The Future of D&D Encounters

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 11, 2010

During GenCon I attended the D&D Encounters seminar. Not only do we have details about season 3, but there’s big news for the rest of season 2. We also have the dates for seasons 4-6 as well as information about upcoming World Wide Game Days through 2010 and 2011.

D&D Encounters Season 2: Dark Sun

There’s big news for anyone playing D&D Encounters Dark Sun. Chapter three of The Fury of the Wastewalker runs five weeks from August 18 – September 15. With the release of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide on August 17 players will have the option to create their own characters for chapter three. That’s right; you can throw away the pre-generated characters for the final chapter. So for everyone who complained about the problems with the pre-gens, it’s time to put up or shut up. Grab the DSCG on August 17 and make your own level 3 Dark Sun character. Suddenly I just got a lot more interested in D&D Encounters Dark Sun.

When asked why this season seemed so difficult compared to the previous season we were told that this was intentional. The creators ramped up the difficulty to emphasize the dangers of the Dark Sun campaign world. Future season will not be anywhere near as difficult. In fact D&D Encounters is likely to be easier than previous RPGA events because they want new players to have a positive experience.

Characters

Moving forward players are encouraged to make their own character for all upcoming seasons of D&D Encounters. Wizards wants you to have personal ties to your PC and the best way to do that is if you create him yourself. Pre-generated character will still be provided to make D&D Encounters accessible for new players.

All future D&D Encounters seasons will use D&D Essentials for character creation. The pre-generated characters provided will also be created using the same rules. For season three, you can use Heroes of the Fallen Land to build your own characters. It’s coming out on September 21 but will be available to games stores on September 10.

Character builder will include with the materials from D&D Essentials as part of the normal update schedule. You’ll be able to apply a filter to character builder so that it only shows Essentials-legal choices.

Each new season of D&D Encounter will be tied directly to a product release, in much the same way that Season 2 was tied to the Dark Sun Campaign Guide. The next few product tie-ins will be from the D&D Essentials line.

Objective

The primary objective of D&D Encounters is to attract new players to D&D. With that in mind the adventures will continue to be in the heroic tier, most likely beginning at level 1.

It’s a good way for new DMs to get some experiences and practice doing one encounter each week before running a full on game.

Future D&D Encounters seasons will not tie in to LFR. That was a one-time thing intended to draw current players into the D&D Encounters program with promise of porting their character into ongoing LFR adventures.

D&D Encounters is intended to be self-contained and not cross-over into the existing campaign worlds. However, all other organized play events – like D&D World Wide Game Days – will stem from D&D Encounters.

D&D Encounters Season 3: Keep on the Borderlands

D&D Encounters Season 3 is set in the Nentri Vale and is called Keep on the Borderlands: Season of Serpents. This reimagining of the classic D&D adventure is done in much the same way as the Starter Set was a classic re-launch of the Red Box.

Season 3 runs 20 weeks from September 22 – February 2. It’s four chapters broken into five encounters each. Each chapter will be very self-contained. This makes it easier for a different person to DM each chapter or for players to jump in for just a chapter or two at a time if they can’t commit to the full 20 weeks.

We’ve been promised a very cool story for season 3 that’s more than just a typical dungeon delve style adventure where you merely run around and kill monsters. There will be interesting NPCs, good opportunities for role-playing, and many re-occurring characters.

D&D Encounters and the Essentials line will have more of a skills focus, but not necessarily more skill challenges. Expect to see a category 1 skill challenge and then a slightly easier combat more regularly.

Beginning with season 3 we’ll get our first peek at new monsters from the upcoming Essentials Monster Vault. There are “big surprises in the adventure” and it was strongly hinted that we’ll see an aspect of Tiamat by the end.

D&D Encounters Season 4, Season 5 and Season 6

All we have right now are dates.

  • Season 4: February 9 – May 4 (13 weeks, 3 chapters)
  • Season 5: May 11 – August 3 (13 weeks, 3 chapters)
  • Season 6: August 10 – TBD (into 2012).

Each season will be closely tied to an upcoming product release.

The adventure kits will continue to be shipped to the FLGS chapter-by-chapter, and not the whole adventure all at once. This stops groups form playing the entire adventure in one sitting. It also allows Wizards to make fixes based on feedback.

Upcoming Game Days

The next Game Day is on Saturday, August 21 (that’s next weekend). It’s set in Dark Sun and will feature level 4 characters.

After that the next Game Day is on Saturday, September 11. It’s in conjunction with the release of the D&D Starter Set (Red Box). The Game Day adventure is the follow-up to “Sunderpeak Temple” adventure that comes in the red box. The PCs are level 2 versions of those provided at the D&D Convention Delve played at GenCon.

The Game Day on Saturday, October 23 is all about Gamma World. Part of the Game Day is the character creation process. At least one person at each Game Day location will need to purchase the Gamma World RPG.

There will only be two Game Days in 2011. The first one won’t be until summer.

Players who participate in D&D Encounters and in World Wide Game Day will find an extra benefit. You will be able to bring characters from one to the other including any XP and treasure you’ve accumulated to date. Specific details will be provided during each Game Day.

Show Your FLGS Some Love

Apparently there are some gaming stores that are reluctant to run D&D Encounters. Wizards is working with these locations to try and change their mind one store at a time. For those locations already running D&D Encounters, please be sure to show your appreciation by making purchases. This more than anything else will keep your FLGS interested in continuing to run D&D Encounters.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 darjr August 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Thanks!

btw it was great gaming with you guys in the delve. Maybe we’ll have better luck next time.

2 Ragnarok August 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm

looks like I wont be playing any more encounters.
seems to me that the essential line is garbage

3 Lahrs August 13, 2010 at 12:20 am

Season 3 is exactly what I need to bring people back to Encounters. I am just hoping I can drum up enough support for Game Days.

4 Ameron August 17, 2010 at 8:36 am

@darjr
I had a blast playing the delves at GenCon. I’m already looking forward to next year.

@Ragnarok
I was very concerned that D&D Essentials would ruin D&D for me, but I reserve judgment until I see the actual materials. I did get some exposure to D&D Essentials at GenCon and I must admit that what I saw wasn’t as restrictive as I anticipated. Some of the “simplified” options actual made play faster and smoother, especially for newer players. Let’s just wait and see how it impacts D&D Encounters.

@Lahrs
I’m a huge fan of Keep on the Borderlands and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the 4e treatment looks like. I think that letting players create their own character is going to bring a lot of folks back into the D&D Encounters fold.

5 j September 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

im upset that non-essentials classes wont be allowed in the foreseeable future in encounters

6 Warren February 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm

All I want to do is download the encounters and run my home group through them,but that just does not seem an option…

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