What is Dungeons & Dragons? Is it the setting? The classes? Is it the many-sided dice which underpin the mechanics? Or maybe the real D&D is the friends you make along the way?
Despite becoming a mainstay in the rejuvenated tabletop role-playing scene, D&D’s remain a weirdly intangible world that can mean different things to different people. Perhaps it’s a consequence of Tolkienesque visualisations being everywhere in modern fantasy, but the power of D&D does not lie in anything visual. Sure, source books have illustrations, and there’s plenty of official artwork out there, but the moment you set out to actually construct the ‘world’ of D&D for something like a videogame (or a film), I feel you’ve already lost some of the magic. It’s an experience powered by the imagination. And that’s hard to beat.
Now watch as I contradict everything I just said. It’s because of my mild prejudices against licensed D&D media that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Dark Alliance, a co-op action RPG set in Icewind Dale, part of D&D’s core world, the Forgotten Realms. The game features Drizzt Do’Urden – an iconic D&D character created by author RA Salvatore – and his companions as they fight to stave off a growing tide of Frost Giants, dragons, and more in a narrative-driven campaign.