Conventions play a key role in building regional D&D Adventurers League communities, providing players from stores and home games with a collective experience that is uniquely possible in a living campaign. Organizing D&D Adventurers League events at a convention likewise has its unique challenges.
This D&D Adventurers League Convention Organizer’s Survival Guide is designed to help intrepid organizers face these challenges and overcome them, resulting in conventions where everyone (including the DMs and the organizers) has tremendous fun participating in the D&D Adventurers League.
Special thanks is due to Mickey Tan with whom I have had the pleasure of working for many years in running D&D organized play at over a dozen conventions in Los Angeles, and Davena Oaks for her exceptionally detailed debrief from organizing Gamestorm earlier this year.
The Store Relationship
This topic is Part 1, because it’s important to start from the perspective that the relationship between conventions and stores isn’t a zero-sum game. I.e. it’s not a question of how many people will come to play at your convention instead of at their local stores. The question to ask is, “How can our convention and our local stores help each other to grow?” Having stores sponsor conventions should be a win-win.
Use the Wizards Play Network (WPN) to promote the event
When a store sponsors a convention, a store organizer should add the convention site to the Wizards Event Reporter (WER) as a remote location, and then schedule the event at that remote location on the convention date(s). Retail Customer Service can help if there is a question about how to do this. Potential players will then see the event in the Wizards Event Locator when looking for games to play.
Be sure to schedule the event prior to the monthly scheduling deadline. For example, April events normally need to be scheduled by early March. If your convention is late in the month, you may need to make sure this scheduling happens nearly two months prior.
Increase a store’s WPN Status
All WPN stores have a certain WPN level based on the volume of play that they support. Stores that haven’t yet reached the higher statuses can increase their status by sponsoring events with a minimum of 60 or 120 unique individuals. If you expect this many players to attend your convention, this may be a very attractive opportunity for a store to improve its WPN status. The convention will need to collect names and DCI numbers of all the participants so that the event can be reported afterwards.
Magic Item Certificates (Certs)
When a store is supporting a convention that’s been scheduled through the WER, it can request additional convention support from Retail Customer Service. When it does this, the store will receive extra certs to support the games it is sponsoring at the convention. These extra certs will be only for the adventures released in the current month.
Sometimes stores may have certs sitting around from older adventurers which they don’t plan to run in the store again. Scheduling these adventures at a convention can be an opportunity for a store to get additional value out of the certs, and the convention gets happy players who appreciate their sponsor store for providing certs for their games. Often the same stores that have some prior certs still sitting around are the same stores that have may not have reached the higher WPN statuses.
Certain adventures such as the 8-hour D&D Expeditions may work better in a convention environment than in some stores. There will be more on scheduling in a later part of this series. But again, this may be a reason that stores would be particularly interested in sponsoring some adventures to be held at a convention.
Generating New Players
Conventions frequently contain other activities besides D&D Adventurers League play. People may be there for some other game or activity and discover the D&D Adventurers League while they are there. Make sure you have intro games available for new players, and DMs to run these tables! (A later part of this series will discuss tips on DM wrangling.)
Have some flyers or business cards from the sponsor stores at the convention, so that new players will know where they can continue to play afterwards. Also, players frequently take their pregenerated characters home, even if they didn’t find time to play. If you think of pregens as a sort of glorified flyer that people will actually read in detail, it will make sense that these are a great place to put information on where to find further campaign info and future places to play, such as links to www.dndadventurersleague.org, sponsor websites, and local D&D Adventurers League social media.
Stores can likewise create new players for the convention, by informing their regular players (or anyone who asks about playing D&D) about it. Convention organizers should also generate a lot of chatter for their event in social media. When this chatter also mentions the sponsor store, this helps them to thank them and to raise their profile in the community.
Stores may be able to provide items that can be awarded as prizes to players in a raffle or scavenger hunt, or to be used as DM rewards. Conventions that are rewarded with Premier Adventures will also receive prize support directly from Wizards of the Coast. To apply to receive a premier adventure for your convention please fill out this form.
Done well, a convention complements the play at local stores rather than competing directly with it. Another way to complement store play is to offer activities that aren’t normally found in stores. Part 2 of this series will explore examples of some of those activities.
In addition to playing D&D, Fred can often be found playing high-level tournament bridge and/or folding some seriously wicked origami.
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- The D&D Adventurers League Convention Organizer’s Survival Guide Part 2:Convention Activities - November 12, 2015