Spelljammer D&D Direct Live Report: 9am PDT (5pm BST) SPELLJAMMER CONFIRMED! DRAGONLANCE!

D&D Direct, WotC's new video-format announcement show launches today at 9am PDT (5pm BST). If you aren't able to watch it, I'll be updating this article live. Feel free to comment below! Once it launches, you will need to refresh this page when you want to see new updates. The video is expected to last about 30 minutes.

If you CAN watch it, you'll find it on YouTube or Twitch at the above times. Otherwise, follow along below!
  • 45 mins to go. Live updates incoming!
  • 30 mins to go!
  • 5 minutes to go!
  • Here we go! Opens with a sea shanty.
  • Forgive typos. They talk fast and I can't type.
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  • Spelljammer is confirmed!
  • They talk REALLY FAST!
  • Spelljammer Adventures in Space, project lead Chris Perkins, Trystan Falcone graphic designer
  • Cities built on asteroids, dead gods floating in the ether
  • 6 races---astral elves, autognomes, hedozi(?), gif, plasmoids, thri-kreen
  • 3 hardcovers in a slipcase: Astral Adventurers Guide, Boo's Astral Menagerie, Light of Xaryxis adventure
  • Prequel adventure in July
  • Wizkids miniatures
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Other stuff also discussed!
  • Baldur's Gate 3 CRPG preview video (game is in 2023)
  • Journeys Through Radiant Citadel intro video -- 3 of the adventures are: Wages of Vice (5th level), Caribbean; Orchids of the Invisible Mountain (14th level), feywild, far realm, Whistler new monster; Fiend of Hollow Mind (4th level), skeletons and spirits
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  • "Campaign Cases" -- Creature tokens! Terrain tiles! July!
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D&D Movie directors now onscreen. The movie in March 2023 is called HONOR AMONG THIEVES.

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  • New D&D starter set. Comes with 'digital onboarding'. Dragons of Stormwreck Isle. We knew about that one.
  • D&D digital monstrous compendium. Available to those with WoTC or D&D Beyond Accounts. Volume 1 has an eldritch lich and the 10 legged asteroid spider. And the starlancer. Might have misheard some of that!
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  • MMO Neverwinter video. Dragonslayer begins June 2022. (I wonder if they'll need a dragonance for that?)
  • New D&D actual play video, Legends of the Multiverse. Lots of 80s cartoon style soft rock music. Boo is in it.
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WIzKids skirmish game D&D Onslaught. October

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Finally -- DRAGONLANCE WARRIORS OF KRYNN! SHADOW OF THE DRAGON QUEEN!

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Failing to commission DiTerlizzi art for a new Planescape book, but employing him to do FR MtG stuff would be a great demonstration that current WotC management:

A) Don't give a single solitary... shake of a lamb's tail... about D&D art, which is something I've repeatedly asserted.

and

B) Particularly don't understand or care about Planescape, and would indicate that if they did do a 5E Planescape, it was purely a cash-grab.

So let's hope they're either not doing Planescape, or DiTerlizzi has also been employed for that, because otherwise we can probably expect a very very very very bad take on Planescape. Probably a variant on the Monte Cooke take on Planescape which is "Sigil is reduced to being basically a small city in the Midwest in terms of personality and function".

Ok... Firstly, DiTerlizzi is not known solely for his Planescape art. It was his first big project, but DiTerlizzi has created many pieces for Magic the Gathering. It absolutely made sense to bring onboard Tony for a D&D MTG set, as he has made some of the best art for both projects.

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Secondly, the D&D Team has repeatedly stated they find artwork one of the key appeals and draws for 5E. It's something they know from internal survey data, and the technical quality of their art is superior to that of previous editions, and overall less reliant on specific artists and style (4E's reliance on Wayne Reynolds for example).

I understand you're not a fan of that strategy, or of 5E's art style, but it doesn't mean the D&D Team doesn't care about art. They probably underpay, but that's a different conversation, and D&D certainly leverages their brand to get high-quality pieces for below the rate they would probably deserve.

WotC's "management" (a vague term if there ever was one) probably doesn't care about art, but they're also not responsible for it? I've listened to many an interview from the D&D art team, including Kate Irwin and Emi Tanji, and they care and are responsible for art. Even the non-artist team like Perkins have spoken on how important art direction is, and name artists like DiTerlizzi for driving the look and feel of settings.

Lastly, if 5E does get around Planescape, it's highly unlikely they won't commission DiTerlizzi for at least one piece (he's the prime candidate for a variant cover). The MTG example shows that the WotC art team actually is very aware of his history and is happy to leverage his personal brand. That said, there is no way he will be the sole artist, because DiTerlizzi himself has said that working on Planescape was a constant slog (and he was way underpaid then) and that he'll never take a job like that again. So even if he was offered to do all the art for 5E Planescape (and he wouldn't be), he wouldn't take that job.
 

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did she by chance offer her own fix to the whole "don't make a racists thing were an entire race is thieves"? I would love to see an alternate fix. Especially since some of my best friends would love to play kenders, but we can't find a way yet that doesn't make them disruptive and problmatic without also taking the traits they want to play....
The easiest option (to me) is let every kender give their own reason for where the items come from. Some steal, others buy random knick-knacks whenever they are at a merchant, one group actually does magically summon them, while another are just extremely prudent planners. You can do one of those little roll charts like Ideal/Bond/Etc to make it easier for new players, too.

Also get rid of the glow.
 
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see

Pedantic Grognard
I meant more stuff like the fact that they needed stars to exist, but also wanted Crystal Spheres to exist,
No, the decisions weren't driven by a desire to have crystal spheres. The key problem was that they wanted to have Spelljammer connect to Dragonlance, and Dragonlance had already established that its constellations changed to track its gods (back in the alternate timeline in Legends where Raistlin overthrew them). So, in order to avoid invalidating Dragonlance canon, and to avoid having events in Dragonlance upset the entire cosmos, they had to come up with an explanation for stars other than being distant suns. Crystal spheres with the stars being things on the inside of the shell were then the solution to that problem, allowing them to confine the events of Dragonlance novels to Krynnspace.
 


Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
My understanding on that front is that WotC pays very well, and gives the artists rights to sell prints and such, which is why they attract so many quality artists.

Interesting! I'm not too informed on how well the D&D artists are paid, though I know that the MTG artists are paid very well. They are also handled by separate teams for the most part, but MTG also takes art extremely seriously.

Now, if there's one artist I want to design their own D&D setting, it's Dave Repaza. His MTG art (and any piece he's made, honestly) is incredible.

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Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Last thing on DiTerlizzi... his style has actually changed a ton from his old Planescape days. You can see the differences when he worked on sketching some Planescape stuff recently (for fun, not as any project afaik). You can see the old skeleton of his style, but its certainly changed. I actually think his newer style actually fits 5E a little more, at least for isolated pieces. Much like how some pieces in Wildemount (which does have looser artists restrictions due to CR pushing for prolific fan artists) push 5E's style.

The style is actually evolved to be very Dr. Seuss-ian, which oddly fits Planescape quite well IMO.

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Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
He’s working on something. He could say about his magic work cause I think it was essentially public then.

It will take me forever to find the tweet because searching on Twitter is awful, but I think DiTerlizzi did clarify he wasn't working on anything and was just doing it for fun. Still could have said that to throw people off the scent, but NDAs are a serious thing.
 

nyvinter

Explorer

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
No, the decisions weren't driven by a desire to have crystal spheres. The key problem was that they wanted to have Spelljammer connect to Dragonlance, and Dragonlance had already established that its constellations changed to track its gods (back in the alternate timeline in Legends where Raistlin overthrew them). So, in order to avoid invalidating Dragonlance canon, and to avoid having events in Dragonlance upset the entire cosmos, they had to come up with an explanation for stars other than being distant suns. Crystal spheres with the stars being things on the inside of the shell were then the solution to that problem, allowing them to confine the events of Dragonlance novels to Krynnspace.
Okay. So I got the specifics wrong. They still invented the idea of stars being portals to a random plane of existence to write themselves out of a corner.
 



Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I can see that... but like all of dragonlance is (gully dwarf and Kender being the worst) so I find it odd.
And that's why Gully Dwarves have not been mentioned in any 5e Dragonlance content so far. They're as easy to drop as Caliban were. And Kender are being changed. And the Vistani were changed. And Tinker Gnomes will probably be changed. WotC has changed quite a bit of the pretty problematic stuff that Weiss and Hickman put into their settings. Which, IMO, is a good thing.
 


Secondly, the D&D Team has repeatedly stated they find artwork one of the key appeals and draws for 5E. It's something they know from internal survey data, and the technical quality of their art is superior to that of previous editions, and overall less reliant on specific artists and style (4E's reliance on Wayne Reynolds for example).
As someone with at least some fine art background (A-level and pre-dip, but no degree), I very strongly disagree that the technical quality is superior to that of previous editions. I think that's actually demonstrably false, especially if we spin back to 2E. I think you could maybe make a case 5E has, at this point (not earlier in the edition) superior art, in technical terms, to 4E, but not to any other edition. And it would be narrow and somewhat subjective. Whereas claiming it re: 2E say would be simply laughable - 2E shows a vast array of highly-skilled art of varied styles (which was a lot cheaper to get before video games and movies ate most of the skilled artists). Far more technical skill and technical challenges overcome in that era than in 5E.

As for relying on an artist, I don't think that's at all an intrinsically good thing, avoiding that. You've suggested no rationale as to why it would be.
I understand you're not a fan of that strategy, or of 5E's art style, but it doesn't mean the D&D Team doesn't care about art. They probably underpay, but that's a different conversation, and D&D certainly leverages their brand to get high-quality pieces for below the rate they would probably deserve.

WotC's "management" (a vague term if there ever was one) probably doesn't care about art, but they're also not responsible for it? I've listened to many an interview from the D&D art team, including Kate Irwin and Emi Tanji, and they care and are responsible for art. Even the non-artist team like Perkins have spoken on how important art direction is, and name artists like DiTerlizzi for driving the look and feel of settings.
Sorry to quote ASoIaF/GoT at you but "Words are wind, Jon Snow".

Obviously we don't the exact cause of the issues with 5E's art, but what we can say is:

5E has no consistent art direction which could not be summed as "contemporary generic Western fantasy", and that, as someone else pointed out previously, which I initially disagreed with, but they were right about, it's extremely safe - even violence isn't really depicted as actually happening, merely incipient. There's even curiously little horror - a lot of the art in VRGtR is attractive, and in some cases borders on the disturbing, but grotesque? Not so much.

So what we have here is an art style that is ultra-generic, nearly indistinguishable from that of competitors and contemporaries, seems to actively eschew arts with unusual or distinctive styles (except where re-using art from MtG), and lacks any of the verve of even 3E's art. I didn't like 3E's art - nor 4E's - Wayne Reynold's is not an artist whose work I admire (respect, sure). But they at least had semi-distinctive styles, though 4E was undermined by Paizo largely poaching Wayne Reynolds to the point where his work instantly evokes PF, not 4E.

Anyway, the point is, I'm sure they care, but whoever is making the artistic decisions, the end result is extremely mediocre and middle-of-the-road, and this stands in extremely stark contrast to the continuing boldness of MtG's art.

Also, let's be clear - you are certainly incorrect when you say "management probably doesn't care about art".

Absolutely they do. Even at law firms and the like they do, where visual branding is very much secondary to client perceptions of value and the like. You think that D&D's art direction isn't being run past Ray Winninger? It is. Each individual piece? No, obviously not, but the general strategy and style? It definitely is. If you think Irwin and Tanji are off doing whatever they feel is right artistically with a hundreds-of-millions-dollars IP? You're dreaming, mate. That's pure fantasy. And Winninger is running the general strategy past people like Cocks.

I strongly suspect the real issue here is that MtG has "bold and varied" locked down as an art style, and thus some people high up in WotC have determined D&D must have "generic" instead of also having "bold and varied". Now that D&D makes more money than MtG, I'm hoping that might change, the balance of power might shift, and we could see something wilder from D&D. I'm sure Irwin and Tanji would prefer that, frankly. I doubt any art director truly wants to pursue the generic as hard as 5E has.

Finally:
Lastly, if 5E does get around Planescape, it's highly unlikely they won't commission DiTerlizzi for at least one piece (he's the prime candidate for a variant cover). The MTG example shows that the WotC art team actually is very aware of his history and is happy to leverage his personal brand. That said, there is no way he will be the sole artist, because DiTerlizzi himself has said that working on Planescape was a constant slog (and he was way underpaid then) and that he'll never take a job like that again. So even if he was offered to do all the art for 5E Planescape (and he wouldn't be), he wouldn't take that job.
None of which I've suggested, have I? It's like you've just assumed a ton of crazy stuff I said the opposite of.

In fact I even suggested just an equally dramatic artist might set the tone for 5E's Planescape. And why would anyone think of someone doing "all the art"? DiTerlizzi did not do "all the art" for Planescape, mate, what the heck? But he set the tone. And that's what Planescape needs - someone dramatic to set the tone, not the soft, generic, ultra-safe art of 5E.

And if they just get him to do the cover, and the internals are the usual generic mediocrity? Well, that'd suck. If they got him to do the cover and then the internals were not by him but with a strong and distinctive artist setting the tone (even a distinct tone from his), rather than going with the generic, great.

EDIT - I will say at least some of the SJ art does seem to be a step up in technical quality from stuff we've seen even as recently as Strixhaven (which is not necessarily about inherent artist skill, note, at least in some cases it's simply about paying an artist more to spend considerably more time on a piece), so I'm hope that represents a general shift in the right direction. It's excessively generic but that could change too (also Spelljammer was always a bit generic-looking!).
 
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Well, no, D&D is making great money, but Magic us making more than ever. WotC's total revenue literally doubled the same Quarter that Arena came to Smartphones.
Oh ok. I was under the impression the majority of WotC's revenue was now from D&D. That doesn't conflict with MtG making "more than ever", note. Both could be true simultaneously. But I know you track these things more closely than I.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Oh ok. I was under the impression the majority of WotC's revenue was now from D&D. That doesn't conflict with MtG making "more than ever", note. Both could be true simultaneously.
No, Magic is still the main revenue source, but both are white hot. I think more people play D&D at this point, but revenue wise D&D has nothing remotely like booster packs (which apparently mainly sell at Target and Walmart as impulse purchases, along with the digital packs now).

They may be trying to change that with D&D in the digital future, though, with that survey a while back talking about giving all the rules away for free digitally and selling skins and such.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
As someone with at least some fine art background (A-level and pre-dip, but no degree), I very strongly disagree that the technical quality is superior to that of previous editions. I think that's actually demonstrably false, especially if we spin back to 2E. I think you could maybe make a case 5E has, at this point (not earlier in the edition) superior art, in technical terms, to 4E, but not to any other edition. And it would be narrow and somewhat subjective. Whereas claiming it re: 2E say would be simply laughable - 2E shows a vast array of highly-skilled art of varied styles (which was a lot cheaper to get before video games and movies ate most of the skilled artists). Far more technical skill and technical challenges overcome in that era than in 5E.

As for relying on an artist, I don't think that's at all an intrinsically good thing, avoiding that. You've suggested no rationale as to why it would be.

Sorry to quote ASoIaF/GoT at you but "Words are wind, Jon Snow".

Obviously we don't the exact cause of the issues with 5E's art, but what we can say is:

5E has no consistent art direction which could not be summed as "contemporary generic Western fantasy", and that, as someone else pointed out previously, which I initially disagreed with, but they were right about, it's extremely safe - even violence isn't really depicted as actually happening, merely incipient. There's even curiously little horror - a lot of the art in VRGtR is attractive, and in some cases borders on the disturbing, but grotesque? Not so much.

So what we have here is an art style that is ultra-generic, nearly indistinguishable from that of competitors and contemporaries, seems to actively eschew arts with unusual or distinctive styles (except where re-using art from MtG), and lacks any of the verve of even 3E's art. I didn't like 3E's art - nor 4E's - Wayne Reynold's is not an artist whose work I admire (respect, sure). But they at least had semi-distinctive styles, though 4E was undermined by Paizo largely poaching Wayne Reynolds to the point where his work instantly evokes PF, not 4E.

Anyway, the point is, I'm sure they care, but whoever is making the artistic decisions, the end result is extremely mediocre and middle-of-the-road, and this stands in extremely stark contrast to the continuing boldness of MtG's art.

Also, let's be clear - you are certainly incorrect when you say "management probably doesn't care about art".

Absolutely they do. Even at law firms and the like they do, where visual branding is very much secondary to client perceptions of value and the like. You think that D&D's art direction isn't being run past Ray Winninger? It is. Each individual piece? No, obviously not, but the general strategy and style? It definitely is. If you think Irwin and Tanji are off doing whatever they feel is right artistically with a hundreds-of-millions-dollars IP? You're dreaming, mate. That's pure fantasy. And Winninger is running the general strategy past people like Cocks.

I strongly suspect the real issue here is that MtG has "bold and varied" locked down as an art style, and thus some people high up in WotC have determined D&D must have "generic" instead of also having "bold and varied". Now that D&D makes more money than MtG, I'm hoping that might change, the balance of power might shift, and we could see something wilder from D&D. I'm sure Irwin and Tanji would prefer that, frankly. I doubt any art director truly wants to pursue the generic as hard as 5E has.

Finally:

None of which I've suggested, have I? It's like you've just assumed a ton of crazy stuff I said the opposite of.

In fact I even suggested just an equally dramatic artist might set the tone for 5E's Planescape. And why would anyone think of someone doing "all the art"? DiTerlizzi did not do "all the art" for Planescape, mate, what the heck? But he set the tone. And that's what Planescape needs - someone dramatic to set the tone, not the soft, generic, ultra-safe art of 5E.

And if they just get him to do the cover, and the internals are the usual generic mediocrity? Well, that'd suck. If they got him to do the cover and then the internals were not by him but with a strong and distinctive artist setting the tone (even a distinct tone from his), rather than going with the generic, great.

EDIT - I will say at least some of the SJ art does seem to be a step up in technical quality from stuff we've seen even as recently as Strixhaven (which is not necessarily about inherent artist skill, note, at least in some cases it's simply about paying an artist more to spend considerably more time on a piece), so I'm hope that represents a general shift in the right direction. It's excessively generic but that could change too (also Spelljammer was always a bit generic-looking!).

You know, I started to write a point-by-point response to this, and then decided it wasn't worth it. Your comment is a word-salad, and my response is largely going to be "Art is subjective man." You like art a certain way, I like art differently. Having "a fine art background" (which I'll add is vague enough to mean nothing) doesn't mean you've got special wisdom on whose edition's art is better.

I don't even think you care too much about individual piece quality, as long as there is some sort of artistic consistency or style throughout books. And I guess I just think that having the same style of art across an entire book is just boring to me unless it's very distinctive (DiTerlizzi and Brom are the obvious). Like, I think Elmore has a distinctive style, but I also don't like it much, so the lack of diversity has made much of Dragonlance's art suffer to me (there are individual piece of Elmore's I like a lot btw). Having a wider swathe of styles within a book doesn't make it worse than something more distinctive. I certainly don't think it makes it "mediocre."
 


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