D&D Championship Series
The D&D Championship Series was 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, and was discontinued in 2013. Teams of players competed 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 was selected based on scores. The event was brought back by Wizards of the Coast in 2016 with an adjusted format and for the Origins Game Fair.
The championship was originally handled by the RPGA, a fan organization run by TSR and Wizards of the Coast. The judges were all sanctioned RPGA Dungeon Masters. Prior to the competition, the RPGA created the adventure.
From 2008–13, the championship used the 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. Fifth edition was used for the 2016 Open.
The Championship was a multi-round event. Pre-generated player characters were provided to the players. The many Dungeon Masters were provided with the same adventure to run. The adventure was divided into three parts, one for each round. Each round was about four hours long. All teams competed in the first round, and were scored after each round based on their progress through the adventure. The exact scoring system was 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 were invited into the later rounds, and a winner was determined based on overall score.
There are two different kinds of preliminary events, or prelims: on-site and off-site. The off-site prelims were 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 were held on the Friday before the final, with 150 teams participating. Each 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 were over, judges select around 60 teams to participate in the semifinals, held on Saturday. The scoring criteria for this competition were obscure; even the Dungeon Masters were not certain of the exact method of scoring, and players mostly do not know why they win or lose.
The semis followed the same structure as the Prelims, but with fewer teams present. The teams still have to complete the module within 4 hours. Usually, the adventure contains at least one encounter with a less-obvious solution that will give teams seeing that method an advantage.
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
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)
Wizards of the Coast brought back the Open, this time running the event at Origins and using the Fifth Edition rules. The Open adventure, 'The Soulbound Tomb,' covered levels 1-10 and was valid for the Adventurers League organized play campaign. Tables competed for 8 hours, including two event-wide puzzles requiring tables to exchange information. Unlike previous Championship tournaments, Wizards aimed to make the event fun even when played by new and causal players, while still rewarding competitive teams. Tables, regardless of power table, all advanced to the final encounter.
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
The 2016 Open provided a special set of red and black dice to all players. DMs received an event T-Shirt. All tables could earn certificates for their characters, valid for Adventurers League organized play, based on achievements they unlocked. The top teams that solved puzzles and did well at the event also received special certificate awards.
- 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.
- David Hartlage (2015-04-13). "Why the awesome Dungeons & Dragons Championship should return". Retrieved 2016-07-17.
- "Dungeons & Dragons at Origins 2016". 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2016-08-12.
- "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.
- David Hartlage (2016-07-16). "Dungeons & Dragons at the 2016 Origins Game Fair". Retrieved 2016-08-12.