It’s that Gen Con time of year! This week I’m off in Indianapolis watching our D&D Miniatures and Dreamblade tournaments, playing in some RPGA D&D games and the DDM league, helping out at our booth, and seeing what the rest of the industry has to offer to make my gaming more enjoyable and fulfilling. Non-stop fun and excitement, to be sure!
At Gen Con, fans of the D&D Miniatures Game have a chance to attend our D&D Minis seminar and ask me all those pressing questions -- Does Blood War have more demons? More devils? How about yugoloth(s)? When do we get more gnomes? Is it true that R&D hates gnomes? (For those tracking at home, the answers are Yes, Yes, Yes, November, and No.)
Why should only those that attend Gen Con have all the fun? Gen Con kicks off our previews and promotion of the next D&D Miniatures set: Blood War. The Blood War was a key concept in the 2nd-edition AD&D campaign setting Planescape, pitting the Chaotic Evil demons against the Lawful Evil devils in an eternal war throughout the lower planes. The war wasn’t constrained to just demons and devils, as nearly every other faction participated in it to some degree -- Yugoloth mercenaries fought on both sides, celestials took up arms when the war threatened the upper planes, and even the mortal inhabitants of the neutral-ground city of Sigil were swept up in the machinations of the war.
The Blood War miniatures expansion brings these combatants into your game. In addition to many long-awaited demons and devils, this set draws in dozens of planar-themed concepts, including astral raiders, Sigil inhabitants, and outsiders from all around the Great Wheel. Of course, it isn’t all about the planes, because the set fills out a few more notable encounters for the Red Hand of Doom adventure, provides new uniques from both the Forgotten Realms and Eberron, and includes a number of classic monsters and characters.
But enough of the set introductions. Let’s look at two of the mighty generals of the Blood War. In the Lawful Good corner we have the mighty Solar, while standing against him is the massive Pit Fiend.
The first Adventure Path series of adventures ended with The Bastion of Broken Souls by Bruce Cordell, an adventure for characters of level 18+. In it, the PCs must find a key that grants them access to the titular Bastion, but that key is in a prison guarded by a Solar. The PCs must defeat the solar to gain access to the prison in order to prevent an even greater evil from threatening the fabric of the multiverse. It was the first encounter I’d ever run against a Solar, and it would have been cool to have this mini for it!
For the D&D Miniatures game, we wanted to ensure that we kept the Solar’s iconic ability. In the D&D game, the Solar is capable of producing a slaying arrow whenever it fires a bow. Obviously, an at-will slaying arrow would have been too good for a 200-point game, so the DDM Solar has just one shot of his slaying arrow. Save-or-die effects are always tough, and they get more unbalanced when used against minis that should otherwise be fairly resilient. To address this, we’ve instituted hit point caps on such effects (e.g., finger of death, slaying arrow, and similar special abilities), so the Solar’s deadly shot can only affect a creature that is already under 100 hit points.
Does he need an introduction? This is the big bad evil guy to end all big bad evil guys. The Pit Fiend is great as a high-level challenge to culminate a campaign or as the meat-and-potatoes of Epic-level fights.
The Pit Fiend and Solar are fairly evenly matched against each other (and are only slightly better than the 95-point Balor from Underdark). Both are commanders, both cost 105 points, and either can take out the other with three rounds of average melee attack rolls. The Solar gets his slaying arrow, but the Pit Fiend gets a couple fireballs and one use of blasphemy. The Pit Fiend’s slightly higher AC and hit points are offset by its slightly lower level and speed (11 and F6, respectively). Both of these outsiders could provide a solid core for their respective warbands.
When you look at the blue-bordered Epic card for the Pit Fiend (along with the Solar, one of seven Epics released with the set), even more fun can be found. We call it meteor swarm. During the development process for this mini, we tried hard to capture the Pit Fiend’s powerful, spell-like abilities. Wish was deemed too powerful after we ran through iterations such as auto-crit, winning initiative, bringing a dead creature back, and more. So we looked at meteor swarm. Initially, we had the idea to simply place four radius-4 templates down, each with its own fireball, but that was too cumbersome. Ultimately, the concept of meteor swarm is that everything gets burned. That’s how it ended up. The Epic Pit Fiend’s card now includes Meteor swarm (40 fire damage to all enemies in line of sight; DC 21). Boom.
There you have it, starting off the previews with the heavy hitters. Next week, we’ll continue the incursion, starting with this former Miss Multiverse --
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer in RPG/Minis R&D, Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game, and has worked on a variety of D&D game products, including Monster Manual IV, Tome of Battle, and Magic Item Compendium. He is the author of the upcoming Eberron super-adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen.