Last month, Wizards of the Coast launched the Dungeon Masters’ Guild website and an Open Game License Reference document for the Fifth Edition of the “worlds’ greatest role-playing game,” Dungeons and Dragons.
To most people, this means next to nothing, but to fans of the table-top fantasy adventure game, it means they can finally share their homebrew content for the game with other players and possibly even make a little money off of it.
D&D was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Over the years, it has gone through many editions and changes, honing the “world’s greatest role-playing game” to create a system both easy to use and complex enough to keep players entertained for hours of fantasy adventure at a time.
Greg Tito, D&D communications manager, said in a December interview the new system of “5e,” launched in 2014, strips the game back to its roots as a story-based game and does not rely on strict rules and structures.
“The mechanics were all streamlined and easy to understand,” Tito said. “We took all the best parts of all editions and put them into one game.”
5e appeals to new players and veteran dungeon crawlers alike. The system is simple enough so one can show up at a table with nothing but a blank character sheet and a set of dice and pick up the game easily but provides enough content and variation to keep more involved players’ attention.
The storefront and SRD allows players an easy way to customize their games and possibly make some money off the hobby they love. Uploading an adventure or customized characters and monsters to the online marketplace gives players additional content besides the already expansive Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual. Creators can charge whatever they want for the material, or offer it at no cost, with a cut taken by Wizards of the Coast.
Content already on the website includes new versions of races and classes from past editions and adaptations of other classic figures in media.
5e itself was an incredible advancement for the game and the addition of the DM’s Guild and reference document allows players to expand on an already great system.
Even before the launch of the new site, D&D has been slowly growing in popularity. References to the game in shows like “Big Bang Theory” and “Community” and an ever-growing population of live-streamers of the game have allowed new players access to something they never would have considered before.
“In a weird sort of way, the game has become cool, in a geeky sort of way,” said Michael Witwer, author of the Gary Gygax biography and history of the game, “Empire of Imagination,” in a November interview.
“If geeky just means being unashamedly enthusiastic about things, which it is, then its cool to be geeky,” he said.
Online play systems like Roll20.net and Skype allow players to join games from the comfort of their homes with groups spread across the country and the world.
But that is not to say the traditional table-top aspect of the game is shrinking. Tito said the pen and paper, gather-round-the-table players are still the focus of the game. Groups around the University of Connecticut meet regularly at the Gamers’ Guild club meetings on Friday nights and at the Friendly Fire game shop in Storrs Center.
Tito said the game will only grow, with new books, games and even a movie being put into production. He hopes the increased visibility and accessibility of the game will make it not only a favorite among gamers but a mainstream success as well.
“We feel like this will spread the popularity even more, much in the way of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ spread the properties to a mass media audience,” Tito said.
Whether D&D becomes a household name or not, gamers will no doubt relish the opportunity to roll initiative on this new venture.
Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.