Mike talks about the D&D Adventurers league launch at Gen Con in this week’s Legends & Lore.

With the Player’s Handbook hitting Wizards Play Network stores last Friday, it’s time to turn our attention to actually playing fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Between the update to the D&D basic rules, the launch of the epic Tyranny of Dragons campaign with Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the Lost Mine of Phandelver from the D&D Starter Set, and the abundant character options in the Player’s Handbook, there’s lots of stuff to keep you busy. If that’s not enough, you can always delve into the D&D Adventurers League.

The D&D Adventurers League officially kicks off at Gen Con 2014, though the D&D Encounters season opens the Wednesday before the convention begins. Gen Con sees the debut of our first D&D Expeditions adventures, Secrets of Sokol Keep and Shadow on the Moonsea, and the first D&D Epics adventure, Corruption at Kryptgarden. As well, we’ll be running Defiance in Phlan, a replayable adventure that consists of five one-hour scenarios, each of which gives players a taste of the game and Tyranny of Dragons.

The fun thing about the D&D Adventurers League is that it allows you to create a character you can carry over into any other D&D Encounters, D&D Expeditions, or D&D Epics event. Your character’s levels and magic items persist from event to event. If you want to get a head start on the D&D Adventurers League, you can create a character in Lost Mine of Phandelver or Hoard of the Dragon Queen, pile up some experience points, and come into Gen Con ready to play. Everything you need to get into the action is available at the D&D website.

If you want a truly deluxe experience, head on down to your friendly local game store and join the D&D Encounters program. Participating stores will have player kits on hand that include folios for each of five factions—the power groups of the Forgotten Realms that your characters will become involved with. These folios contain a special certificate for your character’s faction, a welcome letter from your faction’s leader, a sticker with your faction’s symbol, and more. If you’re a DM, we have a special DM folio available that includes a certificate you can apply to any character you play in D&D Adventurers League.

Even if you don’t take part in D&D Encounters, you can still choose a faction to join. To make things even more interesting, at Gen Con we’re distributing special cards that allow you to track your achievements over the course of the convention. You can turn in your card to reap special rewards that range from useful items for your character to other stuff guaranteed to make everyone in your D&D group jealous.

If you’re at Gen Con and haven’t yet had a chance to check out D&D, you’re in luck. Throughout the convention, the R&D team will host panels to get you into the game with a minimum of fuss. We’ll talk about what’s new in fifth edition, guide you through character creation, and answer rules questions.

As if that’s not enough, Friday night (August 15, 7 pm to 11 pm on Georgia Street), we’re throwing a party at Gen Con to celebrate the game’s 40th anniversary. At the official Tyranny of Dragons launch celebration, you can help solve the Mystery of the Mask while you mingle with D&D designers, storytellers, and other special guests. We’ll have music, merriment, and a few menacing surprises. (You never know who might crash a party celebrating dragons.)

If you can’t make it to Gen Con, remember that the D&D Adventurers League is as close as your nearest gaming table or your local game store. You can run Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Lost Mine of Phandelver as official D&D Adventurers League content at home. Your local store can host D&D Encounters and D&D Expeditions events. If they don’t yet, be sure to ask if they’ll consider it. Local gaming conventions can also work with retailers to order D&D Expeditions material to run.

If you haven’t played D&D in public before, give it a try. Years before I started work at Wizards of the Coast, I took part in the Living Greyhawk campaign as a DM and volunteer. It’s easy to become too comfortable creatively when you play with the same group week after week, and playing D&D with a wide variety of people makes you a much better player and DM. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone exposes you to other styles of play, sharpens your skills, and broadens your horizons.

NOTES: For D&D Play and Event details at Gen Con 2014, you can find more information here.