We’re almost at September, which is when the first adventures of the D&D Expeditions become legal to play. I was hoping to run a special session of them on September 1st, but the store is going to be a bit busy that day. Instead, we’ll have a couple of tables available to run on Tuesday, September 2nd and again on Monday September 8th. (I’ve got more details on our local D&D page on Facebook).
All of the three adventures we can run are for levels 1-4 characters. All are set in Phlan, a small town on the northern coast of the Moonsea in the Forgotten Realms. Players are quite welcome to bring their D&D Encounters characters in to play in the adventures, as even playing all three of the adventures at present won’t get you past 4th level. Starting a new character is also an option – possibly the preferred one, just for story reasons.
For those wondering at how XP awards work in D&D Expeditions, each adventure has a minimum and maximum XP value you can achieve for playing the adventure. You get the minimum if you manage to survive the adventure, even if you fail at everything (unlikely, but it can still happen). You get the maximum if you achieve a portion of the goals; generally you don’t have to do everything right, but this varies from adventure to adventure. It seems that for a Tier 1 adventure (levels 1-4), you’ll get between 450-600 XP for completing the adventure. An exception is Defiance in Phlan, which is five mini-adventures each taking an hour and each giving 75-100 XP.
DMs also gain XP rewards for running these adventures; each adventure allows them to apply an XP reward to one of their characters. You can run the same adventure several times and give all the XP to one character, or spread it out amongst your characters. (The typical reward is 200 XP for one Expeditions adventure).
D&D Encounters gives XP awards that are capped per episode (there are three episodes, each taking several sessions to play). The caps may mean that a session gives you no additional XP, but the cap allows people to miss a session and still catch up.
There are no such caps in Lost Mine of Phandelver or the full Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat adventures. You get the full XP as described in the adventures.
Using the same character for D&D Encounters and D&D Expeditions
It is completely legal to use the same character in both D&D Encounters and D&D Expeditions, and to also play any of the other legal D&D Adventurers League adventures. However, Expeditions and Encounters are limited by which levels you can be when playing adventures. In Encounters, you must be level 1-4. In Expeditions, each adventure has a separate tier rating (see below). So, if you play the same character in Expeditions and Encounters, there is the possibility that character may gain too many levels to continue playing Encounters. At the moment, this isn’t too much of a problem.
A player will gain a maximum of 2,700 XP from playing through the entire season of D&D Encounters. (It’s structured so that you can miss a few sessions and still get the maximum XP). That basically gives you 3,800 XP to play about with in Expeditions, or about 6 adventures worth at Tier 1.
The biggest problem about using the same character will come if you try playing through Lost Mine of Phandelver and D&D Encounters. The Starter Set adventure has a lot of XP in it; it’s designed to take you up to 5th level, which is outside the range of legal play for D&D Encounters. Going between Encounters and Expeditions is less of a problem XP-wise, until you play a LOT of Expeditions adventures.
Playing an adventure twice
You can also play an adventure twice. You just can’t do it with the same character. It’s also possible to both DM and play in the same adventure. If you really want to play D&D Expeditions every week, you will have to do so, as there aren’t (yet) many adventures for them.
Tier 1 D&D Expeditions adventures
The first tier of D&D Expeditions is for character levels 1-4. Three become available for store play on September 1st (They’re already legal for convention play); more will be added through the coming months.
Defiance in Phlan is unusual. It is actually five one-hour sessions and can only be played by characters of levels 1-2. It is a great introductory adventure that introduces all the factions (each mini-adventure features one of the five factions). You can play all five adventures with a character of any faction, though, so you needn’t worry about only being able to play one of the adventures!
Secrets of Sokol Keep and Shadow on the Moonsea are more typical adventures for Expeditions: 4-hour adventures. These are the other two adventures that become legal on September 1st.
The end of September will bring in Dues for the Dead, The Courting of Fire and The Scroll Thief
The end of October adds The Drums of the Marsh and Tales Trees Tell.
Mid-November adds Outlaws of the Iron Route.
That is nine Tier 1 adventures. Based on the rewards for Sokol and Shadow, it seems that if you play all of them, you’ll get 5,300 XP… and you’re still short of reaching level 5! You can use the Catching Up mechanics (see the Players’ Guide), but it seems odd. It may be that the later adventures give more XP out. I’m trying to find out more about them.
You should also note that this really isn’t very much material. The bulk of available adventures at present come through Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat. Later in the program, there are likely to be a lot more available adventures. For now, they’re starting small.
Tier 2 D&D Expeditions adventures
The second tier of D&D Expeditions is for character levels 5-10. If you play through Lost Mine of Phandelver you’ll be ready for this tier, but you’ll have to wait a few months before the adventures are released. (You may wish to play later episodes of Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat with that character instead). I don’t know how many XP you’ll get for each one.
The first appears in mid-November: Tyranny in Phlan.
After that, we have quite a break. March 2015 brings in the first big wave of Tier 2 adventures: Dark Pyramid of Sorcerers Isle, Raiders of the Twilight Marsh and Pool of Radiance Resurgent.
March also will see the beginning of the second storyline, but April gives us the last of the Tyranny adventures: Escape from Phlan.
Tier 3 and Tier 4
There are none announced yet. It’s quite possible it will be a while before any are released. They’re also unlikely to be part of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. That’s fine! You can use your characters in any storyline event. The main purpose of the storylines is to give thematic coherence. The other is to permit and/or restrict character creation options: when you create your character, the storyline you select for it determines which options you can use, but you can still play any storyline with the character.