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Starting a Adventure League table at work. Any advice

Uller

Adventurer
I'm thinking of starting an AL table (or tables) at work. I'm thinking we'll play every other Friday from 11:30 to 1:00.

I'm not totally sold on AL. It will be up to my players in the end. Also considering just a simply homebrew sandbox so I can keep adventures nice and short.

Any advice?

Campaign or adventures to start with?

Pitfalls to avoid?

This will be in addition to my semi-weekly group so I'm trying to avoid too much work...that's part of the attraction of AL because I'm hoping one or two of the other players will take some turns DMing too.
 

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Nevvur

Explorer
I'd avoid AL for your situation. If you haven't already read the FAQ, AL Dungeon Master's Guide, and AL Player's Guide, I highly suggest you do so before further considering it. For one thing, I'm not sure a game you host at work qualifies as "open to the public," but I don't know what position AL admins would take on that.

If you do pursue this avenue, I'd get started with DDEX or DDAL adventures, specifically the ones intended for level 1 PCs. There's no real difference between EX and AL, it's just a naming convention (Season 1-3 = DDEX; 4+ = DDAL). The level 1 modules are bundles of mini-adventures each lasting about 30 minutes (in theory), with PCs usually reaching 2nd level after completing 3 or 4 of them. Other DDEX/AL adventures last 2, 4, or 8 hours (again, in theory) and are self-contained stories. However, they are meant to be completed in a single session. This won't be too problematic if you have the same players for split sessions, but if there's any variation... Well, it's been a couple years since I ran AL, so I'm not sure what the current official guidance on that is. At the time I ran, the advice was basically don't do it. It's logistically difficult to award XP and treasure fairly when the players change mid-story.

Instead, after completing the mini-adventures, I'd switch to a hardcover adventure path (DDHC). Rotating players shouldn't be as problematic, but you might still run into some murky territory. I can't give any recommendations for a good starter AP, I'm afraid. I ran pieces of HotDQ and PotA when another DM couldn't, but most of my DMing was for Expeditions. Read reviews for the hardcovers and pick one that interests you (and hopefully the players).

That said, the biggest reason to play AL, in my opinion, is for character portability. If everything is on the up and up, the players should be able to take their characters to any other (tier appropriate) AL game in the world, and even come back to yours for more, all without raising questions about the legitimacy of rewards. If that's not the primary motivation for your players wanting to do AL, I strongly recommend avoiding the program altogether. You can still use DDEX and DDHC adventures even if you aren't participating in the program. You'll also have the freedom to modify the game as suits your needs. The only thing you'll miss out on is the aforementioned portability.

(edit: apologies if I've made any factually incorrect statements about AL. Haven't been in the program since the end of season 3 so I'm a bit out of touch. I welcome corrections)
 
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darjr

I crit!
AL can be home private games. He can do it at work.

I love AL. But I’d not do it in you time constraints. Unless your comfortable leaving things mid combat and doing theatre of the mind.

Then go for it. The big payoff for me in AL is the huge epics, or even the smaller table count epics. So much freaking fun.
 

Uller

Adventurer
I'm definitely staying clear of the hard cover adventure paths. That's what I run for my weekend group. I miss small modular adventures and real sandboxes without over arching meta plots until the PC are well established...The only DDHC I would consider is TftYP...that way we can take turns DMing and each adventure is kind of its own thing (but even Sunless Citadel could take months playing an hour at time). I'm running Sunless Citadel right now to teach my daughter how to play and I used Hidden Shrine to introduce a high school mate of mine to 5e before he joined my regular group.

I don't think we're looking to do anything "official". I just want something easy.

I checked out Defiance in Phlan. It's the Tyranny of Dragons one that is 5 mini-adventures...those will be perfect for a new group with only an hour to play at a time...I may just use that and then meld into a sandbox.

If any of the players want to DM and we don't have enough for two groups, AL seems like a good source of adventures to maintain some consistency.

I ran a lunch group before back in 4e days. It was pretty successful. We'd play an hour at lunch once every week or so and every so often get together for a longer evening session...Stopping mid combat isn't a problem...just finish the round and write down where everyone is. With 5e it will be easier, especially at low level since combats are so fast. Just don't start any new combat with less than 15 minutes to go.
 

gunzler

Villager
Like Nevvur said, in your situation there's no reason to do AL unless your players want character portability. Otherwise, it's just going to straight-jacket you as a DM. You also don't need to be running AL to have other players DM. Just cross your fingers and ask!

I don't want to knock AL overall, though. It's good at what it's good at: providing games for people without a gaming group, and meeting other players!
 
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Koren n'Rhys

Explorer
IMO the AL modules are a great source of short adventures, packaged into nice themed groups. You can use some of the limitations and conventions of AL (PHB+1, etc) to keep things a bit simpler, without running it as a true, legal AL game. If the character portability is a non-issue for you and your players, there's really no reason to add the extra paperwork and record-keeping just to be "legal".

A quick lunchtime work game every week or two sounds awesome - have fun!
 

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