Sneak Preview – Lair Assault: Forge of the Dawn Titan and D&D Encounters: Beyond the Crystal Cave

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 10, 2011

While at GenCon this past weekend I attended the seminar on Playing D&D in Public hosted by Greg Bilsland and Chris Tulach from Wizards of the Coast. It began with a general discussion about public play and then they provided us with a lot of great details about the next season of D&D Encounters and the upcoming Lair Assault.

Playing D&D in Public

During the general discussion there was a lot of back and forth with the audience. Everyone agreed that there was tremendous benefit to playing in public, most notably that it gives you a chance to meet new people. Together we can all learn from each other about the game. Everyone who participates in public play grows and develops as a player or DM. By playing in public we have an opportunity to portray D&D in a positive light and allow experienced gamers to act as positive role models to younger gamers.

General D&D Encounters Questions

I’ll bet you’ve often wondered why the D&D Encounters adventures are not made available for sale. You’re not alone. It’s because the stores need something unique to attract players to come to their store. It’s a reward to the FLGS in your community for carrying the Wizards products and organizing the events. If the adventures were sold a lot of people would just purchase them online and the store would be completely removed from the equation. This is something unique that the FLGS has that you can’t get anywhere else. So be sure to visit you FLGS.

Although D&D Encounters happen in most locations on Wednesday, they understand that this will not always be the case for every store. D&D Encounters will continue on Wednesday, but if a different day works better for your FLGS then they have no issues with you running it on another night. [Edit: This information is not correct and Wizards asked that it be edited. See correction notice in the comments below.] For organizers, they encourage you to use the new public play reporting tool to report your weekly gaming sessions. Players looking for a D&D Encounters game in their community should take advantage of meet up online to find a game near you.

A reminder that anyone who DMs a D&D Encounters session between August 10-31 will receive a special reward. The reward is a 4e revamping of the classic D&D Adventures, C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. This will be very much like the previous updates of The Village of Hommlet and Tomb of Horrors, both very well received and neither available for sale.

D&D Encounters: Beyond the Crystal Cave (Season 7)

The adventure for Season 7 was inspired by the classic AD&D adventure, UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave.

This season will be closely tied to the release of Heroes of the Feywild and will take place prominently in the Feywild (in much the same way that Dark Legacy of Evard took place in the Shadowfell in conjunction with the release of the Shadowfell boxed set).

The first week of season 7 will be a slot 0 in which the player will get together and create characters. This will allow DMs who have been running things since the very beginning of the D&D Encounters program to have a week off. Gathering everyone together to create characters collectively will help create a group dynamic among the players.

Heroes of the Feywild will have new themes and backgrounds which some of the players may want to incorporate into their new characters. Heroes of the Feywild is being released on November 15, the day before the slot 0 character creation happens on November 16. The materials from Heroes of the Feywild will be updated into character builder the same day that the book is released. So even if you get together to build characters at the FLGS, you can then go home and build the PC in character builder and have him ready to go for the following week.

Lair Assault

“Kill or be killed.” Lair Assault is for experienced players… very experienced players. Here’s what Wizards says about it on their website:

“D&D Lair Assault is a new Wizards Play Network in-store program that pits tactically-minded players against a super challenge where the difference between victory and defeat is dependent upon your game knowledge, ability to adapt, and a little bit of luck. You’ll pit your wits against some of the most difficult encounters you’ve ever played.”

Each Lair Assault adventure is designed to test players. It’s expected that most PCs will be killed on their first time through. Wizards only expect that about 20 % of players to complete the adventure the first time they try it. The intent is that you’ll play it over and over again until you manage to overcome the objective.

Lair Assault is just one encounter. No short rests or extended rests allowed. You get only one action point and you’re going to need it. The DM is encouraged to change the adventure every time he runs it. The monsters and objectives remain the same, but he DM has a lot of flexibility about where and when to introduce obstacles and monsters into the encounter. So players may learn some things by playing it once, but it may not really help them the second time though. Players are expected to take 2-3 hours to complete the adventure.

Different levels of difficulty will be provided for the DM so that he can really challenge players who have an easy go of it early on. If you think you’ve got what it takes then you may ask your DM to run the encounter using Nightmare mode. Only the very best will be able to complete the adventure when it’s this difficult. Wizards has released some notes and guidelines for DMs on their website.

Each Lair Assault release will be tied into and themed towards a current product release just like D&D Encounters.

The maps are custom made and are not just reproductions of the typical dungeon tiles. This is meant to be a truly unique experience.

There was mention of an Injury Deck that would be introduced with Lair Assault, but that’s all that was said. No additional details were provided at this time.

Do it for Glory

Liar Assault brings us D&D achievements called “Glory” points. Each player earns glory for their actions during play. Glory is earned for killing monsters and completing the adventure, but not all glory is rewarded for success. Sometimes you earn glory points for spectacular failure. For example, a character who is killed by falling in the pit of lava might earn glory points.

There will be other unexpected ways to earn glory. The idea is that glory will provide additional motivation for players to play the same Lair Assault adventure again and again even if they’ve completed it before. Earn special glory if everyone plays PCs of the same race or “go commando” and earn glory for completing the Lair Assault without any magical items at all.

Glory will be self-reported and will be tracked on your Wizards profile page in the form of badges. Your FLGS is encouraged to create a leader board and post it in their store so that players can compete against one and other for the most glory.

Limited Engagement

Each Lair Assault adventure is active for about 3 months until the next adventure is released. The first adventure, “Forge of the Dawn Titan” runs from September 1 through November 30. The second adventure, “Talons of Umberlee” runs from December 1 through February 28 and at least part of it takes place on a ship. The third adventure, “Attack of the Tyrant Claw” begins on March 1 but no other details were offered at this time.

Character Creation

“Forge of the Dawn Titan” is an adventure designed for five level 5 PCs. DMs can scale the adventure for four or six PCs but the optimal scenario is to play with exactly 5 PCs.

All players must follow the same character creation guidelines, but there are no limitations on your selection of race or class. Read the guidelines for purchasing equipment in Gearing Up for Danger on the Wizards website.

The intent is to keep the Lair Assault adventures set in the mid to high heroic tier in order to allow for the most flexibility during character creation. Moving into the paragon tier presents too many variables and parties may quickly become unbalanced.

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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1 Phantasmavore August 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I’m really enjoying the current season of Encounters, seeing as it’s set in the Forgotten realms, one of my all-time favorite settings. I came in late to last season’s Dark Legacy of Evard (the penultimate episode), so my judgement may be poorly informed, but it just didn’t feel nearly as rich as the current Neverwinter season (the gameday prologue episode was topnotch!). That being said, the Lair Assault and season 7 both look very interesting, and I’m looking forward to playig them out with my local Encounters group. I’d like to get my group to replay the Underdark season, as I missed out on it, but maybe the upcoming Lair Assault module will whet my appetite for a gritty dungeon delve.

Thanks for the sneak peek at all the goodies heading our way!

2 OnlineDM August 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Thanks for the information! I hadn’t realized that WotC was okay with stores running Encounters on nights other than Wednesdays. I’ve shared that information with my FLGS in the hopes that they might let me run it on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday (I’m busy on Wednesdays this season).

3 Don Cee September 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Please note that you are given incorrect information. Your article states”Although D&D Encounters happen in most locations on Wednesday, they understand that this will not always be the case for every store. D&D Encounters will continue on Wednesday, but if a different day works better for your FLGS then they have no issues with you running it on another night.” That is not true. I got all kinds of flack from Wizards for running Encounters on Saturdays. Wizards only allows Encounters on Wednesdays.

4 Ameron (Derek Myers) September 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

@Don Cee
In the Public Play seminar at GenCon this summer the people from Wizard that run D&D Encounters were asked point blank if playing on a night other than Wednesday was allowed. They said that they understood some places simply could not run it Wednesday (as one person noted it was due to their community’s religious practices). The Wizards folks went on to say that they certainly encourage everyone to play Wednesday night but if that’s not possible to play it when scheduling permits. I think what groups playing on alternate nights do is report the games as being played on Wednesday in order to minimize any potential grief.

5 Don Cee September 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

My game store isn’t even open on Wednesday nights! We were running Encounters on Saturdays and had 3 full tables every week! Then someone complained to Wizards that we were not running it on Wednesdays and all heck broke loose! My wizards rep contacted me and wanted to know what was going on! I had to convince the store owner to stay open late on Wednesdays. Now, we get 3 or 4 players on Wednesday nights and up to 20 people on Saturdays. Oh, and we cannot advertise our session on Saturdays as Encounters! Thanks for the information – it seems that Wizards would want stores to have succesful events whatever night it is run on!

6 Ameron (Derek Myers) September 30, 2011 at 7:57 am

D&D Encounters – Only On Wednesday

I was contacted by Wizards and asked to clarify and correct some details I recently posted in my D&D Encounters articles and the follow-up comments; specifically details about playing on nights other than Wednesday. I was asked to post a correction and clear up any confusion my comments might have caused.

During the D&D Public Play seminar held at GenCon this summer there was some discussion about playing D&D Encounters on nights other than Wednesdays. I wrote in my articles that although D&D Encounters happen in most locations on Wednesday, Wizards understand that this will not always be the case for every store. Where I was mistaken was in saying that Wizards was ok if your FLGS runs D&D Encounters on a different night. Apparently I misunderstood the intent of what was said.

Wizards wants to be very clear that they are “committed to our program’s structure, and we do not want stores to think it’s OK to run on nights other than Wednesdays.” Wednesday is the mandatory day to run D&D Encounters. Wizard does periodically check to ensure that stores run D&D Encounters sessions on Wednesdays. If they discover that a store is not compliant, it can lead to punitive action (such as pulling the program from the store).

Stores can run whatever other D&D events they want on any other night and schedule or report their sessions under the “D&D Game” sanction rule. If the store organizer has any questions about it or how it’s done, they can contact their WPN representative.

I realize that my comments about it being ok to play D&D Encounters on other nights of the week, comments that I now realize were made in error, may have caused some confusion. Hopefully this post will clear up any misunderstandings and set the record straight.

7 David Argall October 11, 2011 at 3:02 am

Any reason given for such a foolish and self-restricting policy?

8 Ameron (Derek Myers) October 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

@David Argall
These are all the details I was provided.

9 striatic October 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm

a question about Lair Assault .. so if it is all one “encounter”, does that mean that there is nothing that will cause “until end of encounter” bonuses to clear?

if so, can’t a party just stack up on mega-powerful “until end of encounter” dailies and fire them all off in the first round?

10 Ameron (Derek Myers) October 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm

That’s exactly what it means. However, a lot of players forget that many “until the end of the encounter” powers also end if the PC falls unconscious. A few of the players at my last table learned this the hard way.

11 striatic October 11, 2011 at 11:11 pm

good thing i’m playing a Revenant : ]

12 Astrolounge November 5, 2011 at 3:30 am

@David Argall
Because WotC has a long and demented history of self-defeating policies?

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