In a subtle shift toward the direction of next year's D&D Miniatures Game update, more than a quarter of the 60 minis in the Desert of Desolation set belong to more than one faction. In the current game's alignment-based system, we've used cross-faction minis to indicate that a creature was Neutral along a given axis, and some of that plays out here, especially as we get closer to the release of the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. For example, the Capricious Copper Dragon became Chaotic Neutral in the minis game, partly to illustrate the 4th edition concept that not all metallic dragons uphold what is right and good. Its abilities were designed to show that it is more prone to be a greedy hoardkeeper than a benevolent prankster, and its faction was set to match its alignment. As you'll see, this preview shows you three more cross-faction minis from the Desert of Desolation set.
Skeletons are a staple of low-level D&D adventures, and of course they remain good low-level threats in D&D's future. But not all skeletons are run-of-the-mill. Some skeletons, like this one, have a tendency to explode in a blast of necrotic energy and shards of bone when hit too hard. In the D&D Minis game, the boneshard is pretty straightforward, low-cost fodder that is nearly guaranteed to inflict 5 points of damage before the game is out.
Some guys fight for anyone. Take this guy, for example. He'll command any group from any faction, though he really likes other commanders to boss around. Like the High Inquisitor from the Unhallowed set, we tried to design this commander to act differently based on which sort of warband he's in. Between Drillmaster and Entourage, he might just make some of those Speed 4 Lawful types playable (I can see the gnome pike wall now). He also really likes being on a Warhorse, which would let him charge into battle with a 30 damage attack!
This mini is the only entry with an excuse for believing this article lacks depth. It's also a harbinger of things to come. For example, you might recall that we've said that all the monsters in Desert of Desolation (except one) are in the 4th edition Monster Manual. This will be the first edition of D&D that has a cyclops in the initial crop of monsters. Their new look was something we concepted during the sketch process for this miniatures set. We gave them a more distinctive appearance than simply a one-eyed hill giant. As one of the newcomers to the MM, expect further elaboration at some point in the coming months on the links between the cyclops, fey, and fomorians.
While the Cyclops' Perfect Charge ability might seem to give a wink and a nod toward the humorous, it also happens to be another step in the direction of next April's minis game update, so I wasn't just being silly. I mean, I was being silly, but there was a reason for it.
Next week, we'll bring in more minis that show some of the art concepts we ran with this past year.
|Remember, all Desert of Desolation creatures will appear in the 4th edition D&D Monster Manual, and you'll be able to download their updated stats for the new D&D Miniatures rules in January 2007!
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer for RPG R&D and has been involved in many facets of the D&D product line. He's recently been Lead Developer for the upcoming Monster Manual V, Lead Designer on the Eberron adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen, and he's the Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game.
Now we bring the return of the mystery silhouette. Shown below are all the figures that we'll feature in these previews. Can you guess their identities? Feel free to try!