Game On: Less Rules, More Play

Hello everyone!

First off, let me take a bit of this blog to talk about who I am and why I'm here. My name's Chris Tulach, and I'm the D&D Play Manager at Wizards of the Coast. Some of you may remember me from past times - I've been involved in D&D organized play for 30 years, and came to Wizards to work on D&D organized play in 2006. I created and managed all of the programs for 4th edition and the D&D Adventurers League for 5th edition. Then, I went off to work on Magic for a little while, and now I've returned home as of late last year. It's good to be back!

I've been spending a lot of my time these past several months working on what the future of D&D play will look like. A lot has changed since I left in 2015 - the explosion in D&D play, the rise of streaming as an entry point for D&D, and virtual play standing alongside in-person play as an equal platform. Within Wizards, I'm working to ensure that D&D Adventurers League is able to continue to grow and evolve with the needs of our community and how to integrate what we do with the broader D&D initiatives. 

Feedback and Challenges

In order to get a handle on where we needed to go, I needed to figure out where we are now. Earlier this year, I launched a review of our Adventurers League program. A component of that review was a survey we put out into the world in late March. If you took the survey, thank you! Almost 4500 respondents gave us valuable feedback on what  they liked, didn't like, and suggestions for change for our program. (Don't worry if you missed it - the survey will be back later this year.)

We identified some larger issues that commonly came up in that survey. These were:

Rules and Paperwork. We heard loud and clear that more rules and restrictions aren't the way to go. Portability of characters between adventures is a big concern. Keeping the paperwork to a minimum is important. 

Awareness and Communication. We need to provide more news and information on Adventurers League. We need to focus on bringing in new players and Dungeon Masters. Hearing from Wizards on play is important. 

Connection. Wizards needs to help with connecting players and Dungeon Masters. Finding games can be challenging, especially for newer players. 

Taking Action

We're hard at work to address the issues listed above, among other concerns. While this is happening, we're also planning for future growth and success. 

Two things are happening effective today:

A regular blog feature from Wizards called "Game On". My intention is have a blog post series focused mostly on the whys and hows of Adventurers League. In this (mostly) monthly series, I'll give you a bit more context around the philosophy of our organized play and discuss where we might be headed. I'll also call out progress on addressing the issues identified above. 

A major player's side rules revision. Today, a preview of the new Adventurers League player's rules will be posted over on our official Discord channels for community review there. This revision represents a step towards addressing several concerns, and represents a continuation of our efforts that began earlier this year with the removal of the "PH + 1" rule. More on that below.

The New Player's Guide

When we set out to make the new player's guide for Adventurers League, we had a few goals in mind:

1. Address every point of friction for players. We went through every rule we had in the previous player's guides (using the Dreams of the Red Wizards AKA Masters guide as a baseline) and asked "Does this bring our players joy?" If the answer was no, we had a conversation about keeping the rule. Most of the time, we opted to remove it. 

2. Make it easier to get new players into the game. We wanted to remove some of the "culture shock" of joining your first Adventurers League game by setting expectations in rules for character creation and play that more closely matched with what you might experience in a home game when possible. This meant, for example, that systems like a gold piece cap were not really effective and really didn't map to a core D&D game experience. 

3. Keep it short. We don't want the document to sprawl with explanations or have to solve for every possible rules interaction or player consideration. It should provide a solid resource for most questions, while being as succinct as possible. More expansive questions will be answered in the FAQ, which will be updated soon after the final version of the player's guide is published. To put it simply: this is not a comprehensive guide. 

​Now It's Your Turn

The community review window for this player's guide begins now, and will last until Thursday, September 16. We'll then take a look at the feedback and any changes will be implemented either in the player's guide or clarification will be in the FAQ. The final player's guide will be posted on September 22. 

Please head to the official D&D Discord, and look for the preview player's guide in the AL Updates channel. Let us know what you think by posting in the AL General channel!

Thanks for reading. We'll see you again soon!