News Archive | 3/26/2010
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Random Thoughts and Magic Items
March News and Reviews
Bart Carroll

Friday, March 26th

End of the week, and we hope you've enjoyed the second session of D&D Encounters. WotC_Trevor has been collecting tales of the first sessions over on the D&D Group page… along with some more random thoughts from Pete Schaefer (our favorite so far: magic item traits... a few of which follow).

6 Hammer Traits
  • Many-Wielded: Each time this hammer suffers an impact, the hammer changes appearance, shifting from one culture’s style to another.
  • Nut Cracker: With the slightest tap or a full swing, this hammer always opens shelled food, such as walnuts or king crab, perfectly with a single impact.
  • Chanthammer: When swung over the head in a circle, this hammer lets out a low hum that becomes a traditional dwarven chant.
  • Enemy of Prisons: Against prison doors and prison locks, this hammer deals double damage.
  • Book Crusher: A touch of this hammer upon a book wipes that book clean of text. The text can be returned with a second touch of the hammer.
  • Weighty Morals: This hammer weighs 100 pounds for any creature other than its owner.

We've also posted the second round of Robot Chicken with DM commentary. As promised in an earlier commentary, DM Chris Perkins has released his list of NPC (as well as ship/tavern) names for use in your own games as well.

D&D in the News

Monday, March 22nd

We start this week with a little roundup of recent posts regarding the game:

PH3 and Game Day

From Neuroglyph Games:

I just wish the Player’s Handbook 3 had come with a Warning Label:

"The new content in this book may have certain side effects, which may include, but are not limited to: severe distraction during gaming sessions, and repeated naughty innuendoes made about the names of certain psionic powers. Suicidal feelings in Characters because their Players want a reroll may result in sudden loss of life due to trauma and hemorrhaging. If these feelings persist, you may need to consult your DM, as this may lead to other serious side effects."

D&D Encounters (Week 1)

From Dungeon'

After playing the first encounter here are my initial thoughts and observations…

A Classic Gets Creative in New Era

From the Houston Chronicler:

A ragtag band of warriors huddle in a small room at the aptly named Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy. They're locked in combat with a horde of dark elves called "drow," who have developed some very intelligent insects for what can only be nefarious purposes.

D&D Beholders

We've mentioned the beholder set coming out; over at Art Order, Jon Schindehette wrapped up his beholder giveaway contest with a lineup of incredible art pieces (our personal favorite… the meatwad beholder).

Good Times at the Yawning Portal

Thursday, March 18th

Well folks, yesterday celebrated St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland (not exactly, but that's the legend we've always heard)—so what could be more appropriate than a night at the local tavern? In this case, the tavern happened to be the Yawning Portal, centerpiece of D&D Encounters.

We certainly hope everyone enjoyed their inaugural session (did you save the mugging victim from the back alleyway?)—with the adventure penned by Erik Scott de Bie. In fact, we ran into Erik running games at Seattle's Blue Highway Games:

In addition to adventures, Scott has also penned a book or two. Over at the WotC Novels Book Club, authors including Scott discuss their likes that other people hate (for me in particular would be the opposite with karoke—as something other people like that I hate, passionately). You can also read Susan Morris's discussion on the profession of writing (this week: writers don’t flip burgers).

In other news, you may have heard a special broadcast sent to the D&D Group last week. For those who missed it, you can read the details over at the D&D Group site… a hint: it involves beholders. Lots of beholders.

And finally—March Madness may have kicked off in the NCAA. It hasn't kicked off on the D&D website… yet.

Do You Have a Lair?

Thursday, March 11th

"Do you have a lair? I have a lair!"

Even our iconic gnome (probably) doesn’t have a lair so thoroughly decked out for D&D as the Burntwire Brothers: their amazing/ultimate/world's greatest D&D room made the rounds last year, recently picked up again on apartmenttherapy—and always worth a second, appreciative look.

If you've been trapped in a dungeon these past several weeks, you might have missed our Robot Chicken video podcasts (with DM commentary currently available on the first episodes). For parties also interested in exploring Undermountain, the setting of the podcasts' adventure, we'd direct you to the D&D Encounters program (and from there to the Yawning Portal!).

Our Forgotten Realms authors have also been quite active as of late, with their discussions of unusual hatreds and favorite heroes. Which brings us to another author—an old school author, appropriately enough—mentioned at in James's review of "The Seven Geases" (along with his wonderful list of elven features in his campaign, following the gease imposed by Aaron Kesher and taken up by others as well). Why do we point out this particular story? Track it down and you'll find mention of the catoblepas, a monster which just happens to be reappearing in June's Monster Manual 3:

With their heads low to the ground, catoblepas roam the lands, leaving death in their wake. Catoblepas are rare creatures made of shadows and death; their gazes wither the living. They plod between worlds, surfacing unexpectedly. So strong is the creature’s association with death that the beasts sometimes accompany the Raven Queen and her entourage.

From its art order:

The catoblepas is a MAHOGANY-COLORED creature resembling an EXAGGERATED WILDEBEEST with a LONG NECK and a LARGE, SHAGGY-MANED, HORNED HEAD with a TUSKED UNDERBITE, bowed LOW TO THE GROUND as if grazing, but LOOKING OUTWARD. It stands 12 feet tall at the shoulders. The FACE of the creature looks like a cross between a WILDEBEEST and a GREEK TRAGEDY MASK with twisted hollow eyes and mouth, perhaps with small, deep-set, glowing red pupils. It stands amid thick, wilting vegetation with subtle, ghostly forms (the remnants of humanoids it has killed) blended into the background.

Questions and Interviews

Friday, March 5th

We've been speaking to our Forgotten Realms authors (most recently, they discuss their favorite dragons and the eternal debate: intelligence or happiness?). For those of you in the Seattle area, two of these authors—Erin Evans and Rich Baker—will be appearing at the UW Bookstore, March 17th at 7pm.

Our most recent Book Nook also features Erin, discussing her novel: The God Catcher:

For those interested in "The Truth About 4th Edition", we'll direct you to The Escapist's 2-part interview with Liz Schuh and Andy Collins. For those interested in the truth about Lost (at least as it relates to D&D), we'll direct you to Greg Bilsland's latest blog entry (and yes, that is a beholder mask he's wearing in his profile pic).

Finally, last time we asked if you, the DM, ever restrict the races in your games. The result? A supermajority does not, but a fairly sizable portion do:

No: 66.3%
Yes: 33.7%

Have anything you'd like to mention or include in these news and reviews? Drop us a line at Or yell things at us directly.

Trivia, Races, and Podcasts

Tuesday, March 2nd

Folks, you may not realize but many of our novels are now also available in ebook format. Sometime this month, we'll have 150 such novels as ebooks, with current selections as follows (and with many more to come):

  • Return of the Sorceress
  • Temple of the Dragonslayer
  • EB City of Towers Dreaming Dark #1
  • EB Forge of The Mindslayers
  • EB In The Claws of The Tiger
  • EB The Binding Stone Dragon Below #1
  • EB The Gates of Night Dream Dark #3
  • EB The Grieving Tree
  • EB The Killing Song
  • EB The Sea of Death
  • EB The Shattered Land
  • EB The Thieves of Blood
  • FR Annihilation Spider Queen
  • FR Ascendency of The Last
  • FR Condemnation: Spider Queen Vol 3
  • FR Darkvision Wizards #2
  • FR Dawn of Night: Erevis Cale #2
  • FR Depths of Madness
  • FR Dissolution Spider Queen #1
  • FR Extinction Spider Queen #4
  • FR Farthest Reach
  • FR Final Gate
  • FR Forsaken House: The Last Mythal
  • FR Ghostwalker Fighters #2
  • FR Heirs of Prophecy
  • FR Insurrection War/Spider Queen #2
  • FR Lady of Poison: Priests #1
  • FR Lies of Light
  • FR Midnights Mask: Erevis Cale #3
  • FR Resurrection Spider Queen #6
  • FR Sacrifice of The Widow
  • FR Scream of Stone
  • FR Shadowbred Twilight War #1
  • FR Shadowrealm
  • FR Shadowstorm
  • FR Storm of The Dead
  • FR The Black Bouquet: Rogues #2
  • FR The Emerald Scepter
  • FR The Rage: Year of Rogue Dragons #1
  • FR The Rite Rogue Dragons #2
  • FR The Ruby Guardian: Arrabar #2
  • FR The Ruin
  • FR The Sapphire Crescent
  • FR The Shattered Mask
  • FR The Yellow Silk: Rogues #4
  • FR Twilight Falling: Erevis Cale #1
  • FR Vanity's Brood
  • FR Venom's Taste: House/Serpents #1
  • FR Viper's Kiss
  • FR Whisper of Waves
  • Mtg Dissension Ravnica #3
  • MtG Guardian Saviors of Kamigawa
  • MtG Guildpact Ravnica #2
  • MtG Heretic Kamigawa #2
  • MtG Outlaw: Kamigawa #1
  • MtG Ravnica
  • MtG The Fifth Dawn: Mirrodin Cycle #3
  • MtG Time Spiral

Monday, March 1st

We've been focusing on our Forgotten Realms writers as of late—but this time, let's turn to our Practical Guide series. Specifically, to author Nina Hess—who will be hosting a monster building seminar coming this March.

Turning to artists, a quick mention goes to's interview with Levon Jihanian, inspired in his art by (what else) D&D.

While we mentioned the upcoming Seattle Geekly trivia night, you can get an early start at the, taking their Dungeons & Dragons quiz (on either normal or impossible settings).

And finally, while it may not come as a surprise, the top race being these days? Why, nothing less than humans!

  1. Human: 24.2%
  2. Something else: 9.7%
  3. Dwarf : 8.8%
  4. Dragonborn: 7.8%
  5. Eladrin: 7.1%

Which begs the follow-up question, this time for DMs. Do you in any way restrict race selection in your campaigns (whether for mechanical or storytelling reasons?

Do you restrict race selection in your campaigns?

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