Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Experimental D&D

My group is starting a new game, Eberron, with Mark DMing it. At first I wasn't too thrilled because I wanted to get into something a little more narrativist. Anyway, the form the game has ended up taking is actually a bit of an experiment.

Essentially, the players are all running characters that want to go treasure hunting. We all have various reasons for doing this along with goals for said treasure. Since it's Eberron and we're basing it out of Morgrave University, we're doing treasure hunting Indiana Jones-style. In addition to a player-stated goal, we have one-word traits determined by the player for their character (one trait per character).

These little embellishments would be easily thrown away in a D&D game with the exception of Eberron's action points. We tied action point rewards to specifically pursuing the stated goal and playing up the character's trait. These goals and traits can be changed, but a player can never go back to the same goal and/or trait once it's been changed. The action points are spent in the traditional way, but with one exception. In situations directly pertaining to the player's stated goal, the player may use up to three action points on a roll (that's 3d6 plus the normal d20 at our low levels).

In addition to the player-determined rewards add-on we've got going, we've decided to go with conflict resolution and setting stakes for the rolls outside of round-based combat. I, personally, had great success with this by using my character's bluff and diplomacy rolls when dealing with some victimized (but still very much undead and dangerous) inhabitants. As we progress in the game, I plan to keep track of how these little add-ons work with our more reticent players (the ones that essentially "turtled" in our Burning Wheel games).

I'll post later about the actual in-game events of the first session along with some of the stakes set and how some people have started really getting into the traits and goals for action points. The first session was promising, so I hope this hybrid-D&D thing can be a gateway drug back into some more narrativist play for the half of the group that didn't really get into our first experiment with such play - Burning Wheel.


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