Dungeons & Dragons is having another banner year as part of pop culture. The Internet has been abuzz arguing about the trailer for the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves trailer. The relationship with Stranger Things made Vecna a household name. I was at San Diego Comic Con last weekend and noticed a lot of “Hellfire Club” shirts and merch adorning the attendees. I also got a chance to attend the “Tavern Experience” advertised over the weekend. How fancy was it? Did I meet Chris Pine? Did I come home with some great swag?
It’s hard to really express the scale of San Diego Comic Con. Imagine three Gen Cons all going at once with a fourth one scattered into the city and that starts to detail the scale of the event. The tavern experience was an “activation” located a few blocks away from the convention in a rented out nightclub. There was a suitable facade complete with a tavern door photo op and then two distinct lines: one for walk-ups and one for folks who reserved spots.
The line featured some marketing materials and a choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage in the tavern. The drink itself was fine. You can find the recipe online and add vodka like they did to mine. Once inside the tavern, the lights were kept low and everyone wandered around the bar. The drinks were offered inside branded mugs with a little glow stick device to make them light up. Perhaps I missed my chance, but I was surprised they didn’t offer these mugs for sale or as part of the experience.
There was a little show performed by local actors who talked about the tavern and its place in the film. There were a few artifacts from the film, including a dragonborn, which might confirm one shows up in the movie? Then the sound system from the club kicked in and the video wall window started to move.
It was a dragon attack. A green one based on the looks of it, complete with poison breath attack that sprayed out over the other attendees. The waitstaff then ushered us out of the building, thankful that the protective elixirs we just drank shielded us from the effects of the poison breath. And there I was, blinking in the San Diego sun, waiting 20 minutes for a 10 minute thing.
This is the type of thing San Diego Comic Con does well, though I was a little disappointed I didn’t get a keepsake from it other than the logo drink bracelet that I had to cut off. I suspect posters were originally the giveaway but after the snafu involving the Pathfinder creature on it, those disappeared from the swag tables and will likely show up on eBay commanding hundreds of dollars.
All in all, it was a fine way to get away from the wildness of the convention for a half hour or so but nobody should nurse feelings of missing out. Anyone that’s gone to True Dungeon has had a comparative experience. Curious to see if the trend continues next year once the movie is out.