Dungeons and Dragons and Magic The Gathering Taps Benedict Cumberbatch for Summer of Drizzt

Ever since Wizards of the Coast, publisher of Magic: The Gathering, purchased TSR and the Dungeons & Dragons property, fans of both have been clamoring for a crossover.

Images: Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro

The closest this has come to reality is a series of downloadable PDF supplements for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition called Planeshift as well as the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica Sourcebook. However, the dream crossover of fantasy settings will finally materialize on the Magic: The Gathering side of things through the CCG’s expansion Adventures in the Forgotten Realms.

Wizards of the Coast has released some details and preview cards to entice fans to the set. Moreover, the set is part of a large push to promote one of the most popular characters in the Forgotten Realms world, the drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. But the biggest surprise is a promotional trailer featuring a voiceover by Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Sherlock Holmes)!

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

The Forgotten Realms is the most popular campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons. Created by Ed Greenwood, the Forgotten Realms has been the most enduring with the largest following among other D&D settings such as Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Ravenloft, and Eberron.

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Basic Lands. Art by Adam Paquette for Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro.

It has volumes of roleplaying supplements, novels, and video games that have fleshed out the setting and kept it in the public eye. Notable video games that have explored the Forgotten Realms include the Baldur’s Gate series, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, as well as the MMORPGs Dungeons & Dragons Online and Neverwinter. With its popularity, it is no wonder that the first D&D campaign setting that will officially cross over with Wizards of the Coast’s mega-popular CCG Magic: The Gathering will be based on the Forgotten Realms.

After more than 20 years, Dungeons and Dragons is crossing into Magic: The Gathering CCG with the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms expansion set.

Based on the previews so far released, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will be incorporating cards based on major locations, weapons, creatures, and characters of the setting. The basic lands, for instance, include quotes that give a nod to Dungeons & Dragons adventures and quests. Furthermore, artifacts like the Vorpal Sword and the Bag of Holding are staples of many Dungeons & Dragons loot rewards.

The Dark Elf

Created by R.A. Salvatore, Drizzt Do’Urden is the eponymous hero of the Dark Elf Trilogy. The New York Times bestselling series introduced the drow ranger and sworn enemy of the spider queen goddess Lolth. Although Drizzt appears as only a part of a group of characters in the 1988 novel The Crystal Shard, his popularity with both D&D and fantasy fans pushed him into the spotlight and starring in his own books.

Drizzt has become one of the cornerstone characters of Dungeons & Dragons and its popular Forgotten Realms campaign setting along with Elminster, the Sage and Volo, the Guide. Having starred in over 30 books and multiple appearances in tabletop and video games, the most recent being Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, Drizzt’s popularity has continued to grow.

Thus, the inclusion of Drizzt in Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is no surprise. But it has also been revealed that Lolth and Drizzt’s close ally, the dwarven warrior blacksmith and king Bruenor Battlehammer, will also be included in the set. Aside from the standard cards, there will also be variant versions called Rulebook Showcase Frame, which features classic artwork.

Spider Queen and goddess of the Drow, Lolth becomes stronger the more her minions perish!

Lolth is presented as a Planeswalker card. This fits with the origins and role of the drow’s principal deity. The Spider Queen has often been depicted as a minor deity that rose through the ranks by usurpation of other powers, as she travels the Demonweb, the extradimensional realm that connects with innumerable others through portals. Moreover, Lolth commands a vast army of zealous followers of the drow race, with the most devout of these dark elves becoming half spider hybrids called Driders. The Planeswalker abilities of her card being able to get stronger the more that a player’s creatures die is pitch perfect for the Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

Dwarven king and master smith Bruenor Battlehammer boosts decks heavy with equipment.

Bruenor Battlehammer is the dwarven king of Mithral Hall. In the Forgotten Realms, his clan became renowned for forging the most excellent dwarven armor and weaponry. Bruenor became the leader of the clan and although they made their home in Icewind Dale, the dwarf warrior longed to reclaim the area of Mithral Hall, their ancestral home. This becomes the main impetus for The Crystal Shard story. His Magic: The Gathering card is both hard hitting and provides bonuses for playing Equipment cards.

Drizzt Do'Urden's martial prowess is complemented by his faithful magical panther, Guenhwyvar!

Finally, Drizzt Do’Urden himself arrives in card form. Drizzt is well known for his deadly skill wielding the twin scimitars Icingdeath and Twinkle, so the Double Strike ability is appropriate. Ditto for his ability to gain higher stats as he defeats enemies which reflects his penchant for claiming useful trinkets and gear from fallen enemies. And not to forget representing his loyal magical panther, Guenhwyvar, who comes as a 4/1 token creature with trample.

Drow Lullaby Sleep Sound

Wizard of The Coast is doubling down on hyping up the heroic dark elf with its Summer of Drizzt. Aside from his appearance in Magic: The Gathering’s Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set and the Dark Alliance video game, Drizzt will also have a new novel. The upcoming novel will be part of the Legend of Drizzt series and will be penned once again by his creator R.A. Salvatore.

As part of this marketing push, Wizards of the Coast released a trailer which chronicles the life of Drizzt, highlighting major events from his adventures in the realms of Faerun. These include the companions and friends the drow ranger made along the way, such as Bruenor Battlehammer, the barbarian Wulfgar, and the fighter (and later wife of Drizzt) Catti-brie. But the surprising element in the trailer is the lullaby running along the scenes which was narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Cumberbatch is no stranger (pun intended) to the fantasy genre, having voiced the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit films as well as playing the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. Cumberbatch brings his classy baritone voice and unique inflections to the narration of a creepy but cool lullaby that is canonically told to drow children as they sleep. Interestingly, R.A. Salvatore was not aware of Cumberbatch’s narration when Wizard of the Coast requested the author to write the lullaby’s script.

The Dark Elf Cometh

With an upcoming big screen Dungeons & Dragons film on the way, could Drizzt Do’Urden be making his live action debut as well? Time will tell, but Wizards of the Coast is certainly making an effort to place the legendary dark elf ranger more visible in all media platforms.

Will Drizzt be making an appearance in the live action Dungeons & Dragons film starring Chris Pine?

Magic: The Gathering Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will preview the full set on June 29, with a digital release to Magic: Arena and Magic: The Gathering Online on July 8. The set will have a physical prerelease on July 16, with a full global release on July 23.

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is a co-op action RPG brawler. Developed by Tuque Games, Dark Alliance will be coming to the Sony Playstation 4 and Playstation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows platforms on June 22.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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