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Tyranny of Dragons: Online Comic #2

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 12:36
Type: FeaturesSubtitle: A First EncounterBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

The biggest and most exciting year for Dungeons & Dragons hits a pivotal moment as the Tyranny of Dragons storyline kicks off. This rich new narrative challenges players to rise up against hoards of evil dragons, including Tiamat, the most fearsome dragon in D&D’s history!

For years, the evil Cult of the Dragon has devoted itself to creating undead dragons in a vain attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy. However, the cultists were misguided. They misunderstood. But now, under new leadership, the cult believes that the prophecy does not speak of undead dragons, but of a dragon empire that’s been extinct for 25,000 years. Tiamat, the queen of evil dragons, has languished in the Nine Hells for millennia. The cult believes that the time of her return is at hand.

The cult has a new face and a new mission. It seeks to free Tiamat from the Nine Hells and bring her into the Forgotten Realms. To accomplish its goal, the cult needs five ancient dragon masks and the support of evil dragons everywhere. The cult leaders—each one a "dragon whisperer"—have reached out to the evil dragons of the Sword Coast and earned their allegiance....

The situation is dire. However, the Sword Coast is far from defenseless. Powerful factions are ready to rise up and put an end to the tyranny of dragons. Adventurers throughout the Realms must join forces to face Tiamat, destroy the Cult of the Dragon, and prevent the rise of a new dragon empire. The Harpers have since shared their intelligence with the remaining factions. To combat the Cult of the Dragon, Lord Dagult Neverember of Neverwinter proposes that adventurers representing each of the five factions be sent north to investigate—and to report back with haste.

In their hands, the future lies.

Find out more on the Tyranny of Dragons current story pages!

Credits:

Story: Chris Perkins/Wizards R&D
Script: Bart Carroll
Artist: David Baldeon
Colorist: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Neil Uyetake

Publication date: 09/05/2014Introduction: Second in our series of online comic panels, coinciding with the Tyranny of Dragons storyline.Tags: Featuresexternal_urls:  External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/images/dnd/campaign/IDW_Tyranny_02.jpgExternal url description: Tyranny of Dragons: Panel #2 External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/images/dnd/campaign/IDW_Tyranny_02_InitialSketch.jpgExternal url description: Panel #2 Initial Sketch External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/images/dnd/campaign/IDW_Tyranny_02_FinalSketch.jpgExternal url description: Panel #2 Final Sketch External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/images/dnd/campaign/IDW_Tyranny_02_Colors.jpgExternal url description: Panel #2 Colors Texture banner: Show

PAX Prime 2014 Animated Intro

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 12:04
Type: EventsSubtitle: Acquisitions Inc. Live D&D GameBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: D&D Live Game Animated Intro

On Saturday, August 30th at 8 pm PDT the Acquisitions Inc. crew sets off once again into the dragon's den. Literally. But before they do that, let's take a look back at how they got into this double dragon predicament.

   

video-sundering

PAX Prime 2014 Intro


D&D Live Game

Watch in awe and amusement as Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, Scott Kurtz, and Morgan Webb of Acquisitions Inc., wade once more into almost certain doom, courtesy of Dungeon Master extraordinaire, Chris Perkins.

Seating is first-come, first-served—and it’ll go fast—so be sure to get in line at the Benaroya Hall early.

Run-Time: 8 pm – 11:00 pm Saturday
Location: Benaroya Hall (website)
Online: Watch the livestream on our PAX Prime page.

Publication date: 08/28/2014Introduction: On Saturday, August 30th at 8 PM PDT the Acquisitions Inc crew sets off once again into the dragon's den. Literally. But before they do that, let's take a look back at how they got into this double dragon predicament.Tags: Eventsexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Rise Up or Bow Down

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 15:42
Type: NewsSubtitle: Tyranny of Dragons Begins!Banner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

August 14, 2014 – Renton, WA – The biggest and most exciting year for Dungeons & Dragons hits a pivotal moment today as the Tyranny of Dragons storyline kicks-off. This rich new narrative challenges players around the world to rise up against hoards of evil dragons, including Tiamat, the most fearsome dragon in D&D’s history! With a full suite of entertainment offerings already starting to roll-out, and many more exciting launches slated for later this year, Tyranny of Dragons offers action-packed play experiences for digital and tabletop RPG players alike.

The new Tyranny of Dragons module for the highly-acclaimed free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG, Neverwinter, is available today. Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World Entrainment, the new module will showcase a new character class, the Scourge Warlock, and a new race, Dragonborn.

For players eager to sink their teeth into the Tyranny of Dragons storyline around the gaming table, two new tabletop adventures will also release this year, Hoard of the Dragon Queen on August 19 and The Rise of Tiamat on October 21. A new line of D&D miniatures from Wiz Kids will be available soon for fans to enhance their Tyranny of Dragons adventures.

With these releases, comes the highly-anticipated new rules for the tabletop roleplaying game, following a two year public playtest that help set the foundation for the future of the franchise. Currently available at select hobby game stores and releasing in wide distribution on August 19, the Player’s Handbook is the first of three “core” rulebooks to be released alongside the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. The Player’s Handbook contains everything players need to create heroic characters. The Player’s Handbook release will be followed by the Monster Manual (September 30) and the Dungeon Master’s Guide (November 18).

To start your adventures in the Tyranny of Dragons story visit DungeonsandDragons.com. Also, be sure to follow D&D on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Tyranny of Dragons

Launch Video


 

Publication date: 08/14/2014Introduction: Dungeons & Dragons fans must rise up or bow down as the Tyranny of Dragons begins!Tags: Newsexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Neverwinter: Tyranny of Dragons

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 15:21
Type: NewsAuthor: Eric Galaviz and Charles HaitkinSubtitle: Launch DayBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

The Neverwinter team is excited to announce the launch of Tyranny of Dragons, one of the largest content updates for the Neverwinter MMORPG. Tyranny of Dragons introduces the new Scourge Warlock class, the Dragonborn race, new heroic encounters, as well as a new dungeon and skirmish for adventurers to explore.

Starting today, players can access a new premium race, stepping into the role of the dangerous and powerful Dragonborn. Also available is the new Scourge Warlock class, which focuses on ranged damage with a curse mechanic—making it an excellent damage dealing role for parties. The Scourge Warlock will join the six other classes as they battle through regions overrun with the Cult of the Dragon, culminating in new heroic encounters with several dragons from Dungeons & Dragons lore.

The new instances will take players on a journey through unfamiliar environments on Tuern as they uncover new storylines from Dungeons & Dragons. Additionally, for the first time in any Neverwinter expansion, the new content will be interspersed throughout normal progression in-game, rather than at the level cap.

“As fans of the series, we are constantly looking at ways to build on our players’ Neverwinter experiences, and ensuring that they live up to the lore of Dungeons & Dragons and the core D&D experience we all love,” says Rob Overmeyer, Executive Producer of Neverwinter. “It’s not possible to have too many dragons in Neverwinter and our team has heard the calls from our community. We work tirelessly to continue to bring great gameplay, good times and epic moments to our game. We look forward to watching our players take on the onslaught of dragons in Neverwinter: Tyranny of Dragons.”

With all the new content coming with Tyranny of Dragons, now is the time to begin your Neverwinter journey!

 

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Neverwinter Module: Tyranny of Dragons


Publication date: 08/14/2014Introduction: Tyranny of Dragons has officially launched for the Neverwinter MMO!Tags: Newsexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Audible: Legend Of Drizzt

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 02:00
Type: NewsSubtitle: All-Star Recording of the Collected StoriesBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

NEWARK, N.J. – August 12, 2014 – Audible, Inc., the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word content, today announced the release of The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories. Each of the twelve stories in the collection about the iconic Dungeons & Dragons dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden is narrated by a different actor; the eclectic group of performers includes Sean Astin, Michael Chiklis, Wil Wheaton, Ice-T, Tom Felton, Al Yankovic, David Duchovny, Greg Grunberg, Felicia Day, Melissa Rauch, Danny Pudi and Dan Harmon. R. A. Salvatore, the New York Times bestselling author of the collection, as well as more than 30 Drizzt novels, has recorded an introduction to the audiobook. For the next 40 days, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, the stories will be available as free downloads at Audible.com, either individually or as a collection, at www.audible.com/dnd.

"I've been a fan and gamer since I was a kid, and to this day it consumes me,” said Greg Grunberg. “Role-playing games were the beginning of acting for me. Games have always been a part of my life; even today I have my own channel on Twitch called SocialTronLive. So for me to be involved in this awesome project and lend my voice was a no-brainer.”

“Thanks to the performances of these fabulous actors, listeners will be swept up by the vividly imagined world of Dungeons & Dragons,” said Audible EVP and Publisher Beth Anderson. “We’re excited to make this brilliantly conceived and dramatically performed collection of stories about one of D&D’s most beloved characters available for free to millions of D&D enthusiasts—and to anyone who loves a good story. We think our listeners will love the performances by this distinguished and diverse roster of acting talent. And with more than 500 D&D novels and story collections in our store, there is plenty more for fans to enjoy.”

"I've been a huge fan of R. A. Salvatore and the D&D worlds my whole life,” said Felicia Day. “I loved being able to bring part of it to life in this audiobook, and to channel my inner male dwarf."

“Whether or not you are a D&D fan, this collection is marvelous entertainment,” said Liz Schuh, Head of Licensing and Publishing, Wizards of the Coast. “Drizzt brought to life by these fantastic performers adds another memorable dimension to R. A. Salvatore’s stories.”

The production is part of a partnership between Audible and Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast, through which Salvatore’s entire Drizzt catalog will be recorded in audio. Salvatore’s first published novel, The Crystal Shard, introduced the world to the dark elf Drizzt; since then, his books have sold more than 15 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 14 languages.

Individual Stories/Narrators
  • Wickless in the Nether: Sean Astin
  • Bones and Stones: Al Yankovic
  • Comrades at Odds: Ice-T
  • To Legend He Goes: David Duchovny
  • If Ever They Happened Upon My Lair: Wil Wheaton
  • The Dowery: Melissa Rauch
  • Dark Mirror: Dan Harmon
  • The First Notch: Felicia Day
  • The Third Level: Greg Grunberg
  • Guenhwyvar: Tom Felton
  • Iruladoon: Michael Chiklis
  • That Curious Sword: Danny Pudi

 

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Behind the Scenes

A look inside the Audible Studios recording of The Legend of Drizzt.


Publication date: 08/12/2014Introduction: Experience the world of Dungeons & Dragons as never before, with stories performed by stars of Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, the X-Files, the Big Bang Theory, Star Trek: The Next Generation and more!Tags: Newsexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Excerpt: Sphinxes

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 15:43
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Bart CarrollSubtitle: Monster ManualBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: From the Monster Manual:

In sacred isolation, a sphinx guards the secrets and treasures of the gods. As it calmly regards each new party that comes before it, the bones of supplicants and quest seekers that failed to pass its tests lie scattered around its lair. Its great wings sweep along its flanks, its tawny leonine body rippling with muscle and possessed of forepaws powerful enough to tear a humanoid in half.

An androsphinx tests the courage and valor of supplicants, not only by forcing them to complete quests but also with its terrible roar, which echoes for miles as it terrifies and deafens nearby creatures.

Artist:

Brynn Metheny created the art for both the Monster Manual’s andro- and gynosphinx. More of her work can be found on her website (including a look at another of her creations, the owlbear).





A Brief Look Back:



The Original Edition’s Book II: Monsters & Treasures included a number of creatures from mythology (including the cockatrice, basilisk, medusa, hydra and manticore), and Supplement I: Greyhawk even listed the lammasu (human-headed, winged lions). However, the sphinx wouldn’t appear until Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes, where it was described as having a short temper and a taste for human blood… but also curious and that it would spare a person with a good story.

In the 1st Edition Monster Manual, the sphinx appeared in both andro- and gynosphinx form. For the androsphinx, he arrived with his powerful roar: “The creature must be aroused and angry to utter the first, very angry to roar again, and infuriated to cut loose with the third.”

As far as the sphinx’s connection to riddles, it was the gynosphinx called out for accepting payment for help in the form of riddles, poetry, prose, knowledge, or the location of an androsphinx. And in fact, it was a gynosphinx guarding the intersection within White Plume Mountain, posing the riddle which appears in today’s excerpt.

Need help with the answer?

The Monster Manual

The Monster Manual (releasing September 30) presents a horde of classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures, including dragons, giants, mind flayers, and beholders—a monstrous feast for Dungeon Masters ready to challenge their players and populate their adventures.

Publication date: 08/12/2014Introduction: What better creature to start our Monster Manual excerpts than the sphinx—guardian of secrets and treasures within the game. In today’s excerpt, we examine the artwork, the creature in general, as well as the androsphinx in particular.Tags: Featuresexternal_urls:  External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/MM_Sphinx.pdfExternal url description: The Sphinx/Androsphinx Texture banner: Show

Gen Con Bound!

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 16:57
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Mike MearlsSubtitle: Legends & LoreBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

With the Player’s Handbook hitting Wizards Play Network stores last Friday, it’s time to turn our attention to actually playing fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Between the update to the D&D basic rules, the launch of the epic Tyranny of Dragons campaign with Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the Lost Mine of Phandelver from the D&D Starter Set, and the abundant character options in the Player’s Handbook, there’s lots of stuff to keep you busy. If that’s not enough, you can always delve into the D&D Adventurers League.

The D&D Adventurers League officially kicks off at Gen Con 2014, though the D&D Encounters season opens the Wednesday before the convention begins. Gen Con sees the debut of our first D&D Expeditions adventures, Secrets of Sokol Keep and Shadow on the Moonsea, and the first D&D Epics adventure, Corruption at Kryptgarden. As well, we’ll be running Defiance in Phlan, a replayable adventure that consists of five one-hour scenarios, each of which gives players a taste of the game and Tyranny of Dragons.

The fun thing about the D&D Adventurers League is that it allows you to create a character you can carry over into any other D&D Encounters, D&D Expeditions, or D&D Epics event. Your character’s levels and magic items persist from event to event. If you want to get a head start on the D&D Adventurers League, you can create a character in Lost Mine of Phandelver or Hoard of the Dragon Queen, pile up some experience points, and come into Gen Con ready to play. Everything you need to get into the action is available at the D&D website.

If you want a truly deluxe experience, head on down to your friendly local game store and join the D&D Encounters program. Participating stores will have player kits on hand that include folios for each of five factions—the power groups of the Forgotten Realms that your characters will become involved with. These folios contain a special certificate for your character’s faction, a welcome letter from your faction’s leader, a sticker with your faction’s symbol, and more. If you’re a DM, we have a special DM folio available that includes a certificate you can apply to any character you play in D&D Adventurers League.

Even if you don’t take part in D&D Encounters, you can still choose a faction to join. To make things even more interesting, at Gen Con we’re distributing special cards that allow you to track your achievements over the course of the convention. You can turn in your card to reap special rewards that range from useful items for your character to other stuff guaranteed to make everyone in your D&D group jealous.



If you’re at Gen Con and haven’t yet had a chance to check out D&D, you’re in luck. Throughout the convention, the R&D team will host panels to get you into the game with a minimum of fuss. We’ll talk about what’s new in fifth edition, guide you through character creation, and answer rules questions.

As if that’s not enough, Friday night (August 15, 7 pm to 11 pm on Georgia Street), we’re throwing a party at Gen Con to celebrate the game’s 40th anniversary. At the official Tyranny of Dragons launch celebration, you can help solve the Mystery of the Mask while you mingle with D&D designers, storytellers, and other special guests. We’ll have music, merriment, and a few menacing surprises. (You never know who might crash a party celebrating dragons.)

If you can’t make it to Gen Con, remember that the D&D Adventurers League is as close as your nearest gaming table or your local game store. You can run Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Lost Mine of Phandelver as official D&D Adventurers League content at home. Your local store can host D&D Encounters and D&D Expeditions events. If they don’t yet, be sure to ask if they’ll consider it. Local gaming conventions can also work with retailers to order D&D Expeditions material to run.

If you haven’t played D&D in public before, give it a try. Years before I started work at Wizards of the Coast, I took part in the Living Greyhawk campaign as a DM and volunteer. It’s easy to become too comfortable creatively when you play with the same group week after week, and playing D&D with a wide variety of people makes you a much better player and DM. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone exposes you to other styles of play, sharpens your skills, and broadens your horizons.

NOTES: For D&D Play and Event details at Gen Con 2014, you can find more information here.

Publication date: 08/11/2014Introduction: Mike talks about the D&D Adventurers league launch at Gen Con in this week’s Legends & Lore.Tags: Legends & Loreexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

PAX East 2014 Highlights: Part 1

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 12:10
Type: EventsSubtitle: Acquisitions Inc. Live D&D GameBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

Did you miss the 2014 PAX East Live D&D Game? Looking for a quick recap to prepare for the PAX Prime game? Look no further! In this first episode we see what the Acquisitions Inc. crew has been up to since saving the city of Waterdeep from becoming the Terrasque's new playground.

Then catch the exciting conclusion during the Acquistions Inc. game streaming live from PAX Prime 2014!

Cast:

Omin Dran: Played by Jerry Holkins
Jim Darkmagic: Played by Mike Krahulik
Binwin Bronzebottom: Played by Scott Kurtz
Môrgæn: Played by Morgan Webb
The Dungeon Master: Played by Chris Perkins
Intro Voiceover: Kris Straub

 

video-sundering

PAX East 2014

Acquisitions Inc. Highlights: Part 1


 

Publication date: 08/06/2014Introduction: The first video highlight from our PAX East Live D&D Game, leading up to PAX Prime in Seattle.Tags: Eventsexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Here Comes the Player’s Handbook

Sun, 08/03/2014 - 23:17
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Mike MearlsSubtitle: Legends & LoreBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a Wizards Play Network retailer, the Player’s Handbook can be in your hands this Friday. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come. At times, it felt like the release date would never get here. At other times, looming deadlines and mountains of work made it feel like it was coming all too fast.

We’ve provided teaser peeks at almost everything in the book, but it occurs to me that we still haven’t released a full list of character backgrounds. It’s been great to see the positive response to backgrounds. They’re a powerful tool for customizing a campaign, and give players a strong foundation for roleplaying distinct characters.

So without further ado, here’s a list of the backgrounds available in the Player’s Handbook. However, in the interest of giving you something to ponder until the book releases, I’ve inserted a false background among the ones listed here. Can you guess which one is the red herring? It’s a real stumper.

  • Acolyte
  • Charlatan
  • Criminal
  • Entertainer
  • Folk Hero
  • Gold Dragon, Ancient
  • Guild Artisan
  • Hermit
  • Noble
  • Outlander
  • Sage
  • Sailor
  • Soldier
  • Urchin

If my little puzzle proved easy to solve, then you’ve had a firsthand experience in seeing how easy it is to make your own backgrounds. In fact, customizing backgrounds is one of the best tools a DM can use to bring a campaign or setting to life.

To start with, there’s no specific balance in the proficiencies that a background grants. You can swap out one tool or skill for another without messing anything up. Features are a little trickier, and it’s best to mix and match the ones given in the Player’s Handbook. However, if you want to make your own features, here are a few guidelines.

Background features should avoid strict mechanical benefits, such as a bonus to a check or to attacks. Instead, the best features are ones that open up new options for roleplaying, exploring, and otherwise interacting with the world.

As an example, the sage background’s benefit is a DM’s best friend for sending the characters off on adventures. It doesn’t provide information or an automatic success for a check. Instead, if a character fails to recall information, she instead knows where she can go to learn it. That might be a pointer to a more knowledgeable sage back in town—or it might send the party to a library long lost within the ruins of an ancient tomb.

The best features give characters a reason to strike out on quests of their own creation, to make contacts with NPCs, and to develop ties and bonds to the setting or campaign you’ve devised. As an example, let’s say you create a Guild Assassin background. The benefit might be access to safe houses and contacts that the guild has established in major cities. The contacts aren’t guaranteed to be friendly, but the character knows they can be counted on.

A character with that background now has a good reason to travel to a city and mingle with the folk there. But more interestingly, you might decide in your campaign that the priests of the god of death have declared war on the guild. When the character arrives in a safe house to find its occupants slain by the death god’s clerics, you have the makings of an instant adventure hook.

Don’t be shy about modifying backgrounds or changing their flavor to suit your campaign. For instance, let’s say you’re running Lost Mine of Phandelver and someone in your group wants to create a new character with the hermit background. As a hermit in the area, the character might have encountered both the druid Reidoth and the cultists skulking around the ruins of Thundertree. The character’s relationship with Reidoth could serve as her bond. She might have a personal stake in driving the cultists away from the ruins, perhaps because she wants to research the magic that still suffuses the town. The hermit’s discovery might involve the strange zombies that infest Thundertree, which could in turn connect to larger elements of the campaign.

Backgrounds represent the glue between a player’s character and the DM’s campaign. Whether you’re running an open-ended sandbox or a tightly plotted epic, you can use backgrounds and their elements (traits, bonds, and so on) to give characters the forward momentum they need to keep the game going.

Publication date: 08/04/2014Introduction: In this week’s Legends & Lore, Mike talks about the power of character backgrounds in the new Player’s Handbook.Tags: Legends & Loreexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Here Comes the Player’s Handbook

Sun, 08/03/2014 - 15:01
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Mike MearlsSubtitle: Legends & LoreBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a Wizards Play Network retailer, the Player’s Handbook can be in your hands this Friday. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come. At times, it felt like the release date would never get here. At other times, looming deadlines and mountains of work made it feel like it was coming all too fast.

We’ve provided teaser peeks at almost everything in the book, but it occurs to me that we still haven’t released a full list of character backgrounds. It’s been great to see the positive response to backgrounds. They’re a powerful tool for customizing a campaign, and give players a strong foundation for roleplaying distinct characters.

So without further ado, here’s a list of the backgrounds available in the Player’s Handbook. However, in the interest of giving you something to ponder until the book releases, I’ve inserted a false background among the ones listed here. Can you guess which one is the red herring? It’s a real stumper.

  • Acolyte
  • Charlatan
  • Criminal
  • Entertainer
  • Folk Hero
  • Gold Dragon, Ancient
  • Guild Artisan
  • Hermit
  • Noble
  • Outlander
  • Sage
  • Sailor
  • Soldier
  • Urchin

If my little puzzle proved easy to solve, then you’ve had a firsthand experience in seeing how easy it is to make your own backgrounds. In fact, customizing backgrounds is one of the best tools a DM can use to bring a campaign or setting to life.

To start with, there’s no specific balance in the proficiencies that a background grants. You can swap out one tool or skill for another without messing anything up. Features are a little trickier, and it’s best to mix and match the ones given in the Player’s Handbook. However, if you want to make your own features, here are a few guidelines.

Background features should avoid strict mechanical benefits, such as a bonus to a check or to attacks. Instead, the best features are ones that open up new options for roleplaying, exploring, and otherwise interacting with the world.

As an example, the sage background’s benefit is a DM’s best friend for sending the characters off on adventures. It doesn’t provide information or an automatic success for a check. Instead, if a character fails to recall information, she instead knows where she can go to learn it. That might be a pointer to a more knowledgeable sage back in town—or it might send the party to a library long lost within the ruins of an ancient tomb.

The best features give characters a reason to strike out on quests of their own creation, to make contacts with NPCs, and to develop ties and bonds to the setting or campaign you’ve devised. As an example, let’s say you create a Guild Assassin background. The benefit might be access to safe houses and contacts that the guild has established in major cities. The contacts aren’t guaranteed to be friendly, but the character knows they can be counted on.

A character with that background now has a good reason to travel to a city and mingle with the folk there. But more interestingly, you might decide in your campaign that the priests of the god of death have declared war on the guild. When the character arrives in a safe house to find its occupants slain by the death god’s clerics, you have the makings of an instant adventure hook.

Don’t be shy about modifying backgrounds or changing their flavor to suit your campaign. For instance, let’s say you’re running Lost Mine of Phandelver and someone in your group wants to create a new character with the hermit background. As a hermit in the area, the character might have encountered both the druid Reidoth and the cultists skulking around the ruins of Thundertree. The character’s relationship with Reidoth could serve as her bond. She might have a personal stake in driving the cultists away from the ruins, perhaps because she wants to research the magic that still suffuses the town. The hermit’s discovery might involve the strange zombies that infest Thundertree, which could in turn connect to larger elements of the campaign.

Backgrounds represent the glue between a player’s character and the DM’s campaign. Whether you’re running an open-ended sandbox or a tightly plotted epic, you can use backgrounds and their elements (traits, bonds, and so on) to give characters the forward momentum they need to keep the game going.

Publication date: 08/04/2014Introduction: In this week’s Legends & Lore, Mike talks about the power of character backgrounds in the new Player’s Handbook.Tags: Legends & Loreexternal_urls: Texture banner: Show

Morningstar

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 07:23

Keeping it Classy

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 03:00
Mike talks about Player’s Handbook classes and options in this week’s Legends & Lore.

Neverwinter: Tyranny of Dragons

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 03:00
With a stalwart devotion to honor and justice, the Dragonborn have devoted themselves to doing good throughout the Realms. We are proud to announce that with the release of Module 4: Tyranny of Dragons, Neverwinter players can now join them in this crusade with their very own Dragonborn characters!

Keeping it Classy

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 20:03
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Mike MearlsSubtitle: Legends & LoreBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

In most cases, a character class includes a big choice at some point, defining the specific flavor of that class as it applies to your character. Wizards and clerics provide obvious examples. A wizard picks a school of magic to specialize in, while a cleric picks a domain that reflects his or her deity. This decision not only provides a clear picture of what your character does, it also touches on that character's place in the world.

Some classes have a few choice points, usually allowing you to customize other traits or aspects of a character. Generally speaking, these choices follow the design trend of fifth edition. They make you good at your specialty without hurting your ability to branch out into other areas through multiclassing or feats.

Once more, in the interest of showing you a meaty preview and saving myself some time, I'm going to crack open the Player's Handbook and let you see what's inside. Keep in mind that these examples aren't the only choices you make within a class. Some classes feature other important options, such as a warlock's pact boon.

Barbarian: A barbarian picks a primal path that reflects the nature of the character's rage. The two options in the Player's Handbook are the Path of the Berserker and the Path of the Totem Warrior. The berserker fights with an implacable fury, while the totem warrior channels the magic of beasts to augment his or her rage.

Bard: Each bard is inspired by a college—a loose affiliation of like-minded bards who share lore, stories, and performances. The Player's Handbook presents the College of Lore, which focuses on knowledge and performance, and the College of Valor, which focuses on inspiring bravery on the battlefield.

Cleric: Cleric domains reflect the nature of the gods and shape the magic a character wields. The domains in the Player's Handbook are Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War.

Druid: A druid joins a circle—one of a number of loose alliances of like-minded druids who share similar outlooks on nature, balance, and the way of druidic magic. The Circle of the Land allows a druid to select a type of terrain from which he or she draws magic. The Circle of the Moon augments a druid's ability to transform into various beasts.

Fighter: All fighters select a martial archetype that reflects a specific approach to combat. The Champion is a mighty warrior who scores deadly critical hits in combat. The Battle Master is a flexible, cunning tactician. The Eldritch Knight masters magic that allows him or her to protect allies and devastate foes.

Monk: A monk commits to a monastic tradition, defined by a specific form of martial arts that helps channel and shape the use of ki energy. The Way of the Open Hand augments a monk's unarmed strikes and allows mastery of the deadly quivering palm technique. The Way of Shadow turns a monk into a stealthy warrior who manipulates darkness to confuse and confound enemies. The Way of the Four Elements allows a monk to channel ki into spells and blasts of elemental energy.

Paladin: All paladins take an oath—a pledge to a code of conduct that guides their lives and shapes their abilities. The Oath of Devotion binds a paladin to the ideal of justice, virtue, and order. The Oath of the Ancients pledges a paladin to protect the natural world and preserve hope across the land. The Oath of Vengeance turns a paladin into a deadly avenger who seeks out and punishes wrongdoers.

Ranger: A ranger selects an archetype that reflects his or her ideals and relationship to nature. The Hunter stands guard in the wilderness, stopping threats before they can menace civilization. The Beast Master cultivates a powerful bond to creatures, fighting alongside them to bring down enemies.

Rogue: A rogue selects a roguish archetype that reflects his or her approach to crime and chicanery. The Thief is an evasive, sneaky trickster. The Assassin is a focused and quiet killer. The Arcane Trickster uses enchantment and illusion magic to enact his or her schemes.

Sorcerer: A sorcerer's magic arises from a sorcerous origin—the event, ancestry, or quirk of fate that gifted the character with power. The Draconic Bloodline reflects a sorcerer's distant dragon ancestry, and grants powers that reflect a dragon's nature. Wild Magic imbues a sorcerer with the energy of raw chaos, producing unpredictable results from his or her magic.

Warlock: A warlock's patron shapes this class's power. The Archfey grants beguiling magic useful for trickery and quick escapes. The Fiend imparts the power of destructive fire and diabolic resistance. The mysterious Great Old One grants telepathic abilities and chilling glimpses into the nature of the multiverse.

Wizard: A wizard selects an arcane tradition—the specific approach to the study of magic that shapes his or her outlook and talents. Though many traditions exist, the Player's Handbook focuses on the established schools of D&D magic—Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation.

Publication date: 07/28/2014Introduction: Last week I posted spoilers for the Player's Handbook feats and talked a bit about their design. This week, let's look at character classes and the options available to those classes.Tags: Legends & Loreexternal_urls: Texture banner: Hide

The Spellwyrm's Search

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 03:00
Not every dragon likes the Cult of the Dragon, but the Spellwyrm is interested in the concept of immortality. Learn more about this dragon and his Hands, who serve him.

Feats of Game Design

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 03:00
Mike talks about the place of feats in fifth edition D&D in this week’s Legends & Lore.

Firebraces of Selgaunt

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 03:00
If you love traps, you should definitely take a look at the trap potential inherent in firebraces.

A Menagerie of Monsters

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 03:00
Mike reveals a monstrous surprise in this week’s Legends & Lore.

Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 17:02
Type: FeaturesSubtitle: TRPG ResourcesBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

As Mike Mearls explained in Legends & Lore, the Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons is a PDF (over 100 pages, in fact) that covers the core of the game. It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options; in addition, the rules contain 120 spells, 5 backgrounds, and character sheets.

But the best part? The Basic Rules is a free PDF. Anyone can download it from our website. We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that.

Here now is the Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons:

Using These Rules

The Basic Rules document is divided into three parts.

Part 1 is about creating a character, providing the rules and guidance you need to make the character you’ll play in the game. It includes information on the various races, classes, backgrounds, equipment, and other customization options that you can choose from. Many of the rules in part 1 rely on material in parts 2 and 3.

Part 2 details the rules of how to play the game, beyond the basics described in this introduction. That part covers the kinds of die rolls you make to determine success or failure at the tasks your character attempts, and describes the three broad categories of activity in the game: exploration, interaction, and combat.

Part 3 is all about magic. It covers the nature of magic in the worlds of D&D, the rules for spellcasting, and a selection of typical spells available to magic-using characters (and monsters) in the game.

Change Log

This change log indicates significant updates from the previous version of the D&D Basic Rules.

  • Added acid splashcounterspelldisguise self, poison spray, shatter, and wall of fire spells.
  • Added noble background.
  • Added appendix containing the Forgotten Realms deities.
  • Added appendix containing descriptions of the five factions that feature in the D&D Adventurers League.
  • Legal text added to the footer to allow reproduction for personal purposes.
File Downloads Publication date: 07/03/2014Introduction: Set in a medieval fantasy world, D&D allows you to experience stories and adventures full of endless possibilities and amazing surprises. The Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons is a PDF that covers the core of the tabletop game.Tags: TRPG Resourcesexternal_urls:  External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/PlayerDnDBasicRules_v0.2.pdfExternal url description: Player’s D&D Basic Rules V2 External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/PlayerDnDBasicRules_v0.2_PrintFriendly.pdfExternal url description: Player’s D&D Basic Rules V2 (Printer Friendly) External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/DMDnDBasicRules_v0.1.pdfExternal url description: Dungeon Master's D&D Basic Rules V1 External url: http://media.wizards.com/2014/downloads/dnd/DMDnDBasicRules_v0.1_PrinterFriendly.pdfExternal url description: Dungeon Master's D&D Basic Rules V1 (Printer Friendly) Texture banner: Show

Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 03:00
The Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons is a free PDF. Anyone can download it from our website. We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that.