Why You Should Play in the D&D Adventurers League (and a New 1-Sheet Quick Start)

If you want to play more Dungeons & Dragons, but can’t find opportunities, then you must try the D&D Adventurers League. The League runs an ongoing, official campaign for D&D. This campaign lets you create a character and bring it from table to table, game store to store, convention to convention. In online league games, I’ve joined players connecting from Germany, Russia, and New Zealand—and I only occasionally play online.

For most players, the league solves the problem of finding a D&D game.

Many local game shops host regular league games. These programs thrive on new players and they welcome guests. Some business travelers who live on the road make a point of seeking games in the places they visit.

Most D&D games at conventions follow the league. For some D&D players, league games at one annual convention amount to all their D&D play for the year.

To start with the league, I suggest going to the Adventurers League site and looking for a game store hosting games. Then contact the store. If nothing is close enough, find a regional convention and make a weekend of gaming. Or play online.

Even if you prefer to find or start a home game with a consistent group of players in an ongoing campaign, the league makes a great place to start. In league games, you will meet players and dungeon masters whose style matches yours. You can find and recruit like-minded players for a home game.

While the league’s campaign rules create a certain consistency, the league aims to accommodate players who favor different play styles, whether role playing, story, or combat. DMs and players vary from table to table and they bring their tastes to the game. If one session doesn’t suit you, try a different DM or a different location.

The league operates in seasons matched to the hardcover adventures published by Wizards of the Coast. The 9th season, supporting Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus, launched in September. 

Until now, the league administrators have coped with troublesome players by weighing the campaign with more and more cumbersome rules. See The Adventurers League Campaign Rules Offered a Game. How Gamers Played to Win. This season marks a change of direction toward lightweight, elegant campaign rules. By season 8, the league required players with a stubborn commitment to mastering legalities. Season 9 makes the league more welcoming to casual players than ever.

The league offers an unmatched opportunity for DMs and adventure writers to boost their skills. For DMs, no practice works as well as running games for strangers. For adventure authors, running games for strangers gives you a better sense of the characters that players bring, the choices they make, and the tactics they adopt. No home game can bring the same experience. I suspect the best new authors penning Adventurers League scenarios bring ample experience running for strangers.

To help you start with the league—and to help veterans bring new players on board—I present a 1-sheet, quick start guide for the league’s new Season 9. My thanks go to Adam Corney, who did the heavy lifting of updating the sheet for season 9.

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16 Responses to Why You Should Play in the D&D Adventurers League (and a New 1-Sheet Quick Start)

  1. Ben Jacobs says:

    My experiences with AL have been terrible. The DMs are completely unprepared and uninterested. The players are all kinds of awful.. it’s like they took advice on how to play exclusively from horror stories on DnD subreddits.

    • Mana Kurogane says:

      It can be hit or miss. My experience has been overall positive, though I primary play online.

    • alphastream says:

      It really varies, but bad areas are uncommon. I’ve traveled for work across the US and tried many different stores. I would say under 15% are truly bad, primarily due to bad store management. And, even when I’ve found a bad one, I’ve offered to DM an additional table, recruited players via MeetUp (or a similar site), and had a great time. I’ve had far better results finding AL tables and meeting cool players/DMs there than I have with trying to find decent homegame groups. Good stores are also very welcoming to new players. Stores overall are changing a lot these days, mastering skills to draw in customers through many different programs and creating healthy and safe spaces focused on fun.

  2. Paul Scanlon says:

    I Love my regular AL game at Zulu’s in Bothell Washington. There are usually 4-5 games every Monday night, Some nights are better than others but that is life. Most people are there to play and have fun with others. Everyone is welcome no matter their experience. Just played last night with my 8th level Dragonborn Fighter who slayed the boss with a crit from my Javelin of Lightning. Fist bumped the monk to my left and wizard to my right. Fun Stuff!

  3. I left AL several years back. The more I hear how WOTC is morphing the game to fit AL-specific parameters (e.g. listening to the bitching of whiny players), the happier I am I do not AL. Gain a level every 2 hours of play? Minimum amount of gold you get, per level/adventure, regardless of how well or poorly you perform as a PC? No predetermination on which table/group you get to sit with? No sense of story continuity as whatever ‘episode’ of the ‘season’ is being played that night, everyone gets the same content, and are dropped right into the mix without having any idea who the other PC’s are or why they would be working together?

    D&D is a story-telling RPG. AL might as well be sitting down and playing thru an adventure from the Dungeon of the Mad Mage board game. It’s only value is in meeting other like-minded players so you can form at-home groups and get away from the shite that AL is.

    • Dan says:

      Vampire is a story-telling RPG. D&D is the game whose original edition had these words on the cover: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures. Classic game-play was almost all dungeon crawls or wilderness exploration with minimal backstory beyond a legend or rumors of treasure. It’s certainly possible to run a story-telling type game with D&D, but it doesn’t lend itself to it; pickup trucks aren’t built for speed, but you can still go 100 MPH in one if you really want to.

      • The Collins dictionary reference of the term “Role Playing Game” states “a game in which players assume the roles of fantasy characters”. Other references I checked were similar. So D&D, which is a role playing game, is a game in which players assume roles – as in acting and storytelling.

        The DMG page 6 makes clear reference to both actor and storyteller type players. The game is designed, and always has been designed, for acting and storytelling.

        Lastly, if you have watched any Critical Role or similar shows, D&D is clearly being used by actors to do extensive storytelling and roleplaying – and further, this is a major element in how new players come to the game.

        To be blunt, you are wrong. But please continue to believe what you like about it if that makes you feel better.

        • Dan says:

          Nothing in the definition of RPG that you wrote there says story-telling. Also, the people who do Critical Role are profesional actors. They could do what they do with any game as a backdrop. If they chose to play a board game like HeroQuest or Dungeon! Instead of D&D, would that make those into story-telling games in your mind? As for page 6 of the DMG, stating what the game can be used for doesn’t mean that’s what it’s good at. Refer back to my previous example of drag racing in pickup trucks. D&D is a game about dungeon crawling that happens to be versatile enough that DMs who are willing to put in the extra work can adapt it to other modes of play. People like you get dissatisfied when you get into the game by watching Critical Role, where both the DM and players have put in a massive amount of effort to make things work the way they want them to, but then when you go to an AL game or something run by a typical, average Joe DM at your FLGS you find that the default game doesn’t play much like CR at all.

          • My direct experience at my FLGS represents exactly my comments. They have a massive AL crowd for a trio of small cities with a total population of about 100,000. 40 or so regular players, but more interestingly 10-20 new players each week. Except those new players don’t like their experience, and they never return. The FLGS is throwing away hundreds of potential new D&D gamers and customers because of the AL experience.

            Far as I am concerned, there is no wrong way to play D&D. The system is flexible enough to handle just about anything.

            But having said that, I find it painful that all these new players are coming to our FLGS and going away so disappointed. For the most part, our local AL has devolved into two primary purposes – a place where wargamers and boardgamers go to play their variation of D&D, and where a plethora of new players show up, get disappointed, and then either never follow up on the game again, or use local resources to find non-AL groups where they can enjoy the kind of D&D they are looking for. The primary reason the owner of our FLGS supports and hosts AL is due to the improved standing it gains her with WOTC.

            So long as the nature and architecture of AL drives these new players away, I will never condone it; never support it; and do all I can to discourage it as a toxic anathema to our hobby.

          • Dan says:

            I never said there was a wrong way to play it; I said that it plays a certain way by default, and it’s up to individual DMs to put extra time and effort in if they want a different experience. D&D by the book rewards two things – killing monsters and taking their stuff. Vampire, on the other hand, has systems that incentivizes story and character-driven play. You can make house rules to replicate that in D&D, but MacGyvering together a utensil for scooping soup using a measuring cup, a spatula, and electrical tape doesn’t mean that a measuring cup is the same thing as a ladle.

    • Amanda Penn says:

      I have read the most recent AL rules, and I agree with you completely.

  4. Jay Stow says:

    Hey David,

    Just looking at the quickstart and noticed that the gold table is a bit iffy.

    The minimum gold earned per hour seems to show the maximum gold earned per hour.

    • Richard Hayward says:

      Jay Stow is right, the number in this table shows the maximum allowable per hour. For example, for Tier 1, the minimum is 10 / hour, and the maximum is 20 / hour.

    • David Hartlage says:

      Hi Jay,
      Thanks for catching that. I have fixed the gold table.

      Dave

  5. Robbzilla says:

    Why should you play AL? Short answer: you shouldn’t. It’s crap these days. The mantra “no D&D is better than bad D&D” rings true.

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