Everyone’s favourite drow snagged the spotlight during a May 20th livestream on Dungeons & Dragons’ YouTube channel, where publisher Wizards of the Coast outlined several upcoming projects featuring author R.A. Salvatore’s fiction ranger.
Drizzt Do’Urden will grace a card in the upcoming Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set for trading card game Magic: The Gathering, the surprising first time the two behemoths of fantasy tabletop have officially met in cardboard. Due out in July of this year, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will bring over heaps of iconic monsters, gods and characters - dragon queen Tiamat has already reared her head - along with adventuring staples like a portable hole and the feared and coveted vorpal blade.
In card form, Drizzt the legendary elf ranger boasts 3/3 power and toughness and double strike, making him a solid combat beater even if a bit expensive at five mana. But he doesn’t enter combat alone because summoning him also creates a 4/1 Guenhwyvar token, representing his stalwart panther companion and further increasing his value. The last effect is the ringer: when any creature more powerful than Drizzt dies, he gets +1/+1 counters equal to the difference, meaning he can quickly snowball if not dealt with immediately by an opponent.
Other notable characters from Salvatore’s Drizzt books, which started with The Crystal Shard in 1988, include the dwarf warrior Bruenor Battlehammer and Lolth, the Spider Queen. The latter has been designed as a planeswalker in the new set, a distinction normally reserved for characters in Magic’s lore with the ability to hop between worlds and realities at will. Meris Mullally, Magic: The Gathering’s world building and narrative design manager, explained the choice on stream.
“One of our criteria for Planeswalkers in this card set was ‘Have they traveled within the various planes of Dungeons & Dragons?’” Mullaly said. Even in the current iteration of the Forgotten Realms, Lolth has a penchant for rending and remaking planes to suit her dark whims. Mullaly’s comment also seems to indicate other characters with the ability to slip between the mortal world and those beyond it will get the Planeswalker treatment.
Both Drizzt and Bruenor were used as examples of this set’s unique card frame, called the Rulebook Showcase frame. Magic: The Gathering has been adding these stylistic alternates to their sets for a couple of years, providing players another reason to crack open boosters in hopes of snagging exclusive versions of certain cards but also to inject more set-specific flavour.
Cards in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will sometimes come with this Rulebook Showcase frame, which hearkens back to early Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books with its yellowed parchment background and stark black sketch designs.
Those who want more Drizzt can check out the new “Sleep Sound” animated short written by Salvatore and narrated by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, which premiered during the stream. The author said Wizards of the Coast contacted him to write a truncated origin story for the drow in the style of a lullaby, which ended up about how one would expect when raised in the Underdark.
The short story likely aims to introduce new players to a longstanding character who is leading a glut of Wizards of the Coast’s games, tie-ins and crossovers this year. The publisher recently announced that 2020 was its biggest year ever for Dungeons & Dragons, which now has over 50 million players worldwide, many of whom were probably not even born with Drizzt Do’Urden first became popular (apologies if that turned anyone into dust.)
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms releases on Magic: The Gathering Arena on July 18th, with the physical launch following a week later on July 23rd.