WoTC’s big push at this years Gen Con was a return to Neverwinter, the venerable northern city that’s been a major crossover location for decades. Most of our readers probably remember Neverwinter Nights, the Bioware game from 2002 — but there was an even older title with the same name that AOL ran as one of the world’s first MMORPGs from 1991-1997.
Wizards’ new Neverwinter push covers just about every aspect of the D&D universe. There is, of course, a campaign setting that reintroduces a city that is rebuilding after a disaster, as various factions vie for power. This is the first ever 4E campaign book which covers just a single city, and will debut for $40. There will also be a tie-in new set of fortune card packs.
A new round of D&D Encounters will also tie in to the campaign setting with the new Lost Crown of Neverwinter season.
WoTC has also released a tie-in Facebook game, Heroes of Neverwinter, a free to play, in-browser, micro-transaction supporting dungeon crawler. If your friends are involved too, they’ll accompany you on quests as NPCs.
In order to drum up even more support for the setting, Wizards’ have also tapped the prolific R.A. Salvatore and his famous dark-elf protagonist for a series of titles. There’s now The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales comic series, the second book of the Neverwinter saga — called simply Neverwinter, and a Legend of Drizzt board game, which will launch in October for $65.
On a non-Neverwinter note, there will also be a new series of D&D Encounters for min/maxers and high level players, called D&D Lair Assault.
I talked to Laura Tommervik of Wizards of the Coast, and asked her about D&D’s last year or so, with the death of Ravenloft and the struggling Essentials line. Laura was adamant that Wizards was all about the community, both in terms of communal experience and in terms of listening to their needs. The D&D Encounters was an example cited of this, where it allows people from across the world to experience the same events.
I broached the topic of miniatures, which I know some people are interested in. She mentioned that there’s some sort of skirmish based title in the works, and that miniatures are available through the boardgames, but there were no other immediate plans — the boardgame answer was also her response on the missing Ravenloft.
“We listen to the community,” Laura said. “If the product is not ready or not wanted, we don’t release it.”