This week, the experiment to play DDO along Classic D&D precepts will reach 2 years.......and still does not have an end in sight!
The group is currently 5 players.....2 VIPs, 2 Premium and 1 Free. (The only difference between Prem and Free seems to be whether a player has bought ANYTHING. )
During the 2 years, we have had 1 player Loss and 1 Gain, with a second Loss just recently, though he should be returning at some point in the future.
Level is 11-12. Mix is FTR/CLR, ROG, WIZ, RGR and BRD. Classes are either pure or 50/50, no splashes.
There are very little restrictions in gear because the only gear you get is by only opening 10% of Chests found in Quests, or whatever is found in Breakables. No End Rewards at all.
We never use Shrines, nor are we able to purchase anything other than mundane, non-magic Items.
Our adventures consist of playing "At Level" Quests on Normal Difficulty and never re-running a Quest that has been completed, even by a lone survivor.
We are not PermaDeath, but if killed without another character to resurrect, the player recalls and wanders in a Wilderness appropriate to their Level until the Party completes what they are doing.
At 2-3 hours per week, that equates to 8-12 hours a month. A length of time somewhat equivalent to my old PnP games.
Level progression has been 12-14 Weeks between levels, though at this level it is becoming longer for the party to advance, plus the advent of dying and the dreaded VIP 10% is taking it's toll in widening the XP difference of each of the players.
DDO is a "front-loaded" game. Meaning it's almost impossible NOT to be over-powered in Normal Difficulty right from the beginning.
In order to not restrict Magic Items, it was necessary to restrict options in character creation, skills, feats and enhancements.
While one character (mine) is not allowed any Enhancement Tree other than Racial, the others have had a minimum of 10 points to be the FIRST points spent in ANY Tree.
Rogues had to have abilities in Trapping and Opening Locks held back or they would never fail.
Arcanes had to have abilities held back that advanced INT, Spell DC's and Spell Point abuses or they quickly overtook the potential of other characters.
Rangers AND Rogues have had to have abilities in Stealthing held back or they would never be SEEN!
It's been a tough road forcing these restrictions down the throats of the group, but I have the privilege of gaming with some of the best player characters I've ever met!
I have a couple requests for a new party to begin, but need a Party Leader that is capable to do the job, and experience has shown that a party should consist of at least 5 players.
With voice chat, this is probably the closest to "sitting around the table" D&D that I have seen. It is GREAT fun!
Turbine, in it's attempt to cater to the arcade DDO, is also making changes to Normal Difficulty which is further aligning it with Classic D&D(they just don't advertise them).......I like that.
Hopefully, DDO will continue for another 10 years and this group will either meet their Doom against Monsters that they can not hope to defeat or rise to exalted potential and retire to the rocking chair on the porch and watch younger adventurers follow in their footsteps.