Program relationships & the ever present adventurer

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relationshipsThere’s been a lot of talk recently about the relationship between the D&D Adventurer’s League, D&D Encounters, D&D Expeditions, and how much playtime people can expect versus how many characters they want to play.

There are a number of ways we can discuss the topic, but let’s look at the one of the core features of the new D&D Adventurer’s League today:

more play options, more often

The D&D Encounters program is designed to give players some regularly scheduled play options.  There are a couple of differences between previous seasons – notably the early, 4th Edition seasons – but it’s always good to know that players have a regular Wednesday play day, no matter where they are in the world.  As a DM that used to spend nearly 8 months a year on the road for work, let me tell you: D&D Encounters certainly helps to scratch that D&D itch!

However, sometimes players may want to have longer games, or more involved storylines.  D&D Encounters, with the intentionally episodic nature, does not always truly satisfy this craving.  A long-term, “let’s level all the way to 20!” concept is what many people associate with Dungeons and Dragons… and that’s where today’s post comes in.  The Encounters program has existed to give people not only a taste of Dungeons & Dragons, but also to sample the new works that may be available at your favorite local gaming store.  The Adventurer’s League is highlighting a lot of this with the mentality of “if it’s published by Wizards of the Coast, it’s compatible with the Adventurer’s League” (with some minimal, potential exceptions in the future, I’d imagine).  The upcoming season of D&D Encounters is called Tyranny of Dragons, and the Encounters material will only be covering the first few levels of experience… but what about the full version of the adventure?  What if you want to play in some of the D&D Expeditions adventures over the weekend?

Well, the full, printed version of Tyranny of Dragons will cover most, if not all, of the full 20 levels of experience for a player.  Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on how specific events in the adventure are handled.  Should you choose to play through the full version of the adventure you may find yourself outside of the level range of your friends at the local gameshop

The content for D&D Expeditions exists to supplement the material in the core storyline.  The Expeditions adventures will provide deeper context and meaning for the events in Tyranny of Dragons, and will serve to shed greater light on the happenings all around not only Phlan, but Faerun at-large as Tiamat gathers her forces and sends them into the world.  This can also explain why there is a wide variety of low-level content available for players, right from day one; heroes, no matter how powerful or tricky, simply cannot be everywhere.

It’s a delicate balancing act, for sure.  I know that I’d love to spend more time playing my favorite characters in the new system but when I look at the wide variety of content that is speeding towards us, I have to admit that simply makes sense to have people play through Lost Mine of Phandelver, Tyranny of Dragons, and the Expeditions adventures with more than one character.  Sometimes I need first team on the front lines (Tyranny) while I send another team of go-getters on secondary missions, recovery tasks, resupply runs, and so on.  It’s a like a chess game, really, in that we need to have all of the right pieces in exactly the right places in order to win the battle.

The story is too large and too involved for a single character to “do it all” – though I look forward to hearing about everyone’s exploits as they try to do so!

tl;dr:

D&D Encounters is just a taste of Tyranny of Dragons

D&D Expeditions supports the events in Tyranny of Dragons

D&D Epics serves to make pivotal events more interactive and reachable!

Delving in Phlan

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What could be better than the start of a new D&D campaign? How about a new D&D campaign at the start of a new edition of the game!

GenCon 2014 will see the launch of an integral part of the Wizard of the Coast’s Organized Play program: D&D Expeditions. For those hip to the lingo of Organized Play, D&D Expeditions is analogous to the many Living campaigns of D&D’s past. While there are other parts of the D&D Adventurer’s League, D&D Expeditions will highlight and carry forward the public-play campaign. These Expedition adventures will form the crux of a thread of the campaign that takes place in the Moonsea area of the Forgotten Realms, letting players have more agency in what happens in the story of the area as a whole. Will Phlan survive the Tyranny of Dragons, or will the oft-doomed city again become a burning heap of rubble? That will be decided by the players in this world-wide campaign. Individual heroes will be called out, making a name for themselves in the storied history of the Realms.

I was fortunate enough to write one of the first Expedition adventures, Defiance in Phlan. As anyone who has ever DMed a new campaign knows, those first few sessions of a campaign, whether it is a home campaign or an Organized Play campaign, are important in setting the tone and offering a glimpse of what will happen in the later parts of the story. That means my fellow adventure designers—Teos Abadia, Greg Marks, and Pieter Sleijpen—and I needed to work closely with the Adventurer’s League admins in hitting the mark. Not just THE MARK, but many marks: understand the setting, craft important NPCs, be aware of special rules, conform to campaign-specific mechanics, etc. In addition, we had to work from a rules set that was still under development.

In addition to the challenges of writing an adventure that helps launch a new campaign, Defiance in Phlan also has to take on another role: it is a delve event. A delve in this case has a particular meaning. It is a session meant to be played in a very short amount of time to give people a taste of the game. This usually saw the players given pre-generated characters and dropped into a couple of combats. If there was a story to the delve, it was rudimentary and not connected to any Living campaign. If people who played the delve enjoyed the experience, they were then usually pointed to a regular 4-hour session of a game that introduced them to the concept of a Living campaign, where their characters could become part of the overall campaign.

So when I received my instructions for Defiance in Phlan, I was surprised to see that it was both a delve and part of the D&D Expeditions campaign. I’d written delves before, and I’d written adventures to launch campaigns before, but never before had I done both simultaneously. I love a challenge. Then I realized that the outline called for the adventure to be a delve made up of five different 1-hour mini-missions. And the missions needed to be playable in any order. And each mission should make sense outside of the context of any other adventure, because some people would only play one or two of them at random. And each mission should touch upon one of the five factions that adventurers can join. And many of the players would be brand-new to D&D. And all of the pillars of play (interaction, exploration, combat) need to be represented by the missions. And that the parts needed to fit together in case a DM later wanted to run the adventure one complete adventure. And did I mention each mission had to be playable in less than an hour?

I love a challenge, but that is a lot of “ands.” To put my trepidation into perspective, I normally write an adventure, playtest it once, make revisions, and then turn it over to the developers for editing and further playtesting. In this case I ran three different playtests, with significant revisions taking place after each. If I was happy with the story, the mission ran too long. If the mission ran too short, something seemed lacking in one of the pillars. I hammered away, with some excellent feedback and suggestions from my playtesters. I cannot say I am satisfied with what I turned in, but I would worry if I was satisfied.

So, if you happen to play one of the parts of Defiance in Phlan at GenCon, or at any public-play event that the adventure can be ordered for, drop me a line and let me know how it went for you. Let me know your tales of woe, or your heroics that saved the day at the last second. Let me know how your DM took a few words on a page and brought it to life for you. Most importantly, let me know what you thought of Madame Freona and her five daughters. And how was the tea?

D&D ADVENTURERS LEAGUE FAQ UPDATE JULY 18th

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As Chris Tulach writes the D&D Adventurers League articles on Wizards.com each week many questions are answered and more spring to mind. We’ll be filling in the holes and answering the most frequently asked questions weekly.

Can DM’s who run the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure from the D&D Starter Set later play the adventure?

All D&D Adventurers League games allow for replay (with a different character), which includes playing after you DM it.

For people playing the D&D Starter Set adventure, how can they report their progress and get their certs for their shiny new items?

If you’re playing the D&D Starter Set adventure Lost Mine of Phandelver and you want to record your adventures as official D&D Adventurers League play, fill out the D&D Adventures League Logsheet for your character. If you’re playing in a store and your store has ordered the next season of D&D Encounters, certificates for magic items for Lost Mine of Phandelver will come with the D&D Encounters kits. If you’re playing in store and your store has scheduled the event in the Wizards Events Reporter they can record attendance there.

Can D&D Encounters be scheduled/run on a day other than Wednesday?

Per the D&D website, D&D Encounters are scheduled for Wednesday and the Wizards Event Reporter (WER) only allows for events to be set up then. If your store schedules D&D Encounters through the WER and a player finds your store via the Wizards Store Locator it will show that D&D Encounters is on Wednesday. So, if you run D&D Encounters on a different night you run the risk of turning away a potential players.

Bonus Question:

How can I as a player, DM, or organizer get involved in the D&D Adventurers League?

There are multiple ways to get involved in the D&D Adventurers League. Please see our Get Involved page for details

D&D ADVENTURERS LEAGUE FAQ UPDATE JULY 11TH

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As Chris Tulach writes the D&D Adventurers League articles on Wizards.com each week many questions are answered and more spring to mind. We’ll be filling in the holes and answering the most frequently asked questions weekly.

Will the magic items received in home play be available for use in public play?

Yes, all rewards (permanent and consumable magic items and other treasure) given in home play will be available to use in D&D Adventurers League public play games, as long as the home games were played with the official D&D Adventurers League adventures. All rewards must be documented on an Adventure Logsheet.  Certificates (certs) for magic items will only be given from in store or some convention play, which will allow players to trade magic items a limited number of times.

Will the D&D Adventurers League have Regional Coordinators outside of the US & Canada?

Yes, outside of North America we will have regional coordinators for the following regions, any location not indicated will fall under the asupice of the D&D Adventurers League Community Manager:

  • Europe (includes UK)
  • Asia-Pacific (mainland Asia and South Pacific, Australia and NZ)
  • Japan
  • Latin America (Mexico and everything south of it, includes Carribean)

More information on Regional Coordinators coming soon.

Can store organizers schedule D&D Adventurers League events for a store at a remote location?

Yes, you can schedule your D&D Adventurers League wherever you’d like, so long as the venue is public. If you associate with a store, we’ll send the store a kit. If you don’t, you’ll get access to the adventures via Game Support, but no kit materials (basically, no certs).

D&D ADVENTURERS LEAGUE FAQ UPDATE JULY 5th

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As Chris Tulach writes the D&D Adventurers League articles on Wizards.com each week many questions are answered and more spring to mind. We’ll be filling in the holes and answering the most frequently asked questions weekly.

How do we create characters for D&D Adventurers League play using the Basic D&D Rules?

We will have a D&D Adventurers League guide released online this month. Until then create characters as instructed in the D&D Basic rules using Point Buy or the Array for Ability Scores as seen on page 7 of the D&D Basic Rules.

How does a certain aspect (Death, Ability Scores, treasure) of character creation work in the D&D Adventurers League?

We will have a D&D Adventurers League guide released online this month. It will detail how to create D&D Adventurers League compatible characters.

Do we need to fill out the Adventure Logsheet if we’re playing a home game?

Yes, please fill out the Adventure Logsheet with all information. If you do not have a DCI number yet, hold off on that field until you can get one. You can get DCI numbers by participating in a public play event, the store, event host, or convention should have DCI cards you can fill out and get your DCI number.

The D&D Basic Rules have arrived!

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Quick and easy post today, folks:

The D&D Basic Rules have been released.  Go get ‘em!

D&D Basic Rules Large

The Basic Rules include everything a player needs in order to check out the ruleset, play one of the four core races or classes, and has guidelines on the full xp range from level 1 to 20.

 

Tear it up!  And while you’re at it, why don’t you pick up a copy of the D&D Starter Box as well – it released to WPN locations today (July 3rd) and hits everyone else on July 15th.

D&D ADVENTURERS LEAGUE FAQ UPDATE JUNE 27

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As Chris Tulach writes the D&D Adventurers League articles on Wizards.com each week many questions are answered and more spring to mind. We’ll be filling in the holes and answering the most frequently asked questions weekly.

How can my in-person conventions/game day get D&D AL adventures?

If you’re a convention organizer who is planning on running tables of D&D at your show, we’re here to assist you in making your event a success! Fill out this form about your convention, and you may qualify to receive a Convention Support Package. All materials in the support package are delivered digitally, and are not for distribution outside of event use.

Certain conventions may qualify for additional support dependent upon review of the questions below. If a convention qualifies for additional support beyond the Convention Support Package and submits the convention at least 8 weeks prior to the convention date, Wizards of the Coast will contact the convention organizer approximately 2-4 weeks before the convention date.

How can my store schedule D&D Adventurers League games?

First, the store/location must join the Wizards Play Network
Then, download the Wizards Event Reporter to schedule events: https://wpn.wizards.com/en/wer
You can always stay abreast of events by viewing current available events

How can I be a D&D Adventurers League organizer for my store, with permission from the store owners?

Your store owner can designate a store organizer

Getting started with the new D&D Starter Set

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D&D Starter Set

D&D Starter Set cover art

As recently announced by Wizards of the Coast, the new D&D Starter Set launches in July. If your favorite local game store is a member of the WPN, there’s a great chance that you’ll be able to get it as early as July 3rd (just in time for the sweet, sweet holiday gaming weekend)!

Here’s what is NOT in the box:

you!

your players!

your scheduled D&D Starter Set play date(s)!

In order to schedule your play dates for Lost Mine of Phandelver, simply ask your local game store to log into the Wizards Event Reporter software and schedule your gamedays as needed under the “D&D Casual Event” menu.  You don’t have to run it on a specific day of the week, or even on a specific day of the month – simply determine how much time you have and how often you’d like to run your events.  Lost Mine of Phandelver can be broken up into a few sessions, and it’s likely that it will take about five sessions of 3-4 hours each in order to experience the entire adventure – though you also run a one-off 3-4 hour event and get your players through the first episode of the adventure.

Also launching on July 3rd is the digital download of D&D Basic Rules, which will be available through the Wizards of the Coast website.  Those rules will help curious players and DMs get more familiar with the ruleset while we all wait for that fateful in August, when the Player’s Handbook is slated for release.

What does this mean for the D&D Adventurer’s League?  Well, it means that you should be sure to check back with your store in August – the Organized Play kit for Tyranny of Dragons will include physical reward certificates for Lost Mine… and who doesn’t like some good table swag?  The Lost Mine of Phandelver adventurer is 100% legal for the Adventurer’s League, so your players can begin earning experience, items, and renown for their faction (yes, factions; more on those in a later post!) well before Gen Con and the official launch of the new system.

PRO TIPS:

  • make sure that your DMs grab a copy of the Start Box
  • if anyone asks about the new edition of the rules, show them the D&D Basic Rules
  • schedule those Lost Mine of Phandelver play days – stores that create public events will actually show up on the store and event locator on the Wizards site!

 

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, if you missed it… the D&D Starter Box unboxing video starring Mike Mearls, Greg Bilsland, and the disembodied voice of Trevor Kidd can be viewed over on YouTube.

New D&D Expeditions adventures announced

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Battle necromancers, kobolds, and problems not so easily solved with a sword in the latest D&D Expeditions adventures from the D&D Adventurers League. Here’s a list of the upcoming D&D Adventurers League adventures that will be available for store and convention play.

DDEX1-4 Dues for the Dead
DDEX1-5 The Courting of Fire
DDEX1-6 The Scroll Thief
DDEX1-7 Drums in the Marsh
DDEX1-8 Tales Trees Tell
DDEX1-9 Outlaws of the Iron Route
DDEX 1-10 Tyranny in Phlan

Find the full descriptions on our Tyranny of Dragons Adventures page.

D&D ADVENTURERS LEAGUE FAQ UPDATE JUNE 20

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As Chris Tulach writes the D&D Adventurers League articles on Wizards.com each week many questions are answered and more spring to mind. We’ll be filling in the holes and answering the most frequently asked questions weekly.

How do I become an adventure designer for the D&D Adventurers League?

We’re going to have an open call for adventure designers a little later in the summer.

Will the D&D Expedition mods be replayable?

Players can replay D&D Expeditions adventures, but they must use a different character.

How will online/virtual conventions be handled?

Currently, all online play, whether it is a private game or a public game/virtual convention setting can participate in the storyline adventures available in stores. With the current timeline of products this will include Lost Mine of Phandelver (From the D&D Starter Set), Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and Rise of Tiamat.