Thursday, September 4, 2014

The League of Extraordinary Adventurers

Last night was my first foray into Adventurers League.  That's WOTC's blanket term for their multi-pronged organized D&D play program.

In a nutshell, the Adventurers League is divided up into three bits - D&D Encounters - the 2 hour Wednesday night games, D&D Expeditions - a 4 hour a week program more like a standard home-sit-down thing, and D&D Epics - big-ass multi-table affairs that happen at conventions.

At my FLGS, there are about 20 people involved in the Adventurer's League.  It's a different experience that the previous RPGA LFR stuff back in the 4e days.  Those had the feel of a highly structured, 6-man game of Magic: The Gathering at times.  There were very specific rules on how players could earn their XP and their magically morphing magic weapons and armor.  It was a head-to-head(s) miniatures skirmish game where DMs were lauded on how fast they could get the party through an adventure. (YMMV, but that was MY experience.)

This new stuff it - well - you just sit down and play D&D.  The overall mandate for the DM is spew fun out your ears.  DMs are encouraged to change the adventure as they see fit.   Players keep track of their swag and xp.  The store keeps track of who showed up.  And that's it.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen is D&D Encounter's first offering this season.  I DMed, and we made it through somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the first section of the adventure.  Plenty of role-playing, plenty of kobold ass kicking, and plenty of heroics.

Honestly, the first bit of HDQ is kind of bland.  There is high adventure, sure, as there is a war going on.  But there isn't a lot of flavor in the pages.  Actually, I consider that a wonderful bonus as I have gallons of my own flavor to pour in.  I decided that the chapel would instead be an orphanage, and to focus the town's  purpose around taking care of those kids.  That ratcheted up the urgency and gave a whole lot of drive to one of the players who had picked the urchin background.

And might I add - again - how happy I am with 5e?  I swear it DMs itself.  It feels completely natural and the rules rarely intrude.  They are probably most apparent when a spellcaster is firing of a new spell for the first time and has to look it up.  I don't know - maybe it might be difficult for someone new - but for a person with years of experience with other editions - it's like butter.

I think I have a good description now:  5e is 2e riding 3e's bicycle.

Okay, maybe that description needs some work.  But if you've played em all, you get my point. :)

Speaking of points, let's look at something interesting map-wise.  Examine these maps - in particular, the shape of the forests in the region where Horde of the Dragon Queen starts:

3e FR Campaign Guide - circa 1372 DR

4e FR Campaign Guide - circa 1479 DR

Horde of the Dragon Queen - circa 1486 DR to 1489 DR

Why does it look as if . . . oh . . . the Spellplague never happened? :)

So yeah, I'm happy - on multiple levels with multiple things.

- Ark


  1. Given the FR deities list at the end of the PHB, it looks to me a bit like the Time of Troubles never happened — Leira's been gone for a *long* time.

    Sadly, I don't think they'll actually roll back the timeline —probably a bridge too far. But it certainly strikes me as a bit of a slap in the face for everyone who wrote one of the many Realms-Shattering Events.

    1. I'm not completely up on all of the RSEs. For a long while, my first edition Forgotten Realms box was my only reference, as I didn't migrate to 2e when it came out - or 3e for that matter. I grabbed the 4e FR Campaign book and had no frikkin clue what was going on. :)

      From what I understand, the Sundering is an attempt by Ed Greenwood and RA Salvatore to real the Realms back in and - oh - what is it - 'bring back a more innocent time.' I have no problem with that - it actually sounds completely wonderful to me. But I agree with you and don't want to see any author's work denigrated - especially since they were just following the corporate script at the time.

      But really, I don't' think anyone really knows what the Sundering is. I'm halfway through the six part series and still don't see and explanation - and don't think there is going to be one anyway. I don't think we will really know anything at all until the next FR Campaign Guide comes out - so we all just have to wing it until then.

      - Ark