Next week we begin season 6 of D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter. The adventure showcases a lot of the new materials from the new Neverwinter Campaign Setting available at your FLGS this month. So whether you’re a D&D Encounters die hard who can’t wait to find out what’s in store next season or a new player trying to decide if it’s worth the effort to come out Wednesday night, we expect that you’ll find this advanced preview of D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter helpful and exciting.
The adventure is made up of 14 sessions (or 14 weeks). Chapter 1 is only two encounters with chapters 2-4 all being four encounters long. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that chapter one will be a breeze, because it’s not. In fact the encounter for week 2 should be both fun and deadly. One of the monsters can inflict up to 24 points of damage with a single at-will attack so players be forewarned.
As I was reading through the adventure I really got the sense of a compelling story with challenging encounters. Each week the PCs will be in peril, but rarely to the point where the party is likely to get wiped out (except for maybe encounters 2 and 14). The underlying story is very interesting as a Lost Heir of Neverwinter emerges and tries to legitimize is rightful position as ruler of the city of Neverwinter. The PCs are caught up in the political intrigue and the physical battles.
One thing that I was very please to see in many of the encounters was an option for PCs to talk their way out of trouble. In more than one encounter PCs can use Intimidate to have the villains surrender. DMs should remind players that this adventure takes place in the city and that most of the opponents they face are people and not monsters. Many of these people aren’t bad folk, they’re just following a leader who opposes the leader the PCs have sided with. This means that indiscriminate killing should be strongly discouraged.
This season the PCs actually get some decent in-game rewards. One big complaint over the past couple of seasons was that the PCs didn’t earn enough gold pieces and when they did they never had an opportunity to actually spend them. The other complaint was about the variety of magical items. This season we’re back to the random treasure table. It certainly favours PCs that use weapons and armor, but there are a few changes that will make things a little bit more balanced for implementing-wielding spellcasters too.
There are plenty of opportunities during almost every encounter for some good old role-playing. Very few encounters are set up as simple hack and slash. I was a little bit disappointed that there weren’t more structured skill challenges. PCs can use skills in most encounters, either in the role-playing before the combat or during the combat itself. However, there are only two encounters that have an actual structured skill challenge with real consequences for success or failure. I suppose this was due to time constraints during each week’s encounter, but I saw it as a real step backwards.
When creating characters, players need to be aware that the entire adventure takes place in the city. Selecting skill training in the social skills will likely provide greater rewards than training just the physical skills. This is also a good argument for bumping up that Charisma a few points and not making it the default dump stat. A PC who can’t handle himself in a social situation will have difficulties this season. You don’t have to be the best at the talking parts, but if your Diplomacy is a negative number you’ll have your work cut out for you.
One of the new elements from the Neverwinter Campaign Setting are 13 new Character Themes. Each player who participated in the prequel adventure, D&D Game Day: Gates of Neverdeath, was given with a Character Theme card. Choosing a theme gives your PC a slight edge over other PCs because it provides you with a bonus power or item as well as 2 bonus renown points. Some players will seize the opportunity to take a theme for its rich addition to the role-playing while other will jump at the opportunity to get something for nothing. If you didn’t participate in D&D Game Day and you don’t yet have your own copy of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting, we’ve provided all of the Character Themes for your convenience.
No new pre-gens were provided. For the third season in a row all we were given were the same six heroes we’ve come to love and hate: Belgos, Brandis, Fargrim, Jarren, Keira and Valenae. This emphasizes for me more than anything else that Wizards of the Coast clearly wants you to make your own characters.
There were two pre-gens provided with the D&D Game Day materials. They don’t have the slick 5 x 7 glossy formatting that the other pre-gens do (they’re just printed from Character Builder), but they are still two new PCs to choose from.
More High Quality Maps
We have another excellent batch of maps this season. If there’s one thing that Wizards does really, really well when it comes to their packaged adventures (like D&D Game Day and D&D Encounters) it’s the maps. Again this season we were provided with three full colour poster maps. They’re 1-inch scale and clearly created from the tile sets. All three posters are double sided – four of the six sides have two different maps on each with the remaining two having a map that takes up the entire poster from edge to edge.
The maps are generic enough that DMs will have no trouble reusing them over and over again during their home game. This for me is one of the big reasons I keep DMing D&D Encounters. Keeping the adventure is nice, but it’s the maps that are the real payoff.
Like last season, a set of 10 initiative tracking cards are provided with each copy of the adventure. And like last season, each initiative tracking card has a background image pulled from the cover of the adventure. So this time around they have the spellscarred white dragon on them and they look awesome.
If you just tracking initiative on paper then I strongly encourage you to try using the initiative tracking cards provided. I’ve found that they make tracking things a lot easier, especially if players in your group have a habit of delaying their turn a lot.
Although the Fortune Cards have not been a big hit at my FLGS, I know that many groups out there are using them. For the third season in a row the player rewards are more Fortune Cards. This offering is decent enough, but as I mentioned in some of my weekly write-us for groups that don’t use Fortune Cards these freebies are meaningless. I get that Wizards wants more players to purchase the cards (as does the proprietor of your FLGS) but a better reward for accumulating all of those renown points would be nice.
When a player earns 20 Renown Points, they earn the Bowl Over (promo 1) Fortune Card.
When a player earns 40 Renown Points, they earn the Great Confidence (promo 3) Fortune Card.
When a player earns 60 Renown Points, they earn the Spellplague Surge (promo 2) Fortune Card.
Here We Go!
I think we can all agree that D&D Encounters has gotten better with each passing season. The quality of the adventures has certainly improved and the encounters continue to be interesting and challenging. D&D Encounter: Lost Crown of Neverwinter looks like it will be another step forward and should continue to keep even the casual attendees coming back week after week. Season 6 begins on Wednesday, August 10.
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.