It's hard to believe that the Player's Handbook is done. We shipped it off to the printer about a week ago. As we now look to finalizing Basic D&D, the Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master's Guide, it's easy to forget just how much more stuff is heading your way late summer and fall.

Alas, the questions I had planned to ask Rich Baker about the Starter Set adventure are a victim of the final Player's Handbook sprint. We'll get to that next week. For now, I want to write a bit about the Tyranny of Dragons storyline and what it means for Dungeons & Dragons as a whole.

If the fifth edition rules are the framework for the new D&D, the Tyranny of Dragons storyline is the actual content. We spent countless hours pulling together a compelling adventure narrative that we think will impress you in its sheer scope and ambition. All of that work culminated in a massive story bible. Chris Perkins led the team of writers and artists that crafted the overall story of Tyranny of Dragons,and that created the new look for the villains and heroes tied to that story. That story bible then provided the raw material that our creative partners have transformed into some cool books, miniatures, and games.

To start with, we tapped Wolfgang Baur and Kobold Press to create a two-part tabletop RPG adventure to serve as the launch platform for fifth edition. Kobold Press handled everything on the project, from writing and editing to commissioning art and laying out the final books. Having an independent team work on the adventures allowed us to concentrate on the big picture of Tyranny of Dragons and the rules development behind fifth edition. Wolfgang and his team could work without the added burden of needing to produce text for the three core books. This allowed Kobold Press to deliver the kind of adventure we normally wouldn't be able to attempt until well after the work on the core rulebooks had finished, simply because we have all hands on deck with the rules until they're done. We were so pleased with Kobold Press's work that you'll see more collaborations between the R&D team and RPG studios in the future.

Our relationship with Kobold Press is similar to how we work with Cryptic Studios, creators of the Neverwinter MMO RPG. Just like Kobold Press, the writers and designers at Cryptic used the Tyranny of Dragons story bible to build new content for their game. The same plotlines, artifacts, and enemies that appear in the tabletop RPG will also make their debut in a new Neverwinter module this summer. It's pretty cool seeing art and stories that began as a few whiteboard notes or preliminary sketches brought fully to life in a 3D game engine.

Speaking of 3D, the D&D miniatures coming to you from WizKids and Gale Force Nine also draw from the same story bible. Though many of the miniatures were crafted from art drawn from the Monster Manual, we took care to make sure that some of the key monsters and enemies from the Tyranny of Dragons storyline would also appear in the WizKids and Gale Force Nine products. One of the great things about creating a story bible is that it allows us to coordinate with partners simultaneously. We don't need to have Kobold Press's adventure completely locked down before WizKids and Gale Force Nine can make miniatures for key figures in the Cult of the Dragon. Both teams draw from the same creative well, ensuring that everything is coordinated from day one.

The most exciting part about our new approach to stories is what lies ahead. We already have our next story bible completed and partners toiling away on bringing that story to life. By the end of the year, we'll have two more story bibles completed and a third in development. The approach we're taking with Tyranny of Dragons—create a single campaign-style adventure and support it in the TRPG, in our digital games, and in our accessories—is something that will be a key part of D&D going forward. As we diversify to reach new audiences and give you new ways to play D&D, those stories will be the through lines that bind everything together.

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.