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I've never played an Adventurers League (AL) game, but I've begun researching it because it recently came up as a possibility.

My understanding is that Adventurers League play is designed for portable characters that can be taken seamlessly from one AL table to another. However, while AL rules do put some restrictions on character creation (such as available source books and alignments), they don't mention guidelines for more qualitative attributes like backstory or a character's goals.

In a home game, the DM has the flexibility and player continuity to weave these into a campaign, but I suspect Adventurers League DMs would not. Does the possible discontinuous nature of AL play mean its characters should have goals that are more easily portable? For example, if a character is simply trying to gain money or skill, that can be accomplished with any party at any time as a "side effect" of most any adventure -- but going after the despot who killed your character's father would almost certainly be trickier to implement.

Are there aspects of character creation (including but not limited to this one) that should be tweaked to better fit into AL play? Or is there a fundamental flaw in my understanding of Adventurers League?

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Your intuition is sound.

Your basic AL adventures are entirely episodic, short, and fairly simple and straightforward. They incorporate no backstory, limited foreplay, and a lot of old-fashioned dungeon crawling.

So your AL character should not have a backstory that requires any playtime, and should be oriented more toward effective fighting. Too much of a city/investigative/intrigue/roleplay emphasis will largely be wasted; keep it simple and direct.

Some AL games can be longer and more campaign-like, if you're playing through one of the book-length adventures, such as Curse of Strahd, or Out of the Abyss. In that case, if you're going to be playing the same character through many sessions and levels to go through the book, talk to your DM and find out what they are open to. Those have a lot more room for roleplay, investigation, intrigue, and backstory.

But if you want a game with more of those factors, you really need to find a proper campaign.

I travel for work, spending a year or so at a job project. In a new city, I first find the AL games, play and enjoy them, and get to know some people. But my goal as a player is always to find a campaign or two to join. I almost always run one as well.

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