How you feel about Organized Play (Off-Topic)

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Hi all!

I am curious how people feel about Organized Play options. I've posted a few questions in this thread on the LFR forums.

I would welcome some input from people that primarily play Encounters as well. I realize that some of the questions may seem strange if you are relatively new to Organized Play. You can answer just the questions that make sense to you. Any feedback is useful! Thanks!

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If it wasn't for Encounters, I probably wouldn't still be DMing. Heck, if it weren't for Encounters, I wouldn't be playing D&D.

I once had an irresistable urge to roll some dice, so I went to the first game that was on Meetup.com. It was D&D Encounters. It was regularly a full table, but there was room that one night, and I was hooked on the story in the desert world of Athas. After that season, we continued a little until the need occurred for others to start DMing. So I DM'ed for the first time for that group (though by then we were long since departed from Encounters...). After that season, I volunteered at another store and have been DMing for 3 seasons now.

Incidentally, the season after Dark Sun was the season with Essentials and Red Box, which broke down 4th ed, making it easy for me to get in. So not only did Encounters get me into D&D, it HELPED me into D&D. I've learned how to play, learned how to run, learned how to kill characters (wait, that's Lair Assault...), and it's helped me be able to defend 4th ed against 3.5 elitists. Note: I have nothing against 3.5e, rather like it, actually. Just not the dome-brains that put down 4e without ever trying it. But that's another rant, haha. 

If it wasn't for Encounters, I would probably never get to play.  With 4 kids, I can't commit 4-6 hour regularly.  Encounters gives me that short casual game, that I desire.  And my oldest 2 love playing at Encounters as well.  At 9 and 12 they don't have the endurance for a 4-6 hour session, but Encounters fits great for them.  The younger 2 are still pre-school age so they aren't quite there, but being told she can play when she can read has my 3 (nearly 4) y.o. very motivated.  She might be burning through Melville by age 7.


I left off playing nearly 20 years ago after high school.  I have always wanted to get back into it.  I have never had the opportunity.  If it wasn't for my son asking about the game a year or so ago and the Encounters program, I would never have gotten to play.  Now it's our Wednesday thing.


One thing that troubles me is that, with the current and last seasons and the next, the season features options from a new source book, but the book isn't available until the day before the first session.  How are me supposed to use those new options?  Give us at least a week so we can parse the new class/race/theme options.  If it wasn't for the theme cards handed out at game day noone would have used any of the Neverwinter material.  With Heroes of Shadow some were desperately trying to write new characters just before the first session.  And that was for just 3 people that wanted to use it.


Since we have been playing Encounter though, we have seen a number of new people come and play and everyone has enjoyed themselves and come back at least a couple of times.


TjD

Organized play is great, particularly public, casual play like Encounters and Game Day - and, now, I guess, Lair Assault, though how 'casual' it is is debatable.   Established groups can fill up and become quite insular, and 'serious' organized play can be nearly as hard to get comfortably into. 

We've recruited from Encounters into our regular group and made new friends around the Encoutners table, as well as bringing friends into Encounters.  In my book, it's a very successful program. 

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

Encounters is losing some of it's luster for me, but it's still a heck of a lot of fun. I started back during Season 2, because I wanted to try Dark Sun. Had a lot of fun playing my Thri-kreen battlemind. I've DMed Seasons 3, 4 and 6 (took a break to play season 5, wanted to try playing a Vampire).

As a DM, I love the rewards and the adventure material. The poster maps, even ones of dungeon tiles, are total accessory crack for me. It's a fairly fast and casual affair, and it keeps me on my game, as I'm not currently DMing the home group.

What I like:
- Encounters serves as an excellent way to meet other gamers. I've seen new DnD groups come out of meeting at Encounters, and other groups expand.
- It is a fairly fast and casual game.
- Good quality adventures.

What I don't like:
- Very railroady adventures. It's understandable, but it can get a little vexing.
- The reset every campaign. After DMing 3 seasons, I may have enough level 1-3 material to last forever. There's some long term players that grouse about the reset too.
- Essentials only PC restrictions. I ignore them, and I do see the benefit of them, but it still bothers me a little.
- Same pregens for a few seasons now. Would it hurt to see some new ones?

What I'd change:
- More variety in the adventure. Some puzzles, allow for non-combat resolutions to the situation.
- Better rewards. Fortune cards have not taken off at Encounters, only a handful of players bother with them.
- I'd love an Eberron-based season of Encounters. We've had two in FR, three in the core world, and one in Dark Sun.
I've been enjoying Encounters, especially after two aborted attempts to start up a group of my own (too many scheduling conflicts). I jumped in at the start of Season 5, and I had some regulars at the table but a lot of variety. This season I have mostly regulars with a little bit of variety. It makes it a little more interesting when the group can change from session to session.

I've mostly ignored the Essentials Only restriction, in an effort to be inclusive. I'd rather have someone come and play a standard character rather than decide not to play at all. I think I will enforce the Essentials Only a little more strictly in the future though, since Essentials characters are just easier to make and run, and their turns go a lot quicker, it seems. I'll still be open if someone makes a specific request, but I'm going to ask the players to make an effort to stick to Essentials.

Some of my players have expressed some displeasure with the fact that each season resets to 1st level, and I have given some minor consideration to letting them keep their 3rd level characters for next season, and just leveling up the encounters appropriately. However, upon reflection, I'm not going to do that. One of the main purposes of Encounters is to get new players into the game. It's much easier to do that at low levels, and I don't want to get stuck in a situation where we're on the 3rd season of that particular group and the new players need to build an 8th level character. I'll just ask my players to try out something new each season.

The adventures need to be railroady, to a certain extent, but I did like how the Dark Legacy of Evard module offered choices between one encounter or another at some points. That sort of thing isn't always going to be possible, depending on the storyline (and what the editors are looking for), but it would certainly help alleviate the feeling of railroadiness that some have.

I agree with Vael that having some new pregens would be nice. I've printed out the different pregens from past seasons as well, to give more variety, but some new ones would be appreciated.

Fortune cards seem to be doing very well at our store, though, so I can't agree with him there. I don't know how many others at our store are doing so, but I'm going to start using them in my home game too. 

I'm looking forward to next season!
I just got a look at the material for next season, and it's STILL the same pre-gens? I'm going to jump in with the others here and ask why there aren't new ones, maybe featuring some of the material of the new setting/book?

To those same people, however, Encounters is indeed designed for levels 1-3, but if people are having dissatisfied at having to restart, consider starting an LFR game with those characters on a different day. It's something I will be telling my players as this season wraps up.
I just got a look at the material for next season, and it's STILL the same pre-gens? I'm going to jump in with the others here and ask why there aren't new ones, maybe featuring some of the material of the new setting/book?



Because the point of the Encounters program (as with all things WOTC does) is to sell product. WOTC is trying to encourage people to build their own characters, and if they want characters that take advantage of the material spotlighted in the current season, they need to buy the book (or at the very least, subscribe to D&D Insider). People new to D&D (which is the target audience for Encounters) can come, play for a night with the pregens and see if they like playing D&D. When they do, they will see players who've built their characters using the new supplement, and will hopefully be enticed to purchase that book if they decide to continue playing and want to have a character like the others.

It makes perfect sense.
- Rico
I think it's just laziness. A few new PCs, that don't need to be from the Feywild book, would just add some variety. A Sentinel, or a Hexblade, for example. The current pregens are very vanilla, and while I get that it's supposed to entice players to make their own ... as a DM, I'd like a wider variety to offer the newcomers. Plus, I think I've practically memorized the pregens.

Also, I really like the format of the pregen cards, I'd love to have some more.

What I'd change:
- More variety in the adventure. Some puzzles, allow for non-combat resolutions to the situation.


It looks like you're getting your wish with the new season:

dungeonsmaster.com/2011/11/dd-encounters...
Thanks for that link. I'd been waffling over whether I wanted to play or DM (I really want to try a Pixie PC), but that sold me on DMing. Looks like a fun campaign.

- The reset every campaign. After DMing 3 seasons, I may have enough level 1-3 material to last forever. There's some long term players that grouse about the reset too.


Everything you have all shared has been helpful to me. Thanks!

On the above, I'm curious what everyone thinks.

Is it a good thing to have that "dread the reset" happen if there were a place to go next? In theory, we already have that with LFR and other living programs that can offer you higher level play, more of a story focus, and even the ability (through MyRealms) to write your own adventures. In practice, I suspect the 4-hour adventure and other aspects may not work as well for casual play. Programs like LFR may also be intimidating or hard to learn about. But, if Encounters were step one and step two was a way to sort of graduate to the next level, would that work?

Specifically, if the upcoming Encounter season allowed you to take those PCs and do additional play, would you play more? If so, to what kind of program would you want to graduate?

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

I remember there was an add-on to Dark Legacy of Evard, so it's not too 'out there' to have a continuation of an Encounters season. Granted, that was a short add-on, but an add-on nonetheless.
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