Digital-age ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ is more than rolling dice

The world of Dungeons & Dragons, the iconic role-playing game that has captivated millions since the 1970s, is more than just rolling dice on a table top. In 2014, it is computer games, books, online comics, miniature figurines and more, aimed at staying relevant in a digital age.

Wizards of the Coast, the publishers of the game, is launching the latest version along with a massive campaign called Tyranny of Dragons. But on such a plethora of platforms, how is it possible to create an overarching idea that transcends platforms?

The publishers say it’s a simple concept known as sharing.
The high adventure, in which followers of dragon queen Tiamat aim to take over the world, coincides with the release of the fifth edition of rules for tabletop version of D&D.

But the company wanted to expand how players could join in the new storyline and create a community of shared experiences.
“The big part of a role-playing game is, you can do whatever you want. But we want you to end up at the same place at the end of the adventure,” said Mike Mearls, senior manager for Dungeons & Dragons research and development.

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“There are many ways to get there, but having a big event that brings everybody back together is part of the fun, because once you’ve gone up against Tiamat, you’ve got something you can talk to any fellow player about, even if you’ve never met that person before.”

The idea of creating that shared story experience over different media meant Mearls had to think about the narrative differently. It was more about creating a story bible with direction on how various creatures behave in certain circumstances rather than plotting out each monster’s actions specifically.

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“Each one has a different way they act, a different goal they have,” Mearls said. “So when you encounter it in a (massively multiplayer online game), you can understand this creature, you can understand what it’s doing, because when I’m fighting in a 3-D action environment as opposed to a board game as opposed to a role-playing game, it has a trait that can shine through.”

 

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