A Huge, New World of Gaming
That's Huge minis and a new campaign setting to be exact. With the release of both the Giants of Legend expansion to the D&D Miniatures line and the long-awaited Eberron Campaign Setting, June has got to be one of the most exciting release months we've ever had. Those extra big minis are going to have an amazing impact on your gaming sessions (when you see your character's mini dwarfed by that Huge Red Dragon, you'll see what I mean -- man, those things really are HUGE). And the expansive world of Eberron (and all the great stuff you'll find there) will open up entirely new vistas of gaming for players and DMs, whether they immediately jump into a new campaign based in Eberron, or just start importing the new material into an existing campaign. I know that each minis expansion has had an impact on the two D&D games I play in, and one of them is already scheduled to become an Eberron campaign once the current storyline finishes running its course. Of course, it's not all about Eberron and Giants of Legend. We've got all kinds of other good stuff cooking around here. And that's what you're here to see.
So, check it out:
- Eberron Campaign Setting -- 288-page D&D hardcover; the exciting, new campaign setting that offers an entire world of action-packed, intrigue-laced adventure.
- Giants of Legend Huge Packs -- The fourth D&D Miniatures expansion, featuring 72 new minis, including 12 Huge miniatures. (Wait 'til you see these things!)
- Exile -- Forgotten Realms Legend of Drizzt series, Book Two (second in a deluxe, annotated hardcover series of all of the Drizzt books by R.A. Salvatore).
- Dawn of Night -- Forgotten Realms Erevis Cale trilogy, Book Two (paperback).
- The Lone Drow -- Forgotten Realms The Hunter's Blades trilogy, Book Two (first time in paperback).
- Secret of the Spiritkeeper -- Knights of the Silver Dragon series, Volume One, an all-new Young Readers series for ages 8 and up (paperback). (Also introduces the Knights of the Silver Dragon Book Club.)
- Planar Handbook: A Player's Guide to the Planes -- 192-page D&D hardcover filled with new options and material that make planar travel accessible for any campaign -- a companion to Manual of the Planes.
- Serpent Kingdoms -- 192-page Forgotten Realms hardcover that details various serpentine races throughout Faerûn, including yuan-ti, nagas, dragons, and various lizard races.
- Shadows of the Last War -- 32-page Eberron softcover; the first adventure for the new Eberron Campaign Setting; written by Keith Baker.
- Annihilation -- Forgotten Realms R.A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen series, Book Five (hardcover).
- Lady of Poison -- Forgotten Realms The Priests series, Book One (paperback).
- The Dying Kingdom -- Dragonlance The New Adventures series, Volume Two, an all-new Young Readers series (paperback).
- Wizards Conclave -- Dragonlance The Age of Mortals series (paperback).
- Kaz the Minotaur -- Dragonlance Heroes series, Volume Four (paperback with all-new cover).
- Dungeons & Dragons Dice -- A full set of polyhedrals (d4, (4)d6, d8, d10, d%, d12, & d20) nestled in a cloth dicebag with the D&D logo.
- Races of Stone -- 192-page hardcover that details various races that live on, under, or around mountains in the D&D world, with a focus on dwarves, gnomes, and an all-new race: goliaths.
- D&D Map Folio II -- Second in the series; pocket folder with 32 one-page, full color maps originally created for the Map-A-Week web feature.
- d20 Future -- 224-page d20 Modern hardcover with new rules, sample campaigns, and campaign modules that may be combined to create virtually any futuristic setting.
- Secret of the Spiritkeeper -- Knights of the Silver Dragon series, Volume One; an all-new Young Readers series (ages 8 & up) (paperback); (Also introduces membership in the Knights of the Silver Dragon)
- Riddle in Stone -- Knights of the Silver Dragon series, Volume Two; an all-new Young Readers series (ages 8 & up) (paperback); (Also introduces membership in the Knights of the Silver Dragon)
- Amber and Ashes -- Dragonlance The Dark Disciple series, Volume One; an all-new series by New York Times bestselling author Margaret Weis (hardcover).
- Forsaken House -- Forgotten Realms The Last Mythal trilogy, Book One (paperback).
- The Gates of Thorbardin -- Dragonlance Heroes series, Volume Five; all-new cover (paperback).
- Monster Manual III -- 224-page hardcover that offers up over 100 new monsters -- all illustrated, and each starting at the top of its own page.
- Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game -- All-new boxed set designed to introduce new players to the greatest fantasy roleplaying game of all time.
- Frostburn: Mastering the Perils of Ice and Snow -- 224-page hardcover; the first in a new series of books that will focus on how the environment can impact game play.
- Whispers of the Vampire's Blade -- 32-page Eberron softcover by David Noonan; the second adventure for the new Eberron Campaign Setting.
- Paths of Darkness Gift Set -- Forgotten Realms; A slipcovered set of four New York Times bestselling titles (The Silent Blade, The Spine of the World, Servant of the Shard, and Sea of Swords) written by R.A. Salvatore (paperback).
- Mistress of the Night -- Forgotten Realms The Priests series, book two (paperback).
- Darkwalker on Moonshae -- Forgotten Realms Moonshae trilogy, Book One; reissue of the first Forgotten Realms novel ever published (paperback).
- Flight of the Fallen -- Dragonlance Linsha trilogy, Volume Two (paperback).
- Chronicles for Young Readers Gift Set -- Dragonlance. A slipcovered set of the six-book series that adapted the Dragonlance Chronicles for young readers (paperback).
- The Dragon Well -- Dragonlance: The New Adventures series, Volume Three; an all-new Young Readers series for ages 10 and up (paperback).
June: Eberron Campaign Setting
After months of magazine and web articles leading up to the release of the Eberron Campaign Setting, you'll see the last Dragon Magazine preview article in issue #320 and the last web article any time now. (You may have already seen it.) Of course, you can expect to find ongoing support material forEberron in Dragon Magazine, and you'll want to stop by the new Eberron home page for information, updates, and additional content.
Dragon Magazine: "Countdown to the Eberron Campaign Setting"
Dragon Magazine #320 features the sixth and final article of the Eberron preview series. Discover a little about the setting's mysterious dragonmarks and the various abilities they confer to certain members of the powerful dragonmarked houses. You'll also get information about the different types of dragonshards, where they come from, and what they do.
"Gearing Up forEberron" web feature
Just click over to the Eberron page for a look at the seven-part web feature series that's a counterpart to the "Countdown" magazine series. The last "Gearing Up for Eberron" article offers a whirlwind tour of the continent of Khorvaire.
Once you've worked your way through all six of the Dragon articles and seven web articles, go to your favorite hobby shop or game store and see the real thing. Flip through the Eberron Campaign Setting and you'll find even more material that makes it something you need to add to your gaming library. Be sure to bring some sort of payment method with you when you take a peek -- there's so much good stuff in there that once it's in your hands, you won't want to leave it behind!
June:Giants of Legend Huge Packs
They're coming. Any day now -- maybe even before this article goes live -- you can start amassing your collection of the 72 new miniatures that make up the Giants of Legend expansion. Twelve of the minis are Huge, 60 of them are Small, Medium, or Large (plus one Tiny -- the first one we've done). You get a Huge mini in every box, along with the standard array of eight randomized minis.
If you haven't already popped over to the D&D Miniatures page, don't miss it! Check out all of Rob Heinsoo's strategy/preview articles, which provide insight into how each mini can find its way into your D&D roleplaying game or D&D miniatures warband. That D&D Minis page also offers errata, random encounter generators, and more.
That said, let's look at some minis:
Bugbear Footpad -- Fresh from several months of protein shakes and non-stop free-weight training, this bulked-up bad boy is more than ready to take on the grizzled-looking illustration on page 29 of your Monster Manual. (Both the mini and the illo seem to have similar mismatched orthodontics.) The Bugbear Footpad is a powerfully built specimen of goblinoid brutishness that looks capable of taking advantage of its racially +4 bonus to Move Silently checks. His black leather armor (which has some really nice asymmetrical details), chainmail skirt, and small metal shield give him an adequate amount of protection while not slowing him down. Between the spiked elbow pad, the three daggers he's got festooned about his body, and that wickedly spiked morningstar, this guy is well-prepared to do much bodily harm to anyone that gets in his way. Moving forward in a crouched and lumbering stance, with his head tilted and brow furrowed, the Bugbear Footpad seems to be cautiously stalking his next victim. In addition to the nice sculpt and skillful use of a fairly limited color palette, the nicest part about the Bugbear Footpad is the fact that it's a common mini. I'm making room in my tackle box for a solid dozen of these guys.
Bronze Wyrmling -- Only an inch high, this cute little fella is the first metallic wyrmling hatched for the D&D miniatures line. Page 224 in your Dracomomicon offers an illustration of what this baby dragon might have looked like last fall. (The mini looks just a little more experienced than the wide-eyed hatchling you'll see there.) All of the details and features that set a bronze dragon apart from the other dragons (the beaklike snout, smoothly fluted crest that sweeps back from its face, and short neck) are captured in cleanly executed detail. The coloration of the mini is really well done, with a muted bronze metallic paint that's got a very subtle patina, and little green eyes. Its pose gives the impression that it's either trying to climb up on something (or someone), or is unfurling its wings to take flight. One way or the other, its open mouth is either yammering in draconic baby talk or is prepared to unleash a 2d6 burst of lightning (or repulsion gas).
Dwarf Sergeant -- The notable lack of beard makes this fierce dwarf warrior quickly stand out as the first female dwarf mini we've seen -- and she's more than ready and willing to go toe-to-toe with each and every one of the giants you'll find in the set. Clad in heavy steel full plate armor (accented with bronze pieces) and carrying a stout steel shield, the Dwarf Sergeant is well-prepared to take whatever punishment is dealt her way. And her upraised axe (and pair of back-up blades on her belt) is more than ready to start stacking up bad guys like cordwood. While her wide stance gives her the appearance of stability and sturdiness (which you'd expect from a character with a +4 racial bonus against bull rush and trip attempts), her long braid (which sports one of those hair-ring things D&D characters are so fond of these days) gives a strong sense of motion (as if she's pivoting to meet some oncoming threat). Her confident and strong face is clearly calling out a battle cry of some sort, possibly to rally her allies or beg the blessing of Moradin.
Ghast -- Just like the Zombie I showed you last month, the Ghast is one of those common minis you're going to want (and get) a lot of. And, as if being readily available wasn't good enough, it's a nice mini too. Flip to page 119 in your Monster Manual, and you'll see the illustration that was obviously the inspiration for this sculpt -- the ghast, gnawing on a freshly acquired femur, as it spots its next meal. Now take a look at the mini. The creature has stood up and now either protects its marrow-filled snack (like a dog with a bone and opposable thumbs) or uses it as a makeshift club. Its left arm, which had been resting on its knee, hangs in place. The sturdy sculpt is fairly simple, but captures the emaciated and wiry build of this stench-ridden creature. And with only five different colors (three of which combine to create its foul, purplish flesh), the paint job is extremely efficient -- notice that the evil pinpoints of light in the ghast's sunken eye sockets are the same color used on the bone. The undead portion of my minis collection will definitely be bolstered by as many of these graveside predators as I can lay my hands on.
Basilisk -- Keep that Monster Manual handy and turn to page 23. The basilisk mini is an almost spot-on rendering of the illustration you'll see there. Read through the description, and you can tick off each of its features: "Thick-bodied reptile with eight legs" -- check. "Rows of bony spines jut from its back" -- check. "Its eyes glow with an eerie, pale green incandescence" -- green eyes, check. (Keep reading onto page 24.) "Dull drown body with a yellowish underbelly" -- check. "Some specimens sport a short, curved horn atop the nose" -- check. (I never noticed that last one before). As one of those creatures that seem to have become a staple of D&D games, the basilisk is also a monster that you want to do interesting things with -- to create encounters that present interesting challenges and allow players to come up with clever solutions. And the mini is just so fantastically basilisk-ish, you'll feel compelled to create just such an encounter. When you lay your hands on one, take a look at it head-on. Once you see its menacing smirk, you'll really want to use it in your game (mainly 'cause you'll be able to point the mini at your players and say, "This is what you see . . . Roll a Fort save").
King Snurre -- If one mini should be considered the plastic incarnation of the Giants of Legend set, it's King Snurre. He's a giant. And he's a legend. If you don't immediately recognize the name, you might remember him as the title character from the 1st Edition adventure G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King, first published in 1978 and then combined with its Giants series predecessors in 1981 to create the G1-2-3: Against the Giants superadventure. Of course, being a fire giant, King Snurre is (only) a Large mini, whose upraised sword measures in at 3-1/2 inches tall. Particularly in a set with a dozen Huge minis, height isn't everything, but King Snurre has a lot more going for him besides stature. He's dripping with character. His stocky build, coal-black skin and fiery beard instantly evoke his fire giant-ishness, but it's his hooded cloak -- fashioned from what must have been (at least) a Large white dragon -- that really shows off his kingly might and ability to take a beating (withstanding 50% extra damage from that white wyrm's breath weapon long enough to send it to the great tailor shop in the sky). His nicely detailed armor consists of a chainmail hauberk augmented by overlapping armor plates that feature just enough spiky bits (even on his boots) to really add to his imposing presence. My favorite detail (rivaled by that white dragon hood) is his sword. The pommel seems to have erupted in a torchlike flame that's about the size of a human head, but that's where the open flames stop. The rest of the sword is a blackened blade highlighted by a lava-like inner glow that seeps out through various notches and cuts. His highness's clenched teeth and upraised fist certainly give the impression that he's not entirely pleased with whatever he's encountering and is about to send a troop of fire giant minions (and other fire subtype baddies) to deal with the royal disturbance. Good thing he can also find those minions in the Giants of Legend expansion.
Storm Giant -- You might have caught a glimpse of this green-skinned giantess when she appeared (along with Wizard of the Coast's Mary Elizabeth Allen and Paul Bazakas) on Cold Pizza, the morning show on ESPN2, back in April. Standing 4-1/4 tall (with her two-handed sword reaching the 6-inch mark), she's clearly the tallest of the Huge minis in the Giants of Legend set. Her studded leather armor skirt, breastplate, and helmet are extremely reminiscent of those of a Greek hoplite warrior. (Just swap her sword and the bow on her back for a sturdy shield and spear, and she'd be all set to join a historical reenactment society.) With her calf-height leather sandals and simple tunic, she certainly conjures images of ancient mythological heroes. While remaining elegantly simple, she's also a very well-detailed mini. Her shoulder-strapped belt pouch and quiver hang naturally at her hip (notice the tooled leather pattern worked into the sides of that quiver). Her long, emerald-hued hair flows over her shoulder and nicely frames her face (with its piercing jade eyes), which is her most striking feature. Her determined gaze remains level and fixed on something directly ahead (making her one of the only Huge minis that doesn't seem concerned with the Small and Medium chaff that may be nipping at her heels). All of that, coupled with her defensive, guarded stance, lend the impression that you're seeing the calm before the storm giant goes to town on someone.
July: Planar Handbook: A Player's Guide to the Planes
I'll make this part quick: the Planar Handbook is a 192-page hardcover sourcebook aimed at players (but filled with stuff for DMs too) that offers a wide range of material designed to make planar travel a more integral part of any campaign.
This part will ramble a bit: Inside, you'll find several new planar character races (with Level Adjustments of +0 and +1) along with a handful of powerful monster races (such as the avoral guardinal and hound archon) broken down Savage Species-style. You'll also gain access to Planar Substitution Levels, which provide characters with the option of gaining a series of class-related abilities that facilitate planar travel (read: planar survival) instead of the standard class abilities gained at the various designated levels. A good selection of new feats (including a new type: heritage feats) and a smattering of new prestige classes allow you to further augment your plane-hopping PCs. As with any kind of travel, you'll want to have some spending cash on hand to pick up souvenirs -- namely the weapons, armor, equipment (including special substances, vehicles, and mounts), and magic items you'll find in Chapter Four. Spellcasters gain access to an array of new spells (and domains) that will come in handy for extraplanar encounters of all types. Not surprisingly, there are a number of new monsters lurking out there in the multiverse (and within the confines of Chapter Six) to antagonize or assist your favorite party of heroic adventurers. And, while there are an infinite number of places a planar-traveling group of characters might visit, there are several specific locations (ranging from grand metropolises, like Sigil and the City of Brass, to much smaller sites of importance known as planar touchstones) that can be home, a final destination, or a waypoint for any expedition.
Last month, I gave you the back cover copy. This month, I thought I'd give you a look at one of the new character races -- the Limbo-born race of hunters known as the neraphim -- and a quick tour of just one of the many planar touchstones your characters may visit: the Burning Rift.
July: Serpent Kingdoms
Last month, I gave you a look at the back cover copy from this 192-page hardcover that's crawling with information about the malevolent serpentfolk and lizard races of the Forgotten Realms game setting. Of course, you needn't set your campaign in Faerûn to make use of this sourcebook -- any campaign that's got lizardfolk, nagas, yuan-ti, and other scaled, slithery critters in it can make good use of Serpent Kingdoms. "But what, exactly, is inside Serpent Kingdoms?" you ask. Well, that's what I'm here for this month -- to give you an idea of what's curled up inside those covers.
The introduction gives you a run-down of how each of the "Scaled Ones"are categorized (which includes scalykind, lizards, serpent constructs, serpents, and serpentfolk), along with a good overview of the background and ongoing threats presented by the Scaled Ones. As mentioned in the back cover copy, the book goes on to highlight the superstars of the Scaled Ones: the yuan-ti, nagas, lizardfolk, and the creator race: the sarrukh. Chapter One covers just the yuan-ti, providing a phenomenal amount of detail that includes an overview and description of each of the subraces (purebloods, halfbloods, abominations, and anathemas), a racial history, the race's outlook, and a discussion of yuan-ti society. After that comes a flood of yuan-ti information about characters, magic, deities, equipment, relations with other races, and sample encounters (which include ready-to-use villains and allies). Look for more of the same exhaustive detail in Chapter Two, which covers nagas, and in Chapter Five, which details the progenitor race known as the sarrukh. Chapter Three offers the same kind of information, but does so in a more succinct fashion as it covers five different lizard races (with subraces), including asabis, firenewts, khaastas, lizard kings, and troglodytes. Chapter Four highlights the Hidden Folk: ophidians and pterafolk.
After that, Serpent Kingdoms just goes nuts. It gets things rolling with a 28-page monster-fest (also known as Chapter Six) that starts with the amphibaena, ends with the yuan-ti mageslayer, and slithers past several snakes, nagas, dinosaurs, and other creatures along the way. Chapter Seven tours you through a frightening number of realms, regions, and locations that are home to the various Scaled Ones and their insidious influence. Chapter Eight provides a wealth of information, guidelines, advice, options, and examples of how to make use of the yuan-ti as major villains in a new or ongoing campaign. This includes different methods for introducing the scaly threat to your players, how yuan-ti secret organizations operate, and three fully detailed major NPC villains. Chapters Nine and Ten provide a number of options for customizing your favorite cold-blooded creatures, including a variety of feats, armor, weapons, equipment, magic items, artifacts, and "yuan-ti grafts." Chapter Eleven reveals a number of new spells that are almost exclusively employed by the Scaled Ones. Chapter Twelve offers a half dozen prestige classes, five of which take advantage of the various unique abilities of the Scaled Ones, and one of which is better-suited to a character more interested in hunting such creatures. Chapter Thirteen rounds out the book with four different adventures (each complete with maps and statted-out NPCs) that can be dropped into any campaign in need of an unhealthy dose of Scaled Ones.
Next month, I'll give you a look at the powerful progenitor race -- the sarrukh -- along with one sliver of hope Serpent Kingdoms offers to PCs: the Serpent Slayer prestige class.
July: Shadows of the Last War
Last month, I gave you a little information about this first 32-page adventure designed for use with the Eberron Campaign Setting. Written by Eberron's creator, Keith Baker, Shadows of the Last War offers an exciting leaping-off point for you to use as a way to hurl your new characters into a new campaign. And it gives you a really good sense of what adventuring in Eberron can be like. Since all of you DMs wouldn't want your players to accidentally get too much information about this thing, I'll stop here and just pass along the back cover copy:
Race to Uncover Secrets Buried by Disaster
The ruined House Cannith citadel of Whitehearth holds the key to constructing a terrible magic weapon. Agents of the Emerald Claw will stop at nothing to recover the ancient device. As malevolent forces hunt for the artifact, resourceful heroes battle the perils of the Mournland to reach Whitehearth first and discover the secrets that lie within.
Shadows of the Last War is a stand-alone adventure for the Dungeons & Dragons game that will immerse your characters in the Eberron campaign setting. Designed to challenge 2nd-level D&D heroes, it pits them against one of Eberron's most nefarious organizations.
If you've been reading R.A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen series, you're more than ready for Book Five -- I know I was. (If you've not cracked open this series, you should give it a try. We're up to the fifth of six books, and the first three are already available in paperback -- it's far too easy to get on board at this point.)
Phil Athans really jumps in and crafts a story that meshes seamlessly with the previous four titles. He handles the characters very well, allowing each of their various situations and relationships to continue evolving in very interesting ways as if he'd been writing each one of them since the beginning of the series. (I really enjoyed his treatment of Pharaun, my favorite character.) There's plenty of exciting action (lots of combat and spell-slinging) that keeps the story moving at a good clip, and more than enough plotting and intrigue to maintain a satisfyingly high level of danger throughout even the most placid of moments. As the penultimate book in the series, Annihilation does a remarkable job of moving the story's plot along at a steadily increasing rate that really ramps it up for the finale in Book Six . . . which can't get here fast enough.
August: Races of Stone
I won't go into great detail about this one yet, but I'll give you an idea of what you'll be seeing in the months to come. Races of Stone is the first in what will be a series of race-specific books. It's a 192-page hardcover that details various races that live on, under, or around mountains in the D&D world, with a focus on dwarves, gnomes, and an all-new race: goliaths.
August: D&D Map Folio II
This is the second in a new series of game-enhancing accessories. But whereas Map Folio I offered high-quality color prints of maps you may have discovered over in the Map-A-Week web feature, Map Folio II is a collection of 32 all-new one-page, full color maps that can be used individually or combined to create an ancient exotic city.
August: d20 Future
It's too early to give away any real details about what you'll find inside d20 Future, but I have to tell you that, when I do start showing this thing, I'm going to have a hard time figuring out where to begin. This 224-page d20 Modern hardcover is jam-packed with new rules, sample campaigns, and campaign modules that can be combined to create virtually any futuristic setting. And when I say jam-packed, I mean they used space-age technology to put more content in one book than you can wrap your head around (or at least fit in a single campaign). Start thinking of futuristic campaigns you might like to run, and look forward to seeing stuff inside d20 Future that'll give you the building blocks to do it.
August: Dungeons & Dragons Dice
If you read "In the Works" back in March, you already have a good run-down of what you're getting here -- a full set of polyhedrals (d4, d6, d8, d10, d%, d12, & d20) nestled in a cloth dicebag with the D&D logo. (This was originally slated for a May release, but some production difficulties pushed it back to August.)
Here's one thing you might find interesting: the d10 included in the bag is numbered 1 to 10 instead of 0 to 9. When rolled along with the percentile die (numbered 00 to 90), the result can be obtained by simply adding the two numbers together. It's a small change, but it can make a difference for players new to the game because now a d% roll is like any other roll of the dice -- you just add them together to get the result.
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.