Previews02/08/2007


Previews for February and Beyond



Something's Better Than Nothing

I'm more tired of being behind schedule than any of you. With everything going on around here, aside from skipping a month, this is the best way to get back on-track without just canceling the article. Check it out:


February: Barrow of the Forgotten King

This is a 64-page adventure for a party of 4th-level characters, the first in a three-part series. (Though it can be used as a stand-alone.) You could read the back cover text for this thing back in December and that's as far as I can go with an adventure.





February: Secrets of Sarlona

I had the back cover text back in December for this 160 pages of material (for DMs and Players) that explores the mysterious homeland of the Inspired and the kalashtar. For an idea of just how detailed the exploration is, and to get a better idea of what kinds of stuff you'll find inside, you can take a look at Secrets of Xen'drik.) Of course, Secrets of Sarlona is on sale this month, so you can just check it out.



February: Dungeonscape

This is the latest, 160-page addition to the Environment series. You've explored deserts, cold, oceans, and cities -- now it's time for players and DMs to really delve into dungeons. You could read back cover text back in December, and I didn't get material to show off last month. It's on sale this month, so you can go look at it.

Hey, here's a quote from Dungeonscape Lead Developer Mike Mearls:


For players, the factotum (the renamed journeyman) provides a set of unique mechanics that make the jack-of-all trades in D&D both possible and playable. Several classes try to deliver on this concept, but the factotum is the first one to make it a playable reality.

For DMs, the encounter trap system changes how every DM who buys Dungeonscape looks at traps. While the game still supports the old zap-you're-toast trap, the encounter trap rules allow you to pull the best bits out of Indiana Jones movies and use them in your D&D campaign.

Website

What's this? Information on the D&D website snuck into the article? Blame the producer. He's kinda pushy that way. For February, in addition to the articles and columns you're used to reading (including this one, naturally), you'll also find a new Mind's Eye, which offers psionic versions of expanded classes and alternate class features, such as those seen in the Player's Handbook II. Eytan Bernstein brings a Forgotten Realms take on classes as well, in a new mini-series. And for all this information on characters, what could be more useful than updated character sheets? Tome of Magic, Tome of Battle, and even Dungeonscape's factotum character sheets are planned for download.

On the DM side of things, you'll also find a new scenario added to the downloadable adventures . . . a revision of an old sci-fi module. There are no Barrier Peaks involved this time, but there are plenty of . . . frogs. And cyborgs. And strange temples to explore. Plus, look for sci-fi influenced NPCs to encounter coming in February's Fight Club -- after all, January saw Complete Scoundrel, and we wanted to pay respect to some of the more famed scoundrels we've all come to know and love.

And be sure to tune in for the next episode of the D&D Podcast, featuring clips and interviews with some of the creative forces behind The Gamers: Dorkness Rising!


March: Unhallowed Booster Packs

You already know this is a 60-miniature expansion that favors the undead. You saw the Pseudodragon and Beholder Lich back in December. Last month, you saw the Shield Guardian and Stone Giant Runecarver. This month, I've got two more really cool minis to show. I never have stats or anything like that, so no point in wasting time with detailed descriptions of what you can see, so here's the relevant information from the bottom of the base: the (clear-ish plastic) Caller in Darkness is Uncommon, the (nicely detailed) Pentifex Monolith is Rare.

Caller in Darkness Pentifex Monolith

You'll find more Unhallowed minis in Steve Schubert's Miniatures Previews articles on the D&D Minis page, and exclusive coverage in Dragon magazine.

March: Magic Item Compendium

This is 224 pages jam-packed with all the best magic items. (Kinda like the Spell Compendiumcompiled all the best spells.) In the same way that Spell Compendium didn't reprint spells from the Player's Handbook, but included them in its lists, Magic Item Compendium doesn't take up space with descriptions of the magic toys from the Dungeon Master's Guide, but does include them in all the relevant charts and tables. Last month you got the back cover text. This month, I have a quote from the lovely and talented Andy Collins:

Finally, D&D players get the "magic item catalog" they've been wanting for years!

Magic Item Compendium dramatically improves the process of arming and equipping your character. Not only are the several hundred familiar items (drawn from the gamut of 3rd-Edition D&D resources) more powerful, playable, and affordable than ever, but the book also adds hundreds of brand-new items appropriate to a vast range of characters and situations.

I can also grab the introductory section that gives you the chapter-by-chapter run-down of what's inside this catalog of shopping.

What's In This Book

Traditionally, magic items have been divided into categories based partially on form and partially on function, creating a system that doesn't always help the reader know where to go looking for something. An item holding 50 uses of a particular 1st- to 4th-level spell is called a wand, but a similarly shaped item that has an unusual nonspell effect that it can generate a few times per day might be a rod or even a wondrous item. An item you wear that provides a continuous magical effect is probably a wondrous item . . . but it might be a ring, or even a suit of armor.

This book instead divides magic items into four basic categories -- armor, weapons, clothing, and tools -- with each category receiving a separate chapter. This classification has no effect on game play -- you still use Forge Ring to craft an item described as a ring (or, more important, an item that has Forge Ring as a prerequisite) -- but it should make it a bit easier for you to find various items.

Armor (Chapter 1): This category includes both specific, preconstructed magic suits of armor or shields as well as the various properties that can be added to any appropriate suit of armor or shield (such as fortification or acid resistance). It doesn't include robes (or other items worn in the same body slot as armor), since most of those items don't offer the same kinds of effects, nor does it include bracers of armor or other items that provide similar protection -- those are both clothing items.

Weapons (Chapter 2): This category includes both specific, preconstructed weapons as well as the various properties that can be added to any appropriate weapon. It also includes rods that function primarily as weapons (such as the rod of flailing), but not those without such functions, or whose weapon functions are clearly secondary to their other functions (such as the rod of alertness) -- those are tools. Similarly, it doesn't include offensive-based items that aren't wielded as weapons (such as the circlet of blasting or the iron bands of Bilarro) -- such items are either clothing or tools, based on whether they're worn or just held.

Clothing (Chapter 3): This category includes all magic items that must be worn in order to function, other than magic armor and shields (which are in the armor category). The clothing category also includes jewelry and similar baubles. Most clothing items take up a body slot (see page 218).

Tools (Chapter 4): This broad category includes all magic items that must be held, consumed, or otherwise manipulated in order to function (rather than simply being worn), not including items wielded as weapons. By definition, tools don't occupy a body slot; most but not all must be held to be activated. Potions, scrolls, wands, and staffs are also considered tools.

Item Sets (Chapter 5): This category includes items that fall into all four of the categories described above. Rather than splitting these sets up by item category, however, each complete set is presented together for easy reference.

Using Magic Items (Chapter 6): This chapter collects, revises, and expands various rules and guidelines for handling magic items in play, from placing the right item in a treasure hoard to identifying the item to wearing it properly.

Appendices: The book concludes with two sets of extensive tables listing all the magic items in this book as well as those in the Dungeon Master's Guide. The tables are designed to allow quick reference by DMs and players looking for just the right item, as well as for random generation of treasure hoards.

Website: Once more, the producer's meddling with things! For Magic Item Compendium, look for in-depth preview articles coming from designer Eytan Bernstein, and from R&D's Andy Collins. Instead of just the straight excerpts, they'll offer a look at what's in the book, as well as provide details for what decisions went into these items and their format. Plus, when you get to the back of the book, you'll find a huge number of tables that list magic items, first by price, then by category (for random treasure generation). The very last page features a one-page "Magic Item Record Sheet" that will help you keep track of what magic gear your character is wearing (and can wear), and what "slots" you've still got open so you know what to throw in for during your party's next treasure division. Here's the image; be sure to look for a web download of this page coming to you soon!

March: Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave

This 160-page adventure for the Forgotten RealmsCampaign Setting is the first hardcover super-adventure we've ever done. Get a party of 4th-level characters ready to be really big heroes in Faerûn -- this is the first epic installation of a three-part series. (Of course, you can run this adventure on its own.) When you got the back cover text last month, you got all you're going to get out of me -- this being an adventure and all.

March: Dungeons & Dragons Deluxe Dice

I went on and on about these really nice dice last month. So, I'll just reiterate that this is a full set of pretty polyhedrals (with 3 extra d6s for character-rolling) and an embroidered black suede bag that holds a lot more than the dice in this box, and that the dice were produced for us by Dice & Game Limited. And, I suppose I'll just mention that I want a set of these to use every Wednesday night.




April: City of Peril

Somewhat similar to the content of the Fantastic Locations series (like Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin), this is a bundle of excitement and adventure for skirmish combat, as well as roleplaying battles. Inside, you'll find two double-sided battle maps and a 16-page encounter booklet. Grab your minis and get ready to roll for initiative, again and again.




Danger Beyond the Dungeon

This Dungeons & Dragons accessory contains two beautifully illustrated, double-sided battle maps scaled for D&D game play, as well as a 16-page booklet that presents sample encounters designed for use with the maps.

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 evoke the epic struggles that campaign memories are made of. Three of the maps also make ideal battlegrounds for D&D Miniatures Game play. Build your own warband and fight for control of the Ratfang Sewers, the Market Square, or the Thieves' Quarter.

April: Expedition to the Demonweb Pits

A super adventure designed for a party of 9th-level characters, this 224-page rollercoaster can work on its own, as a mini-campaign, as a storyline in an existing campaign, or as a series of side adventures that lead toward a climactic ending. I never actually played through the entire Queen of the Spiders adventures, back in 1st Edition, but this homage to that series of nastiness is sure to earn its own place in the list of those adventures nobody ever forgets. Check out the back cover text.


Visit the Abyss. Meet Demon Lords. Kill Everything.

In the heart of the Demonweb, Lolth surveyed the Grand Council Chamber and the demon lords assembled by her invitation. Throaty growls indicated a dispute among Yeenoghu's pack. Obox-ob's insect swarms chittered while Demogorgon ranted from the central podium. The other emissaries seemed restless. Across the hall, Graz'zt met Lolth's gaze and smiled. The demon queen shivered with a tingle of foreboding.

This Dungeons & Dragons adventure takes heroes from the planar city of Sigil to the darkest corners of the Outer Planes, gathering resources to battle the forces of Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders. The heroes must navigate a carefully spun web of treachery and deceit to reach the violent heart of Lolth's domain and put an end to her sinister dreams of conquest.

This campaign adventure is designed for characters of levels 9-12 and features an easy-to-use combat encounter format and player handouts. This book also presents new prestige classes and magic items for player characters.

April: Eyes of the Lich Queen

Weighing in at 128 pages, Eyes of the Lich Queen is the first super-adventure for the Eberron Campaign Setting. It's designed to take 5th-level characters all the way to 10th (if they survive). I can't go into detail about what's going on inside the book, but you can read the back cover text.

Be the first to find the Dragon's Eye

What begins as a simple expedition to explore an ancient jungle temple sends adventurers headlong into a search for the Dragon's Eye, an artifact created ages ago by demons in order to gain power over dragons. But where exactly is this mysterious artifact, and why do the Cloudreavers and the Emerald Claw think the adventurers already have it? Only Lady Vol knows the truth. Her deadly cat-and-mouse game leads the characters from the wilds of Q'barra to the wild coasts of the Lhazaar Principalities and the soaring peaks of Argonnessen. There, at last, they can learn the secret of the Dragon's Eye and foil the lich queen's plans . . . if they survive!

Eyes of the Lich Queen is a stand-alone campaign adventure for the Dungeons & Dragons game that draws on the richness of the Eberron campaign setting. Designed for heroes of 5th level, this adventure sends them on a world-spanning journey as they battle cultists, pirates, long-dead spirits, and even dragons in their search for the enigmatic Dragon's Eye.

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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