Business of RPGs
and Novels: How Do They Work Together?
Liaison, Books & RPGs
lived in the worlds of our characters, the game designing wizards here
at Wizards of the Coast would use psionic abilities to know exactly what
customers want, employ spellcasting powers to create perfect products
overnight, and teleport the games directly to players who want them. But
until "game designer" becomes a new prestige class (hey, we're
working on it!), the process of planning, developing, marketing, and distributing
roleplaying products remains a little more complicated. This monthly feature
offers insight into the business side of fun and games.
may not hear much talk about how concepts from our roleplaying games (RPGs)
get integrated into other products here at Wizards of the Coast. The great
reception to the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons over the
past year may cause many to wonder how that success reflects in other
business lines: When did the plan for integrating those new elements into
novels begin? What kind of effort was necessary for it to take place?
Who are the people involved in the process?
is crucial to coordinating this type of effort. Writing, editing, and
producing a single novel takes an average of one year, so advance preparation
is key. In fact, the process for integrating new D&D material
into novels actually began long before the first Player's
hit the shelves. Novel editors and game designers attended informational
meetings to exchange ideas and establish timelines. They had innumerable
discussions regarding what new element should be integrated into which
storyline, and how. One novel might contain just one or two elements of
the new edition, while another might base its entire plot on a new concept.
these integration decisions were made, the process was off and running.
Authors and editors received advance material to guide their concepting
efforts. Using that material and the guidelines for their settings, they
worked together to craft the new D&D elements into their stories.
This process, of course, generated numerous phone calls, emails, faxes,
etc. -- and not just between book editors and authors. After all, as storylines
for the novels took shape, content for the new D&D game was
continually evolving. All the parties needed to be made aware of any changes
to statistics, rules, and so on. Anything from how an artifact works to
spell effects can play a key role in a how a novel comes together. Consequently,
it was necessary -- and still is -- for the RPG staff and Books Department
staff to maintain open lines of communication about changes and new ideas.
the new D&D game debuted last year, book editors and authors
continued their fact-checking. The now-published rulebooks provided definitive
sources of information as various novels moved into their final stages.
The Forgotten Realms novel The
Summoning, by Troy Denning, offers
a particularly good example of a title that was heavily influenced by
the new D&D content and for which, consequently, continuity
was a key element.
about the future of novels and RPGs? The good news for fans is that these
groups are working together more closely than ever to integrate content
and exchange ideas. Keep in mind that ideas definitely flow both ways
during the process of creating RPGs and novels. Elements from the new
edition of D&D continue to make their way into various novels,
but concepts from novels also generate product ideas and changes on the
RPG side as well.
and players will continue to see the results of this combined effort in
more and more products in the years to come. Perhaps the best example
of this was the announcement just made at this year's Gen Con about the
new Dungeons & Dragons novel line, due to begin publication
in the summer of 2002. Ideas for content, design, release dates, and other
elements are being generated by a team that spans across not just the
RPG and books product lines, but periodicals, online media, and the RPGA
as well. These groups will continue to be essential contributors to the
development of the novel line, and elements from the D&D novels
will play an integral part in the development of future products, stories,
and adventures. This effort, and more down the road, will provide fans
with more choices than ever for enjoying all of the elements of D&D.
Ultimately, all these groups are working together to produce the best
possible materials so that fans can enjoy a truly universal D&D
out more about the Open Gaming License!
to the D&D
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