Hard Boiled Pixels!

June 24, 2009

It’s happening. Justin’s going to edit, looks like. Also, I might do layout myself since Fred’s busy with his new kid (congrats, Fred!). Here’s the first few paragraphs:

INTRODUCTION: Return to the Early-Mid 90s

This is a handbook for creating Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in the style of 16-bit, isomorphic console RPGs, specifically those released in the 1990s for the Super Nintendo and more recent offerings for the Gameboy Advance.

Primary inspirations include The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Nintendo: 1991), Secret of Mana (Square: 1993), Final Fantasy IV (Square: 1994), Chrono Trigger (Square: 1995), Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Square: 2003), The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Capcom/Flagship: 2004), and the recent re-release of Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls (Square Enix/Nintendo: 2004). If your favorite console RPGs are not on this list, hopefully you will still find the guidelines and options in this handbook helpful in designing a 4E campaign that equals or surpasses your best memories of playing console games.

This handbook was put together during the process of co-designing and playing my current 4E campaign, Doppeleffect, with my friends Dev Purkayastha, Eric Pinnick, and Eben Lowe. Throughout the text, examples from Doppeleffect will serve to illustrate various concepts and design decisions.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, my design recommendations are undoubtedly influenced by the premise and specific circumstances of my current campaign, including the preferences and play styles of the other players. As this handbook seeks to make clear, making a console-style campaign that really rocks socks entails adapting the guidelines given here for local conditions of your own play group. This requires investment and participation on the part of both the Dungeon Master and the rest of the players from early on in the campaign-planning process.

Consequently, the next sections walks you through the preliminary planning stages, where you and the other players collectively brainstorm and build the imaginary console game that you will be playing over the course of your campaign. Later chapters cover the smaller scale, session and encounter-level planning and execution that will become the focus once your group is ready to begin play.

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