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Ooh Shiny: Website Upgrade!
RPGA Report
by Chris Tulach

As many of you reading this already know, the D&D website recently has been cleaned up and given a content upgrade. Not only did this affect the main pages of the site, but all of the Organized Play pages have also been retooled to fit the new model as well. This month, we’ll talk about the changes on our little corner of the site, under the new “Events” tab.

D&D Events Site Design

The new site is designed much differently from the old one. Instead of providing all sorts of information to target all levels of users, such as newbie welcoming pages and very specific campaign news for experienced veterans, the site now focuses on giving basic information for the visitor to easily understand. You can think of it as the “elevator pitch” for our D&D Events -- what we would say about our programs if we only had a minute or two to explain them to a new visitor. From there, the user can “drill down” into specifics by visiting the Wizards Community pages devoted to our programs, which are being maintained by both Wizards staff and the community at-large.

RPGA Called D&D Events

On the new site, our D&D Organized Play area is called “D&D Events” rather than “RPGA.” For someone new to our site and our programs, the word “RPGA” doesn’t have much meaning to them -- heck, it means “Roleplaying Gamers Association," which in and of itself is a bit outdated. Certainly, veterans know what the RPGA is and use the term to mean “Wizards’ official D&D Organized Play." But that doesn’t help someone new, so we’ve updated the site to call the pages “D&D Events," which is much clearer to a visitor that doesn’t associate the RPGA with Wizards of the Coast.

On a broader scale, the Wizards Play Network (or WPN) is our umbrella where all of our game play programs reside. Whether it’s Friday Night Magic or Living Forgotten Realms, all of those programs are a part of the WPN. An organizer schedules games and interacts with us through the WPN, and while players often identify themselves as a part of the DCI or RPGA, that’s all a part of the Wizards Play Network. You’ll see us use the WPN more and more as the organizational term to mean “official Wizards play."

A Quick Tour

I’d like to take you on a spin around the D&D Events site. While I won’t cover everything you’ll find on the Events page, I hope to give folks that have grown used to the old site a primer on where things are on the new one.

First, head to the D&D main website. You’ll see a clean, well-designed welcome page that has a number of headers at the top of the page. Click on the “Events” header, which will take you over to our home.

From there, you’ll see a nice big piece of art and some text welcoming you to the Events page. Below that, you’ll see a number of programs all partitioned off in their own little frames -- as of this writing, there are four of these -- Living Forgotten Realms, Worldwide D&D Game Days, DM Rewards, and D&D Conventions. Clicking on any of these (you can click on the art, the title, or “Learn More”) will take you to the program’s welcome page; more on that in a minute.

On the right-hand navigation, toward the top, you’ll see a header that’s called “Event Links." There, you’ll find links to all the programs I just mentioned as well as other important stuff. “Find a Group” takes you to the WIZARDS Community site where you can search for any sort of community group that exists over there, including stores, play locations, and D&D-themed groups like the official Dungeons & Dragons group and the official Living Forgotten Realms group. “Join the WPN” takes you to the signup page for the Wizards Play Network where new organizers can join our organizer support system and receive kits for various play programs. “Event Downloads” brings you to our D&D Events file repository, where stuff like character creation guides for our various D&D play programs can be downloaded. Lastly, “Schedule an Event” is where you’ll go if you want to order one of the many D&D adventures available through us for play at home, at a store, or anywhere else you want to host your game. You’ll need to have your RPGA/DCI number and password handy to access the ordering system.

There are a number of other boxes on the right-hand navigation, most of which are pretty straightforward. However, I want to call particular attention to the Store and Event Locator, which is a great tool for you to find a store that carries our games or get info on where you might find an upcoming event, including any D&D games scheduled for public play, like Worldwide D&D Game Day or Living Forgotten Realms. Also of note is another call-out for the Wizards Play Network here as well.

I want to jump back to what I mentioned a little earlier to explain how content is housed on the new Wizards site for the various programs. There are those big program frames just below the welcome message and graphic for the page; when you click on one of them, you’ll get the essentials on what the program’s about. In most instances, you’ll find a header at the bottom of this short text that says “Tell Me More!” You’ll then be taken to the specific program’s group page on the Wizards Community site for all other information. From the program’s group page there, you can find blog posts, polls, a wiki updated with current program information, discussion forums, and all sorts of other specifics for folks who are interested in the play program. Our community group pages will now house almost all of the real content for our programs, which gives us much more two-way communication with you, because you can comment directly on information posted and contribute to the ever-expanding trove of information available on each group page.

Hopefully, this little tour gave you some information on what’s where and also some of the design decisions that went into creating the new D&D Events pages. But before I bid you good gaming this month, I would like to give you a friendly reminder about our next big event!

Weekend in the Realms is Almost Here!

Don’t forget, this year’s Weekend in the Realms is just around the corner. Taking place November 6-8 at a public location near you (use the Event Locator to find one), this event offers the opportunity to play an exclusive Living Forgotten Realms adventure called “The Icy Queen’s Crossing." Bring your existing 1st-4th level LFR character, create a new 1st-level one, or use one of the pre-generated ones provided at the event and have a great time adventuring in the cold lands of Narfell! Make the weekend special -- bring a new-to-LFR friend with you and ask your organizer to schedule some other LFR games with the exclusive adventure, including the new mini-campaign “Embers of Dawn”! Head to the Living Forgotten Realms community group for more information!

Until next month, have a howling good time as you fight off the horrors that await in the dark corridors of the dungeons of your games. Oh yeah, Happy Halloween!

New Living Forgotten Realms Adventures Releasing This Month

Check out the latest adventure offerings for October!

October 7, 2009

DRAG1-6 Night of Fallen Petals
The Night of Fallen Petals is nigh, a festival to celebrate the dead and pay honor to those who have long since passed. But not all secrets stay dead, and the prophecy of a returning God-King may be a means for dark forces to upset the power balance in Nathlek city. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Nathlan on the Dragon Coast, for characters levels 7-10. Final part of the White Petal Demise major quest. The first parts of this quest are DRAG1-4 Falling Snow, White Petal, and DRAG1-5 White Flower Falling.

WATE1-6 Out of Hatred
His thirst for vengeance not yet satiated, the Necromancer strikes at Waterdeep once again. Will heroes step forward to end this menace? This adventure concludes the major quest “Quest for the Necromancer,” and follows the story begun in WATE1-3 and continued in WATE1-4. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Waterdeep for characters levels 11-14.

October 14, 2009

AGLA1-6 Twisted Roots Run Deep
In Old Velprintalar, where those neglected and forgotten by society live and die in squalor, power can be had by a strong arm, a few coins, or powerful influence. Cutthroats, thugs, and thieves thrive here -- but to what purpose? Plans once thought put to rest now have new life. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Aglarond for characters levels 11-14. This adventure is a sequel to AGLA1-3 The Worst of All Snares, though play of the prior adventure is not required.

MINI1-3 Building the Pyre
Adventurers have gained a clue that the cult activities in Sambral are directed by superiors in Ramekho. The best chance of defeating the cultists is to find them before they notice anyone looking for them. A double-length Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Ramekho for characters levels1-4. It is recommended that you play the Embers of Dawn mini-campaign adventures in sequential order with one character for the best enjoyment and play possibilities within the mini-campaign, but it is not required.

October 21, 2009

DALE1-6 The Vesperin Initiative
A trade consortium is being formed. All the players have been selected. Now if they could just agree to meet and finalize the trade pact. Why can’t they all just get along? A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in the Dalelands for characters levels 11-14.

LURU1-6 Desperate Times
Traveling the Nether Mountains has always been risky with bandits and shades looking for loot. Now it seems the undead are involved as more caravans go missing. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Luruar for characters levels 4-7.

October 28, 2009

CORE1-15 Where Dragons Die
Netheril’s influence is expanding alarmingly and the Silverstars of Selûne are becoming desperate. The task of finding a weapon suitable for battling this expansion has fallen to you and your only clues take you to a place where mortals dare not tread. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set near Netheril for characters levels 11-14. The third part of the Bane of Shadows trilogy.

CORM1-6 Curse of the Queen of Thorns
Heralds of an ancient curse arise and lay waste to the glorious nation of Cormyr. Only the greatest of heroes can stop the Harbingers of the Queen of Thorns. This is the beginning of a major quest. A Living Forgotten Realms adventure set in Cormyr for characters levels 11-14.

About the Author

Originally thought to have been raised from a humble Midwestern family, Chris Tulach actually fell to Earth in a meteorite-shaped capsule flung from a planet far outside our galaxy. While under the yellow rays of Sol, Chris’s nerdity far surpasses that of any normal human. Using this precious gift only for good, he has become the D&D Organized Play Content Developer, responsible for the development and deployment of Dungeons & Dragons organized play programs. He is also the co-author of E2 Kingdom of the Ghouls.