Downrating quests in Madness at Gardmore Abbey
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 September 2013, 3:47 pm
Next week my 4E Dungeons & Dragons campaign will start playing Madness at Gardmore Abbey, and I'm quite excited about that. The preparation work was huge, but if I can get a real sandbox adventure feeling going, it will be worth it. So I'm in the last stretch of preparation, and one thing I like to do at the end of preparing an adventure is to count the xp the adventure gives out. And in the case of Madness at Gardmore Abbey that was a surprise: Played as written my players would gain 4 levels, from level 6 to 10! That was far too much, even compared with the extensive length of the adventure.

Looking at the numbers the culprit was quickly found: Besides the xp for the various encounters, there was a long list of xp for quests. In 4th edition a minor quest gives as much xp as killing a single monster of that level, which isn't all that much. But a major quest gives as much xp as a full combat encounter. And there were twelve major quests listed in the adventure. With the "10 encounters is one level" rule of thumb, the major quests were adding over a level worth of xp to the adventure.

That was just silly, especially since a "major quest" is basically a whole adventure. Collecting the full Deck of Many Things is the only task that really would justify being called a major quest. And that quest already gives you an artifact, so really doesn't need much xp incentive in addition to that. I simply wasn't going to give out major quest xp for various minor errands.

Now I could have kicked the quests out of the adventure to solve the problem, but I liked them as story element. Without them the "sandbox" could easily degrade into a simple hack'n'slash tour of the abbey. So instead I turned all quests into minor quests, which is a lot more appropriate as reward. And that got me down to the amount of xp which the adventure actually said it would contain: 2 or 3 levels worth, depending on how the players handle it. Much more fitting for the length of the adventure.
Tobold's Blog



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