Will D&D Essentials Ruin LFR?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 1, 2010

Love it or hate it, D&D Essentials is here to stay. Some of the changes presented in D&D Essentials are optional, however many are not. The Living Forgotten Realms (LFR) program is in the process of getting a makeover in order to adhere to the new core rules introduced with D&D Essentials. Some players like LFR as it is today and wouldn’t change a thing. Others have been grumbling about power-creep for some time. Perhaps these changes will address some of those concerns. But regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, be forewarned that change are in the works so get ready.

Earlier this week Greg Marks (posting as Skerrit) one of the Global Admins for LFR and one of the game designers behind such excellent 4e D&D products as Dungeon Delve, posted an article on the Wizards forums called Loot! in which he talks about changes coming soon to LFR.

One of the major changes the Globals are currently wrestling with is how we parcel out rewards to your valiant heroes once they conquer yet another adventure. In light of the changes we are beginning to see to magic items with the Essentials line, this becomes even more complicated. This blog discusses work in progress, so please feel free to comment in the forums, as we are definitely listening to your thoughts. Once we make a final decision on these issues, the next version of the CCG with all of our other changes will be available for you to comment on. This process if expected to be finished by the end of October.

The article is broken into three sections: Magic Items, Experience Points and Adventure Retirement. Within each section Skerrit shares the proposed changes forthcoming to LFR. The Magic Item section is by far the longest as he outlines seven possible proposals for how LFR will incorporate the new magic item classifications (common, uncommon and rare) introduced in D&D Essentials. The good news is that none of these proposals are set in stone. In fact, Skerrit asks readers to weigh in and share their thoughts on the matter. LFR is a gaming community. This is your chance as a member of that community to help shape it. I encourage everyone who plays LFR to read the Loot! article and leave a comment.

I’ve read over Skerrit’s article a few times now and for the most part I like the proposed changes. Proposal 2 to the Magic Items section clearly seems to be the way things are likely to go. Given the framework in which the admins had to work, this seems like a pretty fair way to do things. I wouldn’t be too disappointed if they adopted this as their final model.

However, that being said, I’d actually prefer to see proposal 3 be the way of the future. I know in my case I tend not to take too many treasure bundles early on, saving magic item slots for the higher level games. Proposal 3 seems to be the option that will give me the most wiggle room when I’m reequipping my existing PCs based on forthcoming changes.

When I asked Steampunked (our newest contributor and a hardcore LFR player) what he thought of these changes he had some very strong opinions on the matter.

All these proposals are too complex. LFR has already carefully moderated the number of magic items you can possess and no further changes are really needed.

All that’s necessary is to limit the number of rare items (one per tier is a good cap, as long as a system is in place to make it easy for players to get the rare item they really, really want), and declare that PCs cannot have duplicate uncommon items to prevent people who pack 20 Salves of Power.

Practically every item currently in the game is uncommon, most of these solutions amount to “taking away their toys” since many players have quite a collection of such items. At the same time, players like myself who carry around a bunch of low-level items simply for their daily powers could be said to be abusing the system now that the limit on daily item uses is gone.

Any option that forces players to sell back their items and retrofit their characters is a bad idea and too complex, though.

Moving past magic items, here are my thoughts on the other proposed changes. When it comes to Experience Points I really like the idea of removing point-by-point XP and replacing it with a much simpler system. Simply leveling after every 3 adventures will make record-keeping so much easier. It also means that as an XP monger I don’t have to play up as soon as it possible to do so. For example, when I hit level 4 I usually move into the level 4-7 band of adventures immediately and play high (in which the monsters and XP are set for level 6-7 PCs). This way I get the most XP as quickly as possible. With the new proposed simplification I can enjoy sitting at the top of the 1-4 band a little bit longer and be the big fish in the small pond for a little while longer.

Before reading Skerrit’s article it hadn’t occurred to me that some of the existing adventures might need to be changed, rewritten or retired. In the Adventure Retirement section he explains why some of the adventures may need adjustment or straight out retirement. The reasoning is pretty clear and makes a lot of sense to me so I have no objections. After all, if you’ve got copies of the old adventures as they were originally published you can still play them or reference them in your home game, you just won’t be able to play them as officially sanctioned games any more.

After reading all of the proposed changes, what are your thoughts? I encourage everyone who plays LFR or who thinks they might be interested in playing LFR to check out Skerrit’s article Loot! and join the discussion. You can also leave your comments here. I’m going to post my comments on the Wizards site and I’ll link back here to ensure everyone’s opinions are heard.

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1 Gilvan Blight October 1, 2010 at 10:57 am

I think it’s interesting to note that the Patherfinder Society uses the level up after X adventures system over XP. It’s actually something that made me consider starting up a Society locally.

A link to the posts in question would be nice.

I really don’t like the fact that we don’t find out what is really happening until Late October. I run RPGA events pretty much every other Saturday and I’m already having players with multiple complaints due to Essentials. I think quicker responses from the organizers is a must or we will start looking players.

2 j October 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

well, i feel like essentials is kind of ruining dnd altogether not just lfr

3 Lahrs October 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

With all the proposed changes, it might be time to admit Essentials is 4.5, but I am getting much more comfortable with the Essentials line so it doesn’t bother me, just wish for some recognition.

Still, my gripes and questions are not with 4.0 or 4.5, but with some of the proposals, though I understand everything is up in the air at the moment and it seems they are just kicking around ideas. Despite being stated as a LFR issue, whatever is chosen will become standard across the two. It would seem like a disaster if the rules between home, module and LFR were different in execution.

The one concern I have is with the XP vs. encounters issue. First, I use the X encounters until level in my home games, so I do like the idea. In LFR and Encounters for that matter, I like to give out small XP rewards to reward people for trying new things, in particular role playing. With the nature of LFR and the ever changing groups, I like having that tool to encourage team play, role playing and the like, especially with newer people to the game or people shy to try things around new party members.

If this were to happen, what do you guys think would be a fair reward to get people excited to try new things?

4 Ameron October 1, 2010 at 6:41 pm

@Gilvan Blight
The article is called “Loot!” and the link is: http://community.wizards.com/lfr/blog/2010/09/27/loot!
For some reason WordPress won’t add the examination point to the URL. Without it, the link is broken.

I provided a link in the second paragraph of my article, but since the title of the Skarret’s article happens to be so short it’s understandable that you missed it.

You’re certainly not alone. I’ve read a lot of articles on why people dislike D&D Essentials. I haven’t seen enough of the new material in play yet so I’m going to reserve judgement. The good news is that if you don’t like D&D Essentials you can always choose to ignore those rules at your own game table.

I like the idea of scrapping actual Experience Points in favour of play 3 games and level because more often that not that’s how I run my home games. I think it might work for LFR, but I agree that it shouldn’t become the way all D&D is run. Use it for LFR and use it (or not) in your home game, but leave the XP rules as they are currently printed in the PHB and DMG.

5 Ameron October 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm


There is a lively discussion going on over on the Wizards forums. It seems like I’ve stirred up a bit of a storm with this post. Read all about it here.

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