Previews Archive | 10/1/2008
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October and Beyond
Bart Carroll

Hi folks,

Is it time to start thinking of my Halloween costume already (a tradition usually reserved until October 25th or so)? And, just when I feel like I finished celebrating the greatest Super Bowl since XX, here we are already gearing up for Week 5 of the new season?

Time passes quickly.

Case in point: The 4th Edition core rulebooks now turn five months old. Five months! In that time, we've now concluded the initial H-series of adventures and move into the Paragon Tier with Trollhaunt Warrens. Plus, we're about to release the first sourcebook dedicated to expanding one of the power sources: Martial Power. There's a Starter Set, new Dungeon Tiles, new minis . . .

But you already know what's in the catalog, don't you? You'd rather see what's inside these books -- so on to the previews!


October: P1 King of Trollhaunt Warrens

The first adventure in the Paragon Tier, P1 also includes several new magic items and monsters, including (what else!) new varieties of trolls. In fact, let's showcase one of these items that your players might just be interested in earning along the way:

Eladrin Ring of Passage
Level 14
This mithral ring enhances your teleportation abilities.
Item Slot: Ring 21,000 gp
Property: When you teleport, increase the distance of your teleport by 1. If you are an eladrin, increase the distance of your teleport by 2.
Power (Daily Teleportation): Move Action. You teleport 6 squares (not including additional distance gained from this item's property).
If you have reached at least one milestone today, you do not need line of sight for this teleport. However, if you attempt to teleport to an occupied space, this power fails to function and is expended.

Set in the Nentir Vale (also featured in the H-series, as well as the most recent Steal This Hook), the adventure begins when the player characters are on their way to Moonstair. You can place Moonstair and its environs wherever you want in your campaign world; if you are using the map of Nentir Vale in the Dungeon Master's Guide, then Moonstair is located to the southwest. Then use one or more of the hooks below to provide PCs with motivations and reasons to participate in this adventure.

Quests

The defense of Moonstair and the overthrow of Skalmad require the adventurers to undertake two different major quests.

Hook: Death of the Troll King

Skalmad's power threatens not only Moonstair but all of the land beyond, including the barony of Therund. However, without their leader and his mystical power, the creatures of the Trollhaunt will no longer pose a threat. The adventurers must kill the troll king (more than once) and destroy the Stone Cauldron to end his evil reign.

Quest XP: 4,000 XP (major quest).

Hook: Recover Sunwrath

For generations, the sword Sunwrath has been an heirloom of the ruling house of Therund. By returning the blade to Baron Perenon, the adventurers can restore this symbol of courage and inspire hope among the people of the barony.

Quest XP: 3,000 XP (major quest).

The Town of Moonstair

Built among the ruins of the troll kingdom of Vardar, the town of Moonstair is a trade outpost that lies at the confluence of two rivers. The town's most renowned feature is the Moon Door, a portal to the Feywild that opens when the moon is full and the sky is clear.

Geography: The peninsula on which Moonstair was built starts as rocky hills jutting up from the river at its westernmost tip. The western high ground is heavily settled, with the population thinning to the east as the ground slopes away. There, the town gives way to fertile farmland that borders the swamps of the Trollhaunt.

Population: Just over a thousand people live in and around Moonstair. With the river serving as a natural protective barrier on two sides, the town has grown up rather than out, and multistory buildings are common. Situated as it is on a major trade route, Moonstair's population fluctuates (sometimes drastically) depending on the number of travelers passing through.

Government: Moonstair is led by a half-elf mayor, Kelana Dhoram. Her primary focus is in maintaining the town's prosperity through trade, and her leadership is more about commerce than security. As a result, the town watch is small and poorly equipped. The monsters to the east have long been quiet, but Moonstair is ill equipped to deal with the new power in the Trollhaunt.


October: RPG Starter Set

If you're interested in trying out 4th Edition without making a larger investment in the core rulebooks, or would like to introduce a new player to the game, then this set makes a great gift; as mentioned, I learned the game back with 1983's red-boxed Basic Rules (as, I think, so very many of us did), and the 4th Edition Roleplaying Game Starter Set continues to fit that niche.

What's inside? Pretty much everything a new group needs to start playing:

  • A 16-page Quick Start Rules booklet
  • A 64-page Dungeon Master's Book
  • 3 sheets of double-sided Dungeon Tiles
  • 50 tokens, to represent characters and monsters
  • And of course, a set of 6-dice

The DM's book contains not only quick start rules for a new Dungeon Master to get up and running, but also stats for a suite of monsters appropriate to lower-level play, as well as the short adventure: Beneath the Village of Harken.

"Greetings friends," Old Kellar says as he approaches your table, "allow me to purchase beverages while we discuss a matter of grave importance. We have been trying to keep this as quiet as possible…."


October: Deluxe Core Rulebooks

While the Starter Set is geared for the new player, the Deluxe Core Rulebooks are clearly destined for the bookshelves of entrenched 4th Edition fans. They feature embossed foil covers, premium gilt-edged pages -- and, perhaps best of all, these rulebooks also incorporate material from the update documents, including the new Stealth rules!


October: DU2 Streets of Shadow Dungeon Tiles

In need of more tiles for those times when your party leaves the confines of the dungeon and heads back to town? Streets of Shadow provide that backdrop, with plenty of tiles to represent the streets and marketplace, the rooftops -- as well as the more subterranean elements of a city, with muck-filled sewers and storeroom tiles.

Individual tiles help provide even more dungeon dressing as well: crates, barrels, and ladders to the sewers below -- even a foul plague of rats. For the streets above, more tiles create market stalls, town squares, and dense crowds of commoners that PCs often find themselves racing through -- or forever trying to save!


October: The Stowaway

Switching gears from RPG books to works of fiction, out this month is the collaboration between best-selling author R.A. Salvatore and son Geno Salvatore. Written for young readers (ages 10-12; ask for it in the Young Adult section of your local bookstore), The Stowaway features Maimun -- a 12-year-old orphan with a mysterious past who bears a god-connected stone that seems to radiate good luck -- fleeing from the very quick and powerful demon Asbeel. Take a look at the full synopsis, which hints at a cameo from none other than a certain dual-scimitar wielding drow elf!


November: Martial Power

You've already had a couple tastes of Martial Power: last month, we showed you a new rogue power and paragon path. Soon after, Bill offered a look at the two-weapon fighter in his latest Ampersand. We'll start an ongoing Martial Power preview series starting 10/13. Until then, we'll let the book's intro handle its introduction duties!

Armor and shield, blade and bow, stealth and cunning, tactics and command -- all of these are the tools of a warrior. One warrior might favor some of these assets over others, depending on training and inclination.

All legendary warriors develop martial power to such an extent that their abilities are the equal of magical abilities. Such warriors are always looking for an edge or a technique that exemplifies their manner of fighting.

That's what you'll find in this book.

It's a manual of mighty deeds and wily tricks. In its pages are new ways to build a martial character, along with new options to fill out your role as a fighter, a ranger, a rogue, or a warlord. Members of nonmartial classes might find an appropriate multiclass feat in these pages, but everything else is for martial characters. It is intended to expand your martial horizons in the game.

Reimagining Your Character

It happens. You've played your martial character a while, and suddenly Martial Power shows up, offering many new possibilities -- options you might have picked if you had known about them earlier.

Don't despair; you have a few choices. Retraining rules (see page 28 of the Player's Handbook) make tapping into Martial Power easy. If retraining won't do the trick quickly enough, talk to your DM and your fellow players about reworking your character along the lines Martial Power provides. Chances are you can overhaul your PC to match your desires without doing any harm to the campaign. Your DM might even have a way to make the change a part of the story. If doing that ultimately proves too difficult, a dramatic exit for the older character could make way for a new one.


November: Draconomicon

We haven't yet introduced this sourcebook! Ongoing previews are also on the schedule, but until then, let's see what the book has to say for itself:

Dragon Lore

More ink has been spilled on describing dragons than on nearly any other creature. These ancient, noble, yet savage beasts are a favorite subject of guidebooks, bards' tales, and ancient tomes and scrolls. Draconic knowledge is gained at risk of life and limb; dragons are rapacious, jealous of their secrets, and often hungry.

Experts describe dragons as the first sentient race to appear in the world, with life spans stretching into millennia. With such a wealth of experience, dragons embody history. The oldest dragons are repositories of vast knowledge and of the deepest ancient secrets. Dragons are more than just a challenge for knights seeking hoards or glory: dragons are sages, oracles, and even prophets.

Dragons' majesty has clothed them in myth. The appearance of a dragon can portend good or ill fortune. Sages attempt to classify dragons as merely large lizards that have wings and warm breath, but these efforts fail in the true light of the wonder, magic, and fantastic abilities of dragons.

Dragons are, by their nature, epic forces.

Behind the Curtain: 4th Edition Dragons

In the previous D&D edition, dragons of different aspects had little to distinguish them mechanically. Every dragon, whatever its color or age, had 10 Dexterity. A white dragon was just as likely to cast fireball as a red dragon. All dragons of the same size had the same physical attacks. Considering the variety of dragons -- ten colors in the Monster Manual, each with twelve age categories, for a bewildering 120 possibilities -- there was little differentiation.

That said, 3rd Edition dragons had a lot going on. Besides breath weapons and a wide array of melee attacks, all of them cast spells. A DM could become overwhelmed with the options available each turn. Also, a DM had to do a lot of design work to add a dragon to an encounter, so dragons didn't appear in D&D combat as much as they should.

The 4th Edition monster-design esthetic tightens the focus on mechanics and options. All creatures in the 4th Edition Monster Manual benefit, including dragons. Dragons still have many options -- and the older the dragon, the more options it has -- but the variety need not bog down a DM.

Designers of 4th Edition D&D took the categories for monsters and mimicked them (carefully) for dragons. For instance, although a blue dragon prefers to stay back and blast foes with lightning, a red dragon often plunges into the thick of things and mixes it up in melee. Red dragons can take a lot of punishment, too, whereas black ones are slightly less hardy and like to lurk before making surprise strikes. Green dragons, such as Cyan Bloodbane, seek to control the battlefield and influence the actions of others.

As 4th Edition D&D moved toward the ideal of multiple foes in the average encounter, one exception persisted: dragons. Designers needed to figure out how to make a fight against one dragon as much fun as a fight against four or five monsters.

Taking a cue from Wizards of the Coast minis games, designers took the straightforward route, giving dragons and other solo monsters multiple turns each round. A whole suite of immediate actions makes a dragon a dynamic foe.


November: DDM Demonweb

Yes, we've saved the minis for last -- you didn't just scroll straight down here, did you? Last month, we showed off one of the classic creatures in the Stirge. In the recent previews, Peter Lee also showed off one more classic . . . or, at least, a reasonable facsimile of one with the Deathcap, which can stand in for either a shrieker or violet fungus.

So, a mushroom walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "We don't allow mushrooms in here!" And the mushroom says, "Why not? I'm a fun guy!"

But seriously folks, let's take a look at two new figures. One is a roguish villain. The other a dragon's best friend.

Human Bandit

When it comes to the local thieves' guild, you couldn't ask for a better mini than this Bandit. Sculpted with all the pouches he needs to hold his tools, several of which hang from his belt as well, he clearly knows what he's doing -- that sack slung across one shoulder isn't filled with toys to deliver to children, after all.

On the Skirmish side, the Human Bandit might be best employed for its Sneak Attack and Footpad's Attack, delivering opportunistic strikes for as much damage as it can -- and with 25 hit points for only a 5-point cost, he's a fairly inexpensive backstabber to deploy. But it's on the RPG side I think this mini will see the most time on the battlemat. As mentioned, he's a perfect representation of any guild thief, whether for use as a player character or as a thieving opponent. It is a Common, so you can collect an entire gang fairly easily, which can then harass a party with a series of dazing strikes.

Kuyutha, Exarch of Bahamut

Last time, we showed off the Paladin of Bahamut: heavily armored dragonborn and bane of evil dragons. Well folks, this month we’re showing off what may be good dragons’ best ally. On the Skirmish side, Kuyutha is a powerhouse—whether he’s using his straight-up melee attack or firing off his breath weapon (dealing both fire and cold damage). But when paired with a dragon, Kuyutha’s abilities really shine. His Will of Bahamut burst attack recharges when an adjacent dragon ally is targeted, allowing him to protect this ally by stunning those assaulting it. Even more powerful are its Champion powers. Win initiative? A dragon ally makes an attack. A dragon ally is defeated? That ally makes an attack.

On the RPG side, this dragonborn looks to be no mere heroic tier figure! Kuyutha stands proud, representing a noble dragonborn of the paragon or epic tier—perhaps your Astral Weapon, Champion of Order, or even Reborn Champion. And that’s on the PC-side of things. As an NPC, Kuyutha is a dominating figure that may serve well as royal patron the to the party… or impressive dragonborn solo monster to overcome.

Until next month!

About the Author

Bart Carroll is loathsome beyond description and has no redeeming features. His body resembles that of a huge, bloated buffalo and gives off an offensive odor. The author's neck is long and thin, and perched atop it is a big head uglier than that of a warthog. His legs are thick and stumpy, much like a hippopotamus. The author's tail is strong and snakey, however, and moves with amazing swiftness to strike enemies.