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.

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4 thoughts on “Adventurers League: A New Series

  1. Thanks for DMing at your store!

    Here are a couple of ideas.

    1) The organizer of the event (Head DM, store organizer/owner, etc) can make a set pace for the group of DMs. So you start in X situation and make just you end the night in Y situation. This takes more planning, but makes a more cohesive story for your store. This way players can move from table to table and if a DM misses a session it’s not disjointing to everyone who has to move tables.

    2) Keep what you’re doing now, maybe allow each table 5 players with room for new players for walk ins. This allows the story, the DM and players to go where they’d like. This creates more of a campaign feel with more investment from the players. You’ll definitely want to make set tables for each game.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you for that advice, Robert! Trying to set one pace is a good idea. I know the DMs have been meeting before Wednesday each week this season, but I didn’t want to get involved with that yet because I’m still trying to avoid spoilers, so I don’t know exactly what they talk about. I’m sure we’ll do a debrief sometime soon.

  2. I use Meetup for Encounters. Players can reserve a seat at my table or one of the other 3 tables at my FLGS. This way everyone knows who is coming and how many seats are available. Each DM can decide how large of a table he wants to host, he can also update players that may rotate in week to week about what level their PCs should now be.
    There was a bit of flux in the beginning, with new players coming and going, but I’ve now settles into a regular table of 6-7 players every week. The other table as well have found their rhythm and have fairly set tables every week.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences, knowing how other groups are doing it is really helpful. A big obstacle for us has been space and number of DMs available, but as long as the new volunteers are consistent we’ll have more DMs this coming season. Space is a more interesting problem, but it’s being worked on. You don’t know anything promising about pocket dimensions do you?

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