Thoughts on Ultimate D&D part 1

Now that Ultimate D&D 2011 has tickets officially on sale, I can't stop thinking about it. As you read on, bear in mind that this is a work in progress. I am open to hearing comments from those who are thinking of attending-

The dates are October 4-9, that's arrival on Tuesday and checkout on Sunday AM. That means four solid days of roleplaying. My plan is to set it up so I have minimal work duties, if any at all. I would really like to take a week off for this essentially.

There are eight chairs at the table. Right now, I plan on having two assistant DMs.

As a DM I like to create a world that is very difficult. I gain no pleasure in simply killing off characters, but I do very much like to see a party stretched to the limit. Parties that bicker or backstab tend to not last long. I gear encounter difficulty accordingly: if you do not work together as an eight-part machine you are likely to get torn apart. So my main concern is getting a group who will operate cooperatively. Players who like to run off solo or do random stuff for no apparent reason are likely to end up not so well.

What if your character dies? Naturally, it's no good to pick up a ticket then sit it out. I will have plenty of opportunities to pick up an NPC or for backup characters to be introduced. In Lolth's domain there are things worse than death... I often see death as simply one thing on a list of "changes" that can happen to a character, all of which become part of an enriching tale; curses, transformations, and setbacks.

Players will make two or more characters. As the party forms up

I plan on creating a backstory and sending it out ahead of time. Part of that includes a synopsis of what the party will have gone through already (in G1-3 and D1-3). I will very likely give a list of equipment to "purchase" or choose from that represents all the various items to be picked up through those adventures. I imagine that a party would have been changed quite a bit through hundreds of miles of the underdark. Or possibly there will be a master list that the party will have to distribute amongst themselves at the beginning, with two or three personal items chosen from the broader spectrum of published items.

I will definitely allow PC-type races from the Underdark. I would prefer that most of the party be heroic types of standard Player's Handbook fare. We are after all trying to capture a little of the magic of D&D in the 80s. Should I limit races and classes to the classics? Maybe I will!

It is highly likely that I will limit character creation to a core set of books. I already ran a campaign where I allowed every class, race and power from the entire genre and it was fun but certainly out of control. Which ones should I use?

At the same time, taking a few personalized items, possibly key or powerful ones is very much part of making a character. I imagine that at least a few participants will want to reincarnate a beloved character from previous campaigns. My main concern is keeping power level even. It's no fun to be the guy whose turn takes ten seconds because he doesn't have very many options. I want everyone to be in the mix.

I plan on using the original module only as a guide, making up my own stuff. I want to capture the essence of the original module and if it can be done, that sense of wonder that early modules evoked. Be warned, I don't even look at the formulaic guides for making encounters. I will look at the party's roster and make sure that things are of appropriate challenge level. But not tailoring encounters for or against (well maybe a little of that just to spice it up). I like to make rich, textured encounters with a lot going on then step back and say "I wonder how they will handle that?"

Miniatures and terrain figure prominently into the works. That's what puts the "Ultimate" in Ultimate D&D (well, the loads of great food, too). We'll be making a custom figure for every character, at least one per player. I doubt there will be less than 200 painted figures to represent every single monster and NPC in the entire adventure, including some amazing stuff. And of course the final encounter against Lolth herself!

The number one rule is: reeeeelax. If you're particular about your D&D then this is probably not for you. This is a casual group.



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