The new Dragonlance board game was designed by Rob Daviau and Stephen Baker
The new Dungeons & Dragons “fighting game” announced Thursday during D&D Direct is a board game in its own right, according to Wizards of the Coast, and will include plastic miniatures. Title Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn, the board game will function as a standalone experience. But it’s also fully integrated into the companion tabletop RPG campaign, titled Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen. The designers of this project? None other than Stephen Baker and Rob Daviau. I can’t imagine a better pair to team up on this project.
A reboot of the Spelljammer setting was also announced on Thursday, but Wizards says these new Dragonlance products will have a very different tone and feel.
“We’re focusing on this notion that Dragonlance is a war story,” said Ray Winninger, Head of D&D at Wizards. “Classic Dragonlance is set against the backdrop of this massive conflict, and these kinds of massive military battles are an important part of Dragonlance. One of the original 12 Dragonlance mods [published by TSR] was a war game [called Dragons of Glory]. They asked you to stop your role-playing experience and start playing a bit of a war game.
The winner continued:
In this spirit, we publish at the same time The Shadow of the Dragon Queenwhich is the role-playing experience we publish this fighting game. [It] lets you play a kind of massive military battles in the world of Krynn. But one of the cool things about this game is that it has a lot of narrative elements just like a role-playing game. It’s a board game, but you are asked to tell what happens and so on. If you want, while playing the roleplaying campaign when major battles break out in the story, you can take out the board game and start playing the board game. Your characters from the RPG are imported into the board game. You continue to play your characters in the board game, and you can learn what amazing, incredible, and heroic things they do in these battles. But this experience is entirely optional.
When playing the tabletop RPG, the board game will be entirely optional Winninger added, since the campaign book will include rules for resolving those same battles. Vice versa, players can take the board game without delving into the larger role-playing experience. But this is the first time Wizards has directly integrated its 5th Edition TTRPG products and board game products in this very specific way.
So why are Baker and Daviau the perfect designers for this project? Well, both have had a lot of experience in the wargame genre. They share great design credits on the Risk franchise, for example. Baker, on the other hand, is the designer behind Battle Masters, a sprawling tabletop wargame using 28mm miniatures and a massive plastic playmat. Daviau is of course the creator of the legacy system, which creates board games that change every time you play them.
But Daviau is also one of the co-founders of Restoration Games, a company that specializes in resurrecting older games and giving them new life. Expect it to revert to the original source material to showcase as much of TSR’s great design work as possible.
But why didn’t Hasbro just commission its board game division, Avalon Hill, with the project?
“Avalon Hill was in-house with Wizards of the Coast […] until very recently,” Winninger said. Recently, however, that studio created its own dedicated design and production team outside of the Wizards organization. This team has been busy bringing the reboot to Hero Quest to life, and on a spiritual successor to the original Risk legacy. This left wizards in dire need of outside help.
“Avalon Hill and Hasbro weren’t really involved in creating the board game,” Winninger continued. “We at the D&D studio oversaw its creation, but that said, board game designers Rob Daviau and Stephen Baker are very well-known board game designers, [they] have worked on many games for Hasbro – most recently, [Return to Dark Tower] was one of their efforts.
Both The Shadow of the Dragon Queen and the Warriors of Krynn The board game represents a “whole new story,” Winninger said. Additionally, the events depicted in both products take place around the same time as the original Dragonlance novels, a beloved and bestselling series by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. He also added that neither Laura nor Tracy Hickman, the creators of the Dragonlance set, nor their collaborator Weis were directly involved in any of the products mentioned on Thursday.
A new series of novels, also written by Tracy Hickman and Weis, will be released in August and will transport the Dragonlance timeline into the future.