D&D Encounters (Season 3): Keep on the Borderlands

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just stumbled across this.  some excerpts:

 


Celebrate the launch of D&D Essentials™ with a return to a classic adventure!


Adventure waits as you journey to the Nentir Vale and face down savage beasts and lurking evils at the edge of civilization. Get into the action quickly by creating a classic 1st-level D&D character using the new D&D Essentials rules options, or grab a pre-generated one. Later in the season, be the first to try out Fortune cards to enhance your D&D play experience. Get ready to explore the dungeons and dangers at The Keep on the Borderlands! 


Try out the new D&D Essentialsrules options, designed to make it easy to create your own character with a classic D&D® feel!



D&D Essentials products will be available in-store by no later than September 21, meaning players are using the hottest new products



• Players use only D&D Essentials books, which means that lapsed players and DMs won’t need to worry about a huge range of rules options at the table



• One session equals one encounter each week – total play time of 1-2 hours, perfect to fit in after school or work



• Mini-campaign offers an ongoing, compelling narrative to keep players coming back each Wednesday



• Easy to play – just show up, create your own 1st-level character using the D&D Essentials rules or use a pre-generated character provided in the kit.

• DMs earn rewards just for DMing game sessions

• Easy to DM – everything is provided in the kit, minimal prep time in-between sessions

• Designed for players of all levels.

just noticed the following: "Season 3 is 20 weeks long. Every 4 sessions equals one chapter of play."


so 5 chapters times 4 sessions per chapter...

20 weeks...

Surprised
Yay for longer... can't wait to tell my wife  
FYI, went to sanction these since it's open and there are two issues:

1.  It says D&D Encounters - Dark Sun in the title
2. It won't let you sanction more than 15 events, even though the document says you must sanction all 20!

I'll be contacting cust svc to address this. 
yeah, guess i should have posted something about that here.  we've talked about it on the WPN forum.  sorry about that.
I'm not sure 20 weeks is a hefty commitment for anyone. And if interest wanes in a similar fashion to season 1 & season 2 at my location I may have to DM for myself. Plus again going with a quasi pre-gen system won't make alot of current 4e players happy after seeing the responses to that format this seaon.
I just sanctioned all of the dates within the date range. I am however unhappy to see that they are following the FAIL system of getting these out to us, in which they send it out in pieces like they did with Season 2.
I had hoped that all the complaints about lost/missing segments, as well as DMs not having the whole adventure to properly plan ahead; would have weighed in on how Season 3 was published & distributed.
Links that I find very useful, will be added here. http://community.wizards.com/vinciente/blog/2010/02/24/useful_damp;d_pageslinks
just stumbled across this.  some excerpts:

• Easy to play – just show up, create your own 1st-level character using the D&D Essentials rules or use a pre-generated character provided in the kit.



Now from what I have read and been told a first level character using D&D essentials should be the same as a first level characters built with the traditional rules.   Since Wizard's have said there are no new rules in the essentials books.  Can anyone confirm this?

 You want to read the WotC teasers on essentials on the home page. May be no new game rules but lots of new character rules.
just stumbled across this.  some excerpts:

• Easy to play – just show up, create your own 1st-level character using the D&D Essentials rules or use a pre-generated character provided in the kit.



Now from what I have read and been told a first level character using D&D essentials should be the same as a first level characters built with the traditional rules.   Since Wizard's have said there are no new rules in the essentials books.  Can anyone confirm this?




I'm second from the left in the picture.


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

just stumbled across this.  some excerpts:

• Easy to play – just show up, create your own 1st-level character using the D&D Essentials rules or use a pre-generated character provided in the kit.



Now from what I have read and been told a first level character using D&D essentials should be the same as a first level characters built with the traditional rules.   Since Wizard's have said there are no new rules in the essentials books.  Can anyone confirm this?




I'm assuming that the essentials at this point does not cover all the classes currently out in the 3 handbooks and CB.

 According to the teasers there are only 4 classes and 5 builds in Essentials "Red Box", Wizard/Mage, Rogue/Thief, Cleric/Battle Priest, and Fighter/ both Knight and Slayer.

There are the following races in the "Red Box" set Dwarf, Eladrin, Elf,Halfling and human.

 They can only use powers and feats from the essentials rules set which are mostly if not all new.

here are the links to all the new Essentials teasers I know of in the order released.

Commencing Countdown!
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Cleric Preview
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Wizard Preview
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Fighter Preview
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Rogue Preview
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Fighter preview part 2.
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...

Powers, Implements, Feats...
www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...


Now for existing campaigns all of this stuff can be the new paradigm or just more options but from what Chris Tulach told me for Season 3 of encounters it is The Canon.
I'm second from the left in the picture.


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

  After reading my above post I realized to someone not inside my head (lucky you Sealed ) that I sounded critical of Essentials, this is not the case.

  Im looking forward to essentials for two reasons, first it adds to the pallet of available material for "Open Dnd" such as LFR, second for new players and DMs it should be much simpler to jump into.

  Let me explaing my second reason, in season one a DM had to be very knowledgable because players were not restricted in building their characters except that it had to be LFR legal.

  I made a semi-optimized Battle Cleric for myself (hey it was my first attempt in over 28 years) and a level one Brutal Scoundrel rogue for a friend of mine that was a freaking beast at levels one and two.  His average damage for his Piercing strike at will was 18.5 and his max damage was 27 with a dagger at level one.

The DM at our first three encounters pretty much accused my friend of cheating in the build he just couldnt get it because his grasp of the rules was not sufficient and he had no tools in how to handle this one very powerful striker.  When he stopped coming and we moved to a much more experienced DMs table he appaulded the build and new how to manage it on the fly without stealing the power of the rogue.

Durning Season two the games was not friendly to beging DMs for different reasons, in Dark Sun the brutal aspect of the combat encounters required a DM that could handle tweaking a written adventure to challenge the part without TPK.

So for the puprose of DnD Encounters it seems that the teasers say Essentials is almost exactly what many of you were asking for in this forum a friendly to new and learning DM toolset. It should also be more friendly to begining players. Of course this is all reliant on the season three adventure being simple and playable "from the box" as new DMs still wont have developed the skills to modify difficulty.

  I hope this clairfies my feelings on essentials.
I'm second from the left in the picture.


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

What is the window for sanctioning?  I know it's started, but does anyone know when it's ending?

Trying to hammer out scheduling with the different DMs at our store.
Rule Zero: Save vs. Hivemind http://rulezeroblog.wordpress.com
What is the window for sanctioning?  I know it's started, but does anyone know when it's ending?



it ends january 15, 2011.
right... to clarify my question, "what's the last day one can sanction the event and expect to get the materials in time for the Sept 22nd start?"

Thanks, though.
Rule Zero: Save vs. Hivemind http://rulezeroblog.wordpress.com
sanctioning for season 3 officially ends 1/15/2011, but to get your materials in time for the first session on 9/22/2010, i would sanction no later than 9/6/2010.
Season 3, yay!

Keep on the Borderlands, yay!

Essentials... uh... well, I guess I can look forward to season 4 now
Season 3, yay!

Keep on the Borderlands, yay!

Essentials... uh... well, I guess I can look forward to season 4 now



The sad thing is I believe that moving forward all Encounter seasons will be using Essentials only builds. Which I understand is good for new players but not so much fun for existing 4e players.

Season 3, yay!

Keep on the Borderlands, yay!

Essentials... uh... well, I guess I can look forward to season 4 now



The sad thing is I believe that moving forward all Encounter seasons will be using Essentials only builds. Which I understand is good for new players but not so much fun for existing 4e players.




I don't get that feeling at all.  I think the rules will be based upon whatever product WoTC is publishing at or near the future, as witnessed with Dark Sun.  I was hoping to see a short Gamma World encounters series but I guess not

Looking to when Season 3 ends, in Feb, what's coming out around then?  Nentir Vale, right?  Probably that will also be essentials but what if next summer they announce Planescape?

I think as long as people are rolling dice and having fun, it's all good.  WoTC did say that they wanted to focus on bringing more people into the hobby, so I can't see where this is a bad thing in any way.

Sorry, I should have been clearer. Although I can't remember where I read or heard (podcast?) it. The D&D Encounter seasons going forward will be Essential based according to WotC. I know the source was from one of the developers.
Sorry, I should have been clearer. Although I can't remember where I read or heard (podcast?) it. The D&D Encounter seasons going forward will be Essential based according to WotC. I know the source was from one of the developers.



What a shame.
So all parties will be made of the options in the first essentials book?


Darn. i was looking forward to bringing back my hybrid Gnoll Warlock/Cleric of Torog!
Shaman: "Why doesn't the squirrel shoot the wizard?" DM: "Because the last squirrel who tried to shoot the wizard missed, then was pulled out of his tree and incinerated." Wizard: "He has a point."
So all parties will be made of the options in the first essentials book?



check out the original post.  one of the bullets specifically says, "Players use only D&D Essentials books, which means that lapsed players and DMs won’t need to worry about a huge range of rules options at the table".
So all parties will be made of the options in the first essentials book?



check out the original post.  one of the bullets specifically says, "Players use only D&D Essentials books, which means that lapsed players and DMs won’t need to worry about a huge range of rules options at the table".



Kinda wierd considering that they would probably sell more books and DDI subs if they kept it open to everything.

I don't understand this whole Essentials, seems like a bad ide to me so far.
So all parties will be made of the options in the first essentials book?



check out the original post.  one of the bullets specifically says, "Players use only D&D Essentials books, which means that lapsed players and DMs won’t need to worry about a huge range of rules options at the table".



Kinda wierd considering that they would probably sell more books and DDI subs if they kept it open to everything.

I don't understand this whole Essentials, seems like a bad ide to me so far.



I would tend to agree since, one, Heroes of the Fallen Kingdoms does not get published until the day before the 3rd Season starts, and, two, many people might not be able to afford the "new" rules when the adventure begins.

Now I'm looking to purchase the Red Box when it gets released but that may be optimistic.  I would like to purchase the Essentials line as they are published (as well as the master tiles), but my budget is rather tight and I need to be very choosy in what I purchase.  As such, as the DM, it may be very problematic when I begin the season as I might not have access to the new options that I need to know.

This was one of the things that nearly turned me away from Season 2.  I had little to no knowledge of the setting; so, at the very least, I was not able to enhance the flavor of the adventure (I didn't really have the time to look on the boards for insight.)  That, coupled with the chapter-by-chapter release format, left me high and dry for trying to convey the brutality of Athas, as well as trying to describe things as they appeared in the module (no foreshadowing.)  Without having much of a way to run the adventure (and make it fun for the players), I was very tempted not to run at all; indeed, the last few sessions have had a turnout of only one person, me, hoping beyond reason that there would be some interest still left in the game.
I'm more concerned about how Encounters has a strict "encounter1->encounter2->encounter3" format, when the Keep on the Borderlands and Caves of Chaos where such open-ended places.

E.g. there where 3ish places to visit outside the Caves, and there are 8 entrances to explore in any order at the Caves (well, you can explore them in any order, but going for the more dangerous places 1st will probably get you killed)

Some groups treated the Keep as nothing but a place to buy/sell stuff and meet replacement adventurers, while others explored every nook and cranny, talked with every person they could, got involved with plots and crimes for many sessions before they even when to the caves.
I'm a little unsure of how character creation for season 3 will work.  Is my understanding correct:

1.  You can play a pregen that is handed out.  Simple enough.

2.  You can build a character using the red box that will have been out for a couple weeks.  The red box only takes PCs to level three, so presumably toward the end of the season, options #3 or #4 would need to be used.

3.  You can build a character using the Heroes of the Fallen Lands Essentials book that is released Sept. 21.  But I think game stores get an earlier release.

4.  You can build a character using the character generator program on a PC.  Can someone confirm if this will be a free program?  And will players be able to select "essentials only" somewhere so that they know which options will be available? 

Is my understanding correct?  I ask because I'm considering DM-ing and I want to give the players some information so they can start planning.
until it is known for sure how Essentials-only characters will be handled (or even supported at all) in the Character Builder, i would tell them that you are unsure at this time if they will be able to use it.  or are you talking about a new different character generator just for essentials?
From my understanding of what was said there will be a switch in the Character Builder to make an Essential only character.
I hope that season 3 will allow for non-essentials characters/content at the discretion of the organizer/DM, because if it doesn't then - based on the table discussion we had during this week's Encounters session - the store that I'm at will either be doing so against the rules or having to pass on season 3 due to a complete absence of interested players.
Its as much for the new DM's as it is for new players.   Dealing with munchkins with access to 2 years worth of frostcheese combo's can be a bit daunting. 
I know that at least 1 store running Encounters in my Region will be opening it to all characters (including but not restricted to Essentials).

From the players feedback that I have where I run encounters, I will likely have to do the same.

I intend to encourage any new players that show up to run an Essentials pre-gen, to get the idea of 4e.  But I also have good, experienced players that have been helping a lot of new players THIS season with the game, so I don't expect it to be such an issue.

Yes, there are a lot of options available... but I, for one, don't see 4e as being complicated to start with.
I see no problems with Essentials only characters.  The objective of Encounters is to promote DnD and reel in new players.  So which does better at promoting, your Eladrin Ensnaring Swordmage with Unarmored Agility, using a Khopesh, or the Human Knight.  Yeah, new person you can play this character... You'll need to buy PHB, AP, FRPG, PHB3, and AV... So for $100+ you could play this character!  Or for $20 you can build characters for this season, as well as get an introductory quest for DnD (Red Box).

I think people need to realize, if they want to build whatever they want, play whatever they want, then they need to look to get LFR started in their area, or organize a home game.  You can even start your characters above level 3 for all those that complain about that.  You can set up a LFR table that runs at the same time, take the LFR modules and split them in half (that should fit into 2, 2 hour sessions), choose them in such an order that they can tie together (Stay to one city, do the quests in order so story rewards carry between).

And for those that complain about lack of story, you'll find you have more choice in a LFR module, then you do in Encounters.  Many LFR modules are not written linear dungeon, but have multiple options that you can handle in whichever order your group decides.  The ideal customer for Encounters, is not the person that is reading these forums (these are the DM's), its the person who's just getting into the game, or coming back to DnD.

Always a GM, never a player (not really but sometimes feels like it).

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very well said, nightwalker.
I do see problems with Essentials-only characters. I'm saying this as the DM, and the only one at the above store who would be willing to do season 3 that way. However, there's not much point to showing up to tables with no players because they've been put off by character creation restrictions (which already caused the loss of an entire table worth of players between season 1 and season 2).

Since the official line is that Essentials is 100% compatible with existing material, I see no problem with players using a mix of Essentials and non-Essentials characters - if the player wants to play the 'simple' knight then he can do so, and if he wants to play the 'complicated' eladrin ensnaring swordmage then he can do that too.

I would also point out that I said "at the discretion of the organizer/DM" when it comes to allowing non-Essentials material - if the DM doesn't want to deal with any of that 'complicated' pre-Essentials stuff then he doesn't have to, but I don't see a good reason to prohibit a DM who is comfortable with that material from having it at the table.


There is no interest in LFR among the Encounters group and while some of us take part in home games, not everyone who makes Encounters can manage those, so if Encounters folds then those players will go back to being non-players rather than new/returning players - which is rather ironic given that a 'you must use this easy for new/returning players material' requirement will have caused that.
D&D Encounters: Keep on the Borderlands spotlights the new Essentials products. Going forward, we'd like to be able to tell folks that character creation will include Essentials+, meaning that D&D Encounters will allow use of the Essentials books, plus whatever else is current. For Keep on the Borderlands, we'll be showcasing Heroes of the Fallen Lands and (later) Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, so those products (along with the new Starter Set) will constitute the character creation options for this season.

We will always have pregenerated characters available for those that can't or won't pick up one of the books.

We have programs that let folks drink from the fire hose when it comes to character creation - Living Forgotten Realms is one of them, and we'll be launching another, store-based one in 2011. D&D Encounters is being refined to make it both clear and easy for the players to jump in, and easy to DM, while still letting folks have the ownership of creating their own character.

It has little to do with "compatibility" and more to do with creating a clear on-ramp for playing and DMing in a store. We know what books are positioned as evergreen, and what's going to be new and shiny, and we want D&D Encounters to take advantage of those resources for character creation. Different programs are designed for different groups of players... Experienced players who like the breadth of the 4E rules options have other outlets.

Chris Tulach

D&D Program Manager

Wizards of the Coast  

Chris on Twitter

 

I completely understand WOTC's intent and motivation for the current organized play structure.  I do have a problem with the statement "Experienced players who like the breadth of the 4e rules options have other outlets".  This makes an assumption that everyone fits in a neat box with perfectly flexible schedules. 

I'm one of those 'recaptured' players Encounters was designed for.  I'm coming back into the game after leaving the game in the early part of 2e.  I'm older with a career and family.  I'm able to manage the couple of hours needed for Encounters during a week night.  I absolutely cannot manage a LFR session on a Saturday or Sunday. 

So yes there are other outlets but I can't take advantage of them.  Based on my conversations with other people at the store with my demographic, we all have the same restrictions on our time.  A single week night is doable but week ends are a non-starter for us as we just have too many other commitments on our time.

It would be great if WOTC organized play recognized the number of folks who are participating in Encounters primarily because it's on a week night and provided something beyond Encounters for those folks who can only play on week nights.
We do recognize this, and we'll roll out additional programs as time goes on to accommodate other groups too. 

We know not everyone fits into a neat box. Specifically, I know this from experience with organized play that goes back to 1st Edition AD&D. But we'll try to build a variety of program offerings that appeal to different significant audiences.

Lastly, it's always possible that if there's some experience you want, and our programs aren't "scratching that itch," DMs and organizers can work to build their own play opportunities in their stores. In the future, we hope to help provide some guidance and incentive for local play too. 

Chris Tulach

D&D Program Manager

Wizards of the Coast  

Chris on Twitter

 

Hi Chris - I apologize in advance for the long post... but I wanted to express my thanks for what you and your team have been doing. I am very pleased to hear that the future seems bright for Organized Play and that the focus will continue to be on in-store play experiences.

I echo some of the same thoughts that 'rasguy' expressed (similiar demographic) and am therefore very thankful for the Encounters program. Although I've been fortunate to play a decent amount of LFR at my local monthly D&D Meetup and at another game store while out of town traveling for work... Encounters has provided me an opportunity to jump into the DM's chair and begin to build an RPG community closer to where I live. Meeting weekly and for a shorter duration has been a great change for me, and the frequency has allowed me to get more use out of my investment in gaming materials and therefore more justification for the money spent. (At least that is what I keep telling my wife) Wink

To be honest, I wasn't crazy about the idea of Encounters at first and was unsure what was going to happen with the change to LFR, but I quickly set out to find a FLGS that was participating or that would consider participating.

I'm fortunate to live in an area where there are many stores to pick from, so it was just a matter of locating the closest shop that had suitable gaming space and a willing store owner to let me give this a go. I'm happy to say that after starting Season 2 back in June, we've had over 20+ people play at the gaming table and tonight we actually reached a milestone of running 2 tables for the first time ever. We've had enough people to do that before, but didn't have a second DM. You should have seen me running 11 people at one table... yes, they shared characters. We now have 2 DMs with 1 backup. In a way, I miss the community feel of all playing together... I'm sure I'll get over that in a few weeks.

One observation I've made is that there has been a fair number of people coming that are "lapsed" players (a term I've seen used on the forums). i.e. earlier edition players getting back into the game after a long absence. Although I've seen several 3rd edition players coming, I'd have to say those playing 1st or 2nd seem to me to be the most enthusiastic about their re-entrance.

So with that said, I am VERY excited about Season 3 and hope to see many more people coming back to the game, or discovering it for the first time. I for one missed out on the "Red Box" experience when I was a school boy back in the 70s (parents didn't approve)... so it being re-issued with the 4th edition ruleset is something I am highly anticipating.

Keep up the great work... and thanks for helping so many enjoy the game!

Greg

Founding member of the Star Wars Adventure Writers Guild Organizer of the NorCal Star Wars Gaming League Avatar image by artist Steve Criado of Fandom Comics PST (GMT-8) Evening and Weekend Gamer VTT: Fantasy Grounds

We do recognize this, and we'll roll out additional programs as time goes on to accommodate other groups too. 

We know not everyone fits into a neat box. Specifically, I know this from experience with organized play that goes back to 1st Edition AD&D. But we'll try to build a variety of program offerings that appeal to different significant audiences.

Lastly, it's always possible that if there's some experience you want, and our programs aren't "scratching that itch," DMs and organizers can work to build their own play opportunities in their stores. In the future, we hope to help provide some guidance and incentive for local play too. 



This is fantastic to hear.  I look forward to seeing the company's proposals and offerings.

My experience with 'scratching that itch.' After Season 1, I asked some of the experienced players if they wanted to break off from Encounters and start one of the published adventures while keeping the Encounters' format of a set night each week with a time box of 2 hours (the time box was critical).  There was some interest but the lure of Dark Sun was too strong and they wanted to participate in Season 2. Additionaly, for a couple, earning renown points and reward cards provides a little motivation to stick with Encounters even if they find the play experience a little less satisfying (people like to earn stuff from wotc).

Sadly, many of those same people who were active in Season 1, and the start of Season 2, are not showing up right now.  I heard feedback from folks who attended GenCon that your group is fully aware of the issues with Season 2 and have plans in the future that addresses them.

Encounters appears to be working very well at it's job of attracting new and lapsed players and I'm sure you dance a little jig every time you see the numbers.  I'm just one person at one store but I can sense the increase in buzz and energy for D&D and the store owner is thrilled as well.  To use your analogy that if Encounters is the on-ramp, don't wait too long to offer something that keeps those people moving down the highway before they exit at the next off-ramp.

Thanks for the response and thanks for creating an opportunity to again play and experience 4e, which I wouldn't have done without Encounters.

Honestly, I think that the Essentials-only format is a blessing for those of us having trouble finding DMs. For 3.1 of Encounters, I ran a group of 8 people because we didn't have another DM available. It was bloody great, but that's beside the point.

One of my biggest concerns is not finding DMs, but finding GOOD DMs. After experiences with a dedicated playerkiller and a nice young boy with a seemingly undiagnosed case of ADHD, I can't afford to make mistakes. So far, I've only been able to tap into the experienced  DM pool just because of the knowledge base needed. 

As an experienced DM who runs months-long 3.5 campaigns improvised by preference, I groan.

As an organizer, I'm cheering.

I'm also a 3.5 DM masquerading as a 4e DM, so the part of me that always makes sure there's a 4e rules lawyer nearby to catch me calling for tumble checks is cheering a bit too, or at least not frowning as hard. 
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