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I recently started DMing Adventurers League sessions, and I've been told about DM rewards, being particularly interested in the XP I get after each DMed session.

Reading the AL DM guide, I understand that the XP is given in accordance to [a value corresponding to the average party level] × [a number of hours]. It is said that, for Hardcover adventures, the number of hours is the real amount of time the game took, but for modules, it's supposed to be the prescribed amount of time.

For the first adventure I DMed, there was indeed a prescribed duration (2 hours), but then, the next two ones didn't have any (I read the entire adventures, and nowhere would it say "Part X should take you Y hours to do" or anything similar). They were respectively from season 1 and 2 (DDEX01-04 “Dues for the Dead” and DDEX02-02 “Embers of Elmwood”), probably explaining the lack of duration, as I suppose they hadn't started to put in durations at that time.

So, do I just consider modules without prescribed play time as Hardcover adventures for the purpose of calculating my DM XP reward, or is there something I'm missing?

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The DDAL Dungeon Master's Guide in the D&D Adventurers League DM Pack1 explains it, but there still seems to be frequent confusion, so you're not alone. The simplest way to put it is:

  • Modules use the published length and published APL.
  • Hardcovers use the actual length and actual APL.

As for determining what content is which type, consult the Content Catalog included in the linked package. Look at the start of the adventure code:

  • DDAL, DDEX, and DDEP are modules.
  • DDHC is a hardcover.

All of the modules should indicate the Run Time. It's on the cover for recent ones and buried in the first few pages for the older ones. The editing and consistency of the really old content was pretty bad, so your best bet may be to consult the Content Catalog - it gets updated regularly and includes run time for all the modules.

For example, in the Content Catalog on page 7 DDEX1-4 “Dues for the Dead” is listed with a run time of 4 hours, and on page 9 DDEX2-2 “Embers of Elmwood” is also given a run time of 4 hours. So even if the run times are absent from or hard to find in a given adventure, you can always fall back on the official rating in the Content Catalog.

On the new modules, Average Party Level (APL) is on the cover. It's a bit harder to find on old modules; it's a paragraph or two before the part about calculating the actual APL to use for balancing purposes. Sadly, they only include the tier in the Content Catalog, not the APL.

1Always make sure to download a fresh copy of the bundle. They update it from time to time, not just at the start of a season.

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