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My Best Bud, D&D
Dragon's-Eye View
By Jon Schindehette

T ime to change gears. I've had a lot of fun picking your brain over the last year. It has been really informative and helpful, but we all knew the day would come when we'd have to shift to a concentrated and focused work effort. In other words, it's time to roll up my sleeves and really dig in.

At this point, I'm going to be getting a lot more targeted with my conversations. I'm hoping you'll still want to play along, because your thoughts are probably even more important now. The difference now will be simply that I'm going to have very specific questions going forward. If you want your answer to be heard, you're going to have to answer the question directly. Long-winded prose might be cool in some forums, but in this forum, brevity and concise answers will win you points with me.

To start, let's talk about brand personality. If Dungeons & Dragons were an actual person (yep, you're gonna have to put on your imagination hat now), what kind of person would Dungeons & Dragons be? Think about your best bud. Could you describe him or her in three to five single words? Could you get to the essence of who this person is for you? This is the way I want you to think of Dungeons & Dragons. Your best friend is the embodiment of the D&D essence, and you get to describe this person in three to five words (from the list below, please).

Accepting • Adventurous • Aggressive • Alert • Ambitious • Assertive • Athletic • Authentic • Bored • Careful • Cheerful • Clever • Competitive • Compulsive • Confident • Conscientious • Considerate • Cooperative • Courteous • Creative • Casual • Dangerous • Decisive • Dependable • Depressed • Devoted • Disciplined • Earnest • Efficient • Emotional • Energetic • Enterprising • Entertaining • Enthusiastic • Focused • Friendly • Gentle • Genuine • Good-Natured • Gregarious • Happy • Hard-Working • Healthy • Helpful • Honest • Humorous • Imaginative • Independent • Innovative • Insightful • Intelligent • Intuitive • Irrational • Judicious • Lazy • Logical • Loud • Loving • Loyal • Mature • Meticulous • Misanthropic • Musical • Mysterious • Mystical • Nervous • Obnoxious • Open-Minded • Optimistic • Organized • Outgoing • Patient • Perceptive • Persistent • Personable • Poised • Polite • Productive • Professional • Punctual • Quiet • Rational • Realistic • Reassuring • Rebellious • Reliable • Resourceful • Responsive • Sad • Self-Controlled • Selfless • Sensitive • Sensuous • Sexy • Sincere • Smart • Stylish • Thorough • Truthful • Unpredictable • Volatile • Wise

There is no right answer here. In the same way that a lot of your friends might describe the personality of your best friend in different ways, I expect to see many different takes on the personality of the brand. I know that the personality of the brand will show up differently depending upon how you interact with the brand (video games, tabletop RPG, novels, comics, and so on), your age, your sex, how long you've been involved with the brand, and a lot of other factors.

For instance, when I envision the brand as my best bud and contemplate how he would show up in my life, I tend to think of a person who is adventurous, imaginative, mysterious, entertaining, and gregarious. He's the kind of guy that is always doing something. He has the best stories and is great at sweeping folks into his latest idea of fun. He's the guy that is quick with a smile, and a greeting—even more so when you drop him into a room of strangers. Yet, with all that outgoing personality, there is always a glint in his eye that says he knows more than he's telling you—a hint of mystery that makes you want to know more.

That's assignment #1. Kind of fun, huh? It's always a blast getting to use my imagination. I guess that is one of the reasons why I love this brand so much.

Now, let's look at assignment #2. This one is tough. I mean REALLY tough. I want you to paint a few images in your brain.

Image One: The ultimate fighter. This fighter is big and bad—the ultimate D&D fighter.

Image Two: The next image I want you to paint in your mind is one of a wonderful D&D landscape. Let's get out into the countryside where we can see rolling fields, a swatch of deep forest off to one side, and some imposing mountains off in the distance.

Image Three: The last one is an image of a wizard's table filled with magic items made by the hands of master artisans from all over the world, and by a variety of races. Got it?

Just sit with those images for a few minutes. Really get immersed in them. Take the time to really give them a lot of flavor. Ground them in your vision of D&D. Take a deep breath and think about what color glasses you want to see the world through (metaphorically speaking).

Now, choose three words that define the essence of ALL three images.

Don't jump at the quick answers. Really think this one through. For instance, if you choose the word "aggressive," it's easy to see how the fighter might fit that term, and maybe even the table of magical goodies, but what about the countryside? Do you see how this one can be really tough?

For myself, I've been toying with the concepts of fantastic, epic, and realism. I want to have these three elements in every visual asset in the brand. When I look at a fighter, I want a fighter that looks like it is based in realism, but pushes beyond a historically accurate knight and gives me a vision that is both fantastic and epic. I want it to be something uncommon and magical. This is also reflected in my vision for environments. I don't just want a simple farm scene. I want something in there that says, "This ain't Kansas." I want elements that give me a hint of the cultures that have lived here, that indicate the land has been twisted by magical powers, and that show amazing stories are hidden under every rock or behind every bush.

Want to play along? Jump down to the comments and join in. Keep it simple and clean, though, and please do try to follow this format so that it's easy for me to see things at a glance. I would like to know how you interact with the brand first (video games, tabletop roleplaying game, novels, and so on), then share your words from the assignments:

Primary Access: tabletop roleplaying game
Assignment #1: adventurous, imaginative, mysterious, entertaining, gregarious
Assignment #2: fantastic, epic, realism

Jon Schindehette
Jon Schindehette joined Wizards of the Coast in 1997 as the website art director. In the intervening years he has worked as the marketing art director, novels art director, and creative manager. In January of 2009 he moved into the role of senior creative director for D&D. Jon is a long time D&D player (started in 1978), and currently plays in a Tuesday night game and DMs a random pick-up game for younger players. He can be found on Twitter (@ArtOrder) and at theartorder.com.
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