Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures

This month, 10 Speed Press released a new entry to the Young Adventurer's Guide series for Dungeons & Dragons, this time tackling Dragons & Treasures. This set of books is designed to help brings in younger readers who may not understand everything about D&D just yet by explaining certain aspects in simplistic terms with wonderful art taken from the TTRPG and original pieces created for the book. We had a chance to chat with Jim Zub and Stacy King, two of the three people behind the latest book (along with Andrew Wheeler), as we chat about how this one came about and the content within!

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

BC: Hey gang! How have you both been since we last spoke?

JZ: Like everyone, it's been a strange couple of years seeing our way through the pandemic, but on the whole, I'm good, we're good, and it's been great to start seeing friends and fans again in person over the summer.

What was it like for you to come back to this series after having five books out so far?

JZ: The Young Adventurer's Guides are such a joy to put together. I started playing D&D when I was eight years old, and each volume is trying to tap into that same excitement for discovery and storytelling I had at that age. Every time we get to plan out and write a new volume, it's like reconnecting with that excited young Zub who just wants to play games and have fun.

SK: Amazing. We originally pitched the concept as a single title, which has since grown thanks to both editorial encouragement from the publisher and enthusiastic support from readers. It's really gratifying to work on something that has connected so strongly with both new and existing D&D fans.

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

What inspired this specific book about Dragons & Treasures?

JZ: Although we touched upon chromatic dragons in Monsters & Creatures and metallic dragons in Beasts & Behemoths, this volume was our chance to dive deeper into the things that make dragons such an integral part of fantasy storytelling – their powers, their lairs, their knowledge, language, and relics. Kids love dragons, and we love exploring everything that makes them so cool.

SK: Dragons are fascinating, and I've always loved the way that Dungeons & Dragons approaches them in particular. Dragons in D&D aren't just there to be part of the player's story – they have goals and ambitions all their own, a life cycle and purpose that extends far beyond mortal lifespans. When we heard that Wizards of the Coast was working on a fifth edition dragon-specific sourcebook (Fizban's Treasury of Dragons) with a whole new dragon type, there was no way we could resist!

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

What was the process like in choosing what to include and how to break it down for younger readers?

JZ: All three writers involved in the series – myself, Stacy, and Andrew [Wheeler] – dig into the existing 5th edition D&D material on the subject, in this case, Dragons, and try to frame it from the perspective of a new player or Dungeon Master; What catches our eye in the text or artwork? What is most exciting and intriguing? What are the natural springboards for conflict or other narratives we can put into a clearer structure for someone coming to material who has never seen it before? For me, a big part of that is nostalgia, remembering the kinds of things that grabbed my attention when I was 8 or 9 years old. Another part is the experience of running a ton of games for new D&D players and seeing what they've responded to in the past.

SK: Before starting to write anything, we put together a proposal that details what information we plan to include and how it will be organized. There's always a fair bit of back-and-forth in that process. Our overall goal is to help readers feel excited and encouraged about telling their own stories, so that's the frame we keep in mind while building the books.

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

Considering the previous books touched on some of this already, how was it keeping some of the content original so it didn't feel like a retread?

JZ: The previous dragon sections were overviews of core information, while this is a more detailed look at the ways that dragons carry so much influence and power. The unique qualities that make them worthy of being title carriers in the name of the game – Dungeons & DRAGONS. So many epic fantasy stories have dragons at their core for good reason, and we relished the chance to show readers why that's the case.

SK: There's so much amazing lore around dragons in the game that it was honestly easy! In-depth details about dragon society, life cycles, [and] the what and why of their treasure hoarding, was all fun material we hadn't been able to squeeze into previous books. Add in the new gem dragon types and hoard magic introduced in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, and we had tons of new material to explore.

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

What do you think of the final version, and what do you hope readers take away from it?

JZ: I think Dragons & Treasures is one of our best guides so far. The new art is top-notch, and almost every page has something intriguing or inspiring to generate new story ideas. With each new volume, I think we're refining our approach to showing new players and DMs different facets of the granddaddy of TTRPGs. I'm so proud of the series and the response we get from readers all over the world.

SK: I'm so proud of the work we did on this book, including the editorial team at Ten Speed Press and our fantastic art studio Conceptopolis! I hope the book inspires readers to expand their imaginations about how all kinds of creatures, not just dragons, can become part of the stories they're telling. I also harbor a secret dream of hearing kids in a playground shouting at one another in Draconic someday!

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

Do you have any more entries in the series coming up?

JZ: Absolutely! Books 7 + 8 are currently in development, though we're not ready to reveal the titles and covers just yet. Suffice to say, there's still a lot more worth exploring.

What else are you both working on that we can see down the road?

JZ: I have a bunch of comics coming out right now, a burst of material built up over the pandemic now finally unleashed-Thunderbolts and Murderworld at Marvel, Rick and Morty VS Cthulhu at Oni Press, Unbreakable Red Sonja at Dynamite, the Skullkickers Super Special at Image, and more fun projects in the works for 2023 and beyond.

SK: On top of the Young Adventurer's Guides, Jim and I have been working on Dungeons & Dragons: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book with the astonishingly talented Matthew Reinhart, which will be hitting shelves in May 2023. It's going to be the nerdy coffee table book I've always wanted! Plus, the trade paperback of Sins of the Black Flamingo, an adult crime story by our co-author Andrew Wheeler, comes out in late February, which will make for a busy spring!

Interview: Jim Zub & Stacy King Chat D&D: Dragons & Treasures
Credit: Penguin Random House/10 Speed Press

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

Gavin SheehanAbout Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
twitterfacebookinstagram
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.