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I bet you have all been here....

I bet you have all been here....


I've been an off and on, mostly off, DnD3.5 player for a few years now, never real serious, but me and my friends have gotten serious about regular play, hell I even got my wife playing. I have always had some ideas for a campaign/adventure, which who doesn't, so I became the appointed DM for my group 2-4 PC's depending on the night. I joined this site to help me with some quick ideas and quick NPC creation. My main issue is that I want this to be a campaign setting that lasts years but my PC's are chewing through storyline and I'm begining to question the depth of my storyline-my problem not yours. Along with this issue I'm struggling with how to keep my PC's happy and stretch out their leveling/experience. I know that I could just award less XP to take longer to level but that seems like a cop-out and its kinda boring and makes it force-fully long, currently they have just reached Lvl. 4 after about +/-30 hrs of play, thats just the time we've dedicated to turning our normal hang time to DnD so not all DnD grind in those hrs. So I guess what I'm saying is how do I keep PC's happy, keep me from writing a 1000 pages of story literally, and have a campaign setting that lasts and eventually have PC's that one day are in reality years old. If I allow my players to have multipule characters,which is fine, then I can't let my players be at Lvl. 6,9,12 or whatever and re-roll a Lvl. 1 that is involved in the same adventure....or can I? and all my creative jucies are currently dedicated to this current campaign/adventure. I'm not sure if I can maintain 2,3,4 in-depth adventures interesting, meaning actually having a good storyline and not just grinding on goblins and undead for that artifact in the dungeon that no one really knows why there after it or how it got there. Hopefully I explained my situation well enough for you to understand, and any advice or thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks for reading,

Just run with it. D&D advances quickly. VERY quickly. You can expect a three hour session to grant at least one level, possibly more. Which means if you get an hour average in a week... level twenty should come along in about a year and two months.

Some game designers criticize D&D for such a fast advancement system. Others outright make fun of them. And others love it that way, saying quite emphatically that if they wanted to grind for six months to level up, they'd be playing an MMO.

You could also go over to Pathfinder and look at their SRD... it's (mostly) 3.5 compatible- a lot of people call it 3.75 or 3.P- and it offers a variety of xp-per-level charts so that you can pick the one you want.

I would also suggest having an open discussion with your players, about where they want the game to go, if you haven't already.
Communication is the key!

In addition to what TanaNari and Xaviien said I wouldn't worry about the depth of the story-line to much. Just keep notes so you can keep things consistent and once the current goal is reached you can always go back and pick up something else your players passed by. (What were the consequences of ignoring <problem> anyway?) You'll see your world and story gain depth quite naturally as things progress. And don't be afraid of side quests. That city-watch captain your players upset, well maybe he turned it into something personal and is trying to ruin your players good reputation, how will they solve that? Will they even care? What happens if they ignore it?

I am personally a fan of slow xp, low magic item density settings involving epic tales that in the end actually define the character. In order for the depth of character development to be there it simply has to be what most folks consider fairly slow (IMHO). There are some amazing players that can fill out a character and make small sets of posts into an amazing thing in short order, but mostly it takes quite a while. If you let the campaign go fast, even if the players say or think that is what they want, the investment and immersion usually suffer and then when a meta-crisis happens the hooks of the various characters and the story are not set deep enough in the flesh of the players (or yourself as the GM). The reward should be the play itself. People should want to play, to post, to sit around the table, often. As long as you have that everything else will follow.

A good storyteller can off the cuff an adventure, especially sidetracks, while still maintaining a steady progress or just bystander point of view on the main plotline. Don't discount the advantages of player-driven plots. Have your timeline advance in the background with or without player involvement and allow them to pursue their own goals and time swallowing sidetracks will naturally occur. Breath as much life as you can into the ad-hoc scenarios while still presenting the background events the characters are privy to via rumor, research, encounter information, etc. Invent or plan tie-ins for some of the sidetracks back to the main plot and also include a fair amount of red herrings. You want the characters to strive for their place on the stage of events. They have to want to and they have to work at it. It's no fun just having players drift along indecisively while you keep adding energy to the situation. That will drain you in no time.

I award different experience to each player based on an understood set of rewards. This fosters competition. Some folks are motivated by promoting their image and others by fear of being left behind. Some have anger they wish to express and they seek to put themselves where they can do so. Varying xp gets a lot of fires burning. Be very careful though what you say to anyone and everyone and keep xp rewards a private thing as much as possible. You do not want that to get personal between you and a player, and it can. If you have clear biases you are aware of mitigate that by letting the players choose their favorite player and the player that performed best and award those categories bonus xp.

It is no cop-out whatsoever to make a good thing last longer. Most people approve of that. Keep magic item proliferation low and have the items you do allow be consumables, only situationally useful, and items the character truly had to work and think and quest for to fully realize their potential. These build story, don't over inflate the world, and actually end up making players appreciate what they get more. NEVER EVER sell magic items in a huge all encompassing shop. That is so non story oriented. Have small specialist shops if that which are choosy about their clientele, or require more than just money, or deal in stolen goods, etc. All of that is story building!

Just a few ideas ... Good Luck!

I know that I, especially when playing face to face, find myself making up things on the go. One of your best sources for a plot can actually come from your players. Listen to their banter and speculation about what is happening or who the bad guy is.

Some of my most memorable games in RPing have come from a player making an off hand comment about something. For some reason I see potential in it and twist it so is interesting.

The system I use is a little more friendly to this because everything is based on straight percentages but its still possible if you have a good knowledge of your system and a good GM screen.

Back in the welcome thread you asked me to relate a story on how I made what would of been a boring hack and slash segment into something more exiting and this is it.

I was running a game whit a few friends in RL when it came to a point in which they were put in charge of preparing a cities defenses against a drow attack. The party Rouge while preparing for the attack was watching the people who were being moved into the city and discovered the presence of an albino drow spy. So he starts to torture the drow and finds out that it was to meet with the leader in the runes not far from the city. So naturally being his power-gaming self he only decides to bring the ranger along while he gos disguised as the drow to meet the commander. I think that he was assuming that there would only be a few drow and that he and the ranger would be able to take out the leader. Well anyway his mind was changed when her guards popped up behind him. I'm pretty sure he didn't think that these runes would be the main staging grounds for the attack and when he found out I saw him shit a brick. Well anyway he quickly gave up on his plan for attack and switched into survival mode and made it out. He then proceeded to completely wreck the invading army when he was able to poison the ridding spiders that they had brought with them, these things had a + 23 against poison and he poisons every single one of them.

Well anyway if you want your guys to step back, evaluate a situation, or perhaps make them roleplay more then put them in a situation in which regular hack and slash stupidity will kill someone and of course more roleplaying equals a slower game.

Oh ya then he decided to go talk to the queen herself disguised as the commander. To punish this I was going to have him attempt the trial of spiders at which time I regretted giving him that amulet of recall.

Bring your campaign to a close with a huge, epic, tear holes in reality / end worlds / wreck time / murder gods / cats and dogs living together in harmony style madness ending right around the time you think their character power levels are getting unwieldy. When they're left gasping for breath at the sheer scale of defiled innocence, property destruction, and pork futures price fluctuation, announce that the prologue to the story is over, you're going to take a break for two weeks to recharge your batteries, and then begin chapter 1.

Then fake your death, change your name and skip town.

When the PC's get too high level to play in the world (not everyone is comforable with running high level characters), let the PC's settle down and have children. Then the players get to roll up those kids at level 1 with a much better backstory and a few bennies (heirloom +3 weapon, dad's old spellbook, etc.) and start over.

I've always thought e6 looked like it was suited for more long term gaming. Your characters never get past lvl 6 (just more feats), so they have to work harder to achieve more.


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