D&D Encounters: Scourge of the Sword Coast – Preview

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on February 8, 2014

scourge-of-the-sword-coast-coverOn Wednesday, February 19, we begin Scourge of the Sword Coast, season 17 of D&D Encounters. This is the first of a two part story arc called Dream of the Red Wizards that concludes next season in the adventure Dead in Thay. Scourge of the Sword Coast is also the third of five adventures in current story-line running through all Wizards product lines called The Sundering.

Any players or DMs who are familiar with the adventure Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle may recognize some of the locales and NPCs in Scourge of the Sword Coast. The events of this season’s adventure take place after those of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle.

A High Level Overview

So what’s in store for this season of D&D Encounters? For starters, this season play is focused exclusively on D&D Next. No 3.5e or 4e conversions as there were the previous few season despite what we were told on the message boards and on Twitter by Wizards staffers. As much as I may not like this decision, it makes sense that Wizards wants everyone playing the new system with the official release coming later this year.

The PCs begin this season at level 2 and should reach level 5 by the end. Since this is being billed as part one of two, the expectation is that next season players will be allowed and encouraged to continue on with the same PCs they used this season. That would mean next season’s adventure would likely be in the level 5-8 range. Of course this is just speculation as Wizards has not confirmed anything beyond the title at this point.

There is a Launch Weekend scheduled for February 15-16, but it is fairly lack-luster when compared to the last few Launch Weekends. If your FLGS sanctioned the Launch Weened in time they should have received their kits by now. Inside each kit is a poster map, a bag of special d20s, NPC cards, and 20 player handout maps of the Sword Coast (more on these below).

There is no special adventure booklet or mini-module for Launch Weekend like there’s been before. If you want to run Launch Weekend then you just play the introductory section of the adventure.

And speaking of the adventure it’s only available as a PDF download from dndclassics.com. That’s right, there are absolutely no hard copies of anything adventure-related this season. A few seasons back we had to begin paying for the adventures (something I got over pretty quickly when I saw what I was getting) but now we don’t even get a hard copy. The price of the PDF is half of what the printed copies went for last season, but it’s still a big change.

Fortunately most FLGS should have received an email from the WPN that provided a direct link to dndclassics.com with a code embedded. This allows the FLGS to download a free copy of the PDF. All copies are watermarked and show the name and order number. This should cut down on illegal redistribution of the PDFs initially. My FLGS got their copy and immediately shared it with the DMs so at the end of the day I ended up getting my copy for free. I’m still on the hook for print outs but I can live with that expense.

The D&D Next rules are no longer available for free download on the Wizards website. Anyone who does not have the last packet will be pleased to know that each PDF copy of the adventure also comes with a zip file containing the D&D Next rules.

The Adventure

The adventure itself is actually pretty straight forward. It begins with the PCs heading to Daggerford. Once there they have plenty of opportunity to interact with the locals and get an idea of what’s going on in the area. From there they have a chance to follow clues that will lead them to five different areas of interest in the area surrounding Daggerford. As they explore each area they’ll find additional information that will give them a better idea of what’s going on and where to go next.

As simple as this sounds there is a lot of material covered in this adventure. The notes in the adventure suggest the DM allot two full session for the players to explore each location outside of Daggerford. This time frame only allows for two sessions in Daggerford itself. Likely one or two at the beginning or maybe one at the end.

Based on my experience with D&D Encounters I don’t think that will be nearly enough time to do a thorough job of things. DMs need to be very cognizant this season of how many weeks they have in which to complete all the important points in this adventure. It may be necessary to skip one of the locales to stay on track.

It’s interesting to note that XP is not tracked this season. The adventure denotes milestones after which the PCs should level up. The monsters printed in the last 20 pages of the adventure PDF do not have XP values listed either. I doubt many DMs actually track and award XP during D&D Encounters public play, but for those how do (or did) you won’t need to this season.

The way this adventure is set up with the PCs coming and going back and forth to Daggerford is reminiscent of old school D&D modules. The PCs have a home base where they can leave their stuff between runs and return to after they’ve completed their mini-quest. They know that they have a safe refuge where they can resupply and heal their wounds once the adventuring is competed. It should make for some interesting scenarios and possibly unorthodox choices during game play.

Maps

sotsc-mapSince D&D Next doesn’t really need or make use of grid maps like 4e did, large poster maps are no longer provided. However, two maps were provided with the Launch Weekend kit. One was a map of the Sword Coast and the other a map of Daggerford. The two maps were printed side-by-side on one side of the poster map included in the kit.

Also included in the Launch Weekend kit were handout maps like the ones we had last season. This time the handout is the Sword Coast map. It’s the same one printed on the DM’s poster map, just smaller (8.5 x 11).

For more maps, be sure to visit our D&D Encounters Map Gallery for all the maps Wizards has provided with the D&D Encounters adventures since the beginning.

sotsc-map-1 sotsc-map-2

NPC Cards

Another DM resource provided in the Launch Weekend kit were two packs of NPC cards. Each package contained 6 NPC cards (shown below). On the back of each is a brief description of the NPC along with pointers for how to run them. None of the NPC’s game statistics are printed on the cards.

I found these cards really useful last season. It helped me and the players remember who was who, especially early on when they were meeting many new NPCs each session. The only down side is that if an NPC has a card provided it’s a pretty good tip off to the players that this is someone important or at least important to the greater story.

sotsc-npc-darfin sotsc-npc-curran sotsc-npc-isteval
Lord Darfin Floshin Curran Corvalin Sir Isteval
sotsc-npc-jekk sotsc-npc-maldwyn sotsc-npc-pencheska
Jekk Ironfist Maldwyn
Daggerford
Pencheska

The Free d20

sotsc-diceThe final free goody in this season’s Launch Weekend kit was a bag of d20s. This is the fifth season in a row where Wizards provided a free d20. This time around the dice are royal blue with silver numbers. The symbol on the “20″ is a dagger, fitting since the adventure is set in and around the town of Daggerford.

It’s up to DMs and the FLGS to decide how and when to award the d20s. These are exclusive to D&D Encounters and I’ve seen single d20s from previous season going for over $10 each online.

At my FLGS we’ve begun charging players a nominal fee to help offset costs. Once they paid we gave them a special d20 and a complimentary map (while supplies lasted). This encouraged new players to come back and keep playing rather than just get the collectible d20 and never return. It’s up to you and your FLGS to decide what will work best with your group.

Instructions

The Launch Weekend kit came with the familiar instruction booklet. It provide a brief overview of what’s in the kit, how to run Launch Weekend, and contact information for reporting and questions. I’ve scanned it and provided the pages below for your reference. Just click on the images to enlarge.

sotsc-instructions-04 sotsc-instructions-01
sotsc-instructions-02 sotsc-instructions-03

The Adventure Begins

D&D Encounters: Scourge of the Sword Coast officially begins on Wednesday, February 19. There is no week 0 for character creation any more, you just dive right in on the first week. If you want to run a Launch Weekend event at your FLGS, Wizards suggests you do it on February 15-16. Season 17 runs 12 weeks with the final session happening on Wednesday, May 7. Good luck and have fun.

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.


Looking for instant updates? Subscribe to the Dungeon’s Master feed!


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tony F February 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

The poster map of the Sword Coast and Daggerford is very well done. I was disappointed though that each kit only had one copy of the map. There are two packs of NPC cards per kit so it seems odd to only include one copy of the map.

2 Joe February 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

I am once again underwhelmed with what I’ve read so far of the “adventure”. I’ll be running it at my FLGS in 4e once again (nobody feels the NEXT rules are ready for balanced play yet), and I’ll be running it levels 4-6, so that folks can use their Baldur’s Gate or Crystal Shard characters, making this feel like a continuation, so folks can feel like an ongoing part of the Sundering.

I think there’s enough variation in enemies that this should be a diverse-feeling season, and I do like the home base feel of the season. I’ll likely have to make the narrative a little more linear, but I’m optimistic about this season.

3 Greyson February 8, 2014 at 12:22 pm

My store never signs-up on time to get the Launch Weekend material in a timely manner. So, I appreciate this overview and its images – thank you!

I’ve been running a home campaign, Living Forgotten Realms and Pathfinder Society from a laptop computer for years. So, this pdf action for Scourge of the Sword Coast works well for me. I was excited to see this product go digital.

I bought the adventure on my own (I have for all three “paid seasons” to soften the blow for my FLGS – they aren’t made of money!) and gave a quick read-through. It is a potentially long adventure, which is great. Like Legacy of the Crystal Shard, Scourge of the Sword Coast shall take some planning by the DM and there might be some more, albeit slight, railroading near the end.

I certainly hope that Dead in Thay allows for characters from Scourge of the Sword Coast, at 5th-ish level. Not going to count on it, I think that’d be cool.

Anyone plan on converting to D&D 4E on their own? Any known tables that want to play SotSC in D&D 4E?

4 Vobekhan February 8, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Yeah, would have been nice to have 2 poster maps, especially as we’re back to 2 tables this season. I have bought the 2 previous seasons myself as our FLGS doesnt do a huge amount of RPG trade (unfortunately being more MtG and wargaming based) but the free download copy was a nice option and both myself and our other DM appreciate not having to pay out this time.

rather than just run the opening “brief” encounter on Games Day, we have decided to just play for the 4-5 hours we have available and get as far as happen to get, then continue on the Wednesdays as normal.
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&DEnc 16 – Legacy of the Crystal Shard – Session 11

5 LordOcampo February 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

No 4e support? No purchase from me. Good luck, WotC.

On the other hand, the maps were made using the same software used for 4e. Anybody knows the name of that software?
LordOcampo´s last blog post ..Diplomacia en 4e

6 TheSheDM February 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

@ LordOcampo – the software is likely Photoshop. The artist is http://www.mikeschley.com/

7 Carl the Paladin February 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm

My issue is with the Rules package. 1st, there are no Level 2 Pre Gen characters, despite the fact that the Encounter begins at Level 2. 2) There is no character sheet.
Both of those are useful.

Also, for those that want the rules but don’t want to pay $20 for Scourge. Wizards also put it with Vault of the Dracolich, which is $5 on Drivethru.

8 John H February 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm

@LordOcampo I know you are annoyed they are dropping 4th edition, but check the forums and do some research online. I am betting that someone will create and then post a 4th edition conversion of the adventure.

I honestly was never the biggest fan of 4th edition, but I filled in for a small table running 4th with not enough players during launch weekend for Legend of the Crystal Shard (after having already done the launch weekend encounter in Next) and actually had a great time. I realized that while I might have a preference about how I want to play the game, I am just happy getting to play it at all, no matter what the edition. I think Wizards has an extremely hard sell with Next, not because of decisions they are making now regarding 5th edition, but with how much they fragmented the market with 4th. A lot of 3.5 players defected to Pathfinder, and the remaining ones who stayed got converted to 4th. Now these players are being asked to revert to a way of playing that is much more similar to the editions prior to 4th. Whatever they do this new system will not be able to make everyone happy, so I think Wizards is in a rough spot. I do hate these “edition wars” though and wish people would be a little more flexible. I have honestly not seen such a rivalry between two gaming groups since the Super NES and Genesis days.

9 Joe February 13, 2014 at 11:06 am

@John H & @LordOcampo, I’m working on a 4e version, though for levels 4-6 (so folks can continue their Crystal Shard or Baldur’s Gate characters). When I’m done, you’re welcome to it. Drop me an email.

Also, I’m frustrated that their scheduling doesn’t allow for a character gen session. They claim it’s 13 weeks of adventure, though the calendar dates they set have only 12 Wednesdays, which means they’re counting launch weekend as week 1. We’re skipping launch weekend at my store, and just roping weeks 1 & 2 together into one session. Hopefully the fact that many of our players have carry-over characters will make the chaos of character creation less, well, chaotic.

10 Vobekhan February 13, 2014 at 11:58 am

You should be receiving emails advising of updates to your downloads which include lvl 2 pregens and seperate hi-res copies of the maps.

Looking to the launch event, http://dungeonsmaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/encounters-8-map-05.jpg would be a suitable map for the opening encounter.
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..Keep on the Shadowfell Campaign – session 9

11 DM Marcus February 17, 2014 at 12:23 am

Hey Carl,
I took a look at Vault of the Dracolitch over at Drive-thru, but I couldn’t find anywhere in the description where it clarified that the Next rules were included. Our home group doesn’t have the latest play test rules and would like to try it out.

12 Carl the Paladin February 17, 2014 at 11:51 am

The Next Rules were added to Dracolich when Scourge was released. Although as of this date, there has been no new update to the rules file like there was for Scourge of the Swordcoast. So the Next rules for Dracolich still do not have a Character Sheet, or Lvl 2 Pregens. That might be fixed later though, I’m not entirely sure. The Bestiary from the Playtest packet is gone.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: