Dungeons & Dragons' next adventure will feature a character named after a popular game term synonymous with an older version of the game. Over the weekend, Wizards of the Coast revealed new details about The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, its upcoming adventure set primarily in the Feywild. The Level 1-Level 8 campaign starts at the Witchlight Carnival, a circus filled with unusual creatures tied to the fey. One of those creatures is Thaco the clown, who was first revealed in a WizKids set of premium miniatures and then mentioned in a Dragon+ article published yesterday.
Thaco hasn't appeared in any other D&D adventure, but his name does has ties to an earlier version of the game. Thaco is a nod to "THAC0," an acronym used in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition. "THAC0" stands for "To Hit Armor Class 0" and refers to the roll you'd need to make to hit a creature with an Armor Class of 0. Back in earlier versions of the game, a low Armor Class actually signified a higher defense, so players would subtract their dice roll from their THAC0 stat to determine whether or not they hit a creature. So, if a creature had an Armor Class of 2, a player with a THAC0 of 12 would need to roll a 10 or better to hit that creature.
In addition to being a controversial game mechanic that was subsequently dropped in 3rd Edition rules, there was also disagreement about how the acronym was pronounced. While many TSR employees preferred to pronounce the acronym as "Thay-Co," most players preferred "Thack-o" (which rhymes with wacko." Based on the fact that Thaco is a clown, we're guessing that The Wild Beyond the Witchlight prefers the latter pronounciation.
Speaking with Dragon+, lead story designer Chris Perkins discussed that Thaco was just one example of a nod to the game's past that would be found in The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. "“D&D is over 45 years old and it’s become a multi-generational game," Perkins said. "We’ve included tons of D&D Easter eggs that nod to the theme of time echoing throughout the story’s past and Thaco the clown is one of them.” Several characters from a popular line of D&D action figures from the 1980s will also appear in the adventure.
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight will be released on September 21, 2021.