Previews
The Releases Just Keep Coming
Previews for April and Beyond
By Mat Smith

You may have noticed this as well -- we keep putting out new books every month. Every now and then, we put a new minis expansion out there. My bookshelves and minis trays keep getting more and more crowded, but I seem to find room for each one of them when they become available. While building up a staggering collection of rulebooks, campaign settings, supplements, adventures, accessories, and minis is a lot of fun, it also means a lot of work -- 'cause you folks want to know about all of them. And I can't blame you. This is some pretty cool stuff we're doing these days. So, while I do my best to keep up with what's coming down the pike, and try to pass along nifty bits and pieces, you'll have to allow for the occasional lapse in the flow and the possibility of change in the book/mini when they hit the shelves. I'll do all I can to get as much coolness in front of you as possible. Your job is to enjoy it as much as possible. Lucky for all of us, the job's going to be easy this month, 'cause I've got many nifty things to show off.

Check it out:

April: Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations

Back in February, I passed along the back cover copy for this book. Last month, I gave you a look at a chunk of the introduction, a section on beholder variants, and a couple of cool illustrations (an elder orb and an illithid villain from one of the book's mini adventures.) This month, the book goes on sale, so you're sure to find an excerpt or two surfacing on the D&D Main Page.


April: Races of Eberron

I gave you back cover text back in February. Last month, I set you up with the introduction to the book -- complete with the chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what's inside this 192-page hardcover. This month, as this latest addition to the "Race Series" goes on sale, I thought I'd show you a couple examples of the character-building material suitable for any campaign in any campaign world you'll find inside, starting with some blocks of text nestled within the first few pages of each of the races' chapters -- short explanations of how you can incorporate each race into your campaign world.

And, you can see a good sampling of the many feats available to characters that hail from the races covered in the book. (Note that last one -- a lot of other folk are detailed in the Other Races chapter of the book.)

Finally, as just one example of the astonishingly detailed prestige classes featured inside, check out this arcane spellcasting reason to play a changeling -- complete with abilities that emulate her ability to alter her physical form, making the essence of magic more malleable -- the Recaster:

Recaster

"Magic is very like a changeling. A twist here, a pull there, and one spell suddenly becomes another." --Ziv, recaster and General Studies Chair of Metamagical Physics at Morgrave University

Most changelings focus on their ability to alter their own forms, emphasizing one mode of personal transformation or another. The recaster approaches life with a somewhat different philosophy -- to her, the change her own body is capable of is a simple reflection of the mutability of the world around her. Magic is at once the most alterable element of the world and also a powerful means of affecting transformation, so the recaster turns to magic as a way to extend her own abilities.

May: Heroes of Battle

This 160-page hardcover, intended for both players and Dungeon Masters, is filled with information about adventuring on and around battlefields. At its core, the idea behind the book is to provide information, guidelines, options, and material that put your characters in war-time situations where their actions are crucial to turning the tide of war.

Last month, I gave you the back cover copy. This month, I thought I'd give you a bit of an example of the sort of thing your heroes might need to do to help the good guys win the big battle. Check out a couple of sections of text pulled from the first few pages of Chapter One: The War Campaign.

As the book progresses, you'll find page after page after page of advice, information, guidelines, suggestions, and tools to help you create campaigns, adventures, and encounters that will plunge characters into trouble. Take, for example, this small chunk from Chapter Three, which offers up a ready-made encounter that you'd expect to see in any war-time scenario.

So far, you might think that Heroes of Battle is a DM-only book -- but fear not, there's a healthy dose of character-specific material jammed in here as well. You'll find new feats, spells, equipment, magic items, and more, including four highly detailed prestige classes, such as this fearsome offering, which drives home one aspect of what characters crafted for a stint of battlefield adventures might be like: the Dread Commando.

Two more pages of material further explains how to play a dread commando, how others react to them, how they organize themselves, and more -- including a sample NPC you wouldn't want to have on your trail and some game lore.

May: Champions of Ruin

If you've ever wanted to delve into the depths of evil in the Forgotten Realms, this 160-page hardcover is just what you've been waiting for. Filled with information, guidelines, advice, and material for creating and playing evil and morally ambiguous characters, villains, and organizations, both players and DMs will find plenty of stuff that will appeal to their darker nature. Check out this selection of text pulled from a couple of places in the introduction:




Introduction

The conflict between good and evil has occurred throughout Toril's history and continues to permeate the day-to-day lives of its people -- but neither good nor evil ever manages to get the upper hand for long.

These archetypes tantalize and terrorize: reavers, criminals, miscreants, antiheroes, pirates, murderers, cultists, seducers, servants of dark gods, villains, and archvillains. Evil compels. Whether it's attractive and seductive or depraved and disgusting, evil stimulates our imaginations and evokes strong responses.

What are heroes without great threats -- and what if you are one of these threats? What grand schemes can you prepare and evil designs can you execute if you're not hampered by good ideals?

Champions of Ruin offers many opportunities for both players and Dungeon Masters interested in exploring the darker side of Faerūn. Champions of Ruin provides players and Dungeon Masters ideas, options, and tools for incorporating evil into a campaign. It provides new evil races, feats, and magic items. Initiate feats lend flavor to evil divine spellcasters. Supremely evil, powerful villains give the DM a gallery of new foes, patrons, or friends for the player characters. The book as a whole offers a wealth of material for expanding the role of evil in a Forgotten Realms campaign. Alternatively, much of the book can be used with minor adjustments in any setting.

As you read on through the Introduction, you'll see a number of different philosophies about evil, which will help you get a grip on what you want to do with evil characters in your campaign. Chapter One presents three new races that are designed to take advantage of the other tools you'll find in the book. (Finally, you can play a draegloth, if you're so inclined. And if you've been reading the War of the Spider Queen novel series, you just might.) Of course, if you're going to be evil, you should shop around in Chapter Two for a little help in your quest for badness. There, you'll find over a dozen feats (such as Corrupt Spell and Dirty Rat), more than forty new spells, and a collection of magic items. Chapter Three provides a half dozen new prestige classes that your despicable characters might attain. Chapter Four explores evil organizations, providing detailed information about each one, including how to join and what you get out of it (and what it costs you.) The Realms is a big place, and scattered throughout the world of Faerūn are a number of evil places -- detailed in Chapter Five are evil nodes, shadow nodes, evil shrines, and more places of note that hold dark power for those who wish to unleash it. Once you've seen the kinds of things you can use when creating characters, villains, and campaigns tainted by evil, you're probably ready to explore the reasons behind what you and your fellow players want to do with your dastardly characters. Chapter Six provides advice, guidelines, and information that you should keep in mind as you create and play your campaign of evil. You'll also encounter a number of fully fleshed out NPCs that your characters might end up working for or against (whether they know it or not). Take care when you get to Chapter Seven: Those last pages of the book are reserved for the most legendary evil beings to ever plague the Forgotten Realms.

Next month, I'll discover what dark rites allow me to pull an example or two of the material you'll find inside the dark pages of this book.

June: Dungeon Master's Guide II

Get ready for 288 pages of material designed to help you run your game -- faster, stronger, better. Filled with pages and pages of information, advice, and guidelines that will help you improve your game, DMG II also offers up a ton of ready-made traps, locations, treasures, and more -- including a fully detailed town -- that will help you when working up your game sessions and when things take a turn for which you're not completely prepared. (Which, I understand, seems to happen to DMs from time to time.) I won't go into detail or specifics about what this invaluable hardcover supplement holds within its pages, but I will pass on the text you'll find on the back of the book.

Become the Best DM Ever

This supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons game contains a toolbox of timesaving aids and options that will help you prepare and run memorable adventures and rich campaigns. Inside are ideas, advice, and ready-made material that will help you become a truly spectacular DM. With gaming advice, NPCs, devious traps, new magic items, and a fully detailed town, Dungeon Master's Guide II helps you keep your players on the edges of their seats.

June: Five Nations

If you're already playing, preparing to start, or are considering a jump into the exciting world of Eberron, you're going to find this 160-page hardcover to be a great source of information about the powerful nations that form the core of the continent of Khorvaire. Again, more next month, but for now, I give you the back cover text:




Danger Knows No Borders

Secure your traveling papers and jump aboard the lightning rail as it hurtles across the Five Nations. Once united as the kingdom of Galifar then sundered by the Last War, Aundair, Breland, the Mournland, Karrnath, and Thrane now enjoy a tenuous peace. Regardless of your destination, ready your weapons as well as your wits -- intrigue, opportunity, risk, and rewards await at every stop.

Inside this book, you'll find everything you need to explore the mighty kingdoms that form the heart of Khorvaire:

  • Comprehensive overviews of each kingdom, including its postwar status, government, and economy, as well as important locations, communities, organizations, and NPCs
  • Detailed, full-color maps of each nation and its capital city
  • Spells and magic items developed during the Last War
  • Descriptions for battlefields, ruins, cities, and other notable places, including five fully detailed adventure sites
  • Information for creating characters who hail from each of the Five Nations
  • New monsters and monster templates

June: d20 Apocalypse

So, if you've played around with thed20 Modern Roleplaying Game, you've probably discovered how flexible and mutable it is. You know it allows you to customize your game to create just about any kind of campaign set in the modern world. With d20 Future, you gained access to starships, robots, mecha, cybernetics, and more gear, gadgets, and game material for exploring the infinite possibilities of the world-to-come. Exploring the historical eras spanning from the Renaissance to WWII became possible with d20 Past.

But, if you haven't yet found the rules and options you need for playing some sort of mutant in a post-nuclear holocaust setting, don't worry -- it's not the end of the world. Well, okay, maybe it is. Regardless of how you want to bring about the end of the world as we know it for your own entertainment and gaming pleasure, you'll find what you need inside d20 Apocalypse. (And, you don't have to play mutants in a radiation-filled world since the book has plenty of other flavors of armageddon available.) Check out the back cover copy, and we'll scavenge some stuff to show you next month -- if we're all still here, that is.

It Is The End of the World

In the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, alien invasion, supernatural Armageddon, or some other terrible cataclysm, life as we know it has ceased to be. Doomsday has left in its wake a world filled with mutants, scavengers, rogue technology, environmental hazards, or other perils. In d20 Apocalypse, heroes must salvage the remnants of civilization and survive the dangers that await in a grim future.

July: Angelfire Booster Packs

Okay, as I'm writing this, we're all still eagerly awaiting the release of the Deathknell expansion. (Though, I did get to crack open a couple boosters a little while back, for a photoshoot we did featuring Deathknell minis. First mini pulled? A Beholder -- this is going to be a good expansion.) So, while all of us are still snatching up boosters filled with undead-flavored creamy centers, I know that you and I can multitask enough to love Deathknell while looking forward to Angelfire.

This month, I got to grab the Master Paint versions of the three minis I want the most. And now, I shall show them to you. (Next month, you'll get three more.)

Kobold Soldier -- If there's a kobold in an expansion, you can be sure it's going to show up in the first article I do. And this common mini is no exception. At first glance, you'll immediately notice the striking resemblance this mini bears to the Kobold Warrior from the Harbinger expansion. But once you get past the spear and light armor, the Kobold Soldier stands out as being a cut above the Warrior. (Perhaps this guy is from an elite regiment, where the Warrior is more of a grunt.) The Kobold Soldier's spear is far more refined and the armor is significantly better. Not just wearing a leather jerkin, the Kobold Soldier is protected by a chainlike shirt, plus overlapping plates of what might be heavy leather cover his shoulders and hips. A studded leather collar protects his neck, and leather bracers cover his forearms. It's going to take some work to dispatch this kobold and the three-dozen reinforcements he brought with him.

If you check out the tip of his tail, you'll see a daggerlike blade has been affixed there -- an exotic weapon (from Savage Species) that takes advantage of the kobold's highly flexible tail. Belted at his right hip is a short sword -- this is one well-armed kobold. Even the build of the Kobold Warrior puts him a half-head taller than the Kobold Warrior. (He's either a bit older and has grown more, or just is bigger -- probably because he ate his Wheaties or whatever the koboldy equivalent would be.) In fact, if you take the pose of the minis into consideration, the Kobold Soldier looks like he's about the same size as the Kobold Champion from the Aberrations expansion. And, he looks like he's capable of accompanying that mini into combat -- this is a dangerous little reptilian. If you look at the pose of the Kobold Soldier, you can see that he is turned almost 180° at the waist, suggesting that he has spun quickly around to find out what was foolish enough to try sneaking up on a band of kobolds. (They've got Alertness as a racial feat, you know.) Whatever it is, it hasn't shaken this guy -- his bright red, darkvision-charged eyes are fixed on his new target and his jaw is set with calm determination. The Kobold Soldier (and the rest of his patrol) are more than confident that they're about to handle whatever it is they've encountered.

If you like kobolds, you'll want to check out the "Ecology of the Kobold" article in the June issue (#332) of Dragon Magazine.

Imp -- At last, it's Tiny miniature #2. Following in the footsteps of the Quasit from the Giants of Legend expansion, the Imp is an Uncommon mini that every evil Sorcerer and Wizard would want riding on his shoulder. Nicely adapted from the illustration on page 51 in the Monster Manual, the Imp may be little, but he's packing a whole lot of concentrated evil onto that 1/4-inch base. Crouched down on clawed feet, with upraised wings (nicely shaded from brick red to dark, dried-blood red) ready to launch into flight, the Imp is poised to spring into action. His right hand seems to be clenching and unclenching in anticipation of what's about to happen. His left hand is tightly balled into a fist that seems to conceal some sort of unpleasant surprise. The Imp's poison-laced tail is curled around and held aloft, almost as if it's being displayed in a hostile or rude gesture toward his enemy. Beady yellow eyes gleam evilly from his horned face. A devilishly wide smile shows off an impressive array of sharp little teeth that could certainly make short work of someone's unprotected throat. The Imp is just a little, red ball of malice with wings.

Large Copper Dragon -- Back in January, when I wrote about the Large Blue Dragon, I said that the blue was my favorite chromatic dragon. I almost mentioned that if I had my way, the next large metallic dragon we'd do would also be my favorite -- the Copper. And by some serendipitous turn of events, I now get to show you the next large metallic dragon we're doing -- the rare Large Copper Dragon. And I know that each set's minis seem to get better and better, but I have to say that this has got to be the nicest dragon we've ever done -- the detailed paint job is absolutely beautiful. Take your pick of illustrative reference from page 82 of the Monster Manual, or pages 45 and 232 from Draconomicon -- this is a dead-on depiction of this prankster wyrm. The species-specific traits, such as the smooth brow plates forming into two flat horns and the short face with no beak, chin blade, and jaw frill, are all captured in detail. The copper's wings, which trail along its spine and down its tail, provide the last distinctive physiological trait of the copper dragon (which make it easy to distinguish from a distant bronze dragon when in flight.) Intense, metallic, green eyes pierce out from the dragon's smooth brow. Its mouth is slightly open and reveals its sharp teeth as it speaks or prepares to exhale a stream of acid or cone of slow gas. (Though, if you look at the dragon's face straight-on, the mouth (and eyes) seem to be grinning at you, as if he's joking with you or enjoying a particularly clever riddle.) The burnished coloration of the copper's scales is remarkable. With a strong metallic copper washed with black to pick out the details, the real masterstroke of detail is in the greenish patina you'll find forming in numerous places. The paint job on the wings is also worth pointing out, since the actual webbing of the wings doesn't have a metallic sheen to it (which makes sense) and fades to a beautiful, dark, bluish-green color at its trailing edge. I like the small tears and rents in the webbing along its outer edge as well -- it gives a sense of age and experience to the dragon. Pose-wise, the Large Copper Dragon is somewhat static, with all four legs firmly on the ground (though the left, front claw is resting on [or gripping] a big rock). The wings are upraised, fully poised to sweep the dragon into the air, but he really seems as if he's more interested in some clever banter before the fireworks begin.

As always, keep your web surfing eyes on the D&D Minis page for preview articles written by the lovely and talented Rob Heinsoo. (Which are posting just about every Thursday, I believe.) We'll overlap on what we're showing off on occasion, but you'll always get something new out of what we're passing along. Since Rob's got the stat card files in front of him, he usually has some interesting skirmish-related stuff to pass along -- I just have the minis in front of me, so I goob over how pretty they are and get to exercise the ability to turn the mini around to tell you what you can't see on the other side of the 2D jpg image you're looking at.

There it is.

Excerpts

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.


©1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.