How does your TDE campaign work?

Brooding Paladin
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How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Brooding Paladin » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:53 pm

Veteran D&D and Pathfinder GM here and as I delve into the books and plan for a future TDE campaign, I'm seeing a clear difference and, despite 30+ years of GMing, I'm a little nervous. With the limited range of monsters and the lethality of them as well, some of my traditional approaches to building encounters and plot lines may not work as well.

So how do y'all usually do it? Heavy faction-based interaction with intrigue and diplomacy? Focus on combat with other humans with the occasional monster thrown in for variety? Exploration-based campaigns competing with rival adventuring groups? If you will, give me a feel for the focus of your campaign and how you keep it fresh. Thanks!

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Bosper
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Bosper » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:27 am

Faction based interaction and exploration usually is the main part of it.

Our last campaing, based on a bought module, was 90% intrigue and diplomacy, trying to gain influence in the city state of al'anfa, mixed with occasional exploration of mythical places.

Before that we had a few classical dungeon adventures in ancient tulamidian tombs (which werent that interesting, since without knowledge where to go, the question "where do you go at this cross section" is completely meaningless, it could have been a corridor of rooms with the same effect, which made it feel way too linear and forced)

The typical TDE adventure is
Faction/Person A wants you to retrieve Object/Person B . Find out information about B at places C and D , where you have first contact with rivaling Faction / Creature / People E (+F+G+H) until you realise your goal is at hidden location I where you try to beat E-H until you trigger the true Danger J of the Place at which point you either are a bit exhausted beating your competition or have to team up with them. Or get chased by it until you find McGuffin K to beat J.
Returning to A bringing him B , A will explain Bs connection to bigger issue L which again will lead to the whole chain of events


The opposition will mostly be human. Orks are also a great enemy, since their wit and culture makes them a great competition in bigger schemes. But thats only applicable in the north.
You often can mix the humans with some beasts and creatures. At first maybe dogs, later demonoids, undead, demons or (not so) tamed bigger beasts.
Both orks and humans can be equipped with a vast array of abilities to make it interesting.

But fighting as many different monsters as possible, really isnt the focus of the game. Its more about the world and interaction with it, its people and lore. (Still there is nothing against an occasional "hunt the vampire/werewolf" stories)

Morgoth
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Morgoth » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:13 pm

Brooding Paladin wrote:Veteran D&D and Pathfinder GM here and as I delve into the books and plan for a future TDE campaign, I'm seeing a clear difference and, despite 30+ years of GMing, I'm a little nervous. With the limited range of monsters and the lethality of them as well, some of my traditional approaches to building encounters and plot lines may not work as well.

So how do y'all usually do it? Heavy faction-based interaction with intrigue and diplomacy? Focus on combat with other humans with the occasional monster thrown in for variety? Exploration-based campaigns competing with rival adventuring groups? If you will, give me a feel for the focus of your campaign and how you keep it fresh. Thanks!


Buy some of the 'Heroic Works' modules on Drivethur, they are cheap but give you plenty of ideas to farm. They are also good. I also recommend 'Revelations of Heaven'; its a full on adventure module aimed at new players and gives you a good idea of TDE's 'expected' mode of play.

I would also add that combat is deadly, but not as deadly as you might think. That is, a party of PCs made of fighting type professions can be very formidable right off the gate as I just found out recently in the game I run; TDE PCs don't grow by leaps and bounds like other games but they do start out quite experienced in their own specialty/profession. A freshly generated TDE Mercenary is a veteran of many fights, not a red cheeked farm boy who picked up a sword just yesterday

Also equipment makes a heck of a difference, including armor and the like.

Thrar
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Thrar » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:12 am

Different game systems have their strengths and weaknesses depending on what sort of story you're looking to experience. One big difference in the comparison to D&D is that D&D is an asymmetric system (different rules for PCs and random commoners, e.g. class levels), while TDE is a symmetric system (generally same rules apply to everyone in the world).

In my experience, D&D tends to create characters that work a bit like fantasy superheroes. Characters scale very fast and there is a clear difference in power level between a PC or NPC with class levels and a commoner without. In my view, this is great for zero-to-hero stories or anything where the characters regularly take on heroic tasks that no commoner could even dream of, but less suitable for more down to earth challenges that could be solved easily with a handful of high-level abilities.

By contrast, scaling in TDE is much slower if you follow the recommended starting AP and AP per session. The characters grow and develop their skills, but even after dozens of adventures they're still just people who live within the world and its constraints.
Because the power level between PCs and NPCs (even commoners) is relatively even, you can take inspiration from historical or literary sources that are set on earth or in a similar world, without having to worry too much about level scaling or power dynamics. If you want the group to get attacked by tigers in the jungle, you can do that at 1100AP as well as at 1500AP, just add an extra tiger or two at the high end or make the tigers a little more ferocious. The same applies for most challenges.

If you're unsure where to start, try to imagine the characters as regular people in the 15th-16th century with perhaps a few unusual specializations. You can even drop the magic at first if you want to keep it simple. Think of an interesting adventure scenario for these people, and fill in the details from there.
The bestiary is a bit thin, but you can take the existing creatures and adjust them as needed, for example to turn the jaguar into a lion. Humanoid creatures you can roughly base on the PCs' own stats since they use the same rules, simply move them up or down a little depending on how experienced that NPC is supposed to be.

Brooding Paladin
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Brooding Paladin » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:29 pm

All very helpful responses. Thank you!!

I realize I should have also asked: how do you reward your players? I get they earn APs for completing certain goals, etc. But given the limited nature of magic (which I'm all for!), what do you typically include in a treasure parcel? Coins, better armor, better swords, artwork, jewelry...that about it?

Thrar
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Thrar » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:41 am

On AP/XP, I've tried many different models in different games over the years. In my TDE group, we eventually settled on a flat amount of AP per session to keep things simple and avoid debates over why this week we got less AP than last week, or why player A didn't get a bonus for that cool thing she did, etc.

In our group, it's generally been 10AP per session (every other week, ~6 hours game time) to spend freely, plus 6 AP to only spend on skills that saw significant use during the past session. Occasionally we add on a bonus 5-10 AP when achieving a major goal, and that's it.
For us this results in a nice progression where every session you can get some improvements, or you can save up for 2-3 sessions and get something bigger like an attribute increase or a cool special ability.

In-game, some form of monetary reward helps to make sure the characters don't need to worry about their everyday expenses too much (unless you're looking for that type of play), but beyond that to me it's just numbers on a piece of paper. The same goes for improved equipment beyond list values; the numbers are higher, but they're not really anything new or different. Chances are before long you'll just find yourself in an arms race with the GM who needs to toughen up the opposition to keep giving you a challenge.
I think it's much more interesting to provide some non-numerical incentive, such as membership in an exclusive group, the favor of a powerful person or organization, or an item with unusual properties. Our group is nearing 1600 AP (starting at 1100) and their equipment is largely standard stuff, but they have made connections all over the continent, witnessed a miracle, ridden a dragon, got blessed by the head of a church, and a bunch of other things. They also just recently acquired their first permanently blessed weapons because we're dealing with a lot of demons, and even though those weapons carry some interesting properties, numerically they're barely better than the listed equipment.

Brooding Paladin
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Brooding Paladin » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:15 pm

Again, very helpful. I really like your AP pacing. Thank you, Thrar.

I'm wondering if my usual group can make the transition. Occasionally finding the magic item has become such a standard expectation that this will be really different. I prefer what everyone is outlining here, so it's exciting, but we'll really have to make some adjustments.

I think I will really work on a way to pay attention to the wear and tear on normal items, as well, so occasionally finding a sword in much better condition will feel like some kind of reward as well.

Thanks for all the great input.

Denshi
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Denshi » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:47 pm

Brooding Paladin wrote:I think I will really work on a way to pay attention to the wear and tear on normal items, as well, so occasionally finding a sword in much better condition will feel like some kind of reward as well.

If by chance you have the Aventurian Armory there are rules for wear and tear in that book (page 114 in my German edition), but feel free to roll your own.

Brooding Paladin wrote:Occasionally finding the magic item has become such a standard expectation that this will be really different.

You could give them an occasional magic item with a limited number of uses (for examples see core rules page 269). Keep in mind though that canonical Aventuria is a low-magic setting and those items are rare and quite expensive.

Thrar
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Thrar » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:29 pm

I do think it would be good to have a conversation with the group about character scaling. If they are expecting a high-scaling game where their characters will become demigods or at least legendary heroes beyond the capacity of any mortal they may be a bit disappointed. There are people who play TDE this way (I've seen someone advocate that 2,000 AP is midrange at best and 5,000 AP is where characters start to reach the high end), but you'll need to hand out much higher AP amounts than the official material suggests and might not be able to make much use of modules or the metaplot.

Denshi wrote:
Brooding Paladin wrote:Occasionally finding the magic item has become such a standard expectation that this will be really different.

You could give them an occasional magic item with a limited number of uses (for examples see core rules page 269). Keep in mind though that canonical Aventuria is a low-magic setting and those items are rare and quite expensive.

I would handle this the same way. Aventuria is still a fantasy setting so magic is expected, but I don't think it should be so commonplace that it starts to feel normal. Items with 1-3 uses give you the opportunity to hand out cool effects, even overpowered ones, and let the group decide how to use them for maximum effect without getting into an arms race with yourself. In my mind, scaling happens mainly on character abilities, not so much on what equipment is available.

A magic weapon that just does more a bit damage doesn't really feel magic to me. It works the same as a normal weapon, just a little better. In my mind, a magic item that actually feels magical should be something that brings something completely new or different to the group. Perhaps that's a magic lamp that can summon a genie to perform 3 services, a single-use potion with a spell-equivalent (or other) effect of your choice, or even a weapon that can transform into a flaming sword once per month. Anything goes!

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Lambert
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Re: How does your TDE campaign work?

Postby Lambert » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:44 am

I have been meaning to reply to this for a while but never found the time. So I am running a game in the Warring Kingdoms. I have moved the Turnip Harvest, the Witch's Dance and Revelations from Heaven, as well as a Beyond the Wall Adventure I had lying around into Elderdonk, the village deep in the forest wilderness. That has resulted in a complex village with a lot of history where lots of intruiges are going on and a ton for the people to discover. Clearly I intertwined backgrounds, shifted things along and slightly changed reasons behind the adventure (it's no longer the Bornland awakening, but instead bleed over from a faerie realm that messes with the lay lines and the turnips etc.).

Overall I am going for a grim faery tale kinda feel. Monsters are monsterous and not just something that you can know. If there is a troll in the woods, you better spend some time researching the local tales, discover why the beast is here and be prepared, rather than go, ah troll let's bring some oil and or acid and we will be fine.


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