D&D Game Day: Gates of Neverdeath Preview

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 31, 2011

Next Saturday, August 6, is D&D Game Day. This year D&D Game Day happens to coincide with GenCon. However, this was an intentional choice made by Wizards of the Coast in order to run Game Day tables in Indianapolis. So no matter if you’re at GenCon or at your local FLGS, everyone can participate in D&D Game Day: Gates of Neverdeath.

Anyone who’s planning to play in the upcoming season of D&D Encounters  beginning on Wednesday, August 10 should make an effort to participate in Game Day. The Game Day adventure, Gates of Neverdeath is a prelude to D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter. PCs run on Game Day can be ported over to D&D Encounters with whatever XP, equipment and magical items they earn.

PCs can earn a maximum of 300 XP for completing Gates of Neverdeath. This means players who play on Game Day will level up during D&D Encounters 1-2 weeks earlier then those who don’t.

Wizards of the Coast has already provided some details about D&D Game Day on their website. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the official announcments I encourage yo to do so.

Game Day Preview

I’m going to provide some details about Game Day that Wizards hasn’t shared yet. I won’t reveal anything that will ruin the gaming experience or the adventure. My intent is to entice those on the fence to actually visit their FLGS and play next weekend.

The Map

Once again Wizards provides an excellent, full-colour map with the adventure. Anyone who’s considering running the adventure on D&D Game Day should remember that you get to keep the adventure and the map afterwards. I can see the map with the ship getting a lot of replay at my game table.

The Encounters

It should take 3 hours to complete this session. That’s 3 hours from the time the players sit down to the time they complete the adventure. Each section of the adventure indicates how long the DM should take to complete that section. Because this is a timed event, it’s important to watch the clock and make sure that the players don’t get too hung up in one areas and then not have enough time to complete the entire adventure.

Character Creation (30 minutes)

For the first time ever at a D&D Game Day, the character creation process is included in the time allotted. In the past, pre-generated character were provided and it was expected that the players would use them. This made it easier for people with little to no gaming experience to sit down and play.

This time around the goal is to have players create characters together before the game starts using the slick Neverwinter character sheets provided. But don’t worry, two pre-gens are provided just in case someone shows up late and doesn’t have a character of their own.

In order to help provide new players with direction, every player gets one Theme Card in their swag bag. There are 13 different themes (see all of the theme cards below), each from the new Neverwinter Campaign Setting. Players that use a theme get a special power or item.

Introduction (15 minutes)

This gives the players an opportunity to meet each other, find out about the adventure and do a little bit of role-playing with important NPCs.

Encounter 1 (45 minutes)

This is a typical level 1 combat encounter. Given that this is likely an introduction to D&D for some players the combat isn’t too crazy. What I did find interesting was the terrain. The combat takes place on a boat and the map is top notch.

Skill Challenge (20 minutes)

This is a complexity 1 skill challenge that requires 4 successes before 3 failures. It’s actually a good skill challenge in that it allows PCs to use a variety of skills to earn successes. A party that fails the skill challenge suffers real consequences in the following combat encounter. A good lesson for new players that skill challenges matter.

Encounter 2 (45 minutes)

This is a much more difficult encounter than the first; it’s a level 3 encounter. At first I was surprised to see such a difficult encounter, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. In a typical D&D adventure the PCs would be expected to go thought four or more encounter before they took an extended rest and got all of the resources replenished. In this case they would only have two fights before the adventure was over which meant that they wouldn’t have to hold back.

The party gains a substantial advantage if they succeeded at the skill challenge that preceded it, which given it’s low complexity is a strong possibility.

Skill Challenge (20 minutes)

This skill challenge is optional based on time. The PCs need to complete the skill challenge to get away safely. If time is pressing then the DM just describes how the PCs escape from danger.

This is a complexity 2 skill challenge that requires 6 successes before 3 failures. It provides a satisfying ending to the adventure and PCs who do complete it earn XP.

If I was running the adventure I’d make a point of trying to ensure that the PCs actually got a chance to complete this skill challenge. I know that many DMs don’t like skill challenges and many don’t use them, but for now they are a part of D&D so I believe that it’s important to make sure new players get a chance to try them.

Character Themes

All of the 13 themes listed below are from the upcoming Neverwinter Campaign Setting. Players will each receive one in their D&D Game Day swag bag. Players can switch with each other if they don’t think the theme is suitable for the character concept they have in mind. Clicking on the images below will open a high-res version in a new window.

UPDATE: All 13 Neverwinter character themes are available for download in one convenient PDF.

Bregan D’aerthe Spy

Dead Rat Deserter

Devil’s Pawn

Harper Agent

Heir of Delzoun

Iliyanbruen Guardian

Noble

Oghma’s Faithful

Pack Outcast

Renegade Red Wizard

Scion of Shadow

Spellscarred Harbinger

Uthgardt Barbarian

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 froth July 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm

harper agent ftw

2 Jason Dawson July 31, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I’m currently running two gaming groups out here at Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan. Anybody who has an extra copy of the Game Day pack that would like to send it out here so we can play it too, we’d all be much obliged. We miss out on all the good stuff out here. Can’t get Wizards to recognize us as a location that warrants its own materials.

3 Ck August 1, 2011 at 7:37 pm

can we see the two pregens?

4 Ameron August 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm

@Froth
I thought the Harper was the best one when I first looked them over, but as I’ve been reading the Game Day and Encounters adventures each theme provides some in-game bonus. These should make for a lot of interesting characters at both events.

@Jason Dawson
I’ll email you privately and we’ll see if we can get you the materials. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to connect with you before GenCon, but please feel free to follow-up with me next week. My email address is on our About page.

@Ck
The pre-gens are just hard copy print-outs from Character Builder. I’ll try to scan and post them or even rebuild them in Character Builder before I leave for GenCon.

5 Kiel Chenier August 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

Hey, here’s something useful from my blog for DM’s running this game day:

http://dungeonsdonuts.blogspot.com/2011/08/2-page-character-builder-guide-ver-10.html

It’s set up with the Player’s Handbook 1 in mind, in case you don’t mind not using the Essentials books. Leave feedback if you notice any room for improvement.

6 Alveric August 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm

@Dawson – While Ameron’s working on sending you a box of materials (that’s two tables w/ 2 maps, adventures, and 13 bags including one each of those theme cards, plus a couple of fortune cards each), I have a couple of contacts who if they’re still at WotC can help. They sent 50+ tables of 4th Edition Game Day 2008 stuff to me in the Baghdad IZ which I then forwarded to FOB/camps around the country. My counterpart did the same for about 12+ tables across Afghanistan from Kandahar. It’s been a couple years, but I don’t see why WotC wouldn’t reach out again. They will need to make you an Event Organizer, then add your APO address to the game store database… this is the only time I’ve seen them make an exception to the “game store only” rule (my Baghdad APO has already been scrubbed off my organizer profile so it’s definitely temporary.) You will have to advertise the event for all to play in a public venue, which means you’ll have to deal with the mostly-indifferent MWR personnel at Bagram to set a time for your own Game Day, post sign-ups, and reserve table space. This way, you can order Encounters and the even the next Game Day, depending on when your PRD is.

7 Frank August 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

What does the back of the theme cards look like? Are they all the same?

8 David Argall August 7, 2011 at 4:26 am

The level 3 encounter is a flaw. We are talking players who may have never played before, playing PC they have just created under conditions where errors are almost guaranteed. And we want the players to do well. That calls for a cakewalk, not something that could easily be fatal.

9 The Big Blue Frog August 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I had a lot of fun playing my Dead Rat Deserter (Halfling Thief), but I kept forgetting that I could change into a rat, even when I was being held by zombies. Erk!

10 Pedro Rodrigues August 9, 2011 at 6:19 am

@Frank

No, they have background info behind.

@Ameron

Could we get the background sides as well for the Character Theme cards?

11 Kiel Chenier August 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

@ Pedro

I ran this game day. You can read about it on mah blog on the interbutts. http://dungeonsdonuts.blogspot.com/

The back of every card is the same. It has a picture of the ‘crown of neverwinter’ on a field of black, surrounded by Neverwinter “lore” (Lore in this case meaning advertising). as well as links to the WotC site, where you can look at products to buy. Also, it mentions Fortune Cards.

For the last item alone, the best fate for any/all of these Character Theme cards would be to be burned in a bonfire: providing useful kindling to stoke the flames of summer, toasting mallows of the marsh variety.

12 Pedro Rodrigues August 9, 2011 at 9:46 am

@Kiel Chenier:

Then you most definitely misread it, since they are DEFINITELY not the same nor is the lore simple advertising.

I played the Game Day; here is the “Scion of Shadow” card, which i got:

https://spideroak.com/browse/share/pruano/DD_GameDay2011

The back has plenty of info, just not cruch.

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