Like a lot of you, I'd been waiting and waiting for the release of D&D v.3.5. Not only did I want to lay my hands on those sparkly new 320-page hardbacks of adventure-waiting-to-happen, but I've been slowly dying of severe withdrawal from the lack of Chris Perkins' Wednesday night game. (A few months back, our on-the-verge-of-epic-level characters finally brought our ongoing campaign to a close, and Chris wanted to take some time to prepare the next foray into his mind-bogglingly detailed campaign world. He also wanted to wait until everyone had rulebooks to get started.)
At last, the wait is over! If you've picked up any of the new core rulebooks, you're also probably all too anxious to put them to use. And if you're a Dragonlance fan who's been itching to get the Dragonlance Campaign Setting to explore Krynn, your wait is over, too. It's time to start gaming. But first, take a look at all the cool stuff you have to look forward to picking up and playing with. Check it out:
On Shelves: Dragon Magazine #310
Polybagged with issue #310 was the first DM screen for use with the D&D v.3.5 core rulebooks, featuring some hot-looking art Wayne Reynolds did for our new ad campaign. I don't have a jpeg of the inside of the screen, but it's four very full panels of tables covering a huge range of good stuff to have on hand: armor class modifiers, actions (indicating whether they they're standard, move, free, or full-round and whether they provoke an attack of opportunity), turning undead, tons of skills. A really clever annotation with each table or chart supplies a page reference so you know where to go to get more information.
July 24-27: Gen Con
As I write this, we've got a couple weeks until Gen Con, and far too many things need to get done before then. But I know that by the time this article gets posted, everyone will have returned from Indianapolis to tell war stories and show off all the cool stuff they picked up, like the three D&D miniatures we gave away (a different one each day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). Or maybe the 12-page preview of Keith Baker's Eberron, the world selected from last year's Fantasy Campaign Setting search.
- The Annotated Legends -- fully annotated by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (hardcover)
- The Black Bouquet -- the Rogues Series, Book Two (paperback)
- D&D Miniatures Entry Pack -- 16 randomized minis, statistics cards, basic rulebook, d20, terrain mapsheet & cards, checklist
- D&D Miniatures Harbinger Expansion Pack -- 8 randomized, pre-painted, plastic minis with double-sided statistics cards
- Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set -- boxed set of all three core rulebooks (v.3.5)
- Legacy of the Drow Gift Set -- boxed set of all four Legacy of the Drow novels (paperback)
- Menace Manual-- 224-page sourcebook for the d20 Modern roleplaying game
- The Prince of Lies -- the Avatar Series, Book Four (paperback with all-new cover art)
- War of Souls Gift Set -- boxed set of all three War of Souls novels (paperback)
- Book of Exalted Deeds -- 192-page hardcover sourcebook for mature audiences; companion to Book of Vile Darkness
- The Lone Drow -- Book Two in R.A. Salvatore's Hunter's Blades trilogy (hardcover)
- Miniatures Handbook -- 192-page D&D hardcover for expanding combat in your RPGs and playing skirmish-, squad-, and mass-battles with miniatures
- The Nightmare Lands -- Dragonlance Young Readers (Chronicles Volume Two, Part 1) (paperback)
- Redemption -- The Dhamon Saga, Volume Three (paperback)
- Return of the Damned -- Dungeons & Dragons novel series, book nine (paperback)
- Riverwind the Plainsman -- Preludes, Volume Four (paperback)
- To the Gates of Palanthas -- Dragonlance Young Readers (Chronicles Volume Two, Part 2) (paperback)
- Underdark -- 192-page Forgotten Realms accessory exploring the region of the Realms Below
August: Dragonlance Campaign Setting
Last month, I gave you a peek at how kender shaped up, and what the draconians look like. This month, as the book hits shelves, I'll give you one last snippet -- a spell (which you'll find on page 110) that any arcane spellcaster in any campaign setting would want to consider taking a look at:
Level: Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area: One 5-foot square/level (S)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes
First created by the sorcerer Palin when he was troubled by a group of goblins, this spell has rapidly gained favor among sorcerers. When you cast this spell, you summon gouts of flame from the ground, dealing 3d6 points of fire damage to all within the area of effect. In addition, any creature affected must succeed on a Reflex save or catch on fire (see Catching on Fire in the Dungeon Master's Guide).
Material Component: A small cylinder of sulfur soaked in a drop of oil.
That's 3d6 points of damage that anyone in the area just has to take -- suck it up and mark off the hit points. After that, you get your shot at deftly avoiding damage by not catching on fire. Just to save you the trip, Catching on Fire (DMG pg 303-304) entails making a DC 15 Reflex save or immediately taking 1d6 points of fire damage. You can keep that up each round until you either make the Reflex save or turn into a crisp. Want to stop, drop, and roll? That adds +4 to your next save. Same goes for using a blanket or cloak to smother the flames. Of course, you can always just jump into a handy pool of water to end the fiery ordeal. But, sadly, once you've caught fire, all your stuff has to make a DC 15 Reflex save too. If those fail, they take as much damage from Catching on Fire as you did. A couple rounds of that can quickly cook off a lot of gear and treasure.
September: Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures
The D&D Miniatures line goes on sale next month, and that means that you'll be able to start hoarding pre-assembled, pre-painted, plastic minis (with double-sided statistics cards) like they're going out of style. (Which they aren't -- I've gotten a peek at a handful of the minis from Set Two, and they're just getting better.)
D&D Miniatures Spotlight: Packaging
If you want to know what to look for when you go into your FLGS (favorite local gaming store), check out the Entry Pack and one of the Harbinger Expansion Packs.
D&D Miniatures Gallery: PC Types
You can see 21 of the more character-focused minis over here.
D&D Miniatures Gallery: Magical Monsters
This is a menagerie of 10 magical monsters (like the Mind Flayer and Medusa)
September: d20 Menace Manual
Last month, I gave you a look at the back cover copy and snippet of the Government Agent -- just one of the many supporting characters you'll find inside his 224-page hardcover sourcebook for use with the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game.This month, I want to show you a distant (and far more aggressive) cousin of the living dumpster from Urban Arcana, a nasty critter called the Litter Brute.
Litter brutes are spontaneously generated constructs bent on exacting vengeance against humanity for ruining the environment. Like ecological bogeymen, litter brutes have been executing despoilers of nature ever since the mid-1970s, leaving asphyxiated victims lying in piles of rubbish. Litter brutes killed so many people in this fashion during the 1980s that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was convinced a sanitation worker had turned serial killer.
A litter brute is a towering pile of shifting, surging garbage shaped roughly like a human. Its body is a collection of nonbiodegradable refuse, such as cardboard, Styrofoam, plastic, metal, wire, string, and glass. It can reconfigure its form to face any direction in an instant, and it can "flow" around most obstacles, though it cannot squeeze through openings smaller than its own body.
Construct: A litter brute has the traits and immunities common to constructs.
Dimension Door (Sp): At will, a litter brute can remove its essence from the objects that form its body, dropping them wherever they happen to land, then reappear up to 500 feet away, reconstructing its body from garbage and refuse there (assuming enough raw material exists in the target location). The litter brute cannot use its dimension door ability to transport other objects or creatures.
Electricity Immunity (Ex): A litter brute takes no damage from electricity. In fact, a litter brute struck by an electrical attack uses the residual energy to deal +1d6 points of electricity damage on its slam attacks the following round.
Engulf (Ex): A litter brute can simply bowl over opponents up to one size category smaller than itself as a free attack during its move action. This attack affects as many opponents as the monster's body can cover. Each target can make either an attack of opportunity against the litter brute or a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 the litter brute's Hit Dice + its Strength modifier) to avoid being engulfed. A successful saving throw indicates that the target has been pushed back or aside (target's choice) as the litter brute surges forward. An engulfed creature is considered grappled. A litter brute cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it attempts to engulf, but each engulfed creature takes slam damage (half bludgeoning, half slashing) on that round and every round that it remains trapped.
Fast Healing 1: So long as there is some sort of litter or refuse within 60 feet of it, a litter brute heals 1 point of damage per round unless it is reduced to -10 or fewer hit points. This ability does not enable the litter brute to regrow or reattach severed body parts.
Garbage Growth (Ex): A litter brute can stuff objects inside itself to add to its bulk, if desired. Given enough time and a large enough supply of refuse, it can increase its Hit Dice by 1 per 24 hours, provided that it does nothing else. See Advancement (below) for changes in size category based on Hit Dice.
Sharp Implements: Within a litter brute's body are countless sharp implements, which protrude from its form in various places. Because of these protrusions, half of the damage a litterfolk deals with a slam attack is slashing damage.
Litter Brute: CR 4; Large construct; HD 6d10+20; hp 53; Mas -- ; Init +0; Spd 20 ft.; Defense 17, touch 9, flat-footed 17 (-1 size, +8 natural); BAB +4; Grap +10; Atk +5 melee (1d8+2, slam); Full Atk +5 melee (1d8+2, 2 slams); FS 10 ft. by 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.; SQ construct, darkvision 60 ft., dimension door, engulf, fast healing 5, garbage growth, sharp implements; AL none; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +3; AP 0; Rep +0; Str 14, Dex 11, Con -- , Int -- , Wis 12, Cha 6.
Advancement: 7-10 HD (Large); 11-18 HD (Huge); 19-24 HD (Gargantuan).
Advanced Litter Brute: CR 6; Huge construct; HD 12d10+40; hp 106; Mas -- ; Init -1; Spd 20 ft.; Defense 18, touch 7, flat-footed 18 (-2 size, -1 Dex, +11 natural); BAB +9; Grap +23; Atk +13 melee (2d6+6, slam); Full Atk +13 melee (2d6+6, 2 slams); FS 15 ft. by 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.; SQ construct, darkvision 60 ft., dimension door, engulf, fast healing 5, garbage growth, sharp implements; AL none; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +5; AP 0; Rep +0; Str 22, Dex 9, Con -- , Int -- , Wis 12, Cha 6.
This critter has construct immunities, self-healing, the ability to increase its Hit Dice by one a day, and it can dimension door 500 feet away at will. As long as there's garbage lying around, one these things could be unstoppable. Make sure you dispose of all waste in a designated container, and enjoy the game.
Late Summer: D&D Player Rewards Program Tchotchke -- the Fist of Emirikol
Last month, I told you about the RPGA's cool new D&D Player Rewards program. (Which is just as free to join as the RPGA is.) I also told you a little bit about the "Con-in-a-Box" mailer that will be going out any time now, and with it, a custom-tooled d20 that's covered in sigils instead of numbers -- all-new minor artifact called the fist of Emirikol. I finally got the production sample in the mail from the fine folks at Koplow Games.
If you want to find out how the fist of Emirikol works, just take a look at the handout it comes with. (Thanks to Andy "sure, I'm not working on anything HUGE at the moment" Collins for helping with the mechanics and to Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel for her kind and precise editing skills.) If you just want to pretend you're that "cloaked wizard on horseback riding past the Green Griffon while zapping a city guardsman," which some of you might remember from the 1st edition DMG, try your hand at slinging the Virtual Fist of Emirikol.
You can also download this thing, wrap it around one of Koplow's regular 55mm d20s, and make your own.
Keep in mind that this is just one of the nifty gewgaws the D&D Player Rewards program will be doling out. Also note that the RPGA is crafting the program in such a way that you can earn Player Rewards points by playing your regular D&D home game -- you don't necessarily have to go play at a convention or comic shop. Wherever you play D&D, you can earn points. Check out the Player Rewards page for more details.
If you're not already an RPGA member (that is, if you don't have an RPGA number), you just need to get yourself to an RPGA event, show up, and say "Hey, I want to get an RPGA number." It's quick. It's easy. And best of all, it's free. You can find RPGA events by checking out the event calendar.
d20 System Home Page
If you're ever inclined to try your hand at creating your own d20 System stuff, or just want to get a fine introduction to some of the really good non-WotC stuff that's out there, you should be visiting the d20 System home page on a regular basis. I actually just stumbled across it while looking for the System Reference Document (SRD) to use in a little project I'm working on. If you're unfamiliar with the SRD, here's a quick description:
The System Reference Document is a comprehensive toolbox consisting of rules, races, classes, feats, skills, various systems, spells, magic items, and monsters compatible with the d20 System version of Dungeons & Dragons and various other roleplaying games from Wizards of the Coast. You may consider this material Open Game Content under the Open Game License, and may use, modify, and distribute it.
There's even an SRD for d20 Modern, so you can craft your own game material fraught with action and adventure in the modern world.
I think I'll poke around some more over there and give you a report on my field trip next month.
There it is.
About the Author
Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing number of years, and now gets to spend an astonishing amount of time thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same.