Dungeons & Dragons brings players together with its rich fantasy settings and collaborative, team exploration. The game, which spans decades, is a gateway into TTRPG for many and has become a beloved pastime for its attention to detail, unique plots, and ever-changing content. In particular, 5th Edition has been an important influence on the D&D timeline, bringing in new players from all over the world with exciting, reimagined content.
For players curious about the importance of 5th Edition in Dungeons & Dragons, Lore & Legends: A Visual Celebration of the Fifth Edition of the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game has officially released, with Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, and Sam Witwer offering players a vibrant adventure through 5th Edition’s history using iconic artwork. The book breaks down monsters, locations, sourcebook art, and cities, explaining how they were introduced to 5th Edition, and how this has brought new life to a game loved by so many.
- Release Date: October 3, 2023
- Price: $50
- Special Edition: Yes, releasing November 28, 2023
- Sourcebook: No
Artwork Progression Shows The Evolution of D&D
I will never forget my first Dungeons & Dragons campaign when I opened The Starter Set, flipped open the Lost Mines of Phandelver, and found myself captivated by the images on each page. While so much of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign is determined by our imaginations, these images create a foundation to guide players, fueling our creativity and opening up possibilities that might otherwise feel overwhelming and intangible as just a wall of text on a page.
Lore & Legends takes this artwork and provides players with an origin story for each piece while detailing the birth of the 5th Edition from 2010 forward. The book breaks down the struggles 5th Edition designers faced as they tried to reimagine the dated material for modern audiences. It conveys the passion the teams working on the game had for every new step, and how that passion and revolution jump-started the global phenomenon that is the modern-day D&D obsession.
Lore & Legends breaks the history down, using the images as a guide through 5th Edition, and encouraging fans reading the book to pause and admire the progression pieces and rough sketches that are tucked between paragraphs and footnotes. I enjoyed seeing the early iterations of images that have acted as my computer desktop. It was incredible to see the artist’s process in creating pieces that have become the visual flavor of modern D&D.
Dungeons & Dragons Was On The Brink of Collapse
I think one of the most interesting things I learned while reading Lore & Legends was just how dire D&D’s situation was before 5th Edition was released. The game had faded into obscurity among the crush of video games dominating the market, and the cultural stereotypes that came with being a player prevented many from delving into the interesting stories so similar to the games being played on consoles and computers.
I remember always hearing about D&D when I was younger, and I’ll admit, I was hesitant to give it a try when my wife first brought it up in 2016. However, we’d both been listening to Dungeons & Dragons podcasts, and it seemed like more and more people we knew were falling in love with the game as sourcebooks rolled out.
Reimaging the D&D artwork and rekindling past stories into a more accessible gameplay format encouraged fans to jump in, fall in love with the content, and share it with friends. I won’t lie, the beautiful covers of sourcebooks on bookstore and game shop shelves made it hard to say no to giving it a try. I am grateful the skilled masterminds behind 5th Edition created a version of the game that was more attainable, allowing those of us intimidated by the intensity of older options a chance to jump into the fray.
Dungeons & Dragons Lore & Legends Puts Hard Work On Display
Lore & Legends doesn’t just offer fans a look into the history of D&D 5th Edition, it showcases the amount of work that goes into every new sourcebook. I’d always wondered how the creators of each new expansion came up with ideas. How did they decide what races would look like, what environments would be like, or how cities would appear? Reading through the processes of these stunning pieces offered insight into Dungeons & Dragons as a whole, relaying the monumental effort that goes into creating a world.
My personal favorite section of the book covers Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft – the expansion to Curse of Strahd – which adds important content to adventures in Barovia. Curse of Strahd was the first campaign I was part of as a player. Despite its haunting setting and what horrors my garbage Wizard Bel had to go through, the campaign is special to me, and the additional information created a more unique experience for us as a party. I loved reading about the original content that was brought forward in the 5th Edition expansion, and how D&D writers and artists worked to create a more inclusive and interesting world for players to explore.
The artwork is terrifying, with pages covered in ghosts, dead things, and twisted monsters. It was delightful to see where these nightmares had originated.
Lore & Legends: A Visual Celebration of the Fifth Edition of the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game is a must-have for every D&D fan. The beautiful, full-color images that fill each page, and the history carefully told by the writers of the book, make this a critical piece for any collection. There is so much to learn about the worlds we have played through, and it gave me a new level of appreciation for the time and energy the creators put into the game to make it available to us as players.
While it won’t fit easily in a backpack or bookbag, it is worth every penny to see so many works of art in one collection, and I am excited to reread it whenever I have time.
9 / 10
|+ Thick, well-bound volume with glossy pages|
|+ Layouts that are easy to read|
|+ Images are vibrant and clear|
|– Can’t fit in a backpack|
Gamepur team received a sample for the purpose of this review.