Posts Tagged ‘rpga’

Living Forgotten Realms: An Old-School Experience

June 6, 2009

There are plenty of annoying things about Living Forgotten Realms. For the sake of this post, let’s take those as read. I want to discuss an interesting emergent behavior that I hadn’t expected when I got involved with the campaign, and which is keeping my interest going.

Also, I want to use a deliberately provocative title… there, got that goal out of the way.

My local LFR scene is centered around Pandemonium, my FLGS. We run four tables every Monday night; some people also get together for home games, which are occasionally advertised but mostly not. All in all I’d estimate that there are somewhere between thirty and fifty people who show up on a regular basis. Most of us play more than one character.

Interesting emergent setting detail one: the Forgotten Realms we play in is awfully reminiscent of the old school Lake Geneva campaigns in terms of party composition. When I sit down at a table and play Alesk, my dragonborn cleric, he usually knows a couple of other adventurers. “Oh, hey, Caldwell! Still seeing that nice half-elf with the adventurer’s club?” The individual parties have no continuity whatsoever, and Alesk’s career is a careening journey from Baldur’s Gate to Waterdeep to Cormyr back to Baldur’s Gate, but from an in-game perspective there’s definitely a fellowship.

That’d be the old school effect. This feels a lot like I’m in a campaign with seven or eight GMs, who rotate, and a pool of thirty or so PCs. You even have people telling stories about the insane things done by PCs who aren’t at the table.

Probably more important, we can talk about shared experiences, which is pretty cool and which, as it turns out, is fuel for roleplay. I won’t claim that LFR is a hotbed of characterization and immersion, but I will claim that the network of interwoven characters who’ve done things together in the past provides a real basis for character development. The common play establishes way more context than I had expected from this sort of episodic campaign. It’s neat when a character who Alesk knows says “Oh, hey, you’d like Gerrick — he’s your kind of guy.”

Speaking of shared experiences, something interesting changed between Living Greyhawk and Living Forgotten Realms. It’s now OK for a player to play any given module more than once, as long as it’s not with the same character. It used to be that your second character simply couldn’t play the same modules as your first character.

At least locally, that’s made people a lot more relaxed about spoilers, although we’re still polite about it. In turn, that means we’re getting back to the old days when people exchanged stories about how tough (or not tough) specific adventures and encounters were. If you were playing 4e last year, you may recall the threads in which everyone compared their Irontooth TPKs — this is like that, except LFR doesn’t have a lot of TPKs.

So that’s another community-building emergent behavior, which I also find kind of cool.

Chris Tulach recently noted that LFR was seeing more players than LG. I think the community building aspects of the campaign, intentional or not, are part of this.

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