Wizards of the Coast have had a big year for Dungeons and Dragons, and they are prepared to end on a high note with three new D&D books coming in the span of three months. Starting with The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: A Feywild Adventure coming in September, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons in October and finally ending with a journey to a familiar setting for Magic: The Gathering fans, Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. I will go through what has been confirmed by Wizards of the Coast about each of these upcoming books, from their releases and interviews around D&D Live, to what we might hypothesize based on what people close to the project have shared and what we can draw from Unearthed Arcana material, to what sort of content we can hope for based on the more recent publications from Wizards of the Coast.
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: A Feywild Adventure
In the first official D&D adventure for fifth edition set primarily in the Feywild, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight is an adventure for characters level 1-8. As the Witchlight Carnival reaches the Material Plane once every eight years, it offers a gateway to Prismeer, a Feywild Domain of Delight, where the fantastical nature of the Archfey who presides there alters the reality of the realm. From the rules that govern the Fey Realms, the strange creatures and beings the characters might encounter, to the hidden secrets of Prismeer, this adventure promises a unique glimpse into a realm that is often talked about, but not much is truly known about.
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight offers tools for players and Dungeon Masters alike. There are new character creation options, such as the new playable races, the fairy and the harengon, a race of humanoid rabbits. There are two new backgrounds, the Feylost, for those who grew up in the Feywild; and Witchlight Hand, those who work at the Witchlight Carnival. One of the new features spoken of by Chris Perkins, Senior Story Designer at Wizards of the Coast, during D&D Live was that every single encounter in the adventure is written to allow for non-combat solutions, so that delving to violence doesn’t have to be the solution. His hope is that this new approach allows for creative players to stretch their muscles so to speak.
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight is primarily an adventure, but with the new character creation options, we got a glimpse of what we might be able to expect in the Folk of the Feywild Unearthed Arcana. The Fairy and Rabbitfolk (updated to Harengon) will be in the book as playable races, though some aspects might have seen changes from the original playtest material. The Hobgoblin of the Feywild option has been dropped, and the Owlfolk option will instead be incorporated as Owlins in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, but more on that later.
I anticipate that The Wild Beyond the Witchlight will be a great source of inspiration and content for Dungeon Masters looking to delve into the richness of the Feywild. The adventure will provide its own perspective into Prismeer, and the diverse aspects of the Domain of Delight, as well as a potential launching point for further expiration of the Fey Realm.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons has been presented as a comprehensive sourcebook on all things dragon and draconic, with tools for players and Dungeon Masters. First and foremost are the new character options for players, including new character creation options that provide a much needed update to draconic ancestry for dragonborn, including the new gem dragon type as a possible ancestry. There are two new subclass offerings, one for the Monk class and another for the Ranger class. According to an interview during D&D Live, Senior Game Designer and one of the projects leads for Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, James Wyatt shared that the book includes inspiration for connecting other classes and subclasses to dragons or draconic lore in a dragon-centric adventure, such as a Pact of the Archfey Warlock whose patron is actually a moonstone dragon, one of the new dragons included in this book. Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons will also include new feats and spells, thematically tied to dragons, draconic heritage, and their magic.
The tools for Dungeon Masters will be extensive, and they seem to be the primary audience of this book. Beyond introducing gem dragons and new mechanics to fifth edition, the lore surrounding how dragons are tied to the creation of the Material Planes and how their magic is a part of the world will take a new place of prominence with this book. Lore and mythology surrounding the First World will be shared, and the roles Bahamut and Tiamat played in its creation and then destruction brought to new light. Wyatt shared that there will be explanations as to why certain aspects of dragons are the way they are, why dragons hoard treasure, and why the landscape around a lair is changed and shifted by the presence of a powerful dragon. There are details on twenty types of dragons, notes and maps regarding dragon lairs, and expanded options for thinking about dragon eggs and treasure hoards. Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons will have a detailed Bestiary, including new dragons and dragon-type creatures, aspects of dragon-gods, dragon minions, and more. Some of these new creatures that have been teased include a Giant Dragon Horde Mimic and the terrifying Elder Brain Dragon.
From the commentary of Fizban himself, written by Amy Vorpahl, readers will get a glimpse into the namesake of this book. D&D fans first met Fizban the Fabulous in the Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. He is an archmage, an unlikely hero of the War of the Lance, and even the divine avatar of a dragon-god. With his introduction, we might even get a dive into lore and history of the Dragonlance setting, something not yet seen in depth for fifth edition.
Wizards of the Coast published two different Unearthed Arcana articles that precede the character options in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. In the Draconic Options playtest, the new dragonborn options added more variety within character creation and more utility to the different draconic heritage choices. There were three new feats, one for each type of dragon (including gem dragons), and seven spells of varying levels. It is likely we will see much of this in the final product, though some changes or omissions will likely have been made. In the Subclasses Part 5 playtest material, the Way of the Ascendant Dragon Monastic Tradition and Drakewarden Ranger Archetype were published, and both have been confirmed to be included in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
Rounding out a year of collaborative content between Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos takes the next step in going beyond sourcebooks set in MtG settings (such as Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odyssey’s of Theros), bringing an adventure set within the campus of Strixhaven to D&D players.
The book will have four adventures that can be played individually or in a series together to make a full campaign taking characters from 1st to 10th level. The multiyear campaign follows students of the mage colleges of Strixhaven, starting with first year students, progressing to choosing to join one of the five colleges of Strixhaven at the start of their second year, all the way through graduation as they socialize, study, and adventure. This book took the challenge of creating a social campaign and setting, where academic challenges, extracurricular activities and jobs, and relationships on campus are given new significance while also experiencing adventure, because this is still a D&D adventure. Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is written with a young adult theme that is new to Dungeons and Dragons, meshing with the shenanigans that occur around the college experience in a way that the writers hope make the adventure more inviting to new players, particularly a young adult audience.
Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos brings new resources to players and Dungeon Masters, including the new playable race, the Owlin; new backgrounds that are tailored for each college; and new feats that give capabilities that reflect a particular college. New spells and magic items bring special weight for a player’s college of choice, allowing characters to feel more connected to their respective college, such as through magic textbooks that grant college-specific power. The Bestiary brings more than 40 creatures and NPCs that Dungeon Masters can utilize in Strixhaven or any other D&D setting or adventure.
The most significant change we can expect to see in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos is the new subclass options and rules, which players got to see an early draft of in the Mages of Strixhaven Unearthed Arcana. The new subclasses are tied to a particular college, and rather than being limited to a single class, are optional as subclasses for multiple classes. This is a new way of approaching subclasses and specialization, and I am interested to see what aspects of the Playtest Material are incorporated into the books and how it works within the ruleset of fifth edition.
If Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos approaches the social and narrative aspects of the adventures in a way similar to Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, I think they could have a great opportunity to bring creative and unique feeling adventures with a new emphasis on the social aspect. If they lean into the mechanics of progression through a Faction and the Renown system, along with the time progression mechanics that were talked about during D&D Live, I think they could find a good balance that rewards characters for involvement in more than just combat. If done poorly, I could see it instead becoming dull for players who want more gameplay, whether through combat or exploration, rather than just roleplay. I think Strixhaven provides a great testing ground with a lot of potential, but we will see if it can achieve the great things it set out to accomplish.
Wizards of the Coast is clearly trying to have a strong showing for the end of 2021, just in time for the holidays. The Summer of D&D, the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms collaboration between D&D x MtG, along with the release of Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance were all met with levels of success, and these next three books look to mark the end of a great year for the company. With a new adventure set in a realm other than the Material Plane, a sourcebook with lore surrounding dragons and a setting other than the Forgotten Realms, and an adventure and sourcebook offering in a Magic: The Gathering setting, Wizards of the Coast has confirmed the wide scope they are hoping to reach with Dungeons and Dragons moving forward.
EDIT: Wizards of the Coast has confirmed that the Subclasses from the Mages of Strixhaven Unearthed Arcana will not be included in Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, and the adventure will instead focus on having magical items and feats emphasis character’s membership within their respective colleges.
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