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A Chat with RA Salvatore About Underdark and D&D Storytelling

Garrett Fuller Posted:
Interviews 0

Last week we got the chance to talk with renowned fantasy and D&D author R.A. Salvatore. Salvatore is responsible for some of the best Dungeons and Dragons fiction ever written. He is also the writer who put dark elves on the map with his famous stories about Drizzt Do’Urden. Recently, while finishing up his latest novel, Salvatore took up the chance to write a quest line for Perfect World’s D&D MMO Neverwinter. With the Rage of Demons plot running and Neverwinter: Underdark now launching, it was the perfect time to get R.A. involved in the story arc for players.

We began the interview talking about the type of work Salvatore goes through in order to write a set of quest lines. He explained that it is very different from world building writing, like he was doing at the now defunct 38 Studios. This work was more direct and in depth for the players. Bob said that seeing a story line come to life really is an amazing art form. For years he only saw pictures or tattoos, now he can see his characters move and interact with players in a real quest setting. It is very satisfying for him.

Bob said that working on the quest line was similar to playing Dungeon Master for his gaming group. They still meet weekly to play D&D and all sorts of games. The writing is far removed from his novels. The main reason is that in a game, the player characters are the real stars. You want them to have the experience, not just his fictional NPCs who appear in the game. It is all about having your character adventure with an old group of friends.

We went back and reviewed the history of the Underdark and how it really came to be. Bob laughed at the old Dragon Magazine articles and the Fiend Folio which bought a lot of the Underdark to life in the old D&D days. “It was always this big mystery,” he said. It was really his books that brought everything out into the open and made players want to go there. Bob showed how things are very different now, if he writes about a dragon, you have a good picture in your head of what that is, years ago, Tolkien had to describe his dragon because most people did not have an idea what that looked like. Now that readers and players have the ideas, it give a writer more to work with, they can flush out a personality much better. Neverwinter gives you the chance to interact with these personalities. Bob describes his iconic characters of Drizzt, Bruenor, and Regis as old friends you would want to adventure with. They are like a dream team for the quests, only, you as the player are the main character.

Bob was excited to work on Neverwinter because it always gives him a chance to build on certain aspects of the heroes he had created. He could not reveal too many details about the quest line for Neverwinter but wanted to make sure people knew that several of their favorite characters will make an appearance. Bob also said that he wants to make sure the plot lines work within the stories and books. We asked if the quest line was independent to the story arcs for Neverwinter: Underdark and Rage of Demons. He said that it is not necessarily independent. It works within the story to get you where you need to be. He always likes to add events or hints of his stories within different mediums. These things are not only fun for him as an author, but as a player and reader, many of his fans have been with him for over twenty five years. They will pick up on plot points and events that connect a lot of the dots in Forgotten Realms.

R.A. Salvatore will continue to work in games as well as write novels. He loves both mediums and keeps finding so much fun in the new technologies and depths of storytelling which games have achieved. He still loves writing fight scenes and now loves to watch battles play out in video games. We’re all excited to play his new quests in Neverwinter and we hope Bob keeps working on the game to infuse it with his brand of storytelling.


Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.