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  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Alarian View Post
    I used to award exp bonus's to players who did this in my long time ongoing campaign. I had a list of things that needed work as well as areas that players could create with minimal input from me that I would update as time went on, and it worked quite well (I always had final approval of course). Until... One of my players had gotten a new job assignment and he had a few weeks off of work between his old assignment and the start of his new one. Unbeknownst to me, he went to town. We played every other week and I showed up for one of our sessions and he had pretty much written a books worth of material. It was obvious he has put an insane amount of work into it and it was all really good and it was going to add a lot of really good and valuable material to the campaign, so there was no way I could renege on my ongoing rule. I reluctantly awarded him an insane amount of exp (we had a set formula for how much you got for what work was done). With the exp award he leapt ahead of everyone else in the group. and pretty much stayed ahead of everyone else for the rest of the campaign (several years).

    What I took away from it was we added limits to how much could be awarded at any given time as well as a maximum bonus you could receive based on the levels of other players.
    I used to use XP as a reward currency, as well, and ended up with the problem illustrated in your post. The problem was, I was getting what I wanted to help make my life easier and it was actually making my life harder! My solution was to change the reward currency to the one described in Lesson 4.

    This works better, in part, because the points can be spent on behalf of anyone in the party and, so, help increase the party's survivability--which is great, because, where having a party of mixed-level PCs makes creating combats harder, not having to worry about a TPK as much makes creating combats easier. In a way, I'm rewarding myself when I hand out such a reward.
    Last edited by Rune; Wednesday, 11th January, 2012 at 04:44 AM.

 

  • #22
    I have edited the original post with the following question:

    Does anyone else out there have ideas or advice for campaign-building or running games with minimal prep?

  • #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rune View Post
    I have edited the original post with the following question:

    Does anyone else out there have ideas or advice for campaign-building or running games with minimal prep?
    Well, for me it's about having a monster book & minis handy so I can easily generate monster encounters at-table. Treasure can be randomly selected from a chart, I like using the by-level item chart at the back of Adventurers Vault.

    I also find charts & tables such as encounter tables very handy.

    Generally, IME it is quicker to sketch out a small dungeon on a piece of paper and add notes on monsters, traps & treasure than it is to read a published Dungeon Delve, never mind a longer adventure.

    So: get or make a wilderness map around 1-2 miles/hex with a base town, add several one-line NPCs there (Lord, Smith, Priest, Wizard etc), scatter several published or homebrew short dungeons on the map, and add hooks - the goblins are raiding, the barmaid's been kidnapped, the cultists are plotting, the dragon has loads of treasure. Start the PCs in the town Inn and you're ready to go.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #24
    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    Generally, IME it is quicker to sketch out a small dungeon on a piece of paper and add notes on monsters, traps & treasure than it is to read a published Dungeon Delve, never mind a longer adventure.
    I know what you mean. In fact, my notes are sometimes incredibly sparse. I frequently fit my notes for a session on a single index card. Once, I even went into a game with four words on a card (and that session was awesome!). Published adventures, on the other hand, require much reading and re-reading (and sometimes adjusting) to make them worth running. There is an exception to this, but I think I might add that as another Lesson.

    So: get or make a wilderness map around 1-2 miles/hex with a base town, add several one-line NPCs there (Lord, Smith, Priest, Wizard etc), scatter several published or homebrew short dungeons on the map, and add hooks - the goblins are raiding, the barmaid's been kidnapped, the cultists are plotting, the dragon has loads of treasure. Start the PCs in the town Inn and you're ready to go.
    Good idea. Sparse notes on a very simple map would serve as a great outline for a pseudo-sandbox style game. (As this is a thread on building and running a campaign with little preparation, I'm discounting a true sandbox, which requires a lot of prep up front.)
    Last edited by Rune; Thursday, 12th January, 2012 at 04:19 AM.

  • #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rune View Post
    Good idea. Sparse notes on a very simple map would serve as a great outline for a pseudo-sandbox style game. (As this is a thread on building and running a campaign with little preparation, I'm discounting a true sandbox, which requires a lot of prep up front.)
    I don't agree this is not a true sandbox, as long as there is map of some sort + a variety of areas of interest. Video game or published tabletop sandboxes need to be created in advance because the designer cannot script more content during play, but a GM-led sandbox is much better started sparse then developed in-play, IME.

    Edit: B2 Keep on the Borderlands' wilderness map would still be a viable starter sandbox if the Caves of Chaos were just a 6-room dungeon, for instance, especially if you made a small Caves of the Unknown dungeon in addition. You have the lizardmen, raiders, spiders & hermit as well as the NPCs in the Keep itself.
    Last edited by S'mon; Thursday, 12th January, 2012 at 08:14 AM.
    ***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!

    eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
    There are 2 major problems with your idea:
    1: It is far too awesome
    2: see 1

  • #26
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    Ignore Janx
    Good ideas, Rune.

    Some extra thoughts:

    the enworld blog system might be a better repository for these. Consider each lesson a blog post.

    On XP: in 3e, leveling is equal to 1000 x PC level. Therefore, if you like numbers, but are lazy, you can hand out XP as a fraction of the 1000 times party level.

    So if you want the party to go up half a level, give out 500 times party level.

    It still uses the XP system that the players expect, but simplifies your calculations.


    On keeping NPCs simple: S'mon/Henry have a handy method for NPC stats as well. Similar to your ideas. For instance, with Skills, don't assign skills until your NPC needs it. If it's a wizard and you now need to do a Concentration roll, his ranks in it is level + 3 (max ranks). You can easily eyeball this.

    As this relates to refluffing, I do not advise wasting time applying templates and making custom monsters, etc. The internet is chock full of NPC generators, equipment list generators, spell list generators to build NPCs. Just roll it up and use it.

    the MMs are full of monsters. Pick some of the appropriate CR and stop trying to level up orcs to be a challenge to your 12th level party.

    I have fought barely a fraction of the monsters in the MM because GMs spent too much time modding Orcs so they would be a challenge for me.

    With that, one can relabel/fluff these monsters to be specialized new breeds of orcs that have a CR worthy of my time if you really want me to face more orcs.

    But, I find, a lot like the concept of working with limitations, it exercises my GMing creativity to roll up a random CR12 monster and figure out how it will be the antagonist of the adventure that fits the campaign.

  • #27
    Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
    I don't agree this is not a true sandbox, as long as there is map of some sort + a variety of areas of interest. Video game or published tabletop sandboxes need to be created in advance because the designer cannot script more content during play, but a GM-led sandbox is much better started sparse then developed in-play, IME.
    I agree with you philosophically, but when my friend (mentioned in the first post) said he wanted to run a sandbox campaign, he meant the kind of campaign where everything was laid out beforehand and the PCs could just explore it as they like. (Of course, I knew he would never have the time to get that ball of wax rolling, hence these lessons, but that's a different point, entirely). I think, to many people, that is what a sandbox means.

    For the purposes of this conversation, I will refer to the light-prep sandbox that is created as the game unfolds as a pseudo-sandbox although, again, fundamentally, I agree with your point that the distinction is artificial.

    Edit: B2 Keep on the Borderlands' wilderness map would still be a viable starter sandbox if the Caves of Chaos were just a 6-room dungeon, for instance, especially if you made a small Caves of the Unknown dungeon in addition. You have the lizardmen, raiders, spiders & hermit as well as the NPCs in the Keep itself.
    I agree here completely, as well. There is a lot of potential energy stored in this particular module, just waiting to be converted into Awesome.

  • #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    the enworld blog system might be a better repository for these. Consider each lesson a blog post.
    Maybe. I had planned only on the thirteen lessons, and, maybe, an additional one once in a while, if relevant. Nothing even remotely like a regular column, or anything.

    Also, it was, and still is, my intention to promote discussion on the topic.

    On XP: in 3e, leveling is equal to 1000 x PC level. Therefore, if you like numbers, but are lazy, you can hand out XP as a fraction of the 1000 times party level.

    So if you want the party to go up half a level, give out 500 times party level.

    It still uses the XP system that the players expect, but simplifies your calculations.
    That's a reasonable middle ground (although, just a note--IIRC, that amount is only true of first level. It takes a further 2,000 to get to third, a further 3,000 after that to get to fourth, etc. Your method would actually steadily slow down advancement as the characters gain in levels.)

    On keeping NPCs simple: S'mon/Henry have a handy method for NPC stats as well. Similar to your ideas. For instance, with Skills, don't assign skills until your NPC needs it. If it's a wizard and you now need to do a Concentration roll, his ranks in it is level + 3 (max ranks). You can easily eyeball this.
    Exactly! "Don't stat what you don't need," does not only mean, "make stats only for NPCs that need it," but also that, when you do, the stats should only include stuff you'll actually use (and can't make up on the fly).

    As this relates to refluffing, I do not advise wasting time applying templates and making custom monsters, etc. The internet is chock full of NPC generators, equipment list generators, spell list generators to build NPCs. Just roll it up and use it.

    the MMs are full of monsters. Pick some of the appropriate CR and stop trying to level up orcs to be a challenge to your 12th level party.
    Sure, if you've got the tools, use them. And, let me emphasize, applying templates and and making custom monsters is, in general, exactly the opposite of what I advocate. That's not little prep; that's lots of prep. Having generic, simple archetypes that you can re-fluff on the fly, on the other hand is another matter, entirely.

    I have fought barely a fraction of the monsters in the MM because GMs spent too much time modding Orcs so they would be a challenge for me.

    With that, one can relabel/fluff these monsters to be specialized new breeds of orcs that have a CR worthy of my time if you really want me to face more orcs.
    Re-fluffing has nothing to do with changing mechanics. You probably wouldn't re-fluff an orc into another type of orc, but you may well take the orc stats and abilities and reskin it as something entirely new for the players to encounter. If you do also give it some unique ability (not a bad idea), that ability should be extraordinarily simple.

    But, I find, a lot like the concept of working with limitations, it exercises my GMing creativity to roll up a random CR12 monster and figure out how it will be the antagonist of the adventure that fits the campaign.
    Interesting...

  • #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rune View Post
    That's a reasonable middle ground (although, just a note--IIRC, that amount is only true of first level. It takes a further 2,000 to get to third, a further 3,000 after that to get to fourth, etc. Your method would actually steadily slow down advancement as the characters gain in levels.)
    Just to clarify, because I think you missed my math.

    Let's say as your example, the party (or PC) is level 2.

    He already HAS 1000 XP. he will need an additional 1000 x 2 to reach level 3.

    Thus, if you want to move him halfway to the next level, you give him 500 x 2, thus giving him 1000 XP.

    Add to his existing 1000, that's a total XP of 2000. He is 1/2 of the way to level 3.

    My math is correct. The formula is used to determine how much XP to give out and add to their current total, not how much XP the PC has in total.

    the forumula relies on the fact that 3e increases the XP by such a simple calculation.

    The point of the method is to keep the players on the XP system, yet achieve the benefit of not having to actually add it all up.

    Divide 1000 by how many sessions per level you want. Multiple by the party's current level. Give out that much for the session.

  • #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    Just to clarify, because I think you missed my math.

    Let's say as your example, the party (or PC) is level 2.

    He already HAS 1000 XP. he will need an additional 1000 x 2 to reach level 3.

    Thus, if you want to move him halfway to the next level, you give him 500 x 2, thus giving him 1000 XP.

    Add to his existing 1000, that's a total XP of 2000. He is 1/2 of the way to level 3.

    My math is correct. The formula is used to determine how much XP to give out and add to their current total, not how much XP the PC has in total.

    the forumula relies on the fact that 3e increases the XP by such a simple calculation.

    The point of the method is to keep the players on the XP system, yet achieve the benefit of not having to actually add it all up.

    Divide 1000 by how many sessions per level you want. Multiple by the party's current level. Give out that much for the session.
    Hmmm. It seems I misread your post. You and I are saying the same thing about the rules and, yes, your formula does work.

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