The Verdant Dawn

The Verdant Dawn is a Zelda D&D campaign set in the club's post-TP setting, which Fox is planning on running with club members. It's ready to start in early December, so if you're interested, now is the time to tell Fox about your concept.

Backgrounder

Shadow of the Ages was a plotline originally conceived for tabletop gaming back when Fox first played Zelda. Back then it was designed for an after-the-end Ocarina of Time setting, and it spawned most of Fox and Talen's Zelda OCs. However, in her ongoing efforts to fit her characters into club RP a little better, Fox basically rewired it for the club's post-TP setting - getting rid of all the canon baggage, appearances of canon series characters, and so forth. Eventually it ditched so much that it became something entirely different, so now it's The Verdant Dawn, and Fox will be running it for club members under the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition ruleset.

Unfortunately there is one down-side this; D&D games are designed for relatively small groups. Five is average, six is big but manageable, seven is probably more than Fox can handle. So, as much as she wants to play with all her awesome Zelda peeps, she is going to have to ask for expressions of interest from people who want to be involved, and choose a final group of no more than six players (one of which is Talen, because that's how it works when you're married to the GM).

In the interest of this goal, she's using this page to lay down guidelines for those who would like to join the game.

So What's Going to Happen?

A grand adventure! Well, hopefully. Fox is aiming at a sincere Zelda flavour with this game; there will be temples, magic powerups, abundant monsters to squish, mystical macguffins to collect, boss fights with giant beasties, and some kind of Big Bad Evil Guy to heroically defeat (but definitely not Ganondorf). Ideally, the completed plot will form part of club setting canon, and does include the particular goal of shifting Fox and Talen's ZOCs into club settting.

As such, the setting is post-TP using Winna's excellent "Hyrule and surrounds" map, and you can bring elements from almost any Zelda game. The only characters who are unlikely to work are those designed for Wind Waker/the club's Great Sea setting, so try to focus on other characters if you can. There is also a sliiiight problem with flying being super-powerful in combat terms (meaning you probably won't be able to get powers that allow flight), so it may be best to avoid bringing rito, or other flying characters, if possible.

the D&D 4e Ruleset

Okay, so D&D is obviously a lot more structured than club roleplay; for starters, somebody is in charge (that being Fox). Basically it's a GM's (Game Master's) job to plan the story, and throw events at the characters so the players can choose how to react. Dice primarily come up in combat, but the 4e game also includes "skill challenges", which are non-combat "encounters" where the characters use their other proficiencies to navigate tricky situations (an example would be diplomatic negotiations). Basically, we roll dice to add a bit of randomness and spontaneity to a challenge, rather than having the outcome determined only by narrative or design. If you don't like the idea of more "G" in your "RP", then D&D probably isn't for you.

But I Don't Have The Rules

Most of you probably don't! Wizards of the Coast, the publishers of D&D, have a subscription service that allows access to an online character builder program and rules compendium which covers all the rules; it's not brilliant programming, but it's still incredibly useful for building characters, especially for first-timers. On the other hand, you actually have to pay for it. If you can't afford it/aren't willing to pay for it, Fox will be happy to build your character with you and explain the rules as you go, and will definitely not provide any illegal PDFs of the gamebooks for you to reference.

Another option is HeroLab. This program is much more powerful than the Wizards character builder; you can download data sets for a bunch of different roleplaying systems, you can track your character's use of resources during play, and you can add homebrew content to your preferred system for a personalised campaign. HeroLab isn't free - it carries a one-time purchase price of about $30 - and althought you can run the trial version for an unlimited amount of time, you can't save characters until you buy a license. Still, it's a very good option if you might want to play D&D agian in the future.

If you should want help building your character, or just want to avoid bad decisions in your build, the official forums have a section dedicated to making strong characters. There are guides available for almost every class and race - just search for the class or race you want, and "handbook".

LoZ Races in D&D

There are "homebrew" or "house rules" available for pretty much any popular series, but since these are fan-made, they tend to be very risky in terms of power level, balance, and functionality; plus, there's no guarantee that another fan's interpretation of any given race will fit with the club's idea of them. Fox, too, could spend time designing unique mechanics for each Zelda race, but this would likely have the same problems. Instead, she is recommending that people look at the existing D&D races in terms of abilities and themes, and see what fits best. For example, the "eladrin" of D&D are graceful warrior-mages with fey magic and a racial ability to teleport short distances - basically, they'd be great at representing Sheikah. Goliaths, huge athletic humanoids made of stone, are all but begging to be Gorons. Hylians are really just pointy humans, though perhaps you could use the D&D half-elf to give them a "not quite human" flavour boost.

In short, with the wide selection of races available, and Fox thinks most Zelda races can be represented well without resorting to untested homebrew design. As usual, she will be happy to give advice on representing whichever race you're interested in.

Level Ranges

At this stage, Fox is planning on starting the game at level 1, since it can be difficult for first-time players to create higher-level characters. However, she would like the group to be able to play with some more exciting toys too, in the second "tier" of the game where things get a lot more "heroic". Therefore, it's entirely likely that between story arcs, Fox may say something to the effect of "you all split up and do your own thing for six months - level up to 12 and tell me how you got there". So, it can't hurt to have a vision of both the "starting hero" version of your character, and of how you'd like them to develop as their power increases :3

Want to Play?

Obviously there are way more club members than there are spots in the group, so if lots of people are interested, some will get left out. Fox wishes she could do something about this, but it just isn't possible; please, don't be upset if you don't get to play.

If you're interested in playing, Fox needs to know a few things before she can decide who should be in the final group.

Your Character's Identity

Tell Fox which of your characters you would want to use (definitely only one each). If they are already active in club RP, please link her to their bio; otherwise, give her a quick description of who they are and where they fit into Hyrule. You can totally make a new character if you want.

Please note, D&D is a game system primarily designed for combat. To get the most out of it, you should bring a character who's good at fighting (it doesn't matter how they fight, of course) and intends to fight. There's no sense bringing a pacifist, who just wants to go home and tend their farm, or a comedy character who's incompetent with their own sword, or anything counterproductive like that. At its core, D&D is a dramatic, pulpy combat system where you get to mash monsters with your cool powers - so bring somebody who's badass, and you'll get a lot more out of it!

Also, you should probably bring somebody who is willing to work with a group. I don't mind if the character would rather be somewhere else, but you'll need to come up with reasons that they are forced to work with the others. I don't want a situation where the rest of the group has to work to keep one character cooperating.

Your Character's Combat Role

In 4th-Edition D&D, there are four separate roles characters can take (in terms of power). In the final group, it's important that we have at least one of each, as the game is designed with a balanced party composition in mind. The roles are not absolute descriptions of what you can do, but they are a good guide, and they will help you choose and understand your class if you're a first-time player.

  • Striker: Your primary function is dealing damage. It might be with a sword (like a barbarian) or with spells (like a sorceror) or any number of other ways, but you're all about piling on the damage. Everybody in D&D has a reasonable capacity for damage, but strikers are head-and-shoulders above the rest.
  • Defender: The tank. You generally have higher defences and more hit points than the rest of the group, and you try to get enemies to focus on your rather than attacking your allies. Whatever class you take, your abilities will include a "mark" effect that makes it harder for enemies to hit your allies, and punishes them if they attack somebody other than you.
  • Leader: You are concerned mostly with supporting your allies and improving their chances. All leaders have some healing powers, but more importantly they spend their time "buffing" their allies to improve their abilities, both offensively and defensively, or enabling them in other ways (like moving them around, or granting extra attacks). This doesn't mean you won't be attacking - mostly you'll have powers that hit an opponent and then confer a buff to your allies.
  • Controller: You spend most of your time making combat harder for your foes, whether it's by "debuffing" their ability to soak or deal damage, by messing with their positioning, or locking them down through means like stunning or sleep. You'll probably have good area coverage for dealing with big groups of enemies. Controllers are probably the hardest characters to play well, but when used efficiently can effectively remove one or more enemies from a fight.

When you apply for the game, you don't have to have a clear idea of how you would build your character in the system - just a general idea of which role you would like to play. There is a degree of overlap between the roles, so if your character sounds (for example) mostly like a Defender but a bit like a Controller, just make that clear and it will work out fine. Try to avoid characters that "should" have three or more roles, though; the characters need to be at least a bit specialised in order to function well as a group. D&D is very much an exercise of team play!

Your Availability

Fox doesn't want this to be an issue, but let's face it, she's directly across the world from like 98% of you. If you could let her know when you are available for sessions (in UTC pleeeeeease) - which will probably take at least three hours at a time - she will be able to organise her own time effectively.

Useful Links

These resources can help you to familiarise yourself with D&D4e rules, and to build a (mechanically) effective character.

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