So what now?
Not as much LFR. I feel less cranky about the campaign than I did when Susan and I talked it over before Christmas, which is when we made the initial decision to cut back. On the other hand, I’d bet that part of my good cheer is that decision itself, so revisiting it doesn’t seem either wise or necessary. I’m glad to be stepping back in a good mood rather than a pissy one.
2010 was a very poor year for the campaign. I enjoyed it a lot personally, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the rate of new content dropped alarmingly. Even worse, there were almost no new mods for private play. Private play was a very important part of the success of the campaign, and cutting off legal private play hurt badly. As a nasty side effect, this encouraged people to blow off the restrictions on private play and start breaking the rules. With no real enforcement available (or perhaps even desirable), this meant all the rules started to seem less important.
This combined poorly with a serious communication issue. I appreciate everything the globals do; I also think they, as a whole, are not skilled community managers. Which hey – I’m not either. But it is absolutely awful when one of your global admins is bitching about how poorly the players treat him. Here, read the MMO take on it. All of that is relevant except the volunteer note, since some of our admins are pure volunteers – but let us not grow confused about what it means that WotC isn’t spending money on the campaign.
One of the other more cheery things in the last month is, however, improved communication, which is nice. While not all deadlines are getting met, they’re getting better about communicating the issues at hand. Probably not coincidentally, the campaign has control over new module distribution. My uneducated hypothesis is that the admins had, for most of 2010, very little control over the mechanical process of releasing content and that this generated a lot of frustration. If this is accurate, the new livingforgottenrealms.com is helping a lot.
Organization has also been better. DDXP came off very well this year, although eyeballed attendance was down. Nonetheless, the BI was done before the show, people got modules in time to prepare, and the story was interesting and most forum reports were good. I was mentally prepared for a disappointing, semi-chaotic DDXP, and it wound up being quite the opposite.
This leaves me looking at 2011 and thinking that I can take my LFR when I feel like it and leave it alone otherwise. Our primary characters, Reed and Faral, hit level 19 at DDXP. We still don’t plan on playing the epic any time soon (more on this later), which means they have four or so adventures left before they leave paragon play behind. We’d like to make three of those the upcoming Waterdeep adventures, and one is probably the end of the Tyranny arc. That is pretty much OK. I have a level 16 character who could do P2 and P3 content, but Susan doesn’t, which means paragon play won’t be a big feature of our gaming time.
We do have plenty of heroic level play in us. Whether or not we do a lot of it in practice – well, we’ll have to see if we ever get down to the Monday night Columbia game.
I also intend to run semi-regularly, because I like it. I am still looking for the sweet spot between creating a challenge and overpowering players.