We're hoping this column becomes your window into roleplaying design and development -- or at least the way we approach these things here at Wizards of the Coast. We'll handle a wide range of topics in weeks to come, from frank discussions about over- or underpowered material, to the design goals of a certain supplement, to what we think are the next big ideas for the Dungeons & Dragons game. All of this comes bundled with a healthy look at the people and events that are roleplaying R&D.
Let's see what we have here in the mailbag...
We’ve gone to the mailbag once more to share some of your many strange tales around the gaming table, with several topics originally raised in Ask Wizards. Back on 10/09, Kyle wrote in asking about summoned creatures. We responded (indirectly, admittedly, but we loved this story) with the reasons behind a certain 3.5 spell revision:
“Before adjustments were made to the summon nature’s ally spells, stories abounded of unscrupulous druids calling forth whales to fill dungeon corridors, as effective as any wall. Hence, the 3.5 additional text reading: “Creatures cannot be summoned into an environment that cannot support them. For instance, a porpoise may only be summoned in an aquatic environment.” Porpoise was the example given… but they were really thinking of whales when they made this change.”
Players wrote in with stories of their own “monster bombs,” either whale or otherwise, and all manner of the rules as written being bent, folded and mutilated:
...And Dinosaurs (Oh My?)
Other players sent in their tales of animal mayhem. Not a whale in the air, a whale in the gullet can be just as handy:
A Very Big Pill
At Least He Was Tasty
Tales of the Idol
Is it, as some players have suggested, an early statue of Orcus, or a float in the “Fat Dudesday” parade? The 07/28 Ask Wizards discussed the gem-eyed idol seen on the cover of the PHB II as well as the 1st edition Player’s Handbook. While there are no official origins for the statue (at least, none known to this humble website producer), we solicited your opinion on the matter – with Morgan answering the question in epic fashion:
Lakshesherek Cast Down
Lakshesherek was a nalfeshnee grievously wounded and banished to the Prime Material Plane by Erythnul. His battered body was discovered by a hunting tribe of the Hrua, who restored his health and worshipped him.
During his convalescence, the Hrua's finest crafters constructed this statue, made of granite heavily veined with thinaun*. The eyes are carved from hunks of Erythnul's own crystallized flesh and blood, which coated Lakshesherek's claws after his desperate (and failed) attempt to defend himself from the god's wrath.
For more than 60 years Lakshesherek ruled over the Hrua, becoming more and more convinced of his own godhood as the years passed and his worship widened throughout the jungle. Certain of his divinity, he called together a great council of the elders of the Hrua and smaller surrounding tribes… then systematically slaughtered each and every one, binding their souls into the statue’s gems. Lakshesherek began a reign of terror, enslaving and sacrificing inhabitants of the Amedio jungle to grow the power within the gems, with which he intended to replace his own eyes.
This highly displeased Erythnul, who intended the banishment to be a warning to other nalfeshnee, and not an inspiration. However, though he didn't have a reputation for deviousness and guile, the god saw opportunity within the situation.
Accordingly, Erythnul sent a vision to Heironeous of the Hrua's souls calling for the paladin's aid, whereupon the paladin traveled to the Amedio jungle and sought out Lakshesherek. The battle raged back and forth for three days, and in the end Heironeous impaled the mad demon against his own statue, whereupon the thinaun within trapped his soul, preventing it from returning to the lower planes. Heironeous then shattered the gemstones upon the altar, freeing the souls of the Hrua tribe—and thus earning the gratitude of their ancient gods, who collectively blessed his ascension into godhood in thanks for his valorous act.
The Statue Rediscovered
Despite overwhelming odds, the Olman successfully raided the camp, and returned to the statue to more properly venerate it, refashioning the gemstone shards into suitable eyes, and setting up their base of operations within the temple… unknowingly waking the long-dormant soul of Lakshesherak. As their encampment and success grew, the Olman began to more fervently worship the unknown god, sacrificing Scarlet Brotherhood slavers to the idol. Accordingly, the trapped nalfeshnee began to grow in power, his soul rebelling against the bonds of the aged and weakened thinaun.
At present day, the eyes serve as the last vestige of power holding the nalfeshnee at bay, fragments of divinity keeping the weakened thinaun bonds intact.
* from Complete Warrior, pg. 136
Finally, we end this mailbag session with a look at spooky tales of dice (since it is almost Halloween!), including the strangest, most disturbing ritual ever for getting your d20 to roll properly. Be warned...
About a year ago, we found a red and white d20 in the driveway. The die was really worn and looked pretty old, with about three of the numbers faded. No one we knew had ever used dice of that color, and we had no idea where it came from. This "Ghost Die" has only been used once, on accident, to get a natural 20. No one is allowed to touch it again until the time comes we need a natural 20.
The game store where my friends play is a creepy place. One year, everytime we gamed, no matter what time or day, a thunderstorm appeared... and not a little storm that strikes two or three times and then passes over. No, these storms lasted for hours. But that was not the really strange part of gaming in that store basement.
If dice are rolling really bad, and swapping them out is not working, there are only two things for you to do. One is to stroke the beard of rotund man for luck; this action generally shocks the dice out of their funk. Should there not be a "big and beardie" bloke around, there is the second option: Rub the offending dice on the belly of a baby, preferably a sleeping infant, then the dice will roll just fine. However, the DM may object (as mine did) that stealing the luck of a sleeping baby is just wrong. And it is.
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