There was a ton of news about tabletop Dungeons and Dragons last week, and hints at much more this week. The Week of Legend Lore announced two new books, some Dark Alliance news, and the 300th episode of Dragon Talk included the announcement of D&D Celebration from Sept. 24-26. The buildup to Celebration includes a contest for the Best DM in D&D.
D&D Live is being presented by G4 on July 16 and 17. That’s when the flood of details about The Wild Beyond the Witchlight will come out, and probable a few other tabletop D&D news items.
On Tabletop Tuesday my focus is on the two new books, and what intrigues me about them.
Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos
Right up front, I have to admit that during the pandemic I turned into a near nightly player of Magic: The Gathering Arena. I’m already a bit familiar with the lore around Strixhaven thanks to that. The card game got me quite interested in the magical university. Seeing how it transforms into a D&D world excites me. But there are a few reasons I’m more excited for Strixhaven than I was Theros or Ravnica.
- Coming of Age stories are common in the mage school trope. Whether you enjoy Winx Saga, The Magicians, or that more famous property all of them capture that middle school to college vibe of discovering who you are. That genre has not yet been a focus of D&D.
- Zero-to-Hero tales are related to that, and D&D as a leveling game embraces those quite well. Strixhaven has a solid mix of card strength so it does this too (some other MtG planes focus on big mana and others on small).
- The Space for Mundane Students lets those that aren’t magical join your party. Where Potterworld just uses the mundane as an excuse for discrimination and The Magicians basically ignores them, Strixhaven is more like Winx in that non-casters are included (even if only mildly so). These warriors and such help defend the school from threats. Not every D&D party member needs to cast spells.
- I miss college (DLI). Those stresses were different than the stresses I have no. Exploring some of them through the lens of D&D will be fun, and different from how I explored them playing Vampire on the streets of Pacific Grove, CA in the mid-90s.
Also, there’s an Unearthed Arcana testing out archetypes that apply to multiple classes. Each of them represent one of the five colleges at Strixhaven. SyFy has a newser covering the book and the UA subclasses. Tribality breaks down the power level of test.
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight
The next adventure from Wizards of the Coast is a jaunt to the feywild. Details at this time are still fairly sparse, but there is a fey carnival run by Mr. Witch and Mr. Light, that parallels the carnival in Ravenloft. This is lower on my purchase spectrum, mainly because I don’t want to be tempted into spoilers for an adventure in which I want to play. But, I still want it.
- The World of the Everflow treats dragons, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and other inherently magical thinking beings as Fey. Witchlight can help me refine those other-earthly mindsets for my world.
- The pseudo-Victorian look reminds me of Carnival Row. Having literature and shows that echo D&D helps me embrace the themes. It also helps when you pitch the adventure to people who don’t know D&D.
- Anthropomorphic animals are fun. Back in the early 90s I played Albedo. The first fantasy series I read to completion was Narnia. Sweet Tooth is one of the best fantasy series of the modern era. Players looking for angles based on those elements will probably have them as the UA released with Feywild in its title had a rabbitfolk and owlfolk (this is probably also going to be in Strixhaven).
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There’s still more Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft reactions
From the official D&D blog talking about how 5e Ravenloft is more an exploration of genre buy-in rather than a power battle between players and monsters, to a Nerdists guide to how to run horror when you don’t like horror, the book is still being unwrapped. If you need help understanding the Domains of Dread there is little better than Black Dice Society. Watch a couple episodes before you run a campaign set in the Mists.
The book exploded into the best-sellers scene with a 4th place in non-fiction in week one.
Odds and Ends
There’s a new DM screen coming out.
Yahoo! has an intro to D&D, which is eternally handy.
Once upon a time the changes to Drow were expected to be the big news around D&D this summer. Those are now on the backburner a bit. They look intriguing.
As Always, Maps
Also, if you are a Patron of Deven Rue you can submit to have her make a map. Yes, I’m submitting, two areas in fact. One with be the bridge-city of Fort Ooshar and the other the region around Kirtin-on-the-Lake.