Last week the developers of Sword Coast Legends demonstrated how players delve the upcoming CRPG's dungeons. Now take a look at the tools Dungeon Masters can use to make their players' lives hell.
Representing Dungeons & Dragons' dungeon master/player relationship in video game form is a real challenge. Giving a DM the power to craft an adventure is easy. Giving them something entertaining to do while the players are running it? Not so much.
Developer n-Space's solution to the problem is an elegant one. As players run through a dungeon room-by-room, the Dungeon Master has access to the entire structure. Using a resource called DM Threat, the master of roleplaying ceremonies can construct encounters, modify the dungeon layout and place traps. From the video it looks like DM Threat returns as players overcome placed obstacles, freeing up the DM to create more havoc.
To keep things interesting as players advance, random Dungeon Master loot will drop, giving the DM more tools to harass players. They can even slip into the role of an NPC enemy in mid-battle, pitting their skills against the groups in a more direct fashion.
It's worth noting that the character voices in the video are placeholders and not the final voices for the game, thank goodness.
So far, so good. I love the idea of the Dungeon Master as an active participant in the adventure, able to tailor each encounter to the strengths and weaknesses of the adventuring party based on the fly. And random DM loot drops? That's just Christmas.
There's still plenty we've not seen from Sword Coast Legends — most importantly the tools players will use to create their own custom adventures. How flexible will the system be? Can I voice my own custom NPCs? Can I narrate adventures as players explore? How many rust monsters can I place in a single encounter? Enough to make the Paladin pee himself? So many questions.
These questions and more should be answered in the coming months — Sword Coast Legends is due out on PC later this year from n-Space and Wizards of the Coast.