Free-form Eberron

   
Free-form Eberron

Eberron is an outstanding campaign setting; it's a pity that people use it only to run campaigns in.

Let me unpack that statement. The most interesting parts of Eberron, in my opinion, are its history and its politics. Both of these things, however, tend to get jettisoned or at least de-emphasized in the typical campaign. This is made hard to avoid by the very nature of D&D; when you're filling out a character sheet which focuses mainly on fighting, it's reasonable to expect that you're going to do mainly fighting.

I want to invert this expectation, and let people attempt intrigue and inquiry rather than expeditions to Xen'drik. There's a place in Eberron for swashbuckling and treasure-hunting; indeed, campaigns based on these can easily thrive. There's also a place for film noir and murder mysteries, and gritty campaigns also work well in Eberron.

What I'm saying, then, is that I don't really want to run a campaign, which is inevitably forced to subjugate digressions to the needs of the overplot, however epic. I want to explore those digressions and details.

I want interesting characters; I also want interesting players. I want characters who have goals; I want players who have the motivation to create new goals once the first set have been met. I want characters who aren't centered around combat (perhaps characters who have never fought; I want players who are interested in things beyond killing and looting. I want characters who inhabit the world around them; I want players who want to explore and create every last detail of that world. And I want it in Eberron.

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Now, this is a planning thread, so I have some questions, beyond merely soliciting interest.

The campaign will start on the evening of Zor, Olarune 19th, 994 YK. All of the PCs will be in Metrol, though they won't necessarily know each other. When the Day of Mourning begins, all of the PCs will be temporarily thrown together to work to escape--and that will be my first and last act of railroading for the whole game. I don't much care if the PCs stick together after that--it's probable that at least a couple will, but I fully expect everyone to pursue their own agenda.

The first set of questions, then, concerns what happens afterward. Do I let the players roleplay everything, starting at mere survival? Or do I fast-forward through the beginning of the process? If so, when do I fast-forward to? The 11th of Aryth in 996 YK, when the Treaty of Thronehold was signed? Or the 1st of Zarantyr in 998 YK, the day on which the campaign setting officially commences? And if I fast-forward, do I exercise one final bit of railroading and make everyone come together again on that day?

The second set of questions concerns mechanics. I'm sorely tempted to go diceless; it would put the emphasis on roleplaying where it belongs. Of course, I'd be abandoning any sense of game balance, though that may not be a bad thing. And I don't know how much interest there is in diceless roleplaying on this site. The other option would be to go with D&D 3.5--I have nothing against 4e in general but all of the Eberron books thus far are written for it, including all the prestige classes; also, 3.5 gives PCs the same mechanical grounding as NPCs, which I want to emphasize for this game. A third option would be to go with GURPS, which most definitely does not focus on combat--I'm worried, though, about the overlap between people who know Eberron and people willing to give GURPS a try, and I definitely want to attract the former type. Opinions?

Sounds neat! I sincerely doubt I will be able to find the time to join another game, much less one that will require the attention this concept deserves, but just in case, here are my two cents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jalapeno_dude View Post
Do I let the players roleplay everything, starting at mere survival? Or do I fast-forward through the beginning of the process? If so, when do I fast-forward to? The 11th of Aryth in 996 YK, when the Treaty of Thronehold was signed? Or the 1st of Zarantyr in 998 YK, the day on which the campaign setting officially commences? And if I fast-forward, do I exercise one final bit of railroading and make everyone come together again on that day?
I don't see the need to make a hard decision up front. Start in 994, and take it from there. Your players will decide if they want to fast-forward or not, and how far. Leave it open for people to think about as they get started. The advantage to a game like this is that you get to be very flexible and design the game around what the players want to do, instead of getting them to have fun within the confines of the adventure you've created for them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jalapeno_dude View Post
The second set of questions concerns mechanics. I'm sorely tempted to go diceless; it would put the emphasis on roleplaying where it belongs. Of course, I'd be abandoning any sense of game balance, though that may not be a bad thing. And I don't know how much interest there is in diceless roleplaying on this site. The other option would be to go with D&D 3.5--I have nothing against 4e in general but all of the Eberron books thus far are written for it, including all the prestige classes; also, 3.5 gives PCs the same mechanical grounding as NPCs, which I want to emphasize for this game. A third option would be to go with GURPS, which most definitely does not focus on combat--I'm worried, though, about the overlap between people who know Eberron and people willing to give GURPS a try, and I definitely want to attract the former type. Opinions?
I feel like I'm the only person on MW who feels this way, but I am very sick of D&D3.5. Haven't tried 4e since I get the impression it makes all the things I hate about D&D3.5 worse. However, I am in love with Mutants and Masterminds, especially for Eberron. Let characters get cool powers that maybe have nothing to do with combat, or at the very least, let them build their characters exactly the way they want without being stuck into a particular set of abilities called a "class". I have a feeling GURPS does this too, but I've never used it.

That being said, if you find the right set of players, freeform would work just fine. I'm running an Eberron game in RL that has never been more fun since we got rid of the dice. I like having a mechanic in an action-packed game because it ensures that everyone gets a fair share of the spotlight. However, if you want to focus on character development, then just trust your players. They will make things challenging for themselves without getting dice involved. Or, at the very least, take a look at this system, which may be exactly what you're looking for: http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/arch...e/herirule.htm

I have been looking to play a role playing character in a 3.5 setting. I totally believe in a non-combat focused story line but I don't believe that removing combat or dice rolls is the solution. You can remove a lot of the tedious combat by having the characters not directly be apart of it, such as commanding armies rather than participating in them. Also, do you have the dmg II. This book has some nifty rules for running businesses and the like which would be an interesting pivot point for a story line. I would love to create a wizard who is focused on searching for spells and possibly opening a crafts shop, but I would still like the option open to be able to enter combat if the need truly arose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naturax View Post
However, I am in love with Mutants and Masterminds, especially for Eberron. Let characters get cool powers that maybe have nothing to do with combat, or at the very least, let them build their characters exactly the way they want without being stuck into a particular set of abilities called a "class". I have a feeling GURPS does this too, but I've never used it.
GURPS most definitely does this. My understanding is that M&M is designed especially for superhero characters, whereas GURPS theoretically can handle anything but works best for everyday humans.

Quote:
I like having a mechanic in an action-packed game because it ensures that everyone gets a fair share of the spotlight. However, if you want to focus on character development, then just trust your players. They will make things challenging for themselves without getting dice involved.
The advantage of PBP is that if I'm running mostly in private threads, everyone gets the spotlight with or without mechanics. But I get your point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Azrael View Post
I have been looking to play a role playing character in a 3.5 setting. I totally believe in a non-combat focused story line but I don't believe that removing combat or dice rolls is the solution. You can remove a lot of the tedious combat by having the characters not directly be apart of it, such as commanding armies rather than participating in them. Also, do you have the dmg II. This book has some nifty rules for running businesses and the like which would be an interesting pivot point for a story line. I would love to create a wizard who is focused on searching for spells and possibly opening a crafts shop, but I would still like the option open to be able to enter combat if the need truly arose.
I do indeed have the DMG II. On a quick re-reading of the business section, it seems that running a business comes down to making a single die roll every so often--which I guess is okay as a background mechanic, but honestly doesn't seem that exciting without heavy piling on of flavor.

As to removing combat, that's certainly not my intention. I'm just not sure it needs to be played out mechanically rather than with narration. So yes, I agree that it can be made part of the story by putting it in the background.

By the way, the idea of a wizard searching for spells could definitely be interesting. That type of knowledge-seeking gives us a chance to delve deep into the history of Eberron.

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Here's a semi-crazy idea, which you should feel free to demolish:

Create a character using any system you want (or no system at all). Let me know to what extent you want to incorporate game mechanics into your roleplaying. And I'll do my best to make it happen. Die rolls can be made in your private OOC thread, and you or I will translate that into what actually happens. What's posted IC will be a mechanic-free description.

Obviously you have to trust me to handle game-balance issues, but I'd hope that the players I get will be mature enough to intentionally reign themselves in. If it becomes absolutely necessary to compare characters, we can always do rough translations into 3.5, which seems to be a lingua franca around here.

First of all I love free form as I have become disillusioned with rules. They are to confining and ruin RP. I know thats a broad statement, but I agree that most players, obviously not all of them, lose sight of the RP using only combat and wanting rules to feel safe. Well I feel safe without rules and I have tremendously more fun when I am RPing without rules to tell me I can't do what I designed my character to do. I am sick and very tired of failing at a skill, or hitting, or w/e because of randomly determined results. No thank you. Now I am going to contradict myself... XD. I will play in a game with rules if and only if the storyline has great potential in my eyes and if the GM puts the story first...

Now secondly I unfortunately have no experience with Eberron. Would you be willing to deal with someone who has no experience with it? Assuming I get in, in the first place.
I do have a lot of experience with normal D&D.

My only temptation for you is that I am committed to a game that I get into, and I try my best to role play a good character and I can role play many types. Timid fearful, confident, seductive, male, female, etc etc. I can do a lot. I am not claiming to be the best at them, but I can do them well enough to meet standards.

So my vote is obviously for free form! -chuckles-

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalara Shadowmist View Post
Now secondly I unfortunately have no experience with Eberron. Would you be willing to deal with someone who has no experience with it? Assuming I get in, in the first place.
Certainly, as long as you're willing to expend a little time learning about it. The articles here are a decent starting points, as is the Wikipedia article. In addition, the Grand History of Eberron, a freely available fan-made document, contains everything you'll ever need to know about Eberron, though it's best as a reference rather than an introduction.

Thanks for the links. I will try and take some time to read them.

Good Lord.

I am so in love with this idea. I was involved with a GURPS Eberron game a while back, and it fell through after just long enough to get me hooked.

Please, for the love of God, run it in GURPS.

Honestly, I prefer intrigue based games, with the more gritty types of violence as a deterrent to actual fighting. The lethal combat rules of GURPS makes it MEAN something when you draw a sword. Frankly, playing a rogue in a major Eberron city, with mostly social skills and the ability to, on occasion, stab someone while they aren't looking then run away, sounds fantastic.

So, we've got one vote for free-form, one for 3.5, one for GURPS.

I honestly have no problem with running different systems for different people. Looks like that's the way I should do it.

How will you take into account the unbalanced races that players can use? Despite WoTC attempts to make races balanced, it simply cannot happen. In my opinion and experience, simply giving races different strengths and weaknesses, different stat bonuses/negatives makes some better than others. I think Dwarves in normal 3.5 are the most powerful base race, some will argue with that statement yes, but they have so much its amazing; most of it being really good and useful. Also everyone knows how cool humans can be. That extra feat can make or break certain class min/maxing builds. Even the skill points can be awesome depending on class or build.

Despite what I just said, its not important to me if you agree with my statement or not, I simply am more curious than anything as to how you will deal with this. Because it probably might become an issue or someone else might have asked about it.




 

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