Well, folks, here we are in 2010. What can we look forward to in this new year? Well, it's set to be the International Year of Biodiversity, sayeth the U.N, and the year of the tiger according to the Chinese Zodiac (the metal tiger, no less). Then we have the Winter Olympics taking place up the road from us in Seattle, over yonder in Vancouver. And, of course, this is also the year we make contact after Dr. Heywood Floyd helps investigate Discovery One's failed mission (how many times this year will you hear that reference?).
What else can you expect this year? Why, just take a look at the following:
In nearly all cultures, parents warn their misbehaving children that the King that Crawls might burrow up from below and drag them down to eternal imprisonment. Throughout our previews
, we've followed the references and even possible campaign arc for Torog -- starting in Chapter 1, with The Torturer's Ruin:
This campaign begins on the surface and ends in the deepest Underdark, with the characters coming face to face with Torog. The deeper the adventurers delve, the greater Torog's influence and divine power. They venture into the terrifying torture dens and battle the warped creatures that serve the god of prisons and torture.
But just who is Torog? The god of imprisonment and torture, Torog resides as the lord of the Underdark. How did this evil god come to regard himself as the monarch of the world beneath the world? Not by any stroke of genius or master plan -- Torog stumbled into his ascendancy and paid for his power with his own blood and suffering.
Before the Dawn War, Torog became imprisoned in the primeval Underdark. Unable to escape to the surface world, the King that Crawls instead smashed sideways, creating tunnels that wound throughout the dark realm. In his fury and desperation, Torog crashed through the barriers between the world and its echo planes, the Feywild and the Shadowfell. To this day, the god's violent but futile efforts lend a name to the endless tunnels of the Underdark: the King's Highway, a dark jest in a bitter place.
Throughout the Underdark, the King's Highway can be followed down into various levels -- until there, somewhere, in the depths, Torog himself might be found . . . and may the rest of the pantheon help those who come across the King That Crawls:
Level 34 Solo Lurker
Huge immortal humanoid
Initiative +26 Senses Perception +27; darkvision
Shared Torture (Psychic) aura 10; when any enemy within the aura makes a death saving throw, each conscious enemy within the aura takes 10 psychic damage.
Torturous Exhaustion aura 10; when any enemy within the aura makes a saving throw against ongoing damage, that enemy is weakened until the end of its next turn. Enemies within the aura can choose not to make saving throws against ongoing damage to avoid this effect.
HP 1,232; Bloodied 616; see also discorporation
AC 48; Fortitude 47, Reflex 45, Will 46
Immune attacks by characters below 20th level; Resist 20 psychic
Saving Throws +5; whenever an attack applies an effect to Torog that a save can end, he immediately makes a saving throw. Torog also makes saving throws at the end of each of his turns as normal.
Speed 6 (earth walk), climb 6
Action Points 2
Reach 2; +39 vs. AC; 3d12 damage, and ongoing 5 fire damage (save ends).
Reach 2; targets a creature that is not bloodied; +39 vs. AC; 3d10 damage, and ongoing 5 damage (save ends).
Ranged 20; targets an enemy taking ongoing damage; +39 vs. Will; each time Torog takes damage, the target takes psychic damage equal to one-half the damage dealt to Torog. Each time the target takes damage from this effect, it can use an immediate reaction to end the effect by voluntarily becoming dominated by Torog (save ends).
Close burst 20; targets one, two, or three enemies; +37 vs. Reflex; 1d10 + 10 damage, and the target slides 5 squares and is restrained until the end of Torog's next turn.
Close burst 20; targets the triggering attacker; +37 vs. Reflex; 1d10 + 10 damage, and the target is stunned until the end of Torog's next turn.
Crawling Blood (move; at-will)
Torog moves his speed or shifts 1 square, and a crawling blood swarm (see the statistics block) appears in a square he left.
Discorporation (when first bloodied; encounter)
When Torog becomes bloodied, he normally discorporates and is unable to take physical form for a time.
Torog cannot be knocked prone. He takes no penalties for his ruined legs, and crawls at his normal speed.
Languages all, telepathy 20
Skills Dungeoneering +32, Endurance +31, Intimidate +35
Str 33 (+28)
Dex 20 (+22)
Wis 30 (+27)
Con 28 (+26)
Int 28 (+26)
Cha 27 (+25)
Equipment serrated longsword, sickle of agony
What material can you look forward to next month in the magazines? Let's start with Dragon #384. A D&D classic, the figurines of wondrous power made their return to the game in the Adventurer's Vault accessory. From the loyal onyx dog to the fearsome golden lion, adventurers had at their disposal constant companions they could call forth from their diminutive statue forms to aid them in battle. The nine items provide an ample selection for heroic adventurers, but what about paragon-level or even epic-level adventurers?
Also look for magic items from the legend of Drizzt, new features for rangers, warlocks, eladrin, gnomes, warforged (and more!)—and the debut of Player's Handbook 3's battlemind.
And Dungeon, what of Dungeon? Be warned, for this month we meet the living spells—deadly horrors that haunt the Mournlands, the cursed remains of the great nation of Cyre. These monstrosities at first appear to be lingering conjurations, but they have no external guidance—these spells have a life of their own—such as living clouds of daggers or flaming spheres!
Plus, you'll also gain the next chapter in the Scales of War, plus new Chaos Scar adventures by Robert Schwalb ("A Chance Encounter") and R&D's Cal Moore ("Shrine of the Glass-Spire Forest"):
Many strange places are beyond the great wall, the edifice that has spawned a thousand stories. But perhaps none are so strange as the place that adventurers call "the glass forest." Those few who have returned from journeys in the great valley tell of the keening that arises near this locale when the wind blows to the east, as if a thousand wind chimes had been set in motion. Some stories even speak of an unusual shrine within this glass forest, but those are only whispers told to those willing to buy the next pint.
Last month we merely introduced this fine tome (a modern-day manual of bodily health for all martial characters). This month, let's crack open the pages and show off one of the new (though oddly familiar) paragon paths for rogues. It's the return of the arcane trickster -- and he is tricksy indeed!
"You can talk of honor 'til you're blue in the face, but buddy, it's about winning. At the end of the day, what matters is that you're breathing. So you can go expecting the bad guys to fight fair, but don't be surprised when you don't see me standing at your side."
The rogue is a scoundrel who's not above using dishonorable tactics and deception to defeat foes. You might be a shadowy killer who lies in wait, looking for an opportune time to strike. Or you could unnerve enemies through threats or cutting wit before delivering on your cruel promises.
You are an expert at spotting enemy weaknesses. What separates rogues is their ability to exploit opportunities and vulnerabilities. You might find your moment when an enemy focuses its attention on a defender, or perhaps you instead lurk unseen until an enemy lowers its guard. When the opportunity finally arises, you dispatch the unwary creature with quick slip of the knife or twang of your crossbow.
"My tricks come from tool and spell."
Prerequisite: Rogue, trained in Arcana
You've never been content to stick to one path. Magic and larceny, spell and trap, and dweomer and shadow -- for you, all came easy. You learned to fuse your knowledge into one style, both in and out of battle.
When you were a child, you dreamed of grand achievements. You enjoyed the magic of the illusionists and magicians, and you reveled in the skill of pickpockets and burglars. You followed two divergent paths that eventually came together in your mind as a way of life and a cohesive style of attack. You don't separate the martial from the magical, and you are surprised by anyone who is so shortsighted as to make this division.
Your training has been a mix of rigorous arcane study and street survival. You've learned from master magicians and master thieves. You might have picked up your skills through quiet observation, or perhaps one of the masters took you under his or her wing.
You never sought a position within an arcane order or a thieves' guild, though; you didn't want to limit yourself. Instead, you learned to recognize that each adventure is an opportunity to test your mettle, sharpen your skills, enhance your magic, and discover treasures.
Eladrin and shadar-kai are naturals for this path because of their agility and keen intellect. Arcane tricksters are found among gnomes, changelings, and drow as well. Some use their knowledge and power for adventure, and others use it for theft, torture, and deception. The fusion of martial and magical skill can be a potent tool or weapon.
Arcane Trickster Path Features
Arcane Burglary (11th level): You can use a dagger as an implement. However, you don't gain the weapon's proficiency bonus when using it for implement attacks. In addition, whenever you make an Athletics check, you can use your Arcana skill bonus in place of your Athletics skill bonus.
Fading Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to make an attack, one creature of your choice that you attack treats you as invisible (save ends).
Dagger Spell (16th level): When making an arcane attack, you can treat a ranged power as having a range of melee weapon while using your dagger as an implement.
Arcane Trickster Powers
Arcane Trickster Attack 11
You create a burst of blinding flame that robs your enemies of their sight long enough for you to slip around behind them.
Encounter Arcane, ImplementMinor Action Close
burst 1 Target:
Each creature in burst Attack:
Dexterity vs. Fortitude
Hit: The target is blinded until the end of your next turn.
Effect: You shift your speed.
Cat Burglar's Veil
Arcane Trickster Utility 12
You sweep a curtain of arcane energy across the battlefield, creating a veil you can hide behind.
Effect: You conjure a wall of arcane energy that only you can see. The wall can be up to 6 squares high, and it lasts until the end of the encounter. The wall blocks enemies' line of sight to you and your allies.
Arcane Trickster Attack 20
You quickly pop around the battlefield, keeping your foes confused by seeming to be everywhere at once.
Daily Arcane, Teleportation, WeaponStandard Action Melee
You must be wielding a light blade Effect:
Before the attack, you teleport your speed. Target:
One creature Attack:
Dexterity vs. AC. You gain combat advantage against the target if you teleported adjacent to it this turn.
Hit: 4(W) + Dexterity modifier damage.
Miss: Half damage.
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, you gain a teleport speed equal to your speed, and whenever you teleport adjacent to an enemy, it grants combat advantage to you until the end of your turn.
February: The God Catcher
We're pleased to present Erin Evan's book coming out early this year . . . but why have us introduce it, when we can have Ed Greenwood himself say a few words!
Tennora wants to master wizardry at the House of Wonder and forge a life in the bustling City of Waterdeep. Her plans are unfolding admirably until a madwoman arrives at the God Catcher, where Tennora has rented a room, and screams for the landlady -- soon demonstrating she's more than a crazy woman with strong lungs. Quite a lot more.
To start off the story, we've also provided the first chapter -- involving a contest played between dragons!
Ah, what do we have here -- an early look at what's in store for the Player's Handbook 3? Well, yes and no. No, in that exact previews are still on their way. But in the meantime, I've stolen (and amended) the following from the book's introduction:
This volume, the third Player's Handbook published for the current edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game, offers a wealth of new character options, including new races [Bart adds: there are four] and classes [Bart adds: six of these], a new way to combine classes, new skill powers, and new feats for any character. It introduces the psionic power source [Bart adds: not so much of a surprise here, since that's mentioned on the cover] along with a new approach to power acquisition and management that allows certain psionic characters unprecedented flexibility with their powers.
And while we won't go too much further than that, we can at least show off some of the book's incredible art!
And that's this month's sneak peek! As always, be sure to check our excerpts for individual previews from our books, and Bill Slavicsek's Ampersand for the earliest insights and announcements about the game!