Sunday, 18 September 2011

Preparation and patronage (the good kind)

Plans are advancing fairly quickly in my new PbP game.  I have a group who are about to finish a chopped version of Halls of the Mountain King.  They (the players at any rate - the characters may well change) are going to embark on a quest to discover The Lost City.  Both these projects are by the consistently good team at Kobold Quarterly as part of their Open Design project.

As explained eloquently here, Open Design works on the old system of patronage.  Patrons pay because they want this particular project to go ahead - and depending on their inclination and  bank balance can have a greater or lesser say in the whole process.

It's an elegant system.  I've done low level patronage on two of their projects and got heavily involved in one of them - the entirely beautiful and mad as a box of snakes Courts of the Shadow Fey.  Our home group did some play testing for that and made a few suggestions that made it into the final design, so we felt we owned it to some extent.

The Lost City was the other one I patronised, but the timing was bad and I never managed to work my way into it to the same extent.  While that was a pity at the time, it does still mean I have a shiny new 4e adventure to unleash on my hapless players.  They are starting to concoct characters and back stories and I am now at the point of deciding which bits will have to go in order for this adventure to run in PbP format.  

If it sounds stupid to take a pre-made adventure and then take it apart, well, it is in a way.  The issue here is that the things that are immense fun in a live table game are bamboozling and treacle-like in a PbP when your players are in different time zones.  Exploration often comes into this category, and of course a lost city will have a goodly share of that. I'm not cutting the exploration out, but the choices about where to go and how to get there will be reduced.  In general, it helps to keep a game going if the choices are few and clear.  I do not mean to imply that I'm a brutal railroader, but I've found that the real sticking point for most online games is not combat, which has a rhythm of its own, but choosing where to go next.

I'm planning to describe some of those choices here (without spoilers as far as possible, as one of the players is a follower).  Partly so I can keep a record and partly so I can see if I made the right call in the aftermath.


  1. Ah, the Courts of the Shadow Fey ...

    Happy memories of the completely unknown and thoroughly fabulous :-)

    Perhaps one day we'll get the chance to complete the whole adventure ...

  2. Whenever we have a gap in the programme :) It's dotty, but wonderful. I've run a PbP version but there was a huge amount they didn't do. Evil DM laugh.