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The First Rule of Creating Adventures...

...is that you don't talk about the adventure before you run it!

Which is tough because ... frankly ... this adventure idea is coming out pretty darn awesome. At least I think so. Whether or not my players will think so is harder to say, but I'm hoping they'll enjoy it. It's got a wonderfully old-school sword and sorcery feel (Say it with me: "Howard, Leiber, Lovecraft, dread! Kill the monstahs, make 'em dead!") but has been nothing but easy to whip together. And with the more robust multiclassing and additional options provided by the online tools, putting together a setting that didn't suck has actually been fairly easy, as well.

I may have to take back some of the smack I've talked about 4E, especially now that it's matured a bit. Once you scrape all the WoW-iness off, there's actually a lot to like about it. And here I really must give big props to Goodman Games for opening my eyes, because they've really shown me the path for that "old school meets new hotness" middle ground.

I am a bit saddened to say that if this game is a hit with my players, that will probably be the death knell for S&S Saga, because as much as I like it, it will be superfluous. The real test will be to see if the game can keep feeling all old-school-sword-and-sorceryish once it gets into "the paragon tier" and upwards, at which point a lot of the published material will be trying to funnel the game into a lot of the sort of Planescape-ey silliness that just destroys fantasy games for me. [1] Supercalifragilistic S&S can be done — Fafhrd and the Mouser had some pretty OTT adventures for instance, and Kull the Conqueror had definite problems keeping his feet on solid ground — but it's hard to pull off without just becoming ridiculous.

But I think it may be possible if done deftly. The Icewind Dale computer games, for instance, provided a nice instance of something that was always D&D, still managed to stay fairly rooted in "reality" (for want of a better term) through the bulk of the storyline, and yet kept enough variety in the gameplay to stay interesting. And I'm certainly looking at both LotRO and Age of Conan to see how they do it. [2]

-The Gneech

[1] Let me clarify that a bit — if the Planescape-ey stuff is in there from the get-go, I can accept it and go. It's not my favorite type of fantasy, but I can swallow it and play. It's when you try to start in a more "grounded" setting and then halfway through suddenly step through the Door To Anywhere that my mental gears grind and smoke. It'd be like having a TARDIS materialize in the middle of Starship Troopers — there's no law that says you can't, but it messes with my suspension of disbelief in a big way.

[2] I've always found it strangely amusing that Lord of the Rings, often cited as the classic example of "high fantasy," is actually one of the most "low magic" settings you'll ever find. I've seen a convincing case made that nobody in LotR — not even Gandalf — need be higher than 5th level in D&D terms. On the other hand, it's a matter of degree ... my lil' hobbitey warden in LotRO is 60th level and has taken on a balrog, an undead dragon, the Watcher In the Water, and more than one turtle the size of a good-sized house (Why are the LotRO devs so obsessed with turtles???) — but he still easily "feels" like he could fit into the LotR story. It's all about making the fantastic elements seem "natural" in context.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
dilletante
Sep. 10th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
It'd be like having a TARDIS materialize in the middle of Starship Troopers

i think it probably doesn't bother me as much in serial fantasy-- any long-running tv series, for instance, eventually has a lot of weird stuff turn up too. i guess you can argue about when it crosses the line between "keeping it interesting" and "jumping the shark." :)

but, also, i remember the old 1st ed player's handbook had a drawing of a paladin fighting off devils in hell, and that always made me feel like that was a part of the setting, like if you were a paladin that was your career goal, going to hell and fighting the devils on their home turf.

maybe paladins are still too high-fantasy for you, though, hm.
the_gneech
Sep. 10th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
Paladins are a tough call. I remember the Paladin In Hell illustration vividly precisely because it was one of those things that started to tip the balance away from the aspects of the game I liked and towards the ones I wasn't so keen on.

My instinctual reaction is that demons and devils and such, and for that matter angels as well, are things that should be beyond mortal ken, and certainly beyond the ability of mortals to whack with a sword. But at the same time, I know that a lot of people play D&D specifically to be the kind of superhero who goes around whacking demons, and so that's an integral part of the game no matter how I may feel about it.

Not that demons or devils can't ever show up — but when they do, they should be a major plot point, not just another monster to fight.

-The Gneech

Edited at 2009-09-10 09:31 pm (UTC)
dilletante
Sep. 10th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
i always figured that the paladin invading hell was by design a hopeless quest. :)
the_gneech
Sep. 10th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
Certainly a heck of a grindy one! :D

-TG
sirfox
Sep. 10th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Depends, i mean, once you get past that 10th level, it's up to the DM To structure how surreal they want to present the other plains as. History's full of heroes invading hell for one reason or another. you can have the demons that just populate the place, the 10th-11th level character's equivalent of kobolds and goblins, and then DEMONS running the show, ruling their plane of existence with a scaly fist, etc.

There are also other places to visit besides hell, where some of the more reality-defying elements can be thrown about with impunity. floating castles and islands, forests of crystal trees, etc.

They can all be treated as interesting places to visit, even if one wouldn't want to live there. I'm looking forward to hearing more about what you've got lined up. Tonight i'm going to go through some prep for this weekend.
redcardlion
Sep. 10th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Like you, I'm having to take back my words regarding 4e. The DND Insider offer is stunning. I've got a netbook I picked up after MFM, and I've thrown the character creator on it, and it's just... wow. It's all just wow.
athelind
Sep. 10th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Back in my early days, Judges Guild released a long line of products that brought D&D/AD&D1 to life. Nice to see that their successors are doing the same for D&D4.

Now, if I can just con the bosses into ordering Goodman stuff for the store...
kinkyturtle
Sep. 11th, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
"Why are the LotRO devs so obsessed with turtles???"
Raaar!
hossblacksilver
Sep. 15th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
Re: "Why are the LotRO devs so obsessed with turtles???"
I thought the turtles where there to fight off the stadium-sized killer mutant pizzas.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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