Dungeons & Dragons fans are about to explore some of the game's most iconic locations. Next month, Ten Speed Press will release Dungeons & Tombs, the third installment of their Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer's Guide series. The new book, written by Jim Zub, Stacy King, and Andrew Wheeler, delves into some of the classic settings found in various D&D adventures over the years and presents them in a way perfect for young adults and fans new to D&D. ComicBook.com has the privilege of showing off some exclusive pages from the new book, which can be viewed below.
"The first books (Warriors & Weapons and Monsters & Creatures) are about setting up a narrative, characters, heroes, and the stuff that they fight," Jim Zub told ComicBook.com in an interview last month to discuss the latest book in the Young Adventurer's Guide series. "So now it's about setting a stage. Where is this taking place? And what kind of stories can we tell in those locations?"
Dungeons & Tombs covers a lot of ground, both in terms of where the book goes and what it offers to readers. "We go to a couple of really interesting places," Stacy King explained. "Ironslag is in there, the Temple of Elemental Evil, The Sea Ghost gets some oceanic pirate adventures. Ravenloft, which gets a little bit more into the dark and Gothic options. Chult, which explores some of the really interesting wilderness stuff you can get in Dungeons & Dragons. And then Undermountain, which is just the dungeon of all dungeons."
In addition to descriptions of the iconic locations, Dungeons & Tombs also features story prompts for each setting, giving players ideas on what sort of adventures they might experience. "We explain some ideas about if your character was there, what kinds of adventures might they be having?" King said. "Is it a quest specifically? Are they trying to rescue someone? Is it a treasure hunt? All the classic motivations in there."
All of those locations might sound familiar to D&D fans as they're the locations of various official D&D adventures, but Zub was quick to note that Dungeons & Tombs wasn't just promoting other D&D products. "It was helpful to have all established Fifth Edition stuff, but we didn't just want to turn it into an advertisement for another book," Zub said. "It still stands on its own as a story like an imagination generator. We show a cool setting, we're going to give you some art and give you some cool description and atmosphere, and then you can sort of see the potential in it." The point, Zub noted, was for Dungeons & Tombs to stir up readers' imaginations and try to come up with stories that fit into that place.
That's why Dungeons & Tombs also features an entire chapter about creating your own dungeon, filled with helpful pointers and tips about how a dungeon can be used to tell a compelling story. "We really wanted the whole book to build to the section where you get into building your own dungeon," King explained. "Because all of these locations and descriptions serve partially as imaginative prompts for how stories could work. The book shows how Dungeon & Dragons can cover this really broad variety of settings and styles of adventure, which hopefully inspires the reader to go and create a story for themselves."
Dungeons & Tombs also contains a bestiary, containing more descriptions of classic D&D monsters. Zub and King noted that they picked monsters for the bestiary based on what adventurers might find in some of the locations described in Dungeons & Tombs, along with creatures like oozes or the gibbering mouther that would be at home in just about any dungeon.
The Young Adventurers series has been well received by both newcomers and veteran D&D fans. We asked Zub about the response to the book series, and he admitted that he was surprised about how the community has wholeheartedly embraced the series. "I knew we had a structure that could work and I felt like for the audience we were building them for - younger readers and brand new players who'd never touched role playing games before - that the books had qualities that would work," Zub said. "What I was genuinely nervous about was whether or not the established community would see that or if they wanted things like simplified rules or dice systems. I was really nervous about whether or not the D&D community would pick up on the particular approach that we were doing and and what that response would be."
"These books are a narrative hook and something you can give to anybody regardless of their role playing background," Zub continued. "And they will be able to kind of break it down and understand it with bite-sized bits of information. Even the new artwork acts as a visual hook so that even established people are seeing things they haven't seen before."
A fourth book - Wizards & Spells - will be released in 2020 and Zub noted that there are "ongoing conversations" about continuing the Young Adventurer's Guide series, especially as the books has been so well received by fans. "It's been amazing getting feedback from kids for whom this is one of the first big fantasy things they'd been digging into," King said. "Hilariously, the books have also gotten some great feedback from these librarians I know who have been recently tasked with starting D&D clubs at their libraries and schools because the game has such a momentum right now. They said that these were great books as introductions for adults who hadn't really dipped their toe into fantasy worlds either. Everyone should have a great fantasy life in my opinion."
Dungeons & Tombs will be available on November 26th.