For over four decades, Dungeons & Dragons has fueled the imaginations of the public in the form of a tabletop RPG, but with any long-established property, a brand must evolve in order to stay relevant. That's not to say that D&D is falling out of favor — it's just that a complex dice-rolling, dungeon-mastering fantasy adventure contained entirely within one's mind isn't for everyone.
Just as folks enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies without reading J.R.R. Tolkien's massive volumes that they were based on, so too Wizards of the Coast is turning Dungeons & Dragons into a simple and colorful card game known as Dungeon Mayhem, which distills the game's essence down for novices. It's so easy, in fact, that newcomers can learn all the rules in just five minutes.
"Our vision from the start was to introduce new fans to Dungeons & Dragons, and help grow the game we love. We wanted to create an intuitive party game that was colorful, fun, and inviting. In short, a welcoming portal to our world," said the game's designers Jordan Comar and Roscoe Wetlaufer, two die-hard D&D players.
Wizards was kind enough to provide SYFY WIRE with an exclusive look at four cards, one from each deck, that drop later this month. According to Wetlaufer, the ideas really began coming together after one fortuitous lunch at an Indian establishment. All in all, the entire project took two years of hard work.
First up is "Pick Pocket," a card that (as you'll see) gives you the ability to steal the top card off of your opponent's deck and play it.
Second is "Snack Time," and while its specific abilities are not listed, you can revel in the beautifully rendered lamb shank and flagon of mead being enjoyed by the ogre-like creature in the artwork by Kyle Ferrin.
"Dungeons & Dragons isn’t just a world-sprawling game, it’s a multi-universe-spanning, living, breathing behemoth," the designers continued. "Once you’re in that epic story, it’s fantastic, but jumping in isn’t always a cinch. Intrigued players would love a warm introduction, and existing fans should have a way to share some of the magic they already love with their friends and family."
Then you've got "Fluffy," a blue-eyed horse that has the expression of someone up to no good. Comar and Wetlaufer revealed that the visual style of the cards was inspired by two D&D legends.
"James Arnold had whipped up some minimalist graphic design work for another project that was part of our earliest inspiration. [Trish Yochum], a [graphic designer] at Wizards, created designs that manage to be epic and adorable at the same time," they said.
Lastly you have "Fireball," which causes every player (including yourself!) to take three hit points of damage.
"In the end, it was all about choosing the best elements of D&D to show off," the duo added. "We wanted to showcase iconic classes, monsters, and spells. You don’t have to know anything about D&D to enjoy this game, but if you do you’ll definitely appreciate the flavor."
The rules for Dungeon Mayhem are simple. Each player begins with 10 hit points and three cards in hand. The youngest player goes first, with the subsequent turns moving in a clockwise motion. During each turn, you draw and play cards that can destroy your opponents (aka removing their hit points) with spells and powers. Last person standing wins. All of these rules stick to the team's "guiding principle of a clean, intuitive design."
Dungeon Mayhem goes on sale Friday, Nov. 16.
"It’s an awesome story. Neither of us are formally game designers," said Comar and Wetlaufer. "We saw a need and made a game. We put together a rough prototype, shopped it around the office, and built a groundswell of support. The CEO, Chris Cocks, played and liked it enough to bring it home to his family."