A few people in my area (Australia) have been asking about running D&D Adventurers League games. I’ve pulled out a few of the answers I’ve given for this article.
Where can I play D&D Adventurers League games?
The short answer is “anywhere”. The longer answer depends on the type of adventures.
Adventures of the D&D Expeditions series must be played in public places, except for a couple that have been released for home play (DDEX3-1, DDEX3-2). Typically, this means stores, clubs or conventions.
Published adventures (Starter Set, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Out of the Abyss, etc.) can be played at home or in public places.
The D&D Encounters adventure is a preview of the published adventure (typically levels 1-4) and is intended to be played as part of the D&D Encounters program: in-store on a Wednesday.
D&D Epics are special multi-table events only at select conventions.
There are provisions for online play, but as I don’t participate in it, I’m not the one to ask. Try the Facebook group.
What’s the difference between D&D Encounters and D&D Expeditions?
D&D Encounters was originally a program with original adventures that ran from levels 1-3 that was specifically aimed at new players. Now, the D&D Encounters adventure is a “taster” of the published adventure and runs for levels 1-3 or 1-4. Generally, it runs for 12-16 two-hour sessions. In a lot of ways, it now gives new players a taste of campaign play.
D&D Expeditions are a set of self-contained adventures, typically 4 hours in length (although some are 1, 2 or 8 hours long), which derive from the convention experience. They can only be played in public places (stores, conventions, etc.) They work best for players who have trouble committing to the longer campaign games or who prefer self-contained adventures. In general, around 26 are released each year.
Although not a named program, all D&D Published Adventures can be run as part of the D&D Adventurers League. In my store, we don’t bother with the short D&D Encounters adventures and instead just run the full published adventures. The first three storylines each have adventures that take about a year to play when played in 2-hour slots weekly. Upcoming storyline adventures will be shorter. Magic Item certificates for these adventures are distributed as part of the D&D Encounters program.
Do I have to play D&D Adventurers League games on a Wednesday?
The short answer: No.
The longer answer: When a store schedules a game through the Wizards Event Reporter, it can schedule three sorts of game: D&D Encounters, D&D Expeditions and D&D Casual.
D&D Encounters can only be scheduled on a Wednesday. It’s also the catch-all term for D&D games played on a Wednesday, as well as being the name of the adventure specifically presented for that slot. D&D Encounters sessions need to be in a public place, but they don’t have to be in the store that schedules them – they can be run at another place. (More on that below). Typically sessions are 2-hours long, but you’re not limited to that.
D&D Expeditions can be scheduled on any day (even Wednesday).
You can also play the published adventures on any day. They’re typically reported as D&D Casual, although they’re reported as D&D Encounters if played on a Wednesday.
Should we expect the hosting store will (usually) handle most of the admin stuff: organising promotion, dealing with DCI creation/admin, co-ordinating with Wizards re: packs and content? I assume the DM should expect to be responsible for the logs and awarding of item certificates etc…
Stores schedule and report games using the Wizards Event Reporter. They will also be the ones the Magic Item Certificates are sent to. A store may designate anyone as an Organiser for the WER, which allows that person to schedule and report games. (It’s not good to schedule then not report games – “delinquent events” – so many stores prefer to do this themselves).
I don’t work at my FLGS, and instead I let the store do most of the WER organisation. The store then gives me the magic item certificates & D&D Encounters packs (and sends me the download links for the adventures) and I handle it from there.
I give the DMs the certificates and log sheets and let them handle the individual players.
Note, that a store must belong to the Wizards Play Network to schedule events.
Do you have to run the games in the store that schedules them?
No, you can run at a different public location. Just let the store know who played so they can report it using the Wizards Event Reporter.
Did you use D&D Encounters to mean two different things?
I did, yes.
The D&D Encounters program is slightly different to the D&D Encounters adventure. Basically, D&D Encounters is D&D played in-store on a Wednesday… no matter what adventure you play! The limitation is that it must be played on a Wednesday. Twice a year, stores running D&D Encounters have been sent a number of faction packs and magic item certificates relating to the main storyline adventure. (This may be changing in the future, although nothing is announced yet).
As part of the program, Wizards provide a free “preview” of the main published adventure, covering levels 1-4 of the storyline. This is the D&D Encounters adventure.
Do you tend to find the same people turning up each week or do you find (based on peoples other social commitments) that it’s a bit of a random mix each Wednesday night?
In general, we find we have a core group of players turning up each week to our games, and a group of players who don’t make every session. I try to arrange tables running ongoing games so they have 3-4 core players and 2-3 irregular players, which means they can run every week, even if the irregular players can’t make every session.
How do you add in new players or players that have “missed” sessions? How do you include players who have been in groups more advanced and know some of the “secrets”? Is this something that just doesn’t tend to happen in Encounter groups because they tend to be fairly stable each week?
Normally, we just carry on without players who are missing (assuming we still have a legal table of a DM and 3-7 players). They get told what they missed when they next attend. I avoid moving players from one table to another if possible, because the pace of each table is different, but I will on occasion if necessary to create legal tables. We also reschedule on occasion; it really depends on the situation.
It’s worth noting that players may play the same adventure more than once. The restriction is that the same character can’t play it twice. So, spoilers are an ongoing issue in DDAL play. As a rule, we ask that players who’ve played the adventure before be respectful of players who haven’t played it before and not spoil it for them. Generally, that’s worked in our store.
How do I get the Magic Item certificates?
Certificates for the published adventures are given to stores running the D&D Encounters program when each storyline season begins. The store must have scheduled sessions of D&D Encounters using the Wizards Event Reporter.
Certificates for the D&D Expeditions are given to stores at the beginning of each month if they’ve scheduled D&D Expeditions for that month on the WER. Note that only certificates for the upcoming month of adventures are typically given out at this time.
Unfortunately, certificates for previous D&D Expeditions or D&D
Encounters seasons are normally not available. The certificates aren’t required to gain magic items (you can just note them on your log sheet). The only thing the certificates allow you to do is trade the items with other players. They’re nice, but not necessary.
How do D&D Adventurers League games differ from home games?
D&D Adventurer League games have a global set of restrictions on character creation and a few rules on player conduct that must be followed, which aren’t the same as what you’ll find in your typical home game.
You can only play D&D Adventure League-approved adventures. You can’t just make up adventures.
Finally, you must keep a log (using the official log sheets) of all the sessions you play with each character.
The advantage of all of this is that (a) you get access to a lot of exclusive adventures as part of the D&D Expeditions line, and (b) you can take your character to other D&D Adventurers League tables and play it! So, if you played with me at PAX Aus, you can take your character to Games Laboratory in Melbourne and continue to use the character. (Assuming that the character is of the correct levels for the adventure.)
You can find the logsheets and the rules of the D&D Adventurers League on the resource site.
That’s all for now – I’ll continue updating as I get more questions!