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Borderlands 2: ‘Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep’ inspired by D&D


Art from Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep, the next batch of downloadable content coming from the team at Borderlands 2. (Courtesy of 2K Games/Courtesy of 2K Games)

Smashing through the fourth wall, Borderlands 2 will drop players into a new, in-universe, role-playing, tabletop gaming session as part of a downloadable package that puts a finishing touch on the game’s storylines.

That’s right. You’ll be playing a game within a game, as the characters of Borderlands 2 indulge in a little fantasy ad­ven­ture with a game in a new batch of DLC , due to launch June 25. Called “Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep,” this new chapter is an ode to those who spent their time playing “Dungeons and Dragons” and to the unique social interactions that only can only take place in the presence of a 20-sided die.

The game master of this recursive ad­ven­ture is Tiny Tina, a demolitions specialist whom character players got to know when the game was first released last fall. And like many people who run role-playing adventures, Tiny Tina can be a bit, well, unreliable.

That’s by design, said Anthony Burch, a writer at Gearbox Software and the lead writer on the new batch of downloadable content.

Players will find that Tina will change things — such as the setting -- on a dime to match up with whatever else she may be thinking, just like friends often do mid-game during a tabletop session. Times of day, enemies and aspects of the environment could change wherever and whenever Tina, as the game master, sees fit.

“She’ll just change the boss fight at her whim. You’ll catch a lot of things that happen when you play tabletop with friends.” Burch said.

Burch said that the development team chose to put Tiny Tina in the driver’s seat because she’s a prominent but not central character to the plot of the main game, which gave the team the freedom to play around with the narrative without complicating the main story.

Not that the new batch of content doesn’t call back to the original. Since Tiny Tina is running the game with characters from Borderlands 2, the relationships they’ve built — and lost — over the course of the game inform the new narrative, as well.

“At the same time, there’s a next-level story,” said Paul Hellquist, a game designer at Gearbox. “One is what [you’re] doing in the module. The second story is that of the people playing.”

And the new chapter offers players — real-life players, that is — a look into Tiny Tina’s twisted mind and how she processes the traumatic events that take place in the main plotline. (Without spoilers, that’s as far as I’m willing to go.)

“As you play through, you realize she’s almost using this as a way to exorcize her demons and come to grips with it,” Burch said.

This fresh experiment in game creation, Burch said, was “really, really fun to write.”

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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