Previews Archive | 8/1/2011
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August and Beyond
Bart Carroll

Hi folks,

By the time this article hits the website, the D&D Game Train will be on its way toward Gen Con 2011! Sequestered inside train's carriage and playing a nonstop marathon of board games, card games, and perhaps a session of D&D or two (or twelve) will be Greg Bilsland (R&D), Rodney Thompson (R&D), Peter Lee (R&D), Chris Tulach (Organized Play), and Michael Robles (Community).

Look for them to disembark in Chicago, where they'll visit the Dice Dojo before heading down to Indianapolis, Indiana! You can follow all of their exploits on the D&D Twitter channel (#gametrain).

It might not be an actual lightning rail (or a D&D-themed bus), but it's the closest thing we could reserve!

Let's tackle other website news before we march on to the previews. First, we soon welcome back another series in Aaron Williams's Epic Campain. Later this month, Drog, Steve, Mort, and Krozat are back and now they're braving a lost temple in a hazardous jungle. (Satipo would be proud.)

We're also entering the final week of voting in our Hybrid Creature Competition! Later today, you'll be able to cast for your vote for your choice of best hybrid:

Displacer Cube
It's rumored that a gelatinous cube once fed exclusively in displacer beasts, and absorbed something of their qualities. Already difficult to spot, the displacer cube's actual location may be shifted somewhere else entirely. It attacks with gelatinous tentacles that reach out and inflict acidic damage. It's noted that while displacer cubes are not necessarily interested in absorbing adventurers, they can nonetheless be very territorial.

Versus

Intellect Tyrant
Intellect devourers do not breed in the conventional sense. Rather, new larvae spawn from the brain tissue of creatures killed by other intellect devourers. Never does this occur with more terrifying results than when the host creature is a beholder. These hybrids appear as large intellect devourers, but with atrophied limbs and the beholder's ability to hover; although they lack eye stalks, a visible aura of psionic tendrils surrounds them, used to cast the creature's mind-controlling abilities. They are the ultimate puppet masters.

We've had an absolute thrilling time running this contest, and we're extremely grateful for the entries we have received. Our congratulations in advance to the ultimate winner!


August: Gen Con, the Best Four Days in Gaming!

By the middle of this week, yours truly and a host of other Wizards of the Coast and R&D staffers will be en route to Indianapolis. You've likely seen our announcement and scheduling, but if not, take a look. First off, we have a number of great Neverwinter D&D games set up for this year's Gen Con Indy, including the first time we've ever had D&D Game Day at Gen Con.

This year, we're also playing host to our Neverwinter mass adventure. Will you join the side of New Neverwinter in your quest for glory? Or will you take the side of Thay in your quest for power? Perhaps you'd rather be on the side of Bregan D'aerthe so that you can fulfill your quest for riches? Pick your faction now, and continue your quest at locations hidden throughout the convention!

D&D Neverwinter Game Day: Gates of Neverdeath

The task seems easy enough: Accompany a mysterious traveler and her equally mysterious package from Waterdeep to Neverwinter. In the Jewel of the North, tasks are seldom easy, though. News travels fast, and the Red Wizards of Thay have learned of the traveler and the object she carries. Now, a necromancer readies an ambush for the adventurers and their ward, intent on stealing the item for his own sinister purpose. Gates of Neverdeath is the feature adventure for Worldwide D&D Game Day, and players will create new 1st-level characters at the table to use for the event and for the upcoming D&D Encounters season, which is called Lost Crown of Neverwinter.

D&D Open Championship: The Fires of Mount Hotenow

This year's D&D Open Championship takes place in the area of Neverwinter in the Forgotten Realms setting, and it features encounters originally submitted by the D&D community. This championship consists of a qualifying round consisting of five encounters that characters (and their players) must pass to enter the final round. We provide 10th-level characters to players. Form your team (five players and one alternate) and prepare to prove that your group can make it to the final round and be crowned D&D Open Champions!

D&D Convention Delve: Shatter the Iron Circle

A deadly band of mercenaries has seized control of a peaceful settlement, extorting and preying upon the beleaguered villagers. Can you find their lair, confront their monstrous allies, and defeat them before the town is laid to waste? Join in on this 1st-level D&D convention delve with characters that we provide. You can play as often as you like, and you can earn treasure and prizes!

(4.2 Mbs)

Plus, look for the board game challenge featuring The Legend of Drizzt, and a Conquest of Nerath tournament. You should also consider joining in on all-edition play, which is taking place in the Sagamore Ballroom. For more information and important links, be sure to check out our highlights on our Gen Con page.


August: PAX Prime

And quite soon after Gen Con comes PAX Prime! Taking place on August 26-28 here in Seattle, PAX is the three-day festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers. We'll post details soon, but know this: We're getting the band back together! That's right. Acquisitions Incorporated is set for another celebrated round of gaming, and this year it takes place at the Paramount Theater.


August: E-books

With novels releasing on the first Tuesday of each month, that means our most recent set of novels is now available in e-book form. Sample chapters are offered for the following novels.

Oath of Vigilance

Born of the liquid Abyss, the world knows a new affliction...

The Order of Vigilance, erstwhile custodians of the Voidharrow -- a malefic crystalline liquid from the heart of a dead abyss -- are at the precipice of cataclysm. With clerics and madmen professing the coming of a new age, and demonic monsters wrecking havoc wherever they appear, the Order's sworn duty to protect the world from the destructive power of the Voidharrow is in jeopardy.

Mentors of the Order of Vigilance serve as erstwhile custodians of a malefic, destructive crystalline liquid called the Voidharrow, which comes from the heart of a dead abyss. Now, however, they stand at the precipice of cataclysm. With clerics and lunatics professing the coming of a new age, and demonic monsters wreaking havoc wherever they appear, the order's sworn duty to protect the world from the Voidharrow is in jeopardy.

In their search for the true nature of the abyssal plague sweeping the Nentir Vale, Albanon and the Kri Redshal delve deeply into the mysteries, but the answers they find are truly in need of new questions. As these two learn more about the pestilential Voidharrow, they see the forces behind it are more powerful than they had ever dreamed . . . and perhaps more seductive than they can withstand.

The green dragon Vestapalk, or the creature he has become, still roams the land with an army of plague demons at his command. An instrument of the Chained God Tharizdun, Vestapalk seeks the end of everything.


Bury Elminster Deep

Elminster's archenemy, the vampiric Lord Manshoon, thinks he has destroyed Elminster at last. But Elminster survives in the form of magical ash, and with the help of his scion and the vestige of the long-dead goddess of magic, he still has a chance to counter Manshoon's insidious plots.


The Sentinels: Stone of Tymora, Book III

After dueling with a dragon and a demon, Maimun knows he must destroy the stone that has kept him on the run for most of his life. The question now is how. With Joen by his side, Maimun journeys to the Tower of Twilight to beg famed wizard Malchor Harpell for answers. But Harpell's help comes at a steep price.

Friends become enemies. Lost secrets come to light. And deep in the shadows, the sentinels are watching and scheming to save the stone -- even if it means someone must die.


August: Neverwinter Campaign Setting

Reduced to ruins by supernatural cataclysms, Neverwinter rises from the ashes to reclaim its title as the Jewel of the North. Yet even as its citizens return and rebuild, hidden forces pursue their own goals and vendettas, any one of which could tear the city apart.

Neverwinter has long been one of the most popular locations in the Forgotten Realms campaign world. This book presents a complete heroic tier campaign setting that plunges players into the politics, skullduggery, and peril of a city on the brink of destruction or greatness. A wealth of information about Neverwinter and its environs is provided: maps, quests, encounters, and statistics -- everything a Dungeon Master needs for his or her heroic tier adventures.

We've shown off quite a bit of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting, including an exclusive look at the Bladesinger at San Diego Comic Con. And although we started with the themes, let's showcase one more. This one, like the Bregan D'aethe spy, ties in quite nicely with the Gen Con mass adventure.

Theme: Renegade Red Wizard

You will never understand horror until you've inflicted it. I understand it. I pray you never do.

Thay is a nation dedicated to magic and death -- a land where undead are not only common, they hold great power. The regent Szass Tam and his Council of Zulkirs -- liches all -- rule this warring, slaving nation with fists of bone and iron. Those who have grown up under this regime find life in Thay entirely normal -- fearsome, perhaps, but not at all unnatural. Those who have the proper magical skills and mindset can even carve out their own place within the necromantic order.

You were such a wizard -- destined for greatness because of your magical potential. To your family's great honor, you joined the prestigious academies used to train mages for the ever-growing ranks of the Red Wizards of Thay. There, you were taught the fundamentals of magic in all its schools and forms, but your focus was necromancy.

At the time, this dedication seemed normal to you. Manipulating the forces of death itself? Animating those who had been living, breathing, laughing people into mindless, shambling slaves? This is the order of things in Thay -- and will be the order across the rest of Faerûn if the regent has his way.

So might your life have gone, had not your best friend -- a partner and companion throughout your years of schooling -- failed an assigned experiment. It was nothing disastrous, only a ritual that went ever so slightly awry, but the event sent your instructor into a rage. When that rage was spent, your friend was dead, his life force sundered by necrotic energy.

He was also your next project, for his was the body that the class -- working together to perform magic none of you could handle alone -- was ordered to reanimate. And you complied, for fear of what might happen if you did not.

For the first time, the grotesque, decaying face before you was not that of a stranger. For the first time, you knew of and could feel the utter absence of the life and laughter that once had thrived behind those eyes.

You finally understood the horror of what you had been trained to do, and in that moment you forswore necromancy -- and Thay itself.

It wasn't that hard to flee, for who would ever try to escape the academies -- one of the only ways to gain real power in Szass Tam's Thay? By the time they knew to look for you, you were already gone.

You can barely remember the exhausting, starving months of travel, constantly watching over your shoulder. When you came to the Sword Coast, you realized you had literally fled as far as you could go. Only then did it occur to you to stop running and try to determine what the future might hold.

In time, you wandered north to Neverwinter, a place where most of the population was struggling to build new lives. A place where you thought you might fit in. However, it didn't take you long to hear whispered rumors of a darkness in the North -- rumors that dashed all hope of leaving your past behind.

The Thayans are here, conducting their foul experiments and stealing people away in the night. How many Neverwintans have joined the ranks of Thay's slaves after death? How often are more living, laughing faces taking on the foul grin of the undead?

It never crossed your mind to run again. You don't know what the Thayans are doing in the North, but you know that their efforts here can be stopped. They can be defeated. You can protect your new home from what you once were.

(197 Kbs PDF)

September: Madness at Gardmore Abbey

Chaos runs wild through the ruins of Gardmore Abbey, warping reality and threatening its utter dissolution. The legendary Deck of Many Things, an artifact scattered long ago in a titanic clash between good and evil, seeks to reassemble itself and spread chaos through the world. Madness at Gardmore Abbey is a super-adventure for five characters of 6th-8th level. The adventure features numerous quests that might lead the adventurers on many expeditions into the ruined abbey over the course of two or three experience levels of play.

Let's first take a look at the abbey itself, shall we? Then, a further examination of the Deck of Many Things

Gardmore Abbey

The abbey grounds cover most of a hillside in the middle of the downs. The overgrown path that leads from the King's Road ends in a gate flanked by squat, square towers. To either side of the gate stretches a curtain wall showing signs of its age, supported by occasional towers and buttresses. Above the wall, a caved-in temple yet stands proudly on the hilltop.

South of the gate, the abbey's outer wall is draped with ivy, and the canopy of a thick forest is visible beyond. A tall watchtower stands at the south end of the hill, marking the end of the curtain wall. This wall extends halfway around the hill, and nature has taken care of the rest. The hillside is so steep on the west and south sides that a military assault would be impossible, though a smaller force might be able to scale it.

The ruins of Gardmore Abbey are situated on a hill in the midst of the Gardbury Downs, about 18 miles from Winterhaven and 40 miles from Fallcrest as the crow flies.

Along the King's Road (and the worn trail leading from the road to the abbey), the journey from Winterhaven is 35 miles and from Fallcrest, 55 miles.

The abbey was built as a defensive structure, though the natural features of the hill also form part of its defenses. The western and southern slopes of the hill are steep enough to serve as walls in their own right, and aside from the secret stair on the western slope, nothing is built on that sheer surface. The northern and eastern slopes of the hill are more gentle, and here lie the ruins of the village that once supported the abbey, as well as the ancient gardens now called the Feygrove -- all of it enclosed by a strong stone wall.

The top of the hill is more or less level and holds the abbey proper -- the temple, barracks, and trophy hall where the knights of the ancient abbey once lived and worshiped. Called Dragon's Roost, this plateau is separated from the village below by another wall with a small gatehouse. Beneath Dragon's Roost are two underground structures: catacombs for burial of the honored dead, and the ancient minotaur temple converted into vaults to store the knights' treasures and trophies.

Each area of the abbey has its own denizens, coexisting in an uneasy state of peace punctuated by occasional outbreaks of savage violence. A large band of orcs holds the ruined village, fearful of venturing into the haunted Feygrove. The undead remnant of an ancient wizard still haunts his tower in the midst of the village, while the watchtower at the southern end of the Feygrove has been corrupted by an intrusion of the Far Realm.

Dragon's Roost is a sparsely populated ruin, with a few monsters prowling the crumbling buildings. The catacombs are infested with undead, under the command of a mad priest of Tharizdun, and the vaults are home to a young dragon as well as rival factions of gnolls and minotaurs.

Book 1 provides overviews, maps, and descriptions of each area of the abbey. You can use the italicized text in each entry to introduce the players to each region when they enter it, either reading the text directly or paraphrasing it as you desire.

Book 2 describes, in addition to Winterhaven, the various factions inhabiting the ruins and the ways adventurers might interact with them.

Book 3 details encounters in the village, the wizard's tower, the Feygrove, and the watchtower.

Book 4 covers encounters in Dragon's Roost, the catacombs, and the vaults.

If you can guess your way past Spike and Bruse, then here's a look at the Deck of Many Things.

(288 Kbs PDF)

The Artifact: Deck of Many Things

This version of the Deck of Many Things is appropriate for heroic tier adventurers. A version more appropriate to adventurers of paragon tier originally appeared in Dungeon #177 (April 2010), but this version has been adjusted so that its rewards and ruins are suited to the adventurers who complete this adventure. Perhaps multiple versions of the Deck of Many Things exist in the cosmos, or the one deck adjusts its powers and properties according to the status of its wielder.

The Deck of Many Things holds within it the potential for both great ruin and great reward. Though its true origins have been lost to the ages, many historians believe that the artifact was originally a gift from a powerful and ancient archfey to a long-forgotten emperor. The archfey knew that the emperor was extremely superstitious and could not resist reading his own fortunes within the cards. The Deck of Many Things might be responsible for shattering that ancient empire and giving rise to powerful warlords that vied for control of its remnants.

The deck passes from hand to hand, bringing low the mighty and elevating the meek (or the other way around). Although each of its cards grants its user certain powers, when the twenty-two cards are brought together, the complete deck is an artifact implement that imbues its possessor with many benefits.

The Deck of Many Things
Heroic Tier
This ornate deck of twenty-two cards is a tool of the forces of chaos and anarchy. It frequently appears when the world has grown too calm or when someone has grown too powerful, and it sows chaos wherever it lands.
The Deck of Many Things is a +3 magic tome implement with the following properties and powers.
Implement (Tome)
Enhancement: Attack rolls and damage rolls
Critical: +3d12 damage
Property: Sorcerers with the Chaos Power class feature can use the Deck of Many Things as an implement for sorcerer powers and sorcerer paragon path powers.
Property: You cannot be dominated.
Power (Encounter): Free Action. You alter the fortunes of your enemies, forcing an enemy to reroll one attack roll, skill check, or saving throw it just made, taking the result you choose.
Power (Daily): Minor Action. Roll a d20. Once before the end of the encounter, you can replace any d20 roll made by an ally or an enemy within 5 squares of you with your d20 roll.

Goals of the Deck of Many Things

  • Sow chaos and discord throughout the world.
  • Be present at events of great importance, and then add a chaotic element to the proceedings of those events to alter everyone's fortunes.
  • Topple powerful leaders (good or evil) and cause far-reaching organizations to crumble.

Roleplaying the Deck of Many Things

The Deck of Many Things is an agent of chaos that does its work subtly, through those who possess it. The deck wants to use its owner as its agent, making temptation its greatest weapon. Whenever the owner is contemplating a risky action, it might try to tempt that character with the suggestion that taking the risk would be a good idea -- even if the chances of success are slim.

The Deck never communicates overtly, but occasionally the top card might flip over on its own to reveal whether the artifact is pleased or displeased (this action does not trigger the Deck's drawn card effect).

Additionally, while the owner is holding the Deck, that character occasionally sees visions of multiple possible outcomes of any given action, showing the way luck will affect the outcome.

Concordance

An artifact's concordance score measures its attitude toward its owner. The Deck of Many Things starts with a concordance of 5 when an adventurer takes possession of it, with a likely modifier of +5 because the adventurers have just reassembled its scattered cards. Various actions and events increase or decrease its concordance as long as the adventurer possesses the Deck. When the artifact is pleased with its owner's actions, its concordance goes up. When the owner acts contrary to the Deck's desires, its concordance decreases.

The Deck's concordance determines its general attitude toward the owner, from angered (concordance 0 or lower) to pleased (concordance 16 or higher). Its attitude, in turn, determines some of its properties and powers, as described below.

The owner knows of the factors that alter the Deck's concordance -- it's in the artifact's best interests to communicate its desires and expectations. But keep the Deck's actual concordance score a secret, telling the player only if its powers or properties change. The player shouldn't ever know exactly how close the artifact is to changing its attitude.

Deck of Many Things Concordance

Starting score 5
Owner has reassembled the cards of the Deck +5
Owner gains a level +1d10
Owner is unaligned +1
Owner has the fey origin +1
Owner is reduced to 0 hit points +1
Owner overthrows a ruler or powerful leader +2
Owner obtains a magic item -1
Owner goes a day without using an arcane power -1

Pleased (16-20)
"Hmm, seems like the cards are falling in my favor these days."

When the owner has finally done the Deck's bidding, or enough of it anyway, the Deck gives the owner the chance to draw from it with better-than-average odds of avoiding the more ruinous cards.

Property: Any time you roll a result of 1 on any die, reroll that die until you roll a result other than 1.
Power (Daily): Standard Action. You draw three cards from the Deck of Many Things and then choose any one card you drew, resolving the effect of that card as described below. The Deck then vanishes and is lost (see "Moving On," below).

Satisfied (12-15)
"There's wisdom in the cards, if only you could see it."

The Deck is pleased with the chaos that the owner is sowing, and begins trying to tempt that character into drawing from it by sweetening the deal.

Property: Any time you roll a result of 1 on any die (except a d20), reroll that die until you roll a result other than 1.
Power (Daily): Standard Action. You draw two cards from the Deck of Many Things and then choose any one card you drew, resolving the effect of that card as described below. The Deck then vanishes and is lost (see "Moving On," below).

Normal (5-11)
"Curious -- the cards show me how big a role luck plays in our lives."

When first drawn from its container, the deck conveys little more than a sense that much in the world is a matter of luck and not skill.

Power (Daily): Standard Action. You draw a card from the Deck of Many Things and then resolve the effect of that card as described below. The Deck then vanishes and is lost (see "Moving On," below).

Unsatisfied (1-4)
"I'm afraid that this might not be a lucky time for me."

An owner who rejects the deck's desires soon experiences a streak of bad, if harmless, luck. The bad luck is an inconvenience for now, but the deck wants to make sure the owner knows it is displeased.

Property: Any time you roll the maximum result on a die (except a d20), treat the result as a 1 instead.
Power (Daily): Standard Action. You draw two cards from the Deck of Many Things and then choose any one card you drew. You must choose a card with the Ruin descriptor, if one was drawn. Resolve the effect of the chosen card, as described below. The Deck then vanishes and is lost (see "Moving On," below).

Angered (0 or Lower)
"The deck shows me dark portents; my future is looking grim."

An angered Deck of Many Things can be a dangerous item indeed. Anyone drawing from the Deck at this point is extremely likely to suffer ill luck.

Property: Any time you roll the maximum result on a die, treat the result as a 1 instead.
Power (Daily): Standard Action. You draw three cards from the Deck of Many Things and then choose any one card you drew. You must choose a card with the Ruin descriptor, if one was drawn. Resolve the effect of the chosen card, as described below. The Deck then vanishes and is lost (see "Moving On," below).

Moving On
"It's gone! Vanished into thin air!"

The Deck of Many Things fades in and out of history, wreaking havoc and upsetting the order of things from time to time. It is an agent of chaos in an otherwise ordered world, and once someone has drawn from the complete Deck it vanishes, never to be seen again by that person.


September: Shadowbane

Our next novel in the Abyssal Plague comes to us from Erik Scott de Bie.

The city of Luskan has always been a den of pirates, thieves, and murderers. But lately, it has gotten even worse. A ship crashes ashore with nothing but corpses. Every day people go crazy and kill those around them. The only signs found of even the most hardened criminals who walk the streets at night are bones.

Luskan's sister city, Waterdeep, sent a detachment to quarantine the unclean city -- to let the filth die, rather than infect the rest of the Realms -- but Myrin has slipped inside, declaring that she will save Luskan. Shadowbane follows, determined to save Myrin and therefore her pet city -- even if he has to kill every rat in Luskan to do it.

Shadowbane features the triumphant return of popular, dark vigilante Shadowbane from Downshadow and carries forth the threads of the worlds-spanning Abyssal Plague series.

You can find out more on the dangers of the abyssal plague at the following page, which includes the updated Gedrin Shadowbane short story.


September: Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium

Well, we wanted to finish with a bang. As has recently been announced, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium has returned as a print product, and it's jammed full of items -- magic items, to be sure. You'll find plenty in the book for every character, whether you're looking for the armor of dogged grit, robe of useful items, or even plate mail of etherealness; new superior weapons, flame tongue or frost brand swords; or wondrous items such as a decanter of endless water, crystal ball, or Daern's instant fortress!

But wait, there's more!

You can add new artifact and story items, mundane adventuring gear, and hirelings and henchman to your game.

But that's not all.

You'll also find cursed items in this book. For fans of items with some extra roleplaying potential, here's how they'll work.

Item Curses

Cursed magic items were a mainstay of older editions of the Dungeons & Dragons game, much to Dungeon Masters' delight and players' occasional frustration. Items that hold curses seem just like normal magic items. They are, in fact, perfectly useful magic items in their own right. Under certain conditions, however, the dark magic of an item's curse causes the item to fail or malfunction in some spectacular way.

Cursed items should never be placed maliciously in a game or treated simply as a way to thwart the players. Such items can be a useful tool for the Dungeon Master, leading to interesting roleplaying opportunities and adventure hooks.

Item Curses in the Game

Each item curse described here is a quality that makes a cursed item of that kind seem as though it's another magic item of the same general sort. For example, a character might don a ring of the ram that turns out to be a ring of weakness, or purchase hero's gauntlets that are actually gauntlets of fumbling.

A cursed item functions normally until its curse is triggered, and it becomes a fully functioning beneficial magic item after its curse is lifted. When its curse is triggered, a cursed item imposes penalties or effects upon its wielder that run the gamut from irritating to deadly.

A cursed item looks and functions like a normal magic item, and it is the same level as the item on which the curse has been placed. Cursed items cannot be detected by any means; a character can use a cursed item normally -- sometimes for weeks -- until its curse is triggered.

Once the curse on a cursed item has been triggered and identified, the curse can be removed. Most curses can be lifted with a successful Arcana check (see below). You might also assign alternative methods of lifting the curse (which become known to an item's wielder when the curse is studied). They could range from bathing the item in the breath of a red dragon, to completing a skill challenge in the arcane foundry where the item was crafted, to taking the item to a powerful magical nexus where its curse will be cleansed. When a party undertakes a specific activity to lift a curse from an item, you should make lifting the curse a minor or a major quest.

A cursed magic item can be destroyed with the Disenchant Magic Item ritual, but the curse's presence halves the amount of residuum collected. A cursed item can be destroyed by other effects that would destroy a normal magic item, including the attack of a rust monster, powers that specifically target items (such as disintegrate), and so on.

Removing an Item Curse

A character can use expertise in magical lore to try to remove the curse on an item, but first the character must know that the item is cursed. Normally this knowledge is gained only when the curse is triggered, for there is no tried-and-true way of detecting curses.

To remove an item curse, a character must spend 1 hour in study while the cursed item is within arm's reach. At the end of the hour, the character makes an Arcana check (hard DC of the item's level). If the check succeeds, the curse is broken, and the magic item functions normally. If the check fails, the magic of the curse lashes out, causing the character to lose a healing surge, and everyone must wait 24 hours before trying to remove the curse again using Arcana in this way.

Using Cursed Items

Cursed items can be placed in a campaign as an ad hoc additional challenge. A cursed item does not create the same degree of challenge as an entire encounter or even a single creature, but any encounter in which an item's curse is activated might have an additional story XP reward based on how much the curse increases the challenge of the encounter.

Each item curse has a statistics block, just like a normal magic item. This statistics block explains the trigger and the effect of the curse, which functions in addition to the item's base powers and properties. When an item's curse is triggered, the curse stays in effect until the end of the encounter.

Once an item's curse is triggered for the first time, the item's owner cannot be rid of the item until the curse is broken. A cursed item that is being worn cannot be physically removed. A cursed item that is being wielded (including an implement, a shield, or a weapon) can be put away on the owner's person, but it cannot be discarded.

If a cursed item is removed by extraordinary means (such as by an unusual ritual), the item magically reappears in its owner's possession in 1d4 days.

The owner of a cursed weapon or implement can choose not to wield the item, but if the item's curse has been triggered, he or she must succeed on a saving throw in order to attack with a different item. If the saving throw fails, he or she must use the cursed item and must do so for the rest of the encounter.

Curses are typically named for their most commonly found form. Many of them can be imposed on other items, as indicated in the item's statistics block. The berserker's axe curse, for instance, might be applied to a greatsword or a scimitar. The periapt of foul rotting curse can be embodied in an Ioun stone, an amulet, a scarab crafted from a single gem, and so on.

Berserker's Weapon

It is said that the primal power of the Rashena barbarians is imbued in this curse, though those people saw such power as a boon, not a thing to be avoided. Most warriors who inadvertently pick up a weapon bearing this curse have a different opinion -- particularly those whose own companions fall to their accursed bloodlust.

In addition to its normal properties and powers, a weapon that has this curse harms its wielder when an enemy scores a critical hit on him or her.

Berserker's Weapon
Item Curse
A sudden frenzy overtakes you, blinding you to everything but battle.
Weapon: Axe or heavy blade
Utility Power (Charm)Encounter (No Action)
Trigger: While bloodied, the wielder is subject to a critical hit.
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, the wielder gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls and takes a -4 penalty to all defenses. All the wielder's attacks using this weapon must be melee basic attacks or charge attacks. Additionally, the wielder chooses a random creature as the target of his or her attack each round. If the wielder cannot attack, he or she takes 1d10 damage, and the penalty to all defenses worsens to –6 until the start of his or her next turn.

That's it, folks -- until next month!


Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.
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