A pall has fallen over the Forgotten Realms. The dark necromatic arts – on a level never before seen – have broken the bonds between this world and the next. The greatest power of the gods, that to restore life to those taken before their time, has been abolished, and those who have been previously restored to life are now weak and dying. How long before the great and mighty of the world leave us?
Yes, it’s time for Season 7 of the D&D Adventurers League, and the events surrounding Tomb of Annihiliation. As of the 25th August, any play of a Season 7 adventure or a Con-Created content adventure by a character means that resurrection magic does not work, and any character who has been raised in the past is mysteriously weakened.
This is a temporary state – eventually heroes will defeat Acererak and lift the curse – but we’ve got about 4 months of this to live through. And hopefully not die.
The full rules to Season 7 are, of this writing, not yet available – I expect we’ll see them soon – but the Death Curse rules are. They’ve already had an effect on our games, one day in.
The player in question was unlucky – no doubt. He was meant to be playing a different adventure, but a lack of players meant he had to play a CCC adventure instead, to which the Death Curse applied. Last week, a TPK on his table meant his character had to be raised (using Faction Charity), so he was the first player in Ballarat to meet the full force of the curse. His 5th-level Warlock went through the adventure with a mere 25 hit points rather than the 45 hit points he would have been otherwise entitled to. Luckily, he was a warlock, able to stay out of melee combat, and he used counterspell to negate a couple of area effect spells that may have proved his end.
One thing is certain: the Death Curse will have an impact on the feel of this season. No raising (and the Hard mode where death saves are 15+) means the threat of death becomes more pressing. Of course, this edition of the game is far nicer to players than, say, Original D&D where you died the moment you hit 0 hit points. You’ve got plenty of chances for your friends to help you. Although having a healer or two in the party is likely to be even more important while the Death Curse is in effect.
I quite sympathise with players who aren’t fond of the curse. This has some effects on existing characters. There may be characters that you’d prefer not to play for four months. Thankfully, after then, the curse should be lifted. Unless Acererak wins, of course!
The option of using a surrogate character if your primary character dies and then – once the curse is lifted – applying your XP and gold to your original character is a useful one, though it isn’t without flaws. Not being able to keep magic items is a definite drawback. If this environment is going to be in effect, it does have to mean something. It is, at least, a lot less annoying than the Curse of Strahd “Trapped in Barovia” clause, which has kept the Season 4 DDAL adventures from being on rotation in my local store. The strength of the DDAL adventures is being able to play any one at any time; this isn’t the case with Season 4, and it’s a pity. The Season 7 adventures? They’ll be useable for years, with or without the Death Curse.
Three weeks to go until Tomb of Annihilation hits wide release. Less than two weeks until it hits WPN stores (except in the APAC region. Guess where I live? Argh!)
WPN stores already have the first two D&D Adventurers League adventures for this season. I have to work out when to schedule them.
How will my players deal with this threat? I’ll soon find out!