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SYFY WIRE Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons meets Magic: The Gathering in a new book set in a magic school

By James Grebey

Dungeons & Dragons has announced its second new book in as many days, and this adventure will take players and DMs to the world of Magic: The Gathering. Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos will hit shelves on Nov. 16, though eager fans can get an early look at what to expect. D&D has released playtest material that will presumably make it into the final published book, offering players a chance to try out five new magical subclasses that are unlike any you’ll find in the basic Player’s Handbook.

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is hardly the first D&D product to crossover with the world of Magic: The Gathering. The 2018 book Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica explored a world-spanning city from Magic lore, and in July D&D will come to Magic cards with the release of Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Both games are owned by Wizards of the Coast.

Strixhaven is a relatively new addition to the Magic world, having made its debut only in April with the release of Strixhaven: School of Mages. The set of cards, which go heavier on world-building than some other Magic releases, basically introduce a Hogwarts-esque magic school. All the known spells in the universe are archived in a hidden library, and students come from all over to master them — as well as get into more-typical school shenanigans as well. 

Wizards of the Coast senior designer Amanda Hamon will serve as Strixhaven’s story lead. Not a ton of additional details have been revealed at this time, but the playtest material (known as Unearthed Arcana) gives players some idea of what will be inside. Released on Tuesday, the UA introduces five new subclasses, each representing one of the five colleges of Strixhaven. They are:

“Lorehold College, dedicated to the pursuit of history by conversing with ancient spirits and understanding the whims of time itself; Prismari College, dedicated to the visual and performing arts and bolstered with the power of the elements; Quandrix College, dedicated to the study and manipulation of nature’s core mathematic principles; Silverquill College, dedicated to the magic of words, whether encouraging speeches that uplift allies or piercing wit that derides foes; and Witherbloom College, dedicated to the alchemy of life and death and harnessing the devastating energies of both.” 

In a new twist for D&D’s current Fifth Edition, though, these subclasses are not specific to any one class the way all previously released subclasses have been. Instead, each is an option for two or more different magic-using classes. Wizards, bards, and warlocks all have the option to become a Mage of Lorehold, for example. 

The specific mechanics of the UA are too lengthy to get into here, though you should feel free to take a look yourself. It’s likely that there will be many changes between what’s currently available and the final versions of these subclasses that are published in November when Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos comes out. 

In fact, it’s because of the importance of playtesting that the general public knows about Strixhaven at all, as Wizards typically doesn’t announce books this far ahead of time. Especially attentive D&D players can usually use Unearthed Arcana as a means to gauge what sort of new releases might be coming out. For instance, a Feywild-themed UA led people to correctly speculate that D&D was working on a book that would focus on the Feywild setting. It wasn’t until yesterday, though, that they knew what the book was called or when it would come out. (The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, Sept. 21.)

During a press preview last week, Senior Communications Manager Greg Tito explained that they decided to “pull off that veil of secrecy” and just announce what Strixhaven was when the Unearthed Arcana went live so as to ensure the playtesting, which is important for the balance of D&D as a game, went well. “Rather than attempt to obfuscate [what the setting was] or call it something else, we just decided to announce Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos was coming, so that we could get all of that feedback with that context in mind,” Tito said. 

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos comes out on Nov. 16