Year in Review 2022: Dungeons & Dragons returns to its 3rd Edition heyday
D&D's resurgence hit the accelerator in 2022, and we can't wait to see what's ahead
2022's been a watershed year for all Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fans.
It's seen the return to the heyday of 3rd Edition, with more free quality online content on D&D Beyond, the return of fan-favourite settings (and the announcements of more to come), and Wizards of the Coast finally jumping on the tokens bandwagon (with mixed results)!
In addition, there's a distinct shift in the direction of the franchise — with inclusivity being the name of the game.
If fans are experience points, then D&D has certainly accrued enough of them this year to level up.
But before we take a short rest (or rather, a long rest) for the rest of the year, here's what 2022 has brought us.
Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
One of the two most anticipated books this year, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen brings a full-fledged adventure during the War of the Lance to D&D, complete with additional race (soon to be "species") options for Kender, feats and subclasses to allow you to play as the iconic mages and knights of Dragonlance.
And if you pick this book up, you already know what Dragonlance is, so it dispenses with the campaign book approach in lieu of bringing you a military adventure on Krynn.
You don't get to fight Takhisis in the book (the adventure is for characters up to level 11, after all, and since Takhisis is Tiamat, she'd be a CR30 foe). But you get to fight the literal next best villain in Dragonlance — but you'll have to buy the book to find out who that is.
There's also a companion board game, Warriors of Krynn, which allows you to re-enact the military skirmishes in the campaign, if you want to up the war aspect of the game.
Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
The other anticipated release of this year is Spelljammer: Adventures in Space.
With two classic settings seeing a revival this year, it truly feels like D&D is seeing a return to its 3rd Edition heyday.
Since this setting was revamped, Spelljammer gets three books in the box set — a campaign book, a monster book, and an adventure book. There are some differences from the Spelljammer of yore, but it's all for the best as it updates incongruent rules and clarifies how space travel works with this new edition.
And if this isn't enough Spelljammer content for you, you can always go to D&D Beyond for even more monsters.
Monstrous Compendiums on D&D Beyond
They say that the best things in life are free. And that's exactly what we got this year with more offerings on D&D Beyond.
D&D Beyond (which was acquired by Wizards of the Coast earlier in 2022) started offering new monsters in the form of the Monstrous Compendiums this year.
Thus far, D&D Beyond has released monsters for Spelljammer (Monstrous Compendium I) and Dragonlance (Monstrous Compendium II). With the imminent arrival of the Planescape setting next year, it's a safe bet that we're going to see another Monstrous Compendium that centres around monsters from that campaign setting.
Although we regularly get free content via Unearthed Arcana, it's often mainly for playtesting (and also, it's in black and white only).
Getting full-colour artwork and more polished rules via D&D Beyond has been one of the boons of 2022.
Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel
D&D also gained some levels in terms of exclusivity with the release of Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel — an adventure anthology brimming with inclusivity, from the creators, to the settings, to the monsters.
There's a dearth of non-European settings in D&D right now (but then, the nature and history of the game lends itself more to such settings), and its a gap that the book filled well. Now all we need is a full-fledged campaign setting set in a completely different culture.
It'll be a test of the D&D ruleset, to see how well it can support adventures from other lands. But I have full confidence that it can... mainly because I've had a player create an Ip Man-inspired character using the Monk rules (and subclasses in other books).
Other 2022 releases
Monsters of the Multiverse was a nice rules update to monsters that had already been released, but it feels unfair to have to shell out for another book if you already have all the other books that the monsters first appeared in. With a new edition on the horizon, it also feels like the updated monsters may not have all that much longevity.
Call of the Netherdeep was all right, but it was definitely overshadowed by the Spelljammer and Dragonlance releases, proving that legacy campaign settings still have a lot more draw than new ones.
The Campaign Cases continue to receive mixed reviews. Perhaps if it had been released earlier in D&D's life cycle, it would have seen some use — but it doesn't fill a niche that miniatures or cardboard tokens don't already fill.
With 2022 drawing to a close, the question for D&D fans is likely what will 2023 bring?
I'm no Diviner (or Wizard for that matter, I think I'm more of a Bard), but even Bards have Foresight on their spell list, so here's a little peek at what's in store for 2023 — and what I'm excited about.
1. Planescape campaign setting
Different dimensions. Beliefs affecting reality. And an inscrutable ruler of what is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the multiverse — Sigil's Lady of Pain. What's there not to like about Planescape?
The campaign setting, which revolves around traversing the different planes of the multiverse, makes a triumphant return next year.
We haven't had a Manual of the Planes in 5th Edition, so it'll also be fun to see the planes in more detail in Planescape. Personally, I'm looking forward to the Lady of Pain's stat block — if only so players can fight her.
2. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves movie
D&D campaigns are rarely 100 per cent serious, but that was the tone of 2000's Dungeons & Dragons, the first D&D movie we got.
Although it managed to eke out a trilogy, the fact is that what we saw on screen didn't quite jive with what happened at the table.
So it's gratifying to see Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves embracing the silliness that happens at tables, while also showcasing the magic and wonder that comes from living in a fantasy world with fire-breathing dragons, crossbreeds of owls and bears, and giant gelatinuous cubes.
3. The Book Of Many Things
Coming out in 2023 will be a sourcebook with material themed around the Deck of Many Things, a magical set of playing cards that can produce random beneficial and baleful effects.
It sounds absolutely chaotic — which, to be honest, is something we haven't seen much of in D&D lately. Primus and his Modrons are fun (and we're likely to see a bunch of them in the Planescape setting, barring any Great Modron Marches), so it's time to let Chaos reign — and hopefully, more of the Slaad.
The last time chaos took centre stage was in the Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone game for the Playstation 2, where Ygorl, Lord of Entropy, was the final boss. It's high time chaos comes out to play again.
4. The Legend of Vox Machina, Season 3
It's not really an official D&D release... but Critical Role uses the D&D ruleset for its campaign, and The Legend of Vox Machina is based on Critical Role.
So in a way, this is the closest we've come to a D&D cartoon since, well, the actual D&D cartoon in 1983. With a third season already greenlit, it looks like we're finally going to have an epic year where there'll be a D&D movie on screen and a D&D TV show on the air (okay, streaming).
And if you were a fan of the 80s D&D cartoon — well, there's going to be a comic continuation of the series out in 2023 too.
How has your year with D&D been?
Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for "Lion Mums", "Crimewatch", "Police & Thief", and "Incredible Tales". He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site.
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