I really enjoy reading your blog, wizarddog. If you publish these 4E updates I'd like to get a copy.
I need to make a correction. The Adventure "Lady of the Lake" by Laura Ferguson appeared in Issue #5 of Dungeon Magazine and not Issue #1 as previously stated in error.
I like the concept of that skill challenge. Its a lot more interesting that what I've seen from the WotC challenges, specifically in how its open to more creative solutions. I'm not familiar with the plot of the module you're converting, so I'm not sure what the context is but the premise of the challenge is appealing.
I have to agree with you, in many cases skill challenges aren't all that exciting. Its more fun to just role play the situation and let the DM decide how well you succeeded.
The only place I have an interest in using the skill challenge mechanic is during combat. I like giving the players more things to worry about than parrying sword thrusts and ducking fireballs. I haven't seen enough modules with encounters that use them like that.
I recall a number modules from previous D&D games that had encounters with more going on, but I'm either missing them when I convert encounters or somehow I've avoided all the modules that had that opportunity.
Skill challenges can be troublesome at times to incorporate when just good honest roleplay and puzzle solving can do the trick. Unless you have a scenario in mind on what consequences players have if they fail to accomplish something, then a skill challenge becomes an artificial mechanic you impose. When I write adventures intended another to use, I usually give them the option of running certain encounters as skill challenges or just a skill check or roleplay it out.
As a player, I really don't like skill challenges that are too obvious. I am more than happy to roleplay out what I want to do and make the occasional skill roll. When you start having to count success or use other skills to accomplish the same goal when one should have done it, it becomes artificial in my view.
As you will see in part 2 I do have a very complex skill challenge prepared for the party on the quest as an option, but like you indicate, sometimes you leave them out. Skill challenges are not a necessity for a adventure despite what WOTC would want you to believe.
I'd like to see how you go about doing that. There's been a few adventures I've tried to update to the 4E mechanics. None so far back as 1E though, most were 3E and a couple 2E ones.
Generally I'd try to keep the story components the same, but rewrite the encounters to use 4E monsters. Which tends to involve creating a stack brand new monsters for use in the encounter. What this scheme lacks is a method of working in skill challenges, and as a result I tend to forget about them and leave them out.
After seeing the material in the actual books, I found some good stuff for beginning players that make it feel more like 1e. What is gone are the many choices you have on PC creation. That may be a better approach to get Players into the game. Too many choices can overwhelm beginners. I may experiment in giving 6th graders in the program exclusively the essential characters options while giving the 7th graders and 8th graders all of the options (8th graders learn how to DM and create their own adventures). When the program is up, we can see how fast the students can assimilate the game. Since it does not exclusively use just 4e (Starwars and other games will be utilized) we may find this "tier" system unwieldily and let those who master the system use what ever they want.
So how's it working out for the "after school" activities. What route did you go?
Silicrum is possibly. I could look into that.
Originally, one villain was a 3.5 Effigy Master. Part of the story is the duplicates are not completely capable of passing off as humans and are made with more mechanical parts. My campaign lends itself to a mesh of steampunk and merging of magic and technology. I used effigies before because they were low enough level (the original story was for about 6th-8th level PC's)
4e makes it pretty easy to design things the way you want them without going into formulas or explanations. If you take things directly from the book(s) you limit yourself as they don't give you a lot of inspiration as the 3.5 books do. I like to take what I can from the books and convert them to 4e powers and it works pretty well as long as you understand the mechanics (lack there of).
I will admit this. I can't honesty call 4e Dungeons and Dragons. Not in spirit. It's basically only by name. But its still a good system and its easy for my players to understand. I just recently played a 1e game last Saturday and it was different experience entirely.
But Wizards owns D&D and can do with whatever they want with it. But honesty, what did you expect from a company that makes Collectable Card games and Miniature games?
Sounds fun! except for the 4e part, as i personally prefer 3.x or 2e for more fun. But also, should you consider changing effigy to the maybe more fitting simulacrum?
lol nice recap. Sounds like you guys have our old Ravenloft DM.
This was basically and example of running many different roleplay stories for all the PC's. As the players went along, they discovered that the incidents they experienced were related in some way.
It helps also to have players that take the initaive with their PC's. If they simply ignore everything around them until it comes at them with a sword then your roleplaying with the wrong crowd.
But we don't have a druid in our group (I don't count Shar's boyfriend as he knows nothing about the game) so that is not an issue. Divine metamagic and radiant Servant of Pelor are know game unbalancers. And wizards in the rights hand are just nasty.
However the DM is aware of the power creep and has given all the martial PC's an extra feat. I took Many shot and had a field day firing off two arrows in a standard action. Had to keep reminding the DM it was standard (ready action and surprise round baby!)
Currently our weakest PC's are Captain Shar and Krunskin. Their tatics seem a bit off. Krunskin keeps forgetting to use power attack. He should realize that him hitting is not always what we need. We need damage done and his power attack is the best way to do that. Presonally, since he is now adiciple of pelor (beacus ehe neraly died) he should eb force to take a modified version of the Pious templar.
Captain Shar is too dependant on flanking and criticals which she never seems to confirm (unless she is charmed). I also think Shar wants her water mount to be almost like a animal companion but since she has not taken any animal handling skills to teach it tricks, I think its disingenius of her to have it act in that way.
The monk out performs them without even trying.
I'm no combat whiz either but I perform my function(s) well. I am the spotter, the trap monkey, the ranged combatant, the scout, and the sneaky guy. And if I do attack I can +5d6 to my damage. But I don't get a kick out of combat anyway.
It will be tricky in the next adventure to reunite the PC's. Garrit will be gone for 3 weeks and Professor Gray was gone for 2 and I may have new players joining. That means Garrit has to disappear while Professor Gray has to reappear after 1 week.
That's why it's very important to know backstories ahead of time.
LOL, I just found this. You forgot DRUIDS! Druids also overshadow every freaking person. Big nasty wildshaped druids with big nasty animal companions FTW!