D&D Is Running a Monster-Making Contest


For the first time, dungeon masters who delight in coming up with creatures to challenge the players have the chance to share their work with the makers of Dungeons & Dragons. Adobe Photoshop and Wizards of the Coast are marking the Nov. 20 release of the Dungeons & Dragons Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage adventure with a contest asking players to design a monster that could live in the book’s signature labyrinth.

“There are many of us on the Photoshop team that actually are gamers and play Dungeons & Dragons, and we recognized immediately that there was kind of a perfect overlap in the types of audiences we try to please with our products,” said Lex Van Den Berghe, senior product manager, digital imaging for Adobe. “We create products that allow the folks that love them to use their imagination and creativity in different ways.

You can enter the “Summon the Terror of Undermountain” contest through Friday by downloading a collection of monster parts at and using Photoshop to put them together into a terrifying monster. The parts include a spider head, tentacles, eye stalks, wings and a fish tail.

“I lined up a couple of artists to do some monster parts,” said Richard Whitters, senior art director for Dungeons & Dragons. “I threw in some myself because it was a pretty fun thing to do .We basically just tried to decide what pieces would be interesting to give people.”

A panel of six judges — three from each company — will pick the winner, though each has their own criteria.

“Mike Mearls is one of the co-creators of 5th Edition and he’s kind of our main guy on the creative side, so Mike might actually be thinking more about what would make a cool monster in terms of D&D mechanics,” Whitters said. “Kate Irwin and I are both art directors, so we’ll probably be looking more visual.”

“I’ll definitely be thinking in terms of how the monster would exist and perform in the game, but for me it would be more how did you use and leverage the power of Photoshop to create something that maybe no one else would have thought of creating?” Van Den Berge said. “How innovative is your design?”

The winner will have their design turned into a miniature and receive $5,000 and a trip to Seattle to meet Wizards of the Coast’s design team. 10 runners up will get a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

“We’ve never done anything quite like this before,” Whitters said.

The competition is likely to be stiff as entry numbers have been high.

“It was astonishing to me how many people in just in the first 48 hours downloaded the parts, which was an immediate indication that people were excited about it,” Van Den Berge said.

About the author

Samantha Nelson
Contributor at The A.V. Club, Polygon and the Chicago Tribune. Member of the Critical Hit podcast.