DMing: Filling in the Gaps

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Dungeons & Dragons is more than a game of numbers. It is a game of stories and description. Clever and descriptive language can change adventuring from a dry exercise in dice rolling into the fantastical journey the game is supposed to be. In a Role Playing Game, part of the Dungeon Master’s job is to facilitate the game via description and challenge.

Read on to learn about storytelling, pacing, priority, as well as things to avoid when DMing.
Continue reading

FAQ Update 1/23/2015

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While the D&D Adventurers League admins, Regional Coordinators, and Local Coordinators are all over the internet answering questions and facilitating games of D&D, some questions come up often. This article aims to tackle a few of these questions at a time.

To see previous questions please review the FAQ Wiki.

Rise of Tiamat does not include enough experience for characters to reach the anticipated levels for each episode and relies heavily on the milestone rule, which the D&D Adventurers League does not use, for advancement. It also leaves some treasure distribution to the Dungeon Master and to random die rolls. How should DMs handle these issues when running League games of Rise of Tiamat?

There are two solutions to the experience issue. First, DMs running Rise of Tiamat in the D&D Adventurers League should use the rules presented under the heading “Building Combat Encounters” in the Dungeon Master’s Basic Rules (pp. 56-58 in version 0.3) or under the heading “Creating a Combat Encounter” in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (pp. 81 to 85) to adjust foes to make them appropriate for the characters’ levels. However, DMs should not create new encounters to try to make up the experience deficit, nor should they use the milestone rule.

Alternately, or in conjunction with that solution, DMs may wish to wait to run some episodes of the adventure until characters reach the appropriate level and may want to run other adventures, such as D&D Expeditions, between episodes to help characters reach the appropriate level.

As far as treasure goes, DMs must only award magic items listed in the adventure and must not award random magic items. DMs may award appropriate consumable magic items, gold, gems, and art objects within the limits set by the tables on pages 136 to 139 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Will we be able to play our existing tier two or three characters in the upcoming storyline season of D&D Encounters and if not, can we jump in to where Tier 2(level 5+) begins and start play from there?

D&D Encounters is a weekly Wednesday play program, geared for a casual play audience with short sessions each week. It is always for characters levels one through four. As such higher level characters are not eligible to play in the D&D Encounters (level 1-4) games.

That being said, you can pick up the Princes of the Apocalypse hardcover adventure and play the higher level content with appropriate level characters as a casual D&D Adventurers League game, or wait until an Encounters table transitions into casual play at higher tiers and join it then.

Once a new storyline season starts, when we play adventures from a previous storyline, do they still count for Adventurers League characters and Dungeon Masters?

Yes! If older adventures are set to retire, there will be plenty of notice so that everyone has a chance to play them beforehand.

Can tables be limited to less than 7 players in the Adventurers League?

D&D Adventures League adventurers are written to be played by three to seven players. Playing a game with less than three or more than seven players can result in a less than optimal experience for everyone involved. If you have eight or more players, ask one of the players if they are able to run a second table of the current adventure or another one.

Dungeon Masters should be prepared to run 7-player tables. However, organizers can limit that number as needed by their event, the available space, when training new DMs, or as they otherwise deem necessary.

Elemental Evil

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Abolish an ancient evil threatening devastation in this adventure for the world’s greatest roleplaying game!

Called by the Elder Elemental Eye to serve, four corrupt prophets have risen from the depths of anonymity to claim mighty weapons with direct links to the power of the elemental princes. Each of these prophets has assembled a cadre of cultists and creatures to serve them in the construction of four elemental temples of lethal design. It is up to adventurers from heroic factions such as the Emerald Enclave and the Order of the Gauntlet to discover where the true power of each prophet lay, and dismantle it before it comes boiling up to obliterate the Realms.

Wizards of the Coast has announced its next storyline season, naming it Elemental Evil. Continue reading

Master, Dungeon Master #6

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#6 : Preparing for Next Season

As Tyranny of Dragons comes to a close we await a new Storyline Season to begin. Usually Stores and Organizers will receive event details two weeks prior to the launch of the new season. If you are like me and your store runs many other events, do not wait for the kits to arrive to start planning. You will want to make sure you have secured dates in the event calendar for table space and have your Team of DMs ready to go, so when the materials arrive everyone is ready to hit the ground running.

In this article I will discuss how I am specifically planning for Twenty Sided Store’s events. I have mentioned this in my previous articles, and I cannot stress this enough, every store is unique and not all solutions work for every situation. If you have a specific solution you would like help with, please ask me by posting your questions to Master, Dungeon Master.

 

Scheduling Events

Twenty Sided Store runs Encounters (every Wednesday) and Expeditions (every Sunday, barring any special events). The new storyline will begin in March, and my guess is that it will be released in a similar fashion to Tyranny of Dragons. Since the new WER registration is monthly instead of seasonally, it is hard to know exactly when the new season will begin and end. Based on this post, the kit contents are exactly the same, so I am going to guess that the next storyline season will run March through August.

My Tyranny of Dragons Team DM is committed to run until the end of February. The new Team DM commitment will start in March and go through August. Depending on when the new material releases, I may have to come up with several transition sessions before the next Storyline begins officially. Continue reading

Convention Map

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Find out about conventions and game-days near you that feature D&D Adventurers League play! Don’t see your local or regional con? Add it to the map with this simple form: D&D Adventurers League Convention Form

Since the map is populated by an event calendar it has to load each time, so it may take a few moments. See the X of X on the right side? That shows it’s still loading if the numbers don’t match.

Zoom in or out to limit the locations shown on the map and the sheet.

Conversations With Olisara Lightsong

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Conversations With Olisara Lightsong

by Delwyn Ilar (aka Greg Marks)

“Conversations With” is a column written by Delwyn Ilar of the Podal Prophet broadsheet, bringing you Out-Of-Character knowledge of important NPCs in the Moonsea region so that you might better portray them and their organizations in your games.

I began my efforts to bring enlightenment to you, dear reader, by delving into the seedy underworld of the factions that seek to manipulate the citizens of Phlan. And who better to investigate than the original meddlers themselves, the Harpers. Through contacts developed during my misspent youth, I was able to get word to “Those Who Harp” that I was hoping to have a conversation. As luck would have it, I received a message to meet at the Laughing Goblin Inn. Upon arriving at this frequent stop of sailors and ne’er-do-wells, I was directed to a shadowy back room by an annoyingly talkative and grossly rotund waiter with a stained apron. As I passed through the rough looking crowd, hand on my purse, I couldn’t have expected an atmosphere any less disreputable from this secretive group of spies and busybodies.

In the back room, I met my contact–and she couldn’t have been further than what I expected. Olisara Lightsong is a pale-skinned moon elven woman with white hair and piercing, blue eyes. Clad in afetching dress in the Cormyrian style, she invited me to sit at an ample feast that including the Goblin’s famous cabbage soup among other delicacies. I was instantly at ease.

Delwyn Ilar: I want to thank you for agreeing to speak with me Lady Lightsong. I imagine it can’t be easy for a spymaster such as yourself to speak freely with the press.

Olisara Lightsong: I take offense to the title spymaster; I simply collect interesting stories. Please, call me Olisara. I can call you Delwyn, can I not? Delwyn Ilar of the Podal Prophet who lives in the red two story on Lilly Way, a scant two blocks from Scholar’s Square. I’m sure you only seek to archive this meeting for the preservation of knowledge and wouldn’t risk anyone’s identity for fame or fortune.

DL: Umm… quite. Yes. *cough*

OL: Do please ask your questions Delwyn. The soup is getting cold.

DL: Would you like to start by introducing yourself to my readers and giving us a little about your background?

OL: Well, as you already know, my name is Olisara Lightsong, and I represent the Harpers’s interests in the northern Moonsea. I was born in Waymoot in Cormyr where my parents owned a bakery for a time that supplied bread to The Moon and Stars. I supposed it was at that inn that where I developed a love of listening to stories. Travelers from distant lands were always stopping by to and telling tales of their travels. I could sit for hours, listening to their exciting stories and marveling at their strange appearances.

DL: So it was at The Moon and Stars that you decided to become a member of the Harpers? Can you tell my readers a little bit about that and what the Harpers stand for?

OL: Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of The Moon and Stars. Ever since it appeared in a Volo’s Guide, it has only become busier. It’s always been a center for clandestine meetings and for all manner of strange folk to rest and mingle. In the end, though, it always seemed like good things were being done, and done by those having exciting adventures. Without going into details, I wanted to be a part of that. As for whom the Harpers are and what we are about… I suppose you would say that we simply wish to gather and preserve knowledge in all its forms, and free people from tyrants in-so-doing.

DL: The Harpers have been accused of being meddlers. What do you say to that?

OL: We believe strongly in gathering information, preserving knowledge, and protecting art. For those that love a good story–myself included–it’s perfect. But to answer your question, yes; we watch those with power and should they succumb to corruption, act. We prefer to do so subtly, however. I wouldn’t say we are meddlers so much as we try to watch out for those who are unable to watch out for themselves. It is a great wrong to wield too much power, just as it is a great wrong to force others to wield too little.

DL: As the representative of your faction in Phlan and the northern Moonsea, what do you hope to do in the region?

OL: That’s a big question and it’s not something I’m certain it would be safe for you to know.

DL: If not the whole story, how about a nugget of your plans then?

OL: The Moonsea region provides two particular opportunities for the Harpers, both due in part to the region’s wild and dangerous past. There are ruins, lost items of power and historical significance, and some unusual sources of magical power. As the faction contact in this region it is my hope that my agents explore, catalogue and gather as many of these secrets as is possible. We need to rediscover and understand these many mysteries so that we can decide how to best use them to aid the people; not to be used against them. Second, the area is rife with unstable governments and oppression. The common folk need heroes, and my agents are just that. We stand up for those that need us, and stand against those that would force their will upon others. Unlike some of the other factions, we are less likely to use direct force, and more likely to listen and watch so that we might apply just the right amount pressure to direct events.

DL: You mention the other factions. Why have the Harpers agreed to ally with the other factions, in particular, the Zhentarim who have traditionally been seen as your enemies in the past?

OL: We have natural connections to many of the other factions. For example, though their methods may differ from our own, the Order of the Gauntlet is concerned about protecting the weak and the Emerald Enclave seeks balance in the world. We have many connections with the Lords’ Alliance in the North and have worked together in the past. However, you can imagine how difficult it is for me, coming from Cormyr, to work with the Zhentarim. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we are allies, but the current threats in this region have forced us together. It’s an uneasy truce but one that benefits us both, so far. We are learning a great deal about our friends that may have cost us many lives in the past. Rest assured that if they attempt to regain their former domination of the region, that relationship will end.

DL: Well, thank you again for agreeing to speak with me.

OL: My pleasure. Oh, and please do take some of this trout for your cat–the white one that frequently sits on the reading chair in your bedroom–there’s simply too much for me to finish.

DL: Umm… quite. Yes.