PAX East 2014
New Dungeons & Dragons Next and Tyranny of Dragons Details Emerge

Jonathan Bolding | 16 Apr 2014 18:24
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tiamat tyranny of dragons

In a panel presentation by Wizards of the Coast R&D member Chris Perkins at PAX East, new details have emerged surrounding both the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons edition and the Tyranny of Dragons multimedia event that will begin this summer and run through the new edition's launch later this year. At its PAX East 2014 panel, Wizards of the Coast had R&D member Chris Perkins present new information and art for the upcoming fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons as well as answer audience questions about the Tyranny event and Wizards' plans for the new edition. Among the revealed information was a variety of art from "the new books", including the gallery of new art here, provided to The Escapist by Wizards of the Coast. Various other pieces of revealed art made it out of the panel, including this one I snapped of The Tarrasque, which looks more like a Kaiju than ever. Over the course of April 11, Wizards of the Coast also tweeted out a variety of pictures of Tyranny of Dragons concept art.

The Tyranny of Dragons storyline takes place in the Forgotten Realms, which Perkins described as the definite flagship setting for the new Dungeons & Dragons, meaning a decided shift away from the default "generic" settings that the game used in the previous edition. That's an obvious move for Wizards of the Coast, who will want their most popular setting at the forefront of the newest edition. The choice of dragons as the iconic enemy for the first story arc, said Perkins, was because they are the most iconic monsters that this game has. Some elements of the old settings definitely stuck around, though, with Perkins using D&D 4 terms like "Shadowfell" and "Feywild" to describe the planes of existence in the game. Tyranny of Dragons will apparently be a multimedia event, taking place both in the real life D&D Encounters organized play program and in the Neverwinter MMO, as well as in other, unspecified media properties to be revealed "soon." Tyranny of Dragons will be a standalone product, entirely separate from the new D&D books. It also aligns with the way Perkins was talking about D&D - as a multiplatform entertainment experience tied to a central theme, not something that necessarily only exists as a tabletop game.

As previously revealed, Tyranny of Dragons will revolve around the efforts of the Cult of the Dragon to free Tiamat, the Queen of Evil Dragonkind, from the Nine Hells and resurrect a thousands-of-years-old draconic empire. As part of that quest, the cultists will seek out five ancient dragon masks and attempt to earn the support of the various, disparate factions of evil dragons. Cities mentioned as being key in their plot include Neverwinter, Waterdeep, and Baldur's Gate - as well as the whole Sword Coast of Faerun. The Red Wizards of Thay will be making an appearance, providing armies of undead and magical support to the Cult of the Dragon, all while seeking to further their own goals.

The new season of Encounters themed along with Tyranny of Dragons will be what was called a "superadventure" and was implied to be a nonlinear experience similar to recently released modules Murder in Baldur's Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard. Chris Perkins emphasized, when answering a question about the new Encounters series, that the game would be much more open to Dungeon Master interpretation, improvisation, and innovation than previous Encounters programs - indeed, he said that it would be "encouraged" by the structure of the adventures. Perkins also hinted at beneficial changes to the structure of encounters to incentivize participation, but did not specify details.

Arrayed against the Cult and the Wizards will be a variety of Faerun's good and not-so-good factions, including the Harpers, the Company of the Gauntlet, the Emerald Enclave, the Lords' Alliance, and The Zhentarim. When asked how he expected the Zhentarim to work with the other, more traditionally good factions, Chris Perkins explained that the Zentarim are interested in money and glory, neither of which they can have if an army of evil dragons overruns the world. Aligning with these factions will be a major element of the new Encounters program, with players gaining special rules, ranks, rewards, and mechanics depending on who they throw in with. The Zentarim, Perkins said, were included specifically to appeal to those characters with a checkered past.

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