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    Learn about D&D organized play options

    It is clear that a great many gamers have questions about D&D organized play. I don't have all the answers, but I thought we could create a thread where people could ask honest questions and receive meaningful answers.

    On RPG Diversity and Respecting Others:
    It is really easy to want to express a personal preference for one type of game or campaign. There are so many kinds of games and gamers. Over the years I have had the fortune to try many different living campaigns, including Pathfinder, LG, LFR, Ashes of Athas, Heroes of Rokugan, Living Arcanis, Living Spycraft, Living Seattle, Shadowrun Missions, and others.

    The immense diversity is one of the great things about being an RPG fan. One gamer might love the clan loyalty aspect of Legend of the Five Rings. Another might love the open-ended play of Spycraft. The enthusiasm for all these options ends up influencing designers/developers/authors/admins and enriches our hobby. Please: be tolerant of others in this thread! Promote our hobby in all its variations!

    What is Organized Play, a living campaign, and what do some of these terms mean?

    At a high level, "organized play"" is a term for a range of programs run by game companies to encourage people to come together and play their games - often in a public setting. An “OP” program has recognizable and dependable elements so all participants use common rules and can reliably find an opportunity to play.

    The program often provides some continuity. An example of organized play is the Encounters part of the organized play program called Adventurers League (see below), which provides play every Wednesday at participating gaming stores. For Encounters, each play session constitutes an encounter or chapter in the adventure/campaign. Too busy with work, school, or kids to run a home campaign, or having trouble finding gamers?Show up at a store running the program every Wednesday and get a quick fix of D&D! DMs receive a copy of the special adventure, while players often receive promotional materials (cool dice or other benefits).

    A "living campaign" is another type of organized play that tries to create an experience similar to a home campaign, but where hundreds or thousands of players are interacting with the ongoing story. In these large-scale campaigns players all over the world play the same adventures, share the experiences with each other and the campaign leadership, and the result often influences the development of subsequent adventures.

    Living campaigns give a DM or player great flexibility. You can play anywhere at any time and know you will have common rules and be a part of the same overarching plot. A player in New York is part of the same campaign as a player in Sheffield, England. The two players could play several adventures separately, then meet up at a convention. Sitting at the table for the first time, those two players nonetheless have a shared history, common goals, and their characters use the same rules for play with regards to character builds, magic acquisition, and so on. A DM can travel as well, benefitting from his or her knowledge of the campaign wherever they go. As play progresses the community builds up a shared history and experiences and can discuss them with each other – even if they played with different groups. The whole world becomes their home campaign!

    An example of a living campaign is the Expeditions program, where your character is based in the Moonsea region and can participate in convention or store-run adventures to explore the Moonsea region and protect it from developing threats. As you play adventures the story progresses and your character develops a deeper relationship with the land, the NPCs, and other players. You also become more experienced, gain levels, and gain treasure. Often, your actions can impact the story, especially when the adventures premiere at conventions. Your table might be the one that frees an important NPC, uncovers critical information, or outwits a villain in a way that impacts the campaign and causes the story to change.

    There is a rich history to organized play, beginning in the 1980's with the RPGA (Role Playing Game Association) as a gaming club/network started by employees of TSR (the original company that published D&D). The RPGA created community and wrote and ran adventures at major conventions. The early tournament adventures were one-shot adventures where you might easily not make it to the end. Tournaments were often scored, providing a competitive aspect (no longer prevalent today). Many of those early convention adventures became classics, such as the Against the Giants adventures, Slaver series of adventures, Barrier Peaks, Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, and others. In 1987 the first living campaign, Living City, was launched as a way to provide a style of play more similar to that of a home campaign. In a living campaign you can progress through the plot over time, with each adventure becoming an episode in the story. You can attend a convention and play the first adventure, then later find a local store and play another adventure with completely different players... and the story still progresses for you.

    Because the DM also changes, campaigns (living or otherwise) need rules and tools to maintain order. It wouldn't make sense for one DM to give you a free Wish spell while another DM gives out a rusty sword! It wouldn't be okay for your character to have all attributes set to 18 while others have average scores. Similarly, it wouldn't be okay if after raiding the castle my character sold the castle's siege weapons for thousands of gold pieces. Character creation and play rules are published to keep play consistent, fair, and fun. Rules also tell DMs how much judgment they can use to adjust an adventure. Treasure and experience points are stated by the adventures. Log sheets track your character's play and show the name of each scenario you play, when you played it, and what you earned playing the scenario. Certificates are provided if you receive magical treasure or special rewards at a store or convention. Certificates allow you to trade an item with another player for a certificate they have. Players can have their character join a Faction, an NPC organization that is part of the larger world and which can provide PCs with benefits. Renown is tracked as PCs accomplish deeds for their faction, helping to measure their recognition within the faction. Fifth edition has rules for Downtime, allowing characters to perform special activities in between adventures. Downtime is provided according to strict rules to ensure consistency across the player base.

    The organized play campaigns run by different RPG companies tend to have common elements. Administrators of the campaign maintain the rules mentioned above, plus other guidelines (whether you can play evil-aligned characters, whether you can replay an adventure with another character, etc.). They coordinate adventure-writing, approving volunteers to write adventures, reviewing their work, and then distributing the adventures to individual DMs at conventions, game stores, small game days, even groups that play at home. The DMs run the adventure, and the players keep a record of what happened, how much XP they gained, what treasure they acquired, and so on. The next time that character’s played in an adventure in the campaign, whether with the same DM or with a completely different group, the PC has the benefit of that XP and treasure - and, often, story consequences. If you decided to help the usurper in the first adventure your DM in the next adventure will roleplay the king’s reaction accordingly. By playing these adventures your character levels up and also gains more knowledge and involvement in the campaign. These campaigns can run for years, so characters can reach high levels and play in adventures which have significant consequences for the campaign setting. For example, the finale of the Living Forgotten Realms campaign includes the campaign administrators’ interpretation of the end of the Spellplague, with the high level characters challenging gods in an effort to remake the Weave. The final set of adventures for LFR drew on the various NPCs and plotlines which had evolved over the six years of the campaign, giving a payoff to players who’d been involved from the start - while still providing fun adventures for players who had missed parts of the campaign or had only just begun playing.

    For some people this set-up provides some real advantages. It’s a great way to keep continuity if you attend a lot of conventions or store events. It’s also a good set-up for people who travel, people who have unsettled working patterns, and anyone who isn’t able to commit to a regular weekly or fortnightly game. If you can find people who are running organized play adventures, you can drop in and drop out without having to sign up for an ongoing commitment or letting people down if you can’t play on a regular basis. Even players with a regular gaming group can be drawn to organized play for the shared experience.

    Organized play can also be a gateway to further involvement and even freelance work. There have been months where more than half of the contributors to Dragon and Dungeon magazines were previously authors for organized play. Mike Mearls, who led the 5th Edition design team, began as an administrator for a region of the Living Greyhawk organized play campaign. Even if you don’t rise to such heights, organized play offers an opportunity to contribute and to hone your RPG skills as a writer, coordinator, event manager, and more.

    To get started, check out the sections below on the different program options. Rules will be linked (soon) so you know how to create a character and the rules governing play. Use the Wizards store locator to find a gaming store offering D&D play. You can also look for conventions in the area offering Adventurers League play. There are tons of helpful players you will meet once you get started!


    So, what are the options in organized play for D&D and how do they differ?


    New! D&D Adventurers League
    On May 21, Wizards announced a brand new organized play program, the D&D Adventurers League! This program begins in August 2014.

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    Web sites with initial information: Official Web Site
    Find a store running DnD!
    Summary of how to get started with the program as a player, DM, organizer, club, or store!

    Campaign Resources, including Player's Guide (printer friendly), Quick-Start Guide and find other printable resources!
    Become a Regional Coordinator! Grow the program in your area and get rewards!


    Program Overview:

    Start date: August, 2014 (Tyranny of Dragons storyline runs through March 11, 2015).
    Setting: Forgotten Realms. Encounters and Epics can take place anywhere. D&D Expeditions has a home base in Phlan, in the Moonsea region. (Read about the Moonsea on the FR Wiki)
    Administration: Run by Wizards of the Coast, with three administrators: a Community Manager (interacts with gamers, gathers feedback), a Content Manager (develops and edits adventures), and a Resource Manager (keeps schedules on track, supports designers).
    Volunteers: More information is forthcoming, but volunteers will be needed to help!
    Official Information for Players
    Official Information for DMs
    Official information for Organizers
    Informational articles on the DnD Web site

    AL Resources, Jul 31, 2014 (Players Guide, QuickStart Guide, Character Sheet, Adventure Log)Faction Talk, Part 1, Jul 30, 2014 (Information on Faction ranks and benefits)
    Finding Your Game, July 28, 2014 (How and where to play).
    Expenditions and how it provides a living campaign, Jul 3, 2014.
    Using the Starter Set for Adventurers League, June 26, 2014
    Magic Items and Rewards, June 18, 2014.
    Introducing the admins, June 4, 2014.
    Coming Soon: D&D Adventurers League! May 6, 2014.
    Origins Panel on Adventurers League.
    Interview on ICv2 marketing site with Liz Schuh, head of Publishing and Licensing.
    ICv2 overview.



    D&D Adventurers League is a new program pulling together several types of play. Each type of play offers in-character rewards such as experience and treasure. Playing several types of play also provides greater story depth, encouraging engagement. Experience, gold, and other rewards are tracked on a log sheet. Some rewards (generally magic items, but occasionally special rewards such as titles or favors) are uniquely available as certificates. An adventure may offer magic items, and if a player receives one they may write it on their log sheet and use it. If they also have the certificate they may trade the item to another player in exchange for a different item (the item must also have a certificate and be of similar rarity). Certificates are an optional system to allow trading and are available when you play at stores and conventions. Characters can join a Faction, providing them with NPC alliances and an organization whose goals they can advance during play. Additional information on rewards was provided in this blog.

    All of the types of play are woven together around a central story arc. When a story arc concludes, the player may retire the character or continue playing with the same PC in the new story arc.

    D&D Encounters:
    Official site
    This is a store-based program taking place each Wednesday and serves as the introduction to each story arc. Play starts at 1st level. Stores receive a kit, which allows them to modify a published adventure and bring excitement to character Factions. Players can simply show up and will receive a pregenerated character so they can jump right into the action. No prior knowledge of D&D is required. The first Adventurer's League Encounters play will begin August 20th with the Tyranny of Dragons story arc by using levels 1-4 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure. See the section on D&D Encounters below for additional information on the current season (before Adventurers League) and the history of this very successful program.
    Continuing Play: Players can continue the Encounters season by playing through the rest of the published adventure or by participating in Expeditions or Epics.

    D&D Expeditions:
    Official site
    Expeditions extends the play options, allowing players to continue Encounters with additional depth and reach higher levels of play. Characters are based in the town of Phlan, in the dangerous Moonsea region. (Phlan is known to many gamers as the site of the Pool of Radiance, featured in adventures and video games.) Play will resemble 'living campaigns', allowing characters to get to know their region and to influence how it fares through their in-character actions. Adventures premiere at select conventions, where players can give feedback and shape the storyline. The adventures are then available as pdfs and can be ordered for store and convention play. Kits for conventions and stores provide certificates. Adventures debut in North America, but play is worldwide. Expeditions cannot be played as a home game, but they can be run in a public location such as a school, library, coffee shop, etc. Players can replay D&D Expeditions adventures, but they must use a different character.
    Read more about the Moonsea! D&D Classics provides digital versions of the 2E sourcebook The Moonsea and the 3E campaign sourcebook Mysteries of the Moonsea. (I recommend the 2E book for your first read)

    D&D Epics:
    Official site
    These are special one-time kickoff events that run at a major convention and start off a storyline. The adventures center on an exciting moment, such as a major battle or special location. Interactive elements, impact by individual characters, and special rewards are all part of the experience. The first D&D Epic is Corruption in Kryptgarden at Gen Con 2014 - a massive multi-table event with consequences for the Tyranny of Dragons story and participating PCs. (If the storyline runs through early 2015, it is likely the next Epic would run at Winter Fantasy 2015.)

    Factions:
    Official Faction Information
    Factions are a key part of all three types of play. Each PC will be part of a Faction. "As factions gain and lose power, will have an impact on the story, and the story can react to the realities of faction growth/shrinking." As you play adventures, you gain renown points in your faction. Renown points translate to ranks, and unlock new benefits as rank increases. Players can switch factions, but their renown goes down to 0, just like a starting character.

    Faction information was shared on Forbes and The Escapist. From Forbes: "Characters can align with certain local groups, receive awards from them, and increase in rank. These factions are specifically chosen to appeal to different kinds of characters and players." The Factions include:
    The Harpers: a semi-secret organization dedicated to promoting good, preserving history (including art and music of old) and maintaining a balance between civilization and nature by keeping kingdoms small and the destruction of plant life to a minimum. (Read The Code of the Harpers on DnDClassics)
    The Order of the Gauntlet: Divine-inspired, very active against the forces of evil, aggressive and faces evil head-on.
    The Emerald Enclave: focused on the health of the natural world and preserving nature.
    The Lords' Alliance: a partnership of merchant cities, opposed to criminal organizations (and, historically, the Zhentarim).
    The Zhentarim: a mercenary organization, historically led by powerful evil individuals and often tied to terrible acts. Many individual members are not evil.

    Timeline leading up to 1489 DR Adventurers League:

    Forgotten Realms Timeline:
    1357 DR - First Grey Box FR setting
    1358 DR - Time of Troubles
    1367 DR - Second Edition's FR boxed set
    1372 DR - Start of 3rd Edition
    1376 DR - roughly the end of 3E
    1385 DR - Year of Blue Fire, when Spellplague begins.
    1479 DR - Year of the Ageless one, main year covered by 4E play. Mystra returns at the end, causing the end of the Spellplague.
    1484 DR - The Sundering then takes place. The first novel starts in 1484 DR.
    1489 DR - Adventurers League campaign begins.





    D&D Encounters - D&D 5th Edition (previously supported both 3E and 4E)
    Web site for rules, pregens, and finding a gaming store: Organized Play Overview page
    Group and Forums for program discussion: Forums for each Encounters season

    Tyranny of Dragons Season:
    This Encounters season is a special version of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, and will be part of the Tyranny of Dragons story-line and the new D&D Adventurers League organized play program! The season begins August 20th. Before that date, many stores will first run the D&D Starter Set adventure, Lost Mines of Phandelver, which is part of the Adventurers League.

    Hoard of the Dragon Queen is available in stores. Stores running the Encounters program receive a download link and can provide the DMs with a special version of the adventure supporting play through 4th or 5th level.

    Play is expected to run through February 11, 2015. Some extra time is provided before the next season. Players may purchase the complete adventure and continue at home with the rest of the adventure and with the follow-up adventure The Rise of Tiamat (supporting play through 20th level). A store can also order Expeditions adventures and run them in the store until the start of the next season (March 11).

    What's Coming Next?
    The next Encounters season will be a new main story-line theme (not yet announced). It will begin on March 11, 2015.

    Program Overview and History:

    D&D Encounters began in 2010 and is an in-store program designed to introduce the game to new players, provide play opportunities for D&D, and encourage relationships with stores selling D&D product. Encounters runs every Wednesday at gaming stores that have requested the Encounter season kit (through their WPN - Wizards Play Network - rep). The program has been an incredible success, attracting many players to the weekly games.

    D&D Encounters is run in seasons of varying length (often 12-15 weeks). Beginning with the Scourge of the Sword Coast season, stores receive a credit for DMs to download the adventure for free. Each Wednesday features a single encounter from the adventure, progressing the story forward. PCs gain experience, wealth, and/or rewards as they adventure. Though Encounters is increasingly providing an open play experience where PCs impact the story, missing a particular session is not a big deal, because each encounter is fun on its own. The experience is often more casual than a living campaign and is well-suited for new players (though it can be enjoyed by all).

    The seasons have included: (hyperlinks lead to the product page on DnDClassics.com)
    1. Undermountain (Forgotten Realms) (March 17 - June 2, 2010)
    2. Fury of the Wastewalker (Dark Sun) (June 9 to September 15, 2010)
    3. Keep on the Borderlands (Nentir Vale, based on the classic adventure) (Sep 22 - February 2, 2011)
    4. March of the Phantom Brigade (Nentir Vale, loosely linked to the Ghost Tower of Inverness classic adventure) (Feb 9 – May 4, 2011)
    5. Dark Legacy of Evard (Nentir Vale, but using the classic Greyhawk villain) (May 11 - August 3, 2011)
    6. Lost Crown of Neverwinter (Forgotten Realms) (August 10 – November 8, 2011. Launch event was Gates of Neverdeath on August 6, 2011)
    7. Beyond the Crystal Cave (based on the classic adventure) (November 16, 2011 – February 15, 2012)
    8. Elder Elemental Eye (Forgotten Realms, dealing with Tharizdun and the Abyssal Plague) (February 22, 2012 – May 9, 2012)
    9. Web of the Spider Queen (Rise of the Underdark plot series, May 16 - Aug 15)
    10. Council of Spiders (Rise of the Underdark, PCs are all drow from one of three houses, Aug 22 - Oct 17)
    11. War of Everlasting Darkness (1st-8th level, Oct 24 - Dec 19) Note: this ends the drow story arc, but there will be additional encounter seasons after this.
    12. Against the Cult of Chaos (1st-3rd level, Feb 6 - April 3, 2013). Note: first season supporting either 4E or D&D next!
    13. Storm Over Neverwinter (4th-6th level, April 10th - June 5th, 2013). Supports 4E (including all rules sources) and D&D Next. An exclusive d20 is provided as a reward.
    14. Search for the Diamond Staff (4th level, June 12th to August 14th) Supported by June 15th Vault of the Dracolich gameday.
    15. Murder in Baldur's Gate (1st-3rd level. August 21st to Nov 13th) Supported by Baldur's Gate launch weekend August 17-18. Stores or DMs must purchase the adventure. Supports 4E, 3.5, and DnD Next.
    16. Legacy of the Crystal Shard (1st-3rd level. November 21, 2013 – February 12, 2014) Supported by Legacy of the Crystal Shard launch event weekend November 16-17. Stores or DMs must purchase the adventure. Second Sundering adventure, supporting all three editions.
    17. Scourge of the Sword Coast (2nd-4th level, Feb 19 - May 7, 2014) Supported by launch event gameday Feb 15-16.
    18. Dead in Thay (6th-8th level, May 14 - July 2014) Supported by launch event gameday May 10-11.
    19. (There is a break between July 23 and August 20. The Starter Set adventure can be played during this time and is valid for Adventurers League play.)
    20. Tyranny of Dragons (1st-4th level, August 20, 2014 through February 11, 2015) Uses the first part of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure. Valid for Adventurers League and stores receive a special version for DMs.
    21. Next season (not yet announced) begins March 11, 2015.


    Each season is tied to new releases and are good ways of showcasing new product (in turn available at the stores). DMs and players often receive rewards for play. Seasons before Murder in Baldur's Gate granted DMs a copy of the adventure and other nice benefits (Very funny drink cozies for Dark Sun, for example), while players track Renown and earn boons such as in-game reward cards, Fortune Cards, or special dice. Stores ordering the current season receive a packet containing "supplementary material, including maps, stickers for tracking progress, NPC cards, and a unique d20 corresponding to this adventure." The product itself contains the adventure, maps, pregens, and playtest rules.

    Wizards experimented with Twitter for a while, providing temporary "buffs". They also used Fortune Cards. Both are no longer used.


    Player Impact on Story and Sundering Summaries

    Beginning with Murder in Baldur's Gate players could report their actions and help determine the fate of the Forgotten Realms. After each season players could visit the Facebook Sundering app and log their results. Wizards then provided a video summarizing the results of the season.

    Introduction to the Sundering

    Results of Murder in Baldur's Gate and introduction to LotCS

    Results of Legacy of the Crystal Shard and introduction to SotSC


    Sounds great! How do I get started?

    Because the program is store run, use the store locator (also found on the Events page) to find the store near you running the Encounters program. If there is a store in the area but it is not running Encounters, encourage them to sign up and to contact their WPN representative. Once you have a store, just show up at the appointed time (they will have everything else you need, including pregens).

    Pregenerated PCs are included with the adventure, though they can also be created using the free D&D Basic Rules or the Player's Handbook.

    DMs should sign up to DM with the store itself. Stores often need DMs, and even really new DMs can be a great asset to the program! Starting with the August 2013 season, DMs need to verify their store is purchasing the adventure or purchase a copy themselves. The adventure is of high quality and worth owning. The store will provide the adventure as a free download and also have a kit providing additional benefits such as collectible dice and maps.

    The forums are full of good advice and it is common for DMs to discuss strategies for how to run the upcoming session in fun ways. There is typically a DM Tools thread with advice and great downloads like monster tokens/standies, maps, and more.



    Living Forgotten Realms (LFR) - 4th Edition, Concluding 2014
    Web site for rules and adventure: Living Forgotten Realms
    Group and Forums for campaign discussion: LFR Community Forums
    Campaign Overview and History:

    Set in the 4th edition Forgotten Realms, LFR was created by WotC in 2008 as the central/flagship living campaign, replacing Living Greyhawk. WotC recruited a number of talented campaign admins, placing an emphasis on admins that could create a new program that would be open to a lot of different types of D&D gamers. The campaign had a number of initial regions, using the new 4E FR setting (where various things changed due to the death of Mystra and the Spellplague).

    The final LFR adventures premiered at Winter Fantasy 2014. LFR adventures will continue to be accessible through 2014.

    LFR is a traditional living campaign in many respects. You are encouraged to start at 1st level and as you play you gain experience, treasure, and story awards. You track your progress and can take your PC to other LFR adventures run by other gaming groups at homes, stores, or conventions. The portability and shared community experience is a big draw of a living campaign.

    LFR has had a focus on accessibility. The rules allow for the use of the vast majority of the printed 4E material. There are pregen PCs and options for casual or walk-up players to start at higher level if necessary. You can play LFR at home, at stores, at conventions, even online.

    Initially, this accessibility also came with the idea that adventures should be light on setting. The initial batch of adventures had little way of story arcs and FR setting flavor. That has changed and story is a big focus area for the global admins.

    Other changes have come as well. There were many problems getting adventures out and Wizards once had a vision of LFR integrating into many WotC opportunities (gaming table, novels, etc.). Adventures were once held up by being reviewed by some really important people at WotC. The decision was made for LFR to become volunteer-led. WotC still has a say in the campaign and still supports it (check out the post-D&DXP podcast!), but the campaign direction and adventure publishing is now led by the global admins.

    You can read the blog post explaining the new direction.
    Christ Tulach, who leads WotC organized play, discusses the changes here. The campaign recently announced that meta-organizations will be added to provide groups in which PCs can obtain membership.

    As part of the changes the campaign now has fewer regions, their own web site, and is releasing adventures in series tied to regional story arcs.

    The campaign to date has provided more than 200 different adventures in various formats. Adventures span heroic, paragon, and even epic tiers! At D&DXP 2012 it was stated that the Epic storyline will be completed in 2014, ensuring LFR PCs can go all the way from level 1 to 30 (including play at level 30).


    Sounds great! How do I get started?
    To get started, go to the campaign site and download the Campaign Guide (CCG). This will explain the rules and how to create a character and provides guidance for DMs.

    Next, find players and a DM. You can look for gaming stores, post on EN World's Gamer's Seeking Gamers, use Meetup, etc.

    If you are a DM, you will want to select an adventure from the LFR site that is appropriate for the level of the PCs the players have. Once finished, check the site to see if there are open requests for results. You do not need to use the WPN ordering system unless this is specifically noted.

    Players track their progress (XP, gold, magic items, story awards etc.) on log sheets at the end of each adventure. Adventures are released in arcs (such as CALI3-1, CALI3-2, and CALI3-3) that together provide a story experience within one region. Players may enjoy the campaign more if they play in arcs, though they can also play any adventures available for their PCs' tier of play. The cover of each adventure notes the story arc in its summary "blurb".

    The 200-plus adventures are all available for download for free. Players can play as many or as few of the adventures as they desire. If groups find they end up with widely different PC levels due to infrequent play, players can use the rules for starting at a higher level of play. All adventures are designed to be four hours in length, though there are a few two-round and even three-round adventures (with each round being four hours).

    LFR is available at tons of locations, including most conventions and even online through software like MapTool. LFR games are also organized and run on the WotC Virtual Table Top. Large conventions may feature special battle interactive events.



    Lair Assault - 4th Edition, concluded 2013
    Note: This program ends with the March-May season!
    Web site for rules: Lair Assault on the WotC Events page.
    initial info here
    A monthly series of articles began in June, explaining the program. There is also a WPN page here.
    Group and Forums for program discussion: None yet.
    Program Overview and History:

    This program began in September of 2011 and concludes in May 2013. The concept is a very challenging encounter or encounters that are hard enough that you should not be surprised to fail the first few times. This is a tactical game experience rather than a rich ongoing story with heavy role-playing. DMs receive cool materials for running the game (color poster maps, tokens, etc.) and players can earn bragging rights through badges that appear on their DDI account.

    The program features 2-month seasons of a single adventure lasting a few hours. It is available only in gaming stores. Unlike Encounters, games can be scheduled at any time during the season. Seasons are not expected to be linked (unlike the advancing story of LFR or even Encounters) and will likely be in mid to upper heroic tier.

    The program is described by Wizards as follows: "D&D Lair Assault is a new Wizards Play Network in-store program that pits tactically-minded players against a super challenge where the difference between victory and defeat is dependent upon a player's game knowledge, ability to adapt, and a little bit of luck. Players pit your wits against some of the most difficult encounters they’ve ever played. Each challenge is a mega-encounter that plays in just a few hours, but many will need to make more than one run at it in pursuit of victory. D&D Lair Assault challenges are available for a few months, and stores can schedule their sessions at anytime during that period."

    Chris Tulach, WotC lead for Organized Play, wrote an article on how the program was developed.

    List of Lair Assault Scenarios:
    • Forge of the Dawn Titan (5th level, Sep 1 - Nov 30)
    • Talon of Umberlee (8th level, Dec 1 - Feb 29)
    • Attack of the Tyrantclaw (6th level, Mar 1 - May 31)
    • Spiderkiller (9th level, Jun - Aug)
    • Kill the Wizard (8th level, Sep - Nov)
    • Temple of the Sky God (7th level, Dec 1 - Feb 28)
    • Into the Pit of Madness (10th level, March - May). Final season of Lair Assault.


    Prestige Badges:
    For each season of Lair Assault a player may record their accomplishments on their Wizards account. This displays a badge next below his or her user name when posting on forums. The badge's color and name signify how well the player did.

    Sounds great! How do I get started?

    Read the rules so you know what is involved. Check with your gaming store to make sure they ordered the kit (kits are offered periodically, and sold out for the first season). Once play begins, schedule a game with your store. Victory is hard to achieve, so spending time on a good PC build and working on a team build with other players can increase your chances of doing well.

    In particular, note the rules for magic items:
    "Each character receives one magic item of one level higher than their level (level + 1), one of their level (level + 0), and one of one level lower than their level (level – 1). In addition, characters receive gold pieces equal to the value of one magic item of one level lower than their level (level – 1) to buy other equipment they think they’ll need. Each character may have no more than two consumable items (like potions or magic ammunition) equal to or less than the challenge’s level, and no more than one rare magic item. Note that players may equip their characters with magic items that are less than the stated levels if they so choose."



    Ashes of Athas - 4th Edition, concluded 2013
    Web site for rules: Baldman Games - Ashes of Athas
    Group and Forums for program discussion: Ashes of Athas Forums
    Ordering Adventures for Home Play: Send a personal message to this profile with your e-mail address
    Campaign Overview and History:

    Launched at D&DXP (Winter Fantasy) in January of 2011, Ashes of Athas is a 4e D&D organized play campaign set in the Dark Sun campaign setting. Each adventure continues the story, beginning with your character being asked to aid a secretive faction of the Veiled Alliance against an unknown assailant. PCs take up the mantle of heroism in the grim and brutal desert world of Athas. The campaign concluded in January of 2013, but adventures can still be ordered at no cost.

    As a central character in the story, your PC has an opportunity to shape that future while the PC grows in power and prestige. The PC's choices are important and impact how the campaign unfolds. The campaign admins are focused on delivering a rich story and experimenting with unconventional design around encounters, rewards, NPCs, and other elements to achieve that rich story.

    The campaign guide provides special rules for character creation to create a true Dark Sun feel. Players track progress on log sheets and gain a level every three adventures.

    The campaign was convention-driven with home play. Chapters of three linked adventures were offered at major gaming conventions (Winter Fantasy, Origins, and Gen Con). Some smaller conventions carried the chapters after they premiered, and several are still offering the adventures in 2013. Each adventure is four hours in length, though they may present role-playing opportunities that can extend play if desired. A total of 7 chapters (21 rounds of four-hour adventures) were released over the three years.

    The campaign was administered by Baldman Games (the company is best known for organizing conventions for WotC).

    Sounds great! How do I get started?
    PCs started the campaign at 3rd level and advanced with each chapter (playing chapter 6 at 8th level, etc.). The rules for creation are found in the Campaign Guide document. Pre-generated characters are available at conventions and when adventures are ordered for home play.

    Chapters One through Three were based on a story arc around a secret organization known as the True. Chapter Four reset the action slightly, so as to make the game more approachable for new players. The story continued as the players began to hear of a threat from an ancient primordial. The connection to The True is eventually explained. Each adventure includes an overview of "the story thus far" to help DMs and players quickly understand previous events. Adventures are meant to be played in order due to their story focus, but this is not a requirement. Chapter 7, the final chapter, includes an adventure suitable for new players who want to understand the story before engaging in the final Battle Interactive.

    The campaign has a unique feature called a Death Certificate. The dangers of the brutal world of Athas can often claim a PC. Each adventure has a Death Certificate specific to the adventure, providing a means by which your PC (perhaps as a new PC, perhaps transformed) can return to the storyline. The certificate helps players stay connected to the ongoing story even when they perish!

    The Campaign Guide includes important rules DMs should read, including important tips for achieving the right feel for the campaign.

    Players and DMs interested in the campaign should sign up for conventions featuring the campaign or order the adventures for home play. To request the adventures, simply send me a personal message (I am an admin for the campaign).

    Conventions previously providing Ashes of Athas include:
    Winter Fantasy in Fort Wayne, IN
    Origins in Columbus, OH
    Gen Con in Indianapolis, IN
    Genghis Con in Denver, CO
    ConnCon in Connecticut
    GameStorm in Portland, OR
    SynDCon in Washington, DC (TBD)
    ComicPalooza in Houston, TX
    Space City Con in Houston, TX
    OwlCon in Houston, TX


    Living Divine - 4th Edition
    Web site for rules: Living Divine
    Forums for program discussion: There is a There is a page on Facebook.
    Campaign Overview and History:

    This campaign was launched in 2011 with 10 preview adventures and officially premiered at Gen Con 2011. Living Divine is based around the concept of the PCs having the spark of divinity within them. The campaign uses a regional system. Each adventure progresses the story, though a player need not play every adventure.

    Introductory information:
    You are a god among men, born with the spark of divinity within you. Gather followers, build an empire, start a legacy. Will you be merciless and power-hungry? Or benevolent and kind? Begin your rise to immortality in this exclusive sneak preview of this new shared-world campaign, before the official premiere.

    Living Divine is a new shared-world Dungeons & Dragons campaign:
    * Using the current, 4th Edition ruleset (though they are open to conversions).
    * Set in a unique, never before seen world.
    * Your character isn't just a hero... he's a god.
    * Story- and character- centric scenarios.
    * No power creep.
    * Regional play, each region with a different feel and plotline.
    * Aimed at the most mature and experienced player.

    Sounds great! How do I get started?

    The introductory Campaign Guide document and Log Sheet should be downloaded by players. In Living Divine you have the spark of divinity, gaining special divine feats and at your first game you gain a divine trait.

    A list of events can be found on the Event page or in the News area. The first three months of a scenario's life, it is convention only, in-region only. The second three months, available for public game days, in-region (your store play would likely fall into this category). After 6 months, it can be played anywhere... including home play, and out-of-region. Outside of conventions each adventure costs $4 to order.

    Adventures tend to be four hours in length and playing in order within a region is encouraged (but not a requirement). Each region has different story arcs that progress as the timeline of the campaign advances. 2011 released 9 introductory scenarios and one 2-round conclusion. In 2012 and beyond each region can have up to 9 adventures. Characters earn their advancement - there are no level bumps in the campaign.

    The campaign is seeking volunteers, including Tribunals (regional admins). Volunteers should apply here.



    Other living campaigns:
    Spoiler:
    There are many other awesome living campaigns for other editions of the game or for other gaming systems. Current campaigns include Shadowrun Missions, Pathfinder Society, Heroes of Rokugan, Legends of the Shining Jewel, Wyrmstone, Spymaster, Living Traveller and more. You should check them out, but please discuss them in different threads. Here is one thread that discusses them and lists additional current and past living campaigns.


    Questions? Post here and we can do our best as a community to provide answers. The point of this thread is to provide information.
    Last edited by Alphastream; Saturday, 9th August, 2014 at 07:58 AM. Reason: Edited upcoming season, added guide links

 

  • #2
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    Living Divine now has an info page, here:

    http://www.viceandvillainy.org/LivingDivine/

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    Thanks, Thanlis! I added info from that site and also links to the other campaigns.

    If anyone has questions, post away.

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    My communities:

    Here's a link for Legends of the Shining Jewel
    Enlightened Grognard: The D&D game you wish WotC had published.

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    Thanks, AmNuxoll! I added the link for Shining Jewel.

    Let me know when the Living Enlightened Grognard campaign begins!

  • #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Alphastream View Post
    Thanks, AmNuxoll! I added the link for Shining Jewel.

    Let me know when the Living Enlightened Grognard campaign begins!
    I would absolutely play Living EG.
    Living Forgotten Realms Writing Director, Netheril Story Area

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    I am curious if anyone has tried Living Divine. If so, might be worth a separate thread to review it and discuss. I hope to make it to SynDCon and try it (when not judging Ashes of Athas).

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    I updated Living Divine based on information on facebook on where you can play scenarios. (I will be playing this weekend at SynDCon, so I may have more information soon).

    For Ashes of Athas I added the link to the Where to Play page. As an admin of this campaign I can share that we will have an updated player Campaign Guide document in the near future, clarifying various aspects. The log sheet should make it up onto the site soon. There is a new web page listing the adventures and pregens can be downloaded.

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    The Gamer's Syndicate in DC has sort of announced a living campaign:

    The Gamers' Syndicate is sponsoring a new Living Campaign for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. There will be 2 introductory adventures offered at synDCon - UTH1-1: Escort Service, written by me, and PEL1-1: Lutrok's Revenge, witten by Matt James. Players who have registered for these events at the con have emailed Vic for more information, and he has done a great job answering their questions. However, I wanted to put out a Character Creation Guidelines document to the DC RPGA list here so that everyone has the information handy. The campaign world is a high fantasy setting along the lines of Greyhawk, or the current D&D default setting (Nentir Vale, etc.).

    These adventures will be offered at synDCon and at future Gamers' Syndicate Game Days as well, and more adventures for this Living Campaign will be released in the coming year.

    The campaign is as-yet unnamed, and I've just been referring to it as the Gamers Syndicate Living Campaign. Anyone want to suggest a cool name for the campaign? You'll get a prize of some kind if you come up with a winner!
    Sounds like it's DC-area only, so I'm not sure if it counts for the purposes of this list.

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    Thanks, Thanlis!

    If anyone hears of links, let me know. I played some Living Divine intro mods and thought it had some really interesting/fresh mechanics.

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