Dungeons & Dragons is fully embracing a digital future. The granddaddy of all role-playing games is finally treating print and digital as equals, offering multiple bundles that include both versions of the same material. The backdrop for this transition is the highly anticipated return to the Dragonlance setting, a storied franchise that goes back more than 30 years. But the result will likely be jarring for consumers. Instead of a single release, there is instead a stack of SKUs more in line with the complicated special edition bundles offered by video game companies. So which of these bundles is right for you and your party?
The new Dragonlance campaign has two core components. The first is a traditional 224-page hardcover campaign book titled Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, which will include new character and background options, plus a narrative adventure inspired by classic war movies. Wizards of the Coast senior designer F. Wesley Schneider tells Polygon that, per usual, Dungeon Masters should be able to modify the campaign to take place wherever and whenever they want. The only caveat is that Dragonlance-inspired campaigns should ideally take place in Krynn, which is an entirely different world than the majority of 5th edition’s previous campaigns. So get ready to say goodbye to the Forgotten Realms — and likely whatever characters you’re playing right now.
The second component is a tabletop wargame titled Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn, designed by board game heavyweights Stephen Baker and Rob Daviau. The campaign and the board game complement each other, with some of the campaign’s major narrative arcs playing out as set-piece battles on a modular game board. Players will be able to take their characters, and their characters’ miniatures, and place them directly inside the board game to take part in the struggle. Boons, loot, and other perks will carry over between the TTRPG and the board game.
Do you need to play the campaign to enjoy the board game, or vice versa? Absolutely not, Daviau told Polygon. Schneider likewise confirmed that the set-piece battles can be fought using simplified mechanics found inside the campaign book, without ever buying the board game. But these two products have been designed to work together since their inception, and both Daviau and Schneider said that committed groups will have a richer experience if they play them together.
So, rather than just a campaign book with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $49.99, dedicated groups are looking at also picking up a hefty board game with a list price of $79.99. That’s a grand total of $129.98 when you purchase it through your friendly local game store on or before release date — Dec. 6.
If you’d like to save a little money — or if you have gone all-in on digital D&D yourself — the same campaign book is available on D&D Beyond for $29.99. The same content is also available at the same price on Roll20, along with all of that platform’s baked-in video-conferencing hooks that you would need to play the campaign remotely. The board game has no digital corollary, so if you want to have the full experience you’ll likely need to be able to meet in person with your group on a regular basis.
From here, things get complicated: There are four different bundles that we’ve found that combine the physical campaign book, the digital campaign book, and the board game in different ways. Some of them will even let you start playing the game early.
Bundle #1, from Wizards of the Coast: $60
The campaign book and the D&D Beyond version of the same material are available as a bundle directly from Wizards of the Coast for $59.94 — a $20 savings. The bundle includes free shipping to all 50 states, and it gives early access to the digital version of the game. Instead of waiting until Dec. 6, you’ll be able to start planning your adventure on Nov. 22 — two full weeks ahead of time.
Bundle #2, from Wizards of the Coast: $155
The Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen Deluxe Edition bundle includes the physical campaign book (with a foil cover), the digital version of the book (just as above), and it includes the Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn board game for $154.98. Shipping to all 50 states is free.
Wizards will also toss in a Dragonlance-themed DM screen. There aren’t a lot of comparables for just a DM screen, but based on this DM screen kit, let’s call it a value of $15. That likewise yields a savings of roughly $20.
Bundle #3, from Amazon: $145
Amazon is also selling a similar bundle to the above, just without the digital version of the campaign book. So you can pick up the deluxe version of the book, the DM screen, and the board game for $144.99 with delivery on or around Dec. 6.
Bundle #4, from Amazon: $175
Finally, there is a fourth option lurking on Amazon right now. For $174.55 you can snag Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen Deluxe Edition — with the foil cover and the DM screen. You also get a copy of the board game. You won’t get the digital version of the campaign book, but it does come with a second physical book, a kind of monster manual called Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. Released a little over a year ago, it’s chock-full of dozens of different dragons — just the thing for adding additional flavor to a storyline all about marauding dragons. You can read more about it in our review.
Other smaller online game retailers are offering similar packages for pre-order. Fantasy Grounds, another digital tabletop platform available through Steam, is selling its version of the campaign book for $49.99. But the only way to start playing two weeks ahead of everyone else is to get your game from Wizards of the Coast directly.
Confusing as it may be, this kind of approach is unlikely to stop in future D&D releases. This is clearly a trial balloon designed to test consumer sentiment. Expect more and different scenarios to emerge from Wizards of the Coast in the future.