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Starting this August, the face of D&D public play changes with the launch of the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Today, we’d like to share some information about those changes and what you can expect from our future public play programs.
One System, Many Ways to Play
At the core of the new D&D Organized Play experience is the D&D Adventurers League. Essentially, we’ve given the system a name, because we wanted to emphasize the connected nature of our public play programs. For the first time, we’ll have our entire public play taking place in the same ongoing D&D campaign.
As a player, you’ll create a character for the D&D Adventurers League. You’ll be using the same rules to play at a convention, a store, or any sort of public event. There will be a D&D Adventurers League Player’s Guide available to let you know how it all comes together. Through the different programs, the D&D Adventurers League will be inviting to casual D&D players, experienced D&D players, and players looking for ways in which their characters can impact the campaign world. We want players to find the play that best fits them, and enjoy playing for years to come.
As a Dungeon Master, the D&D Adventurers League is a great way to run fun adventures that involve a minimum of prep work. We’ll find ways to reward you for your time and effort through the various programs, and there will be additional support and opportunities to showcase your skills.
As an organizer (either in-store or at conventions), you’ll find that the D&D Adventurers League is a great way to keep your players engaged. There will be fresh content available on a regular basis (mostly monthly), ensuring that there’s always something new around the corner.
The D&D Adventurers League, and all the programs supporting it, is focused on allowing you and your groups have great adventures through a thematic, cohesive storyline. Our first storyline is Tyranny of Dragons, involving the Cult of the Dragon, Red Wizards of Thay, and Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons. What you’ll find through the different programs is a connection to the main storyline, whether it’s direct or a little more subtle. Once we’ve finished with one storyline, we’ll start up a new one. You can then make a choice to continue to play your existing character or create a new one for the next storyline. It’s up to you.
Our D&D storylines are taking place in the Forgotten Realms, our most popular and richest D&D world. Your characters will journey to different areas of Faerûn to find adventure and deal with the threats of the current storyline.
One of the main ways in which we’ll involve adventurers in the story is through our factions. These factions are power groups that have agents throughout the Forgotten Realms. They all have their own motivations, goals, and outlook on the events and threats going on across Faerûn. As a player, you’ll choose a faction for each character you create, and receive benefits as you gain renown for your faction.
Progression and Rewards
After each session of play, you’ll record things like experience, treasure, and renown earned. Your log sheet will be your official record of your character’s growth and development over time. As you gain levels, you’ll unlock the ability to play higher-level adventures with your characters. In general, adventures will support a few levels in order to make them a great play experience for characters suited to the challenges contained within them. Of course, as we begin the first storyline, the adventures available will be low level, but as time goes on, we’ll be adding higher level adventures to the mix.
All D&D Adventurers League play is supported through a certificate system. Some items and rewards are only awarded through certificates, but the main purpose of the certificate is it unlocks the ability for you to trade the item to another character. Magic items are rare and special treasures in D&D Adventurers League play, and we want them to feel as such through representation as a cool certificate.
The D&D Adventurers League is maintained not only by Wizards of the Coast, but also by a group of representatives we’ve chosen as administrators to help out players, Dungeon Masters, and organizers. We have a community manager who’s talks with the public and gathers feedback, a content manager that develops and edits our adventures, and a resource manager that does a lot of the organization around schedules and provides support to our designers. Each one of these roles serves a very important purpose, and each individual was chosen based on their experience and passion for public play. Soon, we’ll introduce the team!
These three administrators are also looking for high-spirited, eager gamers to help spread the D&D Adventurers League experience to your local communities. When we give the administrating team’s introduction, we’ll have more information on how you can help!
Kickoff Events: D&D Epics
At the beginning of certain storylines we’ll have a special kickoff event taking place at a select major convention to get you really involved in a cool moment in the storyline. Moments like assaulting a wizards’ tower, fighting a mass-scale battle, infiltrating a drow house, or aerial besiegement of a cloud giant’s fortress. Individual characters can have a major impact here, and there are special rewards only available during a D&D Epics adventure.
Our first D&D Epics adventure will take place at Gen Con Indy this year. Entitled Corruption in Kryptgarden, it will be a massive, multi-table event that will shape the Tyranny of Dragons story and bring renown to those that experience it.
Core Story: D&D Encounters
D&D Encounters remains our weekly Wednesday play program, but undergoes a facelift starting with Tyranny of Dragons and the introduction of the D&D Adventurers League. While you’ll still find D&D Encounters emphasizing play for the casual player (starting characters at 1st level) you’ll find it’s become an introduction to the main storyline.
We’ll introduce this storyline by adapting a portion (levels 1-4) of the first adventure, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, for play at D&D Encounters. This adventure adaptation will be available as a complimentary PDF for stores that schedule D&D Encounters, who can then pass it along to their Dungeon Masters. After you’ve finished playing that portion of the adventure, you can continue play by picking up the rest of the adventure from the store or play in D&D Expeditions (described below).
The kits for D&D Encounters have been upgraded as well. Redesigned to immerse you in the story and the factions, each kit includes player (faction) and DM packs. These packs come in a beautiful folio designed with your faction’s colors and symbol. When you arrive for your first session of D&D Encounters, you’ll choose a faction pack with all sorts of goodies contained within – blank character sheets, log sheets, table tents, special certificates, and more. Dungeon Masters will receive a pack themed to the storyline, containing stuff for their use. We’ll be revealing all the contents of the packs soon, so stay tuned!
Advanced Play: D&D Expeditions
If you like a deeper dive into a “convention-style” campaign experience then D&D Expeditions is for you. Set in the Moonsea region of the Forgotten Realms, you’ll explore the storyline as it affects the denizens of that area of Faerûn. Here, you’ll get to take your character from its humble beginnings to the heights of high level play, and have a chance to really influence your region through your character’s actions and the actions of your faction.
Adventures are delivered digitally as PDFs to stores and conventions requesting them, and debut at selected conventions around North America throughout the storyline. If you play in a debut of an adventure, you’ll have the opportunity to give feedback and shape the ongoing storyline. In addition, these adventures will be supported with kits that contain the certificates for the magic items and other special stuff that characters can earn through play.
We expect that D&D Expeditions will become the public’s D&D campaign, growing and changing as events resolve and new threats emerge. Each storyline visits a different area of the Moonsea, affecting some change there, and all the factions are involved. For Tyranny of Dragons, we’ll be setting adventures in and around the town of Phlan, an old fan-favorite from the days of Pool of Radiance.