… I would evidently play D&D 4th edition with them on the way down. I gotta admit that being an “indie guy” playing the most commercial RPG out there, gives me little twinges of feeling like a sellout. But, it’s very much a “System Matters” game, to its core. Plus, fun play is better than no play, even if it comes from The Man.
Kat’s been running a group of six of us through Keep on the Shadowfell. It’s pretty fun. I think the Sons of Kryos said it best when they said that D&D has stopped trying to be like fantasy novels or fantasy movies, but it’s just being D&D. You fight monsters. The fights are interesting. The map and minis/tokens are essential. You get treasure and gain levels and the levels let you do more fun things. You and your friends are a team standing up to evil. Those were all the strong points of D&D.
We’ve only done two sessions of the Shadowfell game, with six players in the group. Kat made up the characters so they’d all have good solid reasons to be together. The intraparty chatter is fun. We haven’t quite got a handle on great team tactics yet, but I’m sure that will come with time.
After the first Shadowfell game, Kat and Michele and I were paging through the books and came across the bit in the back of Monster Manual about making player character monsters. It sparked some ideas, and so I’m DMing a game where Kat is playing a goblin rogue called Twitch, Michele is playing a kobold war wizard called Shifty, and there are two semi-NPCs along: a minotaur cleric named Ferdinand and a drow archer ranger called Twang. All of them are of good alignment and all are outcasts from their own societies. They had been taken in by human cleric who was lost in the Underdark. The cleric died, but made them promise to take his holy symbol back to his main temple … on the surface! Thus, they’ve started on their long, long quest to the surface.
The fights have been fun. But it has reminded me a few things I always hated about D&D: money and experience points. Tracking all that stuff drives me batty. In the “Out of the Underdark” game, money doesn’t really matter, because where are they going to use it, anyway? For xp, I looked at the section in the DMG where they talk about not tracking xp and just leveling the whole party up every X encounters. I thought 1st level might get boring pretty fast, so I said “Let’s level up after every encounter.” However, Kat and Michele said that was too fast. So, we reached a compromise. At the end of every session, we take a vote: “Do we want to go up a level?” If the vote is unanimous, the party goes up. How’s that for player empowerment? 😉