Saturday, November 20, 2010

d&d encounters: play a hero, explore a world, battle monsters

“Hi! I’m here for D&D Encounters.”

My lurking on the Boulder/Longmont 4e D&D Meetup Group message boards lasted about one week before I decided to go ahead and get involved in an actual game. My decision to jump in and start playing was influenced by propagandizing for something called D&D Encounters that I’d come across on the official Dungeons & Dragons website and also on the meetup group’s list of upcoming events.

Heroes needed! Are you game? D&D Encounters is an exciting, weekly campaign that plays out one epic encounter at a time. As you defeat enemies, solve puzzles, finish quests, and perform heroic deeds, you’ll earn Renown Points that you can use to get exclusive rewards.

Each session only takes 1-2 hours to play, so it’s easy to fit your game in after school or work. And each week there’s a new and exciting challenge. Jump in anytime!

That’s the ‘hook’ on the official D&D website. After doing a bit more research online, I discovered that the Encounters program is WotC’s brilliant promotional tool designed to lure people to a local gaming or comic store for an easily digestible, non-threatening dose of 4e D&D.

In order to take part in an Encounters session, all you have to do is show up and play. Encounters is totally geared toward D&D newbs (perhaps a teenager who mistakenly thinks you need an internet connection to play a fantasy role-playing game, like the uber-popular MMORPG World of Warcraft) and those who played D&D at some point in the past and want to get back into it (somewhat older geeks like me who played the game in high school or college, but then drifted away from it for one reason or another), so you don’t need to know the 4e rules or own any books in order to get involved… all you have to bring to the table is a desire to play a hero, explore a world, and battle monsters.

Six pre-generated characters (pre-gens) are available to play: an eladrin wizard (mage), dwarf fighter (slayer), human cleric (storm warpriest), halfling rogue (thief), human fighter (knight), and elf cleric (sun warpriest). If you don’t wish to play one of the pre-gens, you can create your own character using the Essentials book Heroes of the Fallen Lands or its companion, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

The current season of Encounters is a twenty-week adventure called Keep on the Borderlands— A Season of Serpents (running from 22 September 2010 to 2 February 2011). Its encounters are set in the Nentir Vale, a new part of the D&D game world which was unveiled along with the 4e adventures, sourcebooks, and novels. (The first season of Encounters was a 12-week adventure set in the Forgotten Realms. The second season was a 15-week Dark Sun campaign.)

In my next post, I’ll share what it was like when I showed up at a local game store for my first D&D Encounters: Keep on the Borderlands session.

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