D&D 5th Edition What happened to one-off games? - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gradine View Post
    Part of it might also be an increase in the complexity of character design. It took a hell of a lot more time and thought to understand a pre-gen 3.X or 4e character than it did in earlier editions. 5e definitely seems to be the better option but there's still a proliferation of class abilities (thanks to the "no dead levels" design philosophy).
    This. The old "college gang" gets together every year for a big New Year's shindig -- half of them are tea-totalers, so it's not exactly Saturnalian.

    Anyway, for years, we'd do a one-off game and it was fun. People would pull out their old characters or make up new ones and jump right in. Then, we all kinda migrated to 3E. Character creation was no longer 10 minutes-and-done, and the old characters weren't compatible. Yeah, we could have still used AD&D, but that wasn't what anyone was actually playing, so it wasn't appealing. So, it just kinda stopped.

    Now, a huge chunk of the group hasn't gamed in years, so there's little momentum. I decided that Fate Accelerated would probably be a good choice for low-investment and had it ready, this year. Without the momentum, though, it didn't happen.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
    I am probably going to come across as a grumpy grognard
    That won't exactly make you stand out, here. ;P
    but I'm feeling a bit miffed about the lack of single-session or "mini-series" games in modern Dungeons & Dragons.
    True, the published WotC offerings are hardback APs. But AL had plenty of 'Expeditions,' I think it was, modules that were playable one-off.

    I got nolstalgic. Then DnD 5e came out and it was awesome, so I bought it and started building my own world. My campaign has been running for over two years now.
    Welcome back.

    What happened to the old tournament games?
    They were replaced by the 'Living City' campaigns, culminating LFR which was abandoned by WotC c2010, IIRC. The RPGA was folded into the Wizards Play Network, and while it might technically still exist in some form, replaced by AL with the release of 5e.

    So, really, AL /is/ the modern equivalent of the old tournaments.

    I'm not sure, because I only run AL so have never tried to invoke it, but I believe you do get credit for running, so can play a higher-than-first-level PC if you've been running games for a while, and, (again, not sure) if your character doesn't use anything specific to a given AP, you can play it a bit here and there and level it up over time.

    I know that at Conventions you can find DMs running games like this but I've had bad experiences.
    Well, some things never change. ;(

    Really looking for opportunities to play the occasional 6-8 hour one-off session with a mid-to-high level pregens. DnD Encounters seems to be designed for the exact opposite experience.
    The 6-8 hr game seems almost a thing of the past. Blame it on the short attention spans of 'kids these days.' ;P And the limited time available to working adults.

    Likewise, high-level play has gotten something of a bad rap this millennium. (And, if we're being fair, it was never something that worked wonderfully well - it could be fun, but it got crazy and 'broken.')


    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyP71 View Post
    It does indeed seem to be a fairly modern assumption that every adventure has to be part of some overarching campaign
    I blame Babylon 5 and LOST.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradine View Post
    Part of it might also be an increase in the complexity of character design. It took a hell of a lot more time and thought to understand a pre-gen 3.X or 4e character than it did in earlier editions. 5e definitely seems to be the better option but there's still a proliferation of class abilities (thanks to the "no dead levels" design philosophy).
    There are a lot more options than there used to be, yes. (In 4e an off-line CB character sheet could be pretty easy to take in, if you could get past the instinctive distaste for pages of M:tG-like 'cards.') In 3.x or 5e, the complexity of a higher level pregen will mostly be in the spell list, if you're very familiar with spells, no problem, if not, madness - you won't even be able to decide what to prep. The solution, IMHO, is to use classes like the Sorcerer or to present the pregen with spells already prepped. And to have the complete texts of the spells known or prepped readily available (even printed out with the sheet, or, ironically, in the form of spell cards).
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  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Koren n'Rhys View Post
    Just to clarify, for an AL legal character, you always need to start them at L1 and build them through regular play. As you note, there is no contingency to start at a higher level, or use a pre-gen at the desired level. I may be misinterpreting, but @thorgrit seemed to think you could run a a new L1 character in a mod designed for higher levels? ("That sounds punishing.") That is NOT the case. Each mod specifies the Tier, or level range, for which it's written, and you can't legally run a character who is outside that Tier.
    So if you show up to a higher level AL event without "earning" a higher level character, either A) you can't play at all, or B) if they accommodate you, it cancels the higher-level progressive module everyone else is there to play, and instead run an introductory adventure? I'll stand by my "That sounds punishing." But moreso.

    Edit: Well, at a convention where there's a bunch of games available, it would make sense to pick a game where it would cause less problems, but if the FLGS only runs AL games, and that's the only public-welcome game in town, that's gotta feel bad.
    Last edited by thorgrit; Wednesday, 25th January, 2017 at 10:43 PM.

  4. #14
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    Feel free to PM me by the way if you want in on any one-shots. I run them regularly for both D&D 4e and D&D 5e. I'm running one for 4e this Thursday night and have one spot open.

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    So we used to have a D&D meetup here in town that had something like 100 members, but the only "meetings" were a couple of regular games that were "full" i.e. no openings for a casual player to show up and enjoy a game.

    I thought - aha - there's probably a bunch of these left-out people that would love a 1-off game. So I put up a meetup open to 6 people to have an "evening of adventure". I got 1 person signup (and he basically plays D&D every other night of the week.

    Naturally I didn't offer it again.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thorgrit View Post
    So if you show up to a higher level AL event without "earning" a higher level character, either A) you can't play at all, or B) if they accommodate you, it cancels the higher-level progressive module everyone else is there to play, and instead run an introductory adventure? I'll stand by my "That sounds punishing." But moreso.
    You are correct about how it works. For the most part people are just happy to play D&D and the campaign encourages you to have a lot of characters in order to accommodate the schedule and new players. When your character reaches 5, you will only be able to play when new 5-10 adventures are available and when you can get together 3-7 players who have played enough to be 5th level or higher.

    So most players just start another 1st level character so that an event can run 1-4 adventures and you can still play. And if no one is new, you can all play 5-10. Or, hopefully, there's enough people so one table can play 5-10 while another plays 1-4.

    The system is really designed to work best at conventions where you can just sign up for the events that you have a character for and there's plenty of people to play at whatever level you want.

    Of course, none of this stops you from downloading the AL adventures and running them as one-shot adventure that aren't AL legal if you never plan on playing that character at an AL event.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
    I am probably going to come across as a grumpy grognard, but I'm feeling a bit miffed about the lack of single-session or "mini-series" games in modern Dungeons & Dragons. While this may be a "General RPG" topic, it is more pronounced in DnD for me.

    First, some background, to see where I'm coming from. I am in my mid-40s. I started playing DnD in the 80s, moved on to other games in the late 80s and stopped playing TTRPGs in '90 or '91. I started thinking about getting back into TTRPG after moving back to my home town. I was regularly playing board games with old high-school friends and we would talk about our old campaigns and I got nolstalgic. Then DnD 5e came out and it was awesome, so I bought it and started building my own world. My campaign has been running for over two years now.

    The trouble is that with work and family, that I don't have time to commit to a regular campaign outside of the one I DM, but I would still like to play now and then.

    But nobody seems to do one-off adventures any more. At my local Convention I've played in Adventurer's League games and had fun, but since I don't regularly play AL games throughout the year, I always have to play at first level.

    What happened to the old tournament games? I remember going to Gen Con and being able to sit down for a mid-to-high level adventure using pre-generated characters. It was great. I did not care about "winning", I just enjoyed a one-off game and having to role-play a character I might not have played in a campaign (there are lots of characters that are fun to try out, but that you would not want to be stuck with playing for many months). Also, the adventures can be more experimental and the challenges can be better tailored if the players are playing with pre-gens.

    I know that at Conventions you can find DMs running games like this but I've had bad experiences. My first DnD game after 25+ years was for a game where the DM was hung over and only two people showed up so he cancelled it. Luckily I was able to get into an AL game with a great DM...but playing a 1st level character. I wish WoTC would offer some non-AL games. Or, allow a player to join an Adventurer's League game with a pre-gen. Let me play a 5th level character and just rip it up after the game, I don't care. I'm never going to have an AL character get up high levels.

    Still, while allowing one-shot pre-gens in an AL game would go a long way, it still isn't the same as the old tournament module experience. The DM never knows who they are going to get for an AL game and sometimes the party chemistry just isn't great for the adventure. Having to design adventures around all the contingencies that can arise from a random mixed bag of characters constrains the writers. You can do a lot of great challenges and story telling in a one-shot module with pre-gens made specifically for that adventure than you can with a bring-your-own-character game.

    Outside of conventions, I avoid AL games at my FLGS because (1) I will always be at low levels since I can't play regularly and (2) it can be hard to find a seat at a table, especially if you are only going to be there for one session. Really looking for opportunities to play the occasional 6-8 hour one-off session with a mid-to-high level pregens. DnD Encounters seems to be designed for the exact opposite experience.

    The obvious solution is to find DMs doing their own one-shots. But the message boards and Meetup.com seem to be people looking for players to commit to longer campaigns.
    We have similar tastes. I see one-offs ("adventures") as the basic unit of play in (A)D&D; a "campaign" is what happens when a one-off is enough fun that players want to re-use their PCs in another adventure. But the key is to deliver a satisfying adventure.

    I'm currently experimenting with a number of approaches, from adapting Betrayal At House On The Hill to run off a 5E rule chassis to letting players create higher-level PCs for a one-off using abstract dungeoneering. The people I'm currently most interested in playing D&D with are busy people, mostly novices to RPGs but with a high degree of interest if time can be found (they've played a lot of CRPGs before) so I am very interested in providing a variety of fun experiences up front without forcing them to slog through character advancement every time.

    Don't get me wrong, I love character advancement, growth, change, levelling up from first level, etc... but friends with five kids under the age of ten aren't going to have time for levelling up organically, and I don't want to restrict them to only the low-level portion of the play experience, and I find rapid "milestone" levelling implausible and un-fun... ergo, one-offs and high-level pregens.

    I also find inspiring the legend of how Traveller character generation gave you a complete backstory that could wind up killing you before the game even started, so I built that into my own abstract dungeoneering. (https://maxwilson.github.io/Beast/Ab...Dungeoneering/)

    RE:

    The obvious solution is to find DMs doing their own one-shots. But the message boards and Meetup.com seem to be people looking for players to commit to longer campaigns.
    Unfortunately I don't have a solution to this problem, because I don't advertise my game anywhere and I have no idea how or why anyone else would. :-/ The only suggestion I can give you there is the same one I would for networking while job-hunting: make sure all of your friends and casual acquaintances know you enjoy D&D and are looking for a good, episodic string of D&D adventures. Maybe someone at work who hasn't played in years will feel inspired to dust off his DMing credentials; maybe someone you know at church will turn out to already be running this kind of game every month with people he knows from high school. That is the only way anyone would ever discover my games.
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  8. #18
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    There is a big loophole to start at a higher level in AL. But you have to run games and earn DM rewards of XP and other things

  9. #19
    I think there a few things at work here.

    1. Campaigns are much shorter today than they often were back in older editions. So while we might not have as many short "one-off" games, we do tend to get through many more campaigns than we used to. With normal pacing, and playing about once a week, you can run a group from 1-20 about 8 months. Because of this, I think players are still getting the satisfaction of trying out new ideas regularly enough that they aren't clamoring for more short stuff.

    2. Tons of more non-rpg stuff to do for scratching the one-off itch. This isn't even a new thing either, because I remember it starting to happen in the late 90's when we'd all break out a few Magic The Gathering decks during "down time." Whereas we'd once have a few hours to kill and decide to do a random one-off DnD session, we soon just started playing Magic. Today, there are even more options -- many of which don't even require being in person. Video games are a dependable staple for quick entertainment, and board games have been in a golden age for the last decade. So when the choice is "play a random DnD session for a few hours" or "play Imperial Assualt" for a few hours, many people are just as excited to choose the later. Especially if they already have a regular DnD campaign going on.

  10. #20
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    Even if you don't play AL regularly, you can still keep your character. They dont go bad. File it away, and pull it out when you find you have time to go to the FLGS or a Con and play it. Early levels go quickly in 5e, so soon enough you will be at level 4 and can buy your way to 5 and then make another level 1 to cover that tier. If you DM, you will gain credit you can apply to a character to level even faster.

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