In short: I strongly encourage you to check this game out, and throw money at it until it arrives at your house and does a flying elbow through your door.
This summer was extra-special. Although I have been exercising my RPG muscles, both personally and professionally, in different directions, there is no ignoring the launch of the new edition. And for someone so steeped in Organized Play, the launch of a new D&D campaign at the start of a new edition of the game is a critical hit.
I was one of the fortunate few to get my grubby mitts on an advance copy of the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons. We’ll have a full review of the book in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I wanted to explore some of the aspects that jumped out at me as we flipped through.
I had to adapt my approach to prepping. I needed a way to do a little amount of prep whenever I had a short break: during lunch breaks, long meetings or at home. I got the original idea, of all places, in a task management book called From Zen to Done.
The risk inherent in mentioning optimization, rules complexity, and story vs. rules in a discussion is great. People may fall back into entrenched positions on all sides. So I want to quickly clarify some points that will also frame my discussion going forward.
The game has to be about the story if the hobby as a whole is going to flourish. This means that the ultra-optimizing, breaking the game with its own rules because they are there, intentionally ignoring the spirit of the rules to mangle the game into something it isn’t, has to stop.
It is no secret that Dungeon World was created as an homage to the earliest versions of D&D. From the six standard ability scores that range from 3-18, to the races and classes of the grand old game, Dungeon World makes no pretense at being anything but a hack of D&D.
Shadow of the Winter King takes place in a world brimming with possibilities as it slowly sputters to its end. The story chronicles a retired assassin and a disgraced knight tied together by past duties and choices. The world’s end is inevitable, and it is that same sad conclusion that permeates the characters as they struggle to stay true to what sliver of them remains in the face of near-certain futility.
I see this a lot among game designers of all kinds, both new and experienced: “I really want to use [game mechanism X] but I worry it’ll be too much like [popular game].” I am here to set you free and tell you not to worry about that.
What if a character granted the curse of the Lich King could no longer die? And what if a monster had powers that triggered on the players’ rolls or special attacks?