News Archive | 7/3/2014
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D&D Expeditions
Leveling Up Your Game
Chris Tulach

W elcome back! Today, I’m going to discuss D&D Expeditions, our play program that creates a “living campaign” for you to continue your play experience in the D&D Adventurers League far beyond one season.


A Little History

Back in the ‘80s, the RPGA (the official organized play system, predecessor to the D&D Adventurers League) created a convention-based tournament-style play format for D&D. The idea was that you’d come to shows such as Gen Con and Origins, register for a tournament, get handed a pre-generated character, and compete against other players or teams to see who could get the farthest or be the most successful in a given adventure. There were many though, that wanted to play their own characters in something more akin to what they were doing at home -- a campaign-style play format.

Living City, the first official shared-world organized play campaign, debuted at Gen Con in 1987. Based in the Forgotten Realms city of Ravens Bluff, players could create their own character and play in official adventures that ran at conventions. All rewards (represented by certificates) and experience went with their characters from game to game, just like most home campaigns.

The campaign-style play proved to be a hit, and over the next decade or so it created an explosion of play in the RPGA. In 2000, with the launch of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Living Greyhawk debuted, evolving the “living campaign” model further. In Living Greyhawk real-world areas were divided up into regions that represented discrete areas within the campaign world. You could play anywhere, but in order to participate in most adventures, you needed to travel to the real-world region to do so. The regional system created strong bastions of play that evoked a sort of “mini-campaign” feel -- like each region was almost a distinct campaign, woven into the main campaign.

With the launch of the fourth edition of D&D, the official organized play world shifted back to the Forgotten Realms. Living Forgotten Realms eschewed the regional model after a brief dalliance with it in its early days, and let players participate in adventures wherever they lived. Players could play anything available without leaving their local area, save for special events at large conventions.

The “Living Moonsea”

When we began the process of creating our organized play programs for the new edition of D&D, we knew we wanted to accomplish two things:

  • Connect all the play programs together into a unified play experience, allowing players to take their characters from one to the other.
  • Allow players to continue to play all the way through to 20th level.

We decided that in order to keep folks playing as long as they wanted in the system (which would become the D&D Adventurers League), we’d need to have a “living campaign” experience. We looked back at all of our past campaign-style programs, and from that, we drafted up the idea of setting aside a region of the Forgotten Realms for continued play -- a place where an individual character might be able to make a difference, and where we could make changes to the area without worrying too much about the broader implications for the rest of the Forgotten Realms.

Consulting with R&D, we chose the Moonsea region as our starting point for this new program. At first, we were going to call the program “Living Moonsea,” but we decided against it, as we wanted to have the potential for expansion within the Realms (and three programs that started with “E” makes them easy to remember). We were excited by the possibilities of this relatively lawless, make-your-own-way sort of area of the Realms; it was perfect for adventurers to carve out their names through their deeds.

D&D Expeditions -- The Story Continues

D&D Expeditions adventures will typically share the following traits:

  • They are created to be played in a discrete amount of time (most are 3-4 hours).
  • They are episodic in nature, having a beginning, middle, and end.
  • They debut at a convention prior to wide release to stores and other public play (typically the month after debut).
  • They each have a level requirement, but eventually there will be adventures to accommodate all levels of play.
  • They are created by a cadre of adventure designers outside of Wizards, and are edited and approved by the D&D Adventurers League team.

In addition, we’re linking D&D Expeditions play to the storyline seasons, both in mechanics and story. Mechanically, you’ll create a character and tie that character to a season (for example, Tyranny of Dragons). This defines the rules you’ll use for that character for the duration of the character’s career, even if you play adventures with that character outside of that season. Characters created during Tyranny of Dragons have access to the Basic Rules and the Player’s Handbook. New seasons will allow other rules for characters created during those seasons. (Note this applies to all D&D Adventurers League characters, as you don’t create a character for a program, but rather for all of organized play.)

Story-wise, we’re taking the themes of the main story reflected in D&D Encounters and for-sale products (such as Hoard of the Dragon Queen) and highlighting them in D&D Expeditions adventures. We’re going to focus the play of each season in an area of the Moonsea, and show how the story affects that area. For the first season, adventures will take place in and around Phlan, and (of course) the Cult of the Dragon is up to no good in that area. Not every adventure will involve dragons or the cult, but most do in some way. Those that don’t will focus on providing some story elements to further define the area (for example, the Black Fists and the corruption in Phlan), giving you a better sense of what the area’s about and creating some longer-term set dressing. When the next storyline season begins, we’ll “move the lens” to another part of the Moonsea, and adventure there.

Each season, we’ll use the first few adventures released to give you a sense of what the location and story is about, getting you familiar with the setting. Then, we’ll use one or more of the adventures later in the season to create a challenge or problem that needs resolution. At the end of the each season, the Moonsea region will be changed as a result of actions taken through these events and adventures. At a later time, we might revisit the area affected to show those changes through play.

Getting Involved

D&D Expeditions adventures are meant to be available wherever in-person public play happens; at a store, a convention, or another public venue (like a community center or library). If you’d like to organize D&D Expeditions games, you have two options available to you:

  • If you’re looking for somewhere to organize on a regular basis, associate yourself with a store; the store can schedule D&D Expeditions games and will receive an access link to the adventures (which they can give to you).

  • Starting on August 1, if you’re associated with a convention or other public event, contact Game Support and request access to the adventures. You’ll fill out a brief form, and will receive a reply within 24-48 hours.

Once you have access to the adventure download site, you should only need to renew your access each season. You can also share access with Dungeon Masters that will be running your adventures, so they can download the adventures on their time.

If you’re looking to set up an event or help organize D&D Adventurers League play at a convention, we’re in the process of getting regional coordinators set up to help facilitate promoting your event (and connecting you with players and DMs). More information on that soon; stay updated at dndadventurersleague.org!

Links and Contact Information

Now with Facebook and Google+ communities!

Official Wizards D&D Adventurers League AnnouncementsDungeonsandDragons.com
D&D Adventurers League Organizers Pagedndadventurersleague.org
D&D Adventurers League Twitter@DnD_AdvLeague
D&D Adventurers League Facebook GroupClick here!
D&D Adventurers League G+ CommunityClick here!

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