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Phystus

Reuniting the Band: Step Aboard the Holodeck!

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As I mentioned in one of my early posts I got Fantasy Grounds in order to restart my old AD&D campaign from 1990. Happily, I was able to recruit enough previous players and old friends to get started. We did a bit of testing, got VOIP chat working, and I got some tokens and maps made up. The characters were converted to D&D 3.5, and enough NPCís were converted to get us started. I had written up some handouts about the campaign setting, and the basics of combat in 3.5, and sent them out to the players. I even had an adventure set up. We were finally ready to play!

But...

All but one of the characters had been converted from 1st edition AD&D to D&D 3.5. Anyone familiar with both systems will understand that not everything translates smoothly between the versions. Since only one player in my group had ever played 3.5, I had done most of the conversions for them. I did the best I could, of course, but I was concerned that what I had created might not be quite in tune with the vision the player had for their character. Some of these characters seemed to be highly cherished, so I was feeling the pressure.

Then too, I had a lot less experience running a 3.5 game than I had with 1st edition. While I had run literally hundreds of sessions of 1st edition, I had run a whopping one, thatís O-N-E session of 3.5. So I expected it to be a learning experience for me. And only one, that's O-N-E player in the group had ever played D&D 3.5. All but one of them had played 1st edition extensively, but it had been a very long time for most of them, and they were completely new to the intricacies of flanking, action types and attacks of opportunity. So I expected it to be a teaching experience for my wife and I, and a learning experience for everyone else.

Finally, all of us were new to FG, so we expected to fumble around a bit with it as we learned the ropes.

All in all, I was concerned that the early sessions would go badly. Perhaps a cherished character would get killed through sheer inexperience on the part of myself or the players. Perhaps characters would be found to be ineffective due to a poor build, or simply so unlike the old version that the player was unhappy.

Mostly, I knew this would be the one chance to ever get that old, cherished campaign back on its feet. And I didn't want to blow it. Clearly, what we needed was a way to work the bugs out of the converted characters, teach everyone the basics of this version of D&D, and learn to use the software, all without having any long-term negative consequences to the campaign.

At this point I remembered the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation - a place that seemed real, but a place were mistakes werenít permanent. Perfect!

So, I created a holodeck adventure, and we tested it out. It worked out really well. A couple players tweaked their characters a bit, and both the players and I made some pretty serious errors, including one that got a character killed for no really good reason. We all learned a lot about D&D 3.5, and we all learned a ton about using FG well. Looking back on it Iíd say it was totally worth it to do those sessions, even though they didnít do a thing for the storyline.

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