So I wrapped up the Scales of War heroic tier adventure last night. It was a great night of gaming, lots of fun and great gaming moments. There were a couple of hiccups to getting started, and we went a little late, but everyone seemed to have fun. I was left feeling very satisfied with the game and 4th edition, but much less satisfied with the adventure path as a whole.
Post Scales of War GM Thoughts:
1) 4th Edition D&D:
I really enjoy running this game. This is my second campaign that I have run in 4th, and I would definitely consider running a third or playing in one. I enjoy the power level and feel of the super-heroic fantasy. I love the classes and the power set up is very accessible to new players. And most of my players love narrating their powers, reading the descriptions, and adding a trademark movement to using them. (Aspects!) I feel like the tool set that Wizards provides are great, and the system is solid. It was easy to scale an encounter up or down depending on the people I had that night, and for the most part I was running at 150% more players than the path was designed for.
2) Never Again:
I ran for seven people for the majority of the game, and for a while with eight people. While the system took that many players in stride and didn’t break a sweat, it was emotionally and mentally draining for me to run for that many. Chaos reigned a lot of the time during combat, and I could not focus on as much narrating as I typically am want to do, just because I was keeping track of the: damage, attacks, initiative order and status effects of 12 PC’s/NPC’s. People also get distracted with there are 12 turns between their actions. I also feel the story got lost many times, partially due to the large amount of people. Did I mention the exhaustion part? Anyway, yeah, I am coming to realize that four is my sweet spot for my GMing style and six is my max for comfort.
3) The Adventure Path:
I chose to do this adventure path for a number of reasons. As I stated, this was not the game I wanted to run, and I wanted to focus in on planning Mage while this one ran. So I figured an adventure path would allow me to run a story with minimal prep, which for me amounts to 1-2 hours a week of reading the encounters and planning the maps. And from that perspective, it was a great choice. Up until this point, the majority of the experience I had with adventure paths have been with Paizo’s ones. They do a great job of laying out the whole of the story and preparing you to run the entirety of the path.
This did not. I did not like the Scales of War story from a GM’s perspective. The heroic tier adventures felt disjointed to me, and from the responses of my players the feeling was mutual. There was little foreshadowing, explanation of what was important, or even a GM’s overview of what the path was about. I can only assume that this had to be on purpose, so glaring was this lack of information. I ended up reading the whole heroic tier before running the first adventure, just to figure out what was going on. And I still don’t. While at the end there was a wrap up of sorts, the story was left bleeding from so many unanswered questions. That it was frustrating for me, I have to read 12 more adventures to figure out what was going on the whole time. I have to say that Paizo does a much better job with the story aspect of their adventure paths and preparing the GM for the story.
Well those are my main thoughts after running DnD for 7 months. Tonight is the climactic ending to Chris’ World of Warcraft game, and tomorrow I will chat about that and my Week #2 Burning World Question.