For most college students, time spent in college is a balance between academic activities, personal relationships, and financial challenges. The school of magic is no different. It can even be a bit more complex as students have to find time for adventures and to kill dragons in addition to the usual activities.
The upcoming release of Dungeons & Dragons Strixhaven: Chaos Curriculum is both something familiar and something new. It offers a setting and an adventure in a school built for wizards, a concept that has met with great success thanks to the Harry potter media franchise and the dozens of other similar books that have come out in its wake. But this new D&D book also focuses on things outside of the usual dungeon maps and great villain battles.
“I loved being able to put together classic-style coming-of-age stories with a D&D twist in a very recognizable setting – school, but also with a D&D twist,” said Amanda Hamn, Senior Designer at Dungeons & Atelier des Dragons. “These adventures have character archetypes that you’ll recognize in the sportsman, cheerleader, and straight college student, but the twist of D&D is that he’s an owl, a fiery genasi, and of an orc. “
Strixhaven is the latest adaptation of a decor of the D&D brother game, Magic: The Gathering. Players join one of the five houses: Witherbloom, Quandrix, Prismari, Lorehold, and Silverquill. There’s plenty of high adventure in the setting, but the book also offers hooks in something a little more grounded: student work.
“I worked as a writer and later editor-in-chief of my student newspaper for two years,” said Hamon, speaking of her inspiration for the rules of student work. “The student newspaper was independent from the university, so it was a paying job and it was in my field of study, so it seemed like a victory! I then managed to convince the nearby town newspaper to give me a job as a journalist while I was still a junior and senior finishing my journalism degree. At the time, I was reporting on a plane crash, murder trials, and scientific discoveries from the University of Michigan as I walked out of the office to attend classes on time. My days were usually at least 12 hours long, including weekends, but I had no little fun. It was, in fact, the start of the career that would eventually lead me to game design!
Strixhaven students can take a job during the academic year, but they can change jobs if they need to. In fact, changing jobs can be a good basis for a session hook. They’ll earn a small gold gift each play week for spending, but they’ll also earn a connection point with a work-connected NPC. These points can be spent to bond with characters as rivals, allies, and even potentially as romantic partners.
“The rules of relationships are a love letter, a play on words,” said Hamon, “to a wide range of video games that are either entirely based on dating and romance or include romance sub-games. as part of a larger RPG. Visual novels and dating sims such as hateful boyfriend, Monster Ball, and Dream dad had a huge influence on how this book’s romance rules turned out. In fact, the driving force behind our rules is player agency largely because I kept getting rejected by all of my crushes in Monster Ball! ”
Players who invest time and effort in finding a beloved relationship are rewarded with an in-game edge: they can use Inspiration up to their Mastery Bonus during a session as they find motivation to succeed because of their love.
“Games in which you have one or more primary love interests while completing a larger dramatic plot, such as the Bioware and Witcher games, have also profoundly influenced how this book’s Beloved mechanic works and how he continues to remain relevant throughout the entire plot, ”Hamon said.
Strixhaven: Chaos Curriculum will be released in North America on December 7 with a phased release to the rest of the world during December.