Previews10/15/2004


Previews for October and Beyond
See What's "In the Works"



I Wish I Could Go Trick or Treating for D&D Stuff

Imagine tossing on a costume, grabbing a plastic jack-o-lantern, pillowcase, or paper bag, and going door-to-door through your neighborhood collecting handfuls of Aberrations minis (like they were fun-sized candy bars) and occasionally hitting the full-sized candy bar-esque jackpot with a shiny, new hardcover -- like Libris Mortis or Shining South. That'd be a sweet holiday. Sadly, people won't be handing these out, but you can head out to your favorite local gaming store (or bookstore) to find all of these fine October-spawned RPG treats. You don't even have to wear a costume if you don't want to. But, enough of this Halloween metaphor -- on with the good stuff -- check it out:

New Releases

October

  • Libris Mortis: The Book of the Undead -- 192-page hardcover that offers a comprehensive look at undead creatures and characters in the D&D world (a necromantic supplement comparable to Draconomicon).
  • Shining South -- 192-page hardcover that explores one of the more distant regions in the Forgotten Realms.
  • Special Edition Player's Handbook -- 320-page deluxe, leatherbound version of the Player's Handbook specially created to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the D&D game.
  • Aberrations Expansion Packs -- The fifth D&D Miniatures expansion, featuring 60 new minis.
  • D&D Miniatures Starter Set -- An all-new D&D Miniatures starter with updated rules, new terrain tiles, battle grid, d20, and 12 randomized miniatures (including at least one commander) from the Aberrations expansion.
  • Thirty Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons -- 320-page hardcover coffee table book filled with essays and photographs that chronicle the events, products, and personalities that have filled the world of D&D since its creation in 1974.
  • The Two Swords -- Forgotten Realms The Hunter's Blades trilogy, Book Three (hardcover).
  • The Lake of Death -- Dragonlance The Age of Mortals series (paperback).
  • Firstborn -- Dragonlance Elven Nations Trilogy, Volume One (re-released paperback).
  • Sign of the Shapeshifter -- Knights of the Silver Dragon series, Volume Three, part of an all-new Young Readers series for ages 8 and up (paperback).
  • Worldwide D&D Game Day -- At participating game stores on Saturday, October 16th, you can celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons and introduce a friend to D&D (play through a mini-quest and get a couple souvenirs while supplies last).

November

  • Complete Arcane: A Player's Guide to Arcane Magic for All Classes -- 192-page D&D hardcover for arcane magic-wielding characters of all classes with new and updated core classes and arcane-related monsters (with information on fighting, joining, and summoning them).
  • Sharn: City of Towers -- 192-page Eberron hardcover; the first in a series of sourcebooks detailing the exciting world of Eberron; filled with descriptions of locations, new organizations, fully developed NPCs, lots of maps and illustrations, adventure hooks for exploring within the city and beyond; includes a bonus soundtrack CD.
  • Black Wizards -- Forgotten Realms Moonshae trilogy, Book Two; one of the first Forgotten Realms novels ever published, finally reprinted with new cover art (paperback).
  • Dragons in the Archives: The Best of Weis & Hickman -- Dragonlance; a collection of the best Dragonlance short stories written by Margaret and Tracy over the past 20 years (paperback).
  • The Kinslayer Wars -- Dragonlance Elven Nations Trilogy, Volume Two (re-released paperback).
  • Return of the Sorceress -- Dragonlance: The New Adventures series, Volume Three, an all-new Young Readers series for ages 10 and up (paperback).
  • The Ruby Guardian -- Forgotten Realms The Scions of Arrabar, Book II (paperback).
  • Test of the Twins -- Dragonlance Legends trilogy, Volume Three (first time in hardcover).

December

  • D&D Map Folio 3-D -- Third in the series; 32 pages of ready-to-cut, fold, and glue cardstock structures (originally designed for the Fold-Up Paper Models web feature) for use in your roleplaying and miniatures games.
  • Races of Destiny -- 192-page hardcover that details the highly adaptive races that inhabit virtually every corner of the D&D world, with a focus on humans, half-elves, half-orcs, and an all-new race: illumians.
  • Darkwell -- Forgotten Realms Moonshae trilogy, Book Three; one of the first Forgotten Realms novel ever published, finally reprinted with new cover art (paperback).
  • Exile -- Forgotten Realms Legend of Drizzt series, Book Three(this is the third book in a deluxe, annotated, hardcover series of all of the Drizzt books by R.A. Salvatore) (hardcover).
  • Eye of Fortune -- Knights of the Silver Dragon series, Volume Four, part of an all-new Young Readers series for ages 8 and up (paperback).
  • Galen Benighted -- Dragonlance Heroes series, Volume Six (all-new cover -- paperback).
  • A Hero's Justice -- Dragonlance Ergoth trilogy, Volume Three (paperback).
  • The Qualinesti -- Dragonlance Elven Nations Trilogy, Volume Three (re-released paperback).
  • Realms of the Dragons -- Forgotten Realms anthology of all-new stories (written by Ed Greenwood, R.A. Salvatore, Elaine Cunningham, and the authors of R.A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen series) showcasing the dragons of the Forgotten Realms world (paperback).

January

  • Complete Adventurer: A Player's Guide to Stealth and Subterfuge for All Classes -- 192-page D&D hardcover for highly skilled and talented characters of all classes with new and updated core classes, prestige classes, and new uses for skills. Designed by Jesse Decker.
  • Grasp of the Emerald Claw -- 32-page Eberron softcover; the third adventure for the new Eberron Campaign Setting. Designed by Bruce R. Cordell.
  • Dragon Sword -- Dragonlance: The New Adventures series, Volume Five, an all-new Young Readers series for ages 10 and up (paperback). Written by Ree Soesbee.
  • The Rite -- Forgotten Realms The Year of the Rogue Dragons trilogy, book two. Written by Richard Lee Byers (paperback).
  • Silverfall: Stories of the Seven Sisters -- Forgotten Realms (first time in paperback). Written by Ed Greenwood.

October: Aberrations Expansion Packs & Starter Set

So, last month, I showed you a half-dozen minis from the 60-mini Aberrations expansion. Since the set goes on sale this month, you cancheck out the rest of 'em on your own (either by cracking boosters or by pondering a checklist poster at your FLGS). Still, it's nice to show off minis, so I've got five more for you. If you've been keeping up with Rob Heinsoo's Aberrations Previews, you'll have already seen four of these guys. But where Rob gave you a first peek and a notion of how each of these minis might work into your D&D game or into a D&D Minis warband, I'll give you a second look and an idea of what you'll see when you spin those minis around to get a good look at the back, sides, and all the detail covering these things from head to toe. Take a look:

Yuan-Ti Halfblood -- One fine side effect of working here at Wizards of the Coast is getting to find out definitively how you're supposed to pronounce some of the stranger critter names, such as "YOU-on-TEE" (or "s-VURF-NEE-blin.") Getting to play around with minis before they're released so I can write about them is another. Take for example, the Yuan-Ti Halfbood. This cobra-headed uncommon (which doesn't have that curly-U-pattern thing on the back of its hood) is a fine specimen of reptilian badness, ready to kill from a distance with a gracefully curved longbow that seems to resemble a pair of snakes writhing toward the wielder's hand. The rusty red-dyed leather armor and mustard-yellow loinclothlike attire nicely complements the coloration of the Yuan-Ti Halfblood's scaly flesh, which is a dark pea green. The nifty thing about the paintjob on those overlapping full-body scales is the slightly metallic/pearlescent quality of the paint that really conveys that slick-but-not-slimy quality you see on snakes. A full quiver of arrows hangs off his right hip and a subtly curving scimitar is strapped into a scabbard that's hanging on a baldric slung across his shoulder to rest at his left side. Evilly pinpointed, blood red eyes seem to be following the path of his just-released arrow to its target. And his slightly agape mouth, complete with sharp, pointy fangs, is surely emitting a breathy hiss reminiscent of an overconfident sleestak from Land of the Lost.

Mind Flayer Telepath -- Absolutely nothing about this rare mini would make anyone encountering it think they're anything but outclassed and about to become a thrall (or a light snack). Just take a look at the base of the mini, where its black, flowing skirtlike robe rests -- neatly splayed out as if the Mind Flayer Telepath has absolutely no need to move from that spot to dish out great harm to anything he sets his mind to. His sinewy arms suggest that some sort of mental power is already in use (or is about to be unleashed). In my mind, he's pointing at his target with that outstretched right arm and is gesturing with his upraised left arm to enact the "violent thrust" version of a telekinesis-like power to send that unfortunate victim hurtling many feet into the air. His exaggeratedly high-necked collar lends a "classic villain" touch to an already sinister appearance. His black-and-red, girdle-like leather belt is festooned with a small skull and what seems to be a string of finger bones. The masterstroke touch of detail on this mini, though, is the long, flowing cape hanging from the Mind Flayer Telepath's shoulders. A quick glance at the cape's coloration (compared to that of his tentacle-laden noggin) makes it readily apparent that you're looking at a trophylike garment stitched together from the hides of at least three lesser illithids. Even other mind flayers will want to steer clear of this guy.

Crow Shaman -- It's tough to even begin describing the Crow Shaman without starting with the absolutely coolest part of the mini: his cloak (which you can't fully appreciate until you have the chance to really take a look at it from all angles. The hood of the cloak resembles (or is fashioned out of) the upper half of a very large crow's head (or possibly even a crow-like kenku.) The cape portion of the cloak is where things get really impressive. It's crafted from a phenomenal number of large, black feathers, and each one is distinct and nicely detailed. The subtle, dark gray drybrushing on the feathers really helps to bring the flowing cloak to life while retaining the black-on-black feel of the erstwhile plumage. Once you've recovered from the spectacle that is the cloak, you're left with a handaxe-wielding hero that's very in-tune with nature. His grip on that handaxe seems a little high, which suggests to me that he's holding it defensively in his off-hand while his left hand busies itself with casting some sort of spell. (If your character isn't a spellcaster, you could imagine that he's calling his companions to charge forward.) Also clad in a matching leather tunic and long leather gloves (along with darker leather pants and boots), the Crow Shaman has some sort of talisman hanging on a white cord slung baldric-style across his chest that matches the belt buckle you can see peeking through there. Completing the ensemble, and offering the option of ranged combat, is a small throwing axe that's hanging at the ready. This rare mini could certainly see use as a spirit shaman (as it was designed to depict), druid, barbarian, ranger, or just about any other sort of at-home-in-the-wilderness hero (or villain.)

Gnoll Skeleton -- Like most of the other undead you'll find in your collection of D&D Miniatures, the Gnoll Skeleton is a common mini of which you'll want a handful. Unlike the other undead you've seen so far, the Gnoll Skeleton didn't spend time in the realm of the living as a human (or humanlike humanoid). I know that's pretty apparent, and even glaringly obvious, but the fact that we've got our first nonhuman humanoid undead is a pretty big deal. Making it even more nifty is how nicely the Gnoll Skeleton complements the common Gnoll mini you'll also find in the Aberrations expansion (take a look at it alongside the Gnoll Skeleton, over in Rob Heinsoo's preview article "Common Curs." The thing I find most interesting is how close the two miniatures are to one another, as far as pose and equipment go -- they're both armed with a handaxe (in the left hand), similarly styled shield, and are standing in, essentially, the same wide-stance pose -- one is an undead analog of the other. What makes all of these similarities really cool are all of the subtle differences amid them -- the gnoll skeleton's notched handaxe and shield shows their oft-used condition (compared to the Gnoll's comparatively pristine equipment). But the differences in the armor are what suggest to me that the Gnoll Skeleton isn't merely the mini you use when the Gnoll has been bumped off and raised -- it's the armor that implies that the Gnoll Skeleton is a fallen warrior from another age (perhaps even an ancestor of señor hyenaman). The Gnoll Skeleton's armor is heavier and predominantly constructed of metal pieces. While the linked metal plates that hang down, skirtlike, show a similar mindset when it comes to protective gear, the metal plates and pauldron of the Gnoll Skeleton's torso-covering armor are distinctively different from the Gnoll's black leather armor. (Suggesting that, as time passed, gnolls adopted a more swift style of combat.) No matter if you use the Gnoll Skeleton as a standard-issue undead encounter, a special effect of a second-wave fight with that Gnoll, or as a part of a gruesome gnoll family reunion, it's a mini that's sure to add a lot of interest and flavor to any encounter for which you dig them up.

Sharn Cutthroat -- As the never-before-seen offering for this month's article, this uncommon mini fills a lot of different roles. First off, the Sharn Cutthroat adds to the steadily growing number of minis that claim the Eberron Campaign Setting as their place of residence. (Though, nothing in the world makes this mini unusable in any other campaign setting.) In a similar vein, this is also the first mini from the new Eberron-spawned race known as changelings (those blank-white eyes aren't pupil-less on accident). The Sharn Cutthroat also punches in as a really dynamic rogue-type mini, adding some much-needed sneak-attacking muscle to the overall D&D Minis collection. And, lastly, she's a butt-kicking female mini that anyone would be happy to use as a PC mini. (Of course, because that changeling heritage makes the mini's apparent gender less relevant, and it's only subtle detail that skews this mini away from pure androgyny -- I'd quickly leap at the chance to portray a male rogue with the Sharn Cutthroat without reservation.) Regardless, along with Alusair Obarskyr, who presents a strong and noble character, and the pure combat ferocity embodied by the Frenzied Berserker, the stylishly dangerous Sharn Cutthroat makes a nice addition to the ranks of really cool female minis in the collection. When I first saw this mini, I thought that she was a terrific counterpart to Dragoneye's Daring Rogue -- they've both got a very active pose that makes them feel as if they're in the middle of a heated combat, but they carry themselves with a style that conveys icy-cool confidence and ability that's going to get them through any situation unscathed. The Sharn Cutthroat's pose makes her seem as if she has been in the midst of a melee (with her simple, but nicely sculpted rapier) and has suddenly shifted her weight backward (motion that's nicely captured by the shifting of her cloak) to whip out and throw a dagger into someone's throat. And with four more throwing daggers strapped to her thighs, she is ready to turn any opportune target into a pincushion. Her brown leather armor is protective, but lightweight, and the remainder of her black clothing (complete with SWAT teamlike kneepads) seems well suited to all the many and varied types of activities you'd expect out of a truly formidable rogue.

October: Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead

A 192-page hardcover that offers a comprehensive look at undead creatures and characters in the D&D world, Libris Mortis is to undead and other related subject matter what >{{Draconomicon is to dragons and all things draconic. Essentially, when you peel back the covers to reveal the innards of Libris Mortis, you will find stuff that's useful to undead, for those who make (or command) undead, and those who fight undead. In the world of D&D, that pretty much covers everyone.

So, last month, I passed along the back cover copy, a chunk from the book's introduction that discusses the origin and meaning of its title, and a goodly sized handful of feats. This month, I've got a galley to go through so that I can select some particularly interesting (and illustrated) bits to show you. Let's just rattle through the chapters and see what shakes out.

Chapter One, All About Undead, is all about undead -- providing information about and insight into the various manifestations of undeath, the physiology of the undead (including a fascinating and unsettling page-long table detailing the dietary requirements of 105 different types of undead), and sections on the psychology, society, and theology of undead. This first chapter ends with several pages offering a glimmering light of hope for those characters bent on fighting undead, with information about identifying undead, exploiting their weaknesses, effective weapon choices, useful spells, defensive tactics -- and most importantly -- information about restoring ability damage/drain, negative levels, and lost levels.

Chapter Two is ridden with character options (predominantly for undead characters, but with bits and pieces scattered throughout for those who still draw breath.) You'll find a mausoleum's worth of feats (like the ones I showed you last month) and undead monster classes (built like the monster classes you'll remember from Savage Species). And Chapter Three presents a desiccated clawful of prestige classes (both new and updated) that offer different options to undead, those who associate with undead, and those who fight against them. Take a look at a prestige class that gives spellcasters with a desire to command incorporeal undead a frightening facility for doing so: the Master of Shrouds.

Chapter Four presents "an array of spells designed for use against (or in the service of) undead creatures." You'll find stuff to add to the repertoire of your assassin, blackguard, cleric, druid, paladin, sorcerer, or wizard. (When you flip through a copy, make sure your stomach is settled before you turn to page 68 and see the illustration for a spell called necrotic burst.) Chapter Five is filled with Equipment, including special items and alchemical substances, positoxins (essentially holy-powered poisons), magic items and weapons, and undead grafts for those of you with characters who can't wait for undeath to acquire a set of Vampiric Fangs or an always-handy Mohrg's Tongue. Chapter Six is the part of the book most players will wish hadn't seen the printing press -- a horde of undead monsters ranging from CR 1/2 up to CR 16. As you can probably imagine, you'll find an interesting variety of creatures that range from undead elementals (created with the Necromental template) to the fearsome brain in a jar (only in D&D, Lovecraft, and B movies could a brain in a jar be a horrifying threat -- here, it's a CR 4 monster.) Check them out:

Chapter Seven finishes off the book with a wealth of information and material for incorporating Undead in the Campaign. You'll find advice on using undead as monsters as well as the masterminds behind your plots, and strategies and tactics for undead creatures to use in combat (so you can take advantage of all that necromantic nastiness they're packing). You'll also uncover a large section that will help clarify incorporealness and how to adjudicate its effects. Just in case you didn't get your fix back in Chapter Six, you'll find a pile of sample undead, such as ghosts, liches, vampires ready-to-use in your campaign, a variety of skeletons that range in size from small to gargantuan (from dire rat skeleton to roc skeleton), a similar assortment of sample zombies (ranging from the small dire rat zombie to the huge megaraptor zombie). An assortment of undeath-fixated cults have recruitment literature available toward the back of the chapter, just before you get to a number of different sample adventure sites, which are mapped out and described (room-by-room) for you to drop into your game as ready-made encounters. (You'll find several useful maps throughout this chapter, like this one -- a series of catacombs that is accompanied by adventure material designed to challenge a well-equipped and determined party of 13th-level adventurers, though you could stock it with undead creatures of your own choosing so that you can use the map for a band of heroes of just about any level.

Libris Mortis: Book of the Undead comes out this month. So, you should be able to find it at your FLGS, flip through, and discover why it will have your PCs running back to town for more holy water throughout their adventuring careers.

October: Shining South

You got to see the back cover copy last month. This month, I got hold of a partial galley, which was enough for me to pull out one of the interesting, and very Shining South-flavored prestige classes from this 192-page hardcover. The prestige class details one of the more distant regions in the Forgotten Realms: the Halruaan magehound.




November: Sharn: City of Towers

Last month, we got to pass along a three-track sample from the bonus soundtrack CD you'll find inside the first printing of Sharn: City of Towers. And back in August, I offered up the back cover copy for this 192-page hardcover that's filled with tons of material detailing one of the cornerstones of the Eberron campaign setting.

This month, it seems only fair that I grab some excerpts to show off. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of detail you can expect, I thought I'd show you how sections of the city are described, focusing on one small section of the Upper Menthis Plateau section of the Menthis Plateau Quarter: the University District -- home to the "second-rate" Morgrave University.

One of the highly useful (and very portable) features you'll find scattered throughout Sharn: City of Towers is the sample NPCs. You'll encounter generic "archetype" characters, such as "city watch captain" and "low-level human mugger" as well as more fleshed-out descriptions of "Prominent NPCs" and even sidebar-type entries for NPC characters that will serve as excellent enemies, allies, clients, or contacts. These sidebars include enough background information and descriptive text to set just about any DM's mind whirling in several adventure hook directions at once.

Take a look at the description of a character an adventuring party might encounter whilst exploring the campus of Morgrave University (or anywhere else in the city, for that matter): Dala Arand.

Dala Arand

Female human Expert 4/Rogue 2; CR 5; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 4d6 (Exp) plus 2d6 (Rog); hp 23; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 16 (+2 Dex, +4 +1 studded leather), touch 12, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +4; Grap +3; Atk +7 melee (1d6, +1 rapier); Full Atk +7 melee (1d6, +1 rapier); SA Sneak attack +1d6; SQ Evasion, trapfinding; AL LE; SV Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +5; Str 9, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 13.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +10, Decipher Script +11, Diplomacy +3, Disable Device +11, Gather Information +3, Intimidate +3, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (geography) +10, Knowledge (local) +10, Knowledge (nature) +11, Open Lock +11, Search +11, Survival +9; Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Weapon Finesse.

Possessions:+1 studded leather, +1 rapier, potion of darkvision, potion of shield of faith (+5), potion of tongues, glyphbook.

The young scholar greets you with a smile, crinkling the sun-weathered skin around her bright blue eyes. She wears a broad-brimmed hat over her close-cropped dark hair. Her clothes are practical, including a number of pouches hanging from her belt. She looks ready to take off on an expedition, even in the placid surroundings of the university.

Starting Attitude: Friendly

Modifiers: PCs discuss Xen'drik's history competently (+2), PCs give her a trinket recovered from Xen'drik (+4), PCs ask about the Emerald Claw (-6).

If Hostile: Keeps up friendly façade, but requests Emerald Claw assassins to target the PCs.

If Unfriendly: Drops friendly façade, tries to end audience quickly, spreads malicious rumors about the PCs at the university.

If Indifferent: Acts friendly, talks at a surface level about topics relevant to Xen'drik (may become condescending).

If Friendly: Talks animatedly about matters relating to Xen'drik, possibly going over PCs' heads with esoteric details. Willing to include PCs on an expedition.

If Helpful: Very open, helps in any way possible.

Chapter Three, Power and Politics, offers insight into just the very surface of the phenomenally complex web of intrigue that spans across virtually every aspect of the city (from its highest towers all the way to its darkest depths). You'll find information about how the government of Sharn operates (with details about the highly influential City Council) as well as information about how each of the Dragonmarked Houses fits into the City of Towers. One particularly interesting sidebar, which you'll find on page 118, describes how and why a PC might become involved in the intrigue of the city (and beyond) as a spy. Along with various individuals and organizations that might employ spies, the sidebar includes information on compensation and favors a character might earn (these are minor favors, such as a bonus to a Gather Information or Knowledge skill check, a discount on merchandise, minor spellcasting services, or even access to contraband -- which seems to open the door to more intrigue).

I think Chapter Four offers some of the most interesting information in the book. This chapter on Law and Order sets forth many of the guidelines, strictures, laws, and rules your characters will have to work under, cope with, or work around. While the immense amount of detail about the various people and places you'll encounter in the City of Towers fleshes out the actual location of Sharn, a lot of what makes it a "real" city is what you'll find here. By adding the complexity of laws and the enforcement (or lack thereof) of those laws, you bring the city to life in a way that can truly add to the experience. Of the several sidebars you'll find in Chapter Four (including "What's Illegal in Sharn?", "Prisons of Sharn," and "Criminal Records") is my favorite: one that details the inevitable situation of what happens when soldiers of the Watch or the Guard (yes, Sharn has both) encounter your characters.

Taking Sides

A wealthy nobleman starts a fight with one of the adventurers. After a few blows have been exchanged, a Watch patrol comes around the corner. The guards put a stop to the battle, and the sergeant asks for an explanation. What happens next?

Unfortunately, Sharn is a very corrupt city. The soldiers of the Watch and the Guard respect people who appear to be wealthy, and are happy to accept bribes. In any sort of "your word versus mine" situation, each side in the conflict should choose one member to make a Diplomacy or Bluff check; the guard will accept the word of the side that gets the better result. The following modifiers apply:

Situation Modifier
Resident of upper ward +6
Wearing royal outfit +6
Wearing noble's outfit +4
Member of dragonmarked house +3
Ecclesiarch +3
Each impartial witness +2
Wearing courtier's outfit +2
Shifter, half-orc, or goblinoid -1
Wearing traveler's outfit -2
Non-resident -2
Warforged or changeling -2
Wearing peasant outfit -4
Resident of lower ward -4
Monstrous humanoid -4
Not a citizen of Breland -10

Bribes also help. A character gets a +1 to the roll for every 2 gp he slips the guard, up to a total of +5 for 10 gp. Each additional 10 gp adds another +1 to the roll, up to 50 gp. Thereafter, every 25 gp adds another +1 to the roll. So 11 pp will provide a +12 bonus.

These are guidelines, and the DM can always adjust them based on the specific guard involved. A sergeant who is a shifter, half-orc, warforged, or changeling will usually give a +2 bonus to members of his own race.

The guards of Tavick's Landing do not accept bribes and are not positively influenced by clothing (the -4 penalty for wearing peasant clothing still applies).

Chapter Five offers a number of Guilds and Organizations for your characters to join or thwart, including adventurers guilds, the bardic Circle of Song, wizards circles, mercenary guilds, and organized crime "families." Chapter Six provides several character-building options including new feats, equipment, prestige classes, spells, and magic items. Chapter Seven introduces new monsters and information about NPC encounters around the city. And while relatively brief, Chapter Eight provides advice and guidelines for running an entire campaign within the unlimited "confines" of the City of Towers (including a table for generating a corpse for the purpose of sparking a new adventure.)

Lastly, if you haven't done so yet, you really should pop over to the Eberron Soundtrack Sample Tracks page. You can download and listen to "Cut to the Chase," "Sharn: City of Towers," and "Exploring Xen'drik" -- over fifteen (out of 45+) minutes of cinema-quality music composed specifically for use in your Eberron campaign. You'll get an idea of how nicely the CD will work as background music (for any D&D game, really), as well as a hint at how varied and different each track will be. Since Sharn is a melting pot of cultures, and the leaping-off point for many adventures all across Eberron, it only made sense to include music that's evocative of many of those different destinations (including the Mournland, Sarlona, the Talenta Plains, the Shadow Marches, and Xen'drik).

Here's the run-down of all nine tracks:

1. "Cut to the Chase"
2. "Sharn: City of Towers"
3. "Into the Dungeon"
4. "Clash with the Lord of Blades"
5. "Dreams of the Inspired"
6. "Across the Talenta Plains"
7. "Orc Hunters in the Shadow Marches"
8. "Exploring Xen'drik"
9. "Reprise (Main Theme)"

November: Complete Arcane: A Player's Guide to Arcane Magic for All Classes

Following on the heels of the combat-centric Complete Warrior and the deity-powered Complete Divine,Complete Arcane: A Player's Guide to Arcane Magic for All Classes comes through with just what you'd expect out of the third book in this series -- 192 hard-covered pages of material focused on arcane magic-wielding characters of all classes. Including new and updated core classes, prestige classes, spells, magic items, and arcane-related monsters (with information on fighting, joining, and summoning them), Complete Arcane is magically infused with a wealth of material that will enhance the arcane magic aspect of any campaign and even offers a chapter's worth of detailed information about interesting options and ways to incorporate arcane spellcasters in a campaign.

Quickly now, read the back cover copy and we'll move on:

Master Eldritch Secrets and Formidable Power

Myth and mystery surround those who wield the awe-inspiring might of arcane magic. Whether through ancient knowledge, innate talent, or supernatural gift, these formidable and versatile spellcasters command powers beyond measure.

This supplement for the D&D game provides everything you need to expand the power of arcane magic for characters of any class. Along with new base classes, prestige classes, feats, spells, monsters, and magic items, Complete Arcane provides guidelines for spell duels, arcane organizations, and other aspects of a campaign world imbued with magic.

Like its predecessors, Complete Arcane starts off with a chapter that introduces new and updated core classes. (In this case, it's the warlock, warmage, and wu jen.) Chapter Two rattles through nineteen prestige classes (many of which are updated versions of the magic-slinging prestige classes you've been playing out of Tome and Blood. Chapter Three compiles a remarkable one-stop-shopping list of feats for arcane spellcasters of all stripes. Chapter Four provides a library's worth of spells, including such evocative evocations as defenestrating sphere and earthbolt. (You just can't go wrong with a spell with "defenestrating" in its name.)

Chapter Five offers up a pile of new magic items (and magic item types, such as the potionlike magic tiles, fruit, and wafers), including staves, rods, wands, and miscellaneous magic items (including the Canaith Mandolin and the other instruments of the bards once sought by my favorite character back in the days of 1st edition). Chapter Six is populated by arcane monsters (creatures infused with, created by, or otherwise associated with arcane magic). Chapter Seven rounds out the book with a wealth of information dealing with arcane spellcasters in your campaign, including ideas about how different spellcasting classes might (or might not) fit into society, advice for creating adventures capable of challenging PCs capable of flying or disintegrating their way past obstacles, arcane duels, arcane organizations, and arcane lore.

December: Races of Destiny

This 192-page hardcover is the second in the series of "Races of _____" books (Preceded by Races of Stone), which details the highly adaptive races that inhabit virtually every corner of the D&D world, with a focus on humans, half-elves, half-orcs, and an all-new race: illumians. Check out the back cover copy:



Heroes Adapted to Adventure

Hailing from towns and villages in every corner of the world, resourceful and resilient adventurers emerge from among the races of destiny: humans, half-elves, half-orcs, and illumians. With an unparalleled drive to explore and experience, these diverse individuals have created names to last throughout the ages.

This supplement for the D&D game provides detailed information on the psychology, society, culture, behavior, religion, folklore, and other aspects of the races of destiny, including the illumians -- a new race presented here. In addition to new subraces and monster races playable as characters, Races of Destiny also provides new prestige classes, feats, spells, magic items, equipment, and guidelines for crafting memorable adventures within human settlements.

If you picked up and flipped through Races of Stone, you've already got a good idea of the kind of detail you'll find inside Races of Destiny. Next month, I'll see what I can do about firming up your notion of what's inside by dredging up some excerpts for you.

December: Map Folio 3-D

If you've ever checked out the Fold-Up Paper Models web feature, created by master cartographers extraordinaire, Rob Lazzaretti, Dennis Kauth, and Todd Gamble, you've got a head start in understanding what you'll find inside this latest (and third) addition to the Map Folio line of accessories.

If you haven't ever checked out the Fold-Up Paper Models (even after I provided that nice link back there), perhaps the back cover copy from the Map Folio 3-Dwill do the trick for you:

Set the Scene for Adventure

Inside you'll discover intimidating walls, comfortable cottages, a bustling smithy, and other three-dimensional structures. This accessory for the D&D game provides a small village of highly detailed cardstock buildings, walls, and other structures for you to assemble and use in any game. Scaled for use with Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures, each building may be used individually or combined with others to create a virtually limitless array of towns and other settlements. Full-color exteriors enhance your game and capture your players' imagination, while black-and-white interiors allow characters to fully explore each model.

Originally developed for the Fold-Up Paper Models feature on the official D&D website, these models are the third in a new series of materials created to help you add flavor and functionality to your D&D game.

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.

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