Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast is about to start a massive, global game of D&D to reshape the realm

Wizards of the Coast is about to start a massive, global game of D&D to reshape the realm

There has come a great conflict in the lands of Dungeons & Dragons. An event called the Spellplague struck the Forgotten Realms, and fundamentally changed the world. The very source of magic was weakened. The over-god, Ao, broke the Tablets of Faith, and is no longer protecting the land.

Chaos had struck, but amid all of the calamity of merging worlds and divine politics there was one problem that emerged above all others and posed the greatest threat for the realm: the fans didn't like it. Now, Wizards of the Coast is enlisting the help of their players in putting the realm back together.

The roll back

Fan disapproval seems to be at the heart of a new year-long event that's being launched today by Wizards of the Coast within the Dungeons & Dragons universe called “The Sundering.” This event will restore D&D's most popular setting, The Forgotten Realms, back to its original style, all the while introducing quite a few new changes as well.

“Our main goal with the Sundering was to bring The Forgotten Realms back to the fan favorite fantasy setting that it always was,” said Nathan Stewart, brand director for Dungeons & Dragons. “Our intent here was to create an event and a story that was fun for any player, that was a great backbone for high fantasy fans across the board. But for the really enfranchised player we wanted to do some things within The Forgotten Realms to bring the universe back to what they really were most happy with.”

Stewart said that while the changes introduced in the Spellplague were great for the stories they were telling three to four years ago, they just didn't resonate with fans in the way they wanted.

“You could tell that they weren't in love with the changes,” he said. “You want to be a hero and have sort of super human strength, but you also want gods above you who have even more power.”

The Spellplague removed much of that dynamic, but The Sundering aims to replace it while giving players a hand in shaping the future outcome. In essence, Wizards of the Coast is about to start a massive game of D&D with its entire community to help determine the future course of the brand.

New gods

“The gods who were in charge before, might not be in charge anymore,” said Stewart. “The gods believe that as Ao is putting back the tablets of faith, whoever has the most followers will be in charge. That at the end of the Sundering event, those gods will be in higher power. So they have their 'Chosen' out there on the planet doing their bidding so that when everything finishes with the shake-up, they'll be in a higher power position within the pantheon of gods.”

“But they're sort of hedging their bets,” he continued. “It's a gamble. That might not be how Ao is going to put the pantheon back together.”

In The Sundering, players will be able to participate through a number of mediums including the pencil-and-paper RPG and competing in a free-to-play mobile game. A piece of The Sundering will even play out at the annual “Acquisitions Inc” live Dungeons and Dragons PAX event where Penny Arcade's own Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins may have the power to impact the fate of the Forgotten Realms.

In the mobile game, players can fight for their god of choice. The tale of the Sundering will also be told through six novels that will be released throughout the year, starting today, by several well-established D&D authors such as R.A. Salvatore.

But the pencil-and-paper players seem to be the people who will really determine the outcome here.

After each game at community events called Encounters, which take place at hobby shops and game stores, players will be able to report what happened in their game, the choices they made, the outcomes, etc. Players can also report their own games happenings through an app called The Sundering Adventurer's Chronicle.

If there's someone in distress and the bulk of the community killed that person instead of saving them, that may have an impact. If there's a gem that the bulk of the community chooses to steal instead of returning to a Duke, that may have ramifications. Wizards of the Coast isn't saying what parts of the story are going to have a wide-ranging impact.

“It's really the first time we've let your pencil-and-paper play shape the canon,” said Stewart. “So the changes that are going to happen are partly going to shape the world. The fate of Faerun is going to be in the hands of the heroes.”