Monday, August 22, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons: Living Forgotten Realms

This past Saturday was Living Forgotten Realms (LFR) play at my friendly local gaming store (FLGS).

Up until now, I've only been playing D&D Encounters, and while I have found those sessions to be a good welcome back introduction to the world of D&D, I've been looking for something with a bit more narrative meat to sink my RPG chops into. Thus, when I saw the post for LFR play up on the notice board at the FLGS, I promptly did a little research on the internet to see what LFR was all about.

Players across the country and world create Forgotten Realms characters per instructions on the D&D LFR webpage, and then bring their characters together to play LFR adventure modules at RPG convention events, FLGS open play sessions, or even home game play sessions, tracking and documenting their play and character advancement via D&D's RPGA/DCI system. The LFR adventure modules are designed for both new and veteran players to enjoy, and even within the module adjustments can be made for playing "low" or "high" - adjusting the difficulty down or up based on the experience and composition of the player group at hand to provide the most satisfying experience possible.

Now armed with a basic understanding of the goals and mechanics behind LFR, I decided to brave the LFGS on a Saturday morning and devote a few hours of play to adventure in the Forgotten Realms, one of my favorite sword-and-sorcery fantasy world settings of all time.

Not knowing who else would be there, nor what they would be playing, I generated a few different types of characters, including a couple of Leader archetypes as they always seem to be in short supply at any open gaming event, whereas there's always a glut of Strikers and Defenders aplenty. True to form, there was only one other Leader type present in a party of six, so I decided to sally forth as a Gnome Artificer named Itram. Accompanying my gnome on the quest du jour were a Goliath Templar, a Dragonborn Paladin, a Changeling Assassin/Arcanist hybrid, a Human Arcanist, and a Half-Elf Ranger.

The adventure module we played through was AGLA1-5 "Silver Lining" by Brad Gardner . The notation means that it was set in the Aglarond region,and is designed for play by a party of characters levels 1-5. The crux of the adventure's plot was thus - the commander of the Watchwall is looking for adventurers for a special mission into the Tannath Mountains. The Watchwall is always undermanned and the commander thinks he may have found some new recruits. But war, like politics, can make for strange bedfellows, as our mission is to accompany a lone goblin back to his village which was attacked and subdued by a band of marauding orcs. This adventure is the beginning of both the “Invisible Road” and “Circle of Stones” Major Quests.

The DM did a good job of guiding our little band through both skill checks and combat encounters, as well as essaying the scrappy little goblin's personality throughout the module. All in all, I have to say that my first LFR game session was a very satisfying experience, even if I was playing a Leader archetype, and a gnome at that. I really enjoyed the ability to play through multiple skill checks and combat encounters, as opposed to D&D Encounters where the play session is focused around one or two elements per session. The ability to tool around for more than a few hours in the game world helps the role playing aspect of the game, and made it more than the typical combat dice crunch D&D Encounters can sometimes fall into - though this season of Encounters being set in the Forgotten Realms has certainly had plenty of role play as well.

I think I'll keep my gnome artificer around for a while in the Living Forgotten Realms and see how far I can develop him in the game world. I'm also looking forward to the next LFR gameday two weekends from now, where I think I'm going to roll up a second higher level character to be able to participate in the high level adventure module doubleheader that usually follows the lower level module. All in all, it was and looks to be a good RPG experience ahead!

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