Friday, August 19, 2016

Dungeons and Dragons Adventurer's League (Just Add Dice)

Dungeons and Dragons Adventurer’s League
Adventurer’s League is the Organized Play program for the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons.  Put together by Wizards of the Coast, it gives players the opportunity to get together at their local gaming shop, visit a convention, or play around the kitchen table with friends.  As part of a seasonal campaign of adventures that share a theme, players will work together to move the story forward and become more capable heroes. 

Adventurer’s League has a little bit more record keeping attached to it than a home game, (mostly in the form of a Log Sheet), but the advantage of that record keeping is a character that can travel from table to table, and event to event.  Keeping track of your character’s past adventures on your log sheet (higher level characters will have more Log Sheets) means that you can travel to any Adventurer’s League event and bring your character with you. 

From a learning to play D & D standpoint, Adventurer’s League is one of the best options available to the new player.  Pre-generated characters are available at every event and cover most character background and class choices.  This means that you can experiment with a new race, try out a different class than you normally would, or just grab a random character and see where the dice will take you.
Even after you’ve gotten some games of D & D under your belt, Adventurer’s League provides a wide array of experiences to enjoy.  The best option I’ve found for this is the weekly session of D & D.  Each campaign season provides a linked campaign of adventures that tell a story focused on a specific threat in a specific region.  Season 1, for example, focused on the threat that the forces of the dragon god Tiamat posed to the city of Phlan, while season 4 dealt with the sinister influences of the vampire lord Strahd and his home of Barovia. 

Each campaign season is designed to run for about 4 months and provides adventure options for characters of differing levels.  League play splits its adventures into one of three tiers of play, representing the expected level of difficulty.  Most of the adventures in a given season are for characters level one through four.  These adventures represent the first steps a character will take on their journey to become a famous hero and often feature bandits, goblins, and wild animals as opponents to be overcome.

The next tier of play is for characters of levels 5 through 10.  These adventures represent more serious threats and more perilous journeys that characters have to undertake.  Expect to see demons, itty bitty dragons, and monstrous humanoids with greater frequency.  These are less frequently released than the first tier, but every season has at least a couple of these adventures to deal with. 

The final tier of play you can expect to encounter outside of a convention is 11-16.  There are only a couple of adventures of this level out now, but I expect that the new season will have at least one.  
These are adventurers who can affect the world around them in a myriad of ways, so expect to see dragons, giants, and the occasional lich to show up and try to ruin your day 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of running Adventurer’s League events at a game shop (I ran one every week for six months straight) is the new players that will show up.  You will have player drift, and your pool of players will change, but we experienced reasonable growth from our initial start.  We started with a single table of 1 Dungeon Master and 7 players, and had expanded to three regular tables and were almost ready to need a fourth. 

Getting started with the adventurer’s league is very easy.  As a player, you need to have either a player’s handbook or a copy of the D & D Basic rules which are a free download from Wizards.  From there you can either generate your own character or use a pre-generated one available from the event you are playing.  Then it’s a matter of a set of dice and a pencil, and you are set to play. 

Learning how to game master a Dungeons and Dragons game has never been easier.  The Adventurer’s League adventures are written for ease of reading and running.  The opening for each is a brief synopsis of the adventure, a reminder of what you need to get ready, and then the adventure itself is self-contained.  All of the monster statistics, treasure, and rewards are written on the back of each adventure packet so you have all the information at your fingertips. 

So look forward to us taking a closer look at each of the seasons released so far, and some high hopes for the upcoming Storm King’s Thunder season. 

Some handy links: is the heart of the Adventurer’s League program

As Always,
Game on, Game Fans

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