JP On Gaming

Monday, September 12, 2011

Organized Play People: Jay Babcock, part 2 (4e, Living Divine, NDA)

When last we left Jay, he was telling us that he was writing all 11 rounds of adventure for the first year of Living Divine. Without any further introduction, let’s go back to Jay.

JP: When you say campaign year… Is it real-time year or Gencon-to-Gencon?

JB: Real-time year.

JP: In an average week, roughly how much time do you devote to campaign-related duties?

JB: At least 40 hours, or so. It's easily a second career.

JP: A difficult one: I give you a magic wand and you can only use it to make your campaign better. What do you do?

JB: I'd save it for a rainy day. It may sound cheesy, but we are exactly where I want us to be, at this point. Wherever I've seen changes I've wanted to make, I've been able to just make them. It's a great benefit of being completely autonomous.

JP: Play, GM or write? Which do you enjoy best?

JB: Writing. You may as well ask a fish why he swims. It's just what I do, and what I've always done.

Over the years, I've had hundreds of folks come up to me and say 'I'm buying you a beer, I had so much fun'. There is no greater feeling than that... knowing that you were able to hit the mark, that solidly. And while I'll never knock GMing, your audience is, at most, a half-dozen folks at a time. But take pen to paper, and that table becomes a room of tables, and a schedule of conventions. It's utterly amazing!

And hey, free beer!

JP: Do you have any links of websites where people might learn more about the campaign?

JB:Our site is

At the moment, we're transitioning the site from a sneak-preview version to the full campaign version.

Also of note is the Living Divine Facebook page which has a LOT of good stuff. ( Among which is some art like the one at the beginning of this article (used here with permission), I found both disturbing and interesting at the same time. These are taken from flash animations that should come out with the finalized campaign website. I'm quite intrigued I must say.

JP: How do you plan on distributing the adventures? Will you sell them or simply make them available for download?

JB: We will be selling them - and already are. All the details will be on our new, finalized website..

JP: Why did you choose 4e? Wouldn't it make more sense to go with a growing system like Pathfinder?

JB: I'm not interested in having an edition debate with you. I don't share your obvious prejudice.

That said, we have extended an open invitation to anyone who wants to come in, and translate our materials to the Pathfinder (or any other) system. So far, those that have considered it have talked big but never stepped up to the plate.

JP: Translating stuff from one game to the other doesn’t work well IMO. There will always be a lame duck. Since game rules are part of the adventure and encounter design, you can’t just translate from one to the other. Skill Challenges are a good example: something very unique to 4e that kinda works in Pathfinder. Encounters that mix traps with combats generally mesh better in 4e. Is that mix of encounter something that pushed you to 4e or just a personal choice?

JB: We weren't pushed to 4e. My games will always stay with the latest D&D rule set, as long as I am still as deeply involved with the RPGA/BMG community as I am. It wouldn't be possible to do both, otherwise.

JP: You really think the 4e community is growing? REALLY? Locally it’s being kept alive by a few highly dedicated volunteers and re-players. Any insight?

JB: I'm privy to numbers on the national level. In that context, they are growing rather dramatically.

That said, I know there is a decent contingent of folks that like 4e, but have grown tired of Living Forgotten Realms. That crowd is making LD and AoA flourish, rather nicely. We've been managing to pull some of them back to the game.

AoA is Ashes of Athas, another organized play campaign. Teos and Chad who run the campaign will be interviewed in a later installment of this series.

JP: I went on the record saying that 5e is coming at Gencon 2012 (announcement). What are your thoughts about that?

JB: Folks said that last year, too. Eventually, they'll surely be right.

JP: When do you expect 5e to come out? Any secret info?

JB: If I had such info, I would be under NDA, and thus unable to say anything. So it's a pointless question.

JP: AH There it is again! The NDA MONSTER… you have NO Idea how often it sneaks up on me.

JB: Believe me, I do. I've been on both sides of them, more times than I care to count.

JP: What impact do you foresee a future edition having on the Campaign? Is that something you considered?

JB: Sure, we've considered it on a high level. We'll probably go with whatever is the current edition is... it's the audience we want to cater to. No different than if a campaign chose the Pathfinder system - they'd likely want to stick with the latest edition.

JP: Thanks Jay! Frank discussion… I expected nothing less. It was very fun. I’m a bit sad that there isn’t a Pathfinder version (yet) of Living Divine, because I really liked your Bissel stuff. I can keep praying (just like I pray for a Pathfinder version of Heroes of Arcanis)…

JB: Praying won't make it happen. We don't have any die-hard, skilled Pathfinder folks on our staff... so we won't attempt a translation on our own. We'd only do it if we thought it'd be done right.

JP: I can’t say I’ll try it myself (4e is something I gave up long ago and have no interest in picking up again, and I’m too much of a do-what-you-say kinda guy to lie). I leave the final word to you.

JB: Spork!

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