Thursday, August 11, 2011

D&D Encounters as Weekly Gaming Fix

J. C. Lira once described the Castle Ravenloft board game as diet D&D.  Of course, when everybody has a busy schedule, a diet dungeon crawl might be just enough to act as your weekly dose of roleplaying.  D&D Encounters fills that void.

D&D Encounters is an ongoing Wednesday night D&D game, run in game stores across America.  Each session encompasses a little bit of story and a single combat encounter (fourth edition combat encounters typically take about an hour), forming a mini-campaign of thirteen sessions.  Though it's a glorified D&D commercial — the plot of the campaign usually ties in with a recent Wizards of the Coast release — it's actually pretty fun.  The typical two-hour runtime also works well with a busy schedule, and the fact that it attracts a rotating cast of players from week to week doesn't really detract at all (though this is usually handwaved, our DM typically tried to work in the roster changes).  The tales are hardly epic fantasy, but sometimes you just need a taste.  The last one even had a bit of an old-school bonus as The Dark Legacy of Evard refers to the powerful shadow magician Evard, the product of author Jack Vance who heavily influenced D&D's early development (as noted in this article).

I'm also intrigued by the D&D Encounter structure itself.  It's a great way to bring new players into the game, and would probably just be a good campaign structure generally, particularly in a public place such as a game shop.  Also, for Game Masters who are used to crafting tales that are epic in scope, the limitations of a handful of two-hour sessions is an excellent exercise in restraint. 

If you're looking to fulfill that weekly gaming fix, you could do worse than checking out D&D Encounters.  Even if it doesn't sound interesting, perhaps you would consider the Encounters format as an exercise for your next game?

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