Well Fan Expo has come and gone leaving me a little fatigued. I didn’t get to play in any games which was slightly disappointing, but I was pretty drained after running each slot. I ended up just wandering the show floor numb, awash in a sea of people with questionable hygiene while feeling smothered and suffocated by the critical-mass of humanity. Although I would never ever do it, but fuck I love the cosplay. I am totally blown away by what people are able to do these days from fat Jedi’s and Han Solo’s to sexy Harley Quinn’s to the weird Anime shit. Also who the hell would have thought that Draco Malfoy would have such an insane following? I mean 40$ a pop and the dude is constantly sold out at his appearances, like really what the fuckaticus?
Both my games went really well and were a lot of fun. I had 4 players the first day and 6 the second day, with the majority of them being noobs who just walked by and decided to try D&D out. I really enjoyed teaching the game to new players despite the extra work required at the table. I also found that some collaborative storytelling worked really well with them partly due to their not being as entrenched in the player role as others with more experience might be. It was also helpful because they wanted to do some crazy shit so it was easier to just say “wow that’s cool tell me what should happen”. Two of the noobs from the Friday game asked to keep their pre-gens so they could come back and play the next day because they had so much fun. There was also a teenager (I only say teenager because he had no idea who Jeff Spicoly was which then made me feel older than dirt) in the Saturday game who just kept shaking my hand and telling me how blown away he was and that this was something he needed to continue with. This made me feel really good and was worth more than any free pass.
As for Living Divine, the reviews were mixed but largely skewed to quite positive and people had a really good time. I found that the noobs really liked the idea of being gods. At the start of the adventure when I asked them what kind of deity would they be? Would they be benevolent and a force for good, peace and harmony in the world, or would they be malevolent dick bags that sowed chaos, destruction, and suffering? Or perhaps they would be something in between? I have to say that I was surprised by how many of the noobs seized on the whole malevolent dick bags angle and really went for some crazy and in some cases creepy shit, but that’s a tale for another post. But it does bring up an interesting thing regarding the campaign as is being evil an option? They have domains for such things but the story rewards for the modules were for mostly being good or heroic. Also I am pretty sure this has the potential go PVP pretty quickly as I could see the seeds of it at the table. In a way I think the noobs were not aware of the tacit social contract of a living campaign in that you’re generally the good guys. I think in my Saturday game we had a true Pantheon going with some Lawful Good, Chaotic Good/Erotic (there was some ball grabbing), true Neutral, and Chaotic Evil.
The feedback wasn’t all positive as there were some concerns about balance, there being a lot to keep track of, feeling the way magic items are handled might be too restrictive to players, and one person commented that the system was a bit of a “schizophrenic mess”. I think only time well tell on a lot of these things as the campaign progresses up through the levels of play and you can see how things shake out and what will be issues or non-issues. The module that I ran didn’t make use of the mass combat system, but one person I was talking to said that the table he was at agreed to stop in the middle of the mass combat because it was frustrating and they weren’t having much fun with it. In fairness, I don’t think this was everyone’s experience as this was the only incident I heard about.
My advice for DM’s who are going to run this stuff is to make sure you prepare and think about how you’re going to handle certain things. In my mod there was a logic puzzle, divine traits to keep track of, and a non-combat encounter that could be tricky to play out. I found it to be a little more labor intensive than a lot of LFR mods I have run and I think if you kind of just wing it then there is the potential for the experience to be a little flat or crappy, particularly if your also doing something like the mass combat. For myself, I think a lot of the extra bits would push me away from playing and DMng in this campaign, particularly given the low frequency I make use of other live play events like LFR. For example, if I have some free time and want to run this at the FLGS or even a con, on top of the 4e rule set (which is not insignificant) I feel I also have to know the mechanics for divine talents, domains, and manifestations, mechanics for followers, and mechanics for mass combat, but your mileage might very and I know a lot of people like added complexity and options.
I am not sure if Living Divine has the broad appeal of something like LFR or even Ashes of Athas, but I defiantly think it has a niche and that a lot of people will have fun with it. But don’t just take my opinion on it, visit their site and read the materials then go out and play in it and make up your own mind….and then come back and flame me 😉