I played for about ten years but have been absent for about 5. I can't find the RPGA website. Even when Google tells me I'm going to one Wizard redirects me to a general site that has nothing to do with RPGA. The whole record of everything I played and DM'd gone? Did Wizards just give the big FU to all the players and get rid of the RPGA?
(Disclaimer: I've been very active in the RPGA fairly consistenly over the past 11 years, so I've "lived through" all the changes discussed below.)
The RPGA is still around, at least in theory, but it's changed substantially since you were last active with it. I'm not even sure that the RPGA name / acronym is still used anymore. Even this message board forum is a "legacy" forum from before the big "reboot" that WotC did to these boards about 2 years ago. As such, this forum gets very little traffic these days -- as VCL for the RPGA, I come back to this board every few days, just to see if anyone's wandered in here.
The RPGA's only active campaign at this time is Living Forgotten Realms (and this has been the case since WotC launched 4E, and ended Living Greyhawk, in 2008). LFR has its own, separate presence elsewhere here on the WotC message boards:
(Note that you may have to apply for membership in the LFR group in order to post there.)
In addition to LFR, WotC also runs several, more casual "organized play" programs, including D&D Excursions (a series of short campaigns in which you go to a game store once a week, playing one encounter per session), and Lair Assault (more of a powergaming-oriented dungeon crawl).
The first big change to the RPGA happened in 2002, when the organization changed from paid membership to free membership. This made it much easier for casual players to get involved with the RPGA, but it also led to a gradual reduction in the sorts of freebies and other benefits which players and DMs got from the RPGA for game play, to the point now where such programs no longer exist.
Several years ago (in 2008 or 2009, IIRC), WotC merged the RPGA with DCI (the rough equivalent of the RPGA for Magic: the Gathering, and WotC's other collectible games). One of the advantages of the merger was that it allowed the RPGA to use a much more robust system for tracking players and event sanctioning (the old RPGA player record database was apparently on a very rickety old system).
This merger also allowed the RPGA to attempt to implement an online character tracker, but the system worked poorly (it would have required 100% accurate event reporting in order to work properly), and that tracker was scrapped after about a year.
However, I do suspect that, as a result of that merger, the older play records (i.e., from the time before the RPGA/DCI merger) were lost.
In the last two years or so, LFR has gone away from even using that event system. Most LFR adventures are now simply available for download from the livingforgottenrealms.com web site (a private site, run by the LFR campaign staff). If you want to run an LFR module, you just download it from that site. There are a very small number of Special adventures which are only playable at public events; there's a seperate system for ordering those from the campaign staff.
The other big recent change is that play results are no longer reported to the RPGA (or to anyone else, for that matter). So, unlike in the old days, when you could go online and see a record of everything you'd played (assuming that it had all been entered properly), that simply doesn't exist any longer. Relatedly, you no longer need an RPGA number to play in an RPGA game, since that number isn't being recorded anywhere.
If you were, indeed, playing 10 to 15 years ago, you'll remember features like player (and Judge) levels, rating the other players at your table, die-bump certs, RPGA campaigns for games from other companies, and "Classic" adventures (i.e., non-Living-style games, with pre-generated characters)...all of those have gone away.
So, in short...yes, there is still something like the RPGA (an official organized play program), but it looks very different from how it looked five or ten years ago.
*cries* All that work I did and rewards I always dreamed about. Now its gone. *cries*
Became a father and now I am back. *shakes head and walks away* Ill miss all that crap and levels. Tsk tsk.
Once Upon A Time...
'zat about right?
Wow...great to see you here, Frank! When I first started playing D&D in the early 80s, you were one of the big names in the hobby, and I was thrilled to meet you (however briefly) at my first GenCon in 1983.
That is, alas, probably an accurate assessment.
WotC's Organized Play programs (of which Living Forgotten Realms is the only remaining thing that has any real resemblance to the old RPGA) exist entirely to support WotC's current product line, and encourage purchases of products in those lines. Because the programs are now funded entirely out of the RPG division's budget (as opposed to the "old" RPGA model, in which membership fees paid for a lot of the program), support for any games other than WotC's games would, I imagine, be hard for them to justify (on a financial basis) to their bosses.
While they might argue that they're "promoting the hobby" through promoting play of D&D in the OP programs, you're right in that this is solely focused on WotC's own products (and, often, on the latest game book or accessory that's been brought to market).
When I first started really playing in the RPGA, 11 years ago, it was still a paid-membership organization, and WotC allowed a number of other companies to offer campaigns under the RPGA umbrella (which included having those adventures hosted in the RPGA event-ordering system). 10 years ago, at GenCon 2002, they made the RPGA into a free-membership organization.
A couple of years later, they ended their "relationships" with the non-WotC campaigns which had been offered in the RPGA (at that point, there were only a couple -- Paradigm Concepts' Living Arcanis is one that comes to mind). At that time, it was explicitly stated that WotC no longer felt it was a good business decision to spend WotC money / resources (i.e., maintaining the event ordering system, etc.) on supporting other companies' product lines. So, the POV that TSR had when you started the RPGA (that TSR benefitted by encouraging play (and sales) of everybody's games) had gone away by that point, if not sooner.
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