Gen Con 2010: D&D New Products Seminar

Gen Con is one of two places to get all the big news in D&D for the next year (their own D&D XP convention being the other.) Like last year, we live-tweeted the announcements as they came in, but here’s a basic write-up of the seminar all in one place. We’ll also have photos of the different products later when we have access to a better internet connection.

2010 Highlights

Some products that have already been released were called out as being highlights for the year: Underdark, Martial Power 2, Player’s Handbook 3, The Plane Above, Monster Manual 3, Player’s Strategy Guide, Demonomicon, Tomb of Horrors, Dark Sun Campaign Setting, Dark Sun Creature Catalog, and Marauders of the Dune Sea, with Castle Ravenloft and Psionic Power coming soon. They also launched the successful D&D Encounters program, with the next season being based on Keep on the Borderlands.

Upcoming in September is the Red Box, the first product in the Essentials line, which uses the same Larry Elmore art from the original Red Box. Bill Slavisceck wanted to set the record straight about Essentials, that they are 10 key products that stores should always carry in order to supply D&D. Some stores were stocking PHB2 without the original PHB, so Essentials are a product to be kept in print to tell the stores to always order. They liken it to another on-ramp into the game. They are specifically avoiding the word conversion, since there’s nothing to convert: it’s all D&D 4e.

The Rules Compendium is a 6×9 softcover book with all the current rules of the game (errata included) that can lay flat and is easy to reference. The first set of Essentials Dungeon Tiles will be a 2″ thick box with 10 sheets, including some of the 3D tiles we’ve seen in recent sets. The Lords of Madness mini set also releases in September.

October also has the Dungeon Master’s Kit, filled with DM Advice, starter adventures, tokens, and more, and is a “very heavy” boxed set. Gamma World also releases at the same time, specifically described as a “light-hearted” game built on and fully compatible with 4e. Character generation is very fast, as you can roll up characters very quickly by generating their two halves (like half-plant half-cockroach), rolling stats, and drawing mutations. The box contains everything you need to play except dice, being packed with cards, tokens, maps, and rules. More mutations are being sold in booster packs, but they emphasized that they were not meant to be collected as a set, but just opened and used in the game.

November will have Heroes of the Forgotten Kindgoms for Essentials, as well as Monster Vault for Essentials (with an Owlbear prominently on the cover.) The Monster Vault will be about 25% reprinted monsters and 75% all new versions of classic D&D monsters. It’s also a boxed set that includes tokens with art for every monster. We’ll also see the city dungeon tiles set in November and the Beholder minis collectors set, containing 4 new paints of Beholders in a nice book-like case. The Beholder set will be in limited quantities, much like Orcus.

December contains the Wrath of Ashardalon board game that works like the Castle Ravenloft game, the wilderness dungeon tiles set, and the Gamma World “Famine in Far-Go” adventure that includes more mutations, more hybrids, and giant chickens.

They then talked about some of the novel releases, including the novellas in other books that lead up to the Abyssal Plague books, and briefly talked about the D&D comics that are coming from IDW.

2011 Products

Nentir Vale Gazetteer is a 6×9 softcover that comes with a map that includes all the regions in and around the Nentir Vale in the D&D core world.

Fortune Cards are an optional accessory that is going to be sold in D&D in booster packs that inject some extra randomness into your game. They were described as being similar to Gamma World mutations, except without actually mutating D&D characters. They’re not designed to be an extra level of power-up, but more like random things that could happen to your character during a game session. They emphasized that like the Gamma World mutations, they’re not something you should collect a set of for your character. In fact, they recommend opening the boosters at the game table to inject more randomness.

The Deluxe Dungeon Master’s Screen features art by Wayne Reynolds, and will include a revised set of tables and charts for the DM to use from what was available before.

Heroes of Shadow will contain options for all characters to gain shadow powers, not just shadow power source characters. (It’s also likely that this book will contain all new classes and races.) They wanted to add powers that added more flavor to existing characters, and the options in this book will encourage that, like when your fighter has a shadow pact.Mordenkenian’s Magical Emporium is a book of magic items designed to inject more story and descriptions into magic items. Not just a bland history, but a real story hinted at by the item’s description. The big news with this book, and all magic items in Essentials and going forward, is that magic items will be given “Common, Uncommon, Rare” designations. Common and uncommon items can be bought and created by characters. Rare items can only be given out by a DM. Most items already in existence are going to be retroactively classified as Uncommon, and almost all items going forward in new books will be Rare.Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond is a boxed set in the vein of the other planar books already released, but will include a “very large” poster map of the city of Gloomwrought. It will also include a Despair Deck that have different kind of mental effects upon the characters, some in a very “Cthulhu-esque” fashion for madness, ennui, etc. that both have a mechanical effect as well as roleplaying hooks.Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale is the main monster book for the year, containing new monsters, tokens for every monster, encounters, and poster maps.Conquest of Nerath is going to be a new D&D board game, in the war game (Axis & Allies, Risk, etc.) style. 2-4 players battle it out over the ruins of Nerath. In addition to army based conflict from different factions, sides will also have heroes that can explore dungeons to help tip the tide of battle. It will contain a lot of plastic figures.Player’s Handbook: Champions of the Heroic Tier is a set of options, almost like Unearthed Arcana, for characters to pick from and DMs to choose to use in their games. Character themes (introduced in Dark Sun) will be here for core D&D characters, in addition to new options, new feats, and non-combat options like Blacksmith professions that don’t cost feats to acquire.Neverwinter Campaign Guide will be a new book for the Forgotten Realms setting, taking place in the frozen area that has been rebuilt since the Spellplague. They couldn’t say much about it, other than that there will be a level 1-30 full Bladesinger class and contain plot options.

Hero Builder’s Handbook is a book of other options to help give characters even more options to try to hone in on creating specific character concepts, and will have some appeal for optimizers as well as those who want a very strong character concept and rules to support it.

Madness of Gardmore Abbey will be the year’s super-adventure, focusing on a scattered Deck of Many Things around Gardmore Abbey. This will also be in a boxed set, and will contain a Deck of Many Things that the players draw from.

Then in the 4th quarter, there will be a Ravenloft game released, where PCs can play Vampires, Werewolves, and more as well as the usual character options. While keeping most of the information about this hidden for now, they did say there would be some interesting new physical components to the game of some kind. It will be both a standalone game as well as fully useable in core D&D.


Some of the more interesting statements from the question and answer period:

  • There will probably still be a new minis release in 2011, but nothing to announce quite yet.
  • Similarly, there will be new updates to DDI, but nothing to announce quite yet, but it was hinted that there will be something soon.
  • The Assassin class is NOT in Heroes of Shadow, but it and the Revenant will appear in Heroes of the Fallen Lands Essentials product. (Edit: I’m told that they will appear in DDI with essential versions around the time Heroes of the Fallen Lands is released, not as part of the actual product)
  • In the DM Kit and Rules Compendium, there will be alternatives to the “Treasure Parcel” system of giving out magic items, including random magic item tables. The new item rarity system also factors into an alternative system.
  • Dragonlance: there are still new novels. Nothing to announce on the game side yet, but “there is a plan.”
  • Races in Essentials will be retro-fitted to have an option in ability score adjustments, just like the PHB3 races.
  • PDF and E-books for the game books: again, nothing to announce quite yet, but probably soon.
  • No DMG for epic-level play yet, since they surveyed and very few groups were playing epic. They will probably cover it in 2012 when more groups have hit that level.
  • The team is aware of how some groups dislike stun and daze, and so they’ve been using it more sparingly in the design of monsters. They are also taking more into account what happens when Solos get stunned or dazed.
  • The Rules Compendium is not an alternative to the core three books (PHB, DMG, MM,) They will reprint the core books when the time is right, but for now, they have plenty of copies of them in the warehouse so they don’t need to reprint them. They may also reprint them with errata.
  • The Player’s Handbook Races series (Dragonborn and Tiefling) proved problematic in stores thanks to the format, so the Human book is effectively canceled, and they’re looking at new ways to do the concept.
  • Atari has an announcement coming about some kind of D&D video game but they couldn’t talk about it here.
  • There is no “Deck-building” element with Fortune Cards. They may be given out during D&D Encounters in some fashion.
  • Will we see a Feywild book of some kind, since the other planes have all been covered? Yes, but they haven’t shown it yet.
  • One of Mike Mearls’s new job duties is to reduce the amount of errata in new rules going forward so not as much is needed.
  • One of Mike’s personal goals is to make the D&D books more interesting to read by themselves.

That’s it. So what do you think about the products announced?

(For those of you who would like to hear the complete seminar, The Tome Show has it up in parts 1 and 2 for your listening pleasure)

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. Nerd that is procrastinating on work and wishes he was at GenCon says:

    nice coverage!!

    — thanks for taking the time to assemble and present the info for us mere mortals that are not there to partake in the fun. It is much appreciated.

  2. I like most of them. Great things ahead. Some are not for me, but nothing I actively dislike and lots of things seems to be custom-made for my new planned campaign.

  3. I like the info about the Stun and Daze changes. It’s nice to know that they sometimes* listen to their fans.

  4. Did WOTC say if the new PHB will be hardbound or which of the new books would be?



  5. It seems like they have some very interesting products geared towards newer players, just in time for the holiday season!

    I’m intrigued by the Magical Compendium, but worried that the rules side of things could get kind of goofy. But we shall see, I suppose.

  6. So basically for 2011, Jack and Shit?

    I just don’t see the “big” releases any more… it seems like a lot of little products, no blockbusters, is that fairly accurate?

  7. Great write-up – thanks very much!

  8. Just a note, having listened to the recording posted over at the Tome Show, the Assassin and Revenant are not appearing in Heroes of the Fallen Lands, rather they are getting the Essentials treatment in Dragon to coincide with the release of HotFL.

  9. Awesome post Dave – was at the Preview myself a few rows back, and I think you covered all the major points.

    @Zachary – I don’t quite agree with your assessment of 2011 releases, as I am really jonsing to get my hands on several of them:

    Heroes of Shadow – sounds like a fantastic Character Options book, and likely add some really awesome roleplay to Players who like to add a touch of the “dark side” to their heroes.

    Shadowfell: Gloomwrought & Beyond – Love the Shadowfell here, and look forward to seeing it receive a comprehensive detailing into a campaign setting.

    Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale – this is Monster Manual 4, folks, and it’s being box packaged with counters this time. Kinda nice really.

    Player’s Handbook: Champions of the Heroic Tier – another Character Options book, that will present “themes” for non-Dark Sun Characters that will bring the rest of the multiverse’s Heroes up to par. And I am fascinated by the idea of a non-combat talents that will not draw upon Skill pools or feats.

    Neverwinter Campaign Guide – as I run two FR campaigns, I am definitely going to be buying this box.

    So am pretty excited about 2011 releases myself – and of course, there is the added benefit of knowing I’ll have tons of new cool products to review on my blogsite!

  10. Matthias Sch. says:

    It’s sad that we have to come to this websiet to get this news instead of reading about it on the WotC site.

  11. So it seems there’s some confusion about the uncommon rule of magic items. I’ve seen some places report uncommons can be created by players, and others where only uncommons are DM handout only.

    Most of this seems like good news over all, looking forward to it all.

  12. Mike: the official statement at the seminar was that uncommon magic items CANNOT be crafted by the party, at least as far as I remember. Dave may have just misheard or mistyped it because he was managing two things at once while trying to listen to everything going on as well. I’m fairly confident about it, but things always change and I could be wrong. 🙂

  13. Matthias: that doesn’t make us sad at all, in fact we love it! 🙂

    I hope you guys enjoy the pictures, I tried to include a few random ones to give you a feel of seeing more of the slides since I ended up with about 30-40 pictures (one for each slide) but couldn’t fit them all into this post.

  14. We’ll see. I still play 2nd ed. Never really like most of the changes wotc made nothing but Stat Nazi’s.

  15. I miss the tsr days…. less complicated


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