Previews
Previews for August and Beyond
By Mat Smith

Make Room -- More Coming Through

Take a deep breath and get ready to deal with an overload of D&D for the next month or two -- we've got four things coming out this month, and six in the pipeline bound for September, including the biggest minis ever, a jumbo-sized adventure, sourcebooks for both Forgotten Realms and Eberron, and an entirely new product that you're going to want to use with all of your minis. August was chock-full enough, back when it was just the Gargantuan Black Dragon, Book of Nine Swords, and Dragons of Faerūn. But now, we've added Dungeon Tiles. And then comes September and its Colossal Red Dragon, Dragon Magic, Faiths of Eberron, The Twilight Tomb, d20 Dark*Matter, andrevised D&D Basic Game. It's nearly overwhelming. If you're ready to have your Whelm overclocked, check it out:

August: Dungeon Tiles

Kinda like Three-Dragon Ante last year, this new accessory popped up on radars suddenly and was moving so quickly, I've not had a chance before now to actually include anything about it. Sturdy, portable, and easy-to-use, each nonrandomized pack of Dungeon Tiles will help Dungeon Masters improve every adventure and maximize the use of their D&D Miniatures.

Constructed of durable, laminated, game board, each double-sided piece features full-color artwork depicting any of a variety of dungeon features and settings. (This first set of Dungeon Tiles contains a tavern and magic shop, as well as pits, statues, stairs, doors, chasms, and other elements of a classic dungeon delve.) Plus, the flipside of many of the tiles features an unadorned 1-inch grid that enables a DM to create an endless variety of room and passage configurations.

Once you tear open the shrinkwrap and start popping out the pieces (over three-dozen in the first pack), you'll understand just how useful Dungeon Tiles will be for your game. And, even better is how useful two packs will be -- multiple copies of each set will help you build bigger, more-complex dungeons. And future releases will give you the opportunity to explore other environments, expand your collection, and create more interesting and elaborate dungeons.

August: D&D Icons Gargantuan Black Dragon

You've been hearing about this guy for quite some time. (Back in June, I passed along a few of the mini's measurements (4-inch by 4-inch base, 8 inches tall, 11-inch wingspan), as well as a bit of a description. But, really there's nothing like actually getting one of these in your hands, setting it down on your gaming table, and seeing just how gargantuan Gargantuan really is. (Just for comparison, a 4-inch by 4-inch base is about the same size as a half-gallon carton of milk.) So, the Gargantuan Black Dragon goes on sale this month, and (for one shining month of glory) takes up the mantle of Biggest D&D Miniatures minis out there -- black dragons don't get any bigger than this (check your Monster Manual.)

August: Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords

Of all the books coming out this year, this is the one I've heard the R&D guys talking about the most -- a 160-page sourcebook filled with new rules and combat options that everyone and anyone can use.

Back in June, you got the back cover text. Last month, I gave you a taste of what's inside the book with a big scoop of Introduction text, topped with a sprinkling of new feats, and a big dollop of all-new maneuvers and stances. This month, I wanted to give you a more concrete idea of what the maneuvers and stances will allow your character to do.

Maneuver and Stance Descriptions

The various martial maneuvers available to practitioners of the Sublime Way are described in Chapter 4: Maneuvers and Stances. The description of each power follows a standard format, which is explained below.

Name

This entry is the name by which the maneuver is generally known. However, it's fairly common for various schools or traditions of the Sublime Way to bestow their own names on maneuvers. For example, the swooping dragon strike maneuver might be known as the dragon's pounce, the gentle reminder, or something as esoteric as Liam falling down the mountain.

Martial Description

Each maneuver belongs to one of nine martial disciplines. The maneuvers in a discipline are loosely linked by common effects, philosophies, or functions. The second line of a maneuver or stance description provides the name of the relevant discipline, along with its type (see below).

Just like maneuver names, the names of martial disciplines vary widely from one locale to another. In fact, the term discipline is not universally used. Disciplines might be known as schools, traditions, philosophies, regimens, teachings, paths, or styles. For example, the Desert Wind discipline might be known in some areas as the Green Naga style or the Wakeful Dreamer philosophy.

Each discipline is tied to a skill that might be used in the execution of some of its maneuvers. In addition, various weapons lend themselves to the philosophy or maneuvers of different disciplines.

The nine disciplines include the following:

Desert Wind

Speed and mobility are the hallmarks of the Desert Wind discipline. Desert Wind maneuvers often involve blinding flurries of blows, quick charges, and agile footwork. Some maneuvers from this school, however, draw power from the supernatural essence of the desert and allow an adept practitioner to scour his foes with fire.

The key skill for Desert Wind maneuvers is Tumble. Weapons associated with Desert Wind include the scimitar, light mace, light pick, falchion, and spear.

Devoted Spirit

Faith, piety, and purity of body and mind are the wellsprings of a warrior's true power. Devoted Spirit maneuvers harness a practitioner's spiritual strength and her zealous devotion to a cause. This discipline includes energies baneful to a creature opposed to the Devoted Spirit student's cause, abilities that can keep an adept fighting long after a more mundane warrior would fall to his enemies, and strikes infused with vengeful, fanatical power.

Intimidate is the key skill for Devoted Spirit. Devoted Spirit associated weapons include the falchion, greatclub, longsword, and maul.

Diamond Mind

True quickness lies in the mind, not the body. A student of the Diamond Mind discipline seeks to hone his perceptions and discipline his thoughts so that he can act in slivers of time so narrow that others cannot even perceive them. A corollary of this speed of thought and action is the concept of the mind as the battleground. An enemy defeated in his mind must inevitably be defeated in the realm of the physical as well.

Concentration is the key skill for Diamond Mind. The rapier, shortspear, bastard sword (katana), and trident are the associated weapons for Diamond Mind.

Iron Heart

Absolute mastery of the sword is the goal of the Iron Heart discipline. Through unending practice and study, the Iron Heart adept achieves superhuman skill with her weapons. Iron Heart maneuvers are demonstrations of uncanny martial skill -- weaving patterns of steel that dizzy, confuse, and ultimately kill with no recourse.

The key skill for Iron Heart is Balance, since a perfect understanding of motion is essential to maneuvers in this discipline. The bastard sword, dwarven waraxe, longsword, and two-bladed sword are the associated weapons for Iron Heart.

Setting Sun

Strength is an illusion. Adherents of the Setting Sun philosophy understand that no warrior can hope to be stronger, quicker, and more skillful than every one of her enemies. Therefore, this discipline includes maneuvers that use an adversary's power and speed against him. Setting Sun maneuvers include throws and imitative strikes. The highest forms of the Setting Sun require an adept to empty herself of preconception and impulse to become a hollow vessel unhindered by want.

Sense Motive is the key skill for the Setting Sun discipline. The associated weapons for Setting Sun are the short sword, quarterstaff, nunchaku, and unarmed strike.

Shadow Hand

Never show an adversary what he expects to see. The Shadow Hand discipline emphasizes deception, misdirection, and surprise. The most effective blow is one struck against an enemy who does not even know he is in danger. Because the study of deceit as a philosophy often leads into darker practices, some Shadow Hand maneuvers employ the supernatural cold and darkness of pure shadow.

The key skill for the Shadow Hand discipline is Hide. Shadow Hand associated weapons include the dagger, short sword, sai, siangham, unarmed strike, and spiked chain.

Stone Dragon

The strength and endurance of the mountains epitomize the Stone Dragon discipline. The methodical and relentless application of force allows a student of this philosophy to defeat any foe. Strikes of superhuman power and manifestations of perfect, idealized force make up the Stone Dragon maneuvers.

Balance is the key skill for the Stone Dragon discipline. The associated weapons for Stone Dragon are greatsword, greataxe, heavy mace, and unarmed strike.

Tiger Claw

Consciousness is the enemy of instinct. The Tiger Claw discipline teaches that martial superiority can be achieved by discarding the veneer of civilization, along with the higher thoughts that fetter a warrior's actions. Tiger Claw maneuvers emulate the strikes, leaps, and pounces of animals. When infused with ki power, some Tiger Claw maneuvers also allow a martial adept to take on animalistic characteristics, speed, and bloodlust.

Tiger Claw emphasizes strength and speed, so Jump is the key skill for this discipline. The kukri, kama, claw, handaxe, greataxe, and unarmed strike are the associated weapons for Tiger Claw.

White Raven

No warrior fights in isolation. Cooperation, teamwork, and leadership can give two warriors the strength of five, and five warriors the strength of twenty. The student of the White Raven masters maneuvers that combine the strengths of two or more allies against a common foe. Shouts and battlecries infused with ki are the signature maneuvers of the White Raven discipline.

Diplomacy is the key skill for White Raven. This discipline's associated weapons are the longsword, battleaxe, warhammer, greatsword, and halberd.

August: Dragons of Faerūn

As if there wasn't already enough going on in the Forgotten Realms, adventurers will soon find themselves facing a once-every-hundred-to-seven-hundred-years threat -- the Rage of Dragons. The upside to a pan-Faerūn epidemic of draconic proportions like this is that it provides everyone from the Moonshaes to Kara-Tur the opportunity to meet any of a number of dragons from all over the Realms. Most Faerūnians will meet only one of them. Once. But intrepid heroic-types will surely find themselves facing down more than a few dragons and dragon-centric organizations. (The Rage of Dragons sounds like a great time for Cult of the Dragon activity.) So, inside this 160-page sourcebook, you'll find detailed information about fifteen unique dragons, four unique dracoliches, and monster entries for three "new" dragon types: mercury, steel, and mist. (They've been roaming around Faerūn for years and years and years, just avoiding 3.5-style documentation.) There's also sample lairs (with maps-'n'-traps), dragon-flavored spells, weapons, and magic items (including some artifacts).

So, I passed along the back cover text for this book back in June. Last month, I offered up the book's explanation of the Rage of Dragons, the always-helpful chapter-by-chapter description of the book's contents, and an introduction to one of Faerūn's unique dragons: an ancient fang dragon known as Nartheling.


Voaraghamanthar and Waervaerendor

This month, I thought I'd try to give you a sense of just how many dragons there really are out there in the Realms. And the best way I can imagine doing that is by showing you a small piece of the eleven-page-long appendix listing an exhaustive number of known dragons.

Faerūn is home to countless dragons, whose territories range from the Great Glacier to the Great Sea and from Evermeet to the Endless Wastes. On this and the following 10 pages is a nearly complete list of the named dragons of Faerūn who have been detailed (perhaps only briefly) in print in previous Forgotten Realms game books and fiction. For those wyrms best known by a humanoid nickname, their real names are revealed here as well. A sortable, electronic spreadsheet version of this table, which includes the published source for each dragon, will be available soon. Of course, this list -- long though it might be -- is just a brief sampling of dragons known to live in Faerūn, and the DM is encouraged to add to or modify this list as befits the campaign.

Check out a few pages from the Roll Call of Dragons Appendix.

Dragon CR Status Gender/Kind Lair/Domain
Kastrandrethilian 15 Living; paladin 2 Female young adult silver Western Galenas
Kelpacitus 9 Living Male young adult black Veldorn
Khaasxarax, "The Slayer Ebon" -- Dead Male ancient black Cormanthor
Khalahmongre -- Destroyed dracolich Male ancient blue Unknown
Khavalanoth 8 Living Male juvenile green Waterdeep
Khuralosothantar 22 Living Male ancient bronze Mount Halaath, Sea of Fallen Stars
Kisonraathiisar -- Dead Male wyrm topaz Westgate
Kissethkashaan 10 Living Male adult white The High Country, Rashemen
Kistarianth "The Red" -- Destroyed dracolich Male ancient red Waterdeep
Kizilpazar, "Kizzap" -- Dead Male ancient blue Morueme's Cave, Dragondoom, Nether Mountains
Klaruuotur 20 Living Male ancient crystal Calimshan
Klauth, "Old Snarl" 26 Living Male great wyrm red Klauthen Vale, High Forest
Klithalrundrar, "The Flamemaw" -- Dead Male mature adult red Unknown
Krashos 14 Living Male adult blue Ched Nasad, North Underdark
Kraxx 18 Living Female mature adult topaz The Wild Coast, Chult
Kriionfanthicus, "King Kriion" 25 Living Male wyrm gold Unknown
Krustalanos -- Dead Male very old crystal The North
Kryonar 22 Dracolich Male wyrm white Mount Nar, Narfell
Kuldrak the Many-Taloned -- Dead Male ancient red Southern Thunder Peaks
Landillew 20 Living Female old red Serpent Hills
Larauthtor 26 Living Male great wyrm red Unknown
Larendrammagar, "Nexus" 37 Living; sorcerer 10 Male great wyrm gold Unknown
Lareth, "His Resplendence," "King of Justice" -- Dead Male great wyrm gold Unknown
Larithylar, "The Chameleon Dragon" 15 Living; sorcerer 12 Female lamia Westgate
Latovenomer 22 Living Male wyrm green Rethild, the Great Swamp
Lhammarar -- Dead Male great wyrm copper Unknown
Lhammaruntosz, "Claws of the Coast," "Rauthra" 20 Living Female very old bronze Orlumbor
Linussaxannol 21 Living Male ancient green Central Wealdath
Llimark 16 Living Male adult gold Unknown
Lorragauth -- Dead Male very old black Lord Tharnor's Manor, The North
Lux, "Torch" 18 Living Male mature adult red Spine of the World
Maelestor Rex 19 Living Male ancient black Central High Moor
Maerithryvvin -- Dead Male great wyrm red Amn
Magarovallanthanz -- Dead Male ancient red Magar's Hill, Snakewood, Amn
Mahatnartorian, "Master of the Mountains" -- Dead Male advanced great wyrm red Unknown
Mahrlee 11 Living Female young adult blue Storm Horns
Mairogra -- Dead Female wyrm red Everlund
Makmahonn 16 Living Male mature adult green Formerly NE Serpent Hills, Currently near Raven's Bluff
Malaeragoth, "The Dragon Unseen" 24 Living; wizard 5 Male very old sapphire Underdark beneath Graypeak Mountains
Malagarthaul, "Flaming Claws" -- Dead Male great wyrm red Impiltur
Malaritheos 15 Living Male adult red Dragonspine Mountains
Malazan 20 Living Female old red Unknown
Maldraedior 28 Living; dragon ascendant 3 Male great wyrm blue Smoking Mountains, Unther
Maldrithor, "Th Sarbreenar Wyrm" -- Dead Male wyrm green Sarbreenar
Malek Salerno 15 Living Male ancient steel Arabel
Malygris, "The Suzerain of Anauroch" 22 Dracolich Male very old blue Anauroch
Maughrysear, "Flashburn" 24 Living Female wyrm red High Moor
Mauzzkyl Jaezred 40 Living; sorcerer 13/assassin 5 Male great wyrm drow-dragon Chaulssin
Mejas 7 Living Male young copper Serpent Hills
Meliordianix 16 Living Female mature adult song Relkath's Foot, Yuirwood
Menexalavoss, "Mnomene" 14 Living Female young adult gold Unknown
Mera Quicksilver 10 Living Female adult mercury Storm Horns, Cormyr
Mergandevinasander 20 Living Male wyrm black Chult
Miirym, "The Sentinel Wyrm" 21 Incorporeal Female great wyrm silver Beneath Candlekeep (formerly sentinel Sword Coast near Ulgoth's Beard)
Mikkaalgensis, "The Harper Dragon" -- Dead Male adult silver Myth Drannor, Cormanthor
Mistinarperadnacles Hai Draco, "Mist" -- Dead Female ancient red Storm Horns
Miteach 7 Living Male young copper Serpent Hills
Mithbarazak, "King Mith" 26 Living Male great wyrm silver Iltkazar, Underdark
Moraughaloth 11 Living Male young adult copper Council Hills, The Shaar
Mornauguth, "The Moor Dragon" 12 Dracolich; cleric 8 (human) Female young adult green Rockshaws, NE High Moor, Amn
Morueme -- Dead Male great wyrm blue Silver Marches
Moruharzel -- Dead Male ancient blue Morueme's Cave, Dragondoom, Nether Mountains
Mrinabnahor, Crinabnahor -- Dead Male ancient black Mountains W Dragon Sea
Nabalnyth -- Dead Female very old black Rat Hills
Naelere 19 Living Female old bronze Serpent Hills
Nahaunglaroth 21 Living; sorcerer 5 Male mature adult blue Morueme's Cave, Dragondoom, Nether Mountains
Nalavarauthatoryl, "Nalavara," "The Devil Dragon" -- Dead Female great wyrm red (elf) Demiplane of Grodd

September: Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game

If you're reading this article, chances are you're not the target audience for this box-o'-D&D. Though, you probably know someone who is. (Which, oddly enough, does kinda make you a good person to pick up a copy -- trying to teach someone how to play D&D can be tricky.) Anyway, as you'd imagine (or remember from the first version), the redesigned Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game provides everything 2-5 people need to sit down and start playing D&D -- dice, character sheets, adventures, maps, rules, and miniatures. (Back in June, I gave you the back-of-box text. And last month, I passed along the list of contents.)

Collectors and completists (or anyone looking to expand their D&D Miniatures collection) will be interested in the minis included in the set, since they've all got bases stamped as being from the D&D Basic Set, some have been renamed for the game, and one of them is a repaint of the Evermeet Wizard. Here's a list of the minis you'll find inside the box (with a parenthetical note about the mini's original name):

  • Dothal, Dwarf Cleric (Cleric of Moradin)
  • Regdar, Human Fighter (Regdar, Adventurer)
  • Lanin, Elf Wizard (Evermeet Wizard)
  • Carn, Human Rogue (Graycloak Ranger)
  • Harpy
  • Harpy
  • Gargoyle
  • Blue Dragon (Large Blue Dragon)
  • Young Minotaur
  • Skeleton (Warrior Skeleton)
  • Orc Mauler
  • Goblin Sneak
  • Goblin Warrior

September: Dragon Magic

This 160-page supplement explores the realm of possibilities that opens up to a campaign in which dragons are a more active part of the world at large. Within the pages of this hardcover book, you'll find options, guidelines, suggestions, and rules for creating a world (or adapting your existing one) where dragons openly share their secrets and power with the other sentient races. Last month, you got the back cover copy. This month, I'll introduce the book by pasting a nice chunk of introductory text from the introduction.




What Is Dragon Magic?

In most D&D campaigns, dragons are detached from the rest of civilization. They live in distant places and show little regard or interest for the communities of humans and other tiny creatures that inhabit "their" world. Notable exceptions exist -- the polymorphed silver dragon that befriends humans, the rampaging red dragon that preys on remote settlements. However, by and large, dragons in the D&D game keep mostly to themselves.

Dragon Magic changes the way dragons are used in a D&D campaign by suggesting a stronger connection between them and the various humanoid races (humans, dwarves, elves, and such). This book presupposes a world in which the dragons are actively invested, one in which dragons openly share their magical secrets with humans and the other core races. Using the details in this book, you can:

  • Play a gnome sorcerer who has learned ceremonial rituals from a brass dragon, enabling him to adopt dragonlike characteristics.
  • Adventure in a kingdom ruled (or tyrannized) by dragons.
  • Play a half-elf dragonmaster who has learned secret magic auras from a silver dragon covenant and won the trust of a trusty drake companion.
  • Play a half-orc fighter who has weathered the tyranny of a red dragon long enough to master some new dragon-related feats.
  • At its core, Dragon Magic is all about what happens when "lesser" races form loose pacts or associations with dragons and learn the creatures' ancient secrets.

Dragon Magic includes new options for characters who wish to be more dragonlike, including a new standard character class, level substitutions, rituals, auras, organizations, feats, and prestige classes. It also has advice for running more dragon-based campaigns, draconic locations, dragonblood monsters, as well as a selection of new dragon-themed powers: spells for arcane and divine casters, invocations for warlocks, soulmelds for meldshapers, and psionic powers for psions.

September: The Twilight Tomb

I already passed along the back cover copy for this thing last month.

Beyond that, all I can really tell you is that it's a 160-page adventure designed to challenge a party of four 3rd-level characters, it takes place in theForgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and it has something to do with star elves.

 

September: Faiths of Eberron

For all of the intrepid Dungeon Masters and players who call theEberron Campaign Setting, home, this 160-page supplement will be an invaluable addition to the shelf. Faiths of Eberron, not surprisingly, goes into great detail about the established pantheons, secret cults, and other religious organizations in the world of Eberron, and includes an array of campaign-expanding material that will help DMs flesh out NPCs, encounters, adventures, and campaigns, while offering players a pile of new prestige classes, feats, spells, and magic items from which to choose.

I got things started last month, by passing along the back cover copy. This month, as is often the case, I feel compelled to share the book's stunning interior spread artwork by Wayne Reynolds.

Once you finish drinking that in, it's time to move on to the Introduction, which provides us with a convenient chapter-by-chapter overview of what fills the remainder of the book.

Introduction

Religion is a natural outgrowth of the inquisitive mind. Long before they quested for great empires or built shining cities, intelligent beings asked about the origins of existence and their place in the world. The gods, in a sense, are born from these most basic questions -- or the questions arose because of the gods.

This book discusses the major religious movements in Khorvaire, as well as some of the lesser but influential sects. It is largely drawn from a living document kept in the Department of Ecclesiastical Studies at the University of Wynarn in Fairhaven, Aundair. Many of the lengthier commentaries are the work of the esteemed provost Camarind Alst, who remained a vigorous scholar of faith until his death in the year 997 YK at the age of eighty-four. Shorter essays have been added over the years by students and independent researchers. Such notes vary widely in quality and reliability; the reader is forewarned not to draw conclusions hastily.

Faiths of Eberron also includes a number of adventure sites and sample NPCs that Dungeon Masters can use as a resource for encounters and adventures of all kinds.

Divine Magic in Eberron

The gods of Eberron do not actively involve themselves in the world as gods of other settings do. They are distant -- if they exist at all. A commune spell contacts outsiders such as angels, not the gods themselves. Clerics gain their spells from their own faith, not from divine intervention.

But the people of Eberron know what is true as far as their faith is concerned. Never mind that one truth might completely contradict another. The gods' presence in the world is real, although seen in different ways. This book presents religious information through the eyes of believers, often stating as fact events that more properly belong in myth or legend.

Chapter One: The Sovereign Host provides an overview of the dominant religion in the civilized portions of Khorvaire.

Chapter Two: The Dark Six discusses the secret, darker worship of the exiled pantheon. In addition to describing the nature of worship and the faith's followers, this chapter studies some of the misconceptions about the "evil" Six.

Chapter Three: The Silver Flame examines Khorvaire's newest faith and its worshipers. Popular opinion sees the Silver Flame as a religion of pompous proselytizers, overzealous crusaders, and corrupt priests. In truth, most worshipers are decent, faithful folk, just like their neighbors who follow the Host (or even the Six).

Chapter Four: The Blood of Vol delves into the mysteries of this cult, misunderstood not only by outsiders but often by its own faithful.

Chapter Five: Druid Sects offers more details on the nature worship practiced in the Eldeen Reaches and other parts of Khorvaire.

Chapter Six: Other Cults deals with the larger "nonmainstream" religions of Eberron, including the faith of the Aereni, the warforged, and the various deluded Cults of the Dragon Below. This chapter also notes variants within these minority religions.

Chapter Seven: The Trappings of Faith offers rules options for religious characters, both PCs and antagonists. New feats, spells, psionic powers, and magic items enhance the experience of religion in Eberron.

So, I thought that I'd give you a taste of just one of the faiths touched upon in the book, and you can't get much more Eberronian than one of the faiths you'll find in Chapter Six: Other Cults -- that is, a faith followed by the warforged who revere the Becoming God.

The Becoming God

Rumors persist of a warforged battalion that deserted its Karrnathi masters and entered the Mournland. Calling themselves the Godforged, they are unified by a belief that warforged have souls -- and that these souls were bestowed upon them by a construct god. How the Godforged conceive of such a deity is unknown to those outside the cult -- whether the philosophical ideal of "construct" can exist without a created body is a matter for the scholars -- but they are not content to worship a distant concept. The Godforged are dedicated to the great task of building a body to let their god walk the world as a comrade. The construction of this vessel -- the Becoming God -- is the project of lifetimes.


Priests of the Becoming God
carry a double burden: the souls
of their followers and the body
of their god

Over time, the Godforged movement has gained more adherents. Warforged seek definite goals in life, and they fear ultimate destruction as much as any living being. For some, belief in a thing greater than themselves addresses both issues, but in typical warforged fashion, they require something tangible. Hearing the stories, these curious individuals gradually make their way to the heart of the Mournland in search of truth. There, they find one another and form small groups, called "assemblages," devoted to learning more of the Becoming God. Within each group, the warforged with the strongest personality naturally assumes a leadership role and begins to direct the activity of the assemblage.

Religious and philosophical arguments have raged over the question of whether warforged have souls. They cannot become undead, but they can be resurrected. Is the ability to be aware and to reason sufficient evidence for a soul? For the Godforged, there is no question.

Consciousness is what separates them from mere machines and their mindless precursors, and if other conscious beings have souls, the warforged do, as well. They have no difficulty conceiving of a soul that is separate from the body: The Becoming God is surely the most powerful construct soul, and the source of their own. However, the Godforged also believe that a soul is built into a body, and that it increases as a life advances. (Hence, placing their god into its own body will let it grow even more powerful.) This belief is reflected in a propensity to add pieces to themselves, whether as magic components (Races of Eberron 175) or simply as ornament.

If the Godforged believe in an afterlife, they do not subscribe to the idea of Dolurrh as the soul's destination. The warforged soul is bound within the body, and without one, it exists as mere potential. Most Godforged hold that unbound souls form part of the Becoming God until they once again find bodies, or become part of his physical entity.

Some religious scholars have noted what they consider an odd parallel between the Becoming God's devoted and the Church of the Silver Flame. Both believe that souls departed from their fleshly confines join their god. Although the Church of the Silver Flame views the journey as a one-way trip and the Godforged see more interaction, it would be interesting to these same scholars to know if any Godforged or Flame scholar has investigated other similarities between the two presumably separate gods.

Explore the faith of the Godforged and learn more about The Becoming God.

September: Colossal Red Dragon

Next month. Sixty-four square inches of battlemat-filling, fire-breathing nastiness hits shelves and gaming tables. Wait until you see this thing -- you really can't appreciate the presence of the Colossal Red Dragon until it's right there in front of you. At 14 inches tall and pushing over a foot wide, this second installation in the D&D Icons line will leave a lasting impression on any warband or adventuring party unfortunate enough to come face-to-toe with it.

September: d20 Dark*Matter

Come up with your own conspiracy theory about why I don't have anything new to show you this month. Here's the story I'm sticking to: I couldn't get hold of anything. That said, I have found out that much of the book will be quite appealing to all of the folks that've been asking for a d20-ified update of the original Dark*Matter Campaign Setting.

If you're still curious about what might be inside this 160-page softcover supplement for thed20 Modern Roleplaying Game, you might want to take a look at the back cover copy, which you'll find lurking at the very bottom of last month's article.

October: Special Edition Monster Manual

It has taken only three years, but soon, your collection of black, embossed, leather-covered core rulebooks will be complete. Intended to be displayed and actively used alongside your Special Edition Player's Handbook and Special Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, this latest much-anticipated tome offers up all the same features and extras that made its predecessors so very sexy -- the 320-page Special Edition Monster Manual will be bound in embossed, black leather (with a stylized MM cover design), have the same gilt-edged pages, a red marker ribbon, and errata (making the book extra useful).

October: Dungeons & Dragons Limited-Edition Chess Set

The name kinda says it all. (Or most of it, anyway.) I don't have back cover copy, but I do have the descriptive text that was written for the catalog and materials heading out to help your FLGS take pre-orders for these things. If you buy only one D&D-themed chessboard this year, this is it:

A premium-quality chess set worthy of kings and heroes

Exquisitely crafted to hold a place of prestige on any table or display case, this premium-quality chess set depicts the eternal struggle between the good and evil dragons of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

Arrayed on the White side of the board are Bahamut, King of Good Dragons, and his noble children -- the gold, silver, bronze, brass, and copper dragons. The Black side of the board serves as the lair of Tiamat, Queen of Evil Dragons, and her wicked spawn -- the red, blue, black, green, and white dragons.

This limited-edition chess set also includes all-new variant rules specifically designed to incorporate elements drawn from the D&D game.

  • Every playing piece captures the unique characteristics of each of the classic D&D dragons with stunning detail and accuracy.
  • The base of the chessboard, crafted with a beautiful walnut finish, conceals a protective storage tray.
  • All-new variant rules add a distinctively D&D feel to the traditional chess experience.
  • The D&D logo, engraved onto each player's side of the chessboard, denotes the authenticity of this truly distinctive collector's item.

Components:

  • 32 Polystone playing pieces (Height of Kings: 3 1/4").
  • Walnut-finish chessboard (17" x 15" x 3 1/4") with inlaid leatherette playing surface.
  • Integrated storage base includes flocked protective tray.
  • Chessboard and base feature laser-etched artwork depicting good and evil dragons locked in battle.
  • Variant rules system incorporates elements of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

October: Complete Mage

All I've got to pass along for this 224-page hardcover supplement that puts even more, all-new arcane magic in the hands of players and DMs is the back cover copy:







Arcane Power at Your Fingertips

Every sentient creature is born with some potential to work magic. However, true mastery of arcane magic requires skill, practice, and power beyond the reach of common folk -- specifically, the power to harness raw magic and shape it into a desired effect. You are among those gifted few who have learned to channel arcane magic, shaping it to serve your creative or destructive whims.

This D&D supplement is intended for players and Dungeon Masters. In addition to providing the definitive treatise on arcane magic, it expands the character options available to users of arcane magic, including bards, sorcerers, wizards, assassins, warlocks, and wu jen. Herein you'll find never-before-seen prestige classes, spells and invocations, magic items, alchemical items, heritage feats, and reserve feats (a new type of feat that grants special abilities to those who remain charged with magical power). Alternative class features give other character classes -- from the barbarian to the rogue -- a little taste of what it's like to be an arcanist without sacrificing their core identities.

October: Expedition to Castle Ravenloft

Anyone that has been around for a while (particularly if you were adventuring back in '83) has surely heard of Ravenloft. This 224-page hardcover adventure updates and expands one of the most popular, memorable, and infamous adventures ever released for the game -- the 1st-Edition AD&D adventure Module I6: Ravenloft.

Since this one is an adventure, I don't want to go into much detail about it, but I will go so far as to suggest that characters might want to toss a few extra garlic cloves and wooden stakes into their backpacks. That helpful tidbit aside, the most useful thing I can offer is a look at the back cover copy:

A dark shape emerges from the shadow of Castle Ravenloft. A flash of lightning reveals the sneering countenance of Count Strahd von Zarovich. His eyes burn with eternal hunger and contempt for life. From a narrow balcony, he peers out into the drizzling twilight at the few sad lights of the village below and mutters a single name:

"Ireena . . ."

Expedition to Castle Ravenloft is a Dungeons & Dragons deluxe adventure that updates the original 1st Edition Ravenloft module, retaining the Gothic flavor and familiar elements while expanding and reimagining some of the locations to create a deeper, richer adventure experience.

This campaign arc adventure is designed for characters of levels 6-10 and features a new, easy-to-use combat encounter format. This book also presents new magic items, feats, and prestige classes for player characters.

November: Blood War Booster Packs

Every time an expansion hits the shelves around here, such as War of the Dragon Queen just did, it seems like there's a frenzied month-long booster pack-opening festival that's accompanied by crazed stock market pitlike trading. Everyone goes nuts trying to get a complete set, plus doubles, triples, or a nice half-dozen (or more) of particular favorite/useful minis. But the thing is, by the time most of us have assembled an acceptable minimum number of minis, which always encompasses getting that full set of 60, the anticipation of the next expansion starts to creep in. Making it worse is the fact that there's always stuff in the set on the horizon that would be useful right now. (Our Wednesday-night game had an encounter with Tiamat several months back, and we didn't get to put that huge five-headed chromatic dragon on the table.) So, there's nothing quite as agonizing as waiting for the minis in the next set. And there's nothing quite as exciting as finding out what those tantalizing minis are going to be. And that's why you're here.

Ice Devil -- It's about time we finished off the fiendish family portrait on page 51 of the Monster Manual. And when you compare the illustration of the Ice Devil with the mini, you can tell you're looking at a professional artist's model -- the pose is nearly identical to that of the illustration. The Ice Devil's tail is arched and slightly coiled, to fit it onto the Large base, and he has reversed his grip on his spear from a left-handed downward-stabbing grip to one that's a right-handed thrusting grip. (He probably got annoyed by the Imp perching on the haft.) So, those few differences aside, you're ready to marvel at the numbing coolness that is the (Rare) Ice Devil. From antennae to tail, the sculpt is nicely detailed, really capturing the essence of what a 12-foot-tall, blue, bipedal, mantislike creature from Hell would look like. The creature's head lends the most buglike qualities to the mini, with its antenna, mandibles, and especially those big, greenish-gold eyes (electric pea?). After that, you'd notice the exoskeletal build of the Ice Devil's two arms and legs that really look like they belong on a big, tough bug. (Not having six limbs kinda flies in the face of the buglike thing, but this is an extraplanar creature -- they play by their own rules out there.) After that, you start to blur the lines into the realm of devilishness as its segmented abdomen and spike-covered back converge to form an inordinately long tail that would look just as at-home following a dragon. And the four splayed-out, clawed toes also have a dragon-/lizardlike quality to them. Paintjob-wise, the Ice Devil is fairly simple -- a light gray-blue drybrushed with white. It's worth pointing out that this guy is one of the set's forays into matte-finish paint. Now that we've got our gelugon, for those of you keeping score at home, there are only two devils in the Monster Manual we've not seen in plastic yet.

Marilith -- It's not hard to recognize a six-armed, half-snake-tailed, female demon as being a Marilith, even if this one's very different from the illustration on page 41 of the Monster Manual. Whether for modesty's sake, or just because wearing armor is a good idea, this Large, Rare mini comes clad in a shining, silvery, form-fitting breastplate that's got a very small pauldron on her left shoulder. (That is, her uppermost left shoulder.) Coupled with the fact that all three of her right arms are sporting metal bracers, it seems as if this weapon-laden demon does most of her fancy weapon brandishing with her nonsinister side. Weapon-wise, starting with her black leather bracered upper-left arm, the Marilith is wielding a small dagger, longsword, spiked mace, long-bladed dagger (maybe a short sword), and two handaxes. Her greenish-yellow eyes have a frenzied glare that is unsettling enough. But when coupled with her fanged mouth, wide-open and ready to bite, hiss, or taunt at her next victim, she's just an unfriendly looking character. (Not that the half-dozen weapons make her cuddly.) Her waist-length, chestnut-colored hair drapes down her back, ending just in time for her snake tail to take over. Her powerful, but still lithe-looking serpentine half is covered in olive-drab scales, accented with very subtle, light-gray bands -- very snakelike.

Kobold Monk -- While minis such as the Ice Devil and Marilith catch my eye when looking through an upcoming set, the minis I'm always looking for are the kobolds. (Of course, I know that some folks don't share my passion for Kurtulmak's kin, so I'm including this guy as an extra preview mini -- I'll most regularly be showing off a pair of minis each month.) So, to-date, we've had a Kobold Warrior, Kobold Soldier, Kobold Skirmisher, Kobold Champion, Kobold Sorcerer, Kobold Miner, Dragonwrought Kobold, Zombie Kobold, and even the much-anticipated Meepo, Dragonlord. And we've also seen plenty of monks throughout the previous sets. But this guy is the first monstrous monk we've seen. Simply dressed in black pants and a dark green sash (possibly denoting his rank), the Kobold Monk is a specimen of physical perfection -- as you turn him around, you'll take note of the toned, compact, muscular build of an accomplished martial artist. Lightly crouched, ready to move in any direction, the Kobold Monk's stance connotes a calm preparedness. The silver medallion hanging around his neck seems to be swinging to his right, as if he had just taken a sudden step forward (say, a 5-foot adjustment) toward an opponent. His left arm, festooned with a black, leather bracer, is extended to gauge range and deflect incoming attacks, while his right arm is chambered back to deliver a mighty punch. His tail is held against his leading (left) leg, which seems to suggest that the Kobold Monk is in aggressive mode, keeping most of his weight on his forward leg. A weaponless, unarmed kobold might seem more like bait than a formidable opponent, but when you take into account that this is a Common mini, you can start to picture the scene of a grand battle at a kobold monastery filled with a lot of little scaly guys who really like Enter the Dragon.

Hey, if two-plus a kobold isn't enough for you, be sure to check out Steve Schubert's Minis Previews articles over on the D&D Minis page. And, you'll want to pick up Dragon magazine every month for their exclusive D&D minis coverage.

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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