Behind the Screen: A new beginning…

2009 January 27
by Dante

This weekend, Stupid Ranger and I were cursed with a prolonged internet outage. Thankfully, it is all resolved now but know that we put our time to good use meeting up with our new intrepid band of adventurers for our next campaign!

New beginnings, new social contracts…

Like all good campaigns, ours started with the simplest of discussions: what, when, where, and how often. We decided to pick up Keep on the Shadowfell since we had several newbies to 4th edition (myself included), and we committed to playing twice a month at minimum. The rest of the incidentals went along standard lines… they have kids so we’d likely play at their place more often, around dinner time like our old group was just fine with them… and the discussion went off without a hitch.

We did cover some more complicated matters on handling character death, playing of non-present characters (we elected to have them run by another member of the party in order to keep some party balance during fights), and just general approach to gaming. We entered into some discussion regarding gaming background in order to divine what type of gamers they are, and happily it seems like they fit the mold of many of our friends from back in the frozen plains of Illinois.

Regarding the module

Neither Stupid Ranger or I have much experience in running from a module. I’m looking forward to it as a learning experience and I’ve not yet loosed it from its plastic wrappings to find out what joys lie within. Our group seemed pretty excited to start into it with their own characters, so I’ve been wondering how much impact there would be in running the module with our characters instead of the pre-generated ones.

In the end, I suspect it will be fun regardless of the decision on that front, but I think I’m edging toward making it work with our own unique characters. They both seem pretty excited about that prospect, and I find playing with my own character much more involving than playing with a pre-generated character. Granted, just about my only experience playing a pre-gen was at Nascrag, which is an entirely different beast… but the point remains.

If any one has recommendations on how to approach running a module, I’d be happy to hear them. We start this weekend!! Wooo, game time!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. The Yeti permalink
    January 27, 2009

    I have used pre-gens before, usually when I’m first starting out with a new group. Pre-gens make it a bit easier to run with new players or a new group as alot of the work has been already done for you. Also to me it feels like they are more designed for a group that doesn’t have that much history together so they tend to take it a bit easier on you.

    One suggestion I can give is look over it well before hand. This is a pregen so you aren’t going to be as familiar with the campaign as one you designed yourself. Figure out how you want to run your BBEG’s, where the skill challenges are going to fall in, how the traps work, what type of monsters are in it, etc. Also taking a magic marker and writing down the dimensions of the maps is a good idea so you can draw them out on the battlemap quicker if you do that style of play.

    Another thing your going to want to do is probably change out the magic items. Pre-gen campaigns all have the same failing when it comes to magic items. They are the no-brainer items and are fairly bland. All they have is your basic magic longswords, magic platemail, magic staff type fare. I usually yank all of the prefab magic items out and replace them with items of my own choosing tailored specifically to the group that I am running the campaign for. Is kinda pointless for your group to find 3 different +1 magic longswords if you only have one person in the group who even uses a sword.

  2. Will permalink
    January 27, 2009

    I don’t think the pregens are any more tailored to the module than your own homemade characters; they were supplied (as you may know) to provide characters for use before the PHB was released. Saying that there’s nothing wrong with them, and the slightly simplified layout might be helpful to any new players, though if they’re used to a 3.x char sheet they won’t struggle with the new one.

    I am about to run KotS for a group of new players (to RPGs in general). Having read up a little on forums general opinion is that unless your play-style is pure kick-the-door-in dungeon crawl then the story needs pepping up a bit. EnWorld and the WotC forums have lots of discussion on that front.

    Good luck and happy gaming, look forward to hearing your experiences.

  3. thak permalink
    January 27, 2009

    KotS is pretty cool. At least my 7 & 10 year olds like it. 🙂

    I will warn you, though. They do not have full-sized maps for all of the areas, which was a big let-down.

    After the first bunch of areas, you're back to drawing everything out yourself or doing a lot of PhotoShop/GIMP work editing scans out of the book. Not cool, IMHO.

  4. Gorthmog permalink
    January 27, 2009

    Just ran a bunch of characters thru KotS. It was a blast, although some parts are much harder than others. The forums have a lot more details.

    Regarding the maps, I ended up simply using WotC dungeon tiles for most of the areas. You can fudge it pretty easily, by rearranging a few corridors here or there. I only scanned in one room (“digging for treasure”), since I couldn’t figure out how to do that with tiles.

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