This is an open letter from Adventurers League players (through the voice of their established player characters) to D&D Adventurers League, in response to the new changes for season 9.
I didn’t want to write this.
I really didn’t want to write this.
I didn’t want you to find out through a letter, but after all we’ve been through, I just couldn’t bear to do this face to face.
I won’t draw this out… it’s over. I wish I could say that I’m sorry, that it’s not you, it’s me—but the truth is the exact opposite: I’m not sorry, and it is you. You’ve changed, and not for the better.
This past year has been hard. You’ve become controlling, focused on ‘fixing’ my problems and not looking at your own. You called it ‘balancing’, but let’s be honest: it was punitive. I have tried to be patient, but every time you open your mouth, it’s to ruin something else. The last time adventurers took this much damage was when our character sheets were burned in the Satanic Panic.
You took away a lot of the things that I enjoy; things that I had spent a lot of time earning, had incorporated into my life, and which no one else thought were problematic. You could have found another way, and I suggested many to you. Instead, you chose to simply destroy what you didn’t like. And we both know that the coupons and gift cards you gave me to replace them were not appropriate compensation. Even GameStop would have given me more for my legendary artifact sword.
You took away my money. Rather than give me things to spend my money on or use otherwise plausible methods to curb my spendthrift nature, you opted instead confiscate my earnings and force me to work again to earn them back as credit toward things that met your approval. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the living allowance you gave me was meagre, restrictive, and patronizing; I could have invested that dragon hoard in things I need, like better armour. As it is, I’ve been eating kobold meat a couple days a week just to survive on the stipend I’m receiving.
Remember when we started out our relationship? You promised me that we’d do things according to the rules we both agreed to, the ones written in the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide. But flipping through those books, I see nothing about ACP, TCP, or any other acronym that you’ve insisted we adopt. In fact, even when you trialled these new rules in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, they didn’t appear like they do now. This isn’t the essential D&D experience that you promised to preserve. Not even close.
Of course, it hasn’t all been bad. While I never had trouble with math (especially simple addition), I really appreciate how you helped me break down my advancement goals into neat milestones that I could make reliably, rather than leaving it all to the vagaries of fate. The five-step process might have been pared down a bit, but at least I only had to do it once. And I appreciate that you eliminated competition for the magical items that my friends and I encounter in our journeys. I mean, it’s not like I don’t constantly run into other people who had obtained the exact same item from exactly the same events… however that works.
But even these benefits doesn’t make up the problems you’ve created, especially when it comes to making new friends. It was already hard with all your restrictive rules; you turned away my friends, the eladrin war wizard and the duergar battlerager, for no good reason. But all these other rules you’ve brought in lately have made it all the harder to find new people to hang out with. They simply can’t keep up, since plate armour, familiars, and resurrection are all well beyond their means.
Of course, you figured this out, too. That’s why your latest rules will severely impact how I hang out with new friends. Yes, I know I can go along for the fun (and maybe even get you to dispense some of my hard-earned money), but I won’t be able to enjoy those heavily emphasized story awards. And just in case I thought about doing it because the bandit leader has a magic sword I want, you’re also going to keep me from laying claim to new treasure? You know that I can’t pay the rent with altruism and goodwill, right?
Oh, sure, I can avoid some of these restrictions if I give up everything I’ve worked so hard for and reinvent myself as I was at the start of my career. Right. As that nonsense came out of your mouth, I thought, “Surely you’re joking”. But I knew you weren’t. You’re always serious when it comes to new and creative ways to rob me of the rewards for my time and effort. I suppose I should be thankful that you’re finally being honest in saying that you just don’t want me around. Not that I can figure out why; I understand that some people have not treated you very well, taken advantage of you, but I’m not one of them, and I can’t let you continue treating me like I am.
Some of my friends suggest that you have a plan, that I should wait and see how you execute these new restrictions you’ve mentioned. But I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt too many times now. I’d hoped to see some contrition from you after the last wave of restrictions you rolled out. (“Sorry I messed everything up, here’s 1,000 gp and your sword back.”) Alas, I see nothing of the sort here, and you’ve too thoroughly destroyed my trust in you to believe the new season will have anything for me.
Maybe if you ever listened to people, I’d have a little more faith. Oh, you say that you are listening, but since 70% of reviews for the last rules document you released have all given a one star out of five rating, and your apparent course is to double down on this bad strategy instead of compromise (or, better yet, reverse course entirely), I’m not seeing any reason to believe in you. And truth be told, even if you did reverse course now, the damage has already been done. How can I ever get invested in our relationship again when eight months later you might slip back into old habits and throw out more of my hard-earned equipment and forbid me from meeting more new people?
I don’t recognize what you’ve become, and I don’t like what you want me to become for you. You and your bizarre ultimatums have destroyed the spirit of our original relationship. We were partners once, but now you treat me like an employee, a subcontractor employed by Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro. It isn’t healthy in any relationship, and it’s past time I put my foot down.
This one-sided, abusive relationship has gone on too long. I can’t do it anymore. As angry as I am at your betrayal, I genuinely wish you the best. If you ever decide to give up your misguided ways, show true contrition to someone who’s been loyal to you for years, and disavow and reverse your mean-spirited revisions, send me a message. Until then, I’ll be looting lizardfolk in Saltmarsh. At home. Without you. Maybe taking a level in gunslinger.
Yours no more,
A former AL adventurer