Help Make My Game More Collaborative

Howdy, all...

First a little blurb about myself. I've been playing RPGs for about 20 years now, and I've been playing mostly d20 since Third Edition came out in 2000. I currently am running two D&D games, one set in Monte Cook's Ptolus, the other set in a homebrewed campaign world.

This last weekend, I got to go a gaming/camping event called Camp Nerdly, and I played several more collaborative (or "hippie" as I heard them called) games such as the Shab-al-Hiri Roach, and I'm looking for tips on how to make my d20 games more collaborative.

I know that d20 is a "crunchier" rule system than those used in games like Roach, but my players are fond of it, and I like it too. I am trying, however, to figure out ways to give players more input in how the game turns out.

Here's what I do already or plan to do:

1. Polls: We use a Yahoo! Group for our games, and before every adventure I post a poll on the group, asking what the players want to do next. I take the top two or three choices and weave them into a story.
2. Affirmation: If the players want to do something, say yes first, then add to the idea. "I want to sell the drugs we took off that criminal." "Ok, let's see if you can find a buyer...." The players' characters are the stars of the show.
3. Collaborative Mapping: When drawing a map for a battle, I let the players offer little details that may or may not help them in the fight.
4. Let the Players Lead: Sometimes the players just get a different idea of where the story is going. Don't reject it, try to run with it.

If you guys know of any other techniques or tips that might help, please let me know. Thanks!

Comments

  • edited May 2007
    Andy just started a thread about the Mountain Witch Trick. This is where you give narrative control to a player for a second, allowing them to describe a new item, or something someone says. This could be very useful, depending on how flexible your adventure planning is, and wouldn't require any additional rules overhead.
  • edited May 2007
    Man, Jeff, that is good stuff. Having talked to you about this stuff before, I think you are already doing a lot to give your players some power to help everybody have fun.

    Related to "let the players lead", one thing I like to do that has a minimal impact on prep but a big impact on participation and collaboration is to have the players set the scene: "OK, you're facing off against the Army of the Black Tiger in Five Phoenix Pass. What's the weather like? Who stands in the van of the Tiger host? Which of your units seems the most rattled right now? Which one is spoiling for a fight?"

    Often these can give you clues to what they want to see happen, and also provide funhooks for making the scene engaging and dramatic.
  • edited May 2007
    I just had another idea, about treasure selection, based on something I read on the Wizards of the Coast boards...

    Instead of rolling the treasure randomly, or selecting it, why not let the players decide. You put a GP value on the treasure that they find and then tell the players that it's up to them. They can then argue amongst themselves about what is there and get what their characters need.

    The difference is:

    "Yeah, I stopped by the corner magic store and bought me a +2 longsword."

    or

    "And after I defeated the ogres, I found the longsword Ambraxas in their cave, buried in the trash. They never knew what a treasure they had hidden beneath their filth..."

    In a game like D20, a character's gear is very important in defining his abilities, so why should this be taken out of the player's hands?
  • Donjon has a trick or two that could be carried over to d20. Without any change in the mechanics at all, you can make rolls involving the senses or knowledge into rolls that let the player change the story (in other words, if a player's roll to search for secret doors succeeds, there's a secret door, even if you didn't plan one.) With a little modification, you can add facts to d20: for every full 5 points of success above the DC, the player gets to describe one fact in the current scene. For failed rolls, every full 5 points below the DC means the GM adds one extra fact to the character's failure. Just add the limitation that successful combat rolls can't instantly kill opponents unless they do more damage than the opponent's hit points and it should be good.

  • There's this awesome mechanic in Burning Wheel Revised called Circles. When a player wants to use their connections, they get to make up the NPC and where they fit into the game. The Circles roll only determines whether the NPC will be friendly or hostile. That means, instead of the Gather Information (or whatnot) roll being "you get info" or "you don't get info," the player will have an interesting outcome either way, and will have contributed to the situation at the same time.

    An easy way to do this is to let characters make up NPCs and connections on the fly. If they say, "My character's been in this town before, do I know anyone?" You let them answer it themselves, but whether they're friend or foe depends on their skills (or your ideas as GM on how to fit it into the story). The question becomes, "Is this someone going to help your character or make your life harder?"
  • I've been wanting to try out this variant rule for D&D for a while, but never got the chance:

    When you start play, or when you go up a level, define a goal for your character. "Kill a dragon", "defeat an army", "seduce the princess", "learn the secrets of mephit summoning", etc. Whatever the players want.

    When they achieve that goal, they go up in level. The GM's job is to make that goal last the appropriate number of sessions/encounters to be worth a level.


    The idea is to aid communicating between the GM and player. I've had characters who had goals that were supposed to be achievable, but the GM never let it be achieved. Conversely, I've had goals that weren't supposed to be achieved easily, that were achieved really quickly. Both those suck (see the thread on achivable versus unachievable goals). This would allow goals to fall somewhere inbetween. And working toward a big campaign level goal would be done by breaking up the goal into sub goals: "defeat the Empire" becomes "join the Rebellion", "destroy the Death Star", "train as a Jedi", etc.



    You'd either need to have one goal for the whole group (nice and unified) or deal with multiple plot threads progressing at different speeds, as different characters reach their goals differently.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: jhosmer1I just had another idea, about treasure selection, based on something I read on the Wizards of the Coast boards...

    Instead of rolling the treasure randomly, or selecting it, why not let the players decide. You put a GP value on the treasure that they find and then tell the players that it's up to them. They can then argue amongst themselves about what is there and get what their characters need.
    Posted By: Mr. Teapot
    When you start play, or when you go up a level, define a goal for your character. "Kill a dragon", "defeat an army", "seduce the princess", "learn the secrets of mephit summoning", etc. Whatever the players want.

    When they achieve that goal, they go up in level. The GM's job is to make that goal last the appropriate number of sessions/encounters to be worth a level.
    I really like these ideas.
  • Adam Dray's also talked about D&D games he's run where he gave out triple experience or something, accelerated and escalated advancement to a gonzo level. I know that's not a new idea, but it might shake things up and make them more exciting. If nothing else it gives players new choices more often regarding their character's growth.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarAdam Dray's also talked about D&D games he's run where he gave out triple experience or something, accelerated and escalated advancement to a gonzo level. I know that's not a new idea, but it might shake things up and make them more exciting. If nothing else it gives players new choices more often regarding their character's growth.
    This works well at low levels, and not so well at higher levels.

    Why? Because higher level characters have more abilities/spells/etc, and you have to give the players the time to learn how to use them.

    In my games, I have gone to "1 adventure = 1 level." This helps when I'm designing an adventure, as the characters' stats will not change too much over the course of the adventure, and the players don't have to worry about keeping count of experience. I do plan my adventures using the experience system, though, so there is the right amount of monsters and treasures to put them at the right amounts for a new level. So far, it's worked out pretty well.

    My weekly game seems to have stabilized at 3 sessions to a level, which everyone seems happy with. I've also had campaigns where it was one session/level, but that seemed a bit rushed. That was my monthly game, though, and I wouldn't want to do 3 sessions/level on that, just because of the amount of real time involved. Players need to feel like they're getting somewhere.
  • Something to think about: make sure to ask your players, before implementing changes, "Hey, is it okay if we introduce some things to make this game more collaborative and player-guided? I want to include your story as much as mine."

    It doesn't sound like your players would have any issue iwth this, but I know some who do.

    Also, getting their feedback on collaboration will mean that if they want it, they'll naturally latch onto the new 'tools' more wehn you implement them.
  • I've been wanting to try out this variant rule for D&D for a while, but never got the chance:

    When you start play, or when you go up a level, define a goal for your character. "Kill a dragon", "defeat an army", "seduce the princess", "learn the secrets of mephit summoning", etc. Whatever the players want.

    When they achieve that goal, they go up in level. The GM's job is to make that goal last the appropriate number of sessions/encounters to be worth a level.
    Chimera Creative has an alternative experience system for d20 call the Wyrd System that was a lot like this.
  • Use The Shadow of Yesterday.

    Oh, I know you said you were fond of D&D as a system, and are looking to move it over to something more collaborative. But why not take the leap and play with a system that directly supports the style you're trying to reinforce? Nothing wrong with D&D... but there's nothing wrong with TSOY, either. And it might be a better fit.

    Techniques are good for creating the sort of play you want to see, sure. System is better.

    Mike
  • Posted By: jhosmer1my players are fond of it, and I like it too. I am trying, however, to figure out ways to give players more input in how the game turns out.
    C'mon, Mike, Jeff asked for specific advice on making his D&D game more amazing. Let's help him make his D&D game more amazing.
  • The Weaving rules in True20 are a pretty cool way of giving players more input without taking away the security blanket of 'roll the dice and see what happens.'
  • Jason has pointed tSoY out to me, and it does look interesting. I've posted a link to an HTML version of the rules to my players so they can look at them and debate them.

    But, at the moment, I don't want to go to the hassle of converting pre-existing characters to a new system. Plus, I need time to adjust my gaming perceptions to something like tSoY, so adding more collaborative stuff to the pre-existing framework of D&D would be a good way to ease my players toward tSoY.

    Camp Nerdly really opened my eyes to new ways of gaming. I've been unhappy with some aspects of D&D for a while. I apparently am a Chaotic Good DM, because I find many of the rules and wargaming aspects of Third Edition D&D a little too confining and hard to keep track of, and I hate spending 6 to 8 hours preparing antagonists for my characters to face. (I don't hate preparing, I just hate how LONG it takes.) It's become an accounting job, really.

    Here's what I have to do currently to prepare for a home-brewed game:

    1. Come up with basic story idea.
    2. Decide what monsters and villains the characters are going to face.
    3. Put the monsters and villains into a homemade spreadsheet so I can see how much experience and treasure the party will get and if it will put them over their limit. *
    4. Create crib sheets for each monster/villain so I have all their combat information available at the gaming table.
    5. Design and map any areas where the party will be in combat, all in 1 inch = 5 feet squares.

    *The combat power of characters in D&D is tied closely to their inventory. The Dungeon Master's Guide has a table showing how much gear (in gold piece value) a character of a given level should have. If I go too far over, my characters will be unbalanced and find encounters of their level to be a cakewalk, while if I give too little, they'll be massacre'd. See, I said it had become like accounting.

    I think I'd be happier running games like tSoY, but I need to work my way into it. See what works for me and my players.

    Also, some of my players really like the wargaming mechanics of Third Edition, so I have to balance things to make sure that they're happy.
  • Hmm, maybe I spoke too soon, Mike!

    Jeff, I'd suggest giving Shadow of Yesterday a try as a one-shot, or maybe find some local folks who play so you can see if it is your cup of tea. It's cool that you shared the URL with your group, but there's really nothing to debate until everybody's had a chance to see how it all works in play. I imagine some of the rules and procedures might seem pretty far-fetched if you cut your teeth on D&D, but when you see them in action (I'm thinking of Keys in particular) they just click into place and you wonder how you got along without them. It's not going to scratch the wargaming itch, though.

    Unrelated to TSOY evangelism, have you thought about just not prepping? What would happen? Honest question - would the session break down if you created the monster's stats on the fly?
  • Clinton did a Key conversion for D20 Here that might be a cool step ionto the middle ground of where you are and where you want to be.

    Also and I can't find it at the moment there is a D20 hack from John Wick from Thirty that allows for the characters to have extra dice to reflect their being a unit.
  • Posted By: jhosmer11. Come up with basic story idea.
    2. Decide what monsters and villains the characters are going to face.
    3. Put the monsters and villains into a homemade spreadsheet so I can see how much experience and treasure the party will get and if it will put them over their limit. *
    4. Create crib sheets for each monster/villain so I have all their combat information available at the gaming table.
    5. Design and map any areas where the party will be in combat, all in 1 inch = 5 feet squares.
    Hey Jeffrey,

    May I ask where character generation falls in these things?

    I was reading over old Gygax modules and thinking of how I'd run them today. What I came up with is that I would take a few to the table and go over the basic idea of what was going on in each.

    "This one has a spaceship as a dungeon."

    "This one has the party squaring off against sorcerous slavelords who have their own island nearby."

    "This one is about a cabal of drow who are manipulating tribes of giants into doing their bidding."

    And then having the players make characters that fit into the given module that we choose.

    So maybe the barbarian in White Plume Mountain had a brother who had been abducted years ago.

    The wizard's family had been taken into slavery for Aery of the Slavelords.

    The Elve's grandmother was among the elves who broke from the elves and took up worship of the Spider Queen.

    I dunno, just some spare thoughts.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarUnrelated to TSOY evangelism, have you thought about justnotprepping? What would happen? Honest question - would the session break down if you created the monster's stats on the fly?
    Yes. Not for every monster, especially at low-level play, but at higher levels it's just not possible.

    I don't think, Jason, you know how complicated D&D monsters are. Here's an example of a complicated creature: The Balor

    The Balor will be recognizable to anyone who saw/read The Fellowship of the Ring. This is what a high-level creature's stat looks like. There are about half-dozen (each) of feats, spell-like abilities, and special powers that it can bring into play. Wizards of the Coast has devoted whole webpages to explaining to DMs how they should use the Balor in combat.

    Making NPCs that use the standard races and classes doesn't make the job any easier, especially if they are wizards or sorcerers. Selecting spells can take a lot of time. I have an Excel spreadsheet program called HeroForge (created by gamers) that can help automate the process, but it can still take me over 30 minutes to make up ONE NPC.

    And the Players will likely destroy that NPC in 2 rounds of play, or less.

    I can create a non-combat encounter on the fly, that's no problem. It's easy to figure out what range their interactive skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive) fall into, or make a guess about what their saving throws are. In such a case, I'll make a roll and it's usually easy to tell if the numbers come anywhere near success.

    I can run a monster right out of the Monster Manuals, but that's not creating stats on the fly. And then every orc, ogre, or nymph is exactly the same, combat-wise, as any other. I find that creatively stifling, and some of my players know those Monster Manuals inside and out.

    I've tried changing the descriptive text, while leaving the mechanics the same, but that still leaves me with a lot of prep time.
  • OK, good to know. I hear you saying that preparing a fight isn't much fun for you, but the subsequent fight is fun for your players. You have a right to have fun.
  • Posted By: Judd May I ask where character generation falls in these things?
    My adventures are usually in the context of an ongoing campaign. I currently run two campaigns. In both cases, the players made up 1st-level characters that have been continuing through the adventures. In my Ptolus campaign, the players have now reached 3rd level, while in my Nightfall campaign, they are 6th. Basically, in D&D, you can run a character up to 20th level.

    Back in 2000-2003, I ran a campaign that took characters from 1st to 14th level before it self-destructed rather messily and kept me from getting behind the DM's Screen again for over 2 years.

    I encourage my players to come up with subplots for their characters and I try to weave at least two or three such subplots into each adventure.

    Does that help?
  • I'd love to hear some advice from people who have played, or are playing, D&D 3.5.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarOK, good to know. I hear you saying that preparing a fight isn't much fun for you, but the subsequent fight is fun for your players. You have a right to have fun.
    It's not that it isn't fun, it's just so time-consuming. I like coming up with challenging and/or strange encounters to test my players mettle. But with D&D, the rules are little more cumbersome than I like, and they can stifle my creativity. I sometimes liken D&D nowadays to a minatures wargame masquerading as an RPG.

    (Which, if I remember my history of D&D, means that the game has come full circle back to its roots, where it started with miniatures gaming.)
  • In my long-running D&D game, we ripped out the advancement system and put in TSoY's Keys instead (with costs for modular advancement all in XP). People were skeptical at first, now none of them would ever go back. If you're interested, whisper me & I'll email you the house rules we came up with for it.

    The nice thing about this mix is that people still get their cool feats and spells and the stuff they love about D&D. You can use the monsters just as they are, combat doesnt change, etc. But it does ask players to do more than just kill things and take their loot, and the story has benefitted greatly as a result.
  • edited May 2007
    Actually, turns out it's easier to just unlock those pages on our wiki:

    - Key Advancement System
    - Character Keys

    Most of the wiki is locked down, but those pages are now public-viewable. Happy to answer any questions. It's tweaked to allow relatively fast advancement, but you could easily raise 'prices' and slow that down.

    New characters start with 3 keys and can buy up to 6.
  • I actually enjoy playing D&D3.5 from time to time. It's not my favorite game by far, but I do enjoy it when I'm looking for a particular type of fun. I've also run it for pretty extended periods before, but not within the last 4 years or so. Warning: the advice I give is pretty idiosyncratic to me, so I have no idea how well it will work for anyone else.

    1) When playing (either as a player or as a GM) D&D, I don't go for the deep, dramatic, character-driven or Nar styles of play. I keep myself firmly planted in Gamist mode - that's the kind of fun I expect, and the game tends to deliver. You can get those other kinds of fun out of D&D, but it requires wrestling with the system and an amount of effort I'm just not willing to give, when I could more easily simply play a different game to get those types of fun. Frankly, if you're really after that type of play, the best suggestion I can give you is to play a different game. If, however, you're content with a Gamist type of fun, read on.

    2) Concerning combat encounters and the statting of NPCs, one simple solution I like is to just use a pre-published adventure. Yes, it's railroadey - they all are. That's not necessarily a problem if the players don't mind, which they often don't if the type of fun they're after is Stepping On Up. That makes everything easy. It sounds like you're already in the middle of a campaign though, which makes that a not very viable solution. The only other advice I can give is to make extensive use of templates. They're (relatively) quick to apply, and go a long way towards differentiating monsters of the same type without going through the nitty gritty of their feats and such. It's a little cheesy, but there's a lot about D&D that's cheesy anyway. If that still doesn't work out for you, I'd say screw the delicate balancing act and wing it. As Jason said, you have a right to your fun too.

    3) One simple house rule that made me like D&D a lot better than I used to: Ignore the experience point system. After every session (or 2, if you prefer) just give the PCs enough XP to put them halfway through the next level.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarI'd love to hear some advice from people who have played, or are playing, D&D 3.5.
    We've had the same problem in our D&D game, but never found a good solution except "use a monster straight from the Monster Manual" or "use prewritten scenarios, like the World's Largest Dungeon". Both of these are imperfect solutions.


    One solution you could do is take all your NPCs from the Wizards Character Optimization boards or elsewhere where you can find repositories of character stats. The boards are often filled with nearly complete character builds (of varying complexity), so you could just grab a writeup that sort of matches your NPC and use those stats or modify a bit. This compilation of low level builds, for example, could supply a healthy number of NPCs who would be an interesting challenge to the PCs.

    Similarly, you could actually use the NPC examples of each and every prestige class that each book is full of. In a given Complete book, you have to have a dozen NPCs statted up and ready to play.
  • Posted By: jhosmer1Making NPCs that use the standard races and classes doesn't make the job any easier, especially if they are wizards or sorcerers.
    You could make some or all your NPC spellcasters be warlocks (from Complete Arcane). The class is pretty explicitly made for GMs to easily run enemy spellcasters: no spells to track in combat, smaller selection of powers, etc. At the same time, a warlock with a wand of fireballs is awfully simi8lar as an encounter to a sorceror who knows fireball.
  • Well, my next game is in about 12 hours. I'll post here and let you guys know how it went. Thanks for the help!
  • edited May 2007
    The game was a success. We didn't use everything that was discussed, but we had a fun time.

    First my players had to investigate a drug-related death at an arena (one of the characters is a gladiator), and the gladiator's player was eager to help me sketch out how his character was connected to the dead gladiator.

    Later, the same character (who is an orc), several other players, and I went "off-script" to a totally unplanned meeting with a tribe of orc barbarians that live near the city. We all kept going back and forth on what such an encampment would look like, how the orcs would behave, etc.

    I tried the treasure value thing. It worked, and the players got some interesting gear, but it was time consuming. I'm going to ask the players to come up with some lists of items they'll want before the game so that we can speed things along. Or we'll divvy up the treasure between sessions.

    I gave each of the players one d6 for each person at the table, telling them that they can use it to modify any d20 roll made by another person at the table. They didn't get used much for the early game, but at the last battle, which was up against a huge monster that was trashing them, the dice came out. People felt like they were contributing even when it wasn't their turn, and it kept them happy. I think I may finetune this rule so that the dice only count for half (minimum 1) if the player doesn't come up with a good in-charcater way for them to aid the roll. I'm also debating how this fits into D&D's critical system.

    All in all, it was a lot of fun. I think we can build on this some more.
  • Congratulations, Jeff! I'm glad it went well, and I'm glad everybody had fun.
  • Glad to hear you had a fun session. It sounds like your players are naturals at the collaboration thing.

    The treasure list is a very good idea in general, IMO. I did much the same thing even before I started playing story-games. It cuts out the frustration of finding items that no one in the party can (or wants to) make use of, and sidesteps the silliness of selling and buying magic items - which is one of my least favorite things about D&D, except in Eberron, where it seems to fit with the setting.

    The helping dice are also nifty. As to the question of criticals, I'd say just treat the d6 roll as a type of bonus. In other words, don't count them as "natural" towards scoring a critical. Otherwise you have the weirdness of scoring a "natural" 26 on a d20.
  • Yeah, I've pretty much decided that the dice will not help the players score a critical... but they can be used on the second die roll to CONFIRM the critical. I foresee a lot of dice being used when someone rolls a threat and rerolls to confirm the crit.

    (For those who don't play D&D, each weapon has a "critical range." If you roll in that range on a d20 (not counting modifiers) then you have rolled a "threat." You then roll to hit the creature again, and if your second roll indicates a hit, you've scored a critical. This usually means that you get to roll double or triple the usual number of dice for damage.)
  • OK, after talking it over with my group, we're going with the "d6s only count for half if you don't describe how you're helping" idea. But they can roll their dice after the d20 is rolled. I thought about making it so that you couldn't use the d6s after the d20 was rolled, but then I thought some more about it, and I had to ask myself one question:

    Why am I afraid that my players might win?

    I have your usual mix of powergamers and rules-lawyers at the gaming table. They've consistently shown that they can make the dice stand on end and defeat the most impossible odds. It was so easy for me to slip into the "I must find a way to circumvent their twinkery!" mode of thought. But now, I think I was just working to frustrate their enjoyment in the game. If they enjoy creating characters that can smash down foes, I should not punish them for that.

    The player characters are, after all, the heroes of the story. They might suffer setbacks, and some of them may die, but it's not a fun game if they keep getting trashed. A GM can always "defeat" his players. He controls everyting in the game world. It's not even a contest. Entertaining them is a lot more difficult.

    I think that I'm beginning to see that the true competition in these games is not between the player characters and monsters, it's between all the players, as we try to tell a cooler story. And I need to help them do that.

    So, allowing them to add the dice to their rolls after the intial roll has been made might make things a little easier, but it'll set up incredibly cool sequences at the table, where the entire party tells the tale of how they defeated the horrible monster.

    And that's got to be good.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: jhosmer1If they enjoy creating characters that can smash down foes, I should not punish them for that.
    I have so been there. After they've taken out your baddest in one, I think the really excellent trick is to give them opponents they don't want to defeat, or opponent whose defeat has implications they cannot or will not accept. The prisoners dilemma* is your friend.

    Also! Make sure they know that those d6's can lower rolls, too. I would, anyway.

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: jhosmer1I think that I'm beginning to see that the true competition in these games is not between the player characters and monsters, it's between all the players, as we try to tell a cooler story. And I need to help them do that.
    Just to note, from what you say here I think that at some point you might want to check out Agon. It's built with an explicit structure of competition among the players, and is a lot of fun. It sounds like it'll fit your group's play style quite well. Check out the free sample!
  • Howdy folks!

    I know I'm practicing the dread art of Thread Necromancy here, but as we approach the one-year anniversary of my post, I thought some of you might like to know how my adventures in Collaborative D&D story-telling has gone.

    Well, both campaigns are still going, with the players hovering around 10th level now. Some players have left, new players have been added, and everyone is very happy with how things are going.

    First, I have GREATLY cut down on the amount of prep I do for a game, and it doesn't seem to impact play much at all. Part of that is using a module as a baseline. It gives me a firm foundation to build on as I try to keep up with my players. Case in point:

    In my Ptolus campaign, I have been using the Night of Dissolution and Banewarrens modules for the adventure material. NoD has evil chaos cults trying to bring about the end of the world, while BW has various groups plotting to enter and rob the most heavily guarded repository of evil artifacts in the world. The players have been bouncing from one adventure to the other, as they see fit. (Hard to find the chaos cults? Let's check out the Banewarrens. Banewarrens kicking our asses? Let's go share the pain with some chaos cults.)

    I think the key moment for me was when my players killed one of the bad guys of the Banewarrens at almost the first opportunity. Before all the help I've gotten from this site, I probably would have panicked. Now, THEY panicked as they realized that they just killed the daughter of a noble family. Quick! Hide the body! Where do they hide it? In the Banewarrens, a place where evil has been concentrated and building for over 10,000 years. And then I had the spirit of the dead noblewoman haunt them, constantly trying to get them to get her body back and raised. And while they are struggling with that (and stopping the chaos cults from ending the world) the noblewoman's body is reanimated by the evil of the Banewarrens and brings the evil out with her.

    So now they are running around town, desperately trying to find a way to take care of this problem with strange weather plagues the city, riots take place in the streets, bolts of black lightning come out of the sky and strike a tower where angels live... and they know it's all their fault. (And one of the PLAYERS actually suggested that the noblewoman's body walk out of the Banewarrens.)

    The players have also completed several personal storyarcs for their characters. I linked each character to some background element of Ptolus, and they've been having fun solving these mysteries. Azog the orc, for instance, came to Ptolus looking for his missing great-uncle. He found him at last, but his great-uncle was a prisoner in the Dark Reliquary, where demons and undead dwell. The party's attempt to rescue him went awry when they were captured and cast into prison. But, Azog's half-uncle had a demon-god imprisoned in a tooth (the reason the Dark Reliquary captured him), and Azog freed the demon-god so the party could escape in the confusion. Of course, now he's responsible for any evil done by the freed demon-god. Fun! :)

    I go to each session with the module, some ideas for cool encounters, and maybe a fleshed-out NPC or two, and the game goes from there. It's been a lot more fun, and my confidence in running the game has only gotten better. The players say that it's one of the most fun games they've played.

    So, thanks for the help. See some of you at Camp Nerdly 02, where I'll be sharing some of what I've learned in a seminar. :)
  • That's so cool, Jeff! Can't wait to hear more.
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