A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer



Lair Assault and Fourthcore

Yesterday I had the opportunity to stop by my FLGS and get to know some of the players and DMs there. I also got the first chance to see the new Lair Assault Forge of the Dawn Titan.

I was not an active participant because I got there too late and there were too many people wanting to play (8 people were in line), but I did manage to sit by and watch, occasionally flipping through my recently acquired Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium (great book BTW, but that's a talk for another day). I must say, it was an interesting experience.

Now I admit I didn't experience the entire adventure, and I resisted from reading the booklet itself (I was asked to DM a late game, but car troubles prevented that from happening. Not to mention I brought zero materials), but what I saw makes it quite an entertaining experience. Many have compared it to Fourthcore, but it's not quite that extreme: damage output is pretty high, but there are no "save or die" situations (at least none that I saw). And since it is effectively one long encounter (no rests at all), resource management became a big issue real quick: a normal party might be OK with one healer, but imagine how well your group would do if that healer can only heal you twice during the entire game.

With a group consisisting of one "passive" cleric, three strikers and one defender (notice: no controller) I was surprised that they made it as far as they did: two players made it to the end chamber only to run out of time (you only have 20 turns, or four minutes of "in game" time, to complete the encounter).

This experience, even if I was only an observer, has inspired me to offer running a game next weekend. And, without knowing what the players at this FLGS want but seeing how well they reacted to Lair Assault, I am considering running a Fourthcore game. Which one is to be determined: it'll either be "Iron Lich" or "Crucible", and which one I choose is really dependent on the level of interest in the players and which of the two they prefer running.

But I have to admit something: I'm kind of afraid.

You see, I haven't run an "in person" game in over a decade, and I don't know if I'm ready just yet. Sure I know the mechanic and the game rules, but DM-ing is sometimes much more than that, especially in a Fourthcore game that tests the abilities of players and the DM alike.

The biggest obstacle right now is that I don't have the materials: all I have is dice. I do not have a DM screen, miniatures, status indicators, etc... And the group is somewhat of a rowdy bunch, so I question whether I'll be able to maintain control over such a crowd of people much younger than I.

So in the next couple of days I have to suit up and be ready, just in case this does in fact become a reality. I don't know if I need a DM screen right out of the gate, and I can do with traditional pen and paper instead of the GameMastery Initiative Tracker (which I would have bought if it weren't for said car issues), but I have less than a week to think about what I'm going to do about miniatures and game markers.

So for the next week, I have to prepare myself mentally and see if I'm up to the challenge. If it goes well, I might start doing some WPN-level DM-ing.

Wish me luck!


In the meantime, two of the map packs that I have created: M1: The Wayside Inn and M2: The Ring of Stones are available on DriveThruRPG!

Just for reading this blog, for a limited time I'm offering a small discount on each of the items: just click on the above links to take advantage of the special pricing for the next two weeks!

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  1. I’ve been running games on the cheap or a while now. I have resisted using maps, figures/tokens, and other visual aids because of the cost involved, but the tide of opinion has been against be for some time now. I finally had to give in and make some basic purchases.

    I did finally pick up a vinyl map last year and some markers, but for timed games I used a large ‘presentation-sized) 1-inch grid paper from Staples to pre-draw maps to save time at the table. Last week, I picked up Monster Vault–mostly for the tokens.

    You really don’t *need* a DM screen. I keep mine with me, but I’ve rarely used it and it’s out of date now anyway.. I can do that because I look up everything that is likely to give me trouble ahead of time (like skill challenges) and make notes on the adventure. I’m also willing to make rulings instead of looking up rules. It’s pretty easy to come up with something reasonable on the spot and doing research at the table gives the players time to get out of the game and into trouble. I try not to give them that chance.

    The only other I need is a lot of scrap paper and extra mechanical pencils.

  2. U should run 4thcores “gallery of the hate blossom” its easier to prepare and is on their site now labeled 4 page dungeon delves

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