While usually it’s up to the creators of games to establish the rules, Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro subsidiary that owns the grandaddy of all role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons, is taking a different approach. They want fans and players to help redefine the game as they reboot it.
On Monday, Wizards of the Coast announced that a new edition of the game is in development. This is the first overhaul of the rules since 2008 and as any hardcore fan of the franchise can tell you, that overhaul was contentious to say the least. Now, Wizards is reaching out to hundreds of thousands of fans of the game to help them craft the reboot. Liz Schuh, the director of publishing and licensing for Dungeons & Dragons, told the New York Times, “We want to take that idea of the players crafting that experience to the next level and say: ‘Help us craft the rules. Help us craft how this game is played.’ ”
While this approach wouldn’t work very well for a traditional board game like Operation or Boggle, Dungeons & Dragons is the perfect collaborative testing ground, because of the very nature of the game. When it came out in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons was the first commercially published role-playing game. For the uninitiated, each game is led by a Dungeon Master who uses his or her own imagination, maps, and multi-sided dice to guide the action between orcs, wizards, and archers as they battle monsters. The game is improvised based on rolls of the die, so every time the game is played the outcome and the action is different. It’s a game where anything can happen, which is what fans love about it.
To help reinvigorate the franchise, which has lost fans to online games such as World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls, developers are looking at the rule overhaul as a way to correct past mistakes and unite the fan base. According to the Times, fans will be asked what they’d like to see in a new version and then given a chance to test the new rules. If this works, it will give fans a chance to help build the game from the ground up, a strategy that surely will build lifelong fans in an increasingly crowded market.
No word on whether they are also planning on rebooting the cartoon based on the game, but fingers crossed: