Previews
Boxing Up Everything
Previews for November and Beyond
By Mat Smith

We're moving across the street. That is, we will have moved by the time this article posts. Between now and then, we've all got to box up all of our books, games, and toys -- and some office equipment -- to make the long haul over to our new digs in the "Flashcube" building. (Maybe we'll have a photo or something around here for you to see.) Anyway, even while we're putting scores of books in boxes (I think I've got well over a hundred, not counting Dragon and Dungeon magazines), we're still working on getting the next pile of books and minis ready to go. So, let's take a look at what is on the way so I can get it all safely packed away. Check it out:

On Sale Now:Limited Edition Art Prints

These things crept up faster than I could get the word out, so I thought I'd show them off one more time. This is the first series of limited-edition, museum-quality art prints (lithographs) offered by Wizards of the Coast. (The complete series includes five pieces of D&D art and five pieces of Magic: The Gathering card art.) Printed on archival-quality (acid-/lignin-free) materials, each piece is an authenticated collectible accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity, which includes a description of the piece and a thumbnail sketch of the artwork. And, best of all, every print is hand-signed by the artist.

For each work of art, there will be 1,000 pieces printed on archival-quality, acid-free paper, matted with a museum-quality matte board. And only 250 pieces printed on archival-quality, acid-free canvas, framed with a museum-quality, solid wood frame.

Check out this page to get more information about the prints, and details about each of the pieces of art. And when you know what you want to get, you can pop over to this page (hosted on Hasbro's website) to order them.

November:Underdark Booster Packs

Finally, it's November. More importantly, by the time this article posts on the web, the release date for Underdark will have passed. So, while it's entirely possible that you've already snatched up enough booster packs to amass a complete collection (or you have looked over a checklist poster at your FLGS), there's probably a decent number of you out there who haven't seen all sixty minis in the set. And that's why we're here.

Back in August, you saw the Kobold Miner, Artemis Entreri, and the Roper. In September, I showed you the Iron Golem, Spider of Lolth, and the Nentyar Hunter. Last month, it was the Balor, Satyr, and Troglodyte Barbarian.

If you still haven't seen enough, make sure you check in over on the D&D Minis page, every Thursday to catch Rob Heinsoo's Minis Preview articles; his previews show off minis -- some are the same as the ones you see here, others are all his -- and they give you a little insight as to what you'll see 'em doing in the skirmish game. You can also expect to find a mini or two featured in Dragon magazine from time to time, along with all the other good stuff you find inthere.

Of course, there's no reason why I wouldn't show off three more Underdark minis this month. Behold:

Monitor Lizard -- Look, it's a lizard. Sure, it's just a lizard, but it's a really good one. (I'm always glad to find a Common mini that looks really nice and can be useful by the handful.) So, here's a Medium Monitor Lizard crawling across some loose rubble. A number of bumps and scales add texture and convey the toughness of his dark, mottled green hide. Under his jaw, and peeking up in a stripe from beneath his tail, you can see his softer, dingy-cream-colored underbelly. His beady little eyes are an orange-brown that seem to have a little bit of light reflecting in them (like you'd imagine seeing if you caught this guy in the flickering light of a lantern or torch). His long tail (which more than doubles his body length) stretches out alongside the crawling lizard, as if he's just turned slowly around to face something that had been coming up from behind. My favorite touch on this fine specimen of lizardiness is his front, right foot, which is being dragged (knuckles-down) forward as he takes a long, methodical step forward. I've seen big lizards like this one at the zoo -- that's how they move. I suppose that's what really makes this guy stand out enough to make me want to drop him into one of these articles -- the attention to detail that really makes the mini resemble the creature. There's nothing fantastic or magical about the Monitor Lizard. It's just a really nice sculpt that captures a very lizardlike sense of movement (take a top-down look at how his front and back legs are moving in tandem) and a simple, but nicely detailed paint scheme that looks very natural.

Hunched Giant -- You may have already seen this guy in Rob's Preview #4: Tunnel Dwellers If you've already had your fill of this Large Rare threat from the tunnels of the Forgotten Realms' Underdark supplement (page 95), just keep moving and check out the next mini. But, hey, the reason he's showing up here as well is because he's a cool mini. So, read on and find out more about the Maur (that is the actual name of the race of giants that has become known as "Hunched Giants"). So, even though he doesn't get a chance to really stretch out, the Hunched Giant clearly gets a decent amount of exercise -- his muscular build looks like it's more than ready and able to break out of the confines of those subterranean tunnels. Of course, the grayish-white pallor of his skin (sort of a dingy fishbelly white) makes it pretty clear that he doesn't get out all that often. Festooned across his back and shoulders (the mini I've got doesn't have marks on the arms) are a series of strange markings. They seem to be some sort of tattoo-type adornment that must have some sort of significance in Hunched Giant culture. Clad only in a heavy gray-green leather loincloth-like garment held up by a coil of heavy rope, the Hunched Giant travels light. Affixed around his waist, tied off to the rope belt, are a number of objects that seem to be shards of rock -- who knows what those are? (Trophies? Magic items? Totemlike charms? Pets, perhaps?) His dirty, pale hair is mussed and matted down over his broad skull and heavy brow. Widely set yellow eyes stare outward, taking everything in while not fixating on anything specific. His scowling mouth is angrily peeled back to reveal gums and teeth (including one that's broken) while grumbling out a threatening growl at whatever has entered the wrong stretch of tunnel. If you check out his arms, you'll see the primitive leather and metal bracelets he has around each wrist, as well as something odd on either elbow -- he seems to have developed some sort of bony/calloused pad from all the clambering and crawling about in the Underdark. Ah, and there's the hammer. That big, big hammer. (Huge, really.) Cocked back and ready to deliver a thunderous blow, that two-handed weapon is easily mastered in the grip of just one of the Hunched Giant's meaty fists.

Dwarf Ancestor -- And now, a Rare you've not seen before. And when I say you've not seen this guy, I really mean you've not seen him -- the Dwarf Ancestor was originally sculpted as a Chainmail miniature that never saw the light of day. (Well, it never saw the inside of a hobby shop.) It was such a great mini that Rob dusted it off his desk and wrote up a new art order to get the mini you're looking at. (I think that's the story.) I'm not entirely sure what the in-game tale behind the Dwarf Ancestor might be, but I'd guess that he's an immense statue animated by the spirit of a long-dead dwarven hero that stands guard over the halls and mines of his descendants. Regardless of how or why this powerful entity came into being, he strikes quite an impressive pose, towering around two dwarfs tall. (The mini is about 1-1/2 inches tall, hitting just over 2 inches with his arms raised like that.) The statue appears to be a powerfully built dwarven warrior, clad in heavy armor, wielding a maul-like warhammer in both of his spiky, gauntleted hands. He might move somewhat slowly (for a giant, stone statue of a dwarf), but he's clearly taking a step forward before bringing his hammer down on the soon-to-be-mush noggin of whatever has set him in motion. Aside from the stony gray coloration (nicely detailed with many pits, cracks, and chips defined with a black wash and light gray drybrush), the only thing that indicates that anyone's home is that pair of dark red eyes peering out from within his open-faced helmet. This guy is going in the same tray as my collection of stone golems, ready to serve as an alternate construct or as decoration that makes players nervous.

November: Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison

For those of you coming late to the table, this is the second in the Fantastic Locations series (following Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow). Back in September, I showed you the back cover text from Hellspike Prison and rattled off the contents (two double-sided poster maps and a 16-page adventure booklet). Last month, I gave you an overviewof a pile of minis you'll find handy when exploring the dangerous corridors of Hellspike Prison. This month, it goes on sale. And that's good, 'cause I've got nothing more to show you. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if one of the four full-color poster maps showed up on the D&D Minis Page -- I believe those maps are going to become the standard battlemat for D&D minis tournaments.)

November: Champions of Valor

Back in September, { I passed along the back cover text from this 160-page hardcover. Last month, I pasted in a big chunk of the Introduction along with the book's quick description of each chapter's contents.

This month, I thought I'd give you a couple chunks of stuff from the goodly innards of the book, like a few of the regional backgrounds you might choose when creating a valorous hero of the Realms. These three strike me as classic backgrounds for D&D characters, which just shows you how portable a lot of the material you'll find inside campaign setting-specific sourcebooks can be -- change the proper names (deities and regions) and you're set.

Bardic Tutelage

Bards are highly respected in Faerūn (mainly because of the actions of the Harpers) and bardic colleges are praised not only for the musical talents of their graduates but their traditions of magic and worldly knowledge. Wealthy folk pay to have their children taught by bards, and traveling bards sometimes sponsor enterprising young students. These people are taught the history of music and lore and their roles in shaping civilized society. Graduates of good-aligned bardic colleges see themselves as guardians of the past and present, using historical models to right today's injustices.

Region: Any with a bardic college.
Automatic Languages: As region.
Bonus Languages: As region, plus any one (including dead languages).
Favored Deities: Corellon Larethian, Deneir, Finder Wyvernspur, Hanali Celanil, Labelas Enoreth, Lliira, Milil, Oghma.
Regional Feats: Arcane Schooling (bard), Artist, Education.
Bonus Equipment: (A) masterwork instrument, chain shirt, and 50 gp; or (B) masterwork chainmail; or (C) two scrolls of cat's grace.

Church Acolyte

Thousands of young adults join good churches all over Faerūn every day with the hope of becoming clerics. Some find it's too hard or not to their liking, and leave after absorbing only some elements of the church's teachings. Some find other roles in the church more exciting or rewarding. More than just a choice of patron deity, these devotees of a faith identify more strongly with their church than they do with their home country.

Region: Any region with a significantly large good temple.
Automatic Languages: As region.
Bonus Languages: As region, plus Celestial.
Favored Deities: Any good deity.
Regional Feats: Bullheaded, Cosmopolitan, Education.
Bonus Equipment: (A) masterwork flail, masterwork mace, or masterwork morningstar; or (B) masterwork chainmail; or (C) six potions of cure light wounds.

Knight Squire

Dozens of good knighthoods keep watch over parts of Faerūn. Many parents see knighthood as a way for their child to gain status, either as a way to escape a lifetime of farm work or as a way to prove service to the nobility. Though few of these children grow up to be knights, they gain rare opportunities, spending time with majestic horses and heroes.

Region: Any region where martial knighthoods support the local government.
Automatic Languages: As region.
Bonus Languages: As region.
Favored Deities: Helm, Ilmater, Kelemvor, Lathander, Red Knight, Siamorphe, Tempus, Torm, Tyr.
Regional Feats: Dauntless, Fearless, Militia, Saddleback.
Bonus Equipment: (A) masterwork bastard sword, masterwork battleaxe, or masterwork longsword; or (B) chainmail and light warhorse or warpony; or (C) potion of cure moderate wounds.

Chapter 2: Character Options also offers up a pile of substitution levels for you to ally your character more strongly with a particular faith or organization (and get some interesting alternative abilities/powers in the exchange). Take a look at just one of the two dozen options your characters have to choose from as they grow in power -- for those holy warriors dedicated to defending the arcane secrets of Mystra -- substitution levels of the Mystic Fire Knight:

Mystic Fire Knight (Paladin)

The Knights of the Mystic Fire serve Mystra by guarding her temples and questing for lost magical troves. They develop increased ability to use magic, counter hostile magic, and defeat enemy spellcasters.

Hit Die: d8.

Requirements

To take a Mystic Fire Knight substitution level, a character must have Mystra as her patron deity and be about to take her 4th, 5th, or 6th level of paladin.

Class Skills

Mystic Fire Knight substitution levels have the class skills of the standard paladin plus Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft.

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

TABLE 2-16: MYSTIC FIRE KNIGHT SUBSTITUTION LEVELS

Level Base
Attack
Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Bonus spell, improved spellcasting
5th +5 +5 +1 +1 Smite evil 2/day, special mount
6th +6/1 +5 +2 +2 Spellshatter

Class Features

All of the following are features of the Mystic Fire Knight substitution levels.

Bonus Spell (Su): At 4th level, a Mystic Fire Knight gains a bonus 1st-level paladin spell slot as if from a high Wisdom score. At 8th level, she gains a bonus 2nd-level paladin spell slot, at 11th level she gains a bonus 3rd-level paladin spell slot, and at 14th level she gains a bonus 4th-level paladin spell slot.

This benefit replaces the turn undead class feature gained by a standard paladin at 4th level.

Improved Spellcasting (Ex): When casting paladin spells, a Mystic Fire Knight can treat her caster level as equal to one-half her paladin level +2. If she also has arcane spellcasting ability from another class, she can add her caster level from that class to this value to determine her paladin caster level.

Smite Evil (Su): In addition to the normal effect, when a Mystic Fire Knight of 5th level or higher hits a creature with her smite evil attack, that creature finds it temporarily difficult to cast spells or use spell completion or spell trigger items. For 1 round, any attempt to complete one of these actions requires a successful Concentration check (DC 10 + paladin's level + Cha modifier + spell level); failure means that the action fails. If a spell was being cast, the spell or spell slot is lost; if a magic item was being activated, the attempt merely fails. Multiple smite evil hits on the same creature don't have a cumulative effect.

This class feature augments, but does not replace, the standard paladin's smite evil class feature.

Spellshatter (Su): Once per day starting at 6th level, a Mystic Fire Knight can choose to deliver a targeted greater dispel magic effect with a melee attack. The decision to use this ability must be made before the attack is rolled; if the attack misses, the effect is wasted.

If the attack hits, treat this as if the Mystic Fire Knight had cast a targeted greater dispel magic on the creature struck, using her paladin level (plus any arcane caster level she might have from another class) as her caster level, up to a maximum of +20.

This benefit replaces the standard paladin's remove disease class feature. If the Mystic Fire Knight would later gain an extra weekly use of remove disease, she instead gains an extra daily use of spellshatter.

So, I could go on and on, giving you a handful of feats, a slice out of the new spells section, a peek at the modest trove of magic items, a look at one of the four prestige classes, or a description of one of the many valorous organizations you might use to augment your character in some way, shape, or form whilst traipsing around the Realms (or some other world). Instead, I'll give you a quick tour of one of the eight places of valor your adventuring party might venture out to visit, discover, or defend -- the Chapel of Resounding Justice.

Chapel of Resounding Justice

Southeast of Archenbridge in Sembia is a small fortified chapel to Tyr, built in the middle of an open field in an otherwise unremarkable area. It is a lesser-known pilgrimage site for those of the Tyrran faith, especially paladins, and for those who believe their lives are a worthy price to pay to maintain justice. Measuring 60 feet on a side and just under 20 feet tall from the ground to its parapet walls, the chapel is simple mortar and stone, with an iron plaque of Tyr's hammer-and-scales holy symbol above the double-door entrance on the south face. During the day a flagpole holds a Tyrran flag in blue and white.

The remarkable feature of this chapel is a statue in the courtyard of a large winged humanoid carved out of white marble veined with gold. She stands with muscles tensed, greatsword held high in one hand, her other hand pointing down toward the earth, as if issuing a command or making a stern vow. This statue is actually the petrified remains of Resounding Justice, a noble planetar in service to Tyr who gave her life to defeat Krysus Vaant, a blackguard of Gargauth, and his pit-fiend ally known as Tenflames. The site thrums with the power of Tyr, radiating outward from the statue to just beyond the outer corners of the chapel.

Like any place holy to Tyr, the chapel's keepers offer sanctuary and aid to Tyrrans in need, though they are a small garrison and prefer that military assistance from the church come from one of the larger temples in the nearby cities. Any follower of Tyr is welcome to stay in the chapel for one night; the keepers welcome offers to help guard or improve the site from those skilled in war or craft.

Okay, that's it -- the book's on sale. Check it out and go do some good.

November: Three Dragon Ante

A standalone game (for 2-6 players) with a 70-card deck, Three Dragon Ante is a fast-paced game that has been the favorite pastime of adventurers and tavern-goers in every realm for ages. In addition to playing it around your gaming table (as a part of your D&D game or on a card-playing night of its very own), Three Dragon Ante can be played using an optional set of rules that allow your characters' skills to impact the way the game is played. Last month, I gave you the back-of-box text, a look at three of the cards, and an overview of the game play. This month, the game goes on sale -- pop into your FLGS and check it out.

I got to take along a Three Dragon Ante deck with me to a friend's house this weekend for an afternoon/evening of gaming. We cracked open the box, doled out stacks of poker chips, and played many, many hands (or "gambits," as the game would have you call them). It doesn't take very long at all to get the hang of how the game is played. And the strategy of how to ante, what cards to play when, and figuring how best to stymie your opponents developed as the game unfolded. (My ability to draw the right cards was about as good as my talent for rolling a d20 -- so I was quickly reduced to a short stack of chips that I was just able to nurse along for a silly amount of time before I was finally crushed and left penniless, ending the game.)

Three Dragon Ante will be a great way for you and your gaming group to pass a little extra time before or after game sessions, while sitting around (at lunch, at a con, or wherever), and as a fun diversion all on its own.

December: Spell Compendium

So, like I said last month, if you've got a spellcasting character, you're going to want to feast your eyes on this 288-page smorgasbord of spells. Designed to be the ideal companion to your Player's Handbook,the Spell Compendium is a hardcovered compilation of the most useful/popular/useful spells gathered from over a dozen D&D supplements and a pile of articles published here on the fabulous D&D website as well as in the invaluable monthly resource you all know as Dragonmagazine.So, not only can you lessen the number of books you lug around to each game, but you probably can discover a number of new spells you never knew you couldn't live without.

So, what's actually in there? Starting from the back of the book, you'll find an exhaustive list of domain spells as well as class-by-class spell lists of what you'll find inside the book. (Again, all of this information complements the lists you'll find in the Player's Handbook, but does not incorporate or replace them.) After all of that, what's left is page after page after page of spells -- 244 pages of spells to be more accurate. Last month, I showed you the back-of-book text. This month, I thought I'd give you a look at just one of the vast array (I don't even want to think about counting them) of spells you'll find inside those covers. (Take note of the italicized text between the stat block and the standard description of the spell -- each spell's entry now includes a brief, but illustrative, description of what transpires as a character actually casts it.)

CHAIN MISSILE
Evocation [Force]
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Target: One creature, plus one more creature/2 levels (each of which must be within 30 ft. of the primary target)
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

Bolts of pale blue energy spring forth from your finger and slam into the desired target. An instant later, the bolts bounce away toward other creatures, slamming into each one.

Missiles of magical energy dart from your fingertip to unerringly strike a creature. The missiles strike one creature initially, then spring to other targets. Each missile deals 1d4+1 points of force damage. One missile strikes the primary target per two caster levels, to a maximum of ten missiles (dealing 10d4+10 points of damage). After the missiles strike, they ricochet to a number of targets up to the number of missiles created by the spell. Each secondary target takes 1d4+1 points of damage, as if struck by a single magic missile. You choose secondary targets as you like, but they must all be within 30 feet of the primary target, and no secondary target can be struck more than once. You can choose to affect fewer secondary targets than the maximum (to avoid allies in the area, for example). Missiles without a secondary target do not ricochet off the primary target.

Spells, magic items, and abilities that protect against magic missile (such as the shield spell or a brooch of shielding) also protect against this spell. If the primary target has that sort of protection, the spell has no effect against it but still springs to all secondary targets. (A brooch of shielding loses a number of charges equal to the number of missiles hitting the creature?up to ten missiles.) If spell resistance causes the spell to fail to harm the primary target, the spell fails and missiles do not ricochet to additional targets.

The missiles strike unerringly, even if the targets are in melee or have anything less then total cover or concealment. You cannot single out specific parts of a creature to strike. This spell cannot target or damage inanimate objects.

December:d20 Critical Locations

So, last month, I showed you the back cover text and said that I'd try to grab an excerpt or something to show off this month. Sadly, I don't have anything just yet. (Maybe next month.) Nonetheless, d20 Critical Locations is still a 96-page softcover supplement for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game that offers 40 full-color maps of modern-era settings (drawn by Christopher West), each one complete with adventure hooks and pregenerated NPCs. That's a whole book full of drag-and-drop material ready to use in any d20 Modern game -- not a bad resource to have on hand when designing an adventure or campaign and even better to have when your players want to do something unexpected. ('Cause we're like that, you know.) So, really, next month I'll try to grab a file and throw down a sampling of one of the maps and its corresponding wealth of modern gaming info.

January:Races of the Dragon

You're probably familiar with what has become known as the Race Series. (Races of Stone, Races of the Wild,Races of Destiny,and Races of Eberron). This would be the next installation to that collection of character-building options. This 160-page hardcover delves into a number of player character races descended from or related to dragons. In addition to offering up kobolds as a playable character race, Races of the Dragon also introduces two new races -- the dragonborn and spellscales -- in addition to expanding upon half-dragons. If you've flipped through the other books in the Race Series, you've got a good idea of what you'll find in there. Next month, I'll try my hardest to have something to show you, but for now take a look at the back cover text:

The Blood of Dragons Flows through Your Veins

In ages past, dragons ruled supreme. Now their distant scions, the races and individuals who carry their blood, live among the great empires of the world, where they forge their own glorious legacies. You can be among them. Embrace your draconic heritage, and the spoils of the world can be yours!

This supplement for the D&D game provides detailed information on the psychology, society, culture, behavior, religion, and folklore of the dragonblooded races, including kobolds and half-dragons. This book introduces two new player character races: the dragonborn (existing characters reborn in a new draconic form to combat and destroy the spawn of Tiamat) and the spellscales (artistic, philosophical beings with a penchant for sorcery and a thirst for new experiences). It also provides new prestige classes, feats, spells, magic items, equipment, and guidelines for crafting adventures and campaigns involving dragonblooded races.

January: Player's Guide to Eberron

I don't know a lot about this one just yet, so I'll give you the executive summary. It's a 160-page hardcover for players (and DMs) embroiled in the action-packed, intrigue-laced world of Eberron. I've heard that the book features a new layout format that presents information in a quickly digestible way that'll make it a great go-to reference whilst in the midst of a game. (Not that it won't also be easy to use during your nongame downtime as well.) You'll find a swath of new character-enhancing materials (like feats, prestige classes, spells, and magic items), along with a pile of information about people, places, organizations, and more -- all from the perspective of what a character could/would/should know. (All the good Dungeon Mastery bits are still safely tucked away behind that Deluxe Eberron DM Screen.)

Okay, that's all I've got for now, aside from the back cover text:

Secrets Every Hero Should Know

What does an elf from Shae Cairdal know about the nation of Aerenal? How do you play a half-orc from the Shadow Marches? What does your character know about the Blood of Vol or the royal line of Galifar? Player's Guide to Eberron answers these questions and more. This companion to the Eberron? Campaign Setting explores the world from the player's point of view and presents exciting new options for Eberron characters.

Player's Guide to Eberron describes important locations, events, organizations, races, and features of the Eberron campaign setting, organized in an accessible and easily digestible format so that players can use the book as a handy reference guide. In addition, this book provides new feats, prestige classes, spells, and magic items.

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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