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D&D is coming to Betrayal at House on the Hill

A Dungeons & Dragons-themed version of the tabletop classic arrives in time for Halloween

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Avalon Hill

Tabletop classic Betrayal at House on the Hill is getting the Dungeons & Dragons treatment with Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, a board game that will take the exploration and horror mechanics of the original and apply them to the iconic Forgotten Realms setting.

For those not familiar with Betrayal, the game was first published in 2004. Designed by Bruce Glassco, it was developed by Rob Daviau (Risk: Legacy, Pandemic: Legacy), Bill McQuillan, Mike Selinker and Teeuwynn Woodruff. The game centers around the eponymous haunted house, with players drawing from a pile of random tiles as they explore its various floors. At a certain point the “haunt” is triggered, and one player becomes the traitor. From there it’s a mad dash to the climax, with the remaining players and the traitor each reading from a separate set of rules.

Just last year, publisher Avalon Hill refreshed the game with a massive expansion called Widow’s Walk. It includes haunts designed by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, Cards Against Humanity’s Max Temkin and Eli Halpern, Depression Quest designer and Crash Override Network co-founder Zoë Quinn as well as Daviau, Chris Dupuis, Keith Baker and Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian.

Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate will include 50 new haunts, 47 new location tiles and 86 new cards. There will be 18 new monsters to fight and 12 D&D-themed adventurers. The set will include six plastic miniatures.

A CGI mockup of the final components.
Avalon Hill

“When we sat down to talk through the design for this game, Baldur’s Gate made perfect sense,” says Mike Mearls, senior manager of design & development for Dungeons & Dragons. “Not only is it one of D&D’s most infamous cities, but the thieves, assassins, and other scoundrels that lurk in its shadowy alleys provided a perfect fit for Betrayal’s game play.”

However, those who have played the original or the second-edition reprint know that the game is notorious for two things.

First, there’s the damnable character cards. The included sliding clips are almost entirely useless. Playing the game requires a bit of modification, or a reliance on pen and paper. A statement provided to Polygon suggests that this particular issue has been cleared up.

“The technology has greatly evolved,” stated a representative from Avalon Hill, “and you’ll find the Baldur’s Gate clips stay in place! We are also exploring some special edition high-end ones with our partners and perhaps some digital versions as well.”

Finally, both the original Betrayal and Widow’s Walk had notoriously opaque rules. Both the base game and the expansion nearly required a downloadable set of errata, and even then didn’t always make a whole lot of sense.

Avalon Hill says they’ve paid close attention to fan feedback this time around.

Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate provided an opportunity to clarify and streamline some of the rules fans may have found confusing,” the company said in the statement. “The haunts in Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate pull from the legends and lore of D&D and Baldur’s Gate so fans will recognize a lot of the flavor and appreciate the depth. ... Board games have evolved so much over the last decade and finding that balance between how much you change or fix when doing a reprint or expansion is always a balancing act.”

Hands-on play tests with early copies of the game will be available at the Origins Game Fair next week. The final product is due out in October.

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