It's not a pop quiz -- that's just the look and feel of this month's article. I've got a lot of things to cover and not enough time or information to shoot your way right now. (By the time this goes live, Gen Con will have come and gone, but it sure is impacting the flow of things around here right now.) Add to the frenetic pace of the release schedule with the curious combination of products that are almost way-too-vast-to-summarize (like Magic of Incarnum) and others that are so straightforward, there's not terribly much upon which to elaborate (the Race Series Gift Set, for example). Fortunately, other stuff, such as d20 Cyberscape and the Underdark expansion for the D&D Miniatures game, pick up the slack and give me something to show off.
Check it out.
You saw back cover text from this 224-page hardcover back in July. Last month, I passed along some of the introductory text, which explained a bit about incarnum and how it works, along with a handful of incarnum feats that any character could take to tap into the power of this intriguing new magical substance.
Seeing as this book introduces an entirely new magical substance, its accompanying rules system, and various and sundry ways in which to incorporate it into your game (for example, base classes, prestige classes, spells, and so on), it's kinda tough to figure out what the ideal excerpt might be. I want to show something that gives you a good idea of what incarnum does, while not requiring you to wade through several chapters of support text to fully appreciate it. Since the book goes on sale this month (and you can explore the book firsthand at your FLGS), I think I'll leave well enough alone and let the excerpts selected by the designers/developers do the heavy lifting -- check them out on the D&D Main Page and flip through a copy of the book when it surfaces in your FLGS this month.
You'll find back cover text in July's In the Worksarticle. Last month, I gave you a look at the introduction and text that described how you might go about incorporating the two double-sided poster maps into your D&D campaign (using the 16-page adventure booklet) or D&D Miniatures skirmish play.
I don't have a lot to add to that, but I did want to mention once more that you can find additional suggestions on how the maps can be re-used and variant encounters that use the Fantastic Location maps inside the pages of Dungeon Magazine, RPGA adventures, and somewhere around here on the D&D or D&D Minis webpages.
(Since one of those poster maps -- the Fane of Lolth -- is the official battlemat for the D&D Miniatures 2005 Championship tournament, you can get a look at it over here.)
Again, I can't add much more than what I've already said about this one. You saw back cover text in July, and I've just been reiterating the fact that the author of this 32-page adventure, Christopher Perkins, is a guy who knows what he's doing behind the DM screen. So, take a look through this one. Whether you run it as-is in your campaign, tailor it to fit your world a little more, pull out choice encounters and NPCs, or just draw inspiration from its expertly crafted design, it'd be well worth it. And if you want to go back to the well for more, flip through Dungeon Magazine's Adventure Path series titled The Shackled City, which released as a hardcover compilation back in July. Chris was one of the instrumental authors of that series.
Back in July, you saw back cover text for this softcovered, 96-page supplement for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game. Last month, I gave you a glimpse at what lies within this cyberpunk-flavored book, with a chapter-by-chapter rundown of its contents (pausing here and there to show off one of the prestige classes, a few programs you might employ when running in the VRNet, and the description of the book's new campaign setting: the CyberRave campaign).
This month, the book is on sale, so you can pick it up and scan through it on your own. But, while you're here, I thought I'd show you an assortment of cybernetic enhancements with which your characters might gear up before leaping into futuristic trouble.
Remember Heroes of Battle? Whereas that first title in the Genre Series provided a war chest of information for playing a campaign based in or around a time of war, Heroes of Horror is the follow-up title that provides a tomb full of rules, information, guidelines, and material for immersing your campaign in a creepy realm of horror. For an idea of what you'll find inside, turn on all your lights, lock your doors, and take a look at the back cover text from this 160-page hardcover-o'-frights:
I don't know a lot about this book just yet, but its title does seem to suggest that you're going to find a wealth of magic and magic-related material within its 160 hardcovered pages -- and that it's primarily for your Eberron campaign. (Not that you can't incorporate this stuff into your Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, or homebrewed campaign world with little or no effort.) So, if the title of the book gave you a good idea of what's inside, the text on the back cover should really drive home what's in there. Take a look:
Just in time to hit stores and wish lists for the holiday gift-giving season, the D&D Race Series Gift Set will make a fine addition to your gaming shelf or that of your favorite Dungeon Master. (Keeping your DM happy is a good thing.) If you remember the D&D Core Rulebook Gift Set you've got a great idea of what you'll be getting with this thing. Packaged in a sturdy-yet-decorative slipcase is a set of three books some folks like to call "the Race Series." (That'd be: Races of Stone,Races of the Wild, and Races of Destiny.) It's pretty straightforward, and not a bad way to expand your character-building options in one fell swoop.
October: Special Edition Dungeon Master's Guide
Ever since the Special Edition Player's Handbook hit stores, folks have been remarking: "They should do this with all three core rulebooks." Coincidentally -- or not -- it's time to add another leatherbound rulebook to your most decorative of bookshelves -- the Special Edition Dungeon Master's Guide. Also bound in embossed, black leather (identical in style to the SEPHB), this fine reference will sport a new cover design (akin to the DMG), the same gilt-edged pages, and a blue marker ribbon -- along with errata.
We're one month closer to November and the release of the Underdark expansion. And while it's sad to think that we have to wait, at least there's the opportunity to get a little look at what lies ahead. Last month, I showed you the Kobold Miner, Artemis Entreri, and the Roper. And good ol' Rob Heinsoo has probably been writing up his Check-Back-Every-Thursday preview articles that show off minis and give you a little info on how they'd work in skirmish play. (See the miniatures page.)
So we've still got just under a couple months to wait. Be strong. Take heart. And take a look at three more minis for which you'll want to make space on your shelf.
Iron Golem -- The only downside to this mini is that it's not one of the Large Uncommons in the set. The upside to that? It's a Large Rare you'll never be sorry to see -- unless your DM sets it on the battlemat in front of you. If you flip to page 135 in your Monster Manual, you'll see the Wayne Reynolds illustration that inspired the sculpt of this fine, fine mini. Whereas the construct in the illustration seems to be passively standing guard, the Iron Golem mini is definitely active and in the midst of dishing out some hurt. The red glow emanating from that slit visor adds a touch of menace to the mindless automaton's head. That upraised, wide-bladed sword (complete with circular notch, like in the illustration) is poised for a brutal backhanded slash. And the clenched fist (augmented by the blade-bearing bracer) on his left hand is cocked for a follow-up punch that'd put tweeting birds around any character's dazed little head. But it's the rest of the golem -- that is its armorlike body -- that really makes the greatest impact on your first (and possibly last) impression of this guy. Looking very much like an "armored giant," the Iron Golem is a well-orchestrated sculpture of form and function. Those wide, boxlike feet create a sense of sturdiness and weight that would dishearten anyone with the Improved Trip feat. The rivets and spikes on the golem's legs seem to blur the realm between construct and armor, which makes the rest of the mini feel all that much more like a big, living suit of armor. (So much that this mini could easily fit the bill for a large humanoid in full plate.) My favorite bit of detail on the mini (and there's a lot of it) is the array of pits and dents pockmarking the entire creature. They drive home the sense that this thing has been around for a very, very long time, has taken a crazy amount of damage, and is still going. When you can get a good, close look, you'll notice little stains here and there. They could be rust. They could be dried blood. Regardless, they just reinforce the sense of history you get when you look at this marvel of magical science.
Incidentally, any character with access to the shapechange spell should take a look at this thing -- the combination of construct qualities and spell immunity makes the Iron Golem a potent form from which to unleash much arcane power (whilst shrugging off a lot of punishment.) It's not a foolproof form, but I think it's definitely the best one my wizard ever played around with -- right up until he shifted back and died of old age (long story).
Spider of Lolth -- Did anyone get enough Large Monstrous Spiders in their Dragoneye boosters? Me neither. And while I still might not get enough of these eight-legged freaks, it won't be because of their rarity. Arachnophobes, be warned -- these Medium vermin are Commons. So, you can expect to see a fair number of these sleek-bodied spiders scuttling out of your booster packs this fall. In fact, judging from the way the Spider of Lolth is poised, you can probably expect them to leap out of the box. The way those front six legs are gathered, as well as the angle of the spider's body, seem to suggest that it's getting ready to pounce on some unfortunate victim. All eight of its beady, red eyes seem fixed on something directly ahead, and its mandibles are ready to inject a nasty toxin in preparation for a future liquid lunch. The rounded body and large abdomen (complete with spinnerets) is primarily black, highlighted with a light swirl of purple and burgundy. Its segmented legs overhang the base by about a half-inch, but are pliable enough to not be much of a problem when ganging them up to surround other minis.
Nentyar Hunter -- If you've flipped through your copy of Unapproachable East, then you've almost certainly stumbled across the prestige class and accompanying illustration (on page 28) upon which this beautiful miniature was based. If you're curious about the pine green skin tone, you'll want to check out the racial entry for the volodni on page 28 -- they're a race of treefolk created over a thousand years ago. (If you look closely at her skin, you'll even see the textured pattern of wood grain, particularly on her arms and legs.) Her long, tan-colored hair may seem a bit thick, until you realize that a volodni's hair grows in locks that resemble strips of bark. Her eyes are glowing with some strange, eldritch, green light (not a racial trait), and are accented by the glowing yellow gemstone set on her forehead. (Both of these features are depicted in that prestige class illustration.) Her studded leather armor, bracers, and leggings are dyed a rich, reddish brown, and her skirt looks like it might be a lightweight deerskin. Her feet are shod in sandals, which just reinforce her comfort and ties to nature. (Her armor is for protection against attack, not the elements.) Slung over her shoulder is a quiver full of arrows -- one of which she's in the midst of drawing forth. In her left hand is a finely crafted composite shortbow (check out the scrollworklike décor at the end of each of the bow's limbs). Taking the whole mini in, at a glance, she seems to be in midstep while drawing an arrow to shoot at something in the distance -- almost casually confident in her ability to take down her target, while not taking her eyes off it. Anyone playing a female ranger or other archery-centric character would be hard-pressed to find a nobler and heroic mini -- she's like a D&D incarnation of the goddess Artemis.
Once Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow shows up at your FLGS and you take a look at it, you can start looking forward to its successor: Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison. At that point, you'll also have a firm grasp on what you'll find inside: two double-sided poster maps and a 16-page adventure booklet (with material to keep your RPG adventuring party busy whilst your D&D Minis warbands are engaged in battle). There's not much more to pass along at this point. Except for the text you'll find on the back cover:
If you picked up Champions of Ruin back in May, you've already seen the bad guys' version of this 160-page hardcover. Well, now it's time that the heroic folk of Faerūn got their day in the sun and on the shelves. Take a look at the back cover text this month, and come back next month for a peek within:
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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