Adventurers League Season 7: Death Curse and Scheduling

The seventh season of Adventurers League will start soon – and wow, has it caused some uproar! Time to get those dice warmed up…

Papazotl's Tomb

Death Curse

Season 7, also known as Tomb of Annihilation, centers on the Death Curse:

The talk of the streets and taverns has all been about the so-called death curse: a wasting disease afflicting everyone who’s ever been raised from the dead. Victims grow thinner and weaker each day, slowly but steadily sliding toward the death they once denied.

When they finally succumb, they can’t be raised—and neither can anyone else, regardless of whether they’ve ever received that miracle in the past. Temples and scholars of divine magic are at a loss to explain a curse that has affected the entire region, and possibly the entire world.

This has implications for the entire storyline, but not just those running the hardcover. AL released a document previewing the changes, or at least those affecting AL events before the rest of us get our hands on the actual content. The first versihttps://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/srii4pikmj0t0n3tknn6kemd2g%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.icson of document specified that the Curse would also apply to characters running content from Seasons 5 and 6 (Storm King’s Thunder and Tales from the Yawning Portal). That part was quickly changed, and at the time of this writing, the rule in version 6.5 is:

The Death Curse is applied to all D&D Adventurers League characters playing a storyline season 7 or CCC adventure on or after August 16th, 2017. The curse is a—if not the—fundamental aspect of Tomb of Annihilation. If you’re playing through the lower-tier storyline season 7 or CCC adventures, the curse is an ever-present threat.

(Emphasis original.)

This doesn’t bother me, in part because D&D is not like a computer RPG where savescumming is an accepted tactic and sometimes even an intentional part of the design. Character death should mean something. I find myself firmly in the minority, though, because people have gotten very upset about the idea of losing a beloved character.

One way to avoid losing said beloved character, of course, involves not submitting that character to Season 7, especially Tier 1 and Tier 2 content.

New players will not know that this is a change: they will view character death as something serious and possibly permanent. Casual players should definitely take Lindsay’s advice and start with a fresh level 1 character. Players who lose a character at level 5 or above will have access to level 5 pregenerated replacements.

Regardless of whatever one may think of the original document, the current one is pretty reasonable. Playing through Season 7 requires grappling with the core mechanic, which motivates and drives the entire storyline. I appreciate them removing the effect from prior storyline content, however, as characters there literally have no way to deal with the Death Curse.

Everything Else

Player riots aside, we already know a few interesting bits about Season 7. For one, the DDAL adventures, instead of focusing on some area separate from the hardcover adventure, will take place in the same region (Chult, rather than Hillsfar or Mulmaster or Phlan). In fact, they fit together, so that (for example) DDAL07-01 “A City on the Edge” will serve as an expanded hook into the actual Tomb of Annihilation hardcover. All the DDAL adventures will release on the Dungeon Masters Guild for public play, though regional conventions can get them earlier.

The scheduling works like this:

  • 2017-09-05: DDAL07-01 released. As in past seasons, this consists of five 1-hour scenarios for Tier 1 characters (levels 1-4).
  • 2017-09-08: Tomb of Annihilation released at local gaming stores and select partners
  • 2017-09-19: Tomb of Annihilation in wide release (e.g. Amazon)
  • 2017-10-03: DDAL07-02 released. Unlike past seasons, the first Tier 2 (levels 5-10) module also consists of five 1-hour scenarios!
  • 2017-11-07: DDAL07-03, -04, and -05 released. These adventures make up The Jungle Has Fangs trilogy. Maze Arcana fans take note: the first two of these were authored by Rudy Rutenberg and Satine Phoenix!
  • 2017-12-05: DDAL07-06, -07, and -08 released. This is another trilogy, The Rot from Within, but for Tier 2. The first of these lists James Introcaso as the author, known to many of us as an excellent D&D podcaster.
  • 2018: Tier 3 and 4 content will show up.

I have created a Google Calendar [ical] to track all this plus the Quest of the Week (which gives double DM rewards):

Obviously it’s unofficial but I took everything directly from the listing at the official AL web site.

In the mean time, I hope the good folks at the Adventurers League keep pushing boundaries. Not everything will always work perfectly the first time around, but maintaining a status quo will definitely get stale and lead to boredom.

Tomb of Annihilation: AL campaign planning

tomb2.jpg

The Quest of the Week schedule for Adventurers League got an update today, and it has something special in it… Tomb of Annihilation modules! They’ll start running in September, and some of them have some particularly evocative names:

  • DDAL07-01 City on the Edge – Tier 1 (lvls 1-4)
  • DDAL07-02 Over the Edge – Tier 2 (lvls 5-10)
  • DDAL07-03 A Day at the Races – Tier 1 (lvls 1-4)
  • DDAL07-04 A Walk in the Park – Tier 1 (lvls 1-4)
  • DDAL07-05 Whispers in the Dark – Tier 1 (lvls 1-4)
  • DDAL07-06 Fester and Burn – Tier 2 (lvls 5-10)
  • DDAL07-07 Rotting Roots – Tier 2 (lvls 5-10)
  • DDAL07-08 Putting the Dead to Rest – Tier 2 (lvls 5-10)

Looks like the dinosaur race event from the hardcover will make its way into the smaller modules in some fashion! I’m sure the storyline will have some Tier 3 content as well, but not in the Quests of the Week (or not in 2017 anyway). The filler weeks will focus on the Elemental Evil storyline, but that one doesn’t inspire me for whatever reason.

Campaign planning

Episodic play fits me best because of travel requirements for my job (around 1/3 of the time). Right now, I usually run Rage of Demons on Monday nights and Tales from the Yawning Portal on Thursday nights. Every other Sunday, a friend runs a homebrew campaign in which I play, and my kids and I go to a nearby FLGS on Wednesday nights. So for my own AL games, I will probably wind down the RoD campaign in favor of ToA. However, I would like to keep my YP campaign going because the dungeons provide so much delicious fun. I don’t expect to run The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan until we start the ToA season, since it fits Chult so thematically.

This means that, starting in September, a “normal” week (uninterrupted by travel or other events) will include:

  • Monday: Tomb of Annihilation storyline (DM)
  • Wednesday: Lost Mine of Phandelver or other AL modules (player)
  • Thursday: Tales from the Yawning Portal (DM)
  • Sunday (alternating): Home campaign with friends (player)

That seems like not enough, but in reality that is plenty. Between family, game prep, and other hobbies, running two AL “campaigns” and playing in two others already might have me at the limit.