Dungeons & Dragons 4e has been out for over a year now and I finally pulled my Dungeon’s Master Guide off the shelf and put it to use. As our regular DM was out of town, I stepped up to the plate and ran a Dungeon Delve.
I’ve never been a big fan of pre-generated adventures before. I prefer to write my own story full of plot hooks, intrigue, adventure and combat. I find that modules work best to introduce the PCs and the DM to a new rule set. As all the encounters are preset, everyone can focus on making sure that they understand the mechanics. The DM doesn’t need to worry about balancing encounters and can use what’s provided in the module as a template for building future adventures.
So it was with some hesitation that I cracked open the Dungeon Delve and selected an adventure to run. I suppose I could have created a small adventure from scratch, but between work and family I didn’t have the time. Now the first thing I have to say is that the Dungeon Delve rocks for its simplicity in running adventures. Everything that you need to run an entertaining adventure is right there in front of you. That’s all I want to say about the Dungeon Delve as it’s been out for awhile now and it’s been reviewed plenty. If you’re interested you can read a review here or here.
What I want to talk a little further about is the experience of being the DM in D&D 4e. My first impression is that it was extremely enjoyable. The layout of monster stat blocks makes running the NPCs very easy and intuitive. All the information is there for you, a quick glance provides you with all you need to know about the monster key stats and attacks.
The aspect of 4e I found most frustrating to track were conditions. On both NPCs and PCs. From my perspective I wanted to ensure that anything the PCs did was tracked and that conditions were enforced properly. For the PCs, I wanted to ensure that no cheating or laziness was at work. Now I should mention that my group uses MapTools, which has a robust macro system allowing us to track conditions. I had decided ahead of time that I would do my best to remind players of conditions the first time they were applied and after that would leave it to them to track. Even with these two systems in place I found that conditions were being missed, ongoing damage wasn’t always applied and saving throws were constantly not getting rolled.
I’m not sure if this was a result of too many conditions being applied or too many jokes being tossed around. Either way keeping track of the conditions, one of the aspects I love about 4e, proved to be the most difficult part of running the Delve.
Now I should qualify that remark. While it was the most difficult part of running the delve, that difficulty probably rated a 3 out of 10 on the difficulty scale of running a session as a DM. So not really very difficult.
What does this mean? It means that after a year and half of not DMing, jumping back into a new edition as a DM was simplicity itself. I actually got such a kick out of running the Delve that I’ve already planned another one for the next time our regular DM isn’t available.
What have your experiences been in running 4e sessions? Have you encountered any difficulties in tracking conditions or with other aspects of the mechanics?