Take Dungeons & Dragons, add some dinosaurs, throw in snake people, and what you’ve got is an epic adventure for Neverwinter’s heroes. Oh, and watch out for those pesky undead and a killer curse, too.
Wizards of the Coast announced its next storyline for the world’s biggest and most famous role-playing game, and Perfect World’s D&D online RPG is getting into the spirit as well with Tomb of Annihilation, which will hit the PC version on July 25. It’ll come to consoles at a later date. Neverwinter now has more than 12 million registered players on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and this expansion follows the publisher’s long-established strategy of following the main D&D storyline to offer players reasons to stick around — or try it for the first time.
Tomb of Annihilation brings a new flavor to Neverwinter, a city that sits on the northern Sword Coast of Faerûn (the world’s setting). The expansion is in the jungles of Chult, a primeval region where dinosaurs roam and the snake-like Yuan-ti sacrifice humans to their evil god. And it’s got undead, because you can’t have evil snake people and T-rexes running about without a lich or two for added flair.
The undead fit with another plot hook: a curse is plaguing people all over Faerûn who have come back from the dead — like player characters and other important folk around the Realms. You’ll also find some allies to help you combat these horrors; Minsc and his miniature giant space hamster, Boo (the famous ranger’s pet from Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn), make an appearance. And Volo, the Realms’ most famous chronicler/liar, also pops up.
The new storyline follows Wizards’ strategy of focusing on the role-playing game’s classic monsters since the new edition of D&D’s launch in 2014: first dragons, then elemental evil, demons, and most recently, giants. The Yuan-ti is a classic D&D monster, introduced in 1977’s Monster Manual for the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It also riffs off the classic Lost World theme of the Isle of Dread, the D&D Expert set adventure from 1981 that features exploring the wilderness of an isolated island (the first all-outdoors module) where dinosaurs roamed.
No snake people on the Isle of Dread, though.
Tomb of Annihilation has Neverwinter’s Harpers (a group of do-gooders who protect the Forgotten Realms) setting out to stop a “death curse” coming from Chult. This isn’t the first time a D&D video game has visited this dino-infested region — Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir featured a story linked to Chult and the Yuan-ti in 2008. You start off at Port Nyanzaru, the major trading port for the entire Chultan peninsula. Chult presents some interesting takes on classic D&D races. Dwarfs live here, but they’ve adapted to the jungle. You’ll find goblins, too — the Batiri are cannibals, and they troubled players early on in Storm of Zehir.
But the main question here is: Are the Yuan-ti behind the curse? Or is it something … worse?
The 2016 novel Hero notes that one of D&D‘s greatest villains, the demilich Acererak, and his nefarious dungeon, the Tomb of Horrors (one of the adventures in the recently release Tales from the Yawning Portal, which updates classic modules for 5E D&D), lies in Chult. And the artwork that Wizards put out when promoting the Stream of Annihilation (a Twitch livestream which will show of the new D&D storyline) features a demon-like face first seen in the 1978’s Tomb.