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Thunderspire Labyrinth Session 14 (DnD 4e Session 25)


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#41 Vaeron

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 12:18 AM

BTW, apologies for the tone of this post. I have been watching a lot of Star Trek: TOS recently, and I appear to be channeling a little bit of Spock.


Heheh.

Well, having all the monster stats on one or two pages is great. Unfortunately, what they also do is split room descriptions up seperately from the encounters, and frequently do such things as make Room 7 = Encounter 3 or what not. Often important information about the room (such as my example about key components in Tower of Spellgard) are not included on the encounter pages, but in seperate sections.

In Keep on the Shadowfell the Encounter Number was the same as the Room Number, and all pertinent information could be found on that page. If they'd kept up with that system everything would probably be well in the world.

But they get so specific as to how each room is supposed to work it really limits the DM's ability to decide to do something differently. Unless you're like me, and just change things. I have no hesitation in chopping entire monsters out of encounters or making them social challenges. Take that, Wizards!
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#42 Dungnmaster001

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 12:48 AM

But they get so specific as to how each room is supposed to work it really limits the DM's ability to decide to do something differently. Unless you're like me, and just change things. I have no hesitation in chopping entire monsters out of encounters or making them social challenges. Take that, Wizards!


Which is how they intended it. The rooms are designed so specifically so that new players who've never DMed before, possibly never even been a player before, can run a module. They know a good DM will most likely ignore the majority of what they put in and run it how they see fit.

4th edition has mostly been about getting new blood into the hobby and a lot of it's design has centered around that from what I can tell.

I will say the layout could use some work though.
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#43 tomlib

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 07:48 AM

Hello All,

I've been reading everyone's comments on this post with great interest. I'm now in the process of creating my own 4th Edition campaign/Adventure Path and I've run into the Room No./Encounter No./Treasure Parcel bookkeeping situation myself and it presents a real problem.

I'm going to ramble a bit here so please feel free to skip down to my solution if desired! :lol:

The motivation behind separate Encounter Pages away from the main dungeon was, I think, to keep all things combat in one place. It works for that but leads to a problem of having room regions and combats on different pages with potentially different numbering systems.

The Treasure Parcel system was designed so that a GM could tailor make treasure suited for their parties rather than dish out yet another +1 Halberd that no one uses. The problem here is that the treasure parcels are listed in a separate place from the room description which is in a separate place from the encounter description.

So, here is what I'm doing for my new campaign and I would appreciate any thoughts, pro or con as long as they are moderately polite! :P

I am numbering my encounters 001, 002a, 002b, 003, etc.

I number my treasure parcels to correspond with this when treasure is associated with a combat. Treasure Parcel 002a goes with Encounter 002a.

I DO NOT number my rooms. I name them. Kitchen, Dining Room, Kennel, etc on the map but I do also place the Encounter Number in the rooms where there is an encounter. On the GM map it will show "Kitchen (Enc 002a)", "Dining Room (Enc 003)", etc.

I alphabetically place room descriptions in the Adventure on a level by level basis. All level one room descriptions come after the level one map, etc.

Any treasure not associated with a combat goes directly in the room description associated with the room name, ie. "Pantry - 10 jars of grape jelly (2 silver per jar)".

Oh, and finally, about the 002a and 002b. I found that I was creating a number of optional encounters based on Skill Challenges (I have a non-WotC system there as well) that the group might or might not encounter. So if they are going to fight the Monster but might encounter another monster on the way because of a failed skill challenge the two encounters become 002a and 002b. Also, 002b gives no experience as it is the result of a failed Skill Challenge.

Anyway, I've gone on too long but, needless to say, I agree with most of the complaints about the way WotC has handled their organization with the modules.

Happy Gaming,

Tom
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#44 Telemergion

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 09:05 AM

A DM named Tom who includes grape jelly in his loot tables?

When did I move to Missouri?

Anyway, your idea seems fairly solid. I'm not sure exactly what you were looking for as a constructive criticism since these are your notes. As long as the system works for you, there can't be anything wrong with it. It'd be a different story if you were writing the next published adventure. You're not right? I wouldn't mind if you were. Your idea doesn't sound too shabby.
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#45 tomlib

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 09:41 AM

A DM named Tom who includes grape jelly in his loot tables?

When did I move to Missouri?

Anyway, your idea seems fairly solid. I'm not sure exactly what you were looking for as a constructive criticism since these are your notes. As long as the system works for you, there can't be anything wrong with it. It'd be a different story if you were writing the next published adventure. You're not right? I wouldn't mind if you were. Your idea doesn't sound too shabby.


I'm planning on making this new campaign conform to WotC guidelines and eventually making it available for download to all. I plan 18 adventures taking characters from level 1 - 30 but I'm a long, long, long, long way for accomplishing this goal.

My design philosophy centers around making the game fun for the players. My experience is that players love combat but that it is important to include interesting PCs to speak with and detailed, interesting, treasure.

I really failed in this regards in my last (3.5 campaign) and I'm hoping to rectify that situation in the new Adventure Path. I got horribly bogged down in high level 3.5 because creating one encounter with all the statistics was taking me hours. Thus, everything else suffered.

My high level 3.5 experience is making me understand what WotC was trying to accomplish with 4th Edition. 4th Edition is not perfect but I think it has a lot of potential.

Anyway, it's keeping me busy!

Tom
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#46 Telemergion

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 10:11 AM

Oh, so you are. Well then, I will have to look more carefully.

So, reading this, the DM would have an alphabetical section of notes devoted to room descriptions with all the set pieces mentioned, that would reference a second section in numeric order with all the combat information, and then a third section devoted to combat treasure?

It's not much different from the WotC model, but the fact that it seems like it fixes a lot of the annoying notation problems really makes it sound better. Also, the fact that it has optional combat and clearly defined treasure packets means it's that much easier to tailor the thing to each individual party that plays it.

You gonna charge for this thing or are you just doing it for fun? Cause I'd consider paying for it, if it was good. And if I had money.
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#47 tomlib

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 10:25 AM

So, reading this, the DM would have an alphabetical section of notes devoted to room descriptions with all the set pieces mentioned, that would reference a second section in numeric order with all the combat information, and then a third section devoted to combat treasure?

It's not much different from the WotC model, but the fact that it seems like it fixes a lot of the annoying notation problems really makes it sound better. Also, the fact that it has optional combat and clearly defined treasure packets means it's that much easier to tailor the thing to each individual party that plays it.

You gonna charge for this thing or are you just doing it for fun? Cause I'd consider paying for it, if it was good. And if I had money.


I think you have summed it up perfectly! :O

It is for fun not profit. All will be free of charge if, and that is a big if, it ever gets finished to my satisfaction.

Skill Challenges are still vexing me. I've been reading about lots of different systems and seen many good ideas. My understanding is WotC is also working to fix the flawed system. I've been considering posting a Campaign Blog so people can watch as I create but I'm not sure I want to go to the effort! lol

I will definitely post a Campaign Wiki once we get started but that is a long way off.

Thanks for the encouraging words.

Tom
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#48 Telemergion

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 10:36 AM

You're welcome and I wish you luck with it!

If you ever need a hand with it in some fashion, let me know.
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#49 Ieqo

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 04:11 PM

Having finally listened to this session I have a technical question: Have I gone insaner or did I hear some theme music during the combats? And if so, was it playing in the room, or did Hal lay it down during 'post'?

Just curious, really, as I haven't noticed it before.

[EDIT]
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#50 Hal

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:17 PM

I didn't do nothing :)

I think you may be hearing Jim (Ned's room mate). He is in the next room and either playing on the XBox or watching a movie ;)

Thats the most likely solution though I had been toying with the idea of having some sound effects in the games :P

Hal :hal:
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#51 Ieqo

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:52 PM

Jim's timing was perfect, then; the music becomes (barely) audible during the combats, and isn't present during the interludes. Good bit of serendipity.

And, dear God, please no more voice-changers! :-)
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#52 gnimsh

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 10:18 AM

I think all you need to know to understand WoTC's current design philosphy is included in this book they just put out, Dungeon Delve. It's literally just a series of 3 encounter adventures, 1 for each level, that are combat, combat, combat, without a shred of plot to be found. It's sad, really, but the modules they're putting out seem to be more or less the same thing, but longer. When I was running Keep on the Shadowfell I was literally bending over backwards to inject any kind of interesting rping so it wasn't hack and slash forever (of course, I was hindered because my group actually LIKES that kind of game, so go figure.) These things are absolutely bare bones, and it's entirely up to the GM to make them anything other than essentially a war game with talking, and even then sometimes it just doesn't work. Frankly, if you're going to put in that much effort, you may as well be making your own adventure instead of paying for theirs. The mechanical parts of the game are so easy to construct in terms of encounter design, anyone with even an idea about how to create NPCs that are actually compelling and interesting could not fail to make something better.

Hal does a fine job of it, but much as I would DEARLY love to have recordings of you guys playing through to lvl 30, I wouldn't wish for people to play a game they don't like every week. That's worse than not gaming at all, frankly.
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#53 BigJackBrass

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 11:25 AM

Thats the most likely solution though I had been toying with the idea of having some sound effects in the games :P

Hal :hal:

If you play a Christmas tune throughout the session I shall catch the next plane to Texas and personally throttle the life out of you. Other than that, anything goes :D
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#54 PhanXu2

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 12:14 PM

I didn't do nothing :)

I think you may be hearing Jim (Ned's room mate). He is in the next room and either playing on the XBox or watching a movie ;)

Thats the most likely solution though I had been toying with the idea of having some sound effects in the games :P

Hal :hal:


If you want free sound effects (well not actually free really) and you have any fantasy/medieval/horror/monster/etc games installed on your computer, have a look in the install folders and on the disks.

Some of them (Never Winter Nights for example) have them just as .wav files in a sound folder. A lot of them have them in .pk4 files and from what I remember (it's been a while so I may be wrong) these can be unpacked using winrar.

There are sword hits, dying, monster grunts, fantasy music, ambient sounds such as brothels, kitchens, churches, and weather.

Trouble with using the ambient effects on a player such as WMP is there is usually a gap in sound when it starts to repeat again. A good idea would be to program something yourself using DirectSound which starts the sound really quickly so you don't hear a gap. Probably not worth the effort though. There must be a good player that has no looping delay.
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#55 Thing

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 12:16 PM

Actually all those sounds packaged in / with the games are usually copyrighted game content and you can get a bad case of the lawyers including them in a podcast
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#56 Ieqo

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 12:49 PM

Actually all those sounds packaged in / with the games are usually copyrighted game content and you can get a bad case of the lawyers including them in a podcast


Agreed. Jim's accidental soundtrack is safe because it falls into the rubric of "background noise" but once you start doing stuff that is demonstrable deliberate...
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#57 Hal

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 01:30 PM

Thats the most likely solution though I had been toying with the idea of having some sound effects in the games :P

Hal :hal:

If you play a Christmas tune throughout the session I shall catch the next plane to Texas and personally throttle the life out of you. Other than that, anything goes :D


Is that all it takes to get you to visit :) No worries then :D

Hal :hal:
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#58 PhanXu2

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 02:34 PM

Yeah, forgot about the law implications on the podcast - even though it isn't for profit.

Okay for personal use though, as long as you own a copy. or you haven't got evil friends.
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#59 PrestoJeff

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 04:46 PM

If you play a Christmas tune throughout the session I shall catch the next plane to Texas and personally throttle the life out of you. Other than that, anything goes :D

I think I agree with BJB. That was cruel and unusual punishment.
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#60 centauri

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Posted 26 February 2009 - 04:58 PM

I haven't been keeping up with the 4th Edition podcasts. Honestly, it's because the criticism of the system is hard for me to listen to, especially those times (which I assume have become less frequent over time) when the dislike stems from misunderstandings of the rules.

I assume that the modules are being run "by the book" because they're meant to be "reviews." I don't doubt for a second that if the group were running the modules strictly for fun and were allowing themselves to expand on what was written, that everyone would be enjoying themselves much more, even if the amount and difficulty of combat stayed the same.

Either drop the "review" mindset, or - if that's meant as a legal protection - don't run modules. If the group can't think of a good adventure on their own (which I doubt), solicit suggestions from the members and you'll receive more good adventure-fixin's than you can possibly use. You'll be happier, and that will make the listeners happier.

Or, hey, don't play 4th Edition at all. I have few if any of the fond memories others here have of earlier editions, but if there's a DM who could make them enjoyable, it's Hal.

I'd write more but I think I hear the orderlies coming.
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