Dungeons & Dragons has been the world's most popular roleplaying game for over forty years now, and yet, in all that time, there has never been an officially published adventure featuring an entire dungeon made of Gelatinous Cubes. It's unbelievable, I know --- they are literally cubes, you could easily use them as building blocks to create an entire underground complex that was itself a shimmering, jiggling, nearly invisible acidic nightmare, and it's never happened. But now, at long last, it can.

While DungeonMasters have been writing their own adventures for as long as there have been adventures to write, this week saw the launch of the Dungeon Master's Guild, a new program that will allow anyone to publish their adventures through official channels. And what's more, you can actually do it using Wizards of the Coast's Forgotten Realms setting.


The Forgotten Realms
The Forgotten Realms


For those of you who aren't up on the licensing issues involved with roleplaying games, here's why that's a big deal. The actual rules for D&D --- all of the character classes, races, mechanics of dice rolls, skill checks, combat, and most of the stats for monsters --- are released under what's called the Open Gaming License. This basically means that you can freely use the rules for D&D to publish your own adventures, which makes sense --- the more adventures there are, after all, the more potential there is to create a market that wants to buy those core books and get a better understanding of the rules.

The thing is, there are parts of D&D specifically that aren't part of the OGL. Distinct monsters, like the Beholder and the Mind Flayer, are considered to be unique trademarks of WOTC --- and so are the settings that provide the basis for D&D's officially released campaigns and fiction. The Forgotten Realms setting, originally created by Ed Greenwood in 1987, is far and away the most popular of those, with plenty of RPG books, novels and comics --- most of which center on a dark elf with lavender eyes and a pet panther, which is not only true, but also a franchise that includes an audiobook read by Ice-T.

In other words, everyone, amateur and professional alike, now has the chance to design an adventure using those distinct elements that were previously off-limits, and have them released through official channels. To put that in comics terms, it's essentially the tabletop RPG equivalent of announcing that anyone could write a comic set in Gotham City and sell it through DC's website.

It's a pretty cool move, and it's explained in depth at the DMsGuild website. As for whether the Guild will extend to other brands, that remains to be seen. Check it out --- just don't steal that Dungeon-Made-of-Gelatinous-Cubes idea. I've got my eye on that one.


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