Just after the announcement of Wizards of the Coast’s launch of the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons (see "New 'D&D' Dates, Info and Pics"), and before the Organized Play announcement (see "'D&D' Adventurers League Launches with New Edition"), we asked Liz Schuh, Head of Publishing & Licensing for D&D, some key questions about what store owners can expect from the new levels of organized play, the first storyline, and the new factions element.  The new D&D Encounters program was first announced in January (see "'D&D: The Tyranny of Dragons,' New 'D&D Encounters'").
Can you explain the reasoning behind making the included adventure the first part of a campaign tied to the current book?
Stores foster D&D communities, and we want to support play at retail with great adventure content that ties to our main storyline.  D&D Encounters is a great way to support stores, players, and great play experiences, and our adventure product is the best way to bring our story to life around the table.
How long will D&D Encounters seasons be?
D&D Encounters seasons will last for the entirety of each storyline.  For Tyranny of Dragons, the season will end in early 2015.
How long will it take to play through the free portion of the adventure?
The complimentary portion of each D&D Encounters season should take new 1st-level characters to approximately 5th level.  For most seasons, this means approximately 14-18 weeks of play.
Will each new season of Encounters tie to a new book?
Each new season of D&D Encounters will tie directly to overarching narrative.  Our organized play will be linked to that serialized entertainment, and each story will have supporting products for the tabletop RPG.
Will stores be able to continue to have their groups play with older versions of the rules if they choose to?
All D&D Adventurers League play for the tabletop RPG uses the fifth edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules.  These rules have been designed to allow players of all play styles to reunite around the game table.  Players and DMs can choose the play options that best suit the needs of their group.
For D&D Expeditions, you mention "certificates for the special items in the adventures."  Can you elaborate on what types of items these will be (spells? weapons? items?)?  Are they transportable after the specific adventure or are they only for use within that specific campaign?
Certificates will generally be magic items, but will occasionally include other special rewards, like a unique title, a powerful favor, etc.  Certificates can be used after a storyline wraps up; as long as a player holds on to the certificate, that player’s character possesses the item.
Can you go into any more detail regarding the D&D Epics events?  What can store owners expect (or how will it affect them) when players come back from one?  How does it tie into what an experienced D&D Player is going to walk in to the store wanting/needing/expecting?
D&D Epics are one-off events that kickoff a storyline and create excitement around D&D Adventurers League play.  Participants in D&D Epics events will come back to their home store energized and ready to jump into a new season of in-store play.  They will have great stories and special benefits that they received at D&D Epics, which is the premier play experience for D&D.
What other conventions are you planning these to happen at (D&D Epics)?  How often will the storyline renew?  Every 3 months?  Six months?  A year?
D&D Epics will occur at select shows.  We’re leading off with Gen Con Indy, and when we start our next storyline, we’ll have another D&D Epics event.  Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming D&D Epics events.
You mention faction play.  Can you describe the five factions, and why you chose to incorporate that into the overall D&D Organized Play system?
We’re really excited to make factions an important part of the D&D Adventurers League experience.  Factions help to create "teams" that appeal to certain types of characters and play styles.  They encourage interaction at the table and are great for recognizing and rewarding individuals who participate often and are invested in their characters’ stories.  We’ll be rolling out information about our five factions over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more details.