D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Launch Weekend) – Preview

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 24, 2014

dead-in-thay-coverAll I’ve seen is the map and I’m already predicting that Dead in Thay is going to be the best season of D&D Encounters ever.

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.

The Adventure

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.

Characters

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.

The Map

dit-doom-vault-mapThis 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).

dit-doom-vault-map-a
dit-doom-vault-map-b
dit-doom-vault-map-c

Cooperative Play

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.

dit-stickersA 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.

Free Stuff

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.

dit-diceWhat 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.

NPC Cards

dit-npc-kelson dit-npc-lahnis dit-npc-lumalia
Kelson Darktreader
Lahnis
Lumalia
dit-npc-phaia dit-npc-shalendra dit-npc-syranna
Phaia Shalendra Floshin Syranna

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.

dit-instructions-4 dit-instructions-1
dit-instructions-2 dit-instructions-3

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.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carl the Paladin April 24, 2014 at 8:44 am

The guys on the front cover don’t have NPC cards. Hmmm… sounds like a big reveal moment to me.

2 Zeroun The Quick April 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

The map is epic. Wonder how many party members will survive this raid?

3 Galahad April 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Did anyone get player maps. My kits didn’t have them.

4 Ameron (Derek Myers) April 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm

@Galahad
Chris Tulach confirmed by Twitter (@christulach) that this is a misprint. None of the kits have player maps. They will be made available as a download from the Wizards site next week.

5 Ameron (Derek Myers) April 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

@Zeroun The Quick
I think it will really depend on how many players there are. Smaller parties will certainly be at a disadvantage. Personally I’m expecting a TPK at my FLGS. This doesn’t look forgiving at all! On the plus side that will encourage replay.

6 Vobekhan April 24, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Hopefully picking my kit up this weekend, nice preview as usual guys.
The big map looksawesome my only complaint, as with the VotD map is the labelling of room names on a map the players can see. Would have been nice to have this unlabelled and therefore not giving away any of the surprises to the players.
Shame on the players maps being download only too. I guess its ok for the DM’s/organisers to redistribute such downloads amongst their players though, as I dont look forward to printing several copies of that as well as a copy of the adventure for “at table” play.

7 D.B. April 24, 2014 at 4:27 pm

The symbol on the d20 is a stylized Omega from the Greek alphabet, traditionally standing for The End. Seems quite fitting for something called the Doom Vault.

8 Alphastream April 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Gaming stores often have one or more cardboard displays that can act as an easel for the map. Use a binder clip and clip the map to the display during play, then fold or roll it up at the end of the session. This worked pretty well for us for Vault of the Dracolich.

9 Steve April 24, 2014 at 10:21 pm

How do you sign up to be Part of this. My local store doesn’t do it We have a large local gaming club that would like to play
Thx

10 Nick "Volrath" April 25, 2014 at 7:06 am

We have a new FLGS in my hometown and this is the first encounter season I will run as a DM… can’t wait :)

11 Deimos April 25, 2014 at 8:13 am

@Steve
Have your FLGS confirm they are a “certified” Wizards store (i.e. they run enough events of any sort including MTG) and are at the necessary level (Wizards has/had a ranking system) to run D&D Encounters. They can contact Wizards to confirm this. After that, there are rules, i.e. must be run on a specific night, and they need to have committed DMs, etc. It’s too late now, if they have not made the preparations, as most FLGS need to confirm participation a month or so in advance.

12 AlHazred April 28, 2014 at 8:22 am

@Steve:

While it is too late to get in on this as an official Encounters adventure. All of the D&D Encounters seasons are being released as products you can buy and run yourselves. You could run the Dead in Thay module for the groups, see if that’s what you guys like, and then sign up for the next one ahead of time so you can get the free swag.

13 Greg April 29, 2014 at 11:33 am

The symbol on the die is the Thayan symbol for necromancy. Red Wizards who specialize in necromancy have it tattooed on their heads.

14 Don Cee May 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

I see that the pregens do not have any magic items. We plan on converting this new season to 4E, so, I assume that players would have no magic weapons as well? Usually, you would get a 7th, 6th, and 5th level magic item when creating a new 4e character. Thoughts?

15 Greyson May 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

I can’t find stats for Tarul Var. Seems like you may need them for the assault on the Bloodgate Nexus, but I can’t find them. Page sixteen indicates his actions, especially casts spells. But what does he cast? Shall we just use the Red Wizard (Necromancer) from the Monsters appendix?

Regrettably, the Wizards Community does not have a Dead in Thay forum up, yet.

16 Nick "Volrath" May 8, 2014 at 12:44 am

Any FLGS got the email with the adventure yet? We are still waiting here and the days of preparation are passing by :/

17 TheRusty May 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm

I believe that for Tarul Var they mean for you to use the Lich stats.

18 Nick "Volrath" May 12, 2014 at 3:33 am

Still didn’t get an emain from WotC so I bought the adventure from dndclassics.com
The launch event was great. We run 2 tables (5 players each) without coordinator (both DM’s did his job) and the kick off of the adventure was simply epic. More coming soon… in 2 days :)

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