I received my judge assignments for the upcoming Winter Fantasy convention. I’ll be running CORE5-3 Lost in Wonder during all the afternoon and evening slots on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. On Saturday, I’ll run a table for the Living Forgotten Realms Battle Interactive event.
Battle Interactive events unite a ballroom full of Dungeons & Dragons players into a single, shared conflict. A year ago, I had no interest in running or playing in such an event. I envisioned an nine-hour slog through a giant combat encounter, further dragged down by the need to administer the movement of characters around the battlefield, and with a taxing suspension of disbelief required to account for the high-paragon superheroes running with the 1st-level mooks. (I wrote about the dissonance that occurs when you compare fourth-edition characters of widely different levels in Two problems that provoked bounded accuracy.)
Last spring, when I volunteered to judge at Origins, I must have selected the ADCP series along with the other events I would judge. I failed to realize that event ADCP4-2 Lost City of Suldolphor was a Battle Interactive. I’m happy I made the error, because I had a blast running a table. Actually, if I hadn’t “volunteered,” I certainly would have found myself among the many judges drafted minutes before the event. I still would have had fun, but I prefer to be prepared.As it happens, the Battle Interactive does not use a single giant map, like a D&D version of War In Europe. The BI plays as a series of timed challenges, shared by the entire room, with the combined results from each table contributing to the final outcome. At the individual tables, the players tackle an instance of an encounter scaled to level. These encounters represent a segment of a larger challenge faced by everyone. The encounters include non-combat objectives, making them more dynamic and interesting than a simple slug-fest. The time limits imposed on the encounters maintains a breakneck pace as players race to complete their objectives in the allotted time. This was no slog. For each encounter, each table has the option of sending one player to contribute to sort of skill challenge involving other volunteers from across the room.
Much of the fun comes from the chance to play D&D with a large number of enthusiasts in a single, grand experience. Everyone at my table became passionate about contributing to the shared success of hundreds of players. Dan Anderson, the adventure’s author, and Sean Molley turned in great performances as the WeavePasha and Ala’Ammar. They set the scene and objectives for each encounter in character. For my part, I loved the excitement, the brisk pacing and, since I ran a level 18 table, the chance to bust out my purple worm and titan minis.