D&D 4th Edition The Three Pillars of RPGs - How to Integrate into 4E?

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    The Three Pillars of RPGs - How to Integrate into 4E?

    I've read references recently on WotC about the three pillars of D&D: roleplaying, exploration, and combat.

    I'm two combat encounters and a skill challenge into the "Cairn of the Winter King," so how should I introduce these three pillars to my existing game?

    Any good ideas of how to add roleplaying and exploration features into a dungeon crawl adventure?



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    Well, roleplaying can just happen. Give a personality to PCs and NPCs and monsters, and you're pretty much set.

    But exploration is a tougher nut to crack in 4E. A lot of aspects of the system veered away from that.

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    I would suggest hex crawling or linking adventures between two points of light.

    Like, the players find a diary in Thunderspire that tells them to find the treasure in Fallcrest. Well, the players don't know where Fallcrest is, so they set out on a merry venture to find Fallcrest. Roleplay the parties efforts to find Fallcrest.

    Ever played Skyrim? I mention it because in my experience, I find that exploring the world of Skyrim to be more enjoyable than anything else. Especially the times when I run out of health potions and arrows and I'm quite a distance from the nearest settlement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post

    Any good ideas of how to add roleplaying and exploration features into a dungeon crawl adventure?

    In an older 4e campaign I ran the party thru a hardcore dungeon crawl. I think they were at 4th or 5th level and were hankering for an old school hack em up with old school exploration. And since I love having RP in all my games, I put that in the Ruins of Drowned Amandeir.

    The dungeon was partially submerged so at various points there were water "puzzles" (more problem-solving really) to get around the ruins.

    There were also a couple optional clues the PCs found thru problem-solving...I recall a strangely patterned gate that when properly backlit revealed a glowing map of the ruins (before they were ruins).

    The dungeon was haunted so there were ghosts the PCs periodically interacted with. Plus there was a lot on inter-party RP because they had locked themselves inside the dungeon to escape a large enemy force, but they also were trying to reach an objective before their nemesis.

    I also had a mystery about how the ruins came to be thru treachery of an NPC, which could have made their fight against a blood elemental significantly easier and given them an upper hand in dealing with the oracle dragon later...but they totally ignored it.

    That particular dungeon was small, lasting 3 sessions maybe, but it was the best I've ever run because it had old school exploring, great set piece fights, and opportuniis for RP. All that was missing were meaningful random encounters...

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    Well, the good news if you want exploration is that you're running one of the rare official 4e adventures that actually includes exploration. The Cairn of the Winter King is a small dungeon crawl. The party gets to explore it as they see fit. They encounter obstacles that can only be overcome by items that they find in other parts of the dungeon, for instance. That's exploration.
    Check out my blog, Online Dungeon Master, for maps and tips for running online games (especially in MapTool). Also, running in-person games with a laptop and projector.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
    Any good ideas of how to add roleplaying and exploration features into a dungeon crawl adventure?
    Exploring the dungeon is your exploration, right there. You can jazz it up by making the dungeon truly dangerous, as opposed to a collection of encounters. Reward the party for scouting or negotiating. Add in deadly traps. Obstacles that can be overcome with clever thinking. Secret doors. Make the players pay attention to their surroundings, because if they don't, bad things will happen.

    You can also offer rewards by hiding treasure in places the players might not normally search. Although unless the players know there is hidden treasure, they aren't going to find it.

    IIRC, that particular dungeon is kinda small, which is going to limit what you can do with it, and doesn't have a lot of role-playing opportunities. You can make some of the enemies open to negotiation, but again, unless the players are aware of the possibility, they will probably just assume that stuff is there to be fought.

    Finally, be aware that the players may not be interested in a lot of role-playing or in-depth exploration. Find out what it is they find fun, and cater to that, not to someone else's idea of what the game should be.

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    I think there are many kinds of exploration. Since DDXP, and the seminars and playtests that took place there, I have been meditating on what sorts of exploration have been supported by the different versions of D&D--and more importantly how those exploration bits have been supported. I put my thoughts in a Critical Hits article: Exploring D&D at DDXP : Critical Hits

    Exploration was perhaps the best part of the AD&D campaigns I played and ran over the years. I've enjoyed my 2e, 3e, and 4e games, but it is clear that the focus has moved more toward making combat work better, sometimes at the expense of the exploration portion of the game.

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