Adventurers League: A New Series

I’ve been playing Adventurer’s League since it got started with 5e. Mostly D&D Encounters, but I’ve played a few Expeditions as well. So that’s most of my gaming time lately, but I’ve been keeping this blog to homebrew stuff, so I haven’t been saying much about it. I have now decided, however, that I can spend some time writing about it because I have volunteered to DM at our local comic book shop next season. I think where I can do something useful is by providing experiences from our shop and sharing tips that I think will be useful for us. We’re definitely not the most organized AL group, but I might be able to provide something useful to some folks.

So here’s the first problem we’ve had that I would like to take a crack at addressing:

When the players and DMs get to the shop, they kind of just wander to the first table available. Since Encounters are decidedly not episodic they frequently stop at awkward and varying places, even if the groups start in the same place in the story. This results in players shuffling tables and half of the party is suddenly in a different place than they were last week, they don’t know if they successfully dispatched the evil mastermind their new allies have never met, and the barbarian doesn’t know whether or not she has the axe she dropped. This is a slight exaggeration, but I think it illustrates the point well.

What I expect to be a simple way to minimize the occurrence of what I write in my notes as “TIME WARP!” is to make it more table-centric. If we label each table at he beginning of the night with where it will be continuing from, in some detail, I think people will sit at the table which is continuing where they left off more frequently if they know where to sit from the start. I think part of what’s happening now is if players arrive before DMs, they don’t know where to go, and once they’re situated they don’t want to move to match up correctly. But if we communicate to as many people in advance with something like “Table 1 – Episode 6, just arriving at the castle. DM: A. Table 2 – Episode 6, Floor 2 of the Castle. DM: B. Table 3 – Episode 7, beginning. DM: C.” it won’t matter what order everyone arrives in, and anything funny that happened at the very end can continue naturally, instead of getting skipped and going unresolved.

The problem with admitting that Encounters isn’t episodic and treating it as such is if that actually stabilizes into consistent parties, one could fall pretty far behind by the end of a long campaign like HotDQ. I don’t know if that’s really a problem per se, but it would be nice if everyone was more or less on the same page.

What are your thoughts, gentle reader? Is anyone else having this problem? Not think it’s a problem? Have a solution? I’m looking forward to talking to the other DM volunteers about this.

Idea Board: Agents of RPG

My wife and I both came down with a pretty nasty cold, so we’ve been spending a lot of time on the couch. Yesterday, we finished Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I always imagine everything I watch or read as an RPG, so that of course happened during watching, but it wasn’t until later that night, while falling asleep, that I was struck by a sudden idea. I have foolishly neglected to leave a notepad by my bed, so I trusted the memory to fate and decided to write it down first thing in the morning. As it turns out, fate was on my side.

What I have so far is just a first thought at character creation. It’s probably inspired mostly by the MechWarrior Roleplaying Game. The first thing I thought of was providing special abilities by enrollments in programs. I actually had a specific program in mind that I did forget, but for an example I’m generating right now: “I was enrolled in the Icarus Program, so I know how to use this experimental jetpack.”

Projects and Programs could be infinite and they would cost character points of some sort to purchase.

The character points thing made me think of GURPS, but I’ve always really liked the aging your character and developing your background character creation method that I first encountered in MechWarrior. There might also be a little Numenera in there. This is what I ended up writing down this morning:

I’m a…

  • Human

With a knack for…

  • Psioncs
  • Marksmanship
  • CQC
  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Computers
  • Alien Tech
  • People Skills

Trained as a…

  • Scientist
  • Engineer
  • Technician
  • Specialist
  • Leader

For a while, I was involved in the…

*Programs and projects provide specific bonuses in exchange for character points.

Obviously more or less of any of those steps could be available, or more or less steps could be available. If you wanted to get complex I would add steps for how you grew up (on the streets vs fabulous wealth) and what kind of education you had (None, BA, PhD, Boot Camp, West Point, etc.)

You could overlay this on to pretty much any system you like, too. The easiest way would be to just provide bonuses for all the choices e.g. if we’re talking about 5e DnD “With a knack for Alien Tech” would give them advantage any time they’re working with alien technology. Or it could be more complicated. Trained as a… could be custom classes in the DnD example. Honestly, most of my ideas end about here, but if I were to run this I would probably use a custom GURPS-like system for it. I like the dis/advantage system of 5e, and I could use that to modify In Nomine’s d666 to roll 2d6 to measure success and 2d6 for degree of success, high or low winning out depending on your background. Character points are awarded instead of experience, and the players buy new programs or upgrade their very simple stats. As far as settings go, it’s open ended enough for any paramilitary organization. It also doesn’t have to be all for the same organization. If I’m sticking to settings I’ve used before, it’d make for a nice modern day or near future Malleus game.

As always, gentle reader, I am interested in your thoughts.