In our fifth edition of Designer Diaries, co-designer Nicholas Yu walks us through the dark dealings of the Red Wizards faction in Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught. 

We wanted the Red Wizards to be a powerful magic faction. They’re the first summoners in Onslaught, which meshes well with their history of necromancy and the dark arts. They’re powerful ranged blasters but quite squishy up close, so we expect them to be a low-floor and high-ceiling team.

Our iconic Red Wizard is Quellabrelten Amasnodel, the Necromancer Wizard. You’ll note that he shares a family name with the Harper bard, Chloe. Mysterious character connection! Although Quell is the “Healer” of the Red Wizards faction, he’s really a summoner by trade who proactively prevents damage to your team by making the enemies attack a bunch of skeletons instead. Although minions don’t count toward Control Points, they can clog up valuable spaces and act as road blocks as enemies try to make their way to important parts of the map.

Our next summoner is Elak Uldanin, the Grave Cleric. Elak is one of the least squishy members of the Red Wizards faction and is meant to get up close. He has some self-sustain healing and can Weaken foes to lower their damage output, and he also has a minion of his own to order about. One cool thing we wanted to do was have Quell’s and Elak’s level ups support all skeletons, so their level up abilities will improve the others’ minions too.

In a faction that specializes in ranged damage, Farilun of Scardale excels at it. She’s a Fiend Warlock who brings the pain with Fireball, and her ranged basic attack hits hard for 3 damage. Cloak of Flies will help keep her alive, but she is vulnerable to getting cornered by enemy melee combatants. The threat of her Counterspell can also lead to a lot of interesting positioning and head games between players.

That brings us to Lament, the Shadow Sorcerer. She occupies the Melee Damage role for the Red Wizards, but we wanted to implement that a little differently. Just looking at the stats, Lament is by far the squishiest Melee Damage character in Onslaught with low HP and AC and mediocre mobility; however, she has Shocking Grasp to make up for it. She can rush in and give someone a very bad time, and the ability cools down quickly, so you can use it again quickly. She also has a summon, her Hound of Ill-Omen, that can help try to take some heat off.

Basra Ashlord is another durable member of the Red Wizards. She’s a reach Fighter who serves as a bodyguard for her faction-mates. She can heal herself up with Second Wind and can take an extra swing as a Bonus Action, but it’s really her passive that sets her apart. Her Threatening Reach allows her to attack enemies who come into her range, which really helps her lock down a small area. She also has one of my favorite sculpts. She just looks dangerous with that spiked chain!

Finally, we come to Zook Doublefilch, who steals so nice he does it twice. This Arcane Trickster Rogue can do some nice damage up close and at ranged, and he has a couple of unique abilities. This is the first character who can steal items from another character with Legerdemain! And like Farilun’s Counterspell, Spellthief can lead to some interesting situations. Want to borrow Farilun’s Fireball for a double whammy? Sure, you can do that. Facing the Zhentarim and you want to snag Mistral’s Cure Wounds? You can do that, too!

Do you like zapping your enemies from afar while your undead minions do the dirty work for you? If so, the Red Wizards are the faction for you.