Promoting Season 3 of Encounters (Advice?)

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Hi all,

I have committed to continue on as the primary DM at my store for Encounters Season 3.  The first two seasons have gone well overall and folks have had a great time, but there have been challenges.

A) We never got beyond two DMs (myself being the one constant).  As a result we sometimes ended up with 7 or 8 players at a table, which was tough, and on occasion had to turn away players who arrived late because we had no ability to start up a new table, which was tougher.  More importantly, it naturally meant folks, including myself, didn't talk up the program or invite friends much to encourage new people because we could not guarantee there would be room.

B)  The sales of D&D product were not as good as the store hoped.  I understand it started out pretty good for Season 1, but then fell a bit flat.

SO...that being said since I am going to continue investing my time on Encounters I want to do it right and learn from past experience.   What I am planning to do:

1) Have a DM seminar in two weeks (prior to the start of Season 3).
Yup - I'm going to share 30 years of game mastering experience with whomever is interested in a 2 hour presentation / open discussion format.  I've written articles on DMing in the past (unpublished), so I have a wealth of organized info to share and draw from.  Currently this is shaping up as 60% general info on the art of Dungeon Mastering and 40% targeted toward D&D 4th / DDE.

My goal is to leverage this to build up a pool of DMs for Season 3, since it should be a great opportunity for folks to try their hand at DMing.

2) I have spoken to the store about a 10% discount on D&D product for people who play D&D Encounters.  The owner was amenable to try this so, I just need to follow up to make this happen I believe.

3) There will be much more communication and "talking up" the program.  I plan to leverage Facebook, etc of course.  The store already has a presence there.  I didn't push any of this before as noted because of issue A above.

4) At least one cool prize - I am one of those people who began D&D with the original "Keep on the Borderlands" (moment of silence please for Ernest Gary Gygax).  I happen to own three copies of the original module, only one in poor condition fortunately.  So in a moment of inspired altruism I plan to gift one of these to the store and have them hang it up somewhere visibly.  Then it will go to a player who attends say 10+ sessions or perhaps have each player earn a chance to win for each session they attend.  Or perhaps some combo of the two (10 sessions min then one chance per?).  Not sure yet.

5) Lastly to cap off Season 2 - I am thinking of inviting the players to an extra event.  A PC vs. PC arena throw down.  Let folks bring either their Season 2 characters leveled up to 4th or their best Dark Sun 4th level build.  Then they will form teams and go at it in the arena.  And, yes, this embraces D&D 4th Edition as a minis game, but it shines in that role now because the rules are clear enough to require a minimum of DM judgement (try this type of thing with older editions - too much DM interpretation required).

So that's the plan.  What do you guys think?
Comment on / steal ideas from / whatever moves you...

James in the great state of New Hampshire
Hi all,

I have committed to continue on as the primary DM at my store for Encounters Season 3.  The first two seasons have gone well overall and folks have had a great time, but there have been challenges.

A) We never got beyond two DMs (myself being the one constant).  As a result we sometimes ended up with 7 or 8 players at a table, which was tough, and on occasion had to turn away players who arrived late because we had no ability to start up a new table, which was tougher.  More importantly, it naturally meant folks, including myself, didn't talk up the program or invite friends much to encourage new people because we could not guarantee there would be room.

B)  The sales of D&D product were not as good as the store hoped.  I understand it started out pretty good for Season 1, but then fell a bit flat.

SO...that being said since I am going to continue investing my time on Encounters I want to do it right and learn from past experience.   What I am planning to do:


4) At least one cool prize - I am one of those people who began D&D with the original "Keep on the Borderlands" (moment of silence please for Ernest Gary Gygax).  I happen to own three copies of the original module, only one in poor condition fortunately.  So in a moment of inspired altruism I plan to gift one of these to the store and have them hang it up somewhere visibly.  Then it will go to a player who attends say 10+ sessions or perhaps have each player earn a chance to win for each session they attend.  Or perhaps some combo of the two (10 sessions min then one chance per?).  Not sure yet.

You could try tying these together. Two entries every week you DM? An entry for every X dollars you spend on D&D purchases?

Another way to combine the two ideas is one entry for attending 10 sessions plus one entry for every session you attend after that.

those are all great ideas Shaadow.  i give away prizes at the end of each season to each player that made it to every session.  you could try that.  i have a couple people that never miss due to that.
Good ideas. Our organizer has really tried every avenue possible to find players and DMs:
  • Meetup

  • Gamers Seeking Gamers on ENWorld

  • Forums of places like RPG.net

  • Yahoo groups used by old LG players... search for the region name (like Bissel) on Yahoo Groups, also in the D&D category for your state

  • Talk to other stores in town and see if they are hosting and if they will join forces (we run a DMs list that has people from 3-4 other area stores on it)


For your store, put up the stuff WotC sends, but at the bottom tack on your web site and instructions for how they sign up for games. Consider forums on the store Web site (if they have them) or Warhorn. Consider having a handout of some sort.

During games, identify the knowledgeable players and/or the enthusiastic players and ask them to judge.

Give judges 20% off, and players 10% off on Encounters nights for D&D products only (excluding any low-profit items at the store's discretion). Consider 20% off for everyone on pre-orders, since this is generally good for the store and beats out the urge of the gamer to just order it from an online retailer.

Promote buying stuff at the store by giving out a handout at one of your sessions talking through why it is good to support the store. Give one to each player and DM.

Start a DMs list, mainly to discuss the upcoming encounter and for DMs to communicate things like questions or if they can't make a session. Periodically remind DMs to ask their tables to support the store.

Consider periodic raffles of any extra materials to players that buy some D&D product. For example. if you get a kit with four adventures and only run three tables, you could raffle off one adventure to a player that buys product. We actually announce this a week in advance and include pre-orders and then do it for two weeks. I get everyone's attention and say something like "Hi everyone, to support this awesome store that lets us play here we are going to raffle off a copy of this adventure. Anyone who buys or pre-orders D&D product above $xx and shows me their receipt will be entered into the raffle. You can buy this week or next and the raffle will be at the end of next week's session. If you do a pre-order, please save your e-mail."

Take care of your DMs, helping them plan the game and telling them often how great they are. If the store has extra stuff, such as from gamedays, encourage the store to give extra stuff to DMs or a coupon for their time.

When you go to area cons, promote the store. Ask the judges at the store to judge at cons and also promote the store and the program.

Recognize that DMs will burn out, and even you may burn out. That is 100% ok and you should just support this when it happens and find substitutes. You want fresh and happy people. Also, you want a system you can transition to other coordinators without the whole thing falling apart.

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).


So that's the plan.  What do you guys think?
Comment on / steal ideas from / whatever moves you...

James in the great state of New Hampshire



Hey James,

One thing that I got from one of the WotC emails and implemented was a +1 token for every $10 spent in the store on D&D materials.

The player purchases it on Encounters night, and for every $10 spent I give them a little, laminated token I made.  This token can be used as a +1 on any die roll, after the roll has been made and the player can use multiple tokens on a single roll.

I find that the players enjoyed it, the store likes it and it doesn't really unbalance anything in the long run. (I had a player come 'REALLY' close on his daily power run and buy a set of dice to get a +1 token).

The only limitation is that they are only good for the night of the purchase and I collect any unused ones (saves me always having to make more).
Thanks for the replies - nice thoughts all.

Dayffd - I really like your token idea.  Might be a hard one to do at my store due because most of the DDE players are CCG players already struggling to find enough spare money for the next booster draft.  I may have to adapt this somehow...

The store did implement the 10% discount for DDE players, though so that's win #1.

Alphastream1 - Insightful comments as always.  Good idea on raffle, and currently there are extras since we haven't had enough DMs to claim all copies of the adventure.

My DM Seminar is actually coming along great, and this and the PvP arena event have created a lot of interest.  I'm going to try out a new stealth mechanic for PvP since I want a balance between the too complicated - Only the DM and I know where my character is - AND the simple - stealth rolls give concealment bonuses.  I'll have to post how this goes (might be after we move to Season 3 topic).



The grognard collector in me hates to do it, but I do now mention to prospective DMs the amazing prices these Essentials products can command on E-Bay. When I am giving them a copy of the mod, I just might be giving them several books/games of their choice. Putting it that way can really get some motivation - "how about this mod, which will become the Ravenloft set, the new Tiles set, and a book of your choice?"

One of my DMs was remarking they can get a bunch of the minis they want and it really encouraged their judging.

But, the biggest thing for me is always to look for motivated judges that want to learn. Two of our judges started brand new and were getting notice at PAX (less than a year after starting) for how they were such great judges. Those guys are learning the craft, running cons, running homegames... and I think many might have ignored them because they were not experienced judges. This kind of judge can work really well for a table where a previous judge now wants to play. The old judge can help coach them and guide them.

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 have made a flier that is hanging all over our store, including by the entrance, by the bathroom, by the D&D books, by the play area, and at the point of sale.

www.4shared.com/file/UyKK-Knk/EncounterS...

It's a Word doc (97-2003 format, though created in 2007 for Windows) so you can edit it with your store's info.
In a somewhat related topic, me and Narshal are running the Encounters group here in Ottawa and we are starting to try and incorporate the group into a club of sorts as that is a prerequisite for our FLGS to give us a 10% discount for product.

We want to use the D&D Encounters logo on the cards, but I realize that this may be a legal no-no.  Has anybody from WOTC stated their position on using their logo to promote the local demoing groups?  Or for use on home-made flyers and such?
Technically you can't, but I can't imagine this being a big deal when used locally. You could check with your WPN rep and see what they say. Again, I can't personally see the harm in what you are doing - everyone wins!

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).

You couldn't point me to the list of WPN reps?  I'm still kinda new to this organizing thing. :D
You couldn't point me to the list of WPN reps?  I'm still kinda new to this organizing thing. :D


I don't think there is a listing. D&D Encounters can only be run through a WPN store. Your store would have contact with someone at WotC that serves as their WPN rep. Any questions regarding the program would go to them. So, your store should know the contact person. They can probably also access the most recent WPN e-mail and find a contact number there.

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).

Alpha, I am so disapointed in you... Wink
WPN Representative Contact Information

When seeking info for the WPN program always look in Customer Service and the WPN section of wizards:

www.wizards.com/Company/WPN/Default.aspx

Reps are based upon your location (the above link is for the US and Canada).

Thanks,

Bryan Blumklotz
No One Special


Wizards provides print quality logos on their sales page explicitly for use to promote their products:
www.wizards.com/Sales/LogoKits.aspx

Don't use them on products you're distributing (for money or for free) or to imply WotC endorses your project and you'll be fine.
Alpha, I am so disapointed in you...




I Has a Fail.



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).

Thanks for the advice folks.  We went ahead with a design that didn't use the logo only because there is a charge for getting this card (in return for a 10% discount at our FLGS sponsoring this endeavor.

Sample card

We really like the retro font. :D

I didn't think the following warranted its own thread, and this one felt most appropriate, so there ya go.

For the store I DM at, I spoke with the owner/lead DM about further rewarding players and supporting WOTC/Encounters/the store itself by letting those who earned over a certain amount of renown in the current season reap the benefits for the next season.

What we decided was that at 35 renown, your next season character can start play with a +1 magic weapon/armor/amulet OR at 60 renown, any common magic item from levels 1 to 4.

I figure the +1 or the odd defense/ability is hardly game-breaking and just a little cherry on top for those who have put in that much time and effort.

I also made a flyer that we posted with the information, and if anyone wants to use it, go ahead, it is store-neutral. See link below.

www.4shared.com/document/wvSOteB_/DDE_In...

We had about half a dozen people get over 60 renown. It'll be interesting to see what people choose.

NOTE: Just to be clear - this flyer is not official in any way - just something we decided to do as an added thank-you.
It's getting very close to the start of season 3 and I still haven't recieved the material yet.  What is the ship date?
It's getting very close to the start of season 3 and I still haven't recieved the material yet.  What is the ship date?



with less than a week to go, you should definitely be contacting your WPN Rep ASAP
That probably depends on where in the world you are.

On past experience, kits have arrived at UK stores towards the end of the week before the Wednesday they're needed.

I believe they tend to arrive sooner in the US, but I imagine they're sent out almost as soon as they're ready, meaning there are inevitable delays in overseas shipments.  

Running D&D Adventurers League events in Sheffield, UK from August. Contact me for more details.

I didn't think the following warranted its own thread, and this one felt most appropriate, so there ya go.

For the store I DM at, I spoke with the owner/lead DM about further rewarding players and supporting WOTC/Encounters/the store itself by letting those who earned over a certain amount of renown in the current season reap the benefits for the next season.

What we decided was that at 35 renown, your next season character can start play with a +1 magic weapon/armor/amulet OR at 60 renown, any common magic item from levels 1 to 4.

I figure the +1 or the odd defense/ability is hardly game-breaking and just a little cherry on top for those who have put in that much time and effort.

I also made a flyer that we posted with the information, and if anyone wants to use it, go ahead, it is store-neutral. See link below.

www.4shared.com/document/wvSOteB_/DDE_In...

We had about half a dozen people get over 60 renown. It'll be interesting to see what people choose.

NOTE: Just to be clear - this flyer is not official in any way - just something we decided to do as an added thank-you.

Thanks for posting the flyer!  We are definitely going to use it!
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