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War of Everlasting Darkness (4e)
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War of Everlasting Darkness (4e)

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Darkness spreads across Faerûn. Under this pall of shadow, the drow fight with impunity, protected from the harsh daylight. With every passing month, they conquer more territory and further Lolth’s ultimate goal of becoming the Goddess of Magic.

"War of Everlasting Darkness" is a Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game adventure designed for the autumn 2012 season of the D&D Encounters official play program. The adventure is set in the Forgotten Realms and spans two years of game time. This book comes with three full-color battle maps, eight ready-to-play adventures, and information on the D&D Encounters program.

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Product History

"War of Everlasting Darkness" (2012), by Shawn Merwin, Steve Townshend, and James Wyatt, is the adventure for Season 11 of D&D Encounters. It was released for play in August 2012.

Ending the Encounters. Like its ten predecessors, "War of Everlasting Darkness" is an adventure that was used as the basis for a season of the D&D Encounters program. Traditionally, each night's gaming in the program had consisted of a single encounter, which took two hours or less of gaming, but that changed with Season 11. By this point, the sessions typically had multiple encounters, becoming mini-adventures that often lasted 3 hours. This evolution did away with the need for the chapters that were used in the previous seasons, since each week's adventure was now a more complete story.

All of the previous seasons of Encounters had run characters from levels 1st-3rd, but here the designers wanted to create a story where the players could have a major effect on the world of the Realms. Thus, players got to level up after each week's play, making them 8th level by the end! The result was an epic adventure of the sort that had never before been seen in the Encounters format. To support this storytelling, considerable time went by between the individual weeks of play—about a season after each session, for two years' coverage in total.

"War of Everlasting Darkness" ran from October 24 to December 19. It was the final season of the traditional D&D 4e Encounters.

Testing D&D Next. The D&D Encounters program was changing because of D&D Next, which had been announced on January 9, 2012, as the successor to D&D 4e. By the time "War of Everlasting Darkness" started, three playtest packets had already been released for D&D Next, on May 24, August 13, and October 9 of that year. When D&D Encounters returned for Season 12, it would be retooled so that D&D Next was an option for players. However, even in Season 11, Wizards of the Coast was started to shift play toward their upcoming rule set.

To start with, Wizards eliminated rests within individual weeks of play. Under the official 4e rules, characters should have been allowed rests whenever they got a short break, which frequently occurred in the extended sessions of Season 11 play. By eliminating intra-session rests as an option, Wizards signaled that 4e was no longer the law of the land.

"War of Everlasting Darkness" was also written to playtest a few ideas for D&D Next, albeit within the constraints of 4e gameplay. First, D&D Next was intended to have "combat take less real-world time." To test this, "War of Everlasting Darkness" includes some combats that don't use a tactical map, speeding up battles against individual opponents or minions. Second, D&D Next was meant to have "balance among the three significant elements of the D&D experience: exploration, interaction, and combat." "War of Everlasting Darkness" tests this by providing more variety within the individual encounters.

About the Encounter Format. The new mini-adventure format was a dramatic change for Encounters. Many smaller encounters were melded together into each week's play. Sometimes there was even more than one combat encounter, although there was typically only one major fight. In addition, exploration, puzzles, traps, and roleplaying all got much more focus than had been the case in most earlier seasons of Encounters. Because of the larger scope of each adventure, there was also more scope for player choice within a week's play, reducing the railroading that was typical of the Encounters format.

As was typical in the final few seasons of the original Encounters run, Week 6 was a very different sort of Encounter. The players must defend a town from ravening troll hordes, and they are given 9 (game) days to prepare. Skill challenges and planning combine to generate a "Battle Value" which ultimately determines the players' success. The result was very different from any other Encounters session and also very well received. It showed the power of the 4e skill system—sadly, just as that system was swiftly becoming irrelevant.

Love It or Hate It? The last few seasons of the original Encounters were much more experimental than what had come before, and thus it's not surprising that this was another season that you could love or hate—but most people loved it. The relatively few complaints were that the longer sessions, constant leveling, and built-in playtesting for D&D Next all could discourage new players, who were the intended audience of D&D Encounters. However, the dramatic and epic season of play offset those issues for most players, and as a result "War of Everlasting Darkness" tends to be considered one of Encounters' best seasons.

About the Product Tie-In(s). By the time "War of Everlasting Darkness" was run, D&D 4e was entirely dead. The final products for the game had been released simultaneously with Season 10's "Council of Spiders" (2012). As a result, the tie-ins to "War of Everlasting Darkness" are mostly the obligatory ones: Essentials is required and Fortune Cards are allowed (although, notably, there are no new cards herein for players).

"War of Everlasting Darkness" is also the epic finale to the "Rise of the Underdark" Forgotten Realms event, which centered on the drow invading the surface world. However, that event was mostly over with too: The only other Rise of the Underdark publication that appeared during Season 11 was "Spider and Stone," an ebook by Jaleigh Johnson released on November 6, 2012.

About the Homage. As with the rest of the "Rise of the Underdark" crossover, "War of Everlasting Darkness" doesn't offer a homage to any specific past adventure. However, it has close ties to several of R.A. Salvatore's novels. In particular, Streams of Silver (1989) and The Orc King (2007) cover some of the same ground as this adventure.

Expanding the Forgotten Realms. "War of Everlasting Darkness" is set in the Silver Marches, a well-documented area of the Realms ever since Drizzt and his friends visited it in Streams of Silver. This adventure reveals considerable detail about the area in the 4e era, visiting the orcish Kingdom of Many Arrows, Mithral Hall, Fell Pass, the Ever Moors, Nesmé, and other areas nearby and below.

Future History. The D&D Encounters program returned after a month-and-a-half break on February 6, 2013, with Season 12's "Against the Cult of Chaos" (2013), a 4e adventure built with the option to convert it to D&D Next.

About the Creators. Merwin was a newcomer to the Encounters program, though he'd recently coauthored Halls of Undermountain (2012) for 4e. Townshend had previously coauthored Season 7's "Beyond the Crystal Cave" (2011), another roleplaying-heavy Encounters season. Wyatt was an appropriate co-author for this final pure 4e Encounter because he'd been one of 4e's major designers. He has since aided in the design of D&D Next.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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File Last Updated:
December 24, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on December 24, 2013.