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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > June (#31) > How we made…

How we made…

The Dungeons & Dragons board game combined the RPG’s immersive fantasy universe with the tight strategic experience of a Eurogame. Behind its surprise success were two lifelong fans keen to put a fresh take on a tabletop classic


Waterdeep is a major city-state in D&D’s Forgotten Realms, and the backdrop for many of the RPG’s most memorable adventures
Images courtesy of Wizards of the Coast

Dungeons & Dragons is one of the most revered and influential titles in all of gaming. For decades, the original fantasy roleplaying game has let players explore its dangerous realms, battling monsters and accumulating treasure along the way.

It’s become synonymous with archetypical dungeon-crawling fantasy. But in 2012, its creators threw players a curveball with a board game that looked at D&D’s setting from a new perspective.

Rather than focusing on subterranean monster-slaying, Lords of Waterdeep handed players the roles of rival nobles attempting to bribe, scheme and plot their way to power. In doing so, it injected a dose of Europeanstyle game design into this most American of tabletop franchises.


Lords of Waterdeep’s designers, Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson, both grew up as enthusiastic gamers.

“I started playing RPGs in high school, and was always big into video games,” Thompson recalls. “In fact, as a kid, I had this notebook where I would write ideas for video games, and they were lengthy, detailed descriptions. My brother says he knew I was going to be a game designer from way back then, because I was already doing it.

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