Playing D&D 4E on IRC

Jun 18 2011

"The Wizard" by seanmcgrath on Flickr

"The Wizard" by seanmcgrath on Flickr

(I’m really unhappy with the way this blog post turned out. But I can’t think of a better way to write it, and I’d rather have it released than sitting in my drafts folder for months. So, here you are.)

Last night, as I waited on yet another piece of software, I looked in on the Four Winds Tavern, a freeform IRC channel gamefiend of At Will runs on his IRC server. Folks were conversing, and I asked if they’d be interested in my running a quick story. They agreed.

We proceeded to play D&D 4E for an hour in an IRC chatroom.

I’m fully aware that this should be insane. This is about as far from the ideal as you can get. And I learned a few things:

The biggest advantage came from the players, who focused on role-playing as opposed to making rolls. We rolled almost no dice until just before combat. So the story just flowed.

Time for the evergreen refrain: combat took longer than I would have liked. That said, since there were only 2 PCs, it moved quickly enough that it never felt boring. Fortunately, too, the other players had to leave after the second round.

In the future, I plan to halve any enemy’s HP and increase damage by 50%. Combat just needs to move quickly.

Once combat began, the channel filled with mostly OOC chatter. gamefiend later suggested that we open a channel purely for combat OOC discussion. This would work far better, judging from how well that worked on my Google Wave games. There’s just that much rolling in a 4E game.

The grid posed no problems; we just described where players were relative to each other, using squares mostly to calculate distance. Precise positioning will certainly be more difficult to model over IRC, but I trust that players and DMs can be as fine-grained as necessary.

Overall, I was very happy with the time we spent. I had fun, and the players wanted to play again. Success.

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