In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t really DM’d that much. I’ve been playing some kind of D&D since 1984 (27 yrs? wow.) I used to only play. I tried DM’ing in 2nd Edition and I didn’t feel that I was that good at it and felt pressure from fear that I would mess up or no one would have any fun. Fast forward the equivalent of a lifetime for some of the people who are playing today and things changed for me – I only DM. I took over as DM at our local game store a couple of years ago and DM’d solid for over a year and a half. I ran all of seasons 3 & 4 of D&D Encounters, some of Season 5, and most of Season 6. That’s about a year of preparing and running a game every Wednesday to an ever shifting group of people with varying degrees of interest in the game. I really enjoyed it on the whole. Politics and drama and other things eventually made me take a step away from the table. That and fatigue.
Okay, that started out being just an intro to my DM history and turned into some kind of reflection on recent events. That wasn’t my intent. Let me ditch that and get on to my question.
How do you 4e DM’s deal with Random Encounters and still keep your XP Budget in check? Let me elaborate.
One of the standbys in 2e and probably 3e was the idea of Random Encounters. When you were travelling thru the woods or camping for the night, if you didn’t keep watch (and even if you did) you might get stumbled upon by or intentionally jumped by some monsters or other wandering badguys.
In 4e, because of the XP budget, anytime you fight something, your players expect to get some XP for the encounter.
But because of these two facts, your characters could get enough XP to level out of your adventure.
So I was never clear on how you could handle this to make the game feel like other stuff is going on besides the encounters the DM has planned but also keep it so they’re fun little diversions but won’t have a ripple effect thru your campaign.
I guess part of my philosophy on the 4e debate is I don’t want to fight with the Pathfinder people or the people who just have decided to start hating on 4e, I want to make my game just be as fun for the player as possible. One thing I really liked as a player back in the day was that we just adventured and fought whatever came along the way while doing our quest. In 4e today it seems to be 3 Encounters and a Skill Challenge – Game Over.
Did you ever have to deal with this? What did you do?