WoW Arenas for Pen & Paper play

Discuss the World of Warcraft campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.
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WoW Arenas for Pen & Paper play

Post by Bonetti » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:39 pm

We previously explored whether or not instances could be adapted to pen & paper. This is partially inspired by the recent advertisement for coverage of Blizzard's WWI.

One of the distinguishing features of an MMO is that it's "always on". Since different players have different amounts of time which can be spent playing, created content can be consumed very, very quickly. (One of the earliest lessons from Ultima Online was that one-off content is as expensive to produce as shared content, and that most of the playerbase will never see it. So, one-off stuff became very rare.) Content is consumed much faster than it can be created.

The usual answer to this is to turn it into a grind of some sort. So, for instance, you have daily quests which slowly "unlock" a faction (extending play), or unlock phases of a story (Molten Front), or you run the same instances over and over to get new "tries" at the loot table until your preferred piece of gear drops.

Another way of extending play time is to introduce controlled PVP. Battlegrounds (and rated battlegrounds) have their place, and can potentially even be discussed relative to the above -- they're instances you repeatedly run, only this time for honor (and, in some cases, reputation).

The other big thing they introduced a while ago was arenas -- a way of earning ratings relative to other players by fighting in small, controlled environments as part of a small team. Gear and skill both affect outcomes, as do team makeup and class balance. Blizzard introduced Arena seasons (one per tier of gear, matched roughly to raid tiers), and the top performing teams in each battle group get titles and mounts -- and it's the way to earn the best PVP gear (even if you don't top the leaderboards, thus earning the other perks).

The direct mechanic would probably not work in pen & paper, since you'd need a large player base and, frankly, the pen & paper games I've played to date tend to have very poor class balance. However, it could perhaps be incorporated as a "background" story -- in between adventures, the party has tournament events[*]. In other words, having just beaten the Defias, the champions leap in for a match as recently returned heroes, thus cementing their reputation. Or perhaps it adds a time constraint -- they have to finish off the adventure and return to Stormwind (or Orgrimmar) before the next match or forfeit their standing.

I should add that I did play Hell in Freeport once, and that did have a sort of arena ladder, which could suggest one (basic) way of handling it. In that one, you're fighting your way up the ladder for freedom, in this case you'd be doing so for glory and prestige.

Hopefully, other people have ideas as well and may wish to weigh in :-)

[*] Note: you could do something similar to incorporate standing with the Argent Tournament as well, which would be less arena focused and more building up a reputation in preparation to invading Icecrown Citadel or a similar Argent Crusade-inspired event.
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Re: WoW Arenas for Pen & Paper play

Post by Big Mac » Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:17 pm

Would MMO Arenas translate to the sort of gladiator arenas? From my time with the MMO, areas for PvP often seemed to be set up to look like normal areas of the land (that do not have an area for spectators to observe combat). That does not feel like the same sort of thing as a Roman Arena to me. :?

Who would be setting up Areas?

Would it be the gods? If it is the gods then some sort of "holy combat" area might fit in with the "warcraft" name. :?

Would it be rich landowners (kings/lords/etc)? If it is then perhaps they might get some sort of entertainment value from watching combat. :?

Would it be private factions? If it is then maybe arena combat is something similar to a duel, that is fought with honour. :?

Would arenas be magical places on the landscape, where ritual combat creates some sort of energy that is released in a form that helps the victors? And could you set this sort of thing up so that you could have players fighting other players in a way simialr to how Dave Arneson's personal Blackmoor game was supposed to have happened?

I like your idea, but I think that the arenas need a hook to add the concept to. Getting the hook (or maybe hooks - different ones for each arena) to work, might make everything else fall into place.

I wonder if any of the Warcraft novels have used any of these parts of the MMO. :?
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