Whilst doing the washing up I had a great design idea for my D&D group. Usually I keep doing whatever I am doing and hope to work on the thought when I have the time. Of course, 99% of the time that never happens so I’ve decided to write it up NOW so I don’t forget.
The classic D&D adventure is a massive dungeon crawl where a group of characters go in the entrance to kill and plunder there way through Munchkin-style. (We don’t have time to cover all the issues with this game-style so just forget it.)
My plan is to go for discreet but interconnected one-off games that each would be played in a 2-3 hour session. (For my games group this will be an enormous challenge). The idea is to effectively play ALL the parties of adventurers through the same period of time – although obviously not AT the same time (that would be insane).
So for example week 1 would see an assault by group #1 on an Ogre supply convoy. The success of this would impact on week 5 where an Ogre bunker is going to be either under-resourced or fully stocked when it is attacked by group #5.
What I like about the idea is how everything has consequences which most stories (and D&D games are just these acted out) do not.
There are problems, though.
- Main one – how to make the players care. They’re not going to get much attachment to their characters (which would have to be pre-generated for time constraints), especially when they get a new one every week. After a few weeks they may start to get the big picture and understand more of how the game sessions affect each other but they may still be blind to the results of current actions. And if I design the game flow such that the players do get an idea of cause and effect, each party of adventurers would not have that knowledge so we would end up with metagaming. One solution may be to have the players act out the roles of great powers that in turn manipulate the mortals in the dungeon crawl.
- The concept is nice but the logistics are going to require a lot of work, even if I limit it to, say, 16 game session. That many one-off games is going to be hard work but this time the output of the evenings will have to be carried forward into the yet-to-be-played sessions.
- Variety is going to be important, not only in the character mix but also the challenge provided, so that each gaming session feels different. 16 game sessions would need nearly 100 characters, plus all the gribblies to be encountered, which is a significant amount of personalisation. The encounters themselves will be easier as the range of options is wide – some will be pure combat, others diplomacy, or trap solving or… and so on.
If you’ve seen this sort of madness tried out before then please drop me a line about how it went.