to work with completely different authors for each adventure I have edited so far, with one exception, to give fresh imaginations the chance to do their things. However, there are writer's guidelines that need to be followed.

The key complaint which I have no solution is since your characters really don't matter in what is happening around them. I notice we get lots of pieces of paper after each adventure which have absolutely no effect on anything, ever. This campaign seems even less living than Living Greyhawk. My players want to be more central to the story.

Depending on what you definition of "Living" is, I cannot argue with this. If you definition of Living is that you can take your PC anywhere in the world and play with different people within a common story, then it is just as Living and LG was. I will grant you that LFR's story is more tightly controlled than LG's was. That is mandated by WotC, and that is beyond the campaign staff's control.

One way in which LFR is slightly more Living than LG is the inclusion of the adventure questions. This gives the staff direct knowledge of how the adventures played out around the world, and this was not available to us in LG (but it was in Xen'drik Expeditions).

The Story Awards should start to come into play as you collect them and play more adventures. However, unlike what they were in LG, these are not allowed to change game mechanics. We "encourage" (that is demand) writers only use them if they are going to have a consequence in later adventures.

The campaign is working on, in my opinion, the wrong solution. A lovely story arc which takes a couple years to develop on via your decisions vs. something like metaorgs which would affect your character in every adventure you play. We certainly need the macro story, but the micro stories of factions and regions are important too. A few gave some suggestions how to use DME to add regional flavor, others felt this was well outside of DME unless it was specifically allowed by the campaign.

I still would like to hear more solutions, what kinds of things you think would help as part of DME. If campaign staff read this, I would like to know the pros/cons of adding some additional material to the campaign, outside of adventures, which we can consume more quickly than a story arc. Thanks for your help!

Much of this can be answered the same way. WotC gives us the rules (DM Empowerment, rules for adventuring companies, etc.) Like you, we are waiting to see them so that we can incorporate them into the campaign. The LFR staff is waiting (impatiently) to be able to integrate for regional feel into the campaign by bring adventuring companies into adventures. We see the same rules on DM Empowerment that everyone else does, and while we have our opinions on what those rules mean and what they encompass, WotC has to tell us what they mean. We can make suggestions, but we might be wrong.

I would love to hear thoughts and opinions on how to make things better, and I take such things seriously, but I also have to view them through the veil of "what is WotC going to allow." And I know by admitting this that I put myself at risk for being called "ineffective" and "a toady" (just one of the risks of being honest, I guess), but it is the fact of the campaign. It will certainly evolve, and hopefully evolve in a way that makes the campaign better for everyone.

And as for the somewhat vitriolic responses, this is what I can say: I have a child who is in the "I'm bored" stage: 2000 cable channels, iPods, Wiis, 1000 books, games both mundane and fantastical, etc., but she is always "bored." [When I was young, we only had sticks and rocks, and we were thankful. And often taken to the emergency room.] We really are trying here. I am not perfect, and I will certainly drop the ball on more than a few occasions, but you have to understand that sometimes even the constructive criticism, after someone stays up most of the night getting an adventure into shape so that it is publishable, can be taken less than positively. That does not excuse any member of the staff from being rude or ignoring constructive criticism, of course.

We do understand that some of the strengths of Living Greyhawk are not present in LFR. We will try to overcome those. Ironically, yesterday I was reviewing some posts from the Keoland Yahoo list from LG, and 24 months into the campaign there were people complaining that they didn't feel connected to the region and that the Keoland regional campaign wasn't engaging them on a story level. I don't offer this as an excuse for what LFR currently is, but just as a matter of perspective on the nature of what we are dealing with, both as gamers and as a campaign staff.

Thanks for playing LFR, and I hope we are able to meet your players' expectations before they decide to move on to something that better fulfills their desires.

Regards,

Shawn
LFR Global Admin
Regional con attendance is way down. People that used to travel to regional cons aren't going because there aren't interactives or region-specific play opportunities. Maybe there are other ways to get people to travel to regional cons again. I'd love to hear what WOTC has in mind, if they do, in fact, care about the health of regional cons. I don't think getting a few rewards cards 6-months in advance of the general populous is going to do it.

I don't think it is a matter if WotC cares about the the health of regional conventions. I think is it a matter of what cost WotC is willing to pay in order to ensure the health of regional cons, and what benefit WotC gets for paying that cost. But I also have a feeling that the people who are ultimately responsible for making those decisions are not likely to be posting on these boards. :-)
if they do, in fact, care about the health of regional cons.

I suspect that they don't really care that much about regional cons that can't sustain themselves without support. The measures that indicate "success" in WotC's eyes are number of tables played and number of players playing. The venue in which this play occurs is not that important to them. As long as the play numbers continue being so high, they will continue to believe that their current model is the best one.

Local cons that are more of a three-day-gameday than a true "convention" will still work out just fine (we had ours in October).

National cons that are huuuge such as GenCon will still work out just fine. If the RPGA closed up shop tomorrow GenCon would still be fine. :P

Regional cons of the type that sprung up during LG (a large number of which I attended and even helped organize, and which are dead in the water under this new model) and relied on out-of-region players renting hotel rooms in order to be sustainable will probably disappear entirely.
That said, Dave, make it two people who say the campaign isn't really giving "me" what I want. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but for a 'grognard' who did heavy convention travel and really enjoyed regional flavor, I just don't feel the same excitement about going to a convention and playing the game as I did previously.

Honestly, the LFR structure makes it a lot tougher to create those challenges, because you can't just create a cool detached plotline and not worry about the consequences.

The best example of this is the King/Queen/VIP of the region being overthrown/slain/mortally wounded - when you see this happen once in three years, it isn't a big deal in a game world.

If that happened in all 12 regions, where everyone could play, then you'd have 4 regions a year having that happen. People would be complaining about how silly it was that princes and princesses kept dying off like flies.

Which is roughly what actually did happen in LG.

But it was the separation of regions that allowed people to pretend that it wasn't actually happening. The structure of LFR means that those kinds of events aren't going to be the focal point of the LFR game. It is much more likely that some big world changing event will happen in late paragon/early epic that extends throughout epic.
I don't quite unterstand the vitrolic responses

I'm sorry that asking you who said they don't care, and suggesting ways in which you can directly influence the quality of the campaign is seen as "vitriolic".

I'll try to be. . . less so in the future?
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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And as for the somewhat vitriolic responses, this is what I can say: I have a child who is in the "I'm bored" stage: 2000 cable channels, iPods, Wiis, 1000 books, games both mundane and fantastical, etc., but she is always "bored." [When I was young, we only had sticks and rocks, and we were thankful. And often taken to the emergency room.]

Hehe. I think the analogy is more like, the child used to live in a house with 2000 cable channels, iPods, Wiis, 1000 books, and games both mundane and fantastical. Then the child moved to a new house, and the new house had a TV with basic cable, a PS3 with 3 games and none of that other stuff. The child says, "I'm bored!", and the parent says, "Well, we'll eventually get some of that other stuff back, and some new stuff, too. We might never get some of your favorite stuff back, though." So, yeah, we were pretty spoiled in LG.

Anyway, Shawn and Sean, I really appreciate the time you took to respond in this thread and my other thread. While I'm not happy with some of the WOTC-dictated answers, I know you guys understand the issues. I'm hopeful that Adventuring Companies might lead us in the right direction. I'll stew on your responses for a couple of days to see if I can come up with some constructive suggestions. There are a lot of people who want to help, if we can just figure out how.

Regards,
Brett
I'm just going to put in a post that says this: "My sincere thanks to all the members of the LFR administration and RPGA teams. I know were on the same team. I know you are working hard for us."

Teos

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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'm not especially certain that going regionless was the best idea. It at the very least tends to result in PCs not strongly tied to any place, and feeling a bit like outsiders and drifters wherever they go. It's hard to care about this or that place you are adventuring in in these cases.

Nearly every other Living campaign out there had a "home base" that the characters consider their stomping grounds and identified strongly with, even if the PCs range far and wide in their adventures.

Living City had Ravens Bluff. Living Greyhawk had it's regions. Living Force had Cularin.

The campaigns that didn't have a central geographic location had instead strong factions that PCs could belong to. Living Death had the White Rose Society. Living Arcanis has a number of very prominant groups.

LFR really needs to be able to engage the characters more, so they don't always feel like wandering strangers who happen to stumble into situations.

It's the "outsider" syndrome. While this is okay to start out with, most players want their characters to eventually start to belong to something larger than themselves.

Looking at group psychology, it's not enough to just give participants an open sandbox. You need to do some directing and prodding to get them to get involved. On their own people will largely meander aimlessly and lose interest quickly. If you direct them a bit, give them something to focus on, be it a factional cause or central organizing group, they'll much more readily get interested on a deeper level.


-karma
LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric
Nearly every other Living campaign out there had a "home base" that the characters consider their stomping grounds and identified strongly with, even if the PCs range far and wide in their adventures.

If nothing else, it'd be neat to see something happen when you play a regional module in your PC's home region. Maybe a small bonus in a skill challenge, maybe access to information that makes the module feel differently or play differently to a "local".
"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"
LFR suffers from being incredibly generic. The area it covers is to large & everything is just so damn dull. Even the general plots are cliched. Yes, i know that for convention play they have to be, but from both a players stand point & a GM stand point *SNORE.*

Their is nothing to get excited about for players or characters. No organizations or groups. Even the idea of making your own Adventuring Company is pretty dull when you get right down to it. Its not real, its kind of like guilds in MMO games, they only exist so particular jerky players can feel superior for no logical reason & be able to gang up on some other players.

Plus their is no connection between setting and player characters. Their are no groups & no focused direction for players to go in. Players have no real choices in how they play & are basically hammered into the direction that the writer invisioned with no real reason for doing it (few of the adventures dont even have plot hooks, its just assumed the PC's want to do what the writer wants them to do). The LFR's takes away the players power of choice & instead replaces it with a very strict plot.

One of the main problem is the maps. Everything is done with "Dungeon Tiles" & so really is repedetive. You can't create with dungeon tiles, you can only repeat. Same goes for the treasure. With no way to negotiate a larger fee, & with the treasure allocation working as it does to stop munchkin play, it just kills any vibe the player has of being important.

Now some people have mentioned that the players don't fell like they actually achieve anything & the offical answer is "Yes, but your only heroic Tier." My reply to this is gaming is about escapism, not sitting around waiting to become important. Also you are important, you are much more then just an everyday villager.

Their really needs to be something specific done with the LFR. Either focus on something or drop it completely.

Boy, am i going to get flamed for this post, but i felt the need to vent.


-M
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. -Albert Einstein When the forces of stupid collide, magical things happen. And by magical, I mean ******* moronic. - Anon
I'm going to post here as someone who has never played in a Living campaign before, who has no to litte expectations of what one is or should be. Reading some of these posts I am clueless as to what meta-orgs and battle interactives are.

One comparison that comes to mind about the players being involved early on is like the Baldur's Gate computer game (fitting for FR, no?). When you create your character and start off in Candlekeep, does it bore you to clear rats out of a storeroom, or delivering the medicine for the sick cow? Maybe. These mini "quests" aren't even related to each other on a larger scale. But they are still recorded in the journal of things you accomplished as rungs on a ladder before you leave the town and witness your foster father murdered by the stranger who you will encounter later. I'm sure even during a movie or reading a book a scene might seem boring or insignificant, even tempting you to stop reading, but later on it turns up again only to surprise you.

As a newcomer to Living campaigns, I don't feel shorted by playing in adventures where I help a woman find her brother's fate, or seeking out a missing heirloom, for example, without knowing how it could affect my character in the future. I highly anticipate the "oh yeah!" during a future module when I'll look back on what has happened, and I have confidence in the LFR staff that they will make that happen.

This is just my perspective on this, and I know it differs from many, but I would just like to say that I don't feel bored or disconnected from the campaign world as it is. I look forward to seeing LFR evolve, as I'm sure it will.
"Hi, I'm a Wizard from Thay" should have some in-game effect...such as everyone hating your guts or constantly getting arrested. Its something anyone could add easily, but its puzzling why the admins don't care to add this to the campaign.

First off, we DO care. We care to bring you cool and enganging adventures, who, in years to come, build to fanastic finales ( I hope).
That said, there are some practical limits to what we can (or need) include in adventures, and what not.

The 'wizard of Thay' effect you describe for instance is not soemthing to put in an adventure. It is what the DM and other players need to add to make the game come alive. A RPG is not solely defined by the adventure text - not even mostly. It is defined by how you, the other players, and the DM, give meaning to the world.
It is futile to add, in every adventure, how NPCs are going to react to Red Wizards, orcs, shadar-kai from Netheril, arcanists, gnolls, genasi, halflings, barbarians, merchants from Sembia, wizards, Harpers, or people with red hair.
It is the players and the DM that need to define that, using their own judgement and knowledge of the world.

Generic regional information is often lacking for a similar reason: we have only limited space, and a lot of regional information is available in the FRCG and FRPG - it seems folly to repeat that info. We do try to add specific regional elements and flavor where possible.

Now, this does mean that some knowledge may be unknown to a DM. And if you, player, knows more than your Dm, that may be frustrating. But adding more bulk to adventures to include data that is primited in the campaign books is not a solution. Better to have the DM buy the book and have *all* the info.
Another practical problem is that we have a rate of adventure production that is relatively low compared to LG, and PCs that level much faster. That means that results from one adventure won't be noticed until half a year later, possibly when your PC had already entered paragon level. That likely can't be helped until we are further along the way in the campaign, and the major plotlines start to enfold.

In the mean time, we do our best and try to make adventures that are enjoyable on their own, and - we hope - more enjoyable if you play them together. If that bores you, maybe LFR is not for you. But we do care, and we do our best. And so far, the people I meet enjoy them. So we must be doing something right.

Gomez
In comparison, FR has gone through a couple of mind-bending evolutions since its inception, not just the 4e Spellplague. The original FR materials are about as valid to character and world background now as a roll of toilet paper.

I still use the old (2nd editon, even) material extensively. A hundred year changes a lot, and it changes nothing at all. It is amazing on what is still valid.
And I am pretty sure that you are off on Elminster...

Gomez
I don't quite unterstand the vitrolic responses, since Taos and Sutro and others both seem to understand the 'Ennui' aspect, and posters like RTM gave a constructive response of simply adding background to a region he likes. I think the players have a valid complaint about LFR, and I've asked a good question which deserves an answer other than 'its just you' or 'stop complaining'.

Well, I think the vitriolic responses came from:

Its not premature becuase the people I play with are bored with LFR now. Make it more interesting, now.

It comes off as rather temper tantrum-ish. Most likely due the typical internet problem of there being no context or inflection.

I get what you're saying, but even when I read that I was picturing a 3 year old holding his breath and stamping his feet because he wasn't getting what he wanted.

Regional con attendance is way down. People that used to travel to regional cons aren't going because there aren't interactives or region-specific play opportunities. Maybe there are other ways to get people to travel to regional cons again.

I don't think it's WotCs responsibility to bail out regional cons. Regional cons sprang up during LG because the campaign structure made them possible. However, without LG, I would say that easily 90-95% of those regional cons otherwise don't have a big enough draw to sustain themselves unless they were already doing more than just LG before it went away.

There really isn't a need to keep them going. As someone else pointed out, they can be fairly easy to morph into extended gamedays to help support the regional players, unless you don't have a viable venue for it (i.e. you can only get space that needs to be rented at a premium price to accomodate such a thing).

I enjoyed going to my region's local cons (it helped being in Veluna/Ohio since they were all in the one state). With LFR, if there was a regional con I may go just to see some of the other folks from the state I gamed with in LG. Beyond that, there isn't much of a reason to attend a regional con now. The organizers of those cons need to take a long hard look at either expanding their offerings/coming up with other means of driving attendance or packing it up and saying it was a good run and move on.

WotC has offered some small things to help cons, but again, remember it isn't their responsibility to ensure the health of any con. They're happy to give some small measure of support to cons that want to offer to run their stuff. However, if they have decided that the campaign is to work in a certain way (no Interactives or other regional "special stuff"), then those who run the cons need to take that into account and not expect them change things just because they aren't making a profit on their con anymore. Things change. Part of doing business (and cons are a business even when they are small local ones) is coping with changes in the market.
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
As a newcomer to Living campaigns, I don't feel shorted by playing in adventures where I help a woman find her brother's fate, or seeking out a missing heirloom, for example, without knowing how it could affect my character in the future. I highly anticipate the "oh yeah!" during a future module when I'll look back on what has happened,

Funny you should say that. One of the regional mods I wrote for Veluna in LG had that type of element to it. I referenced a character from a year 1 mod in it (the one I wrote was a year 6 or 7 mod). I had a lot of people come to me saying "ZOMG I forgot all about him! That was awesome that you dug him up!"

I even had one player use the character he played that mod with (he didn't play him often) and he practically jumped on the table and danced.

I think that was my favorite author moment. :D
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
This is just my perspective on this, and I know it differs from many, but I would just like to say that I don't feel bored or disconnected from the campaign world as it is. I look forward to seeing LFR evolve, as I'm sure it will.

Thank you for sharing your perspective. We admins need all the help and feedback we can get!

For those of us who played through the nearly decade-long LG campaign from the beginning, most only remember the times after the campaign really hit its stride, ironed out the rules problems, etc. I think if you had told people in 2001-2003--when the campaign rules changed on a monthly basis, when people were getting frustrated by continual character rebuilds, when paper certs went to "magic mart" went to ARs, etc.--that in 2009 people would be missing the way that LG worked, you would have been laughed out of the room by the critics and stoned by the people who quit the campaign in all the turmoil.

Right now, for whatever reason, the LFR play numbers at the start of the campaign are higher than the play numbers at the height of LG. I don't say this to imply that LFR is perfect, or better than LG, or even fine as it is. I say that to recognize that the LFR campaign staff--despite the campaign rules dictated to us by WotC--has a huge challenge. LG set us up by being a totally unexpected and unequivocal success. I feel like part of a rock band that was booked to open for Led Zeppelin/U2/Jonas Brothers/name your band, in front of thousands of screaming fans, and then at the last minute told that the band the people came to see just retired, and that we were going on instead. And we couldn't play covers of any of those bands' songs. Or play songs with lyrics. :-)

Hopefully we can keep play numbers high to keep WotC happy, create content that pleases players and DMs, and evolve into a campaign that pleases as many types of players as possible. We will certainly try.

Thanks,

Shawn
LFR Global Admin
They took away your lyrics, eh? Ouch!
They took away your lyrics, eh? Ouch!

Yeah, we are ruminating on two alternatives: either a free-form jazz exploration called Jazz Odyssey; or perhaps a musical based on the life of Jack the Ripper called Saucy Jack.
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