What is D&D Adventurers League and How Does It Work?

I’ve seen a few things in the Wizards’ site and understand Adventurers League is a way for everybody to play as a massive multiplayer around the world, but there’s a bunch of different things that can confuse new players. So I’m asking for people who play to explain: how does Adventurers League work? and what’s the difference among “Encounters,” “Expeditions,” and “Epics?” What about playing the modules “officially” tracking experience and items with the Adventure Log Sheet?

Note to future readers: “Encounters,” “Expeditions,” and “Epics” were the names of various AL products/programs during seasons 1-4 (2014-2016). -nitsua60

$begingroup$ Related: What guidelines exist for players creating characters for organized play? explores the guidelines for creating characters for D&D 5e Adventurer’s League games. $endgroup$

2 Answers 2

Organized Play.

D&D Adventurers League is an “organized play” system.


Local stores host games (often with volunteer DMs, sometimes with paid ones). Players play point-build or array-build characters in whatever adventure is being run. Character’s experience total is tracked, and players can drop-in/drop-out on a session by session basis.

Ideally, it works best if the adventure has the same 3-7 players week after week, but that’s not a requirement. In fact, that’s often a problem to arrange.

A given character can only participate once in a given adventure. If a player wants to play it again, they can use a different character.


From the DM perspective, the DM gets his marching orders from the store. The store either gives him the download password or gives him the adventure to run. The DM then runs the adventure at the store in the allotted time for the first 7 players who sit down for it.

Wizards keeps track of total player numbers – they do this using the DCI numbers. The store records your DCI number, and reports it to Wizards.

All your XP is tracked on forms that you bring with, not by Wizards.

Store Coordinator

The store needs to have a coordinator – they keep track of who played, and make certain the DM’s have allowed adventures to run.

At present, that’s a pretty decent selection. As season 3 is about to begin, all the season 1 and 2 adventures are legal for season 3 play, as is Lost Mine of Phandelver (in the Beginner’s Set). So, on day 1 of season 3, there are over 30 adventures the coordinator can choose from.

The coordinators schedule the events – there are certain restrictions on scheduling – and upload the DCI numbers of those who played in those events. They also serve as a safety net – if a player or DM is acting inappropriately, the coordinator can toss them from the event.

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For full credit, events are supposed to have their results entered within 24 hours of completion. Note that, for MTG tournies, that includes the winners, but for D&D, it’s just who played.

What the Various Elements Mean

Encounters: Play of the “big module” for the season in its reduced form, covering levels 1-4, on Wednesday nights at a FLGS sponsored public game. These modules are coded DDEN, and are released 1 per season. Tends to be about 10-20 weeks of play, depending upon DMing style and player behavior.

Expeditions: play of any of the expeditions modules at an FLGS sponsored public game or at a convention. These modules are coded DDEX, and there are more than a dozen per season. They tend to run 3 to 10 hours of play each.

Casual Play: Any other store or club sponsored public event use of the DDEX and/or DDEN modules, or of the hardcover big adventures, that is being reported to Wizards. Can include store reported home play, and play of the hardcover versions in store.

Epics: convention modules not available to the stores. They look to be set for 4-8 hour play blocks. The modules are coded DDEP, and while generally unavailable, leaks have happened.

Home Play: a limited exception to the program, certain modules can be played at home without reporting. It is only allowed for the hardcover modules (At present, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Rise of Tiamat, Princes of the Apocalypse, and Rage of Demons) and the Lost Mine of Phandelver boxed set.

Note: Some of these definitions are taken from non-public sources, namely the instructions to stores on how to report events. The rest are from the Season 3 Player’s Guide.

Benefits to Store

Wizards cuts stores discounts based upon total DCI number using events – Magic Tourneys and Open Play events, as well as D&D Encounters, Expeditions, and Casual Play events.

They also expect that Encounters brings people into the stores. Further, some casual players will show up to play, and decide to buy dice, minis, snacks, or even rulebooks.

Benefits to Players

You can almost always find a D&D Encounters or Expeditions game to play in.

You get to play with people before you decide to invite them to your home game.

The adventures are in fact pretty good.

Because there are numerous pregen characters, plus the option to use characters built by the basic rules (which are free online), it’s a chance to have new players find the game by showing up and learning to play at the FLGS.

There also is the opportunity for community awareness. Having D&D played in public really helps reduce the stigma of D&D. When people see it is something that can be played in public, not just in the basement, it helps dispel a lot of the myths.

What Is D&D Adventurers League? 5 Reasons to Try It

If you haven’t tried out Adventurers League for Dungeons and Dragons, you’re missing out! Here’s why you should give it a go.

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There are so many ways to play Dungeons & Dragons. For example, a lot of people like playing homebrew campaigns because they offer a great deal of flexibility and customization.

However, there’s another way to play that’s a ton of fun: Adventurers League (AL). If you haven’t tried out D&D Adventurers League, you’re missing out. It’s one of the most fun ways to play Dungeons & Dragons!

7 Benefits of Playing Dungeons & Dragons (Why D&D Is Good for You)

What Is Adventurers League?

Adventurers League is Wizards of the Coast’s standardized and regulated form of Dungeons & Dragons. It uses the rules as they’re written in the official D&D books, so you don’t need to worry about any crazy homebrew rules that’ll make the game weird.

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Character creation is limited to the Players Handbook and one other source, which means you don’t have to worry about anyone making characters that are too game-breaking.

All games take place in the Forgotten Realms setting, which means you don’t need to think too much about different characters from all over the place and you won’t get lost in too much unfamiliar lore.

To put it simply, Adventurers League takes all of the guesswork out of D&D. The stories are already written, the rules are plainly outlined, and everything is structured. So, should you play Adventurers League?

Here are some reasons why Adventurers League might be right for you.

1. It’s Easy to Find Games

Easily the biggest advantage of playing Adventurers League is how easy it is to find games.

In-person, you can usually find AL games at comic book shops, game stores, conventions, and just about anywhere else. Online, there are tons of Discord servers you play games on.

Rather than trying to find a homebrew game, Adventurers League makes the whole process easy and painless.

Playing D&D Online: 6 Discord Servers for Finding Online D&D Groups

2. Your Characters Carry Over

If you’re the kind of player who enjoys a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of progression, you’re going to love AL.

Each time you play through an adventure, you gain a level, and that leveled up character carries over to any other Adventurers League game you play.

It’s really satisfying to know that the time and effort you’re putting in will travel with you from game to game.

3. You Get All the Loot

If you love getting loot, then you’ll love AL. When a magic item drops, rather than bickering over who gets it, Season 9 of AL just has everyone who wants it gets a copy.

That means that you get all the loot—assuming you’re not maxed out on magic items—and you won’t miss out on the sweet item that’ll really help you get your build going. Not only is this fun for everyone, but it just might save some friendships.

Bundle Deal: XL Dice Case + XL Dice Tray + Folding Dice Tower

The case stores up to 300 dice and comes with a nesting tray that fits perfectly. The attachable dice tower also folds completely flat for easy transport and storage.

4. Rules Are Standardized

Rather than dealing with homebrew games, everything is standardized in AL. That means that there’s no need to debate rules or leave things to the DM’s discretion—whatever it says in the rulebook is what goes.

Whether you’re a player or a DM, having standardized rules makes the games flow better, and it makes it easier for new players to learn because they only have to deal with what’s written in the official rules.

Common D&D Newbie Mistakes: 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do

5. AL Games Are Easy to DM

One of my personal favorite aspects of playing AL is how easy the games are to DM. The adventures are written as concisely as possible, so you don’t need to spend hours preparing.

You just need to give the adventure a read through and you’ll be ready to go. Compared to the amount of prep work that goes into running other campaigns or writing your own, AL is so easy.

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Try D&D Adventurers League!

Next time you’re in the mood to play some Dungeons & Dragons, give Adventurers League a shot. The structure might seem like an annoyance, but it’s actually a benefit once you get used to it!

Adventurers League: What is downtime and what can it be used for?

The Adventurers League DM gave me 5 days of downtime. I don’t even know what it is for. What can I do with my 5 days of downtime?

I’d like some examples of things that can be done other than what is in the book, if there are other options.

3 Answers 3

Adventurers League Player’s Guide (v9.2) page 3

You can use the downtime activities found in the Player’s Handbook or the following activities. Others can be used if allowed by other campaign documents

It only allows these three sources:

Player’s Handbook

section Downtime Activities below the Between Adventures heading.

Between trips to dungeons and battles against ancient evils, adventurers need time to rest, recuperate, and prepare for their next adventure. Many adventurers also use this time to perform other tasks, such as crafting arms and armor, performing research, or spending their hard-earned gold.

These are the options provided in the Player’s Handbook/Basic Rules:

  1. Crafting
  2. Practicing Profession
  3. Recuperating
  4. Researching
  5. Training

Note : Practicing Profession and Researching are not used in Adventurers League game, as far as I’ve known.

Adventurers League Player’s Guide

additional options for you to spend your downtime days:

  1. Spellcasting Services
  2. Catching Up
  3. Copying Spells
  4. Trading Magic Items
  5. Brewing Potions of Healing (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
  6. Scribing Scrolls (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)

Other campaign documents

For further details on each option, please consult their respective source (PHB, ALPG, or XGE).

Other than activities mentioned in these three sources, none are allowed.

$begingroup$ I usually allocated a day between adventured for “Going Shopping” for whatever seemed like a good idea and that an AL DM was probably going to decline to roleplay. Buy a mundane weapon, get it silvered. Buy a couple Potions of Healing. I think at one point I burned a bunch of downtime on Animal handling checks to tame a Giant Badger as a mount for a gnome. I know for sure I used the Catching Up option to skip parts of level 4 because the next week’s adventure in Barovia was for level 5-10. $endgroup$

It might be worth taking a look at the Player’s Handbook, the section on Downtime Activities, beginning on page 187. Among other possibilities it mentions crafting non-magical objects or conducting research. You might want to then have a discussion with your GM.

As Vylix suggested, there are a number of questions here on rpg.se that deal with downtime.

$begingroup$ I was wanting to know if there more then what is in the book like, some examples. $endgroup$

$begingroup$ @NickParker You should add that information to your question – there’s no guarantee that future answerers will read the comments down here. $endgroup$

$begingroup$ OP has also clarified that they’re talking about AL, so you might want to update the answer accordingly. $endgroup$

My interpretation of downtime is kind of like the time “between adventures.” It’s the time that you spend doing different activities like Crafting, Practicing your profession, Recuperating, Researching, and Training. My DM has our group have downtime every other week or so, in the time in between meetings (once a week). Things like the kind of lifestyle you live in can come into hand. My DM has us pay our lifestyle fee every time we start downtime. He also has us prepare “schedules” for what we do during downtime.

FOR EXAMPLE: If we have a 5-day downtime, we can preprogram our characters (kinda like readying a move) to do things like practicing our profession on Monday, or researching a new spell on Wednesday.

It’s really up to your DM to say what activities and what you can do during downtime. I would suggest asking him what he means by it and using that as your answer.

$begingroup$ Adventurer’s League has specific rules regarding downtime that all DMs must follow. But welcome to the stack and please take our tour to learn more about how we operate. $endgroup$

Source https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/65676/what-is-dd-adventurers-league-and-how-does-it-work

Source https://whatnerd.com/what-is-dnd-adventurers-league/

Source https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/131057/adventurers-league-what-is-downtime-and-what-can-it-be-used-for

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