I've run a couple of sessions of 4E recently and have a third lined up this Friday. I'm having a ball with it and wanted to share my framework because I'm really proud of what my group and I have come up with.
Before we started session one, all that I knew was that I was going to use a military backdrop. I had three players make it the first night. We decided that the group was a group of conscripted criminals and an officer in charge. I was setting the scene for an initial encounter when I looked over at my WorldWorks games stuff that I'd use to make some cool 3D items for a fantasy game I ran for NC Gameday and saw the archway and glowing blue portal I made and a lightbulb lit.
I told the group that the world was at war and that groups were being sent out to start mapping the Oroboros Path. This collection of portals ran from point to point around the world, criss crossing around and basically wrapping the world. This is more like the gates in Hyperion than Stargate. The armed forces arrived in a now abandoned city and were exploring the portals. It is the mission of the "special forces unit" to go through first, ascertain the threat level, and map the local area. SFUs that survive can eventually work off their conscription, but if they died, as criminals, it mattered little.
The group is getting their bearings with 4E and so am I. I through a way too powerful encounter last time and was delighted when they managed to finish off the ambush.
I've been trying out a new way of handling 4E which has worked well enough to deserve a write-up. Here are my tenets and how things are working:
- Monsters are all "men" - humanoids. I might have one monster or such terrorize a town, but it will have been created or summoned by people.
- Dungeons are all abodes. If there are traps, it's because the homeowner is paranoid. I've just never jived on underground structures filled with random monsters and rooms with treasure chests.
- Any time the treasure parcel calls for money, I deliver it via the army's salary. That is, it is waiting back for the character back at base. In counterpoint, however, if the player wants to find a consumable item (potion of healing, for instance), they can "buy" it and find it on a body.
- Big ticket items fall under the two categories of Power Up or Discovery.
- Power Up - The player's weapon or armor or what-have-you now exhibits new powers. The dwarf paladin in the group, for instance, realizes the new potential of his plate armor as it becomes Dwarven Plate +1.
- Discovery - The character finds the item on the body they're looting. Why did the enemy have it? It needs a story. So, for instance, the human fighter in the group wants an acidic sword and discovers the drow carrying it in a lacquered case. Why did he have it? Where was he taking it? History check, please!
I'm currently tearing apart the Create Your Own Monster section of the DMG and combining it with the Stunt Chart and XP charts to come up with skeletal enemies which I can flesh on the fly by choosing level and role and come out with an encounter equal to the threat I want to be present in a scene.