Previews
Two to Three Fewer Days to Play
Previews for February and Beyond
By Mat Smith

I have no idea why February is shorter than every other month, but it is. And that means you have only 28 days in which to focus your gaming love exclusively on the February-release products. (With one of 'em being a superadventure, that could be a real challenge.) The upside to the short month is that we're that many days closer to the March-release products (including the War Drums miniatures release.) So you'll want to spend some quality time with a lot of stuff. And to help you decide how to spread the love, I've got stuff to show you. Check it out:

February:d20 Future Tech

On sale this month is the elusive 96-page softcover supplement for players and GMs playing in a d20 Future-flavoredcampaign of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game. Back in December, I gave you a general idea of what was inside, along with a look at a chunk of the back cover text. Last month, I had nothing new to add.

This month, I grabbed a PDF to look through, and I want to share a few excerpts with you. So, on with the copying and pasting -- starting with the introduction:

Introduction

Welcome to d20 Future Tech, the gadgets-and-gear supplement for the d20 Future supplement. Intended for use by both players and Gamemasters, d20 Future Tech expands upon d20 Future by presenting even more options for a futuristic campaign. More than just lists of equipment, though, this book presents guidelines for developing futuristic societies, generating nonstandard heroes (such as robots), and conducting combat using the kinds of weapons and vehicles available in high-technology settings.

WHAT IS D20 FUTURE TECH?

d20 Future Tech is many things. On one level, it's a peek into the technology of the future and how that technology will affect everyday life. Science fiction writers and other futurists have been imagining the future for almost as long as humankind has been around. Their visions range from utopian scientific wonderlands to bleak radioactive wastelands, but always have the common thread of technological progress tying them together. d20 Future Tech is the translation of these visionary concepts into rules for gear in futuristic d20 Modern roleplaying campaigns.

On another level, d20 Future Tech is a collection of what the designers of d20 Future wanted to put in, but ultimately didn't have room for in the book -- along with the countless ideas that came to them weeks or days or hours after d20 Future went to print. Furthermore, d20 Future Tech is the culmination of designs suggested or requested by you, the players, after you had a chance to read through d20 Future and play with those rules a few times. In some cases, the designers have clarified what they had already written; in others, they've filled in the gaps that players asked to know more about. So, d20 Future Tech is a companion piece to d20 Future -- a compendium of requests, clarifications, and all the brilliant ideas that the designers have had since they wrote d20 Future.

On another level, d20 Future Tech is a book of examples of what can be done with the d20 Future rules. From chapters on personal equipment -- including modifications to the gadget system first presented in d20 Future -- to new starships, mecha, and robots, d20 Future Tech offers virtual "props" for your future d20 Modern games. Additionally, d20 Future Tech provides rules for combining the various forms of futuristic combat: vehicular, mecha, starship, and personal combat -- how a vehicle attacks and damages a mecha, starship, or character; how a character attacks and damages a mecha; and so on. Finally, this book discusses how to tie all the elements of science fiction and technology together to create a cohesive futuristic campaign setting -- one that seems both fantastic and realistic at the same time.

That illustration (which is actually from Chapter One) shows off a bit of cool technology, along with a pair of futuristic cops and a bad guy -- or is it a hero who has just been caught in a little misunderstanding? (I like the little touch of the d20 Cyberscape cover image-as-poster.)

You know what's cool? Cool pictures of guns. (I'll toss in the entries for each of them too.)

PROGRESS LEVEL 7 GEAR

In the Gravity Age, technology undergoes its most radical advances, with weapons of war being the primary field of development. The Gravity Age sees the advent of both plasma weapons and powered armor, and gravitic technology, for which the age is named, revolutionizes nearly all forms of technology -- if not in operation, then in construction.

Gravity Age Weapons

The following weapons are available at PL 7 and higher.

Gauss Rifle

Gauss rifles use magnetic energy to damage the target's internal organs -- making armor ineffective and powered armor a liability. A gauss rifle deals 2d6 points of damage with a ranged touch attack. A target wearing powered armor must make a DC 13 Fortitude save; failure means the armor becomes nonfunctional for 1d3 rounds. When used against robots or mecha, the gauss rifle's damage is doubled and the robot or mecha becomes nonfunctional for 1d3 rounds (Fortitude DC 13 negates).

Grav-Glob Gun

Grav-globs are high-density blobs made of magnetized, adhesive metal alloy. When properly charged, grav-globs quickly increase in size, simultaneously becoming heavier. A grav-glob initially weighs 1 pound, but doubles in weight each round to 2, 4, 8, and finally 16 pounds (its upper limit). Because a successful hit with a grav-glob merely encumbers the target, grav-glob guns are extremely popular as nonlethal crowd-control devices.

If the attack roll with a grav-glob gun results in a critical hit, the grav-glob makes contact not only with the target, but with a nearby solid surface as well (usually the floor, but possibly a wall or vehicle). A critical hit with a grav-glob sticks the target in place unless the target makes a DC 15 Reflex save. Failure means the target is unable to move, and takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to her Dexterity. Success means the target is not stuck in place, but still has the grav-glob attached to her and moves at only half speed. A character struck by a grav-glob can remove it with a DC 17 Strength check.

Light Antitank Pistol

The light antitank pistol, or LAP, is a disposable, one-shot pistol version of the PL 5 M72A3 LAW rocket launcher. Like the LAW, it is collapsible and must be extended (as a move action) before firing. Its overall length is just over 1 foot. With a successful hit, the LAP's high explosive warhead detonates, dealing 10d6 points of damage to all creatures within a 10-foot radius (Reflex DC 18 half). Further, the rocket's shaped charge enables it to bypass up to 10 points of hardness when used against a vehicle, building, or object. (This applies only to the target struck, not other objects within the burst radius.) The LAP has a minimum range of 20 feet. If fired against a target closer than 20 feet, it does not arm and will not explode. The Exotic Firearms Proficiency (rocket launchers) feat applies to this weapon.

Needle Pistol

Needle weapons (or "needlers") are a variation of the PL 6 flechette weapons (see page 13), firing streams of tiny, pointed slivers of titanium rather than bundles of tungsten darts. These needles deal less damage than the average bullet, but the weapons fire virtually silently and can hold considerably more ammunition than other projectile weapons. Because they are autofire-only weapons, needle weapons scatter their damage over an area and are typically not used to target an individual. However, a needle pistol targets a 5-foot square, rather than the usual 10-foot square for autofire weapons. It is most dangerous when used by someone with the Burst Fire feat, which makes the most of the needle stream.

Despite their ammunition's logical adaptability to the task, needlers cannot be used to deliver poisons. The magazine is actually a coil of titanium wire, which is cut to the appropriate shape as part of the firing process; coating the entire coil with poison invariably jams the weapon.

Needle Rifle

Needle rifles are the long-range version of the needle pistol with a much larger magazine.

Render Rifle

Render rifles use gravitic inducers to cycle rapidly back and forth between attraction and repulsion, literally tearing the target to pieces. A target struck by a render rifle's beam takes not only the given damage, but 1d4 Constitution damage as well. The target can make a DC 15 Reflex save to negate the Constitution damage.

Table 1-7: Progress Level 7 Ranged Weapons
Weapon Damage Critical Damage
Type
Range
Incr.
Rate
of

Fire
Magazine Size Weight DC Purchase
Restriction
Gauss rifle 2d6[1] 20 Bludgeoning/ concussion 60 feet S 20 int. Large 14 lb. 26 Mil (+3)
Grav-glob gun Special[1] 20 -- 50 feet S 15 int. Huge 42 lb. 25 Res (+2)
Light antitank pistol[2] 10d6[1] -- -- 80 feet 1 1 int. Medium 3 lb. 14 Mil (+3)
Needle pistol 2d4 20 Piercing 40 feet A 80 box Medium 2 lb. 15 Res (+2)
Needle rifle 2d6 20 Piercing 100 feet A 200 box Large 10 lb. 18 Res (+2)
Render rifle 2d10 20 Slashing 120 feet S 10 int. Large 14 lb. 20 Mil (+3)
1 See the weapon description for details.
2 This weapon requires the Exotic Firearms Proficiency (rocket launchers) feat.

Among the fleet of new ships (and the many and varied options) you'll discover in Chapter Two: Starships is an array of templates you can apply to any starship you choose (or custom build). By adding a template, you alter a ship in a way that reflects the manner or style with which particular ship builders construct their vessels.

STARSHIP TEMPLATES

A starship template is a set of changes that can be laid over a starship to create a particular model of ship. Since the base ships, such as those presented above, represent only the most common and standard configurations for each type of vessel, starship templates help add variety and show the differences in starships made by different manufacturers or constructed with different design philosophies.

Aleerin-Engineered Template (PL 8)

The Aleerin-engineered template can be applied to any starship. The starship's design specs should be adjusted as follows.

Hit Dice: No change.

Engine Upgrade: Particle impulse engine, thrusters (tactical speed +1,000 feet).

Armor Upgrade: Neutronite (hardness 40).

Defense System Upgrade: Improved autopilot system, light fortification (25% chance to ignore a critical hit), repair drones.

Sensors Upgrade: Improved targeting system, Achilles targeting software (increases threat range of all weapon systems by 1).

Communications Upgrade: Drivesat comm array.

Weapons Upgrade: 2 fire-linked maser cannons (18d8 damage; range incr. 6,000 ft.; replaces PL 6 or PL 7 fire-linked weapon system).

Check out this extended excerpt to take a look at some more starship templates (including the Junker, Living Ship, and Fleming-Class Espionage Ship).

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind is a memory of a character played by one of my friends while we were dabbling in a number of RPG systems in college. I can't remember whether we were playing a superhero-type game or a cyberpunk-type game, but I distinctly recall the awesome feats of agility and deadly melee capabilities demonstrated by the character -- it was a robot ninja (whose mortal enemy should've been a pirate monkey, I believe). I bring this up because when I flipped to Chapter Five: Robotics, there was the robot ninja. A couple pages later, I found some Robot Feats that I could use to recreate that insanely fast killing machine. Check 'em out:

Finely Tuned (PL 6)

The robot's software settings are finely tuned, making it more efficient at the tasks for which it was designed.

Prerequisite: Robot.

Benefit: Designate a number of class skills equal to the robot's Intelligence modifier. The robot gains a +1 competence bonus on all skill checks with these skills.

Special: The robot cannot have any ranks in any cross-class skills. If the robot purchases ranks in a cross-class skill, it loses the benefits of this feat. This feat can be selected multiple times. Each time you select it, designate new class skills to which the bonus applies.

Overclocked (PL 6)

The robot's processor has been optimized for maximum performance -- though it tends to overheat a bit more easily.

Prerequisite: Robot.

Benefit: The robot gains a +2 circumstance bonus on initiative checks and Reflex saves. However, if it does not shut down after 16 hours of continuous use or activity, it takes a cumulative -2 penalty on attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws each day until it fully recharges itself.

Normal: A robot that does not shut down for 8 hours out of every 24 takes a cumulative -1 penalty on attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws each day until it fully recharges itself.

Gimbaled Joints (PL 6)

The robot is constructed with gimbaled joints and is programmed to make full use of them. This allows the robot to twist and contort easily into different configurations. The robot is so flexible that it gains a +2 equipment bonus on Escape Artist and Tumble checks.

Purchase DC: 14.

Restriction: None.

There's a lot of other stuff in the book, including an entire chapter dedicated to the systems around which a futuristic society is built (like communications, transportation, and so on) -- the stuff that adds the look, feel, and flavor of a particular future. (Think of how different futuristic Earth is in Minority Report when compared to Blade Runner.) So, if you're planning for or playing in a game set in any sort of futuristic setting (on Earth or elsewhere), or could find use for gadgets, guns, robots, spaceships, or other nifty stuff like that in any game you're playing (like working up the Return Expedition to Barrier Peaks adventure for your D&D campaign), you should take a look at what's packed into this thing.

February:The Red Hand of Doom

Also hitting shelves this month is the 128-page softcover super-adventure ominously titled The Red Hand of Doom. Back in December, I gave you the back cover text from the adventure. Beyond that, all I've told you about this one is that it's an adventure not specific to a setting that can challenge a party of 6th-level characters long enough to take them all the way through 9th. (And you'll find a lot of nice, new art and many maps in there.) And it shouldn't come as a surprise that this is all you'll hear about this book-o'-adventure from me.


March:War Drums Booster Packs

Next month. So close. Good thing February's a short month -- those extra two or three days would just be too much. So, to pass the time, here toward the end of the long haul of this latest release for the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures game, I'll show off some more War Drums minis.

Back in December, you saw the Wardrummer, Chimera, and Aspect of Hextor. Last month, it was the Skeletal Legionnaire, Large Duergar, and Arcane Ballista.

Steve Schubert has been showing off minis over on the D&D Minis page every Thursday. His mission is to show you folks a pile of minis, along with an idea of how they're going to work in and against your warbands. (And be sure to take a look, 'cause just about everything he's showing off is different from what you'll see here.)

And the fine folks at Paizo Publishing have collaborated with us to make sure that you'll get some D&D Miniatures love in every issue of Dragon magazine. Flip to the "First Watch" feature for a look at upcoming minis -- including exclusive sneak peeks of minis you won't see anywhere until they're on checklist posters. Then you'll want to thumb to the "Dragon Talk" feature, which will delve into game-related information about minis (including stuff like mechanics, strategy, and game design insight.) Good stuff.

Right, enough of that. Those are the places you want to go look for more War Drums coverage if these three minis don't give you your fix.

Goblin Underboss -- You know, most goblins you run into (in D&D games as well as in the D&D Minis line) look something like a variation on the goblin you'll see illustrated on page 133 of your Monster Manual. Just looking at this Uncommon mini, you can tell this tough guy is clearly a cut above those lesser goblins (probably with a few character levels under his belt). The thing that really makes the Goblin Underboss look like he's more on the ball than your average goblin is his gear. No piecemeal armor or makeshift weapons here -- his whole ensemble looks as if it were crafted specifically for him (or at least for a goblin). Particularly, that helmet, complete with a little spike on top (which has always seemed like a goblin-y sort of thing to me), was built for a goblin noggin -- it accommodates those long, pointy ears. His ruddy brownish-orange hide is protected by a chainmail hauberk that actually fits properly. And the armor on his thighs, knees, and shins -- a combination of leather and metal -- matches. He's got a small, metal-reinforced, wooden buckler held close to his body, in a defensive-but-aggressive stance -- he's looking to take the fight to somebody. His curved short sword has a serrated blade which, like the helmet, seems particularly goblinlike in its particular flavor of menace. Slung across his back is a crossbow and quiver of bolts. It's easy to imagine the Goblin Underboss leading a squad of other goblins into battle. Hey, it's not even hard to picture using the Goblin Underboss as a main villain or even a player character. (My Wednesday night game has shifted to an Underdark-spawned party. Up until a month ago, I was playing a winged kobold sorcerer. Now, I'm running a drider favored soul. If that drider gets gacked, maybe I'll work up some sort of goblin warrior type.) The short version: This is a pretty cool goblin mini. As an Uncommon, he's clearly destined to fill a leadership role in a band of goblins. But with enough booster packs, you could easily amass a handful of 'em to create an elite band of seasoned, hero-hunting goblins.

Steelheart Archer -- We've been showing off a lot of monsters. (There's a lot of monster-type minis in this set. It seems to have fewer heroes, but that could just be my perception.) I thought I'd give you a look at one of the particularly heroic minis. Clad head-to-toe in gleaming steel armor (highlighted by a few gold-colored pieces), the Steelheart Archer is an Uncommon mini that's sure to take a turn as a powerful character mini -- a commanding female elf character to be more precise. The armor (layers of chainmail with pieces of plate), coupled with her short brown hair, really evokes a "Joan of Arc" feel. She's got a very long, thin-bladed sword scabbarded and slung (somehow) over her back, just in case she finds herself in melee. But, as the mini's name would suggest, this is an archer. She's got a large quiver of arrows belted over her right hip (in-line with her sword), and an elegantly simple, slender longbow clutched in her left hand. (Notice that while her right arm is protected by a metal bracer, her left forearm is sheathed in leather -- affording protection to her arm from the bowstring while not endangering the integrity of the string like a metal bracer might.) The thing about this mini that piques my curiosity is the arrow she's holding in her right hand. It's clearly not on the way to being nocked and fired -- she's holding it almost at the tip, with the shaft against her arm. With the way she's holding the arrow (and her pose), it makes me think that she's about to sweep her arm over her shoulder in a "Fire" or "Charge" kind of way -- she is more than just a hero, she's a leader.

Aspect of Moradin -- Flip to page 84 in your copy of Deities and Demigods, and you'll see a two-dimensional version of this Rare mini. The pose has changed from a passive pose to one that seems to suggest that The Soul Forger is issuing some sort of divinely intimidating challenge, but the Aspect of Moradin is clearly that illustration made incarnate in prepainted plastic. (Which is cool, 'cause it's a nice illustration.) Regardless, the Aspect of Moradin is, appropriately, absolutely the epitome of dwarfdom. His crownlike helmet, fashioned of silver and gold, protects his deified head and places the Aspect of Moradin's height at just over 2 inches. (Just for comparison, the Hill Dwarf Warrior from the Aberrations expansion [which is just the most convenient dwarf miniature I have on-hand today] is almost exactly an inch tall.) His charcoal-colored hair and beard are impressively long (reaching just past his waist) and each sport a number of long braids. The beard is gathered into and held by a single piece of jewelry. His ornately crafted armor, fashioned from a metal that resembles antiqued gold, is a real work of art. Each piece (including the breastplate, pauldrons, greaves, sabatons, and fauld [for want of a better term for the plate hanging down over his crotch]) has been crafted with simple-yet-elegant designs. The most interesting and eye-catching details on the armor are the holy symbol carved into the abdomen of his breastplate and the curiously crafted buckle, affixed to the strap securing the left side of the breastplate -- it resembles the head of some sort of livestock (a rothé, perhaps?) Additionally, he also has a chainmail shirt (underneath his breastplate), a ponderously heavy scalemail skirt, and silvery gauntlets (that appear to be fingerless). His interestingly shaped, large metal shield is fashioned from silvery and golden metal, features two large, red gemstones (the only bits of red that made it from the illustration to the finished mini), and is adorned by a pair of stylized hammer-and-anvil designs. That shield is held firmly, yet back and away from his body -- the Aspect of Moradin doesn't need its protection at just this moment. His heavy, yet elegant, short-handled warhammer is held firmly by his outstretched right arm, as if he's pointing at someone, something, or someplace. (See also: aforementioned "divinely issued challenge") Right alongside the Aspect of Hextor (which I showed off back in December), the Aspect of Moradin easily rests atop the stack of other Aspects of the Gods minis we've done -- this is a stunning miniature. And, taking a page from that Large Duergar I showed you last month, I can easily imagine many, many people opting to use this mini to represent their dwarf character whenever an enlarge person is thrown their way.

March:Tome of Magic: Pact, Shadow, and Truename Magic

On the horizon is this magically charged, 228-page hardcover that introduces three new magic systems, along with new base classes, prestige classes, feats, magic items, and spells. Back in December, I gave you a very, very basic inkling of what's inside. Last month, I scrounged up the back cover text.

This month, at last, I dredged up a file of the book so I can start showing it off. I figure that the introductory section of the book should do a good job of explaining and describing the content that'll follow, so here's a chunk from that opening page:

USING THIS BOOK

This book introduces three new types of magic, each of which is supported by a new standard class, plus prestige classes, feats, magic items, monsters, and effects similar to spells. In this way, Tome of Magic is similar to Expanded Psionics Handbook, but instead of revisiting a concept introduced in previous editions of the game, this book expands upon the topic of magic in brand-new ways. Each of the three types of magic examined in these pages has a long history in fantasy fiction and has occasionally found its way into the Dungeons & Dragons game in the past. Taking its inspiration from real world mythology and fantasy fiction, Tome of Magic revamps these tantalizing tidbits from the game's history into exciting new magic systems for your game.

The new forms of magic are presented in three chapters, one dedicated to each type. The following paragraphs summarize their contents.

Pact Magic: Characters who use this form of magic gain power by making pacts with powerful creatures. In real world legends and literature, evil or foolish mortals usually make such pacts with fiends, gaining power in exchange for either their souls or unnamed services. This treatment, though intriguing, is rather limited. In particular, the need for practitioners of pact magic to be either evil or very unwise effectively negates its use by player characters and relegates it to NPCs. Thus, the pact magic chapter takes a different approach, providing an enjoyable and balanced way for virtually any character to become involved in pact magic while remaining true to its roots in legend and maintaining its taboo feel.

Shadow Magic: Shadow magic exists in the D&D game as a subschool of illusion magic. The Forgottem Realms Campaign Setting took the concept further with the creation of the Shadow Weave and the corrupt magic it produces. Tome of Magic presents a wholly different option for shadow magic that connects it more deeply to the Plane of Shadow and fully embraces that realm's true nature as a dark mirror to the Material Plane.

Truename Magic: Truenames have been mentioned in D&D rulebooks and fiction since the first edition of the game. In this concept of magic, every creature has a truename in addition to its normal name, and anyone who knows its truename gains a measure of power over it. In fantasy fiction, this concept often takes a broader form, in which even objects possess truenames. The presentation of truename magic in this book takes its cues from both concepts and provides an easy way for both players and DMs to use the concept of truenames in play.

As you flip through the book, you'll quickly notice that each of the three sections (they're not actually defined as chapters) has its own distinct look and feel -- the page layout (background and framing elements) and section label (found on the outer edge of each page, like a tab) immediately inform you that you're looking at a specific section. That treatment not only looks nifty, but it helps you navigate the book more easily. Moreover, it really gives each section of the book a sense of completeness, as if the whole is made up of three smaller supplements. And that's not so far from the truth. Each of the three sections of Tome of Magic offers a wholly self-contained system you can incorporate into your game -- each one complete with a base class, prestige classes, feats, spells, monsters, magic items, and more.

Just to give you a little more of a taste of what you'll find in each section, I'll give you a small slice of magical goodness from each, starting with a glimpse at just one of the many vestiges your character might summon so that she can form a pact with it. Sometimes it takes a thief to catch a thief. Other times -- like when you're bound to Andromalius -- it takes an erstwhile thief to do the job even better.

ANDROMALIUS, THE REPENTANT ROGUE

Once the favorite of the god Olidammara, Andromalius now exists as a vestige. His granted abilities help his summoners beat rogues and ne'er-do-wells at their own game.

Legend: Once the herald of Olidammara, Andromalius foreswore theft and mischief on his deathbed, repenting all the actions he had taken on behalf of his god during his life. By this means, he hoped to steal his soul from his deity, thus accomplishing his greatest theft and prank in history, and proving himself the most worthy of his god's favor.

At first angered by Andromalius's betrayal, Olidammara quickly realized the irony of the moment and burst into laughter. Yet the god's good humor was short-lived, because he realized that to accept Andromalius's soul would be to prevent the theft and ruin the joke. Since Olidammara was loath to let such a clever servant to go to the realm of some other god, he repaid his servant's honor a hundredfold -- he stole Andromalius's soul from the cosmos, making it a vestige. Whether Andromalius deemed this result an honor or not remains unclear.

Special Requirement: You must obtain two different nonmagical items similar to those that Andromalius holds in his hands when he manifests and place them within the confines of his seal when you summon him. These items vanish as soon as Andromalius appears.

Find out more about making a pact with Andromalius

While there's a bit more to wielding Shadow Magic than simply choosing spells off a different list, anyone that has ever shopped for spells will appreciate the powers and abilities available to those who tap into the energies from the Plane of Shadow.

DANCING SHADOWS
Apprentice, Shutters and Clouds
Level/School: 3rd/Illusion (Glamer)
Range: Touch
Target: One creature/5 levels
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

You draw the shadows around yourself or other subjects, where they waver and shift, partially obscuring form.

You grant subjects concealment. If you cast this mystery on a single subject, the shadows are thicker, and the subject gains total concealment. The spell see invisibility and the mystery piercing sight do not negate these miss chances, but the spell true seeing and the mystery truth revealed do.

ECHO SPELL
Initiate, Black Magic
Level/School: 5th/Universal
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: Repeat a previously cast spell or mystery
Duration: See text
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: See text

Even as you recoil from your enemy's spell, you reach into the Plane of Shadow and draw forth the spiritual reflection of that spell. With a grin, you manifest it in the physical world and hurl it back at him.

You can "echo" a mystery or spell cast by anyone other than yourself, causing it to remanifest under your control. Both the caster and the effect must have been within echo spell's range, and the entire casting must have occurred in the previous round. You choose the mystery or spell's target, and make any other choices involved in casting it. You cast the mystery or spell using your mystery user level (use your Cha modifier to determine the mystery or spell's DC; its duration, saves, and the like are as normal for that spell). You cannot echo a mystery or spell of a higher level than the highest-level mystery you can cast, and you can never echo a mystery or a spell of higher than 4th level.

UMBRAL BODY
Master, Dark Metamorphosis
Level/School: 8th/Transmutation
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level (D)

You become a being of shadow, rather than one of substance.

You gain the incorporeal subtype (see page 164) and all advantages and traits associated with it.

WARP SPELL
Initiate, Black Magic
Level/School: 4th/Abjuration
Range: Close (25 ft. +5 ft./2 levels)
Target: A spell or mystery cast by someone else
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates; see text
Spell Resistance: No

You reach out with shadowy energies, banishing your foe's spell or mystery into the Plane of Shadow while replacing it with its dark reflection.

You can cast this mystery as an immediate action to warp another caster's spell or mystery. In this case, warp spell must be used at the moment of the other caster's casting. To be successful, you must beat the other caster on an opposed caster level check (1d20 + caster level). If you do not, you have failed to take control of his spell or mystery, and it manifests normally.

If you succeed on the opposed check, the other caster's mystery or spell is countered, as if you had used the counterspell action successfully, and you gain one additional use of an apprentice-path mystery that you know. You can keep this additional use until a later turn (requiring a standard action to activate), but it must be used within 1 hour or it is lost. You can also combine the activation of the additional spell or mystery with the immediate action required for the warp spell mystery itself, allowing you to cast the apprentice-path mystery out of turn.

When it comes to D&D, the power that resides in a truename isn't exactly a new idea. But a system for making use of them certainly is. Of course, if you're going to start uttering strange, arcane monikers, you've got to first learn them -- and that takes research. It can be a difficult and involved process for the untrained, but those who know the right secrets can tap into powers beyond imagination.

DISCOVERING A PERSONAL TRUENAME

You can find out someone's personal truename using a combination of mundane and magical research techniques. But the search can be an expensive, time-consuming process. Even access to the Merciless Catalog or Splendors beyond the Veil isn't sufficient, because those encyclopedias are neither complete nor completely accurate. (Shortly after the Merciless Catalog of Fiends was disseminated, for example, many clever devils intentionally spread fake copies with their own names badly garbled but the personal truenames of their rivals intact.) Shorter-lived characters, such as humans, probably don't have their personal truenames recorded in any important text, so discovering such an individual's truename becomes an exercise in detective work using genealogies, magical divinations, and other esoteric techniques.

Discover More about Discovering a Personal Truename

March:Power of Faerūn

Releasing next month, Power of Faerūn is a 160-page hardcover supplement that offers players and DMs information, advice, guidelines, and rules for high-level play in the Forgotten Realms.Back in December, I couldn't do much more than mention this particular book. Last month, all I had to show was back cover text.

This month, I can give you a little more -- like the chapter-by-chapter description you'll find on page 5 of the Introduction:

Using This Book

This book gives players suggested tactics, and descriptions of possible pitfalls and opportunities, for guiding their characters into dominance in a campaign set in Faerūn. Its lore and mechanics can readily be used in Dungeons & Dragons games that use other settings. Dungeon Masters will find a treasure trove of adventure ideas in these pages as well as guidelines for detailing ruling courts and other institutions and power groups as well as handling political struggles, crises, and daily situations in play.

Chapter 1: Order in the Court. Rulers might sit on thrones and thunder decrees, but courtiers do the work of turning royal decisions into daily rulership. This chapter isn't about playing king or queen, but about how to rise through the ranks of a ruling court, dealing with intrigues and other political matters. Common court ranks and "the way things work" in the formal rulership of a realm or city-state are explored, and a sample court hierarchy is provided.

Chapter 2: Win the Battlefield. Disputes in Faerūn all too often erupt into open armed conflict. This chapter deals with the many facets of military leadership, from battlefield command to logistics and the daily diplomacy of making various ranks work together.

Chapter 3: Keep the Faith. Deities are very real in Faerūn and their priesthoods wield tremendous power. This chapter describes how holy authority "works" and is used as well as how to rise in rank and influence within a priesthood. Conflicts both inside a faith and between faiths are explored.

Chapter 4: Play the Market. Faerūn of today is shaped by its mercantile trade, which literally makes it possible for populations in particular locations to exist (by providing food and goods from afar). Successful merchants and business magnates have been gaining ever more importance over the last thousand years in Faerūn until, in many cases, they are more wealthy and powerful than rulers who have crowns and thrones. This chapter describes trade routes, costers, trade consortiums, and methods for controlling them or rising to dominance within or over them. Coins can be sharper than swords.

Chapter 5: Tame the Frontier. The everchanging political landscape of Faerūn has its so-called "civilized" areas and its wilderlands, and wherever the two meet is a frontier area. Whether civilization is expanding or shrinking, such transitional locales are rich in adventure -- and offer great opportunities for enrichment and rulership to ambitious adventurers. This chapter describes the challenges facing a frontier leader as well as how officials in a rural domain deal with perils such as bandits and marauding monsters.

Chapter 6: King of the Road. Between rugged frontiers and glittering cities are the rural areas, where farms that feed those cities lie and outlaws (even local "robber barons") might lurk. This chapter explores the lives and campaign use of marshals and heralds, two very different arms of authority, who can be PCs, opponents to PCs, or officials who serve PC rulers.

Chapter 7: High-Level Challenges. Powerful PCs need powerful adversaries. The D&D game has seen a long line of published adventures featuring formidable villains, and this chapter explores how to use deities, great dragons, rival adventurers, and invading armies as PC challenges in a Forgotten Realms campaign.

Chapter 8: The Border Kingdoms. A legendary region of tiny, ever-changing kingdoms ruled by adventurers, outcasts, and misfits, this lush coastal area is "the" battleground for carefree adventuring mayhem. This chapter describes current conditions there and explores opportunities for PC heroes.

Chapter 9: How To Rule. This section of the book explores the game mechanics that govern the situations explored in the preceding chapters of the book, notably Leadership and Influence. The modifiers and tables herein can readily be used in any Dungeons & Dragons game.

April:Complete Psionic

I don't have much to tell you about this book (or any of the April-release products, for that matter), but I can tell you a few things. First off, Complete Psionic is a 160-page hardcover that will nestle right in beside the other "Complete ______" books on your shelf. And in the same manner that Complete Warrior explored and expanded upon all things fighter-y, even for nonfighter-types, Complete Psionic delves into the mind-bogglingly vast powers available to psions, psychic warriors, characters from psionic races, and everyone else interested in exploring the power of the mind. So, that's going to be stuff such as character classes, combat options, psionic powers, equipment, prestige classes, feats, equipment, and more.

Tell you what, here's a big chunk of the back cover text:

In ages past, those who wielded psionic power were ignored. Then, as folk witnessed firsthand their strange abilities, they were scorned and treated like outcasts. Over time, they have carved niches for themselves in society. Now you can rub shoulders with them at the local inn, trade with them in the bustling streets, and follow them on some great adventure. Psionic characters are everywhere, and your world is all the better for it.

This companion to Expanded Psionics Handbook builds on the existing psionics rules and presents exciting new options for psionic characters and psionic "dabblers." In addition to clarifying concepts introduced in Expanded Psionics Handbook, it presents three new standard classes -- the ardent, the erudite, and the lurk -- plus a host of new prestige classes, feats, spells, magic items, astral constructs, and organizations.

Perhaps I'll have more next month.

April:Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin

This is the third installation of the "Fantastic Locations" line of accessories. And if you explored Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drowor Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison, you've already got a great idea of what you'll find inside this thing: two double-side poster maps (for roleplaying and skirmish play) as well as a 16-page adventure that can be dropped into any D&D campaign. (For those of you keeping score at home, this was originally titled "The Keep of Fallen Kings" so you can pull that title off your wish list.)

There's not a lot more I can add right now, but here's the back cover text:

Conquer Ancient Battlefields to Plunder the Keep of Fallen Kings

The King's Road cuts across fields where great battles once raged -- fields littered with bones, shattered weapons, the wreckage of mighty siege engines. Follow the road to the sundered gates of the Keep of Fallen Kings, a great ruin wherein lies the fabled Earthcrown. But be warned! The keep has attracted its share of monsters and treasure hunters over the years, and rumors of a fiendish dungeon beneath the keep have lured many adventurers to their doom.

Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin contains two beautifully illustrated, double-sided battle maps scaled for Dungeons & Dragons play. The battle maps feature fantastic terrain designed to create large, fluid encounters, key scenes, and exciting game sessions. Rather than simple dungeon encounters, these maps generate the epic struggles that campaign memories are made of.

Three of the maps also make ideal battlegrounds for D&D MiniaturesGame play. Build your warband and fight for control of the King's Road, the Keep of Fallen Kings, or the dreaded Dungeon of Blood. A 16-page encounter booklet includes both roleplaying game encounters and skirmish game options for use with the four battle maps.

April: Voyage of the Golden Dragon

This is the fourth 32-page adventure created for the action-packed, intrigue-laced world of Eberron. While designed to work fine, just fine, as a standalone adventure, Voyage of the Golden Dragon -- not coincidentally -- is also the perfect follow-up adventure to run hot on the heels of the other three adventures created for the Eberron Campaign Setting. So, if your characters manage to survive Shadows of the Last War, Whispers of the Vampire's Blade,*and* Grasp of the Emerald Claw, you might have a relaxing, uneventful skyship voyage in store -- or you might find yourself aboard the Golden Dragon's maiden voyage.

Here's a swath of the back cover text:

The Golden Dragon, conceived as a skyfaring warship, now serves as a symbol of peace among the Five Nations. Even before the luxurious airship embarks on its maiden voyage, nefarious pirates, thieves, and saboteurs conspire to defame, steal, or destroy it. Resourceful adventurers are needed to protect the ship and its passengers, but can they uncover the secret enemy lurking in their midst?

Voyage of the Golden Dragon is a stand-alone adventure for the Dungeons & Dragons game that immerses your characters in the Eberron campaign setting. Designed to challenge 7th-level characters, it takes heroes on a perilous journey from Sharn to Stormreach and also serves as a launching pad for adventures the world over.

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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