Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Remember D&D modules? Which one reminds you of Mists' Plot?

Reading through the "Zones & Dungeons - Game Guide" for MoP today, I was strangely reminded of my days playing AD&D.  The progression seems very linear.  Levels 85-86, Jade Forest wilderness and, after enough wandering, the Temple of the Jade Serpent.  Finish this (or gain enough XP to continue), and you're over to the Valley of the Four Winds and Stormstout Brewery.  A few more levels and you find yourself pushed by your DM into the Krasarang Wilds...

I don't beta, so I could be completely off, but whenever we played AD&D, I always got the feeling that we were being pushed to the end by our Dungeon Master -- except when I was DM, in which case there certainly were times I was pushing folks closer to the fancy end-module showdowns.  If a party spends too long on the throw-away portions, they'll 1.) likely miss the end game because you've played all night and the sun's coming back up and 2.) they'll eventually be too powerful to have fun at the end by gaining too much XP.  I guess 2.) is why we have level caps.

There were a few times I'd really slow things down, like in In The Dungeons of the Slave Lords, where folks started with nothing, had to make slings from small strips from their loincloths, and I didn't want them to miss the magic sword in the cloudy pool (iirc) that turned them invisible (and made the balance of the escape much easier).  "Are you sure you've searched everywhere?"

But for something like Ravenloft, perhaps the best (or more accurately, arguably, the most over-engineered) module created for the game, there was so much well-planned branching and random action that you eventually had to push your party to finish up or they'd play forever.  In fact, the module recognized that it had too much content, and was designed with instructions on how to slowly force them to do so. But its replayability was remarkable.

Mists sounds more Slave Lords than Ravenloft.  I'm not sure either is necessarily better, but I would bet, after Wrath's somewhat stiltedly painful double tracked level progressions, the first is much much easier to create.

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