dungeons and dragons online

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Official Site: Dungeons and Dragons Online
Studio: Standing Stone Games, formerly Turbine/WB Interactive Entertainment; published by Daybreak Game Company
Launch Date: February 28, 2006
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Hybrid F2P (Optional Sub, Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Neverwinter gets bitten by Ravenloft’s gothic horror

Dungeons and Dragons Online isn’t the only MMO that’s vacationing in the moonlit lands of Barovia. Cryptic announced this week that it is bringing Neverwinter into the Ravenloft campaign with a special module that is coming next month.

The Ravenloft update, Neverwinter’s 14th module, will introduce that game’s playerbase to a gothic horror setting. It will include a new adventure zone, tarot card readings by Madame Eva, a day/night cycle, heroic encounters, and a challenging Castle Ravenloft dungeon.

“The mists of Barovia pull adventurers to the Domains of Dread and into the land of the mighty vampire — Strahd von Zarovich,” the press release said. “In the darkest corners of this foreign land, adventurers will find new stories from quests and instances; all-new repeatable adventures with newly designed monster hunts and heroic encounters, where the creatures of the mist must be destroyed; and expanded endgame progression with a new campaign culminating in a journey into Castle Ravenloft itself. Heroes of Neverwinter must work together to free this cursed land from Strahd’s control.”

You can check out the extremely brief teaser trailer after the break.

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Perfect Ten: You got your MMORPG in my tabletop RPG

Tabletop games and MMORPGs seem like they would go well together, but remarkably they often don’t. That’s true for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that we have a lot more games adapting different source material separately. You can certainly run a Star Wars: The Old Republic-themed game with a Star Wars tabletop system, but neither one is based on the other. (Technically there was a supplement published for it, but that was covering the first two single-player games, which themselves were based on that tabletop system.)

But there have still been incursions from MMOs into the tabletop space, and MMOs which pluck that fertile ground for the seeds of inspiration. So let’s spend today looking at these games, when you can log off of your favorite MMO, gather around a table with your friends, and keep playing your favorite MMO. More or less.

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Daybreak update: Renova boss questioned over Columbus Nova’s alleged payment to Michael Cohen

MMOs and politics once again collide this week as last night CNN broke the news that Robert Mueller’s FBI team has zeroed in on Russian oligarch and Renova Group chairman Viktor Vekselberg as part of the Special Counsel investigation into Russian election interference, questioning Vekselberg about money Renova’s US “affiliate” transferred to US President Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen. (Tangentially, those allegations were brought to light by Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti.)

And the name of that US affiliate under investigation? Yeah, it’s Columbus Nova, the firm that claimed it acquired MMORPG studio Daybreak back in 2015. Here we go again.

“FBI agents asked Vekselberg about payments his company’s American affiliate, Columbus Nova, made to Cohen, according to one source,” CNN reports. “The Russian was questioned as well about $300,000 in political donations by Andrew Intrater, Vekselberg’s American cousin who is the head of Columbus Nova, sources said.” Columbus Nova claimed to CNN that it is “owned and controlled by Americans”; it further denies any use of “Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments” to Cohen.

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The Daily Grind: Do you buy the Daybreak-owns-Standing Stone Games rumor?

Buried in the Daybreak ruckus of last week was the rumor that Daybreak is not in fact merely the publisher of Standing Stone Games’ MMOs (LOTRO and DDO) – that instead it owns SSG outright. It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard the rumor, especially once it really heated up earlier this month when SSG’s Rob Ciccolini let slip that Daybreak Austin’s Jack Emmert was his “direct boss” in an interview. I have my own reasons to believe it’s true. But as they say, it’s not about what you know – it’s about what you can prove.

Daybreak declined to comment on the question of the full extent of its stake in SSG when I inquired last week; a spokesperson told me Daybreak wouldn’t comment on rumors (which is worth a chuckle since Daybreak commenting on the Russian sanction rumors is how it got into this mess). And sure, Daybreak doesn’t have to give its customers or the media a complete family tree. But given that Daybreak’s apparently been misrepresenting its own ownership for the last 3+ years, you’d think maybe they’d come clean just this once, as this isn’t a good look – which is why MMORPG players have dug up the bit about how a Daybreak VP appears to be an SSG director.

What do you think – do you buy the rumor that Daybreak owns Standing Stone Games, in full or in part? And if so, why do you think they’ve both been presenting it as nothing more than a publisher/developer relationship since the Turbine split?

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EverQuesting: Columbus Nova or not, Daybreak is tying its own noose

How about those Red Sox? Seriously, that’s a conversation I’d rather be having than the one that has cropped up this week — and I don’t even follow the Red Sox. Instead, we’ve got the Columbus Nova fiasco and Daybreak’s disasterous response. I feel as if I am witnessing my favorite game studio hang itself.

As I sit here watching as this story all unfolds, I almost wonder if I’ve stumbled into some crazy movie plot or scripted prank show. Is this seriously happening? It doesn’t seem real, and yet here we are; I’m right with you, following each new step in the saga as it happens. Sadly, in this narrative there are no winners, only losers. The studio, the developers, the players, the industry — we’re all losers. No matter how this ultimately turns out, much damage has been done. The hopes that my favorite game will continue are crashing and burning alongside the last vestiges of trust I had in my favorite studio. How did it come to this? These are my thoughts and feelings as a long-time fan on the matter, basically my WTF reaction to it all.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 167: Daybreaking news

On this special edition of the podcast, Justin and Bree lay out the Daybreak fiasco, taking you through the events of the last three days, and contemplating the future for this once-great studio.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:


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Daybreak has now been hit with layoffs [Confirmed]

Daybreak has now confirmed the layoffs, and we’ve got lots more information from our own sources – see below for updates and context.

Multiple game industry veterans are discussing layoffs at Daybreak today. H1Z1 UI Software Engineer Grat Crabtree says he was among those let go.

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Leaderboard: Does the Daybreak fiasco affect whether you play its MMOs?

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been covering the Daybreak scandal – specifically, how concerns over the impact of government sanctions on Daybreak’s parent companies would affect the games, which spiraled into Daybreak publicly denying that it was ever owned by the company it said repeatedly bought it in 2015 and scrubbing its website and wikipedia of references to Columbus Nova’s acquisition. We’ve all watched on, eyes wide, dutifully recording gaslighting in progress.

But then I have that luxury: I don’t play any Daybreak games and haven’t played any of them seriously since SOE shuttered the best MMORPG ever made. So I can look at the whole situation as the dumpster fire it is, and not as the doom of my favorite MMO, since it already killed that.

Many of you are not in my position. You play DCUO, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2, even EverQuest. You might even be playing H1Z1, although that’s less likely if you’re reading Massively OP. Or maybe the Standing Stone games Daybreak publishes, LOTRO and DDO, are your thing, and you’re not convinced by yesterday’s vague Twitch sidenote that everything’s probably fine. You are watching on in horror, wondering what will happen to your MMO homes if Daybreak implodes. You might even be pretty sure the games will be OK but aren’t so sure you want to put your own money into the mess.

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Dungeons and Dragons Online overhauls its daily rewards

Like many MMORPGs, Dungeons and Dragons Online has a daily reward system, which it calls “Daily Dice” (D&D, dice, you get it). In today’s Update 38 Patch 1, this system received a “significant overhaul” to improve the reward offerings (such as more creature companions!).

“Items have moved to different tiers, items have been newly added to Daily Dice, and many new items to DDO itself have been added,” Standing Stone Games noted.

The small patch made some other adjustments to the enhancement trees, forced Undead mobs to respond to positive and negative damage, and added Disciples of Rage creatures to the monster manual.

Source: Patch notes. Thanks DDOCentral!

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Daybreak update: Chief Publishing Officer Laura Naviaux has left the company

Yesterday, Massively OP put together a piece on MMO company Daybreak Games Company and its corporate overlords, chronicling the US government’s asset freeze of Russian megacorp Renova on down the chain to its subsidiary Columbus Nova, which has for three years been the nominal owner of Daybreak since it parted ways with Sony and dropped the SOE name.

The twist? When reached for comment on the story, Daybreak informed the editors of Massively OP that our understanding of Daybreak’s ownership was in error. Stunning the MMORPG community and beyond, the company spokesperson insisted it had “no affiliation with Columbus Nova” and that former Columbus Nova rep Jason Epstein “is and has always been the primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Game Company” since its founding in February of 2015. When pushed for clarification, Daybreak told us that the “distinction was never corrected in the past, so [it is] correcting that now.”

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 166: Russia breaks the internet

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin dive into the Russia gaming crisis, tackle a trio of significant MMO patches, and celebrate the coming of a cute-looking title. Plus there’s always those challenging community podcast questions to keep them occupied!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Daybreak says it has ‘no affiliation’ with Columbus Nova, the company it said bought it in 2015

Note: We’ve updated this piece heavily at the end with Daybreak’s statements and further links.

A chain of business connections could have a real and dire impact on Daybreak Games Company following the freezing of company assets by the U.S. government.

On April 6th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted several Russian oligarchs and froze their assets due to “destabilizing activities” by these figures (including suspected interference in the 2016 U.S. election). One of the oligarchs so punished was Viktor Vekselberg, who owns the Renova Group conglomerate and its subsidiary, Columbus Nova. [Eds.: Daybreak began disputing this part as of April 27th; see updates below.]

Columbus Nova, you may recall, is the parent company of Daybreak Games. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control has given Renova and other Russian companies until June 5th to “wind down operations, contracts, or other agreements” involving these figures.

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Dungeons and Dragons Online meets the Disciples of Rage

The call for adventurers has gone out yet again in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Yesterday, the game pushed out Update 38: Disciples of Rage, a new adventure pack that starts in House Jorasco.

It sounds as though sinister dealings are afoot: “The Beacon that looms over Stormreach’s Harbor is known as the Emperor. For as long as humanoids have lived there, the Emperor has stood, and the beacon it holds has shone brightly both night and day. Meanwhile, a faction of the Cult of the Dragon Below plots.”

In addition to the new quests, Update 38 has made significant adjustments (read: buffs) to the Artificer and Druid classes. Players will find that dual-wielding weapons are going to function better while moving, meet new Eyelet companions, and just about a billion other things. Seriously, read the patch notes if you play, because this update has a ton of stuff to absorb.

Source: Patch notes. Thanks DDOCentral!

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