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D&D 5E Auroborus: A Mountain-shattering Rock-and-roll D&D World from WoW Developers

What happens when some of the developers of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch make a D&D setting? You get a 'rock-and-roll' high-powered world called Auroboros!

coils.jpg


Coming to Kickstarter on April 20th from Warchief Gaming, Auroborus: Coils of the Serpent is set in a land called Lawbrand. Players can wield immense power, able to shatter mountaintops. The Kickstarter is for the first 'Worldbook' which details Lawbrand.

"Ancient magic flows through the grimy streets of Lawbrand’s bustling Trade-Cities. Tensions between the ruling Sularian Church and the new generation of upstart adventurers threaten to ignite a firestorm of societal upheaval. In the wilds beyond Lawbrand’s borders, long-forgotten races and newly formed cults rise to claim their own territories – and exert their will upon civilization. And beneath it all, the ancient World-Serpent, Auroboros, awakens to devour all…"

The setting contains 5 new races (including the aquatic Atsaad), and 4 subclasses (including the fighter Wildkeeper).

As for that 'mountain-splitting" power? Here's what they say: "The ancient World-Serpent, Auroboros, coils throughout Creation; its vast power capable of birthing startling new life or annihilating all that is. By taking the dread Mark of the Serpent, players can wield the Auroboros’ awesome power directly, gaining the ability to heal the sick and shatter mountaintops alike – but at great peril to themselves."
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Sylvanas has been pretty much the same person since WoW started, though. Back in vanilla, she had low level undead players testing plague out on prisoners of war in the Brill tavern's basement.

If anything, it looks like the Alliance is heading toward a period of Drama, with Tyrande essentially resigning from the Alliance and Anduin, at least for the rest of this expansion, being turned into a tool of the imprisoned god of death.

I think the whole point of creating the War Council for the Horde was to end their period of Draaaaaaamaaaaaaa. Blizzard knows everyone, especially Horde players, is sick of that stuff.
I'm surprised it took them this long to smarten up on that. The Horde was always the lower-drama faction in terms of players. People who just wanted to get stuff done tended to be on the Horde - I attribute this to uglier player races in part, and possibly more effective racials early on. Certainly whatever the cause, my looooooong experience on both sides suggests drama is ridiculously more popular with the Alliance players, and I expect they'll enjoy drama with their leaders a hell of a lot more too.

To bring this back to Auroboros, I'm really hoping Metzen can avoid the urge to create either a self-insert (like Green Jesus aka Thrall was), and/or some sort of squad of GMPC-like NPCs. It's always a danger with people with his sort of ideas and enthusiasm creating a setting. Any drama in a TT RPG should revolve around the players, not a bunch of NPCs.
 

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Given that this was apparently his actual D&D setting, I expect to see Metzen's campaign characters show up as prominent NPCs. As long as they are in the mostly retired category like the NPC versions of Monte Cook's players' characters in Ptolus, it should be fine. I find that kind of stuff gives a game world texture, as long as it doesn't turn into the PCs sitting around waiting for Elminster to show up and save the day.
 

I find that kind of stuff gives a game world texture, as long as it doesn't turn into the PCs sitting around waiting for Elminster to show up and save the day.
I'm more concerned it'll turn into "I'm too busy saving the world so you guys go do this grunt work for me!" which is fine at like, L1, but gets the side-eye hard by L10 and is actively annoying by L15. In ideal world for me it's his home campaign minus the PCs (with the NPCs he used of ofc), with the players standing in for those PCs.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I'm more concerned it'll turn into "I'm too busy saving the world so you guys go do this grunt work for me!"
This is just a setting book, not an adventure, so I don't think the prominent NPCs are likely to say anything at all. They might be mentioned as existing in the setting, but it will be up to DMs to decide how or whether to use them.

If/when they come out with an adventure, that's when you need to worry about powerful NPCs talking down to the PCs.
 

This is just a setting book, not an adventure, so I don't think the prominent NPCs are likely to say anything at all. They might be mentioned as existing in the setting, but it will be up to DMs to decide how or whether to use them.

If/when they come out with an adventure, that's when you need to worry about powerful NPCs talking down to the PCs.
Good clarification - I'd misread it as being both, like Odyssey of the Dragonlords. Yeah that's a lot less worrying.
 


Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
The lore is actually more coherent than it may look if you just drop in and out. The Chronicle books are really good at knitting Warcraft 1, 2, 3, Lord of the Clans, the novels and comics, and WoW all together.

Thrall's Horde has never quite gotten its crap together until relatively recently, between the various tensions within the Horde and Thrall's own reluctance to be its singular leader. So that's allowed Horde conservatives, like Garrosh, to double-down on the violent (and racist!) tendencies of some of the Horde to escalate hostilities between the Alliance and Horde, which played out over several expansions. (When he was deposed, he escaped his war crimes trial with the help of a bronze dragon, which gives us the time travel adventure Warlords of Draenor.) The Pandaren expansion actually turned out to be a fairly meditative affair focused on the consequences of war and the collateral damage inflicted by it. The most recent Warchief, Sylvanas, has been quietly working with an outside force, which we've known for a while, sweeping the Alliance and Horde into an incredibly bloody Fourth War, which played out in Battle for Azeroth. The outside force turned out to be an imprisoned god of death who is the big bad of Shadowlands. The Horde, tired of playing Warchief Musical Chairs (Vol'jin was briefly warchief before getting killed to put Sylvanas on the throne) now has a war council, which looks to be more stable going forward.

Meanwhile, there's been supernatural shenanigans going on, with the Old Gods/Void making their moves, the Titans fighting back and the Burning Legion attacking. A lot of the stuff from War3 has been explained as part of a larger supernatural/multiversal war going on (there's a really cool map of the Warcraft multiverse in the inside cover of Chronicle, which shows that Blizzard has a lot of D&D players in it and that they loved and wanted to improve upon the D&D cosmology). Arthas: Tool, ultimately, of both the imprisoned death god and the Burning Legion. Deathwing: Tool of the void/Old Gods. Illidan: Fighting a good fight against the Burning Legion, tripped up by his inability to get along with anyone for longer than five minutes tops. The end of the war with the Burning Legion damaged the planet, which is where the Azerite resource came from. But for the most part, that conflict is over, at least for now, with the Old Gods dead/put back in their box, the Burning Legion defeated for at least a few years or decades, etc. Now the game is heading out into the multiverse, as high level campaigns do, starting with finding out what Sylvanas and the death god she's working with want.

The expansions see-saw back and forth between grounded expansions, like vanilla or Battle for Azeroth, and more out there stuff, like Burning Crusade and Shadowlands.

I assume, when you are talking about the multiverse, you mean this;
1616708124071.png


The art is very pretty, but this does look pretty much like a cardboard cutout of other properties cosmologies.
 

The art is very pretty, but this does look pretty much like a cardboard cutout of other properties cosmologies.
There are six outer planes equivalents, and they don't line up with traditional alignments -- the demons are chaotic and adjacent to the equivalent of the angels, not opposing them. Shadow and death are different realms/power sources. There are six elemental planes, etc.

Like I said, I think it shows the influence of the Great Wheel (and the World Axis -- look how the Emerald Dream and the Shadowlands are depicted as being oppositional planes adjacent to the prime reality), but with all the superfluous stuff ruthlessly cut away (Bytopia, we won't miss ya!) and realigned for less traditional conflicts. There's no obvious "good" or "evil" in this line up, as we've seen everyone but Life act like complete asshats in the past, and they've likely only been spared since we've seen the least of them.

I like this set up a lot more than I do the Great Wheel.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
There are six outer planes equivalents, and they don't line up with traditional alignments -- the demons are chaotic and adjacent to the equivalent of the angels, not opposing them. Shadow and death are different realms/power sources. There are six elemental planes, etc.

Like I said, I think it shows the influence of the Great Wheel (and the World Axis -- look how the Emerald Dream and the Shadowlands are depicted as being oppositional planes adjacent to the prime reality), but with all the superfluous stuff ruthlessly cut away (Bytopia, we won't miss ya!) and realigned for less traditional conflicts. There's no obvious "good" or "evil" in this line up, as we've seen everyone but Life act like complete asshats in the past, and they've likely only been spared since we've seen the least of them.

I like this set up a lot more than I do the Great Wheel.

The Emerald Dream is the Fey, the Shadowlands is the Shadowfel. The elemental planes are expanded to include Spirit and Decay, which are just the Positive and Negative Planes.

The other things (Order, Disorder, Death etc) don't even seem to be places, but just concepts and the deity-like powers that represent them. Much like alignment, except instead of Good vs. Evil they have Light vs. Shadow, and have added Life vs. Death.

All in all, not a cosmology I have much use for. I do largely agree the Great Wheel has a lot of useless planes, but if you cut away the in-betweeners (Bytopia, Acheron, etc) that most tables never use, it has much more utility to this.

My opinion only of course. I just don't find that this map adds anything interesting to me, and just feels like the Great Wheel with a few name-changes and places moved.
 

The Emerald Dream is the Fey, the Shadowlands is the Shadowfel. The elemental planes are expanded to include Spirit and Decay, which are just the Positive and Negative Planes.
The Warcraft cosmology already has positive and negative planes -- the realms of Light and Shadow. Spirit and Decay are something different; that's one of the things that Maldraxxus in the Shadowlands has been a good sign of: This cosmology doesn't break down easily into "these are the good guys, these are the bad guys." Lots of folks anticipate we'll be going to war against the Light in the near future, for instance.

Obviously, YMMV, but I find this a useful, gameable space and expect that, eventually, we'll be visiting all of these circles, since the Void is explicitly an intruder in our reality from their own, which suggests that each of these circles is their own plane.
 


I will note the elemental planes in Warcraft are specifically artificial constructs. They're not natural, they were built because the Titan-forged, servents of Order, needed somewhere to jam all of these chaotic elementals they'd just beaten up as they were a bit much to leave just running around, so they made a prison plane and just shoved the elementals in. The plane ended up splitting into the various elemental sub-dimensions, which are the various elemental 'planes'.

Other places, like Draenor, don't have elemental planes at all
 

Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of, frankly.
Their pattern since vanilla is mundane/out there/mundane/out there, so I'd expect the next expansion to be back on Azeroth and more grounded. The old Dragon Isles rumors are going around again, and it's probably time for them. (Concept art for them was in the original Collector's Edition Making Of art book.)
 

Their pattern since vanilla is mundane/out there/mundane/out there, so I'd expect the next expansion to be back on Azeroth and more grounded. The old Dragon Isles rumors are going around again, and it's probably time for them. (Concept art for them was in the original Collector's Edition Making Of art book.)
Well, the Dragon Isles will at least give Alexstrasza something to do again...

...rather than going insane and attacking us all, like all her fellow Aspects have done (or, in the case of Nozdormu, will do).


I do have to have to admit I'm curious how Metzen will do. Warcraft as a setting is pretty much just D&D with the numbers filed off and with a few added quirks, so I'm thinking he should do just fine.

(And I'd love to see Azeroth and the rest updated to 5e, although that's obviously outside Metzen's hands).
 

On a side note, the official D&D Facebook page posted this announcement and their Twitter account retweeted the announcement too. While they share and retweet a lot of D&D-related stuff, I think this is the first ever 3rd party gaming book done this way. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing or what it may mean for the future of the product. I remember that both Acquisitions, Inc and Wildemount started out as independent 3rd-party products, and then WotC got involved with them and they became semi-produced by them. Will that happen with this one too, since they are directly plugging it? And does anyone remember if either of those two were directly promoted by WotC before they got officially involved with their production?
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
On a side note, the official D&D Facebook page posted this announcement and their Twitter account retweeted the announcement too. While they share and retweet a lot of D&D-related stuff, I think this is the first ever 3rd party gaming book done this way. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing or what it may mean for the future of the product. I remember that both Acquisitions, Inc and Wildemount started out as independent 3rd-party products, and then WotC got involved with them and they became semi-produced by them. Will that happen with this one too, since they are directly plugging it? And does anyone remember if either of those two were directly promoted by WotC before they got officially involved with their production?

You're right... that is really odd.

Acq. Inc has long been promoted by WotC, Chris Perkins DMs most of their games! And Critical Role had also been plugged, most notably with Perkins guest-playing for a session (and quickly getting killed)!

This is fairly unique though, as the product is so new. Not sure what it could mean, honestly.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Well color me interested.

And as for whatever weird WoW lore debate is going on, I am pretty fine with the job they have done. Lore isn't what chased me away. Less time, and the removal of skill trees is why I stopped. Sigh... I really really like skill trees people.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Their pattern since vanilla is mundane/out there/mundane/out there, so I'd expect the next expansion to be back on Azeroth and more grounded. The old Dragon Isles rumors are going around again, and it's probably time for them.
It's not that I object to visiting other planes. I'm just bored in advance by having all the themes for a decade to come laid out for me. And I also dislike the way they're trying to pigeonhole everything into one of those circles, making it all ever-so-neat-and-tidy, even if it means retconning earlier, more interestingly nebulous ideas (that were probably originally dreamed up by Metzen).

Well, the Dragon Isles will at least give Alexstrasza something to do again...

...rather than going insane and attacking us all, like all her fellow Aspects have done (or, in the case of Nozdormu, will do).
What makes you sure she won't visit the Dragon Isles, go insane, and attack us all? :devilish:
 
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foolcat

Villager
While I‘m not particularly keen on the underlying system of 5E(*), this looks interesting enough. To paraphrase an (in)famos WoW developer stance:

Bring the setting, not the system.

I expect nothing less than the fully-fledged, heavy-metal Metzen epicness. He had me at “Black Sabbath’s 1973 U.S. road tour

wanders off to blast War Pigs

-----

*) I ran a one-shot once to get to know the system, and I get why it’s so hugely popular; this may be the best version of the rules since their original inception. Not that D&D was much of a staple during my 35+years of roleplaying; I was weaned on class-less, level-less systems like RuneQuest, and prefer them to this day. But now that Savage Worlds for Pathfinder is (soon to be) out there, who knows what can happen...
 

That Polygon article really does a good job of setting the scene, much better than their actual website does.

Rock and roll D&D -- I should have expected nothing less of Metzen.
 

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