Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wizards Adventure Master Asks For Feedback

Rodney Thompson is one of the lead developers at Wizards and last week he posted on his blog (here) that he has read and heard a lot of criticism about the quality of the adventures that Wizards has published. Rodney has therefore asked for input, thoughts, and ideas from the game playing public as to what they think would make better adventures. As of Wednesday morning there are 39 responses in the comments section, some cogent, some in-depth, and some just weird.

Of course we are in the middle of the first 4E Adventure, Keep of the Shadowfell. With 20+ years of gaming experience under my belt I would have to say it is as good, certainly no worse, than any of the other dungeons we have played over the years. Exactly how believable is any of this stuff to begin with? It's fantasy, it's just supposed to be odd, quirky, and hopefully fun. And hopefully whoever is DM'ing is making whatever adventure we are involved in fun for everybody involved.

Still, there are a lot of players and DM's out there with different experiences and different viewpoints, and it always interesting to see the responses these type of open ended requests bring forth. I guess I were to comment I would say that I would like to see adventures maintain a certain level of old school feel to them. To that end Wizards already has a large library of 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5 adventures, so how about updating them to 4E and then selling them cheap, say $9.99 as a PDF. I realize Wizards is leery of the PDF marketplace, but it does keep the price down, and would preserve a bit of game history as the game moves forward.


  1. Without having seen any other 4E adventures (and only part of the current one at that), I really can't comment. However, this adventure so far seems to confirm my initial impression of 4E in general, which is that it's all about combat. Virtually all of the 4E feats and powers are exclusively useful only during combat. In contrast, if you go back through the 2E spells and magic items we've been used to playing with, a sizeable percentage of them have very interesting uses outside of a combat encounter.

    I actually like the way our 4E fights are going - they're more varied and interesting than our traditional battles (especially considering we're only 1st level). However, there's not that much to do other THAN battle. And if there was, I'm not sure how interesting it would be. Rolling skill checks doesn't cut it for me.

    I'm starting to think the way to go is a hybrid 2E/4E approach: 4E powers for fighting, and 2E spells/abilities/items for everything else. I'm writing another chapter for our "modern day" characters, so maybe I'll try to experiment some.

  2. Mark, I mentioned "old school feel" in my post, so I think you and I are probably saying the same thing.

    The combat oriented feel of KotS is something Scott and I have talked several times during our drive to/from Naperville. This dungeon is designed to not only be the first exposure to 4E for experienced gamers like us, but also for those who have never played before at all. I haven't read the follow-up adventure (H2: Thunderspire Labyrinth) yet to see if the feel is any different.

  3. I think about all the times our party has used Fly to break into places they weren't supposed to be. Getting pulled over by the cops for DWI (Driving While Invisible). Turning into a talking parrot to alert the news media about a government conspiracy. Becoming "floating pond scum" to slip past guards. All sorts of really fun stuff that wouldn't be possible if all you had to work with were "encounter powers".

    I suspect that the adventures are written to accommodate the game mechanics. Given that 4E's design is based on combat powers, that's what you're going to see in 4E adventures.

    I mentioned that I'm writing a new adventure for our favorite characters. I just went through and did a count. I've got 50 pages written so far, and only 4 places where you have to get into a fight (but knowing you guys, you'll find ways I never thought of!).