I’m going to play Encounters tonight. Encounters is a program initiated by Wizards of the Coast. It’s purpose is to provide players with a regularly scheduled bite-sized portion of D&D. It’s also a great entry point for new players. I’ve been playing in and running Encounters sessions since the beginning of the program, and I’ve learned a few things.
Using Tokens is a double-edged sword. They are fantastic for cheap, portable markers. They are terrible for immersion, and description. Of course, if you are using a bugbear mini in place of a hobgoblin anyways you aren’t losing much. Where this really hurts is with the characters. Each character should have its own mini that gets close to what the character actually looks like.
- Poster Maps
I love the Poster Maps concept, but it seems to fall short when every map is made from Dungeon Tiles. The maps that come with printed modules like Thunderspire Labyrinth are amazing and wonderful. The maps that come with Encounters are not wonderful, but they are appropriate for the Encounters format.
- Character Restrictions
One thing I don’t enjoy about Encounters is the restrictions placed on character creation. I understand that Wizards is trying to support their product, and the store, but I don’t see it doing a whole lot in either area with my group. I’ve started allowing experienced players to bring in any character they want, as long as its thematically appropriate. I encourage the use of Essentials characters, especially ones that use the source from the book associated with the current season, but don’t restrict it to only that. For newer players, I try to guide them to follow the rules, and I always make sure those who break the rules have a backup character which does follow the rules, in case they get a DM who isn’t as lenient as I am.
I’ve started a tradition of giving away prizes at the end of each Encounters season. I usually buy the book associated with the upcoming season of Encounters and give it to whoever earned the most Renown Points. I then buy a 2 packs of Fortune Cards and give them to the runner up. I think a store would earn a lot of credit with the players if they did this regularly.
If you are looking to get involved in some D&D, Encounters is a great way to go about it. Find your local store at https://www.wizards.com/dnd/event.aspx?x=dnd/4new/event/dndencounters