James Wyatt & Neverwinter Designers Talk Putting Dragons Back

Tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons is more popular than ever today, and that popularity is rubbing off on Neverwinter, the licensed D&D massively multiplayer online roleplaying game produced by Cryptic Studios. The two games often mirror and reference each other, with Neverwinter Astral Diamonds changing its mechanics to better fit with Fifth Edition while Dungeons & Dragons has introduced boss monster mechanics from Neverwinter into Mythic Odysseys of Theros.

Both games are continuing to grow, and have recently released new, dragon-themed updates. D&D is seeing the release of Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, a compendium of dragon-related player options, draconic lore and ways for Dungeon Masters to incorporate dragons into their games. Meanwhile, Cryptic Studios has launched Echoes of Prophecy, a series of three milestone updates that introduce intrigue with the Cult of the Dragon and sets the stage for next year's new module. To celebrate the release of both Fizban's and Echoes of Prophecy, CBR sat down with Neverwinter Executive Producer Matt Powers, Neverwinter Lead Designer Randy Mosiondz and Dungeons & Dragons writer James Wyatt.

James Wyatt: It’s a book chock full of toys for players and Dungeon Masters to use in bringing dragons to life in their games. Everything from the various ways that having a dragon somewhere in your backstory might impact the character that you make, to Dragonborn races to dragon-related subclasses. There’s ways to make an encounter with a dragon more interesting, ways to flesh out the personality of a dragon, a map of a dragon’s lair and lots of new dragons you can use in your game. We even go all the way up to how to structure an entire campaign around dragons.

Randy Mosiondz: We're beginning to develop the story. Elminster has gotten wind of some strange things happening with The Weave. And with some strange figures, which he discovers are more dragon cultists coming into the region, searching for arcane reagents and various bits of lore. They’re going to places where players fought dragons before and trying to dig them up. They’re getting into more of the things that old school dragon cults did: resurrecting dragons and making them into dracoliches.

Matt Powers: We have a partnership with Wizards of the Coast. They'll share things that are on the horizon and sometimes we find opportunities to align. Randy and I were looking at how Wizards was re-exploring their depiction of dragons in the world, and we felt it was a great opportunity for us as well. It's such a powerful part of the fantasy. We really wanted to go back and reimagine our depiction of dragons in the game. We're trying to find storylines that we've had in the past and bring that narrative to the forefront now. It starts with picking up where we left off with the Cult of the Dragon and having this narrative weave into what we're doing early next year, where we're going to do a whole lot more around dragons. Not just talking about dragons themselves, but all the things around the dragon - the lairs, the hoards, all that stuff.

Wyatt: The core idea of the greatwyrm is just an ancient dragon turned up to 11. The story behind that is that sometimes an ancient dragon can start to attach to itself or take into itself the power of its echoes on other worlds of the Material Plane. So every dragon is connected to dragons on other worlds through mystic bonds of fate -- hand-wavy stuff that is not really inexplicable. When a dragon starts to consolidate the power of all these echoes into one form, it becomes a greatwyrm. The greatwyrm uses the Mythic monster rules that we introduced in Mythic Odysseys of Theros to make a dragon fight that's really a boss battle.

Mosiondz: We’ve got a dragon animation rig; it's a quadruped that has a tail, head, wings, etc. Every part of that animation is potentially something that could be used in dragon attacks. Tail sweeps, breath weapons, bites, front claws, wings buffeting people and even going up into the air and doing strafing runs, These are all things we can do that just incorporate a lot of the elements that make dragons unique. But they're also very intelligent, too. They're not just raw beasts. They can speak, a lot of the older ones can cast spells. Depending on which dragon type we’re going for, some can even shape change. These are all aspects that we’re looking at and exploring to see what we can incorporate into our dragon models to make them distinctive.


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