On May 14 we begin season 18 of D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay. This is the second part of the Dreams of the Red Wizards story arc and the fourth of five adventures tied into the Sundering. As with the last few season of D&D Encounters, Wizards has set up a Launch Weekend event to kick off the new season. If your FLGS sanctioned the Launch Weekend on time then your store should receive kits for Launch Weekend.
Today we’re going to look at what’s in the kits. It’s not that much, but what’s in here looks very cool and makes me very excited for next season.
First let’s address what’s not in the kit – the adventure. Dead in Thay will be available as a PDF download from dndclassics.com. Anyone can purchase the adventure which will be available on Tuesday, April 29. The good news is that your FLGS should receive an email from Wizards that provides a special link DMs can use to download the adventure for free. This is how it worked last season so I assume we’ve all come to accept this as the new norm and have stopped freaking out over these changes.
If you’re planning to run the Launch Weekend session, which is the introduction to the larger story arc of the season, you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of the adventure from dndclassics.com before hand.
In the FAQ provided there are questions about characters. The answers reveal that the PCs begin this adventure at level 6. As expected, they can continue using characters they’ve leveled up from Scourge of the Sword Coast. Wizards will also be providing level 6 pre-gens with the download. As soon as we get them we’ll add them to our D&D Next Pre-Generated Character Library for easy access.
This is one of the coolest looking maps I’ve ever seen in a D&D adventure. It’s by far the greatest map I’ve ever seen during public play (although the map from Vault of the Dracolich is a close second). From what we’ve been told so far it looks like this season will be a massive dungeon crawl, hence the map.
The name on the map is The Doomvault. The Dungeon contains 107 rooms and it’s divided into nine sections:
- Abyssal Prison
- Blood Pens
- Far Realm Cyst
- Forest of Slaughter
- Golem Laboratories
- Masters’ Domain
- Ooze Grottos
- Predator Pools
- Temple of Extraction
The only bad thing is that each Launch weekend kit only comes with one dungeon map. But that may not be a problem (read on).
Dead in Thay will work very much like Vault of the Dracolich did. It’s one massive dungeon in which all the participants playing at the same store will be in the same dungeon at the same time. So you can run into other parties during the season as you go from room to room.
A set of stickers/clingers are provided along with the map. This is so that DMs can mark off which areas have already been explored. The suggestion in the kit is to post the map somewhere in your FLGS where all groups can see it during play. I know that won’t work in my FLGS, but it’s a good suggestion. I’d recommend that you consider taking the map down after each session so that it doesn’t get damaged, destroyed or lost between games.
If you’ve got a large group you may want to designate a single coordinator to oversee the whole campaign, or each DM can share that responsibility. I acted as the coordinator when we ran Vault of the Dracolich and it certainly helped the groups run more smoothly. However, I did feel removed from the adventure since I didn’t actually get to play or run any of the encounters.
The instructions say that the Launch Weekend kits are supposed to come with 20 player handout maps of the dungeon, but the kits I received didn’t have any. Chris Tulach confirmed by Twitter (?@christulach) that this is a misprint and that no one got maps. They will be made available as a download from the Wizards site before the first session. You can see what the player map looks like in the instructions below.
What did come with the kits were the special d20s we’ve all come to expect. This time they’re black with red numbers. I have no idea what the special symbol that replaces the 20 is this time. I assume it’s something related to Thay or Szass Tam. If you know, please leave me a comment below.
There are two sets of NPC cards for the DM. Some of the names may seem familiar since they appeared in Scourge of the Sword Coast. I actually plan to use a couple of these cards in the final session I’m running in two weeks.
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.
The Adventure Begins
D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay officially begins on Wednesday, May 14. The Launch Weekend is scheduled to run the weekend of May 10-11. Season 18 runs 12 weeks plus the Launch weekend session. The final session will take place on Wednesday, August 6 (just in time for the following season to kick off at GenCon 2014). Good luck and have fun.