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Summer Shows and Gamma World
D&D Play Spotlight
by Chris Tulach

Well, the summer went racing by here at Wizards Organized Play. Another excellent convention season for D&D—although that term is starting to lose its meaning, as the big gaming shows are being spread throughout the year more and more. But two big ones—Gen Con Indy and PAX Prime—just concluded in the past month, and I’d like to take a little time this month to give them a proper wrap-up.

On the Wizards Play Network side, we’ll talk Gamma World Game Day (right around the corner on October 23rd). D&D Encounters: Keep on the Borderlands has just begun, so I’ll give that a nod by answering a burning question regarding Dragon play content for use in the season.

Gen Con Indy 2010

Gen Con Indy on the first full weekend of August was huge for D&D again this year. We had more players in the Sagamore Ballroom than last year, and for the first time in many, many years, all editions of D&D had a place in one room. The booth, with its live-action play experience was a hit, and nostalgia displays were on hand outside the gaming hall.

Larry Elmore, one of the most iconic D&D artists (and illustrator of the famous “Red Box” cover) was one of our featured guests, and our new version of the “Red Box” was on display for all to see with a giant interactive cover piece. Attendees could don the fighter’s regalia, including his sword, shield, and furry horned helmet to fight the red dragon statue leaping out from the box cover!

Inside the Sagamore Ballroom, the gaming hall was filled with players participating in a wide variety of D&D games. On the 4th Edition front, we had a smash hit with Glory and Blood: Dark Sun Arenas, a multi-game challenge wherein you’d create a 1st-level Dark Sun character and fight your way through the seven arenas of the city-states of Athas. In addition, our D&D Championship event was incredibly well received, earning high praise for both the format and the theme. This year, we presented the first Epic-tier organized play event for the championship, as the players competed as teams to reach 30th level and the final battle against Orcus! Living Forgotten Realms kept almost half the hall filled with gamers, many of which were really digging our return to the Living City in the multi-adventure mini-campaign called Return to Ravens Bluff.

We also filled the hall with players of other editions of D&D—DMs who scheduled events at the show were invited to run their games in the hall with the rest of the D&D players. We had everything from “White Box” Original D&D games to 3.5 Edition going on all weekend long in the hall. All D&D players were able to game with us in the Sagamore—an assembly that had not been seen since the days of Gen Con back in Milwaukee years ago. It ran so well that we’re definitely looking at doing it again next year. After all, if you’re passionate about your favorite version of D&D, you can share that with all the other fans in the same room!

Of course, no talk of Gen Con Indy and D&D would be complete without mention of the runaway hit of the show—Castle Ravenloft. The first board game in our line of cooperative games for 1-5 players, hundreds of folks took a spin through the haunted halls and dangerous corridors to get a sneak peek on the game. I was asked countless times where to buy it, and as it didn’t release until later in the month, everyone was chomping at the bit to play more. By now, it’s on the store shelves, but it’s flying off quick, so get yours soon if you haven’t yet. You can pick up additional adventures for it here on the Wizards site, too!

PAX Prime 2010

At PAX Prime, the new DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set had been released to our core hobby stores, and we were scant days away from the first full month of the Essentials line hitting those same shops. The nostalgia vibe was in full swing, and as the con swelled to a sold-out attendance again this year, we had droves of players participating in many of the events that we ran at Gen Con Indy a few weeks earlier.

We had a super-cool D&D-wrapped bus parked a couple of blocks away from the show, where we did all kinds of contests and shows all weekend long. Folks could stop by, check out the massive dice, see the well-traveled beholder (he’s been around since the 4th Edition launch), and pick up some sweet nostalgia swag, like t-shirts and old-school-color-in-the-numbers dice.

In the convention center, the highlight event was the reunited Acquisitions, Inc. adventuring company, with Chris Perkins at the DM helm and the return of Wil Wheton’s character, Aeofel. The hall was jam-packed with anxious attendees, booked to capacity. The game did not disappoint, and I know that I can’t wait to see the footage when it goes live on our site!

For gaming, we ran many of the events that were popular from Gen Con, but we also brought out a first look at Gamma World with a special adventure entitled “Pax Extraterrestria.” Players had a hoot creating their own mutants, playing with the Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards, and attempting to squelch the threat of the Returned Earth to the city of “Seat.” The adventure should be available later in October as a convention special through the ordering system.

Mutants and Mayhem: D&D Gamma World Game Day!

On October 23, get ready to experience some weird science fantasy in the blasted remains of Gamma Terra! Grab a friend and celebrate the launch of the new D&D Gamma World Boxed Set. Mutate a brave new hero and be ready to take on just about anything. Experience the return of an old classic in a new play experience using the D&D 4th Edition rules engine. The D&D Gamma World game is a fast, furious romp through a post-apocalyptic Earth where mutant heroes face off against killer robots, alien weirdness, and strange, irradiated creatures. Here’s a description of the adventure:

Gamma World Game Day: Trouble in Freesboro
It’s shocking how the Big Mistake completely obliterated some places while others got by relatively unscathed. Freesboro falls into the latter camp, but if Genghis Tangh has his way, life will never be the same for the mutants of Gamma Terra. Delve into the origins of the Big Mistake as you take on Tangh and his forces! Pick up a D&D Gamma World Boxed Set, a few booster packs of power cards, and create your own characters in an exciting new Game Day experience! A D&D Gamma World Game Day adventure designed for 4-6 characters of 1st level.

An exclusive 4-hour adventure called Trouble in Freesboro, written by Robert J. Schwalb, includes an online feature to the game which, if accessed during play, can provide the players with a valuable clue. Look for more information on this as the event approaches!

If you’re playing, you’ll pick up two D&D Gamma World booster packs and create your own character at the store on the day of the event. DMs need to have a copy of the D&D Gamma World Boxed Set and the adventure materials, available prior to the event day in the game day kit, to prepare to run the game. In addition to a poster map and the adventure, the game day kit also contains two different D&D Gamma World cards, available nowhere else, and awarded to players and DMs just for participating! If your store isn’t participating yet, make sure to poke them to order their Game Day kits soon! If you don’t know where to go, find a store here.

D&D Encounters Questions: Dragon Magazine Options

The beginning of the newest season of D&D Encounters spotlights the Essentials products, as adventurers explore in and around Restwell Keep, otherwise known as the Keep on the Borderlands. Players create their own 1st-level character using the Heroes of the Fallen Lands book (and with the start of Chapter 3, they can add Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms), but we’ve had a very legitimate question arise with the Essentials-supported articles in Dragon Magazine.

What content from Dragon Magazine is legal for D&D Encounters: Keep on the Borderlands?

Any content that directly supports the Essentials products is OK for players to use to create their character. So, if an article gives mage-specific options or introduces a new Essentials-style class, it’s OK to create a character with those options.

It is the intent that for each season of D&D Encounters, we’ll allow players to use the two Essentials books for character creation, plus one or two other products that we want to spotlight for the season, plus all accompanying Dragon Magazine content that supports those products. I call this Essentials+ character creation, which is designed to keep the amount of rules content useable at an accessible level for new players while spotlighting new content for existing players.

See you next month!


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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