On October 25, we hosted a live chat with D&D game designer Peter Lee. Peter has worked on games such as Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, The Legend of Drizzt, Conquest of Nerath, and the upcoming skirmish-like miniatures game.
WotC_Huscarl: To get things rolling, let's have Peter tell us about himself.
Peter Lee: Ok! I started working at WotC in the beginning of 2008. I've worked on the old D&D Miniatures game, D&D RPG books, Dungeon Tiles, Star Wars miniatures, and Heroscape. I then moved over to the board game side, and I've worked on all the Adventure System games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt). I also did some work on Conquest of Nerath with Rich Baker, and Lords of Waterdeep with Rodney Thompson. Currently working on the new skirmish game, but I'll warn you up front that this is so early in the process that I won't be able to go into too many details about it. So, that's me in a nutshell!
Scott_WhiteAhh: Do you see the DND board games as a good starting point to get new players into the D&D Universe?
Peter Lee: I definitely think it's a great starting point. The D&D universe is so large that it's a bit daunting to see it all. I love how they can take an aspect of the universe and focus in on it. Ravenloft, etc., focuses on dungeon delving and tactical play. Conquest of Nerath is a great way to show mass armies clashing. Each tells a different story.
Alphastream1: I would have thought there was a limit to how many Ravenloft/Ashardalon games there would be, but Drizzt really wowed people. Is there room for more in this series?
Peter_Lee: Yes, I think we've hardly scratched the surface. There are a lot of directions we can go here, and that's some of the conversations we're having right now.
BlindGeekUK: Are there plans to release additional adventures to support the boardgames in Dragon?
Peter Lee: Yes. We've already done a few for the website, and I've planning on a few that use Drizzt right now.
PinkRose: Are there plans for official adventures combining RavenWrathDrizzt? Or campaign rules to level up?
Peter Lee: Yes, definitely for combining boxes. Campaign rules for leveling is a bit harder, as if you start getting to levels 2+, the Monster deck would need to be completely remade. That's a harder problem, but I hope to do it one day,
Preston_R: Is Peter working on the new D&D miniatures game, and if so is there anything at all you can tell us about it?
Peter Lee: Yes, I am working on it. You can get a preliminary look in the online playtesting we did a few months ago. I'm taking what we learned that and making the game as cool as I can, but that's about all I can say at the moment.
Alphastream1: Is getting people started on D&D a prime directive, or is it a nice-to-have?
Peter Lee: By D&D, I am assuming you refer to the roleplaying game. It's a nice-to-have for getting people into the RPG, but it's really more for getting people into the D&D Universe. There are a lot of people that love D&D but don't have the time to commit to an ongoing campaign. These boardgames give people the chance to get into the world one hour at a time.
vx69: Can we have spoilers on types of monsters we can expect to see in the upcoming miniatures game?
Peter Lee: Nope, sorry! It's a bit too early for that!
SBenjamin: Where did the decision come to make the vastly different Nerath game as opposed to keeping in the same scheme of Ashardalon and Ravenloft and now Drizzt?
Peter Lee: I think it really shows that the D&D Universe can support multiple types of games. Doing the same system too much would be limiting, and we'd lose out on exciting games like Conquest of Nerath and Lords of Waterdeep.
SBenjamin: Do you think that the miniatures game will be geared in a way where you can get groups of figures of the same race, such that those of us who use them in regular campaigns can find groups of monsters easily without worrying about randomization?
Peter Lee: Yes, that's something that I'd like to have.
Dragoloth: Are there plans for any more board games?
Peter Lee: So many plans! It's really exciting. Waterdeep and the new skirmish-like game being the immediate next two. We're working on lots of ideas for future games!
Ghostrider: Did you support the decision to remove the D20 from the miniatures game in favor of a randomized card deck?
Peter Lee: Definitely. It makes it a very unique feeling game. I love it.
BlindGeekUK: What is the aim of Lords of Waterdeep? Wealth accumulation, map conquest, or a combo of them?
Peter Lee: It's a victory point accumulation game. You are one of the Lords of Waterdeep, recruiting adventurers and sending them on quests. Completing quests gives you additional resources and VPs. I can't even begin to say how much I love this game.
vx69: What are you favourite boardgames and which ones have you pulled influence from?
Peter Lee: Dominion and Pandemic are great favorites. Agricola. Attika. Vegas Showdown, Roborally, of course. Hansa Teutonica is one I love but hardly ever get to play.
SBenjamin: Which adventure in Wrath of Ashardalon did you find especially challenging to make or extremly fun to make/playtest and why?
Peter Lee: Hmm, gotta look through the adventure book for this one. … My best experience is actually the combined Ashardalon/Ravenloft adventure we released on the website. You make up the Monster deck from a combination of both boxes. It's three adventures that you can play in a row with five healing surges that have to last through the entire journey. I think that worked out really well.
starphoenix26: Hi Peter, thanks for allowing us to ask questions. My question: have you decided for the minis game if you are using Dungeon Tiles or boardgame tiles?
Peter Lee: I can't quite answer this yet. This one is so early that things are still in flux. I can't even share the name at this point! I have a couple of questions similar to that, and I love the excitement and I encourage you all to check out the playtest. The playtest window is technically closed, but I still would love to hear what people have to say.
Iakhovas: Any plans for online versions of these board games?
Peter Lee: I definitely want online versions, but it's not up to me. Cross your fingers!
PinkRose: I played Drizzt at PAX and I really feel that compared to it, Ravenloft and Wrath were beta versions. Still really fun, but Drizzt seems perfect. What changes did you consciously make and what more would you want to change?
Peter Lee: Drizzt had the advantage that I could use your reactions Ravenloft and Wrath to improve it. One of the big changes was how I handled the Encounter deck. The curses and volcanic vent tiles made it a bit easier for people to react to encounters through some predictability through repetition, allowing the players to make better plans.
Alphastream1: We heard something about the Skirmish game being used for mass combats in the D&D RPG. Is there a timeline when we might learn more about this?
Peter Lee: We haven't announced any plans like that, but it certainly sounds like a fun idea.
BlindGeekUK: Whats your favourite D&D mini from a set you helped design/release?
Peter Lee: Too many! I love the Goblin Cutter from Legendary Evils. Human Outrider from Savage Encounters, and how there is the Human Marauder in Lords of Madness to serve as an unmounted version. Cloaker. Finally getting neogi was really exciting.
Ghostrider: Any plans for a Dragonlance version of the D&D boardgames?
Peter Lee: Not at the moment, but I would definitely love to work on one!
Fallen_Star_02: Do you foresee the new skirmish game sporting serious competitive play or tournaments like DDM had?
Peter Lee: I certainly hope so! I started here through the old D&D Miniatures game. I worked as a judge for the game every GenCon from 2004 to when I was hired. It's a great community, and I really want that environment to return. The loss of the community was my biggest regret when the skirmish game production ended. I met a lot of good friends through the game!
kilamanjaro: Wrath of Ashardalon seems more difficult than Castle Ravenloft. Is that intentional or are we just having bad luck?
Peter Lee: It has a different difficulty curve, that's for sure. I think it's a little tougher at the beginning, but as you acquire more equipment, it gets a bit easier.
Alphastream1: How long does a board game take, concept to production?
Peter Lee: It depends on the game. It can take as long as a year, in some cases. It also matters if it's a new new game or derived from something else. Ashardalon and Drizzt took less time than Ravenloft as we didn't have to design the entire system. It also matters how much plastic is in the game; plastic components take longer to produce.
Elemental_Elf: Which of the many Dungeon Tile sets released thus far is your favorite?
Peter Lee: So far produced, it's Witchlight Fens. I love how strong the color is. It's also a lot of fun to put together the swamps. I also love Cathedral of Chaos. There are some really unique tiles in that one. But that's not out yet...
Elemental_Elf: The popularity of 3-D tiles seemed to start off with a bang and eventually tapered off with a whimper. Do you have any plans on producing any more 3-D tiles? If so, what can we expect?
Peter Lee: They're really difficult to do. They take up a lot of tile real-estate. For example, let's say you want to make a tower that is 4x4 and 6 squares tall. That would be a little more than 2 tile sheets to produce. That doesn't leave a lot of space for designing interesting shapes. Maybe one day, but there aren't any more currently planned.
Elemental_Elf: Are there any plans on producing another large Dungeon Tile box set?
Peter Lee: I've thought that an underground set would be pretty cool, but no current plans.
Style75: Are there any plans to issue an errata for Conquest of Nerath? Some people are complaining about balance issues between factions, dragons being too powerful (or too cheap), the cap of two monsters per dungeon, etc. Is WotC looking at these issues or is the game considered to be finished?
Peter Lee: Not immediately; I'd need to see a lot more play examples before anything is issued.
Elemental_Elf: Which of the many board games you've produced for the D&D brand do you enjoy the most?
Peter Lee: Definitely Lords of Waterdeep. I naturally gravitate toward Euro-style games, so it's right in my wheelhouse. The new skirmish game is also very, very strong, but it scratches a different itch.
starphoenix26: Following up on the tiles question: do you take suggestions regarding the next set into consideration when planning tiles sets?
Peter Lee: Yes, when I can. A lot of time the theme of the set is already chosen. a certain type of tile doesn't always match the style.
BlindGeekUK: Not a question, but can I just say a big thanks to WotC for scheduling this chat at a time at which the UK can participate and for answering so many questions
Peter Lee: No problem; thank WotC_Huscarl for that!
WotC_Huscarl: We're at 2:00 now. Do you have time for one more?
Peter Lee: Yes, one more.
Style75: The Legend of Drizzt game has a lot more rules than Castle Ravenloft. If these games continue to get more complex do you see them stepping on the toes of the D&D RPG?
Peter Lee: I don't think that will happen. One of my goals will be to temper the difficulty. I'll take out a few elements when creating the next one, so there are always a couple of new things to look forward to. For example, I don't think we'll see cavern edges again for a while. It's something only found in Drizzt. Also, without a lot of the roleplaying part, it will never really fill the same space. For example, I don't see skills ever being a core part of the Adventure System.
I think that's about it. Thanks for coming today!
WotC_Huscarl: Thanks, Peter, for tackling so many questions. I'll unmoderate the room momentarily, so everyone can say thanks at once.
(EvolutionGaming snuck in one last question after the room was unmoderated …)
EvolutionGaming: Will there be adventures that integrate components from all games available separately? Like, just an adventure book that I can use so I can have poison and stun and slowed all available?
Peter Lee: Possible, need to write it first!