Cover image: Evolving Wilds by Brian Snoddy

The teaser period of preview season has begun for Magic’s upcoming Dungeons & Dragons crossover set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. The official kickoff stream comes next week, but this article from Polygon shares previews of an exciting new mechanic: Venture.

The Venture mechanic features separate cards called Dungeons that present a garden of forking paths; they remind me of Sagas as well as the Contraptions from Unstable. Wizards provides an introductory article on how dungeons function. Basically, they sit outside the game (but not in a sideboard slot), get put into the Command Zone, and from there they generate effects. There are three dungeons, and you get to choose which dungeon to enter each time you venture forth.

New planeswalker Ellywick Tumblestrum headlines the latest preview cards. She plays the role of bard in the adventuring party at the helm of the set, and her +1 ability sends you into the dungeon, presumably with a sweet soundtrack. (Imagine a young Grace Slick singing you forward.) That phrase is the trigger point for venturing. Each time you venture into a dungeon, you generate the next room’s effect.

For example, the dungeon Lost Mine of Phandelver starts with a scry, offers a creature token or treasure token path, followed by complementary rooms at the third level before finally paying off with an extra card at the end. These dungeons resemble Sagas, though with more options and, as the next preview demonstrates, perilous shortcuts.

The Tomb of Annihilation is based on the classic D&D Tomb of Horrors. I guess the ultimate horror is a 4/4 deathtoucher. Two features of this dungeon stand out to me. First, you can get to the end of the dungeon in three steps by choosing to Oubliette yourself, or take the leisurely trip through the dungeon via both Veils of Fear and Sandfall Cell, where the deleterious effects are shared around the table. Depending on what you want to do, and on how quickly you can trigger multiple ventures, this dungeon can play out quite differently.

Second, the use of “Oubliette” as a room name within this dungeon shows that they can use card names—even cards they can’t reprint?—as rooms in dungeons. Oubliette-as-a-Room has a different feel from Oubliette as a card. What strange effect might we get from The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale-as-a-Room? Black Lotus-as-a-Room probably offers rest and relaxation rather than a jolt of mana. We’ll have to wait and see.

Nadaar, Selfless Paladin provides another recurring vehicle for venturing, as well as a bonus for completing a dungeon. Ellywick’s ultimate offers a scalable bonus emblem based on total dungeons completed, though it remains to be seen how many you need to complete to get the full payoff. Permanent Overruns don’t need to be that big, most of the time.

Some dungeons will take longer to complete than others. Dungeon of the Mad Mage could keep you busy for many, many turns. Or you could charge through on one turn with the proper venturing triggers. If you somehow manage to venture seven times in a row, you can scry six times, then draw three and cast one for free, with some tokens thrown in for good measure. Sagas have a predictable flow to plan around, but dungeons could go in many directions. They also don’t exist on the battlefield and presumably cannot be destroyed.

We got another special preview in the same article. For those of us who seek guidance in our Ventures, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms offers nine “classic module” framed lands, like this new version of Evolving Wilds. Study up to learn where you can go!

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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