Organized Play


New Mexico Gamers Society features a wide variety of play styles including both games that fall under homebrew rulesets, as well those that follow the official organized play guidelines that are put forth by the publishing companies of the games themselves. This page aims to explain the difference between the two play styles and offer a comparison of our views on the benefits & disadvantages of each.

  • What is Organized Play?
    Many gaming systems have official organized play rules that are put forth by the publishing companies of their materials. Some examples of this include Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League, Pathfinder Society, Cypher Play for Numenera, Kill Team Arena for Warhammer 40k, as well as sanctioned tournaments for Magic the Gathering, X-wing, Frostgrave, etc. Organized play systems tend to adhere to the published rules much stricter than in an average home game and often utilize published storylines rather than letting the game runner make it up from scratch. This is designed to facilitate a consistent experience no matter who is running the game and allows players to bring their characters that follow the organized play system’s guidelines from one GM’s table to another in order to facilitate drop-in and drop-out play. It’s the difference between playing a pickup ball game and playing on a team in an organized sport. Both are similar and valid ways of playing, but they are very different at the same time. Signups on the event scheduler are very useful to help facilitate this style of play.
  • What is Homebrew?
    Homebrew often refers to any game that is not a part of an organized play system and allows a lot more liberty with how a Game Master runs. With homebrew games the Game Master can use the “Rule of Cool”, add or modify from published adventures as desired or create their own adventures & worlds from scratch. All aspects of game play and interpretation of the system, character generation method, allowed races, classes, etc. are completely at the discretion of the GM. Characters created for homebrew games cannot be played in organized play games and generally would only be able to be played in that specific homebrew game. For the most part homebrew games tend to have a set group of players with a limited ability to take drop in players. Homebrew may also refer to a rule, creature, item, power, etc. that is created independently from the game’s publishing company and is not considered officially part of the game.
  • Is Organized Play or Homebrew better?
    This truly depends on the type of gaming experience preferred so the answer varies. Generally, organized play is better suited for public games with relative strangers while homebrew is better suited for set groups with close friends. Below are some Pros and Cons of each play style.


Organized Play Homebrew
Adventures & rulings are pre-established so there is no need to create a world, or adventures from scratch, rulings are already established. Allows more freedom for the GM in terms of the content run as well as how it is run
Character creation guidelines ensure characters are balanced rather than under or over powered. Allows players to create characters with the guidelines established by the GM including choices in races, classes, spells & attribute generation.
Players can take their characters from game to game and GM to GM with ease. The organized play systems are built for this express purpose in most cases. GM sets how far established rules can be bent or broken for the sake of added amusement.
It is easier to introduce new players to the systems as most of the organized play also include a condensed ruleset for free allowing players to learn a system before dropping money on books. Allows for “Rule of Cool”, more flexible results for botched or critical rolls, more freedom for GM interpretation
Rules are run as they are written and there are a number of resources from the organized play admins that can help to clarify anything that might be unclear. Something that might seem a fun bending of the rules for the GM may be problematic for one of the players, this eliminates that potential. Better suited for “sandbox” games where there is no fixed path or pre-determined plot & is less likely to feel “railroaded” by the pre-written adventure
There is no need to worry about the minutiae of tracking encumbrance, experience points, or every single coin spent on living expenses or found along the way. Potential for immersive game play with tracking of encumbrance & other optional or variant rules.
No need to worry about PvP or a player using an evilly aligned character as an excuse to be a jerk. Any alignment can be allowed and infighting between a group or PvP may be permitted.


Organized Play Homebrew
Limitations on character generation in terms of race, class, stat generation, alignments, etc. Lack of portability of characters. If you can’t continue with the same game runner, for the most part your character is no longer playable.
Advancement is determined by organized play guidelines so the players may advance faster or slower than a GM would like when running an ongoing campaign. Potentially unbalanced characters. When options open up so does the potential for overpowered characters.
Rulings must be as written so there is not the freedom to do “Rule of Cool” Expectations on rulings are not as well established as it is wholly up to the GM.
Not as immersive due to some metagame tracking requirements. Potentially having to track added minutia such as encumbrance & lifestyle expenses.
Extra paperwork tracking each session with some form of log sheet. Potentially having conflicting aligned characters or focus from the game shifting to infighting & PvP
  • Can I run a “Light” version of Organized Play?
    There is no such thing as “Adventurers League light”, “Pseudo Pathfinder Society”, “Sorta Cypher Play”, etc. Either a game is run fully under Organized Play guidelines, or it is not. GMs may elect to run a homebrew game that uses some or even most of the guidelines from any of the Organized Play Guidelines, but unless they are adhering to ALL of the organized plays guidelines, it would still be considered a homebrew game.
  • Do I need to keep log sheets when playing Organized Play games?
    Not all organized play systems require extra record keeping, but many do. Keeping track of the relevant form of log sheet catalogs your character’s progression throughout their adventuring career. Beyond allowing yourself to review your character’s journey, keeping the relevant logs current will show a record of where your advancement and items came from. These logs are part of what proves that your character is legal for organized play and facilitates bringing that character from one GMs game to another. GMs typically will be allowed to audit Logs and can disallow the use of items or characters that haven’t been properly accounted for. Most of the time your log sheets won’t be checked by your GM, but just like carrying your license, registration & insurance when driving a car, you should have them readily available. While most organized Play systems are largely an honor system it is best to have the proper documentation in place should it be needed.
  • Why is there so much focus on Adventurer’s League?
    Adventurers League is specifically the organized play system for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition as administered by the publishing company Wizards of the Coast. Because Dungeons and Dragons is one of the most popular Role Playing games, NMGS endeavors to keep up to date guidelines for Adventurers League available in our discord. These documents are updated by the publisher on a regular basis and can be found under the Discord text channel labeled “AL Docs” or at the Adventurers League official website.



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