Dungeons & Dragons rolls a dice, a space “pilot” in the stratosphere
A bit of chaos magic sent a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) flying high into Earth’s atmosphere.
A 20-sided die from the popular role-playing game launched high into Earth’s atmosphere on August 3 for a new space-themed D&D expansion released two weeks later: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space. (opens in a new tab)
The high-altitude balloon soared to 74,000 feet (14 miles or 22.5 km) before bursting into the stratosphere. You can watch the entire two-hour trip on YouTube (opens in a new tab), resplendent with a 3D-printed Star Moth Spelljammer ship. (For those with young children within earshot, note that some song lyrics in the video may be explicit..)
“We wanted a fun, whimsical, and unexpected way to celebrate the release of a fun, whimsical, and unexpected product,” Shelly Mazzanoble, D&D Senior Brand Manager at Wizards of the Coast, told Space.com.
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D&D was first released in 1974 and is widely touted as the game that launched modern tabletop gaming, while heavily influencing the development of role-playing video games.
Players serving as Dungeon Masters help guide gameplay through storytelling and world-building, and players shape their own characters by honing skills, collecting experience, and engaging in collaborative game-solving. problems. The D20 die is used throughout the game to determine the outcome of complex actions by chance.
The new Spelljammer campaign focuses on the Astral Plane, which D&D says is “an infinitely vast celestial void where the stars and portals to the divine and demonic planes reside.” Spelljammers, or pilots, steer ships around the astral plane using a “spelljamming bar”, which works by magic.
Wizards of the Coast commissioned the stratospheric balloon launch to celebrate the new game and kept the campaign a surprise for even the most seasoned influencers. “We didn’t announce in advance our intention to send a D20 into ‘space’ – what if the mission failed? – so our community was really surprised and thrilled,” Mazzanoble said.
After launch, Wizards of the Coast worked with Chris Funk of indie rock band The Decemberists, as well as label Kill Rock Stars, on a Spelljammer tribute album titled “Spelljams”. The multi-artist music also forms a backdrop to the YouTube video and is intended to be played during D&D sessions.
“It’s a fantastic collection of artists who have lent their talents to create original music inspired by this ‘out of this world’ setting,” Mazzanoble said.
She joked that it was a good thing that the Star Moth ship piloted on the balloon didn’t end up in the wrong place, because the astral elves who usually pilot them “don’t like those ships being between the hands of others.” Her favorite part of the video, she added, was watching “the sun shine through its magnificent wings as it ascends through the atmosphere.”