I've been trying to find any time I can to work on these scenarios for D4: Basic. I have to say that writing D4 scenarios are some of the most fun to create. It might be hard to explain why without giving away too much but I'm still going to try anyway.
By design D4: Basic is played one scenario at a time, much like a board game. You open the box. Get out the pieces. Pick you characters and then just start playing (in fact I don't think I've ever had the rule book at the table once so far). Once play is over, it's done.
What does this allow you to do? A lot. But I'll cover only a few things here.
First, it let's you be as brutal as you want to be. There's no life long attachment to these characters so killing them is no big deal at all to even the most sensitive non-gamer alive. They're characters are not going to miss out on anything since when the scenario is done, it's done.
I understand that this might seem like a bad thing to some people and that some folks might even say "hey, if you don't care about your character, then what will make you strive to want to survive."
Well what I say to those people are what makes you want to keep playing Monopoly or Sorry! or Risk or any other game. To win!
Now I'm not saying D4 is going to be competitive in regards to players competing against each other. It's competitive due to the fact that it's a grit iron gauntlet of pain to get through. You're going to feel like a god among men if you actually succeed one of these bad boys.
Let's just say that I've been play testing my first and second scenario for the initial release of the game and I have yet to have all 4 characters make it to the end and I have yet to have a group completely succeed the scenario. I don't know about you other gamers out there but this gets my juices going. To me this speaks back to the golden age of Nintendo where you can strut down the street waving your tail feathers that you actually beat a game like the original Megaman. Not everyone in the universe can say this.
It also adds a level of replayability to the game. Players will (I'm hoping anyway) will want to dive into the scenario again after finding out that they might have only experienced half of what they could or that there might be a better way to beat the scenario. They can do this over and over without having any down time to have to do character gen.
I've seen the look of desire in the eyes of my players that I haven't seen since I was in junior high school when playing D4: Basic and this how I know that I'm creating something worthwhile.
Game on, friends, game on
I just spent 2+ hours or more tweaking the layout for the character sheets of D4: Basic. What a pain!
Hopefully it's not all for naught.
I have to say though, that the character sheets have gone through about 4 or 5 renditions and I haven't even released the game yet! Hopefully they're done forever (ha, yeah right) but I'm going to bed tonight happy with how they look. So that's a plus.
Here's a small sample, enjoy!
Met 2 more successes last night as far as D4: Basic is concerned.
I got a chance to play-test the first scenario I'm writing for D4 with a group of people who really don't hate TTRPGs but really have no real opinion on the gaming genre (or gaming in general at all).
I took these 4 unlikely, unknowingly new, gamers into the deadly town of Treaton. Result? Success!
Every player admitted that they really enjoyed the game. The magic is in it's simplicity. All players sat down and started playing. No reading, no in depth explaining. Just fun.
The scenario went perfectly and in my opinion was perfect in regards to how challenging it was. The whole scenario took maybe an hour and a half and 2 out of 4 players made it out alive. They didn't quite meet all the objectives but they did stop the infamous witch with their lives intact.
I really hadn't had time to add up the total points that players could earn in the scenario, but with a rough estimate of 50, they earned about 15. In other words there was a lot more they could of done better or more things they could of found but they made it through and had a ton of fun and at the end of the day that's what matters.
So, I did say earlier in this post that I had 2 successes and that's true. I hadn't mentioned above that everyone playing was either drinking or drunk at the time. That's including me, the Referee.
Now, I've GM'd my fair share of games and gaming systems and sometimes it works (drinking while playing) but a lot of the time I run out of gas while trying to GM. It takes a lot of brain power to GM in my opinion. Math, creativity, narrative, role-playing, descriptions - all of which having to happen on a whim.
But with D4 it didn't even phase me. Again, the simplicity of the game shone through as the mechanics flowed flawlessly. The only thing I had to concentrate on as the Referee was to narrate, read, and focus on what was going on in-game instead of worrying about what was going on, on the table.
We plan to bring the New Years in with the second D4 adventure which I started today. A lot of it is going to be improvised but I'm not worried, it's D4 after all.
Note: Just because I started the second adventure this doesn't mean that the first is done yet. It's getting there and I should be done shortly, but we need something new to play tonight and I don't see how I can ignore the call of my newest fans.
I have to admit I was getting a little nervous last night as I sat down with my wife to continue to work on the first adventure (which still needs a title by the way!) for D4: Basic.
I ran into 2 little problems.
The first was almost what most would call writer's block. I just couldn't concentrate. I really don't know if I 100% believe in writer's block. I have a feeling that it mostly stems from starting an idea that you don't really strongly believe in mixed with not really wanting to perform the writing task at hand.
But needless to say I was having one heck of a time concentrating on what to fill building 5 with on the adventure. What really happened though was that I came up with an idea but didn't like it all that much. It was "ok" but it wasn't enough to make me happy. It wasn't "amazing" per se and that was frustrating to me. So I had to step away from it all together.
I hated doing that though. My time is very precious and if I want to finish this game in any kind of time that matters I can't really waste any free time I get to work on it.
But this morning I was elated! As I stood in the shower getting ready for my real job (the one that ensures that my family doesn't starve) it hit me out of nowhere. Somwhere swimming in my half asleep mind a great idea for area 5 came swimming to the surface and the ideas started flowing again like a water hose.
After that I've been working on the adventure again steadily and things are getting to the last building (which will be the easiest building to fill considering that's where the plot unfolds).
Now I know I mentioned 2 problems.
The second problem that slapped me across the face last night was that I couldn't stem my hyper active imagination. Well that part, and which ever part of the brain feeds the other parts of the brain that impulses it to be as logical as possible. That one was on full blast as well.
I know that seems to contradict the first problem but hear me out. As I'm writing my first D4: Basic scenario I've come to realize that when I write and adventure for a tabletop game I don't just write an adventure but I naturally want to create a universe! Every item I drop I need a name, to get a name I need a reason for that name. In order to get that reason I need a story! To make that story I need characters of that story!
I was about half way into creating a whole orc god pantheon when I had to slam on the brakes and ask myself "What in the heck am I doing? This is D4!".
Although I find all that stuff exciting and it I have to fight myself to try and stop that part of my brain from taking over my thought process, D4 is designed not to be that in depth. D4: Basic isn't meant to be anyway. So now that I've been weaving a web of danger for the players of our first adventure I've been meeting my imagination half way. Although I've been putting in ideas and hints of gods, goddesses, legendary items, and wonderful back-stories, I'm at this point, stemming myself from embellishing too much on that part of the game and keeping focus on making a fun adventure.
I have to leave something for Steel & Staves after all, don't I?
I can't leave this post with at least one thing concrete, right? Something that's not just mindless rambling but instead shows some exciting progress? Well if you have to have, here's this. Here's a sketch I did of the door of goddess Lialin's temple found in the hamlet of Treaton. Enjoy.