Star Trek Guide

Why X-Men Is The Perfect Dungeons & Dragons Campaign

There are many different ideas that dungeon masters can use as a basis for a Dungeons & Dragonsgame, and a great one can come from one of the most popular comic series of all time, as the concept behind the X-Menfranchise would make for an excellent D&D campaign. In the second edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the only people who could cast arcane spells were mages, which are now referred to as the wizard class.

Like the modern D&D wizards, the mages had to spend years studying in order to be able to cast even a single spell. A similar level of dedication was also required from the divine spellcasters, with clerics and druids needing to study for a good chunk of their life in order to be able to call on spells for aid. Arcane spells were always broken in D&D, but there was an expectation that the people casting them were at least educated and had a lot of experience under their belt. It was possible for a mage to lose their faculties as they grew older, but the barrier for learning spells in the first place was high.

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The third edition of Dungeons & Dragons introduced a number of changes to the series. One of the biggest changes from second edition D&D involved adding a new arcane spellcaster class, known as the sorcerer. In mechanical terms, the sorcerer naturally possessed the ability to cast spells and didn't require the aid of spellbooks to memorize magic. Sorcerers could cast far more spells a day than a wizard, but their selection of spells was extremely limited and they only gained new ones when they leveled up. By comparison, the wizard could copy any spell from a scroll into their book, giving them far more versatility when it comes to planning ahead.

How X-Men Could Work For Dungeons & Dragons

The sorcerer class shares many similarities with the mutants from the Marvel universe, including the fact that they both develop special abilities during puberty which sets them apart from the common people. Depending on the setting, spellcasters are often feared and mistrusted, and for good reason, as Dungeons & Dragons magic allows mages to control minds, summon demons, and kill people with a single word. In the age of wizards, there weren't many schools of magic and the tutelage required to create a single mage often took years, which meant that the number of spellcasters in the world was limited.

The addition of sorcerers to the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse was mostly treated as a retcon and little was done in the lore regarding their arrival. There was a ton of story potential involved in this shift, yet it was ignored. There has been a lot of talk about how mutants are going to be introduced to the MCU, and a similar arrival can form the basis for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. The clerics, druids, and wizards of the world (and, to a lesser degree, the bards) had a monopoly on spells, and now it's suddenly gone. In a single year, an influx of teenage sorcerer appears in the world, all of whom can naturally cast spells that took other people decades to learn. Imagine the reaction in a huge city like Baldur's Gate or Greyhawk if a bunch of sixteen-year-olds appeared with the ability to cast spells like invisibility, fireball, fly, or lightning bolt. The reaction from the common people would be terror, as a generation of potential supervillains is suddenly walking in their midst.

Not everyone is going to have a harsh reaction to sorcerers. Indeed, many wizards are driven by a desire for knowledge and learning more about the origins of sorcerer's powers would be the goal of many a prospective Albus Dumbledore or Charles Xavier. As such, a hastily assembled academy that deals with these spellcasting youths could be a stop-gap solution on the part of the government, in order to ensure that these teenagers can learn to use their power in safety, while also keeping them safe from the people who now hate and fear them.

The idea of Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in a Dungeons & Dragons world could form the basis for an entire campaign. An elderly wizard takes on the responsibility of looking after a group of students who have suddenly developed magical powers, yet are unable to control them. Rather than letting the players pick their spells at character creation, the DM should choose them instead... and not let the players know what they are. This leaves the players in the dark as to their capabilities and the only way they can learn is by experimenting.

In terms of adventures, it's possible to create a version of the X-Men's Danger Room using Dungeons & Dragons' illusions. There is precedent for this in the original Baldur's Gate game, as illusions were used as an explanation for the tutorial in the game. This allows the dungeon master to steal moments from classic adventures and re-frame them as illusionary encounters, possibly with shadow magic mixed in to cause real damage and force the players to treat them seriously. This also can be used as the basis for an infamous Danger Room/Star Trek Holodeck episode, where the limiters are removed, putting the players in a genuine fight for their lives.

It's not going to be a summer in Hogwarts for the players, as their team of sorcerers is going to have enemies. There are going to be wizards who will see the sorcerers as a threat and will try to eliminate them, possibly with the aid of magic-resistant golems (who go on a rampage and try to kill all spellcasters, like the Sentinels). There are going to be witch hunters among the common people who will want to see the sorcerers dead as well. There are plenty of evil factions (like the Zhentarim) who will want to have a group of impressionable young spellcasters under their control. There could be an evil school full of mirror opposite sorcerers that tangle with the group. One of the players could also take on the Phoenix role in Dungeons & Dragons, as she could have a power so dangerous that it threatens the entire world and the rest of the team has to stop her.

There are decades worth of X-Mencomic books that can be mined for story inspiration, to say nothing of the movies and TV shows. A group of Dungeons & Dragons players will sometimes argue over what class & role they want to take in the group, but in a mutant game, they will have to deal with the cards that are given to them, much like the mutants in the MCU.