Sword Coast Legends Displays Real Time DM’ing
For the longest time I had a blast playing single player RPGs for hours and hours on my PC. Games like Wizardry, SSI AD&D games, Bard’s Tale, and Betrayal at Krondor stole all kinds of my free time back in my teenage years. Still, even as I played those games, I hungered for the experience of playing those games with my friends.
That bell was answered many years later with Neverwinter Nights thanks to Bioware. Off the heels of the big hit Baldur’s Gate, NWN was the logical progression where table top RPGs would finally reach the digital age. Dungeon Mastering came to the video gaming scene in a respectable way with a host of tilesets and options at the DMs’ disposal. All kinds of people and groups were creating realms like Dragonlance or Lord Of the Rings out of the massive content library and then acting as a moderator on a server or even their own PC for a host of other online adventurers.
Needless to say, I spent a lot of time getting lost in my own role playing as various characters on various servers hungry for that RPG interaction that was driven by a live DM. As I began that transition from player to DM, though, I found the interface for the DM to be a bit more technical than my casual tastes would have the time for. Generating an adventure ending up feeling like a lesson in coding. As one who spends a lot of time thinking of a story and NPCs, I’d rather not spend even more time figuring out how to flesh the adventure out and code it after I’ve written it.
The developers at n-Space and Digital Extremes look to significantly ease that interface with this new effort. With a game engine that clearly has the foundations of Games like Dragon Age Origins and Neverwinter Nights, SCL is set up to tell some excellent stories as well as one more thing in particular… real time DM’ing!
Ok, for tabletop RPG noobs, the concept of a DM is foreign so let me clue you in real quick. The DM is the orchestrator of the story in a table top RPG. They control all of the monsters and can and often times will adjust the action to make things harder (or easier) for alll involved. This concept (which is affectionately called 4v1) is taking shape in the form of various other games this gaming age as well.
In the attached video, the action seen is a clear demonstration of the real time combat DMing that will occur as the adventure is progressing. Shown from the screen view of the DM, the video shows how easy it is to place and move an even initiate encounters. Traps, secret doors, additional monsters, and even ambushes can be placed to spice up a dungeon crawl as it happens. The DM must act quick though since the adventure is occurring as he is setting things up.
It was very interesting to see that even the DM earned loot which allowed him to place even more varied encounters to slow down the player or players. For a second there I thought they were going to start showing how the DM can earn their own XP allowing them more tilesets, monsters, and so on in a kind of unlockables kind of fashion. Who knows, that might be the actual strategy but that wasn’t alluded to in this video.
Instead, the video focused on how monsters could be enhanced or upgraded as well as controlled. It would have been more interesting to see if loot could be added or changed to the action too if things seemed to be going poorly or even too well for the adventurers.
Next week, the development team intends to show a bit of what most of us were really concerned with… the campaign creation module. Stay tuned as their next Twitch session delves deep into it on April 3rd.