Comprehend Languages: D&D in Translation

The world’s greatest roleplaying game is expanding beyond the English language to become truly global.

by John Dodd

Dungeons & Dragons is more popular than ever, having racked up seven years of continuous growth since the launch of the game’s fifth edition in 2014. There are more than 50 million D&D players around the world as the tabletop roleplaying game continues to expand its audience. While D&D has always been an inclusive pastime, there’s now a significant, long-term push by Wizards of the Coast to make D&D as successful in other languages as it is in English.

“We’re hiring dedicated team members to oversee the translation process on our products, to make sure that both the language and the feel of those books is retained,” says Ray Winninger, Executive Producer of the D&D Studio. “We’re undertaking extensive translation reviews and updates of existing content, while also commencing new translation work on multiple titles. To make sure no one is kept waiting for these products, we’re investigating new printing and production vendors, and we’ll be collaborating with our local market teams in Europe and Latin America to get these products into the hands of fans, old and new.”

That work is already well under way, with localized versions of the core rulebooks (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual) available for Spanish (both for Spain and Latin America), French, German, and Italian fans since November 2021. The Essentials Kit is also available for the first time outside of English, including everything you need to start playing D&D. The translation of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has also begun, with copies already available in German and French. Meanwhile, dedicated localized websites have also been created for French, German, Italian, and Spanish players and DMs.

  • Core rulebooks in German
  • Core rulebooks in French
  • Core rulebooks in Italian
  • Core rulebooks in Spanish

Wizards of the Coast is also excited to publish localized D&D publications in Brazilian Portuguese. The launch of the core rule books (Livro do Jogador, Livro do Mestre, and Livro dos Monstros) is confirmed to start in the second half of 2022, alongside the Essentials Kit and a revamped Starter Kit.

“This announcement is extremely important for the Brazilian D&D community, which has been following Dungeons & Dragons for decades,” celebrates Reynaldo Barbella, head of LATAM at Wizards of the Coast. “D&D fans in Brazil can be sure that we will be listening to them, providing all the necessary support, and working to offer new localized content. In addition to the core rulebooks, we will launch new and localized products throughout the second half of 2022.”

“We know that D&D is a beloved brand, and we want to make sure we offer the most inclusive and accessible experience possible to the fans, both for those who are just starting out and those who have played for years,” adds Annette Escalante, Community Manager for Wizards of the Coast in Latin America. “We know how important non-English communities are and we want to give this recognition to them.”

“Language is a very important factor to our fans,” says Sabrina Kessler, Brand Manager D&D, GSA. “Language shouldn’t be an entry barrier for interested players. Especially younger players, who enjoy a more comfortable introduction to the game by playing in their own language.”

As well as the significant effort that’s gone into creating the translations, the D&D team has also looked at other factors affected by region.

“We recognized that $49.95 does not equal €50! Accordingly, we’ve realigned the MSRP to €39.99 for our standard hardcover books in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain,” says Dan Barrett, Senior Brand Manager EMEA—D&D. “And while some products have been available before, all have been updated with the latest errata additions from the English source books, typo corrections, and translation revisions. Books now also feature a flag on the spine for easy language identification.”

Dungeon Master's Guide in Italian. Also available in French, German, and Spanish.

The need for dedicated language options is already being addressed by the D&D Virtual Play team, which employed non-English speaking Dungeon Masters to run games online. “Pandemic or not, Dungeons & Dragons connects everyone in the world,” Chris Tulach told Dragon+. That includes a Portuguese speaking Discord server featuring largely Brazilian D&D fans, a German-only server, and Spanish-language tables, with other countries and languages expected to join that roll call.

The marketing team has also expanded into new forms of content to bring the game to more players in their own language. It supported the new launches by creating content in the local languages, including immersive audio ads for Spotify, helpful video content, and other dynamic social media posts. It also worked with local content creators to promote gameplay and introduce new players, including a series of explainer videos by French streamers AlphaCast, and the following ‘let’s play’ video of the Starter Set by Italian streamers Inn Tale.

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The goal now is to maintain this push and bring new and existing Dungeons & Dragons releases to fans in their own languages.

“We want to offer players an improved and easier way into the world of D&D, especially in new markets. When it comes to products, we’ll focus on bringing our latest and greatest titles to players and Dungeon Masters,” Sabrina says. “We’ll announce upcoming releases via official channels such as the localized websites and social media channels, so stay tuned for more details coming soon. We’ve already shared plans to release the never-before-translated Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, as well as a new DM screen.

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft in Spanish. Also available in French, German and Italian.

“We’re planning to have a new book releasing every quarter in languages outside of English. While focusing on our latest successful titles for the near future, we might consider older titles as well. Localizing a single book requires an extensive process and we will carefully consider which titles should be added to our non-English catalogue.”

“We’re thrilled to make our beloved game accessible to more people around the world than ever before,” Ray adds. “Bienvenue, willkommen, bienvenidos, benvenuti!”

Information about current and upcoming non-English versions of the Dungeons & Dragons books can be found on the respective French, German, Italian, and Spanish websites. Localized French and German Twitter accounts are also available.