As the new season of D&D Encounters is about to begin we wanted to share a few tips about character creation and party composition that we think will help you get more out of this season. Although these suggestions are intended more for players who are D&D Encounters veterans, newer players may still find them useful.
Remember that this season of D&D Encounters only lasts for 11 weeks so why not try something a little bit different; take a risk and shake things up a bit?
At one of my FLGSs there is a core group of players that have come our consistently week after week for multiple seasons now. This is their only D&D outlet. So in order to make things a little bit more interesting this season I suggested that rather than create characters in a vacuum they should come up with some kind of party idea. Something a little bit more interesting than, “We’re adventurers that have come from places far away to fight the forces of evil together.”
The group, eager to get more out of their gaming experiences, jumped on the idea. They’ve since been kicking around a few possibilities, the most popular of which is to create a party where everyone’s the same race. However they’ve also considered playing a group of all strikers, or a group that all uses the same power source (all divine, all arcane, etc.).
Because the group is working towards a common back-story for the party we’re hoping that it makes for stronger role-playing and a greater personal investment in each character.
Become the Character
One way to heighten the role-playing experience in any setting is to really get into the character. An easy way to help people become immersed in their character is to address everyone at the table by their character’s name and not their real-life name. Additionally have the players speak as their characters. Instead of saying “My Rogue sneaks up” encourage things like “I sneak up” or “Ethan the evasive sneaks up.”
Some players this may decide that in order to really become their character they need to use a distinct voice. When only one or two players take the game to this level it can make some of the other players a bit uncomfortable, so DMs really need to encourage everyone to participate. After all, it’s not silly if everyone’s doing it.
Try Something New
There are so many different class and race combinations that it’s impossible for any one player to try them all. So when you’re making your next character for D&D Encounters be creative. Try playing some of the new classes or races that were released with the last few supplements. This is one of the things I like most about public play. The adventures tend to be long enough to get a real feel for the character, yet short enough that you won’t get stuck with something you don’t like for too long.
Weekly Character Draft
If your FLGS has enough player to run multiple tables every week, how do you decide who plays at which table? At my other FLGS there’s very little rhyme or reason. Sometimes players sit with the players they like, other times they pick the table with their favourite DM, and sometimes they see where their character will add the greatest value. If the players at your FLGS haven’t taken steps to form a solid, cohesive party they why not add another level of excitement to party composition and hold weekly drafts.
Each week the DMs pick players to be team captains based on the number of tables running that week. The captains then pick the players for their team. Do they pick their buddy or the guy playing the leader? Do they pick the striker with the obsene damage output or the player who’s really into role-playing?
Depending on how long the drafting takes the player may prefer to only pick new teams at the beginning of each chapter and not every single week. Alternatively the DMs could be the captains and then they get to pick (or assign) players to various tables.
Adding this kind of random assignment of party members will encourage players to make interesting characters that actually add to the party unit. PCs that can’t pull their own weight will likely be the last ones selected which should tell the player something about they way they approach character creation.
Regardless of what character you decide to play or how you go about forming your party, remember that the point of any D&D session is to have fun. Use D&D Encounters as your testing round to try new things and experiment with your characters. You may find that the things you try at D&D Encounters soon become staples in your home game.
What other tips would you suggest for players when it comes to creating characters and forming a party? Has anyone tried the player draft I described above? How did it go over? How often did you re-draft?
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.