This isn't really a preview anymore, is it? News of the set list has appeared on the web and boxes are being opened as I type, in various quarters of the world. My condolences to those still waiting.
For this final Deathknell preview, I offer design notes on three minis.
This guy was created during the Miniatures Handbook process when we wanted a few new, beefy, nondevil outsiders for Lawful Evil. Thaskor is the beefiest, I think. The monster's creator, Andrew Finch, liked him so much that when he set up the D&D Minis Filemaker Pro database for us, he used the Thaskor as the background art. Because of thI've been looking at the Thaskor every day for years. Now we can finally welcome him to the game.
It's my opinion that the Thaskor is something a bit new for Lawful Evil: a playable chunk of muscle. High AC, good damage, lots of hit points, and most curiously for Lawful Evil, it's quite fast with a Speed of 8. In fact, that speed creates one of the challenges for using the mini; Lawful Evil doesn't have many creatures that can keep up with and fight alongside the Thaskor. On some of his rampages, he may end up fighting alone. In 500-point play, maybe you want him out there stomping people while the Beholder hangs back and cuts loose with the eyebeams....
RPG & Skirmish
We tried something different with the design of this creature; we treated him like a player character and loaded him down with magic items. Magic items such as boots of charging, a belt of one mighty blow, a ring of protection +3, a ghost touch bastard sword, and an amulet of spell resistance show that he has the support of his kingdom. Add those abilities to your skirmish warband, and you'll find that you have an extremely flexible commander with no huge weaknesses and a high success rate against Undead, which loathe his commander effect: "Undead enemies take an additional 5 damage whenever they take damage from any source." It remains to be seen whether the metagame will trend to an undead strongpoint where the Valorous Prince looks like a good investment.
Voice of Battle
This bard turned out exactly as I'd hoped, advancing toward the enemy while stowing her instrument on her back and reaching for her sword. Definitely the best female bard character we've done. What's that you say? The only female bard we've done? Well ... it's still good.
She has some interesting abilities. Three castings of curse of impending blades means that enemies aren't going to be happy about hanging back and waiting for the battle to develop. When they close, they'll find themselves fighting in range of the first Improved Countersong ability in the game. Enemy commanders can't put followers under command within six squares of the Voice of Battle. Depending on the situation, it could be irrelevant or it could be huge. That's chaos for you. Bring on the battlesong and rout the opposition.
That's it for the Deathknell previews. Next week? Next week I hope you're opening boxes.
About the Author
Rob Heinsoo started playing D&D with the original brown box in 1975. He's now the lead designer of D&D Miniatures.