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Competition D&D Rolls Initiative With RPGSportsTV

Competition D&D Rolls Initiative With RPGSportsTV

Since its creation, Dungeons & Dragons has been known as a solely cooperative game, where roleplayers work together to accomplish goals, and largely help each other in surviving the adventure at hand.

RPGSportsTV is about to change that.

In case you missed it, RPGSportsTV (formerly D&DSportsTV) made its debut announcement this past October. Its’ initiative is to bring Party vs Party competitive play into the TTRPG realm for a chance at winning a grand cash prize of $5,000, and to cast the spell of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA)-style TTRPG play to a small and growing audience.


The game masters behind the RPGSportsTV campaign are two of the most well-known D&D presences online: EncounterRoleplay and D&D Beyond. D&D Beyond is that excellent suite of digital D&D tools that Daytime Emmy Award winner Sam Riegel advertises at the start of Critical Role every Thursday. EncounterRoleplay is a 3-year old interactive TTRPG streaming media community with multiple roleplaying game broadcasts on Twitch every week.

I’ve been following EncounterRoleplay since launch, and was excited to hear about the upcoming RPGSportsTV initiative. I recently rolled an investigation check with its main Dungeon Master Will Jones for some insider info on the whole endeavor.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Geek & Sundry: When did the initial spark for this endeavor strike?

Will Jones: We were live on a 48 hour D&D livestream that we were doing on EncounterRoleplay. I think it was at least 30 hours in when the idea started to be discussed. The chat seemed to love the idea so I chatted to the team about making it happen! It really is a fun experiment that we’ve decided to run with and a great team effort.

G&S: What roles will EncounterRoleplay and D&D Beyond fill?

Will: EncounterRoleplay is the production team behind the livestream. We’ve been creating RPG productions for over 3 years now, and our live production suite means that this show is going to look amazing. D&D Beyond has been great in helping us get set up with the tools to build and create characters for the event, as well as being experts in running events such as this.


G&S: D&DSportsTV became RPGSportsTV. How and why?

Will: It was a pretty quick decision that we made after the interest blew up. We realised that there were a ton of other great TTRPGs out there that would be perfect for a competitive format, and we didn’t want to limit ourselves to just D&D. I personally would love to see a [Star Trek Adventures] showdown, or a Shadowrun faceoff! There’s a lot of exciting possibilities for the future. We’re very open to suggestions.

G&S: Why Roll20 instead of Fantasy Grounds?

Will: I really love both. I use Fantasy Grounds in my daily games, but for this event a lot of the folks who are going to be playing in RPGSports are new to the [virtual tabletop] element of RPGs. It’s allowed us to quickly get them playing.

G&S: What pre-gen PCs will players choose from?

Will: They’re Level 4. We’ve gone for PHB content only this first time around to limit craziness. There’s a great mix of traditional classes & Races in there. We’ve done a lot of playtesting and editing of the rules to get to a point that we think is both fun and fair.

G&S: Tell us about the battle maps.

Will: There are 3 maps: Castle, Jungle & Volcano. They’re very similar in design, but feature different hazards & traps depending on the terrain. The style is closer to a MOBA, but doesn’t feature lanes in the tradition sense. They’re nigh on symmetrical.

G&S: For those of us not well familiar with MOBAs, describe the ‘Pick / Ban phase’ and how it’ll work here.

Will: It’s primarily for balance. The nature of Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition is that it wasn’t designed with PvP balance in mind. There’s always going to be characters that are stronger than others. A pick/ban phase gives teams alternating chances to choose characters that their team will be playing, and ban out characters for the opposing team.


For instance, say that there’s a Wizard that you know the opposing team are going to pick. Magic Missile is a fantastic spell and you don’t want to deal with that 120ft auto-hit. One of your team’s bans you decide to use on the Wizard during the pick/ban phase. Of course, the opposing team also get the chance to do the same to you. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into this phase, and it really helps us balance the game.

G&S: What will be the role of the tournament Casters?

Will: It’s their job to keep the match entertaining by providing commentary and insight on the matches as they’re being played. Casters are also there to help explain the mechanics of the game as it’s being played. If you’re watching D&D for the first time, you’re going to want a quick explanation of what’s happening!

G&S: What will be the role of the tournament Analysts?

Will: After each game, we shoot over to the analyst desk to break down what happened in each match. They also have detailed statistics on what happened in each match. They’re tracking all sorts of things: how many spells are cast, how much Fire damage is dealt, how many times a Character used the Dash action, you name it! These stats should provide really interesting insights into the tactics each team is using.


G&S: Will interested potential competitors be able to sign up for tryouts?

Will: Absolutely, we’ve been flooded by requests of “how can I play?” The short answer is that yes, we do intend to have people involved in the future, but we can’t talk more about what that will look like just now. Our primary focus is pulling off this first event. There’s a lot of eyes on us to make sure we get it right. After that, we’ll be able to reveal all!

G&S: How will the “money raised during the tournaments” be donated to 826LA?

Will: November 24th is an All-Stars charity game. This means we’ll be pulling in some favorites from across the D&D space to play for charity. In addition, all of our donations from the stream will be sent to 826LA, and there will be a landing page on the 826LA site for donations anyone wants to make!

G&S: As someone whose career involves running an entirely successful TTRPG community, what are your personal thoughts and feelings about competition in this genre?

Will: I love it. We often say in [our] community that as long as you’re having fun, you’re doing it right. I’m a big fan of watching competitions, and it’s something I feel is missing from the scene. I’ve run several Battle Royales and Meatgrinders, and folks have always enjoyed being a part of them and watching. The way I see it, the more people that can connect with our hobby the better.

We’re also very open in terms of format. Folks have suggested that they would love to see “Dungeon Runs” – teams of characters fighting to get through a dungeon as fast as possible. There are so many possible ways to make competitive RPGs fun, and we intend to explore as many of them as we can!

Keep your passive Perception on @RPGSportsTV and @EncounterRP for further RPGSportsTV announcements. And be sure to tune into to the RPGSportsTV Twitch channel on Nov 10th at 12p.m. PST for the first match of the tournament!

How do you feel about competitive D&D? Tell us in the comments!



Header image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Article images credit: RPGSportsTV

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