Q&A with Neverwinter's Resident Loremaster
We get a look behind the scenes at the wealth of lore behind the setting of Neverwinter and the forthcoming expansion, Rise of Tiamat.
Dungeons & Dragons, like your old pal the Grumpy Gamer, is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. That's 40 years' worth of accumulated lore, from the first edition of the first table-top fantasy RPG, to the libraries of published adventure modules, to the volumes of supplemental rulebooks. We're now heading into the 5th edition of the game, with the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide slated for release this December.
That's an awful lot of information to keep track of. And when Cryptic / PerfectWorld began making Neverwinter, they wanted to use all of it. So they hired one guy as their resident Loremaster.
Neverwinter's next expansion is titled "Rise of Tiamat," and will continue on with the dragon-heavy storyline that started with the "Tyranny of Dragons" expansion. I remember way back when I first discovered Dungeons & Dragons, leafing through a 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, and seeing the name "Tiamat" for the first time there. So this got me wondering, what kind of influence do these older sources still have on a modern game like Neverwinter? As luck would have it, Senior Game Designer/Loremaster Randy Mosiondz was able to poke his head up from his stacks of cobwebby campaign settings, Tomes of Deities and Demigods and Player's Options handbooks long enough to answer a few questions.
Q) I'm a 2nd Edition AD&D guy myself, because that's what started me into tabletop roleplaying. Neverwinter is quite obviously rooted in 4th Edition, but are any team members more specifically influenced by older game editions?
Definitely! We have a wide range of experience with the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons on the team, but most of us started with the D&D Basic “red box” set or 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. We’ve played almost every edition since then, with each iteration contributing its own innovations and quirks, some of which we try to reflect in the game content.
Q) Are there any elements from 1st Edition that never made the transition to 4th Edition, but which have nonetheless sneaked their way into Neverwinter?
We’re mostly focused on translations from more recent D&D rules sets, but we do nods to the older editions when we can. For example, last April we had an event called “Respen’s Marvelous Game,” where you play your characters as tabletop figurines moving around a grid map. One of the encounters involved the rescue of a “Fighting Man,” a callback to 1st Edition original name for the Fighter. Another example is in our “Dread Ring” adventure zone, where nearly every mission is named after a 1st Edition spell (although some later edition spells crept in).
Q) The Forgotten Realms setting has been given life by some amazing and well-known storytellers. Which authors serve as the chief inspiration for Rise of Tiamat? i.e. is this more Ed Greenwood or R.A. Salvatore?
That’s a tough one. I think you’ll find a bit of both Greenwood’s and Salvatore’s influence in the Rise of Tiamat. It’s got a lot of the classic Realms flavor you’d expect from Greenwood (who did a great piece on the Nine Hells in "Dragon" back in the ‘80s), and a lot of the heroic, epic action that you’ll get from Salvatore. Because of the intense combat sequence in the latter part of Rise of Tiamat, I’d have to go with Salvatore!
Thanks to Randy Mosiondz for the interview. Neverwinter's "Rise of Tiamat" expansion is slated to launch sometime this fall, to complement the 5th Edition adventure module scheduled to be published by Wizards of the Coast on October 21.