What is Adventurer’s League?
Adventurer’s League is the official Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition public play system. Adventurer’s League, commonly referred to as AL, is present at game stores, conventions, and home games across the globe.
What’s Different About AL?
The AL community is led by coordinators that accept feedback from the community and constantly strive to improve the player experience. Being a part of the AL community connects you with individuals across the world.
However, there are some differences between an AL game and a homebrew game that alter the play experience. Namely, the rules of AL change yearly and are stricter than the rules listed in the DMG and PHB, in order to give a more uniform play experience to everyone. Starting in Season 8 (Fall 2018), Magic Items are purchased using in-game Treasure Points, rather than natively found in the adventure. Similarly, gold is not found in the adventure, but is instead gained on levelling up. AL character-creation is restricted to the use of the Player’s Handbook plus one other approved resource, commonly referred to as PHB+1.
In homebrew games, the rules can vary widely from table to table, but usually are comparable to those present in the PHB and DMG. The DM has more flexibility to create and award magic items and gold, as well as to create or allow new character options. The DM can also create homebrew content, adventures, items, spells, etc. This can be beneficial in crafting a more unique experience. However, the character may not be taken to other tables or other groups, so you are locked into a single group for that character.
Both AL and homebrew are valid and fun ways to play DnD, and ultimately you just need to choose which experience works best for you. However, if you’re just starting to play table top role-playing games and RPGs, and are looking to break into DnD as a hobby, playing with AL can give you a well-rounded and easy entryway into the hobby.
Why play Adventurer’s League?
The major upside of AL is the community is very open and accepting of new players, and you can always find a game to play. AL allows players to create characters, governed by a set of rules similar to those present in the Player’s Handbook (PHB), and play those characters at any AL-official table. This means that you can create a character and play them anywhere in the world, whether it’s a home game or game store, a convention, on a cruise ship in the Bahamas or online on a website like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds. The only thing that determines whether a game is AL legal is whether the players and DM agree to follow the AL rules and guidelines.
This portability offers an unprecedented flexibility to play wherever you are, without being tied down to a specific home game or group. You can play as many (or as few) games as you want, with the same group or a variety of pick up groups, and adjust your gameplay to match your schedule.
Because thousands of people are part of AL, you have the opportunity to make friends with people you would have otherwise never met. AL is especially open and welcoming to new players, with DMs and veteran players teaching the game and offering advice to players during the game.
How do I start playing?
Where do I play?
Wizards of the Coast has a Store Locator that can help you find a store in your area that runs AL games. You can also look on Facebook and Twitter at the official AL pages, as well as regional and local group pages that advertise games. Online games are often run on Fantasy Grounds and Roll20, and are advertised on The Moonsea Pub Facebook group.
What do I need to play?
You will need a character sheet to start playing, as well as a pencil and a dnd dice set, at minimum. Many players purchase multiple sets of dice, which you will need as your character levels up and requires more dice per attack. You may also want to have a separate dice set for each character, with different colors and textures matching a character’s clothing or attitude. A miniature can also be used to identify the character on a battle mat, or an extra die can be used if necessary.
You may also want to purchase the core player books, such as the Player’s Handbook, Volo’s Guide to Monsters, and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which can provide you with expanded character and spell options.
How do I start DMing?
If you’re interested in DMing, check out the D&D AL DM's Guide & FAQ. Anyone can be a DM, as long as they follow the guidelines for AL DMs; this includes running AL-approved hardcovers and modules, following the listed guidelines, and enforcing the Community Standards at their table.
You can also start your own group. Each game will need one DM and between two to seven players to be AL-legal. Recruit friends or advertise to find other players in the area.
What do I need to DM?
As a DM, you will need several Dungeons and Dragons dice set, including at least two d20s for advantage/disadvantage rolls. Because you will be running several monsters during each encounter, having several sets of polyhedral dice will help to speed up combat. Having sets of color-coded dice can also help match monster tokens to their dice, making it easier to manage combat.
A DM will also need the Monster Manual and DMG, as well as a battle mat and miniatures to represent monsters. In a pinch, extra dice can also be used as monster tokens on a combat mat. A Dungeon Master’s Screen is also a useful accessory for many DMs.
Emily Smith is a D&D Writer, TTRPG Blogger and DMs Guild Content Creator based in Los Angeles, CA. She is a regular DM and player for Adventurer's League, the official organized play system for D&D 5e. In her free time, she enjoys playing League of Legends, cooking, and cat herding.