In this month's exclusive interview, the designers of Masters of the Wild D&D sourcebook for barbarians, rangers, and druids bring new meaning to the word "wild." And Wizards of the Coast assumes no responsibility for the following . . .
Wizards of the Coast: Where did you begin in putting together Masters of the Wild? Did you return to earlier D&D works to create a foundation?
Dave Eckelberry:Well, we started by doing a lot of research, looking at some of --
Mike Selinker: Hey! Just because you wrote 49 pages and I only wrote 47 doesn't mean you get to hog all the spotlight, Eck. Might I point out that three of your pages were the credits and table of contents? I mean, if anybody --
Eckelberry: Uh, Mike, people are reading this now. Okay, as I was saying, we looked at much of the previously published material on the "nature classes," but spent more time examining how the subjects of this book work in the new D&D. Since we had a bit more time post-release of the new edition of D&D than the other books in this series, we were able to listen to people we gamed with and to fans we met online and at conventions. They had a lot of things to say about what we'd be dealing with in Masters of the Wild.
Selinker: Uh-huh. A few minutes ago, you were saying, "We started when they said, 'Here's your paycheck.'" In fact, that's the only reason you're sitting here with me right now.
Eckelberry: Whatever. Next question.
Wizards: Okay, then. How about this -- some players feel that barbarians, druids, and rangers tend to be "outsiders" in the D&D world. How does Masters of the Wild address that issue?
Selinker: We felt it necessary to get in touch with our inner nature-lover. We got a drum, some blue face-paint, and a VW Microbus, and headed off to the rain forest. Dave really learned something about himself that day.
Eckelberry: I wasn't there. I deny everything. But you looked good with your beard painted blue.
Selinker: After we got back, we realized that Mother Nature was deeply offended that druids, rangers, and barbarians hadn't gotten the treatment they deserved in D&D. Blame it on designing the game in the shadow of Boeing and Microsoft. So we brought the characters back to the center: How did they fit into the adventuring world? What could they do to help their allies? Who were these guys?
Eckelberry: After a great deal of analysis, we came to the conclusion that barbarians hit things with oversized blunt objects, rangers shot things with pointy arrows, and druids changed into lions -- but they couldn't rend or pounce.
Selinker: Yup. We fixed that.
Eckelberry: Finally. Next question?
Wizards: So, which of the three classes did you find to be the toughest to develop material for?
Eckelberry:Well, the ranger sucked. Hell, even Monte Cook wrote a new one.
Selinker: The druid sucked more.
Eckelberry: Really? You think so?
Selinker: Hello? Look at the cleric. How did the druid not suck?
Eckelberry: I wasn't saying the druid didn't suck. Close race between the two of them. Ironically, that was part of the problem when we sat down to start writing. We could see a good dozen ways to develop (read here: improve) the ranger and the druid, but the barbarian chugs along just fine with his greataxe and loincloth.
Selinker: Pretty dull, though, just hitting things all the time.
Eckelberry: You ever play this game?
Wizards: Let's try this direction instead: For the players who've had some experience with each class, what will they find in the book that's new about barbarians, druids, and rangers? Prestige classes? Feats?
Eckelberry: Lots. Spells and equipment, too.
Wizards: Hmmm. All right then. Uh, so, how did the new edition of D&D help or hinder your development of this guidebook?
Eckelberry: Well, without the new D&D, we wouldn't have done this book, you see.
Selinker: Punk. Show some dignity. Look, when you write a book like this, you have to throw the previous editions' books away --
Selinker: -- and focus on what the rules actually say. So you've got an animal companion: What can you do with it? What do you do with it when it's no longer useful? Do you have to say good-bye to Fluffy? Poor, poor Fluffy. . .
Eckelberry: Who the hell is Fluffy?
Selinker: Uh, sorry. Childhood flashback.
Eckelberry: Are we about done? I have to wash my dog and scrub my bathroom tiling tonight.
Wizards: In that case, we're almost done here. You know, it's always interesting to hear designers' takes on their work. If you were to come at Masters of the Wild as a player, what would you find most exciting? Would you favor one of these classes over another, based on what the guidebook contains?
Eckelberry: If I were a barbarian, I think I'd be bouncing up and down with heathen joy. The new ways to use rage, the new combat feats, and some brutal new weapons and equipment make him deadlier than ever.
Selinker: My favorite's the druid. My 20th-level evil druid can now cast a bunch more new spells, including one that might just wipe out the world on a series of good rolls.
Eckelberry: Hey, what about the ranger?
Selinker: Well, there are only two of us, you know. But in the spirit of fairness, the ranger's my favorite.
Eckelberry: Mine, too.
Wizards: Okay, do you have any favorites among the book's new feats, weapons, animals (in particular, the dire and legendary ones), prestige classes, and spells?
Selinker: It generally helps us to speak in chart form.
Eckelberry: Oooh. Charts.
Wizards: Cross-referenced answers -- a first for this column. So, did any material end up on the cutting room floor?
Selinker: Our original title for the book. We wanted to call it "Get the Hell off My Lawn."
Eckelberry: There were a few things we talked about doing but didn't find time or space to complete, but just about everything we wanted to do early on we accomplished. If I had more pages and time, I'd probably do another prestige class for druid spellcasters and some more legendary animals.
Selinker: That's what it's all about, isn't it? More pages for you.
Eckelberry: That's it. I'm outta here.
Wizards: Wait, Dave. Just one more question. Can you tell us about the process of working together on a project? Do the two of you simply divide up the book into pieces, or do you work together on certain sections?
Selinker: We don't work together if we can help it. Right, Dave? Dave?
*sound of crickets*
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