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Across Worlds. Across Media.
Dragon's-Eye View
By Jon Schindehette

Illustrations by Drew Sheneman

O riginally I was going to write about dragons today, but then I realized we aren't really planning to do anything with dragons at the moment except for some subtle refinements. Think of these refinements as a draconic nip and tuck. Now, if things change, I'll probably have a conversation about it 'cause I love talking about dragons!

Instead, I'd like to talk about a different subject that came up recently. First let's go over a bit of background information. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about minotaurs, and a side discussion broke out about differences in the look of critters when they are monsters and when they are playable races. I plan to take this particular discussion up in the halls of Wizards of the Coast. This discussion also spawned a slightly different conversation about the visual differences of critters when they go across settings. For example, consider a minotaur in the Forgotten Realms setting vs. one in the Dragonlance setting. Should they look the same, or should they look different? Another great discussion . . . for another time.

That brings us to today's topic: I'd like to talk about a subject that came up as part of those bigger conversations. I received a number of emails, Facebook posts, and even a couple of voicemails that helped encourage today's post.

NOTE: Although I have no problem receiving phone calls, please limit your voicemail content. Clear, concise, and brief is preferred, and, no, I'm not going to return your call. Nothing personal, but my hours are too long already. If I had to respond to every email, voicemail, and post, I'd never get anything done. So, again, nothing personal, okay?

So what is today's conversation? Well, one writer summed it up in a letter with the subject line of "My take from a non-D&D player." Although I know the vast majority of the folks that read the articles on the D&D website are D&D RPG players, an increasing number of non-RPG players have been contacting me with their feelings and impressions of the D&D brand. If they don't play the RPG, then where are they coming from? Well, a number of folks are coming from the D&D-based novels (and they've read the books of the six wonderful authors that were announced as part of the upcoming Sundering series: Salvatore, Greenwood, Kemp, Byers, Evans, Denning), a lot of folks come from the video gaming side of things (such as fans of D&D Online, Baldur's Gate, the upcoming release of Neverwinter, and many other titles), and some are tied into the brand through the comics. There's also a small contingent of folks that are fans because of family members or just because they are fans of fantasy in general. How big is D&D? I get stopped all the time when I walk through city streets with my D&D t-shirt or when I drive around on my motorcycle with my D&D messenger bag flapping in the wind.

So what does this mean? It means that the visuals of D&D are bigger than just the RPG, and that makes my job more complicated. Dan Gelon (the D&D Digital Art Director) and I are working together with our partners to create some of the best D&D digital projects you can find out there. Don't believe me? Check out the buzz on the Neverwinter video game. It just keeps getting better and gathering more awards . . . and all that from a game that is in beta testing! When we talk about world building for D&D, we have to talk about it for the brand—not just the RPG. So we need to look at outlines, personalities, and animation issues with creature designs, memorable character designs, and a whole host of issues we wouldn't have to worry about if we were simply creating art for the tabletop RPG.

Okay, but why is this important? Plain and simple, D&D is important to all its fans, not just the ones that play it on the kitchen table. The fan that reads the R.A. Salvatore novels about Drizzt is just as interested in what's going on in the world as the DM that is trying to work up a cool adventure in the Dalelands, or the fan that is playing the new guardian fighter in the Neverwinter beta. Each of them is invested in D&D and has been bugging me to tell them when they will be able to buy some kind of consumer version of the Forgotten Realms World Bible (not any time soon). This isn't any huge surprise to me—I have only to look at my own family unit. I have a daughter that did nothing but read the novels for many years, and she just recently decided to get into the TRPG and is DMing her first campaign right now. I have a son that is interested only in the video games. Another is the completely invested fan and plays the TRPG, the minis, board games; reads the novels and comic books; and grabs just about anything else he can get his hands on. My other daughter is lightly engaged with D&D, but loves the merchandise. To tell the truth, she's more of a Magic: The Gathering fan. I still love her though.

So, I get that the brand offers a lot of different experiences to all its fans, and I also get that they are all passionate about D&D in whatever manner they consume it. My question for you folks out there is this:

 How do you express your D&D fandom?  
I play the RPG only.
I read the novels only.
I play the video games only.
I read the comic books only.
I play the board games only.
I play the miniatures-based games only.
I enjoy two expressions of the brand.
I enjoy three expressions of the brand.
I enjoy four expressions of the brand.
I enjoy five expressions of the brand.
I enjoy all the expressions of the brand.

Next week we swing back around and talk about the goblinoids again. I took your feedback, and we had a ball going back to the drawing board with these guys.

The storm giant is depicted as:
Giant A 176 6.2%
Giant B 2187 76.8%
Giant C 183 6.4%
Giant D 102 3.6%
Giant E 5 0.2%
Giant F 17 0.6%
None of the above 179 6.3%
Total 2849 100.0%

The cloud giant is depicted as:
Giant A 2250 79.9%
Giant B 241 8.6%
Giant C 76 2.7%
Giant D 25 0.9%
Giant E 4 0.1%
Giant F 12 0.4%
None of the above 207 7.4%
Total 2815 100.0%

The fire giant is depicted as:
Giant A 21 0.7%
Giant B 73 2.6%
Giant C 62 2.2%
Giant D 2569 91.3%
Giant E 3 0.1%
Giant F 12 0.4%
None of the above 73 2.6%
Total 2813 100.0%

The frost giant is depicted as:
Giant A 59 2.1%
Giant B 115 4.2%
Giant C 2435 87.9%
Giant D 56 2.0%
Giant E 9 0.3%
Giant F 33 1.2%
None of the above 63 2.3%
Total 2770 100.0%

The stone giant is depicted as:
Giant A 40 1.4%
Giant B 7 0.3%
Giant C 45 1.6%
Giant D 25 0.9%
Giant E 64 2.3%
Giant F 2478 89.5%
None of the above 111 4.0%
Total 2770 100.0%

The hill giant is depicted as:
Giant A 21 0.7%
Giant B 1 0.0%
Giant C 1 0.0%
Giant D 7 0.2%
Giant E 2740 94.5%
Giant F 84 2.9%
None of the above 45 1.6%
Total 2899 100.0%

Jon Schindehette
Jon Schindehette joined Wizards of the Coast in 1997 as the website art director. In the intervening years he has worked as the marketing art director, novels art director, and creative manager. In January of 2009 he moved into the role of senior creative director for D&D. Jon is a long time D&D player (started in 1978), and currently plays in a Tuesday night game and DMs a random pick-up game for younger players. He can be found on Twitter (@ArtOrder) and at theartorder.com.
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