What do I need to know about how a living campaign works?
Basically, a living D&D campaign is one that is played not in a single location by a set group of players, but at hundreds of locations around the world by thousands of players at the same time.  Groups both publicly organized (like our own) as well as private groups play adventures from a library of dozens of module-based sessions.  The modules are grouped into tiers just as levels are – heroic, paragon, and epic – and are then broken down further into level bands to ensure that adventures are appropriately scaled for the characters playing.

As opposed to a traditional campaign where players will run together for a longer period of time, the group playing a module in a living campaign can be different every week – literally whoever happens to sit down at the table – making it perfect for those with more hectic lifestyles who may not be able to dedicate a regular night for gaming every single week.  Whereas in a regular campaign if one or more players weren’t able to attend, the game itself might have to be postponed, however in a living campaign as long as there are at least 4 players available to fill the table, the game goes on!

The rest of the game is pretty much played just like any other D&D session – characters interact with NPCs, fight monsters, and earn experience points, and once they’ve gained enough, they level up (typically it takes about 3 modules for a character to level).  Treasure is handled a bit different – instead of divvying any found loot up at the end of the module, players can choose one magical item from a list of defined bundles, and more than one player can choose the same item.  This is done to ensure a level playing field across the campaign because the same adventurers may very well run with completely different groups the next time they play.

You can find more information about LFR and living campaigns in the Living Forgotten Realms Character Creation Guide.

Can I play my characters elsewhere, too?
Yes!  One of the great things about LFR is that players aren’t tied to a specific group – as long as they’re official LFR games, either public or private, you’re able to play wherever you want, whenever you want.  Some members of our group have been able to level characters very quickly by doing this, fitting in multiple gaming sessions in a single week across different stores and even games held at public libraries.  It’s entirely up to you!

What are Rewards Cards?
An extra perk available to players in LFR that allow them the opportunity to retry a bad roll, add a  bonus to a roll, or various other benefits, RPGA Rewards Cards were originally prizes that could be earned by players at special events such as conventions, however now they’re available for download and use by any player.  The cards can be found here in two separate files for 2008 and 2009 respectively – players can start with 2 cards and gain the use of additional cards every 5 levels thereafter, however a player cannot use more than one of the same card in a single session.

Some of the more popular cards used at our tables include:
Daring Exploit – Re-roll a missed attack roll for an at-will exploit
That’ll Do –
Treat the number rolled as a natural 10 when a skill check is missed
Snap Out of It –
Negate effect of becoming dazed

Each card has two uses – the first performs a specific function, like those described above.  When this takes place, a card is turned sideways, thus indicating that it has been used and its secondary benefit is now available.  These benefits are shown as a plus in the upper-right corner and can be used to “bump” any d20 die roll that isn’t your own by +1 or higher.  Once this secondary effect has been used, the card has no further uses in that game and should be turned over.

What are Story Awards?
In addition to your typical experience points and loot that are earned at the end of each adventure, characters will also earn one or more Story Awards based on the actual course the story took during the adventure.  Maybe the party went out of their way to help a local shopkeeper and thus earned his gratitude, or likewise made an enemy of the local guild by stepping on their toes during a job – these actions can have lasting effects throughout the rest of the campaign by way of Story Awards that are handed out to the players after an adventure.  As future adventures call for them, the DM will ask if any characters have earned various awards – producing them may offer them a bit of assistance in their next adventure, or even add additional challenges, depending on the nature of the award…