We are fast approaching the release of the next campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, fifth edition. Princes of the Apocalypse officially hits stores on April 7th and to celebrate, we’ve made it Elemental Evil week here at Diehard GameFAN. For the next four days we’ll be doing an interview with one of the companies behind the Elemental Evil line of products heading your way. It only makes sense that we kick of this set of interviews with Wizards of the Coast themselves. After all, they’re the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons and decide what companies would be the best to partner with. I sent a set the D&D team a set of questions into WotC and Greg Tito, Communications Manager for Dungeons & Dragons happily answered them for us. Let’s take a look at what he had to say.
Diehard GameFAN: Princes of the Apocalypse will be released in April of 2015. Will this be the first part of a campaign similar to how Tyranny of Dragons was released in two books or will this be a stand-alone purchase?
Greg Tito: The Princes of the Apocalypse adventure will be the only book available for purchase in April 2015 and will conclude the story arc … for now. You can also download for free the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion on DungeonsandDragons.com which gives players a huge amount of spells with an elemental flair as well as four new race options: Aarakocra, Deep Gnome, Genasi, and Goliath.
To learn more about the threat of the Elemental Cults to the rest of Faerûn, you can head to your local game store and jump into the D&D Encounters Elemental Evil season every week. D&D Encounters will play through a portion of the Princes of the Apocalypse storyline split into weekly sessions, while D&D Expeditions will show how the destruction wrought by the Elemental Evil cults affect the Moon Sea region.
You’ll also face the prophets of the four cults in a humongous new update for Neverwinter, the free-to-play MMO from Cryptic, including new zones, enemies and new quests bringing the fight against Elemental Evil to your screens. The level cap is also raised to 70 and there’s a new class to play – the Oathbound Paladin – which brings total number of playable classes up to eight.
The Temple of Elemental Evil Adventure System board game will let you and your party plumb the depths of that classic dungeon in 13 scenarios, and it’s fully compatible with other D&D Adventure System components for truly endless elemental action.
DHGF: What is the storyline for Princes of the Apocalypse? What enemies can players expect to encounter and whose machinations will they be foiling?
GT: The Forgotten Realms is unknowingly on the brink of elemental destruction. Devotees to the four Princes of Elemental Evil are rallying their forces under the guise of innocent sects, and it is up to the players to uncover their insane plots. The four cults are each devoted to a single elemental power, and each exhibit characteristics of their chosen element. The Cult of Crushing Wave, for example, is led by former sailor Gar Shatterkeel who wears a crab claw over the stump created when his arm was bitten off by a shark. Expect to contend against Shatterkeel and his water-wielding cultists like werecrocodiles, aquatic ghouls and shivers, sorcerers with one eye and ice in their veins. Combined with air cultists flying in magical balloons, fire warlocks with burned skin and bulette-riding earth cultists, and players will have a vivid collage of visually diverse enemies fighting against them in Princes of the Apocalypse.
DHGF: About how many adventures/scenarios will be in the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign book? How many pages will the release be?
GT: Because of the large amount of side treks and optional quests available, it’s really up to your DM and the decisions the players make as to how much your party tackles. The adventure contains enough story to level up your party from Level 1 to Level 15, including optional introductory quests to hook players into discovering the dangerous elemental cults at play near the Sword Coast.
DHGF Princes of the Apocalypse brings the Genasi race back (amongst others) as a playable PC race. What was the decision behind bringing them back and what other playable races will we be seeing with all of the Elemental Evil tie-ins?
GT: The genasi race is a natural extension of these powerful elemental forces so it made perfect sense to include them in Princes of the Apocalypse. Providing players with meaningful and immersive options to engage with the theme as they craft their heroes is an extremely effective way to craft the best roleplaying game experiences. The information you need to create a genasi player character is detailed in an appendix of Princes of the Apocalypse as well as being included along with Deep Gnomes, Aarakocra and Goliath in the free download of Elemental Evil Player’s Companion on DungeonandDragons.com.
DHGF: How newcomer friendly will Princes of the Apocalypse be? Is this campaign something an inexperienced or casual gamer can run for his or her friends, or will you need a bit of experience with RPGs in some form to get the most out of it?
GT: Princes of the Apocalypse is definitely newbie friendly. The four elements of earth, fire, water and air all have strong, easy-to-comprehend motifs and fantasy fans will get a kick out of uncovering the crazy cult-members. Jumping into the action at your local game store with the new D&D Encounters season is a great way to introduce new players to both the game and the Elemental Evil story.
If you’re looking for something to play with a shorter set-up time, The Temple of Elemental Evil Adventure System board game from WizKids is a great way to experience D&D with friends and family.
DHGF: For fifth edition, and even D&D Next, the focus of Wizards of the Coast seems to be releasing full long-reaching campaigns instead of stand-alone one-shot adventures. What is the decision behind this? I know you’re still making shorter and/or introductory adventures for the D&D Adventurers’ League/D&D Expeditions. For those that can’t make it to Organized Play events, will these type of adventurers ever be made available to the general public or are full campaigns the only thing we will see for purchase for the time being?
GT: The D&D Expeditions adventures are tailored specifically to Organized Play, but we are certainly aware fans are hungry for more bite-sized storytelling.
DHGF: Princes of the Apocalypse, like Tyranny of Dragons and The Sundering all take place in the Forgotten Realms. Are there any plans to use any of the other campaign settings D&D has amassed over the years – especially after all the great teasers, homages and reminders shown in the three core rulebooks for this edition. My offer to pro bono line edit Ravenloft for you still stands, you know. ;-) In all seriousness, if D&D is sticking with Toril for the time being, will we see any adventures set in the more exotic parts of the realms like Kara-Tur, Evermeet or Maztica? Any chance of a full Campaign Setting book for the Realms in 2015?
GT: There has been a wealth of amazing campaign settings, characters and stories created in the 40+ year history of Dungeons & Dragons. Each setting and location has extremely loyal fans and we want to make certain we fully support these strong communities with more than just a book if we are to bring a D&D setting back into print. Because of our commitment to creating fully-realized worlds full of adventure, we don’t have any specific plans to discuss right now.
DHGF: Much like the Basic D&D, there will be a free downloadable PDF to accompany Princes of the Apocalypse. What can gamers expect to find in that release? (Alex’s note: I originally asked these questions in late January and got them back on 3/27 so this one is now a little…behind the times, shall we say)
GT: You can download the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion on DungeonsandDragons.com right now. The EEPC expands on the options available in the Player’s Handbook including four new race options for players: Aarakocra, Deep Gnome, Genasi, and Goliath. There’s also tons of spells available for all classes that put more of the power of fire, water, earth and air at your character’s fingertips. A favorite spell of the team is Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp, a 2nd level transmutation spell which spawns a giant hand of solid earth to crush your opponents. Read about Maximilian’s spell and many others at DungeonsandDragons.com.
DHGF: Will there be any D&D novels to accompany Princes of the Apocalypse?
GT: We are working closely with our authors on many different storylines, but there will be no novel releases that coincide directly with the Elemental Evil theme.
DHGF: After Princes of the Apocalypse, what else can we expect from Dungeons & Dragons for the rest of the year?
GT: The Elemental Evil season of D&D Encounters and Expeditions runs through late summer, and there are more releases such as The Temple of Elemental Evil board game and the update to the MMO Neverwinter in the next few months. But to answer your questions: Great things are afoot! Stay tuned to DungeonsandDragons.com, our Twitch.tv channel and of course the Wizards of the Coast Twitter and Facebook feeds for more announcements.
Remember, the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign hits stores on April 7th, so pick it up at your local brick and mortar retailer or online at sites like Amazon.com. We’ll have a full in-depth review of Princes of the Apocalypse closer to release date, but come back tomorrow as we talk to WizKids about the Temple of Elemental Evil board game Greg plugged several times in this interview.