Wizards of the Coast Unveils Dungeons & Dragons’ 50th Anniversary Plans
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Wizards of the Coast Unveils Dungeons & Dragons’ 50th Anniversary Plans

To mark the golden anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast is unleashing one of its most powerful monsters to destroy it all.

At GaryCon XVI in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (the hometown of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax), gaming publisher Wizards of the Coast unveiled its product plans for the 50th anniversary of the revolutionary tabletop role-playing game.

While the brand is releasing tie-in products that include fashion wear, like Converse sneakers and Hawaiian shirts by Reyn Spooner, and a partnership with Lego for D&D sets, it’s Wizards’ news gaming-centric books that really get the jubilations going.

In a press-only presentation at GaryCon, Wizards of the Coast — repped by story designers Amanda Hamon, Justice Arman, Jason Tondro, and senior story designer Chris Perkins — revealed more in-depth information about each of the new books than what’s been previously announced.

The main attraction is undoubtedly Vecna: Eve of Ruin, a high-level campaign in which players must stop the dark lich wizard Vecna. While Vecna’s origins date back to the Greyhawk setting in 1976, his name became widely known more recently through the blockbuster fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Perkins says that all the books for D&D’s 50th anniversary “tie so closely to the past, present, and future of Dungeons & Dragons.”

IGN quickly runs down each of the new books hyped by Wizards of the Coast for D&D’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, which you can read below.

Vecna: Eve of Ruin

A new hardcover adventure at 256 pages, Vecna: Eve of Ruin is designed to take player characters from level 10 to maximum level 20. It is scheduled for release on D&D Beyond on May 7, and at retail on May 31.

Vecna: Eve of Ruin’s story opens in the Forgotten Realms, where players are recruited by three powerful known mages — Alustreil Silverhand, Tasha, and Mordenkainen — who inform them of Vecna’s plans to enact his Ritual of Remaking. If successful, all of D&D becomes Vecna’s domain.

Story designer Amanda Hamon revealed Eve of Ruin as “a journey of the multiverse.” “The player characters are made aware of a plot by Vecna to remake the multiverse,” Hamon said. “As you can imagine, that is not a good situation. Vecna is a nasty, petty, evil jerk who has permeated D&D’s fifty year history.”

She added that a key plot device is the Rod of Seven Parts, an artifact weapon from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. Players must travel to different D&D settings, including Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Eberron, Greyhawk, Avernus, and more, to assemble the Rod of Seven Parts before fighting Vecna head-on. Hamon teases these locations also house more iconic villains from D&D past who will show up in Eve of Ruin to foil their efforts.

Perkins says the return of the locations, almost all of which have been reintroduced throughout D&D’s Fifth Edition, are meant to be “subtle nods” to its history. With the inclusion of Greyhawk, Perkins teases Wizards is seeding possibilities for the future.

In addition to Eve of Ruin, Wizards of the Coast will also release the “prequel” adventure Vecna: Nest of the Eldritch Eye. Described as a “bonus adventure,” it is designed for lower-level players to acquaint themselves with Vecna as a threat through his minions, the Cult of Vecna. Nest of the Eldritch Eye will be available with all pre-orders of Eve of Ruin. It can also be purchased for $4.99 on D&D Beyond.

Quests From the Infinite Staircase

A new 224-page anthology book, Quests From the Infinite Staircase republishes six classic adventures from D&D history, all updated for Fifth Edition. It will be released for early access on July 9, and at retail on July 16.

Senior game designer Justice Arman explained that Quests From the Infinite Staircase is unified by a theme of “historical significance.” “I wanted to select adventures that were memorable, beloved, [and] had a common theme to them,” he said. These include creative innovations for D&D, such as quests that subverted hack-and-slash conventions, or defined D&D as a brand, such as adventures written by luminaries Tracy and Laura Hickman.

The revised adventures of Quests From the Infinite Staircase are as follows: The Lost City (1982), When a Star Falls (1984), Phaorah (1982), Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (1982), and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1976).

Arman revealed the adventures are connected by a central nexus: The Infinite Staircase, an extra-dimensional realm with a staircase that spirals, well, infinitely. Every landing opens a door that leads to one of the adventures. Inhabiting the Infinite Staircase is Nafas, a new character and noble genie whose existence comes from winds blown through Infinite Staircdase’s doorways for eternity. “He is a distant and benevolent observer that helps characters travel from place to place,” Arman said. Arman confirms that Nafas has a statblock, but cautions against fighting him.

Unlike other D&D anthology books featuring planar travels, there is no requirement for plane shift spells or spellcasters. “All that’s needed is to happen upon the right door,” Arman explained. He adds that Quests From the Infinite Staircase are “slottable” into virtually any other campaign.

“I wanted to select adventures that were memorable, beloved, [and] had a common theme to them.

While all the adventures are updated for Fifth Edition, including a cultural inclusion process, Arman says their revival is more “translation, not a transcription.”

“I like to think [that], when we update adventures, we polish the text so the best part of these can shine,” he added. “It’s about the journey, not the destination.”

Revised Core Rulebooks

2024 isn’t just the 50th anniversary for Dungeons & Dragons. It is also the tenth anniversary for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, or 5E, which Perkins confirmed at GaryCon is still the most popular iteration of D&D of all time.

To mark the occasion, Wizards of the Coast is revising the three core rulebooks: Player’s Handbook (releasing September 17), Dungeon Master’s Guide (November 12), and Monster Manual (February 18, 2025). Each will also be made available for access on D&D Beyond a few weeks earlier, on September 3, October 28, and February 18 respectively. The 2024 editions will be priced as they were in 2014.

Perkins clarified that the new revised core rulebooks, officially designated by parenthesis 2024 — e.g. Player’s Handbook (2024) — are not “burning down the game,” but “taking books that are many people’s first steps into worlds of imagination to make them more accessible, easier to reference, [its] content easier to find, [to be] more useful at the game table.”

Overall, each revised book features UX improvements, new art, and “other things people have been asking for.” Perkins didn’t say much more on that particular subject, though he did tease an upgrade to the weapons system.

Player’s Handbook (2024) is a revised and expanded edition of the 2014 original. It has the same core 12 character classes, but now with a total of 48 subclasses with new illustrations for each of them. Perkins said that art is often the invitation that leads players towards classes and subclasses, so it was critical the art feel “aspirational.”

The Dungeon Masters Guide is also updated “for better flow,” along with tips for new DMs to run “a top notch game.

Other changes include a total rearranging of how it dishes out information; Perkins confirmed that the book will first inform players how to play D&D before even creating a character. Character creation will also ask players to select a class first before their species (formerly race) and background.

In a fun twist, Perkins said the characters from the cult classic Dungeons & Dragons animated series from the 1980s appear as illustrations (and aged up, so they are no longer children). Their gear also appears in the handbook with stats.

The Dungeon Masters Guide is also updated “for better flow,” along with tips for new DMs to run “a top notch game.” The revisions are the result of several major DMs that Wizards of the Coast consulted for input; Perkins confirmed only Matthew Mercer of Critical Role and Daredevil star Deborah Ann Woll by name.

The Monster Manual is “bigger” in 2024, with “apex-level monsters” and expanded statblocks for NPCs. Statblocks also have tweaked visuals, with initiative bonuses and even a set initiative score should DMs be disinterested in rolling for them. The revised Monster Manual will not contain every new monster in D&D 5E. Rather, it contains all the monsters from the original 2014 Monster Manual — each monster having undergone mechanical “fine tuning” — plus brand new monsters. Perkins said that other monsters that have appeared in other 5E source books “are still compatible.”

The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons 1970-1977

The last book associated with D&D’s 50th year is not a source book, but rather a historical one. Billed as the publication of a historical document, The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons 1970-1977 is a thick tome (it does 1d4 bludgeoning damage, or so Perkins joked) that publishes D&D creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s original notes that created Dungeons & Dragons. It will be released on June 18.

The book is sourced from the original documents themselves, which entered public record (and subsequently archived at the National Archives in Chicago) by Arneson’s lawsuit against TSR in the 1970s. At GaryCon, Tondro clarified that the book aims to show fans old and new just how D&D originated, without much editorializing. While the book contains commentary by D&D historian Jon Peterson, it is not a documentary nor even a “textbook.” Instead, the book is intended to act as a record that shows the precise germination of one of the world’s most influential and consequential games of all time.

”A lot of our players, quite frankly, don’t know any of this,” said Tondro. “They don’t know where the game came from. They don’t know how it evolved. I think they’d like to know.”

Eric Francisco is a freelance writer at IGN

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