Previews Archive | 8/3/2009
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August and Beyond
Bart Carroll

Here we are in the dog days of summer. Or, for those of us in Seattle recently, I'd say the hell hound days of summer. 100 degrees is simply not a measurement we comprehend (much like 5am is a fictional hour of the day, at least for me).

With Gen Con Indy right around the corner, we here at Wizards of the Coast are looking forward to attending as well, sharing our news and announcements for the coming year, hosting a suite of seminars, and of course running a game or two! From the D&D Insider Team, I'll be there along with Chris Sims (towering over me)… so please do stop by and say hello, ask us about the website, and give us any feedback you'd care to share. During most of the convention, you'll be able to find me in the back of the seminars, usually looking (if past history serves as a guide) exhausted but enjoying myself, pecking away at a laptop to send in daily write-ups of the con.

What will you see there? Perhaps the following in all their printed (and sculpted) glory:


August: D&D Minis Legendary Evils

Well, before the full set of minis are revealed by a thousand cell phone cameras at the show, let's showcase a few more beforehand! And as a special treat, we've also included some of the Legendary Evil cartoons created by Jared Hindman headinjurytheater.com.


August: Adventurer's Vault 2

In our upcoming excerpts, we'll be showing off item sets from AV2. What are item sets? Some magic items were made to work together; when all the items belonging to a set are collected and wielded in unison, their power becomes greater than the sum of their parts. Depending on how much of a magic item set has been assembled, its collective items can grant additional qualities, different properties, and new powers to their wielders.

A magic item set contains four or more items that a character or a party can collect. Each set has at least one set benefit that is revealed when a minimum number of the set’s items are used together. Some set items also have individual properties or effects that depend on the number of other set items being used.

When a set benefit grants a daily power, using that power doesn’t count toward the limit of magic item daily powers a character can use in a day. To qualify for an item set’s benefits, a character must be wielding or wearing one or more items from the set. A stowed item (for example, a magic cloak stuffed in a pack) doesn’t count toward a set’s benefits (though a sheathed weapon is considered to be worn).

Wondrous items are an exception and need only be carried in order for a character to gain an item set’s benefits. Each magic item in a set can stand alone. No item needs to be used with another of its set to function.

Relics of Creation

Each piece in the item set known as the Relics of Creation is the epitome of wondrous design and manufacture. Unflawed and unspoiled, these items demonstrate a quality of perfection that suggests creation by divine hands. Their otherworldly construction incorporates fabulous substances such as solidified flame, wood trimmed from heavenly trees, and elements now unknown in the mortal realm. It’s said that the bearer of these relics is filled with the light of creation, whose energy fuels potent powers that sear enemies with divine judgment.

Invokers derive the most benefit from items of the Relics of Creation, but any divine character can make use of this set.

Lore

Arcana or Religion DC 17: In the cataclysmic war between the gods and the primordials for control of the world, each deity fashioned a powerful relic to bestow on the greatest of their chosen followers. Few relics survived the war, however; most were lost alongside their wielders in the dread battles that swept across the world and through the planes.

Arcana or Religion DC 26: The Relics of Creation found across the world today contain only six items, each holding a sliver of divine power from the deity who fashioned the original item. Though long centuries have driven rifts between these deities, and while their servants sometimes wage war with one another, it’s said that a hero who brings the relics together can remind the gods of the strength and righteousness of their once-common cause.

Arcana or Religion DC 31: The six Relics of Creation appear consistently in the contemporary historical record. However, fragments of older histories speak of other items that were once part of the set—some named for deities whose presence is still felt within the world, and others whose names and powers are drawn from gods long dead.

Relics of Creation Items

Lvl Name Price (gp) Item Slot
24 Ioun’s flame 525,000 Head
25 Zehir’s gloves 625,000 Hands
27 Avandra’s ring 1,625,000 Ring
28 Bane’s collar 2,125,000 Neck
29 Pelor’s scepter 2,625,000 Implement
30 Vecna’s puzzle box 3,125,000 Wondrous item

Relics of Creation Benefits

Pieces Benefit
2 You gain a bonus to Arcana, History, and Religion checks equal to the number of items you have from this set.
4 When you hit an elemental creature with an invoker attack power, the attack deals 1d8 extra damage (2d8 extra damage if you have all six pieces of the set).
6 When you use a divine blast or burst attack power, you can affect 3 additional squares, each of which must be adjacent to the power’s normal area.

Avandra’s Ring
Level 27
This loose-fitting ring grants you the power to ignore effects that would constrain you.
Item Slot: Ring 1,625,000 gp
Property: You ignore difficult terrain.
Power (Daily): Immediate Interrupt. Trigger: An effect immobilizes, restrains, or slows you. Effect: The triggering effect ends.
If you’ve reached at least one milestone today, you also gain a +5 power bonus to saving throws against immobilizing, restraining, or slowing effects until the end of the encounter.

Bane’s Collar
Level 28
Your mind shrugs off the control of others while you wear this bright steel collar, but an ally pays the price.
Lvl 28 +6 2,125,000 gp
Item Slot: Neck
Enhancement: Fortitude, Reflex, and Will
Property: When you make a saving throw against a charm or fear effect, you can roll twice and use either result.
Power (Daily): Immediate Interrupt. Trigger: An enemy targets you with an charm or fear attack. Effect: An ally within 10 squares of you becomes the target of the attack.

Ioun’s Flame
Level 24
A flickering violet flame darts about your head, granting you knowledge and flaring to life at your command.
Item Slot: Head 525,000 gp
Property: You gain a +2 item bonus to Will.
Property: You gain a +8 item bonus to knowledge and monster knowledge checks.
Power (At-Will): Minor Action. You set Ioun’s flame to shed bright light 10 squares in all directions, dim light 5 squares in all directions, or no light.

Pelor’s Scepter
Level 29
This golden rod is capped with a sunburst that adds potency to your radiant powers.
Lvl 29 +6 2,625,000 gp
Implement (Rod)
Enhancement: Attack rolls and damage rolls
Critical: +1d8 radiant damage per plus
Property: Divine characters can use this rod as a holy symbol implement for divine powers.
Property: When you hit an enemy with a divine radiant power using this rod, you can reroll any damage die that shows a 1. Against elemental creatures, you can reroll any damage die that shows a 1 or a 2.

Vecna’s Puzzle Box
Level 30
Great secrets are revealed to you by your possession of this fist-sized brass puzzle box.
Wondrous Item 3,125,000 gp
Property: You can perform the Loremaster’s Bargain and Voice of Fate rituals as if you had mastered them.
Property: Divination rituals you perform have no component cost. When you perform a divination ritual that requires a Religion check, you can make an Arcana check instead.

Zehir’s Gloves
Level 25
These black gloves bolster your powers to bypass your enemy’s most potent defenses.
Item Slot: Hands 625,000 gp Power (Daily): Free Action. Trigger: You hit an enemy with an attack power. Effect: The attack ignores the enemy’s immunities and resistances.

September: Revenge of the Giants

Giants have banded together under an alliance of three titan lords to finally get their revenge for the defeats and insults of the past. Moreover, they seek to reclaim the world that they helped create, and to achieve this lofty goal they have set a plan in motion to free one of the most powerful primordials—the master of fire, earth, and frost, Piranoth the World Mover.

The City of Argent

The adventure begins when the last guardian of Argent sends his one remaining aide to enlist the help of the greatest champions of the current age.

The city of Argent is a walled settlement on a cloud-shrouded mountaintop overlooking the Plains of Chaos, where the barriers between the world and the Elemental Chaos are particularly thin. In ages past, it was a thriving metropolis, occupied by various races and visited by scores more. Everything was built around the needs of the guardians, the champions provided by the bastions of light to serve as Argent’s agents and defenders.

As time passed by, the city began to lose status and influence. Its neutrality, once a great strength, led to its decline as the empire of Nerath took hold of the world. Nerath continued to live up to the terms of the compact, but as the empire grew stronger and more powerful, there was less call for the guardians.

Thanks to the influence and reach of Nerath, the human-controlled empire that covered much of the known land, the world became a safer place. Argent fell farther and farther from the forefront of memory, and fewer and fewer champions were sent to guard its once-hallowed walls. Because of the success of Nerath, Argent was a mere shadow of its former self when the unthinkable happened.

Nerath fell, as all empires eventually do, and the fall was long and hard. The world, so safe and stable for so many years under the wise and benevolent rule of Nerath’s human kings and queens, was suddenly thrown into darkness. The monsters and other threats to the world, held at bay by the light of Nerath, surged forth like a tidal wave of darkness when that light was abruptly extinguished. Argent’s guardians, few in number and frankly caught as off guard as the rest of the world, emerged to try to turn the destructive tide.

With the help of the guardians, a few dim lights winked on in the darkness, and the survivors of Nerath gathered in isolated pockets to defend themselves and live life as best they could in a more dangerous world. The guardians, however, did not fare as well.

All of the guardians that were dispatched from Argent to try to stem the raise of darkness never returned. The last guardian, the wizard Obanar, never learned what happened to his companions. He remained behind to watch over the walls of the city and to protect its ancient treasures. More over, he waited for the next batch of champions to arrive so that he could train them and pass on the mission, as it had been passed on to him.

Now, more than a century has gone by, and Obanar still waits. The city of Argent has become a shell of memories and shadows. The last guardian, ancient and alone, haunts the place like a ghost of bygone days. He never learned that Nerath fell. He doesn’t know that no new kingdom or empire has risen to replace it, that civilization remains reduced to solitary points of light in the darkness that has filled in the ruins of Nerath. He doesn’t understand why no new guardians have arrived in all these years to shore up Argent’s defenses and take their place as the defenders of the world.

What Obanar does know is that a new threat has appeared on the horizon. It is an ancient threat, a danger with roots that stretch back to the time before Argent was established. And this threat is aimed directly at Argent, which means that it is a threat that knows about the city. A threat that knows what Argent means, what it’s purpose is, and what it contains within its now-silent walls.

Obanar, the last guardian of Argent, fears that he may no longer be up to the challenge before him. He doesn’t believe he can win, but he knows that he can’t fail. For if Argent falls, the world follows.

Q: Who are you?
"I am Obanar, last guardian of Argent. More than one hundred and twenty-five years ago, the empire of Nerath sent me here as a champion. Nerath, as all empires before it, supplied Argent with champions to honor its obligations to the Paragon Compact."

Q: What is this threat?
"The giants have begun to come together in such numbers as has not been seen since the time of the Dawn War. Earth giants have already struck here at Argent, and I believe that they are also marching on other key locations throughout the land. I fear that the giants and their elemental allies have conspired to free a primordial from its ancient prison. This cannot be allowed to come to pass."

Q: What can we do?
"Instead you should ask, what can you not do? You are worthy champions, powerful and noble. It is time for you to put aside other needs and aspirations, for Argent has need of you in this time of peril. If the giants rampage freely, thousands of innocents shall die. And if the primordial is set free, then the cost in life shall increase a hundredfold. More over, the primordial has the power and ability to organize the scattered forces of the Elemental Chaos into an army capable of starting a new Dawn War. We cannot allow that to happen."

Hill Giant Shaman
Level 13 Controller
Large natural humanoid (giant)
XP 800
Initiative +9 Senses Perception +13
HP 131; Bloodied 65
AC 27; Fortitude 25, Reflex 23, Will 23
Speed 8
Melee Quarterstaff (standard; at-will) Implement, Weapon
Reach 2; +18 vs. AC; 2d8 + 5 damage.
Close Burst Earthstorm (standard; recharge 56) Implement, Weapon
Requires quarterstaff . Close blast 5; +15 vs. Fortitude; 3d10 + 6 damage, and the target is pushed 1 square and blinded (save ends).
Ranged Volcanic Blast (standard; at-will) Implement, Weapon
Ranged 10; +17 vs. Reflex; 1d10 + 6 damage, and target gains vulnerable 5 fire (save ends).
Alignment Chaotic evil
Languages Common, Giant
Skills Arcana +13, Nature +13
Str 21 (+11)
Dex 16 (+9)
Wis 14 (+8)
Con 19 (+10)
Int 14 (+8)
Cha 16 (+9)
Equipment hide armor, stone quarterstaff

Frost Giant Raider
Level 17 Minion
Large elemental humanoid (cold, giant)
XP 400
Initiative +11 Senses Perception +13
HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion; see also dying swipe
AC 29; Fortitude 32, Reflex 27, Will 28
Resist 15 cold
Speed 8 (ice walk)
Melee Icy Greataxe (standard; at-will) Cold, Weapon
Reach 2; +20 vs. AC; 10 cold damage.
Melee Dying Swipe (when the frost giant drops to 0 hit points)
The frost giant makes an icy greataxe attack.
Ranged Icy Handaxe (standard; at-will) Cold, Weapon
Ranged 5/10; +20 vs. AC; 9 cold damage.
Icebound Footing
When an effect pulls, pushes, or slides a frost giant, the giant moves 2 squares less than the effect specifies. Also, a frost giant can make a saving throw to avoid being knocked prone.
Alignment Evil
Languages Giant
Skills Athletics +19
Str 23 (+14)
Dex 16 (+11)
Wis 20 (+13)
Con 21 (+13)
Int 10 (+8)
Cha 12 (+9)
Equipment hide armor, greataxe, 3 handaxes

Fire Giant Flamecrusher
Level 17 Brute
Large elemental humanoid (giant)
XP 1,600
Initiative +11 Senses Perception +10
HP 204; Bloodied 102
AC 29; Fortitude 30, Reflex 25, Will 28
Resist 15 fire
Speed 7
Melee Searing Maul (standard; at-will) Fire, Weapon
Reach 2; +20 vs. AC; 2d8 + 8 damage plus 2d8 fire damage.
Melee Overhead Smash (standard; at-will) Fire, Weapon
Requires maul; reach 2; +18 vs. AC; 2d8 + 14 damage plus 2d8 fire damage, and the target is knocked prone.
Close Burst Battering Blows (standard; usable only when bloodied; encounter) Fire, Weapon
Requires maul; close burst 2; +20 vs. AC; 2d8 + 8 damage plus 2d8 fire damage, and the target is pushed 2 squares and knocked prone.
Alignment Evil
Languages Giant
Skills Endurance +20
Str 27 (+16)
Dex 17 (+11)
Wis 15 (+10)
Con 24 (+15)
Int 8 (+7)
Cha 22 (+14)
Equipment plate armor, maul

Beyond the namesake giants, what other dangers might your players face?

When the adventurers climb to the top of the wizard's tower, read:

The stairs lead up to an open tower room, the walls alternating between solid stone and open slits that look out upon the nearby city. The floor of this room runs around the outer walls, leaving the center as an open shaft that drops to the bottom of the tower far below. An uncovered causeway, its floor covered in glowing sigils, leads to a second tower chamber. A massive device of glowing orbs, rotating arms, and crystal tubes fills the eastern wall. A robed figure with a glowing staff stands before the device, turning dials and whispering words of power that you don’t actually hear but instead feel reverberating through you. The remaining pieces of sky metal that you seek are clearly visible within the device’s internal structure.

Without turning or even pausing in his work, the robed figure says, "I offer you one chance to avoid my wrath, you cowardly thieves. Throw yourselves from my tower and I shall allow fate to determine whether you live or die. Otherwise, prepare to truly understand why I am numbered among the greatest wizards of Bael Turath. I am Acererak of the Scarlet Robes, and this is my home!"


September: Dungeon Master's Guide 2

Player’s Handbook 2 introduced eight new classes and five new races to the D&D game. It presented racial paragon paths, character backgrounds, and new feats and rituals for every character.

Monster Manual 2 presented over 300 new monsters to the game, covering every level and role. From the humble ankheg broodling to the mighty Prince of Demons, Demogorgon, it’s full of monsters to challenge your players and add new life to your dungeons.

So what’s in Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 that will make your game better? From the introduction of the DMG2:

Juicy Rules Bits

Let’s start with the juicy rules bits you can drop in your game right away—like the eight pages of new traps in Chapter 2. You also get solid guidelines for creating your own traps, covering everything from getting the numbers right to making sure your trap threatens the characters—not the fun of your game.

Chapter 2 also includes new types of fantastic terrain you can add to your encounters, as well as introducing the concept of "terrain powers"—attack powers built in to an encounter’s environment.

Chapter 4 is about tweaking and adjusting monsters. It rounds out the rules presented in the first 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide with additional rules for making minions and refined guidelines for elite and solo monsters. It presents new templates, including class templates for the classes in Player’s Handbook 2, and introduces monster themes—a great way to tweak the flavor and powers of a monster to make it fit whatever kind of adventure you want to run.

You’ll find new artifacts in Chapter 5, including old favorites such as the Rod of Seven Parts and the Cup and Talisman of Al’Akbar (both of which appeared in the original Dungeon Master’s Guide back in 1979) as well as all-new artifacts designed to appeal to pairs or whole groups of characters.

Chapter 5 also sets out a new system of rewards you can use instead of (or as a supplement to) magic items. Divine boons represent gifts from the gods or their agents, legendary boons express the accomplishment of great deeds of power, and grandmaster training reflects what happens when a player character learns from a legendary master.

Near the end of Chapter 1, you’ll find rules for companion characters—a great way to round out a small party or bring an important NPC along for the ride with your player characters. That chapter also includes handy rules for altering a character on the fly so he or she can fit in with a party of characters of much higher or lower level.

Until next month!

About the Author

Bart Carroll is most frequently found underground, although he infrequently will lair in desolate wildernesses. The globular body of the author is supported by levitation, and he floats slowly about as he wills. Atop the sphere are 10 eyestalks, while in his central area are a great eleventh eye and a large mouth filled with pointed teeth. His body is protected by a hard chitinous covering. The author's eyestalks and eyes are also protected, although less well. Because of his particular nature, Bart is able to withstand the loss of his eyestalks which will eventually grow back (1 week per lost member).