The Alphastream Game Design Blog
The D&D Adventurers League is the organized play program for D&D, run by Wizards of the Coast. And, if you are used to going to the dndadventurersleague.org site for news, or you picked up the latest files on the DMsGuild… well… that no longer works. Let’s review the changes and how to make the most of them!
The only constant in organized play is change. I may like things a particular way, and you another, and then there are all these other players and DMs. Admins and WotC are constantly tweaking rules to try to create a better experience. Because you and I don’t like the exact same things, a particular change may seem off to one of us. And, sometimes, it is actually a bad idea for most players and then it has to be fixed. Other times, it’s good for most, bad for a few, and the admins keep tweaking.
In this specific case, the desire is to encourage online play and align information with the current way a lot of people build community: Discord.
There are four main options:
WotC Web Site: Provides an overview for new players and DMs, provides the latest files.
Yawning Portal: Registration site for Virtual Play Weekends, some online major D&D conventions and special events. AL Blogs will be added here.
Twitter: Follow the @DnD_AdvLeague handle to see news and updates.
WotC Discord AL Channel: Discussion and notification of updates.
(I don’t use Facebook, never have and never will, so I am not going to cover that option.)
The intended entry point for new players is the WotC D&D site. From the main page, there are three ways to get to the page. Scroll to the very bottom and you see this (I added the highlighting):
The second way, and probably the intended way, is from the top menu. Select “EVENTS” and this reveals a whole Adventurers League section:
There is a third way. From the top menu, select “GAMEPLAY” and then “Ways to Play.”
It isn’t super clear, and there are some traps, such as “Where to Start,” which does not have any AL info!
Once you reach the D&D Al page, you get information on how to get started (game stores, finding a DM, advertising an event, buying adventures on the DMs Guild). It isn’t perfect, but it’s suitable. For example, it doesn’t clearly tell you that you can click on the “Store Locator” to find stores in your area!
You then also get a section with supporting resources and links. This is where you are supposed to get the latest files at any given time.
(You might notice that Discord and the Yawning Portal are both missing from those links… oops!)
While it isn’t directly mentioned or linked on the AL page, it’s important to know that currently WotC is working with Baldman Games to offer online play. This includes special events and regular “Virtual Play Weekends” that function like online conventions. They bring together tons of DMs and players, and do require a fee.
You can reach the web site by using that top menu again:
On the Virtual Play Weekends site you will find an overview of the program and a list of upcoming events (usually held once per month).
From there you can reach the Yawning Portal site (where you register for games) and the Baldman Games site (which has additional information on the program and is where you can sign up to DM and get paid to run games). Games have a fee, so that DMs can get paid and to cover organizational costs. There are games in Spanish, Portuguese, and sometimes other languages, and they may be offered at discounted prices to account for different economies.
Virtual Weekends have been a huge success, with most tables filling out. The Yawning Portal is also used for big events (such as D&D Celebration) and conventions (such as Winter Fantasy).
If you use Twitter, follow the @DnD_AdvLeague account to receive updates. They don’t post often (1-2 posts a day) and usually are confined to adventure releases and rule changes. This is a well-run channel.
Discord is the current darling for places to discuss games. The app has a number of appealing features, from being able to roll dice and pull in D&D Beyond info (via the Avrae bot), to having ways of managing a Code of Conduct, to automating how new users see channels.
It can also be overwhelming. Unlike forums, where you can find topics and track them, Discord is a stream of comments organized in Channels. When the channel has a lot of people posting, it can quickly be hard to stay up-to-date. And, there is a lot of noise. A lot.
Let’s talk about how to find the WotC AL Discord, and then how to monitor updates.
From the D&D web site, you can use the top menu to select “EVENTS” and then under Community you will find the link to Discord.
The link serves as a web invitation to open Discord (if you don’t have the app, you can install it) and see the D&D Channel.
On many Discord servers, you need to activate your roles before you can see all the channels. This may require agreeing to a Code of Conduct or identifying your interests. Once you have followed the instructions, you will see additional channels.
This is the WotC D&D Discord, covering all kinds of topics! You can of course explore these. Those you don’t like, you can Mute and/or adjust how you don’t get Notifications.
While you are in the D&D Discord, it’s worth knowing that there are channels available to find a game!
D&D Discord: The D&D server has Looking-for-Players and Looking-For-Group channels, found under the Discussion category. In the D&D Adventurers League section, you can find “AL-Looking-For-Group” and “AL-Looking-For-Players.”
You can find additional options in this thread by Thomas Christy.
One of the channels on the Discord server provides just updates on changes and new releases. No chat is allowed, so it’s simply valuable information and usually just a couple of posts per week. Here’s how to find it:
Now, this does still require you to come to this busy WotC Discord all the time and see if there are changes. That’s not pleasurable for many of us. There are two ways you can make it easier on yourself.
First, you can turn of notifications on the entire server (right-click on the server icon found on the far left Discord bar and choose “Notification Settings.” This sets the default for the server. You can then change the notifications to nothing. Now, you can go to the specific AI-Updates channel and turn notifications on. This means you only get notifications for that one channel.
An even easier option is to set up your own Discord server and feed updates to it! Scroll down all the way to the bottom of your left-side server bar, and click on the green + icon.
Set up at least one channel in your server, where you want to receive the updates.
Now, go back to the WotC D&D server and the AI-Updates channel and click the Follow button:
This will ask you where the content should go to.
Send To: This will list all Discord servers where you are the owner (you must be the owner).
Select Channel: This lists all of the channels existing on that server. Choose one and it will be where these updates are placed.
Now, your server gets these updates and you can more easily control the notifications.
This is also fantastic if you have a gaming group, AL home campaign, club, store community, or other group of people that would benefit from seeing new rules, adventures, and updates.
There you have it! I hope that is helpful. What did I miss? Share any tips in the comments.