The simplified version of Dungeons & Dragons that Wizards of the Coast created to try and lure back 24 million people who gave up on the game is working. At least a little bit. According to CNN, there are "reports of tens of thousands of gamers around the world participating in" Dungeons & Dragons: Encounters."
Encounters is D&D with easier rules, ready-made characters and a prefabricated adventure, so people can start dungeoning ASAP. It also lets people come and go as they please, so they can skip sessions of the game if they want and still participate in an ongoing storyline.
It seems to be working. At a recent "Encounters" game at Tower Games store in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the party was made up of three guys who had played in their youth and were intrigued about getting back into the game in a way that didn't interfere with family or work. Store owner Andrew Phillips said the response has been overwhelming.
"There are a lot of people wanting to play," Phillips said. "We even have some father/son and father/daughter players who are coming in."
The DM, who goes by "Augie," has a son, Alex, who plays "Encounters" and a father and son team that also plays in his game. He said it is good to see the kids learning the game and the new program makes it easy.
"The new version (Fourth Edition Rules) is about teamwork," explained Augie, who said he has been playing D&D since 1979. "I can whip up an Encounter in no time and players can be playing in about five minutes. In some ways, it plays out like a board game."