Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gencon: D&D Product Seminar

Again, I didn't attend Gencon this year, but my finger is on the pulse of the convention, reading other blogger's news and sifting through them for anything remotely relevant to Greyhawk fans. Much to my delight, Online Dungeonmaster posted an awesome by the minute breakdown of Wizards of the Coast's new product seminar for the coming six months or so (my thanks to you sir). There is plenty here to read for yourself as it covers a myriad of new stuff, but in the meantime, here is several interesting parts that caught my discerning eye:

"10:15: Lords of Waterdeep. Euro-style board game coming out next year. Competitive game of intrigue set in Waterdeep. You’re a lord of Waterdeep, recruiting adventurers for quests, backstabbing / cooperating with other lords. Pretty cover art! Started on the game train last year with a conversation with Peter Lee. There are dice, cards, tiles. March of 2012 is the aim for release. Square coins and crescent coins. Old 2nd edition Forgotten Realms sourcebook used this image for Waterdhavian coins, so they made them for the game. Relies heavily on Volo’s (?) Guide to Waterdeep."

As I had reported from an earlier Dragon article, Wizards is trying to break into this specialized boardgame market. So it's not surprising they have led off with the old cash cow, Forgotten Realms. The description of this game is exactly what I envisioned this boardgame would be like. Too bad it wasn't "Lords of Greyhawk" cause it would totally work in the same format as above and I imagine it would be a hot sell if only for collecting sake. But Waterdeep works fine.  Is this the future of Greyhawk?

"10:18: They want to expand their board games into all sorts of areas."

I guess it all rests on the shoulders of Peter Lee.

"10:24: Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium – the back-from-the-dead book. Greg Bilsland runs playtesters internally and externally. It’s a “core exclusive” only available at game stores. Items are attached to the rarity system. Character options for flails. Mundane armor. Followers and henchmen rules. So, not just magic items – a book of “anything you could buy”."

Mentioned a few days ago, I had forgot about the rarity system. How very CCG of them. The fact this book is only available from game stores is surprising. This might make the book itself a rarity. Hmm! Later on in the Q&A section of the seminar this detail starts to lose it's punch.

"11:27 Q: Can’t buy Mordenkainen’s online?"
" A: Have to keep stores happy – it’s where they get new players. It’s an awkward balance."
"11:30 Q: Why not Mordenkainen’s online?"
"A: Some hobby stores do sell online, and they’ll be allowed to sell this. Amazon will be able to order from WotC…They want to keep the industry healthy – complex ecosystem."

I'm not sure how this is going to work any differently from other releases. If Amazon has the same access to this book that does little to help poor game stores. And if there is no PDF version for sale, well we all know what will happen there.

"10:29: Encounters. Neverwinter next, then the Feywild – Player’s Option Heroes of the Feywild. Encounter based on UK1 Crystal Cave adventure – Beyond the Crystal Cave."

This is talking about the D&D Encounters organized play series. Encounters has borrowed touches from old Greyhawk classics before like the Ghost Tower of Inverness, and I've occasionally railed they keep going back to the Greyhawk well for ideas instead of creating new ones. But UK1? Wow, no one could have predicted that one. Only the staunchest Greyhawk grognards know much about the plot of this module or would be outraged that it's being used derivatively. So, I suppose I'm fine with this one. It does show however that the entire Greyhawk catalogue is open game for Encounters. Not that it's a bad thing necessarily...

"10:33: Book of Vile Darkness – December. By Robert Schwalb. Allows for playing evil campaigns. DM advice for making an interesting campaign with evil PCs. 32 page facsimile of the Book of Vile Darkness itself. 96 pages of player/DM info, double-sided poster map."

Wow. Really, Schwalb? It was just an edition ago that this controversial book (and a fave of mine) had a "mature audiences only" label. I cannot imagine for an instant the 4e version of "evil campaigning" can touch the evil that Monte Cook once wrought.

"Q: Book of Vile Darkness – will it be as “adult themed”?"
"A: Not really. No “adult only” sticker, standard art."

Thought so. Speaking of which, we might soon see the Book of Vile Darkness! Yeah, there is talk of a D&D movie based on the title of this nefarious tome. This I have to see.

"10:34: February Encounters – The Elder Elemental Eye. Player’s Option: Power of the Plane Below. Fortune Cards: Spiral of Tharizdun. Essentialized Sorcerer (Mearls’ words). Monk option of some sort. Tharizdun-based conspiracy. More investigation – not like Call of Cthulhu where you just die from your investigation. Tied to Eye of the Chained Gods novels in April."

Oh Encounters, you done it again! Now I know Big T has been with the 4e mythos from the start, but seeing such an outpouring of new adventures, cards, and novels about Tharizdun just leaves me wondering yet again, what could have been. Where was all this fan support when Living Greyhawk was at it's height? Tsk!

Now for those still clinging on to speculation of a 4e Greyhawk setting book...

"Q: Next year’s campaign setting?"
"A: Mearls – not yet ready to talk about it. They’ve intentionally pulled back their timeline a little. Don’t like announcing stuff before it’s really ready and then canceling it. Don’t want to create expectations they can’t meet or create confusion. Essentials – they don’t think that was handled great in this respect. There WILL be another campaign-style book next August, similar to Neverwinter this year. "

Hm, playing their cards close to their chest, eh? Maybe someone can try to call their bluff....

"10:57 Q: For next August’s setting, any hints and when will it be announced? A: It’s not Dragonlance. Well, it does have dragons. Tease: “It’s not just a setting, but it’s a way to play. Something that D&D hasn’t tried before.” “Twist” is a good word."

Wow, okay. So that dashes Greyhawk and Dragonlance which was an odds favorite choice to get a 4e setting book. Hm, Dragons. A way to play. Hasn't been tried before? I seriously doubt that. Just in case here is my prediction. That's about all I have energy for, the rest is for you to digest. Thanks again Online DM for your work!


Anonymous said...

First, thank you for the kind words about my write-up! I'm really, really glad it was useful to you (typing like the wind for two hours was tough).

Second, I'd be happy to clarify anything you have more questions on.

Third, it's actually Rodney Thompson who's in charge of board games. Peter Lee is one of the people he works with - another designer. Rodney mentioned Peter at least twice, though, so I do think Peter has a lot of influence on their board games.

Fourth, on the online availability of Mordenkainen's... it was a little confusing. They made it clear that the hobby stores who get it will be allowed to sell it through their own web sites to people who don't live near gaming stores. Then they said something about Amazon being allowed to purchase through Wizards of the Coast, which I didn't get at all. I think they're saying that Amazon won't be able to buy it at a steep discount through some wholesaler like they usually do, but I honestly am not sure. I think their goal is to make it so that Amazon does not have a gigantic price advantage over hobby stores on this particular book.

Finally, on next year's setting... having been in the room, I think your prediction of Council of Wyrms could very well fit with their description. The original question asked was, "So, for next year's setting, can you tell us if it has, say, Dragons or Lances?" Mearls responded with something like, "No, no dragons, no lances..." and James Wyatt said, "Well, there ARE dragons." And they went from there. I don't really know Council of Wyrms, but from the NewbieDM unboxing you posted, it could definitely make sense.

benensky said...

Not getting there this year I depend on guys like you to keep me informed. So, thanks for bologging while at the con. I know it takes time to write these when you could be having fun and I apreciate it.

Mike Bridges said...

benensky: It's crazy, but if I were AT the con I'd have less time/energy to share info. That's why onlinedm should be commended. I've been to those seminars before and keeping up with every topic is indeed a chore!

onlinedm: I think you covered it well enough. The report was a good read.

Rodney Thompson, that makes more sense. Thanks.

Mordy's book probably won't appear at my local store unless ordered online. 4e sold so badly there, they don't waste shelf space on it.

As to Council of Wyrms. I will laugh my ass off it that is it because well it sounds like a good idea in theory but in practice, I don't think it'll fly off shelves. Then again, Dragonborn are a 4e thing now, maybe that'll change.

Gamerstable Eric said...

I hope they do make it Council of Wyrms. I hope they do. It would be a doink gamer's wet dream to play a 4ed dragon character. And the first one that talks to me about making one or brags about their b-s character at a con gets some righteous ultra-violence to the yarbles.

Mike Bridges said...

Araxo: I know we had the CoW boxedset. But the last time I ever remember seeing it was at your old house but I know your don't have it and I know I don't have it. Did it meet some fiery end perhaps?

Gamerstable Eric said...

If it was at my house, it was purely by accident. I never thought that it was a good idea. Valkaun prolly left it there and I never picked it up.

Valkaun_Dain said...

Well, buttholes, in fact I was the one who bought the damn thing. My guess is it's at Ed's house with those Undermountain adventures that I bought too. Though I suppose it could have been destroyed in the Great Flood of Brian's Basement.

Argon said...

Let me know I hate Dragonborn as well. IMO Dragons would abhor such a union. Besides those people who try and rationalize that polymorph makes sense for the union my question is why?

Dragons aee themselves as superior to any not scaled race. If and only a big if Giants would be more likely a possible race mix before any humanoid race would even be considered.

However the two hate each other but would that be bestiality. Maybe by rape willful not often sort of the half-orc part.

Still Dragonborn makes me want to vomit. Dragonlance much better with Draconians prefer them over Dragonborn any time or place.

Araxo if there 12 and under they get a pass 13 and up smack'em. If they are 20 and above bury them.