What’s it gonna be like?
I run different RPGs in different ways. For DND, my focus is pace. The system is so, well… systematic, that it can weigh down the excitement. I work hard to keep the game moving and focused on the character experience.
The game will be analog.
So, I know this sounds like madness, but no digital devices during the game. They are like bright lights to moths and inevitably become a morass for player’s attention. Put the mobiles away, stow the laptops, and trust your fellow gamers to keep you entertained.
Characters need to be on physical paper, but you can choose to use a program to track your character and print the form before session. We’ll have physical books on hand. If you need to reference something often, such as spells or summons, I suggest doing some prep work to get the entries sticky-tagged in your own books or printed out. Physical dice, you get the idea…
Combat will move along.
The analog game policy helps a lot here. Additionally, I will prompt for players to quickly decide what their characters are doing. Sometimes this will result in sub-optimal choices but the game and the story of combat benefit from the chaos.
I favor speed over accuracy.
I generally will not lookup may rules in session. I’m new to 5E, so I may lookup more than usual. If you want to do something as a player, and you don’t know the rule that governs the outcome, I will judge the how it works though my own experience. I do this specifically to keep the game moving so that no one has to wait too long to have the spotlight.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t rely on the rules to predict how your character will perform. What it does is:
- place responsibility in your hand to be prepared. If you think you might try and disarm someone on your next turn, start looking it up while other characters are acting. That way, when it is your turn, you’ll be ready and we’ll trust you know the rule.
- require that you discuss complicated rules interactions governing tactics ahead of time. Between sessions, I’ll happily engage in a discourse about how rules interact. So, if you have a killer combo, let me know about via a form post so I know how to support your character. A good example of this Sneak Attack and Commander’s Strike. Mid-session, I probably would have said you couldn’t trigger a Sneak Attack via Commander’s Strike and forced the game forward. However, with time to read and learn, I understand how they interact and look forward to seeing it employed.
The more your share your personal theater through your character, the better!
The Player’s Reward Inspiration is meant to support this. Even tactical scenarios greatly benefit from in character communication. It’s perfectly reasonable for a Khurg, accustomed to his companions penchant for fireballs, to call out gruffly “throw a fireball at the archers!”. Likewise, asking his ally to move to a flanking position with a “Get behind the ogre, already!” greatly helps to generate immersion.
If your character has smart, they probably understand some portion of the meta-game through probability and experience. Bringing those incites into the game through good RP is the trick. Done well, it enhances everyone’s enjoyment and should net you an Inspiration from your applauding peers!
I like tactics.
This isn’t news to anyone. While I will keep the game fast and the RP bubbling, this will also be a miniature tactics game.
You pick the adventure with some meta knowledge
Selecting each adventure will happen with an in-character interactions and an out-of-character final selection. Getting leads on adventuring opportunities will happen as part of the role playing. Depending on who your contacts are and what research you commit, you’ll be offered 1 or more leads at the end of each adventure. After the interactions, I’ll share with you meta-details to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
I haven’t fully baked out what I’ll share, but it will be something like:
- overall difficulty
– basic: encounters are level appropriate; opponents are dumb to predictable; reduced treasure rewards
– expert: encounters are level appropriate; opponents are predictable to clever; standard treasure rewards
– advanced: encounters are above level. opponents are clever and prepared; enhanced treasure rewards
- adventure type (experience from objective or kills)
- bonus rewards (stuff you know you’ll get from completing an advanced adventure)
The goal with this approach is to honor the thematic flavor of obtaining fantasy quests while nodding to my tactical interests. The basic and expert adventures give you a chance to play around with the system and your characters while you figure both out. The advanced adventures give you an opportunity to “take on the DM” a bit and really test your character’s capabilities.
I build to suit
After you pick an adventure, which will generally happen and the end of the previous session, I will build the adventure. If you change your mind or otherwise go flying off the rails, we’ll still have a session (sometimes, a better session than the one I planned!). But, combat will be theater of the mind and the session will be mostly improvisation.