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March Madness
D&D Play Spotlight
by Chris Tulach

This month, we have three big events happening in Organized Play, all on the back half of the month. Kicking things off on March 17 is the launch of the first season of D&D Encounters! Right on its heels is the first of several D&D Game Days this year, spotlighting the psionically-charged Player’s Handbook 3. And finally, we close out the month with a trip to PAX East in Boston, where we’ll be running all the D&D you can play all weekend long!

D&D Encounters is Almost Here!

The exciting first season of our new Wednesday in-store D&D play experience begins on March 17 and runs until June 2, as players around the world get ready to tackle the infamous dungeon of Undermountain! If you haven’t caught up on what’s going down, head to your local game store to ensure they’ve signed up to host sessions of D&D Encounters. You can check out the D&D Encounters website or my column last month for basic program information. Make sure that a store near you is participating!

Many questions have been asked about D&D Encounters program specifics over the past weeks, and with the season’s launch imminent, I’d like to address some of them here. If you have more questions, want to leave feedback, or would like to share your experiences, head to the D&D Community page where we have an official D&D Encounters forum accessible to all community members.

Q. I understand that for this season of D&D Encounters, I can create my own 1st-level character or use a pre-generated one included. What are the rules for creating my own character?
A. The rules are pretty simple. To create your own 1st-level character, follow all the instructions listed in the Player’s Handbook. You can select rules options from any player resource for your character, including the Player’s Handbook series, the Power series, the Player’s Guides, the Adventurer’s Vault series, and Dragon Magazine content. You can choose any race that’s received a full “PC race” write-up in any player book or source. So, for example, shadar-kai is OK, since it received a full write-up in Dragon, but kobold isn’t, since it hasn’t received that treatment. You start play with 100 gold (as normal). You might want to consider making your character fit in with the world of the Forgotten Realms, but that’s not a requirement.

Q. It seems that this season, you can create a character and then export it into Living Forgotten Realms. How does that work?
A. At the end of the season, you can take your D&D Encounters: Undermountain character and play the character with all the accumulated XP and treasure you’ve earned in Living Forgotten Realms. When you finish the season, simply ensure that your character conforms to the most current rules for that campaign.

Q. Can I have multiple characters? What happens if I want to play a new character?
A. You can certainly create more than one character for D&D Encounters, although you’ll probably want to play just one for most or all of the season. Since characters won’t advance too far in the season, you’ll start each character at 1st level with 0 experience points and track each character’s XP, gold, and treasure separately. Your Renown Points are earned as a player, not as a character, so you’ll keep accumulating all your Renown Points earned each week.

Q. Can I use RPGA Rewards cards at the table?
A. No. The D&D Encounters play program has its own rewards that can be used when you earn them.

Q. Tell me more about Renown Points. How do you earn them?
A. Renown Points are a way to track your accomplishments with your character in-game and activities you’re engaged in outside of the game. Each session, you’ll earn a few points for completing an encounter (the primary way that you earn points). You can also earn points for hitting a milestone (which should happen roughly every 2 play sessions). All the other Renown Point awards are once per season. Once you’ve checked off that accomplishment, you’ll earn the listed number of points, and you can’t earn that award again during the season. Examples of in-game accomplishments include hitting a single enemy for 15+ damage in one attack, reviving a dying adventurer ally, and taking 50 points of enemy damage in a single session. Examples of out-of-game accomplishments include creating a character using the D&D Character Builder, creating a character with a Player’s Handbook 3 feat, and creating a character with a Player’s Handbook 3 class or race. Most of these awards can be earned at any point during the season, but once you’ve earned them, you’ve received that award and cannot receive it again. On average, a player can expect to earn about 3-7 points per session, but you could earn over 10 points in one session if you engage in a bunch of the Renown Point accomplishments at one time!

Q. What do you get for your Renown Points?
A. We have a few different D&D Encounters Rewards cards in this season’s kit. In order to receive the first card, called the Delver Award, you need to earn 10 Renown Points. After the session in which you earn your first reward, you’ll be presented with this card. The next two levels of rewards—the Explorer Award and the Adventurer Award—are given out at the end of the season. You can qualify for those rewards by earning 30 and 50 Renown Points, respectively. There are a limited number of those Rewards cards in the kit, so your organizer will have details on how those cards will be awarded at the conclusion of the season. Want to see what the first card looks like? Check it out here.

Q. I saw that you’ll be using social networking tools to “enhance” the play experience. What does that mean?
A. We will be using Facebook, the Wizards Community site, and Twitter to make the Wednesday game experience even more special. Here’s how.

Facebook: On Tuesdays, we’ll post reminders of the next day’s session, sometimes including a little teaser information. On Thursdays, we’ll let you know to head to the Wizards Community site for a recap of the past day’s action.

Wizards Community Site: Through the D&D Community page and official D&D Encounters forum, you’ll be able to chat about what happened this week, talk in-character about the session, and share your feedback and experiences!

Twitter: Follow @Wizards_DnD on Twitter, bring your mobile device to the table, and see what comes up during your game session! Each hour, there’ll be a new tweet that might change what happens at the game table—perhaps giving you an in-game benefit or altering the environment in some way. You’ll know that the tweet is for D&D Encounters by its hashtag—#dndenc. Undermountain is a crazy and wild place. You never know what strange, latent magic still lurks in the mad mage Halaster’s creation!

Come join your local game store on Wednesday nights beginning on March 17 for a new way adventure each week—one encounter at a time!

March 20: Player’s Handbook 3 Game Day

Hitting stores on March 20, the weekend after the first session of D&D Encounters, is the next D&D Game Day, celebrating the release of Player’s Handbook 3! Last month, we gave some information and a little sneak preview of one of the characters. Just to whet your appetite, here’s the full selection of the characters you’ll be able to play in Beneath the Lonely Tower! Check out a store near you to pick up your Player’s Handbook 3 and participate in Game Day!

We have several more D&D Game Days planned for this year, so tune in next month for more details!

March 26-28: PAX East

At the brand-new PAX East gaming convention this year in Boston, Wizards of the Coast will be on hand as an exhibitor and to offer all sorts of D&D gaming. You can even catch up on missed D&D Encounters sessions! Check out our schedule below, and head to the PAX East website for more information on the show. If you’re looking to volunteer as a DM, contact our head organizer, Willi Burger. We hope to see you there!

Brand-New to D&D

D&D Learn-to-Play
Want to learn how to play D&D 4th Edition? We’ll teach you all the basics and send you out on your first adventure! Everything is provided for you, and you can even keep your character. A 3-4 hour D&D 4th Edition play experience.
Runs Friday 3 pm and 7 pm; Saturday 11 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm; Sunday 11 am

New and Experienced D&D Players

D&D Encounters: Undermountain Session 1
Get caught up with D&D Encounters, our newest official D&D 4th Edition play program. Journey to Undermountain, one of the most infamous dungeons ever created, and uncover the secrets of Halaster’s Lost Apprentice. D&D Encounters is a weekly, in-store mini-campaign played each Wednesday, one encounter at a time. If you play sessions 1 and 2 here, you’ll be ready to play session 3 at your local store next week! You can create your own 1st-level character or use one of our pregenerated characters. Session 1 is a 2-hour D&D 4th Edition play experience.
Runs Friday 3 pm and 7 pm; Saturday 11 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm; Sunday 11 am

D&D Encounters: Undermountain Session 2
This is session 2 of the D&D Encounters: Undermountain convention special. See Session 1 for details. It is recommended that you play session 1 before playing session 2. Session 2 is a 2-hour D&D 4th Edition play experience.
Runs Friday 5 pm and 9 pm; Saturday 1 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm; Sunday 1 pm

D&D Convention Delve: Ruins of the Spectral Glade
The deadly woods of the Spectral Glade hold ancient ruins and priceless treasures. Will your hero vanquish the evil at the heart of the forest and claim its riches or become just one more nameless corpse? Play as often as you like and earn prizes! 3rd-level characters are provided. A 1-hour D&D 4th Edition play experience.
Runs Friday 2 pm—10 pm; Saturday 10 am—10 pm; Sunday 10 am—2 pm

Some D&D Experience Recommended

D&D Dark Sun Preview: Death in the Arena
Get special sneak peeks at the newest D&D campaign setting releasing this summer! A templar holds a relic believed to be the key to unlocking a site of ancient power. Can you convince an agent of the sorcerer-king to relinquish the Seal of the Seven Winds without paying the ultimate price? A DARK SUN preview adventure set in the city-state of Tyr. 1st-level characters are provided. A 4-hour D&D 4th Edition play experience.
Runs Friday 3 pm and 7 pm; Saturday 11 am and 3 pm; Sunday 11 am

D&D DM Challenge: Horrors of the Underdark
This DM Challenge is a special one-time event running only at PAX East! DMs bring their best and most dangerous 6th-level Underdark adventures for you to conquer. Rate your play experience to determine the best adventure of the evening! 6th-level characters are provided. A 4-6 hour D&D 4th Edition play experience. Rules and more information available here.
Runs Saturday 7 pm

Other Events

Three-Dragon Ante Tournament
Play a few rounds of this fantastic card game using images from the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game! The tournament winner takes home a stack of D&D books, and we might have some other surprises in store! A 4 hour play experience.
Runs Friday 7 pm

D&D Seminar: Save My Game! Live
Have a rules question or a problem at your table? Keep the action flowing and get DM tips as we troubleshoot your gameplay and DMing questions. The Wizards staff takes on all questions and gives you answers!
Runs Sunday 2:30 – 3:30 pm

That’s all for this time! Have a great March Madness!

About the Author

Originally thought to have been raised from a humble Midwestern family, Chris Tulach actually fell to Earth in a meteorite-shaped capsule flung from a planet far outside our galaxy. While under the yellow rays of Sol, Chris’s nerdity far surpasses that of any normal human. Using this precious gift only for good, he has become the D&D Organized Play Content Developer, responsible for the development and deployment of Dungeons & Dragons organized play programs. He is also the co-author of E2 Kingdom of the Ghouls.

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