A Classic Forgotten Realms Adventure - Our Exclusive Interview
The buzz surrounding last week's announcement of Sword Coast Legends is growing as excited players hope for an epic RPG based on the glory of the table-top experience. We had the opportunity to interview Nathan Stewart, Brand Director for Dungeons & Dragons & Wizards of the Coast and Dan Tudge, President of n-Space to find out more.
MMORPG.com: How does Sword Coast Legends compare to Neverwinter Nights, as many will likely draw comparisons?
Tudge: Right now a lot of people are talking about how Sword Coast Legends feels reminiscent of Neverwinter Nights (NWN); it's a comparison that is definitely warranted. SCL is a classic Forgotten Realms adventure on the Sword Coast. It features tactical pause and play combat with an isometric camera in real-time 3D environments (vs. pre-rendered backgrounds). However, it's the inclusion of DM mode where comparisons to NWN are probably the strongest. Despite both having DM capability, players will find the DM experience in SCL quite different from NWN, finding instead a system that enables DMs to quickly jump in and immediately start playing in real-time. All told, our inspiration has come from many sources, from a lifetime of playing D&D on the tabletop and to the legacy of so many great RPGs such as Dragon Age: Origins and the Baldur's Gate series – inspiration that will enviably invoke comparisons the more of SCL we show to the world.
MMORPG.com: Will other maps, customizable adventures be added over time?
Tudge: Absolutely! We see Sword Coast Legends growing in much the same way as tabletop D&D -- an ongoing experience for both adventurers and DMs. We have a lot of stories to tell, characters to meet and places to visit, but we cannot create them all this year! We plan to keep going as long as people keep playing.
MMORPG.com: How much control over how the adventures play out does the DM have?
Tudge: The DM is fully capable of customizing experiences and significantly altering a player's adventure by changing encounters, placing traps, spawning monsters, creating quest NPCs, generating secret areas, locking doors -- all in real-time. We also have deep campaign tools that enable DMs to build near limitless campaigns for their players (more on that later!).
MMORPG.com: Why the Forgotten Realms?
Stewart: The Forgotten Realms is the universe that we at Wizards of the Coast are focusing our storytelling in for the foreseeable future. It is our most popular setting and can be found in novels and game materials that have been translated in over a dozen different languages. Forgotten Realms is home to some of our most iconic heroes. As we dive into our annual stories, Forgotten Realms will be the backdrop for those adventures. We know we have a large and diverse fan-base who also enjoy our other settings, but there is still so much to explore in the Forgotten Realms.
MMORPG.com: Historically north of Waterdeep in Neverwinter and south of Waterdeep along the Sword Coast have been settings for D&D adventures from video game developers. What drew you back to the Sword Coast as opposed to some other area in the Forgotten Realms such as, the Dale Lands, the Moonsea, or Zakhara?
Tudge: There is certainly no shortage of interesting places around Faerûn (places we definitely plan to explore in our ongoing adventure). However, as huge fans of the Sword Coast region, the opportunity to set our story there was simply too much to pass up. DMs, on the other hand, are free to build campaigns anywhere within the Realms they choose.
MMORPG.com: What have you done developing this game to make it feel like fifth edition as opposed to 3.5, 4.0, or the open 20 systems?
Stewart: As Wizards of the Coast was developing the latest edition we very specifically wanted to take emphasis off the rules and focus on the feel of the game. As part of the playtest and creation of the new edition we looked back at all previous editions and made sure we had clear ideas and descriptions for the most important elements. An example is magic, more specifically let's focus on the fireball spell. It isn't important that the Fireball spell does 8d6 damage or has 150 range in all our games, but is instead important that in each instance it is a mid-level spell that explodes and causes a wider range of damage. In other words, for our partners it's critical they capture the feel of the latest edition of rules, but not necessarily the specific mechanics.
Tudge: In SCL we have adapted the fifth edition tabletop ruleset to better work in a videogame; however, n-Space and Wizards of the Coast have worked very closely to ensure we deliver an experience that feels "true to D&D."
MMORPG.com: It appears that one of the CE items in the Lost Mines. Is that the Lost Mines of Phandelver that is used in the new fifth edition Starter Set?
Tudge: Not explicitly. By using the Lost Mines tile set -- and many of the others that come with SCL -- a DM could very easily recreate the entire fifth edition starter set campaign complete with NPCs, locations and enemies. I actually ran the entire tabletop starter campaign for my twin eight-year-old sons to introduce them to D&D and now we are recreating the starter campaign with the DM campaign features of SCL. It's a lot of fun!