Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Was Walking Alone When Tiamat Called Me Home.

Tiamat, artist unknown
This afternoon Wizards of the Coast announced the next major event for the Forgotten Realms setting: Tyranny of Dragons. The company plans to build on the success that has been generated through the multi-platform Sundering event following a similar path of integrating novels, the Dungeons and Dragons Encounters program, and video games.

According to USA Today Tyranny of Dragons will be the launch storyline[1] for the new edition of the game. This move will be in direct contrast to previous edition launches which had organized play but not the sort of cross market saturation that this new version will come with; which may be a signal that Wizards of the Cost has taken the lessons from their past launches and come up with a new strategy to reinvigorate a customer base that has languished for the past few years.
"This is a huge year for us," says Nathan Stewart, brand director for D&D at games publisher Wizards of the Coast. "At the heart of Dungeons and Dragons, it's adventure." (Details of next Dungeons and Dragons Revealed)
An adventure that many players and Dungeon Masters have actively been involved in shaping over the course of the last two years as over a 150,000 people have participated in the playtest of the new rules system[2]. This inclusiveness of the consumer base is a major change in Wizards of the Coast policy and seems to be the direction the company is pinning its hopes on for making the new edition a success.

Greg Leeds, CEO of Wizards of the Coast, described this new strategy with the launch of the Sundering event when he told ICv2 that 
“. . . [w]e are very ambitious with Dungeons & Dragons, and . . . the strategy that we’re pursuing is starting to emerge. One of the most important things with Dungeons & Dragons is that we are able to take the same stories and themes and execute them across platforms, not just in the paper side of the business but the digital side. It’s beginning to happen now with the launch of The Sundering. It’s our opportunity to rewrite the story of the Forgotten Realms and bring the realms back together.

“The first and most tangible example of that is Bob Salvatore’s book, The Companions, which is doing extremely well. We’ve got five other great authors who are working on The Sundering. Those stories will then be taken to digital and paper products.

“On the digital side, we’ve got a really exciting line-up of things that will be coming out shortly. The Neverwinter launch from Perfect World came out in June and already has two million people who have downloaded the game. This brings a whole bunch of new fans to the D&D business.

“Next month we’ve got a new mobile game coming out, which is a battle RPG called Arena of War. It will bring in all kinds of new players who want to have that RPG experience on a mobile device, either a phone or a tablet. On the traditional board game sides, we’re coming out with Lords of Waterdeep as a digital tablet experience sometime in early 2014.

“As we bring the stories together with all of those expressions across those platforms, we think D&D is poised for a completely new generation of consumers and excitement around the brand . . . ” (Interview: Greg Leeds on the Game Market and Wizards of the Coast).
It is clear at this point that the Sundering Event was created to test the principles of this new strategy Greg Leeds described prior to the launch of the new edition. The success of the Sundering can only be assumed since Wizards of the Coast is not only following through with the marketing program but doubling down on it by tying the program with the new edition’s launch[3].

There is a clear and concerted effort by Wizards of the Coast to not only recapture their previous market share but to expand it by moving into additional markets of untapped consumers. And it is hard to argue against the possibility of success as the company moves steadily forward, towards the launch of the new edition.

[1] I received a comment on the Google+ community that the idea that Dungeons and Dragons had a storyline was "laughable." I'd like to take just a second and point out that the A, T, and G series of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons modules formed an overall campaign and storyline for the game that has been well regarded throughout the years. Additionally there have been other storylines for the various settings over the years (such as the DL series of modules from Dragonlance) and have been present in each of the previous editions. The novels, comics, and modules have helped influence and shape the game throughout the years and have developed a "cannon" storyline for each of the settings and the game as a whole. 

[2] Mike Mearls discussed the number of participants in the Dungeons and Dragons Next playtest during the GenCon 2013 Dungeons and Dragons Presentation. You can read more at Dungeons and Dragons 2013 Gen Con Presentation , and can even watch the actual video of his presentation.  

[3] It was announced that the new edition will be coming out in the summer of 2014. You can read more about that announcement at Thoughts About the Dungeon and Dragons Release Date.


  1. I would go with Zak S. over at Playing D&D With Porn Stars for a campaign based on Tiamat cultists. His recent posts are awesome. I could do a whole campaign with them.

  2. Devil's advocate here, as I by no means give a rust monster's rear end about the game but...

    "[1] I received a comment on the Google+ community that the idea that Dungeons and Dragons had a storyline was "laughable." I'd like to take just a second and point out that the A, T, and G series of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons modules formed an overall campaign and storyline for the game that has been well regarded throughout the years."

    True, but did 'Dungeons & Dragons, The Game' have a storyline? No. If it did I never noticed it. I played and ran campaigns where the modules you mentioned were part of 'Our Story' and not the other way around. Sometimes we played all three series and sometimes we didn't. Sometimes they were connected and sometimes they weren't at all. Almost always, the campaigns themselves were focused on the stories and characters we created.

    Actually, off the top of my head, I have no idea what the T series was,

    Again, it doesn't matter to me so much and if the majority of new and old D&D fans can get behind it more power to them. It does sound very odd to my veteran ears though.

    1. T series was the Tournament modules they released. Basically things like Tomb of Horrors and that sort of thing.

      Good thoughts by the way.

    2. T1-4 is the Temple of Elemental Evil

      Tomb of Horrors was part of the "S" Series. ToH was S1

    3. And that`s what happens when i respond to comments using my phone - I get everything wrong. Thanks for correcting my error Erik!

    4. I am a font od useless Old School Knowledge ;)

  3. My 3e campaign I am trying to wrap up now has been all about Tiamat. I'll pick up D&D5, but I am not likely to join in on the fun on this one.

    1. I could imagine that it would burn you out on the whole thing. Just out of curiosity though, have you looked into the Sundering stuff?

      It's surprisingly good.


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