This weekend was the launch of the fourth edition of the great geek pasttime of Dungeons and Dragons. Having played a preview adventure last month, it is interesting to see how Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro subsidiary that publishes D&D, has changed the rules to reflect the times. While many of the classic tropes are still present, Elves and Wizards and the like, the game has evolved to reflect modern video gaming. With a new emphasis on miniatures, D&D now feels closer to a strategy video game or an MMO like the incredibly successful World of Warcraft. While many fans dislike the bold changes, such a move will likely bring-in new blood ready to bring their fantasy imagination away from the computer screen.
Wizards of the Coast’s re-launch of Dungeons and Dragons is more than just a new set of books, though. They have launched a complete online initiative called D&D Insider. When it launches later this month, it will feature online tools to create characters, graphical tools to make images of your hero, and even a virtual tabletop to play D&D online. These tools, coupled with their social network Gleemax, are a further attempt to modernize the role-playing experience. I am looking forward to trying these digital offerings.
While Dungeons and Dragons fourth edition and D&D Insider may be a risky evolution for the venerable gaming brand, it is great to see the game go on.