War of Everlasting Darkness
By Chris Tulach
You’ve delved into the depths to uncover the drow threat in Web of the Spider Queen. You were able to live out your dark fantasies as the enemy in Council of Spiders. Now, the final chapter of the epic Rise of the Underdark storyline plays itself out in the War of Everlasting Darkness.
Talk about this news here.
"This final season of D&D Encounters will be epic, even if the tier is heroic"
Wait. This is the final season of D&D Encounters? They are ending the program?
Looks like it. Unless Chris meant final season for 2012 or final of the Drow -themed seasons as the review say ''This is the third and final installment of the Drow-themed Rise of the Underdark story-arc.''?
I hope a Organized Play Program keep going for 2013, be it D&D Encounters, Lair Assault or something else. Perhaps even an In-Store Playtest Program for D&D Next would be cool...
This season offers a fun adventure and give access to more materials and interesting new ways to play the D&D Encounter experience. THUMBS UP
The adventure is 4e. The adventure does incorporate some elements from D&D Next. The PCs do advance from level 1-8, advancing one level every week.
I have never been on encounters, and i will never be....because i am not on USA and the closest store that sell D&D stuff require me to cross the border and drive like 3 hours to reach that place...but it seems cool they are doing encounters that reach up to level 8, it gives the idea of the game doesn't break after 5 levels like in many game systems....and i want a high res version of the artwork on the preview.
On the otherside...if this is the last season of the encounters, it's pretty obvious that the lack of support, new content and releases for 4e are intentional from WotC to kill interest or attention from 4e and redirect it to D&DNext, and not that they don't have the capacity for supporting 4e and developing Next. Also, the change on the rules outside of inherent bonuses sounds like a terrible idea.
I'm interested to see how it plays out. Sounds like it going to be a nice change off place.
Wizards have confirmed in Twitter that Season 12 is NOT the final season.
Too bad I cannot be a part of the D&D Encounters experience. The local hobby shop here allows a stranger to run the events and he's pretty rude. I am the DM for many groups and I've told them all if they ever would like to try encounters just to go to the hobby shop and ask. Here is what happened (including some other players I don't know I have run into and other DMs around here):
He will only let you join if he likes you.
You must follow his rules and not do anything outside what he lays out, roleplaying is not allowed.
You have to be a friend of one of his friends that participates.
His style of DMing is railroading every character, no one can improvise, and he will tell you options you must choose 1; there are no alternative options.
You have to be willing to pay him if he asks for money.
He will tell you, "I'm sorry but we have no room for new players" but yet he allows other friends to join that never played before, as long as they follow his rules.
He creates all the characters for you.
His rules including: no roleplaying, only the options he presents are allowed, he can kill your character at any time.
He's very rude, when asked if you can join, his most common response seems to be, "I don't know you, have room for new players, so just [f word]ing go away."
There are a lot of other problems as well since I've watched him DMing, although he tells me to leave the area (which he can't really do), and other DMs have told me of their experiences and he is an incredible problem but the owner lets him use the store anyway because he thinks he is allowing a certain event to be held.
I've talked to WotC personnel about the importance of expanding Encounters to gaming clubs, and despite the lip service they gave me, their current mindset is that there is no chance of gaming clubs being served. As a result, many people will never get access to Encounters. It seems contrary to their own interests, but they at least have a point about focusing on larger metro areas that have a larger, concentrated audience. Ultimately, though, I think they're being short-sighted. Eventually, the internet will all but kill FLGSs, and even mid-sized metro areas will have no organized gaming sites outside of gaming clubs. They should get ahead of the curve and start developing them.
I don't really understand why they don't just sell the encounters seasons once the season is over. They could do a hardback compilation of the seasons. I'd buy them. Especially one where its designed to level the players up every session.
To whoever said this isn't dnd- ok.... think of it as a preview that shows the huge spectrum of the first 8 levels! It lets players see what they might look forward to in a campaign that makes it that high.
Also theres no reason to not make this a model for your regular games- as the guy who said "Being able to get higher than 3rd level" pointed out- many campaigns never make it that far. I love the accelerated pace as a DM because it takes the "aw come on let us have more xp" whining as they just level up each session which feels like a huge boost- and it lets you get through your stories super fast. an entire campaign in a few months? I'm in.
I think I'll try this breakneck speed the next time I run a pathfinder campaign (using dnd next rules) and just see how fast I can get through it.
I'd like to know if anyone has any tips on doing such a thing.
Who's to say they won't? Seriously, there have been only a handful of seasons, and the current season, along with the last two, is the first that have a theme connecting them. Maybe they will do it once they have enough seasons under their belt ... and yes, that could mean soon.
Just some speculation. I have no inside information. Haven't even heard rumors.
We've done two weeks of this season so far, and I have to say that I've not been too impressed with it. It's very combat light, which is stinks, since I go to Encounters specifically to engage in combat. I won't go into specifics here, since I know we're two weeks ahead of everyone else. I just hope there gets to be more combat later.
I've DM'd the first session already, and made some major changes. I'm planning the same for the second session tonight. Although I understand Mearls' goals as far as "playtesting the new edition feel," I think that Encounters is the wrong venue for that. Still, going by the idea of "a mini adventure every week," I think the changes I made went a long way towards that.
In the first session, I did the following: First, I changed the encounter from a single stirge to 5 stirges, but gave all of them the quality "Starving: This creature's starting hit points are equal to its bloodied value +1." The second encounter became 1 orc berserker, 1 orc raider, and 6 orc savages (half from each different tribe), with the standard monsters given the quality "Fatigued: This creatue has a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, damage rolls, and defenses, and its hit points are equal to its bloodied value +1." The encounter with the NPC adventurers was unchanged. The final encounter was changed to an imp, a spined devil, and two tar devil guards who would all appear if either riddle was answered incorrectly. All had the quality "Bound: This creatue has a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, damage rolls, and defenses, and its hit points are equal to its bloodied value +1." Okay, you all see where I went with this...
The result was...good! The encounters were 2-3 rounds each, every player got a turn or two, and the whole thing took about 20 to 30 minutes. We ran a little long, but got through six or so memorable roleplaying encounters, plenty of exploration of the woods and the dungeon, and three combat encounters in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Everyone left the table having had a blast!
Tonight, the first encounter is going to be with 6 orc savages, 2 orc berserkers (fatigued) and 1 orc rampager (fatigued). The second encounter will be a combat with two or three characters (depending on a few Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate rolls) directly fighting the king's champion, an orc mauler (the type with the maul) and a cockatrice, while the rest do sneaky stuff on the sidelines. I plan to describe the king's throne room has having the heads of "stone statues of defiant dwarves, elves, and humans, all cracked or worn, placed in niches along the wall behind the throne." Should give them a clue as to what they face. I've also made the cockatrice's touch a little more deadly. It's secondary attack immobilizes and does ongoing 10 damage (save ends both), with failure resulting in petrification (save ends) and the aftereffect being slowed and ongoing 5 damage. The tirck is, its a "save continuum." Fail the aftereffect save, and you are immobilized and taking ongoing 10 again. Fail that and you are petrified. Save against petrified, and you are immobilized and taking ongoing 10 again, etc. Anyone killed by ongoing damage is permanently petrified, as is anyone who fails 3 consecutive saves against petrification. I think that may be my new standard for petrification from now on, BTW.
Anyway, I figure I will post any further tinkering I do. Hope some of you like my ideas. The players last week certainly did!
Oh, I forgot. I also let the PCs recover their second wind and *one* encounter power of their choice at the milestone, and again from the fountain/pool in the dungeon. It seemed to work out about how I expected. They were hurt, but had a chance to recover a bit before each encounter. I think I will be doing that every week.
Even when Encounters has seemed like it won't be particularly fun (like last season's Drowfest), at the very least I've DMed it to get the free maps.
Clansmansix, that sounds like a really interesting way to fix the combat-lightness issue. The other DMs at our FLGS and I have been talking about doing something similar, though we wanted to see how the first adventure played out "by the book" before making changes. I like the cockatrice idea... it's a definite threat without being ridiculous insta-kill. Great way to handle petrification. I'm also thinking of having the entire party end up in the fight against the "champion," though I had thought to make it a wyvern. But I think I like your cockatrice idea enough to steal it (though out of respect for you, since my orc minis are numbered on the bases, I'll be sure to use orc raider 6 as the cockatrice's handler).
Thanks! I agree the whole season is too combat-light. There needs to be that opportunity for every player to do something awesome and kill a bad guy (or two) while putting themselves at risk. I mean, otherwise you are just walking into Mordor, right?
Anyway, I plan to have one drow scout, a fatigued orc arrcher, a pair of fatigued orc berserkers, and four orc savage minions in the first fight this next week. There is a chance of an encounter with a battletested orc, accompanied by half a dozen orc savages (depending on where the PCs go), followed by a drow assassin, a fatigued minotaur of some sort (a slave, used by the drow to find his way through the maze into Mithral Hall), another fatigued orc of some sort, and a handful of orc savages once the heroes get inside.
I think it's important to throw in a variety of monsters and give this season of Encounters a shot in the arm. I will keep sharing what I'm doing, and hope that it's of some use. Thanks again!
We ended up bypassing every combat but most of us had a blast anyway. One guy was apparently playing a chaotic evil assassin since all he did the entire session was lag behind the party, hiding in the shadows, and then garroted all of the treasure hunters except their leader simply because he wanted to kill something that session. What's sad is that he's normally one of the best roleplayers in our home group.
During his post-game rant he kept saying that he wanted to go investigate the people we heard talking to the side of the path. We all responded by asking him why he didn't say so at the time. What finally ended the rant was me pointing out that I repeatedly gave him an opening to initiate combat because whenever we got temporarily stumped on the riddle I would inevitably say something like: "Somebody should just bonk the imp on the head" (I would have done so myself except that it would have been out of character).
The only other player who wasn't totally pleased has pretty severe Asperger Syndrome and several other issues. He was actually having a great time doing too much roleplaying and making the game run long (my wife has to be at work at 10:00 every Wednesday night so the group as a whole works hard to make sure we get out of there by 8). The fact that he can be so outgoing is, I'm sure, due entirely to the fact that he has been playing trpgs and lots of other social games with us for the past eight years.
...but then came the riddle – he hates riddles and such because he finds them so frustrating (although his status as the group's expert on how to make monster knowledge checks meant he figured out the first riddle instantly). Our home group runs a different game every week, using a variety of systems, but the last time we played D&D (run by the player of that assassin) we had a puzzle to solve in the middle of combat (the big bad fully healed himself every round until we figured it out; until then we focused on taking out his buddies so we could work together to try and kill him in one round). Once again, he was the only player who didn't love it (ironically, his character had exactly what was needed, but he left the table before we figured that out). This week he was especially frustrated because his character was a satyr and he thought that should mean that his character would automatically know the answer to any riddle just because he's a satyr.
Everyone else had a great time with the riddle except when we chased a red herring for a bit and needed a few Insight rolls to get us pointed towards the right solution.
On the whole, I actually enjoy an occasional break from combat during a campaign – especially since it probably means we did a lot of roleplaying. I actually did more roleplaying Wednesday night that I did the rest of Encounters combined (I think we may have missed a dozen sessions in all), and that was wonderful as it was surprisingly. Even my HackMaster campaign has had combat-less, and nearly dice-less, sessions now and then, and the very name of the system tells you it's combat-focused (although both editions, and especially the new one, offer players small mechanical rewards for roleplaying well).
Until our Friday night group fell apart last winter, I ran a GURPS campaign that was actually entirely combat-less. It focuses entirely on DDN's three pillars (though of course I had never heard of that concept when I started the game). The few players who got to play in it have hyped it so much to the rest of our current group that I'm going to be adding it to the weekly rotation schedule as soon as everyone figures out what characters they want to play.
The game is inspired by SyFy's Warehouse 13 and Steve Jackson's Warehouse 23 (which seems like it was very likely the inspiration for the show). It is set in the late nineteenth century, and magic and psionics are real but suppressed by the governments of the world by use of an alchemical agent added to municipal water supplies; Warehouse Agents are given a dose of counter-agent once a month. I provided them with my own version of the Tesla gun from W13 as a sort of player-activated dues ex machina to avoid combat. In addition to stunning, it erases the last 30 seconds of short term memory so the target won't even remember getting shot.
Each artifact they investigate generally takes 2-3 sessions. So far they have tracked three artifacts and are clamoring for more. In all that time they haven't fired a single shot. The closest they came was when Aphrodite's Girdle made a worker at the soon-to-be-opened Moulin Rouge cabaret turned into a sex-crazed maniac determined to rape the poor girl wearing the girdle. Their alternative to shooting him (since they couldn't risk shooting the girl and causing her even more trauma) brought a bit of hilarity to a frightening situation. I couldn't convince one of the players to make an actual character – instead he just had a shtick: he was a retired sumo wrestler who liked to fall on people to subdue them. Once he gained access to magic and psionics he learned to walk on air so he could do it more easily and effectively. Do I need to paint you a picture? 8o)
The real surprise? Both of those campaigns include the aforementioned assassin player who got so upset by the lack of combat during Encounters this week...
All in all, I'm really happy with this season so far, although I'd be even happier if we still had enough players that I could run a second table instead of playing. If the game must use a module, I'm far happier behind the screen that in front of it with a GM who refuses to let us go off the rails (thankfully he no longer runs Encounters). Since the relatively green GM I'm letting take the lead this season won't be here next season (he plans to attend WoW CCG events at the FLGS on Monday nights instead), I'm happy to let him run every week since he doesn't get any other chance to GM but I do.
Awesome! Sounds like you guys are getting a lot of mileage out of the roleplaying portion of this season of Encounters. I agree, there has been a paucity of roleplaying content in the entire run of Encounters thus far. I actually found that this season is doing great things in that regard for the tables at the FLGS I run at. I mean, the players had at least four memorable roleplaying encounters during the first session, and three during the second. I think it's hitting the "sweet spot" as far as balance between the so-called three pillars this time around. Throwing in a decent number of opponents who can go down in 1 to 3 hits (as opposed to 3 to 5 for a standard monster) has sped up combat, leaving time for more roleplaying, exploration, and...well...even more combat!
Thanks for the feedback. If you are DMing Encounters, there is a whole section of the forums where people talk about their experiences, share resources, and talk about how to make the experience better for players. Feel free to share there as well:
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