This Fall, journey to Neverwinter...

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While it may have been all the way in the back of the exhibit hall at San Diego Comic-Con this year, the Wizards of the Coast booth was hard to miss, what with an 8 foot tall Drizzt Do’Urden and his faithful panther Guenhwyvar guarding it! Not just a great photo op, the statue helped guide attendees into the booth where they could learn all about the latest Dungeons & Dragons news from the helpful people inside. Along with two display cases full of cool D&D products (including board games, core books, and the new Essentials line) there were several computer stations where you could demo the upcoming Heroes of Neverwinter Facebook game.

I got a chance to chat with the experts there on the current state of Dungeons & Dragons as well as what’s coming up for the brand... and there’s a lot! First off, that Drizzt statue wasn’t there just for his good looks. While the rogue drow hero has always been around in one form or another, he’s coming back to the gaming table in a big way on October 18th with the release of the Legend of Drizzt Board Game. Designed for 1-5 players, this game lets you recreate some of Drizzt’s most epic adventures while playing as the man himself or one of his famous friends. The game utilizes the same system as the other recent board games, which means they can all interconnect for even more epic fun. Best of all, the Legend of Drizzt game will come with 42 plastic miniatures including the title character.

If you’re the kind who prefers fantasy action on the computer rather than the table, Atari has partnered with Wizards of the Coast on the hit video game Daggerdale. A truly immersive world, Daggerdale offers plenty of solo and cooperative fun on XBox Live and PC, with PSM coming soon. Also on the horizon is the aforementioned Heroes of Neverwinter Facebook game. With nearly 50 unique adventures this is the biggest and most in-depth game ever on Facebook! More on the game’s setting below...

A new in-store initiative will be D&D Lair Assault, bringing brand-supported “expert” games. Unlike the weekly Encounters series designed for anyone to be able to sit down and play, Lair Assault will appeal to longtime players and game experts. The challenges will feature tactics and strategy, with complex challenges that may require several attempts to overcome! Lair Assault begins on September 1st, so make sure your local store is participating.

The big excitement for the Fall revolves around one location, the Forgotten Realms city-state Neverwinter. Long time fans will remember this setting from previous appearances, but it’s back in a huge way! One complaint that Dungeon Masters sometimes have with 4th Edition is that there aren’t enough recognizable lands with their own character. Well, Neverwinter is the solution. Wizards of the Coast is interconnecting a long list of products that all tie into the locale, infusing it with a ton of character. You’ve got the Facebook game (discussed above). The weekly D&D Encounters, which you can play at your local gaming store, will start the Lost Crown of Neverwinter mini-campaign series on August 10th. A new Drizzt novel by R.A. Salvatore will hit in October, part of the “Neverwinter Trilogy” following last year’s Gauntlgrym. IDW is doing a comic book series, and Atari/Cryptic is coming out with an online co-op RPG!

One last cool announcement. While Dungeons & Dragons is no longer releasing miniatures on a regular basis, they have not ruled out more figures and are looking at other ways of providing players and DMs with their PCs and monsters. One way is via the board games, each of which has dozens of single-colored versions of existing D&D miniatures. I’m happy to say that there is a new boxed set of minis coming soon, in the vein of the Beholders Set. November 15th will see the release of the Dragon Collector’s Set! Featuring the evil Chromatic dragons, this 5-pack will include a dragon of each variety: black, blue, green, red, and white. While we don’t yet have all the details, it seems as though there will be a mix of repacks (repaints?) of previously released dragon miniatures and potentially two brand new ones. Currently the set is scheduled to hit stores on November 15th with an MSRP of $45.

D&D is easier than ever to pick up and start playing with the current Essentials lineup that breaks down the rules into easily digestible selections getting you up and running in no time. With 10 unique Essentials products there’s plenty there for new and experienced players. The D&D website also offers the incredible Insider program that gives you access to a comprehensive Character Builder, Compendium of rules and text, Character Sheets, a Name Generator, and tons of additional content via Dragon Online and Dungeon Online (plus there’s even more functionality coming with Beta versions of Adventure Tools for creating your own campaign and the Virtual Table)! Last but not least, if you’re a Dungeons & Dragons player you owe it to yourself to get to GenCon next week where D&D will have massive adventures, QR code scavenger hunts, and much more.

-Scott Rubin