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Warm Up Your Winter with D&D!
D&D Play Spotlight
by Chris Tulach

The weather may be nasty and cold, or nice and warm, but no matter what Mother Nature brings, Wizards has some pretty sweet events and programs lined up over the next few weeks. This month, get more details on D&D Experience, the next season of D&D Encounters, and a sneak peek into a cool reward perk arriving for our most dedicated D&D Encounters Dungeon Masters!

D&D Experience 2011: January 26-30

Once again this year, Fort Wayne, Indiana plays host to the spotlight D&D convention—D&D Experience! Consisting of four solid days of great D&D games, seminars, swag, and exclusive access to Wizards folk, it’s the place to be for D&D fans! Check out some of the special programming at the show this year (listed below), or hit up the D&D Experience website run by the convention organizer, David Christ. Registration is still open, or show up onsite at the Grand Wayne Convention Center anytime during the weekend to get in on the action.

Special Guests

D&D Experience will have the following Wizards of the Coast special guests: Mike Mearls (R&D), Chris Perkins (R&D), Greg Bilsland (R&D), Trevor Kidd (Community), Michael Robles (Community), Andy Heckt (OP), and Chris Tulach (OP). They’ll be hosting seminars, playing and DMing games, and generally being about to chat up throughout the show. In addition, the show will feature other D&D special guests made famous through print and the wonders of the internet—for a full list of these fabulous folks, head to the D&D Experience special guests page.

Exclusive Games

D&D Experience will have a brand-new adventure written by Shawn Merwin called "Kalarel’s Revenge," which features an exclusive look at Heroes of Shadow, Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, and other surprises! In addition, the DM’s Challenge this year will be D&D Gamma World themed, as players explore the post-apocalyptic hometowns of their DMs. Great special events like the board game challenge, the Baldman Games/Critical Hits Open Tournament "Murder at Time’s End," and numerous other custom games offer all sorts of one-off play experiences. And for all the campaigners out there, D&D Experience offers plenty of Living Forgotten Realms games (including another battle interactive "Swarm of Chaos") and the launch of the Ashes of Athas convention campaign! Check out the D&D Experience events page for more details.

Great Seminars

Every day at D&D Experience, you can get inside scoops, participate in gripping discussions, and interact with some of the industry’s experts through the seminar track. All of the Wizards seminars run at 1-3 pm and 4-6 pm daily (except Sunday, which is 1-3 pm only). Highlights include the ever-popular Product Spotlight, a live D&D Virtual Table gameplay experience, and our always engaging adventure design seminar—now with information on freelancing for Wizards! Head over to the D&D Experience seminars page to get all the info.

Sweet Swag

You braved the frigid Indiana winter to be here, and we’d like to show you our thanks by having lots of great takeaway promos available throughout the show. Some stuff will magically appear when you arrive and check in, and other items will be available for participating in certain events. Hitting up "Kalarel’s Revenge" will net you an opportunity to try out the new D&D Fortune Cards, while you can compete for a copy of Wrath of Ashardalon through the board game challenge. You’ll find board game and D&D Gamma World promos greeting you in your swag bag, and other cool exclusives just might be found if you keep an eye open.

D&D Encounters New Season: February 9

On February 9th, the next season of D&D Encounters arrives with "March of the Phantom Brigade," written by Rodney Thompson. This adventure promises an engaging storyline and a can’t-miss finale. You’ll want to play every Wednesday!

We discussed some program details last month, and here’s a little story preview along with some other first looks for you to peruse while you get ready to face off against an ancient evil in the Ghost Tower!

Adventure Introduction

The adventure begins with the heroes as part of a caravan of pilgrims setting out to found a town in the ruins of Castle Inverness. The heroes are 1st-level adventurers who have been hired to ensure that the caravan reaches Inverness safely. Here’s the opening read-aloud text:

You and your companions stand huddled in the chill of early morning, blowing clouds of mist with every breath. Dawn is just breaking, and the shadowed walls of Hammerfast loom above you. A caravan of settlers is preparing to depart, and you are among them.

Some months ago, a call went out from the temple of Moradin in Hammerfast seeking able-bodied settlers to establish a new town to the southwest. Desiring to settle in this new town, you answered the call and now stand in a field outside the town awaiting the caravan’s departure.

Keeping It Simple: Start at 1st Level

Starting this season, all characters start at 1st level, regardless of when the player starts the season. In addition, you’ll level up when you obtain enough XP to make your levels. There are no "level bumps." This makes it easy for new players to join at any point during the season and rewards players who attend each week by giving them a faster track to gaining their levels.

Essentials Characters

We’re keeping it straightforward again this season by spotlighting the D&D Essentials line for character creation. You can create a character using Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, and any Dragon magazine article content that has the icons of those two books on the article’s title page. In addition, the DDI Character Builder has all the details already pre-loaded into a campaign setting for "March of the Phantom Brigade" (available approximately one week before the season begins).

If you want to just jump right in and play, you can pick up one of the pre-generated characters to start while you’re trying to decide what to make for the next week!

New Treasure Distribution

This season, instead of receiving specific magic items for treasure, the DM is instructed to roll on a chart to award an item, potentially giving each group that plays at your local store a different variety of gear. In fact, here’s the chart, straight from the adventure.

TREASURE TABLE
d20 RESULT d20 RESULT
1 2 potions of healing 11 +1 dwarven armor
2 +1 magic armor 12 +1 orb of inevitable continuance
3 +1 magic weapon 13 +1 rod of deadly casting
4 +1 magic holy symbol 14 +1 luck blade
5 +1 amulet of protection 15 +1 delver's armor
6 +1 magic wand, orb, staff, or rod 16 +1 lightning wand
7 +1 veteran's armor 17 ironskin belt
8 +1 vicious weapon 18 +1 amulet of health
9 +1 safewing amulet 19 +1 flaming weapon
10 +1 symbol of life 20 +1 staff of storms

D&D Fortune Card Rewards

Starting this season, the D&D Encounters cards offered in previous seasons have been replaced with a new gameplay enhancement, D&D Fortune Cards. As you earn Renown Points this season, you’ll get access to exclusive D&D Fortune Cards that are not available anywhere else! You’ll earn cards at 20, 40, and 60 Renown Points. In addition, we’ve upped the number of cards available at the higher thresholds, ensuring that more players can get access to the rewards that take a bigger commitment to earn.

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Thank You DMs!

Did you go the distance last year with a D&D Encounters season at your local store? Were you a DMing all-star week in and week out? We’re thanking you, our most dedicated D&D Encounters DMs, with a care package of goodies sent to your store, directly to your attention! These thank-you packages include a special "DM Thank You" Token Set designed by Gale Force Nine, a copy of the D&D novel Mark of Nerath, a special D&D Fortune Card, and a really kick-ass 2011 D&D Calendar! Packages should be arriving at your D&D Encounters stores in early February.

Next month, stay tuned for a D&D Experience wrap-up report and information on PAX East in Boston. Good gaming!


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.