Time marches on, and here we are just 2 days until the end of the year and the end of my time as an admin. In this reflections post I’m going to talk about what we’ve done well in the AL from my perspective and what we’ve not done so well in the hopes that DMs and players understand a bit more and to spur on the community going forward.
First, let’s talk about the things that haven’t gone so well, or at least not as well as I would have liked. The biggest thing is the Faction involvement. In the beginning, in the blue-sky phase the factions were supposed to ultimately be player led, but we quickly realized that we just weren’t going to have the infrastructure to pull off something like that. We tried to include faction involvement with the faction assignment and special/secret missions, but they often feel tacked on since it’s often difficult to tell the desired story in 2 or 4 hours without the complications of secret missions. The next attempt at faction involvement were the faction downtime activities. These actually worked very well in seasons two and three with Elemental Evil and Rage of Demons, however keeping the growing list of activities was seen as a detriment due to the length of the document needed to keep up with them, so they were cut when we went to the Faction Guide. The Faction Guide is useful, but it needs some love. The last update was to change the faction items, but no update was issued because there was nothing else to add. The rank 4 and 5 faction activities are pretty mundane for the most part and that goes back to the issue of direct player involvement in leading the factions and the infrastructure to make it happen. Besides just the logistics, what does it actually mean and how do we implement that? Rank 5 faction activities are weak, but again how can we make them meaningful without altering the face of the game? I feel like the faction issues are my biggest regret about my time as an admin. I took on the Faction Guide for the most part and it’s not nearly as strong as it needs to be. Ultimately I think it comes down to logistics tracking renown in some way and having meaningful faction activities that make players feel like they’re part of the faction in earnest. How do you do that? I don’t know and it’s a problem that I wish the admin team luck with in the future.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what’s gone well. I’m going to miss some stuff because there have been so many great things. Let me just cover a few things. I loved having the Moonsea at our disposal in the beginning. It was great to have a concentrated location that we could do what we wanted with. I think it made the seasons tight and cohesive. The story’s we had in seasons 1-3 were our strongest as a whole in my opinion. However, it did make it seem like the AL was separate from the main D&D storyline, so changing it so that we follow the main storyline more closely makes sense and I don’t begrudge the loss, but it is a loss. That being said season 5 and 7 stories are great, I don’t know how you all feel about them, but in my mind, they’re tier discrete storylines and I think they’re fantastic. I’m proud to have finished up the tier 1 storyline in the Storm King’s Thunder season. In season 7 there are great crossover storylines between the tiers and so much high level play. It’s the evolution of D&D AL and I’m excited to see where that goes.
Some people might think the next topic should be a failing, but I’m proud of it overall. Despite the needed end of the Regional and Local Coordinator program I’m glad we created it. Originally there wasn’t going to be such a program, but as the Community Manager I became quickly overwhelmed by the requests from game stores about how this all worked. At the time Wizards Retail Support didn’t have the needed information so it all came through us. That’s what pushed us to start the RC/LC program and it did its job wonderfully for a couple of years. Ultimately we didn’t have the resources needed to do what we wanted to do with the RCs and LCs and that caused some problems, along with a few other things, that finally lead to the program’s termination. However, while it ran I had the privilege to manage over 300 LCs and 15 or so RCs. We had a private LC group and oh man, some of the conversations that were had were intense. heheh, good times! I miss them. Even though it all ended rather abruptly I count this as a success overall. I wouldn’t not have had the chance to meet and work with so many passionate organizers had it not been for the program and I still count the vast majority of them as friends and am proud to do so.
Lastly, I’ll talk about the DMQuests. After a while concerns about DM rewards were building up along with the lack of available DMs and I knew we had to do something. We really wanted characters that played through adventures to be the shining examples, but at the same time we wanted to DMs to have near parity due to the effort they put in by running and organizing games, thus the DM Quests were born. The DMQuests were a way for us to reward DMs while also making it a more social activity. I wanted to gamify the seeking of rewards to encourage behavior that we wanted from DMs. Even though the Dedicated DM gets the most attention due to its rewards I think the other rewards such as Bounty Hunter, Martyr for the Cause, Zealot of Oghma and Saint of Illmater are the core of the DMQuests by encouraging behavior we want to see form our DMs. Not everything is roses of course, the Dedicated DM quest still has some issues that need to be ironed out and the quests are the better part of 7 pages, so a simplification may be in order. I really wish we could see how much it’s being used and what quests are popular or not used, but we don’t have any way to collate that data at this time. Despite their warts the DMQuests are an outstanding success, pulling in new DMs and encouraging DMs to DM more and more varied content, teach new DMs etc, and I think it’s my most obvious contribution to the D&D Adventurers League. I’m interested to see where to DMQuests go at the hands of the other admins.
We’ve had lots of ups and downs, but mostly ups and I’m proud to have participated and helped grow the D&D Adventurers League community and program since it’s inception in 2014. Tomorrow’s my last day as an admin and in my last article as an #AL_Admin I’ll talk about my experience as a whole and what I wish to see as a play and DM in the future of the program.
You can read my previous article on Reflections on Organizing and Community Involvement here.
- Reflections on my time as a D&D Adventurers League Admin - December 31, 2017
- Reflections on DMQuests, Factions, and other successes and failures - December 30, 2017
- Reflections on Organizing D&D and Community Involvement - December 29, 2017