As you may have guessed from my past few weeks’ worth of columns, I’ve been pretty anxious about getting back behind the DM screen. That finally happened this past Thursday, and it was really fun. The story progressed and grew in ways that were cooler than I initially envisioned (I freaking love that!) and the players were emotionally engaged in what was happening. Also, there was almost no combat whatsoever. Should I be worried? I hope their lust for orc blood doesn’t need to be sated with MINE. (P.S. I game with barbarians.)
I was reminded of this when playing the newest version of the playtest packet for D&D Next at Gen Con, and also clicked even more when thinking about themes and how they work in 4e (of which I just had an article posted with new ones, obvious plug) and also how 13th Age tackles it. Here’s my conclusion: I’m not a fan of the Race/Class/Background/Specialty system as implemented in D&D Next.
In which I relate the things I learned at Gen Con this year, tell some strange stories, and tell you how to get the stinkeye in a hotel lobby OR YOUR MONEY BACK.
D&D is in a transitional period, and that showed quite a bit at Gen Con. No longer in one big room at the Sagamore, D&D events were spread out across different rooms in the convention center, with the booth in the exhibit hall focusing mainly on showing off the new MMO expansion, the Lolth statue, and selling branded merchandise. Organized Play such as Living Forgotten Realms and Ashes of Athas kept the torching going for D&D 4e, while other rooms were dedicated to demoing Next. Let’s start with the current offerings from D&D and move forward from there.
Last night, I dreamt of Gen Con. This happens to me 4-5 times a year, and though the details are usually different, there are some common threads. First, it’s always the second or third day of the con, and I haven’t done even close to everything I wanted to do. Second, something insane happens, and I’m no longer gaming, and usually my life is in danger. Sometimes, I’m a secret agent. Once, I was at a surfing academy, and my classes were conflicting with all the best seminars. In the most recent iteration of this dream, I found a holy lamppost that told me how to get a date in Victorian England and threatened to unmake reality, and I was really bummed that I was going to miss True Dungeon.
Back in one of my earliest Architect DM posts I said that structure was one of the most overlooked elements of dungeon design. These days most of the published dungeon maps that I see are not bad with regards to structure, but from what I’ve heard this is still something that a lot of people would like to learn about for their personal, hand drawn dungeon designs.
Chatty’s series of DMing advice continues. This time he discusses how you can help players focus on what they want to do in their turns by asking a simple question.
The 2012 ENnie Award nominations are out, if you haven’t heard. Just as in previous years, here’s my thoughts on some of the nominees, particularly the ones that I’ve read or played.