Dungeons & Dragons returned to its 3rd edition peak in 2022

Dungeons & Dragons is experiencing a resurgence in recent years. (Photo: Getty Images)

2022 has been a pivotal year for all Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fans.

It’s back to the climax of 3rd Edition, with more premium free online content from D&D Beyond, the return of fan-favorite settings (and announcements of more to come), and Wizards of the Coast jumping finally on the token train (with mixed results)!

Plus, there’s a distinct shift in direction for the franchise – inclusiveness being the name of the game.

If fans are for experience points, then D&D has certainly racked up enough of them this year to level up.

But before we take a short rest (or rather a long rest) for the rest of the year, here’s what 2022 has brought us.

Alternate cover art for Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen.  (Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Alternate cover art for Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen. (Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen

One of the two most anticipated books this year, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen brings a fully fledged War of the Lance adventure to D&D, with additional race options (soon to be “species”) for Kender, feats, and subclasses to let you play as iconic mages and knights by Dragonlance.

And if you pick up this book, you already know what Dragonlance is, so it dispenses with the campaign book approach instead of giving you a military adventure on Krynn.

You can’t fight Takhisis in the book (Adventure is for characters up to level 11, after all, and since Takhisis is Tiamat, she would be a CR30 enemy). But you can fight Dragonlance’s next literal best villain – but you’ll have to buy the book to find out who it is.

There is also a companion board game, Warriors of Krynnwhich allows you to reenact the military skirmishes of the campaign, if you want to enhance the warrior aspect of the game.

Spelljammer: Space Adventures Set.  (Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Spelljammer: Space Adventures Set. (Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space

The other release planned for this year is Spelljammer: Adventures in Space.

With two classic settings seeing a revival this year, it really feels like D&D is seeing a return to its 3rd edition heyday.

Since this setting was revamped, Spelljammer gets three books in the box set – a campaign book, a monster book, and an adventure book. There are a few differences from the Spelljammer of old, but that’s for the best as it updates some incongruous rules and clarifies how space travel works with this new edition.

And if that’s not enough for you, you can always access D&D Beyond for even more monsters.

Monstrous Compendium (Image: D&D YouTube Channel)

Monstrous Compendium (Image: D&D YouTube Channel)

Monstrous Compendiums on D&D Beyond

They say the best things in life are free. And that’s exactly what we got this year with more deals on D&D Beyond.

D&D Beyond (which was acquired by Wizards of the Coast earlier in 2022) began offering new monsters this year in the form of Monstrous Compendiums.

So far, D&D Beyond has released monsters for Spelljammer (Monstrous Compendium I) and Dragonlance (Monstrous Compendium II). With the imminent arrival of the Planescape setting next year, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see another Monstrous Compendium centered around the monsters of this campaign setting.

While we regularly get free content through Unearthed Arcana, it’s often primarily for playtesting (and also, it’s black and white only).

Getting color artwork and more polished rules through D&D Beyond has been one of the perks of 2022.

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel (Image: D&D YouTube channel)

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel (Image: D&D YouTube channel)

Journeys through the Radiant Citadel

D&D has also moved up a few levels in terms of exclusivity with the release of Journeys through the Radiant Citadel – an adventure anthology brimming with inclusiveness, from creators to sets to monsters.

There’s a dearth of non-European settings in D&D right now (but then the nature and story of the game lends itself more to such settings), and it’s a gap the book has filled well. Now all we need is a full fledged campaign setting in a completely different culture.

This will be a test of the D&D ruleset, to see how well it can support adventures from other countries. But I have full confidence that it’s possible… mainly because I asked a player to create an Ip Man inspired character using Monk’s rules (and subclasses in other books ).

Campaign Case: Creatures (Image: D&D YouTube Channel)

Campaign Case: Creatures (Image: D&D YouTube Channel)

Other 2022 releases

monsters of the multiverse was a nice update to the rules for monsters that had already been published, but it seems unfair to have to shell out for another book if you already have all the other books the monsters first appeared in. With a new edition on the horizon, it’s also looks like the updated monsters might not have as much longevity.

Call of the Netherdeep was fine, but it was definitely overshadowed by the Spelljammer and Dragonlance releases, proving that legacy campaign settings still have a lot more appeal than new ones.

The campaign cases continue to receive mixed reviews. Perhaps if it had been released earlier in the D&D lifecycle it would have been used – but it doesn’t fill a niche that miniatures or cardboard tokens don’t already fill.

Divination 2023

As 2022 draws to a close, the question for D&D fans is probably what will 2023 bring?

I’m no soothsayer (or wizard for that matter, I think I’m more of a bard), but even bards have foresight on their spell list, so here’s a little preview of what’s in store for 2023 – and what I’m excited about.

1. Planescape campaign setup

Different sizes. Beliefs affecting reality. And an inscrutable ruler of what is probably the most cosmopolitan city in the multiverse – the Lady of Sorrows of Sigil. What’s not to like about Planescape?

The campaign setting, which revolves around traversing the various planes of the multiverse, makes a triumphant return next year.

We didn’t have an aircraft manual in 5th edition, so it will also be fun to see the aircraft in more detail in Planescape. Personally, I’m looking forward to Lady of Pain’s stat block – if only so players can fight her.

2. Dungeons & Dragons Movie: Honor Among Thieves

D&D campaigns are rarely 100% serious, but that was the tone of 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons, the first D&D movie we got.

While he managed to release a trilogy, the thing is, what we saw on screen didn’t quite match what happened at the dinner table.

So it’s gratifying to see Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Thieves embracing the silliness that happens at the tables, while showcasing the magic and wonder that comes from living in a fantasy world with fire-breathing dragons, owl and bear crosses, and giant jelly cubes.

3. The Book of Many Things

A source book will be released in 2023 with material on the theme of the Deck of Many Things, a magical set of playing cards that can produce beneficial and harmful random effects.

It looks absolutely chaotic – which, to be honest, isn’t something we’ve seen much of in D&D lately. Primus and his Modrons are fun (and we’ll probably see a bunch of them as part of Planescape, barring all the big Modron marches), so it’s time to let Chaos reign – and hopefully more by Slaad.

The last time chaos took center stage was in Forgotten Realms: Demonic Stone game for the Playstation 2, where Ygorl, Lord of Entropy, was the final boss. It’s high time for chaos to come back to play.

4. The Legend of Vox MachinaSeason 3

It’s not really an official D&D version… but Critical Role uses the D&D ruleset for its campaign, and The Legend of Vox Machina is based on Critical Role.

So in a way, this is the closest we’ve gotten to a D&D cartoon since, well, the D&D cartoon in 1983. With a third season already greenlit, it looks like we’re finally going to get a epic year ago It will be a D&D movie on screen and a D&D TV show on air (okay, streaming).

And if you were a fan of the 80s D&D cartoon, well, there will also be a comic sequel to the series in 2023.

How was your year with D&D?

Marcus Goh is a Singaporean TV screenwriter, having written for ‘Lion Mums’, ‘Crimewatch’, ‘Police & Thief’ and ‘Incredible Tales’. He is also a Transformers enthusiast and an avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media under the name Optimarcus and on his website.

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