D&D Championship Series
The D&D Championship Series is a yearly Dungeons & Dragons championship run at Gen Con. Prior to 2008, the event was known as the D&D Open Championship. The Open first ran in 1977. Teams of players compete to complete and score well in a pre-written, multi-part adventure, with higher-ranking teams advancing to later rounds. Eventually a single winning team is selected based on scores.
Since 2008, the championship uses the 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons rules.
The Championship is a multi-round event. Pre-generated player characters are provided to the players. The many Dungeon Masters are provided with the same adventure to run. The adventure is divided into three parts, one for each round. Each round is about four hours long. All teams compete in the first round, which also constitutes the first part of the adventure. Teams are scored after each round. The scoring system emphasizes successful progress through the adventure. The exact scoring system is kept secret as the scoring may reveal secrets to be discovered in the adventure, as well as to encourage players to play to the spirit of the game, not to the exact scoring checklist. The highest-ranked teams are invited into the later rounds. The teams in the final round are scored and ranked to determine the winning team.
They are two different kinds of preliminary events, or prelims: on-site and off-site. The off-site prelims are run by a local agent of the RPGA and the results are sent in a few weeks before the actual championship. In 2008, roughly 200 teams of five players participated in off-site prelims. On-site prelims are held on the Friday before the final, and 150 teams participate. Every team sits down with a RPGA DM, and they all go through the same module, with the same characters, and the same rules. The round usually lasts around 5 hours, with 30 minutes to prepare, 4 hours of actual gameplay, and another 30 minutes to wrap up.
Once the Prelims are over, judges select around 60 teams to participate in the semifinals, held on Saturday. The scoring criteria for this competition are really vague and obscure. Even the Dungeon Masters are not certain of the exact method of scoring. This system of scoring has created a situation in which players mostly do not know why they win, or why they lose. What is known so far is that the death of player characters is not desirable, completing encounters grants extra points, and using Healing surges might have an impact in the final scoring. Also, it is not known if the score from the prelims carry forward to the semis and finals.
The semis follow the same structure as the Prelims, with the exception of having fewer teams present. The teams still have to complete the module within 4 hours. Usually, there is always a trick to getting ahead of the others during the semis. It contains at least one encounter that has a less obvious way of completing it that is always easier than the most obvious one. Once the semi-finals are completed on Saturday night, the judges compiles the results and post the 12 advancing teams on Sunday morning, barely one hour before the final.
The final is the hardest part of the open, involving the most difficult encounters. It is not surprising to see monsters up to 5 levels higher than the players. During the 2008 finals, the players were level 11, while the final boss, The Rakshasa Emperor, was close to a level 16 Solo Elite Controller, with above 600 Hit points. As the previous rounds, the final are 4 hours long, with only 12 teams reaching this part of the championship.
The 1977 event featured a judge running two teams against each other, alternating between the two every 15 minutes.
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The first Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Open Tourney at Gen Con XII was based on a high-level character campaign with teams of nine. The winning team—which included Jon Huettel and Todd Huettel (later of FASA), Joel Finkle Kurt Lukas and others—survived longest against a large battle including vampires and Orcus.
The 1980 event became the series Aerie of the Slave Lords.
1997's adventure was entitled Cutters, set in Planescape, with characters subtly potentially set against one another in the final round as representatives of Factions all seeking a dangerous tome.
Characters for the 2007 Open were selected based on an online poll. The teams had 6 players, and the characters were level 6 for the prelims and the semi-finals, and 7 for the finals. Character included a Human Paladin, A Rogue, A Duskblade, A Sorcerer, A Favored Soul, and a Barbarian
The 2008 edition of the championship was the first one to use the 4th edition rules. The winning teams were:
- 1st Place: Three Fifth Canadian
- 2nd Place: The Evil League of Evil
- 3rd Place: Team Gambit
Three Fifth Canadian had run a poor semi-finals, making its way to the finals as an alternate team. Three Fifth Canadian were ranked 14th after the semi-final. Two teams out of the top 12 didn't show up to the final event, leaving an opening for the team to participate. The victory of Three Fifth Canadian puzzled many, and mostly ruled out the idea that the scores in the prelims and semis are counted towards the final score. As its name implies, the members of the winning were mostly Canadian.
The 2008 champions were:
- Lee Shaver - Playing Lorean (Eladrin Wizard - Controller)
- Nick Miller - Playing (Dwarf Warlock - Striker)
- Guillaume-Charles Coutu - Playing Reynard (Human Guardian Fighter - Defender)
- Benoit-Phillipe Coutu - Playing Kiva (Dragonborn Greatweapon Fighter - Defender/Striker)
- Damien Bérubé - Playing Acaleem (Tiefling Warlord - Leader)
The team plans on defending their title in 2009.
The prizes for the 2008 championship consisted mostly of products printed by Wizards of the Coast (owners of the RPGA). The prizes included
- Box set of Core Rulebooks
- Forgotten Realm Campaign Settings
- Three latest Tiles sets
- All 4th edition quests
- The Character Sheets 4th edition pack
- Starter Pack of D&D Miniatures
- Boosters pack of D&D Miniatures
- Spellmage novel by Richard Baker
- IPod Nano Black 8 Gigabytes
- NASCRAG is another Gen Con D&D tournament that formed because of dissatisfaction with the open.
- "The Open Has Evolved". RPGA/Wizards of the Coast. 2008-03-15. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- Porter, Randy. "A little History". Keeper of Ancient GenCon Lore. Archived from the original on 2006-06-17. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- "HAROLD JOHNSON: The 'AD&D Open' that year was a double blind. Two teams played against each other for the same prize. The judge would ref one team for 15 minutes, then abandon that team and go ref the other team for 15 minutes - and then back and forth, until one of the competing teams got the prize that they were looking for in that first round." (Laws 2007 p37)
- "What happened at Gen Con was Gary's second module series, "Vault of the Drow." (Laws 2007 p44)
- "LEN BLAND, CO-FOUNDER OF NASCRAG....about 250 people showed up for a hundred slots." (Laws 2007 p46)
- "Blue Moon Rises Over D&D Open Championship". RPGA/Wizards of the Coast. 2005-09-12. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- Mearls, Mike; Stephen Radney-MacFarland (2006-04-07). "D&D Open - Warrior Poll". RPGA/Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- "D&D Open Adventuring Party". RPGA/Wizards of the Coast. 2007-06-18. Archived from the original on 2008-08-23. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Laws, Robin D. (August 2007). 40 Years of Gen Con. Atlas Games (published 2007-08). ISBN 1-58978-097-3.