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Icingdeath sits in a crystal cavern, standing on a pile of treasure.
The white dragon Icingdeath, killed by Drizzt Do’Urden and the barbarian Wulfgar. Note the silver scimitar at its feet.
Image: Matt Stewart/Wizards of the Coast

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D&D’s Magic: The Gathering crossover is the nerdiest thing that Wizards has ever done

It also has all the makings of an excellent set of cards

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Dungeons & Dragons is coming to Magic: The Gathering with an epic crossover set of cards called Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Wizards of the Coast shared details with the press during a special preview event earlier this month, and today Polygon can reveal everything we know. That includes details on new keyword mechanics, alternate art cards, and all new legendary creatures. Also known as AFR, this might just be the nerdiest project that the publisher has ever undertaken.

AFR takes the place of this year’s Core Set in the regular rotation of Magic cards and will be legal in all formats, including Standard. That sets it apart from the upcoming Universes Beyond initiative, which will feature crossovers with Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 setting and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This full set of 281 cards, plus variants, will be part of the competitive Magic scene for years to come; but that’s not its only objective.

An adventurer stands on the precipice of a vast and deadly dungeon. Image: Kasia ‘Kafis’ Zielińska /Wizards of the Coast

“The goal with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is to tell a story,” said Meris Mullaley, worldbuilding & narrative design manager at Wizards, “while giving Dungeons & Dragons players familiar gameplay elements and, for players who aren’t as familiar, accessible and fun ways to play Magic.”

Ellywick Tumblestrum, Legendary Planeswalker — Ellywick. Her -7 emblem gives +2/+2 to each creature you control for each differently named dungeon you’ve completed.
Alternate, full-frame art for Ellywick Tumblestrum.

A new planeswalker draws her power in part from a card pulled from the Deck of Many Things.

The Forgotten Realms is among the oldest and the largest settings for D&D. Also known as Faerûn, its history spans thousands of years and includes some of the system’s most iconic characters. We know that Drizzt Do’Urden will be there, along with his nemesis Lolth and allies like Bruenor Battlehammer.

Nadaar, Selfless Paladin is a Legendary Creature, a Dragon Knight, with vigilance and other benefits.
Nadaar, but on a sepia background and rendered in heavy black lines.

Alternate art for Nadaar renders them in the same way he would appear in a sourcebook.

Wizards is also introducing a new adventuring party — and all new planeswalkers. Planeswalkers are powerful spellcasters from the lore of Magic, capable of traveling between dimensions. While new planeswalkers will now appear within the world of the Forgotten Realms, Wizards was quick to say that fans should not expect heroes from the world of Magic to start showing up inside D&D.

Shortcut Seeker is a Human Ranger with the venture keyword
Gloom Stalker is a Dwarf Ranger with double strike.

“For now,” said Blake Rasmussen, senior public relations manager at Wizards of the Coast, “this is not canon in the Magic universe. [Likewise] Magic is not canon in the Dungeons & Dragons universe — but we reserve the right to change our mind in the future.”

Tomb of Annihilation ends with Cradle of the Death God, which allows players to great a 4/4 token with deathtouch.
The Lost Mine of Phandelver ends with the Temple of Dumathoin, which allows players to draw a card.

Venture is a new keyword mechanic being introduced with AFR, and will allow players to travel room-by-room through iconic dungeons in search of powerful rewards. Wizards showed off three such dungeons during the preview event, including the Tomb of Annihilation, which is based on the legendary Tomb of Horrors first published in 1978.

Dungeon of the Mad Mage is massive, and will require seven ventures to complete. At the end you draw three cards and cast one without paying its cost.
Evolving Wilds, a land dressed up to look like an adventure module from the 1970s.

That’s not the only retro element to this set. Rulebook cards, 51 in all, feature alternate art for legendary creatures and iconic monsters. Each one celebrates the role-playing game’s original art style with shaded pen-and-ink drawings on a sepia background. There are also classic module land frames, nine in total, designed to look like the bold, monochromatic adventure modules published for the first edition of the game.

Art for the flumph shows an orc swinging wildly over the gentle creature.
The reverse of an art card, showing a selection of items from the creature’s stat block.

Wizards is also doing something different with its full-frame art cards, which were first introduced with Zendikar Rising in 2020. Cards that feature monsters will also include a traditional stat block on the back, showing their attributes and hit points for use in a game of D&D. That will make them handy resources for budding Dungeon Masters, helping to inspire their adventures and to serve as a visual aid for their players. The set will contain more than 80 art cards in total.

But what about D&D’s other settings? Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft formally opened the gates to the planes of Ravenloft, and the world of Wildemount created by the Critical Role troupe has also been rendered for 5th edition. The team was strident in pointing out that none of those settings — or characters, for that matter — will appear in this set, not even as Easter eggs.

Expect a lot more news to come out over the next few weeks, both from Wizards and publications like Polygon. Announcements, including information on additional new keyword mechanics, rule changes, and more are already in the pipeline. Previews begin June 29, with a digital release (including both Magic: The Gathering Arena and Magic Online) set for July 8. Prerelease week kicks off on July 16, and will include both SpellTable and in-store play where allowed. The worldwide release comes on July 23.