e're almost there, folks—the best four days in gaming!
Gen Con Indy takes place later this month, with a great deal happening around D&D Next. For those of you heading to Indianapolis on August 16-19, we certainly look forward to seeing you there! The list of R&D attendees has been posted, as you might have noticed already. We also have other members of Wizards of the Coast making the trip out there, including folks from the Brand, PR, Community, and Web teams (including yours truly)—and the President and CEO of Wizards, Greg Leeds, who is speaking at the August 16th keynote address.
Before we move on to Gen Con information and the product releases, let’s first discuss what’s happening with the website.
We've been tinkering with a few UI elements in recent weeks to try to help further improve navigation. Quick Links have now been divided into (hopefully) more intuitive groupings, as opposed to a single laundry list of important links around the site. These now also include a much-needed direct Contact Us link; we've mentioned email@example.com in various articles and on the podcast, but it’s important for you to always have the email link handy on every page of the site as well. (And on that note, if you feel that we’ve left out any important links or feel that there’s an even more intuitive grouping of them, please let us know.)
We've also added a calendar function to the D&D Next playtest page. Unlike previous calendars, which sought to include every article scheduled for publication, this calendar is dedicated to D&D Next events and articles. Relevant columns, chats, surveys, and future playtest packets should all be announced here.
Although not launched yet, we're also at work building a better mobile browsing experience. This is much needed, and it aims to provide users surfing the D&D website with smartphones (not tablets at this time) with a more simplified, straightforward experience. So instead of loading the full, graphics-intense site, the mobile version will consist of a series of icons linking to the most relevant pages—for example, the Daily D&D icon will take you to a blog-style list of our daily articles.
The D&D website exists as a work in progress; it's my belief that we'll always look for ways to improve the site and your online experience with the game. To reiterate, for any comments, suggestions, complaints, or things you enjoy, please drop us a line. And, if you see me at Gen Con, please don’t hesitate to provide me with feedback there, too!
As a part of recent website activity, we've also launched the Gen Con page. Here you can find a listing of all the gaming events, author signings, and seminars, as well as information for the inaugural keynote address that takes place on August 16th.
So, if you’re looking for D&D information at the convention, look no further!
Keynote Address: The Future of Dungeons & Dragons
Calling all heroes, your presence is required! Join us for an unprecedented look into the future of Dungeons & Dragons, including the evolution of the game, the re-birth of a fantasy setting, and the next generation of art. Wizards of the Coast is proud to host the first-ever Gen Con keynote address on Thursday, August 16th, to share with the legions of D&D fans what’s in store for the game that has changed gaming forever.
Speakers include Wizards of the Coast President and CEO Greg Leeds, Senior Manager for D&D R&D Mike Mearls and some of the greatest creative minds in the industry.
The keynote begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Indiana Roof Ballroom and will also be live-streamed at DungeonsandDragons.com/events.
There's still time to submit your entry in the D&D Next Video Contest! The contest runs until August 10th—and it features $15,000 in prizes.
Create a video (60 seconds or fewer) that will get D&D fans excited about being a part of the D&D Next Playtest. How you do that is entirely up to you. You could show us an epic film of classic heroism or a Claymation reenactment of critical failures. Maybe it’s a recruitment video for your group or a Top Ten list of things you’ve learned from the playtest. Whether it’s a classic D&D truism (like why you never split the party) or just an awesome/hilarious/cool episode taken straight from your imagination, show the world what they’re missing.
Most importantly, have fun!
You can find out more at D&D Facebook.
You also have just a few weeks left to participate in the drow puzzle hunt. Each week, three clues are provided on the website (in one of the Daily D&D spotlight boxes), through the D&D Facebook page, and on the D&D Twitter channel. Enter the answers to those clues, and—assuming you’ve answered them correctly—you’ll unlock knowledge about the drow and their nefarious schemes, as well as special preview content.
In recent weeks, these previews have included the following:
July 25th: D&D Encounters:
Council of Spiders cover art and introduction.
D&D Lair Assault: Kill the Wizard cover art and map.
The final week of the puzzle takes place starting August 15th. As the hub explains, if you're not able to solve the clues (or don’t catch them all in time), it will still be possible for you to solve the puzzles—with some help from your friends who solved them before you. For example, the week after a puzzle is unlocked, you can take a “second wind” that helps you discover the missing clues, and your friends can offer further help in later weeks.
Last month, we introduced you to the upcoming D&D Encounters season. This time, let's dive into the D&D Lair Assault that runs September 1st through November 30th. As the Lair Assault opens:
An elf wizard has built a construct with a single purpose: the destruction of the drow. This discovery has led the drow houses of Menzoberranzan to forge an alliance and send a “murder squad” to kill the wizard and destroy his sinister creation.
And the full background:
Forty years ago, a raiding party of drow emerged from the Lurkwood and slaughtered the inhabitants of Silvershore, a village in the Valley of Khedrun. A sole survivor—a young elf with an aptitude for the arcane—escaped the carnage, and born within him was a hatred for drow that he would carry the rest of his days. Four decades later, this elf matured into a wizard of no small power and built the prototype of a new construct he hopes to mass-produce and release into the Underdark, with the sole intent of devouring drow.
The wizard, Etherik, is preparing to show off his construct to gain the full support of his peers, several of whom have arrived via magic portal to see the device for the first time. With their help, Etherik plans to build many more of them and release the constructs into the city of Menzoberranzan.
News of the wizard’s wicked machine reached Menzoberranzan quickly. The drow houses consider the elf a common threat and have banded together to take him out, unaware that their “murder squad” (which consists of drow from multiple houses) will be used to test the construct’s destructive power.
The goal for this assault is to kill Etherik and destroy his drowslayer construct. Best of luck! Though of course, it won’t be easy . . .
By R.A. Salvatore
Please note the release month—this latest novel from R.A. Salvatore releases in August (as opposed to the October release month of years past)! Follow the epic adventure of the world’s most famous drow, Drizzt Do’Urden, as he draws his scimitars once more to aid a new friend and an old foe in this action-packed conclusion to the New York Times best-selling Neverwinter Saga.
By Ed Greenwood
Commanded by the vestige of Mystra to work together, Manshoon and Elminster engage instead in a ferocious battle that sends the Sage plummeting into the Underdark as a cloud of ashes. Elminster soon inhabits the body of a fallen dark elf, so that he can begin carrying out Mystra's orders to rally Cormyr's Wizards of War, seek blueflame items to mend immense rifts throughout the realms that are releasing deadly monsters, and prevent the ancient primordials from rising and unleashing their rage.
But his sworn archenemy, Manshoon, has plans as well: to conquer Cormyr and be the new emperor, and to hunt down the Sage's clones. The battles are fierce, the stakes have never been higher, and the fate of Cormyr is on the line. Meanwhile, War Wizards are being mysteriously assassinated . . .
By Erik Scott de Bie
Read the tale of a never-say-die hero struggling against the forces of evil in a world full of peril. Kalen Dren, the vigilante paladin who calls himself Shadowbane, has turned his back on a life of crime and selfishness to chart a new course with the aid of the sword Vindicator, once wielded by the vanished God of Guardians himself. He will face legions of enemies and ultimately struggle with his own dualistic nature: the bright, goodly paladin and the dark, pragmatic assassin.
August: Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue
A seething powerhouse of malevolent drow, each striving tirelessly for supremacy in the eyes of their fell goddess, Menzoberranzan is the pinnacle of conceited depravity. Nevertheless, peer deep through the strata of selfishness, debauchery, and vice, and one can behold a grand civilization rich in history, culture, and artistry. It’s this tantalizing dichotomy between the beautiful and the profane that draws great interest toward drow society. Presented in this book is the fabled Underdark city of Menzoberranzan, birthplace of famed drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. But this isn’t his story—it’s many stories, yours chief among them.
Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue is designed for maximum utility. Whether you’re using the current edition of the rules, or a past or future version, you’ll find almost all the material in this book usable in your game. You can use this book to run a campaign set during the years before the birth of Drizzt, in the midst of the War of the Spider Queen, or during the current era of the Forgotten Realms. You can even transplant the city of Menzoberranzan into a different area or a different world, adapting it as you see fit. Menzoberranzan is a whole setting waiting for you and your players to explore, in whatever way you want to use it.
How to Use This Book
For the Dungeon Master:
Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue is designed primarily with the Dungeon Master in mind. This book will help you craft an exciting and memorable campaign centered on strong drow themes.
To run a Dungeons & Dragons game in the Menzoberranzan setting, you need only this book and whichever edition of D&D that matches your preference. If you have chosen the 4th Edition D&D rule set, a few additional books might enhance your enjoyment of this product. Both Underdark and Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook make excellent references for subterranean campaigns. Dungeon Masters might also find value in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, which covers the setting beyond Menzoberranzan in greater detail.
For Players: The drow might be an evil race—and one that is forever at odds with its neighbors—but many players are nonetheless attracted to playing drow characters.
Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue discusses the underpinnings of drow society and beliefs, including their Lolth-dominated religion—all of which is vital information to players of drow characters.
In addition, this book includes guidelines for selecting a drow house with which to ally, as well as character backgrounds to aid a player in fleshing out a character’s backstory and motivations. The appendix of the book is particularly focused on playing a drow character, but players will find much inspiring and useful information in the rest of the book.
Chapter 2: Drow Factions
Chapter 2 in Menzoberranzan looks at the different factions vying for power and control within this great city. The first faction concerns the drow noble houses:
The noble houses control all aspects of the city, from enforcing its few laws to dominating trade. Menzoberranzan has no standing army. Instead, the house guard of each of the noble houses provides the military might of the city. Their compounds are heavily fortified castles. The eight greatest houses have places on the Ruling Council of Menzoberranzan. The council determines the fate of the city, from the ranking of each house to whether an errant house must be destroyed.
A sampling of the noble houses include the following (along with reasons you might wish to join them):
The autocratic ruling house of Menzoberranzan, head of the Ruling Council almost from the city’s founding.
“Do not forget your place, or I will be forced to remind you who bears the favor of Lolth.”
Join House Baenre if you want to:
- Be a scion of the highest-ranked and most powerful house in Menzoberranzan.
- Play a paragon of drow privilege and birthright, favored of Lolth.
- Fight for every scrap of social standing to distinguish yourself from your siblings.
Aspiring to greatness, but brought low by the actions of one errant secondboy and his unusual conscience.
“My house has many claims to greatness, and I will be one more.”
Join House Do’Urden if you want to:
- Study with the greatest weapon master the city has ever known.
- Aid your house in seizing a position on the Ruling Council.
- Live secretly as a renegade apostate eschewing the Way of Lolth.
A shrewd family of farmers and merchants still regarded with scorn even by lower houses.
“I’d rather have a ‘stone head’ than a soft one filled with useless ideas.”
Join House Hunzrin if you want to:
- Ally with a merchant clan where hard work is rewarded over political intrigue.
- Play a drow commoner in a house that doesn’t turn up its nose at such humble origins.
- Be elderboy of an up-and-coming noble house.
The union of two families suspected of heretical leanings, turned into the fierce inquisitors of Lolth.
“You claim the favor of Lolth, but how have you served her lately? The zeal of my house cannot be questioned.”
Join House Melarn if you want to:
- Be a member of a house that stands alone in a city full of enemies.
- Play a devotee of Lolth who is constantly under suspicion of treason and blasphemy, and returns the favor with zeal.
- Prove that you can be as evil and wicked as any drow.
Mysterious masked wizards, suspicious and consumed by their spellcraft.
“With the help of its males, our house has risen to the Ruling Council. More drow should heed our voices.”
Join House Xorlarrin if you want to:
- Be a male drow who can command respect and wield authority, at least within your house.
- Play a mysterious and mighty wizard or priestess, shrouded in secrecy behind masks and veils.
- Range far and wide in search of arcane power to help Lolth spin the Demon Weave.
Known for its use of psionics in preference to other magic, it tried to take advantage of the Time of Troubles.
“You will never understand the secrets of my house, and what you cannot understand you will learn to fear.”
Join House Oblodra if you want to:
- Be a scion of the most feared and secretive house in Menzoberranzan.
- Play a psionicist who uses mental powers in a city dominated by divine magic.
- Intimidate your foes through your reputation for insanity and mutual destruction.
Fitting in with Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue and the concept of playing as a drow, the latest set of Fortune Cards allows you to bring their machinations to the game. Drow Treachery cards are slight variants on the mechanics that Fortune Cards typically offer, and they bring you small instances of fortune, but in this case, at any cost!
In the cutthroat world of drow politics, you have to look out for Number One. You are competing with fellow drow for the favor of the powerful priestesses of Lolth to improve your station—preferably at the expense of others. Dungeons & Dragons Drow Treachery cards represent your efforts to benefit from your allies’ misfortune.
These cards are an optional addition to a Dungeons & Dragons game, intended for use in a campaign set in a drow city. They use the optional rules on station in drow society as presented in the Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue supplement.
How to Play
Treachery cards are a new kind of Fortune Card. Each card has a value in Worth; when that card takes effect, you gain the stated Worth. A few cards have a negative Worth, which reduces your Worth when they take effect. You can play as many Treachery cards in an encounter as you want, but you cannot gain more Worth than the highest-value card you played during an encounter.
If you are not using the rules on station in drow society, you can still play Treachery cards. When any effect would grant you Worth, you instead gain a bonus to AC equal to the Worth value until the end of your next turn. Negative Worth reduces your AC in the same way. If an effect would reduce an ally’s Worth, that ally instead takes a penalty to AC equal to the Worth value until the end of your next turn. (If a Treachery card’s effect would increase or decrease your AC, use the greater of the card’s effect or the Worth value to determine the modifier.)
To illustrate, let’s showcase a few more Fortune Cards:
Last month, we showcased the hobgoblin sorcerer. This month, let's offer a mini with a little more speed: the Goblin Wolf Rider!
More Dungeon Tiles are coming for your game table—with on emphasis on castles in this set! Let's start with an initial preview for those who dare to approach Castle Greyhawk, Old Stoney, or whatever fortification you have challenging your players:
Drawbridge: Grass at the bottom, leading to a stony bridge; at the north part of the bridge, there is a ledge where a drawbridge can rest. Water covers the bottom half of the tile. There is a passage through the wall, but the drawbridge is currently up. There is a lever and a wheel to pull the chains open and closed.
Large Window: Large protected window, carpet, torches.
End Tower: Large tower at the end of the castle wall. Lots of arrow slits.
Moat Ends: Used to construct a moat with other tiles; also works with Witchlight Fens tile set.
And that brings us to the end of this month's previews, folks! Before we go, we wanted to offer a final inside look at one more book coming out in the near future: Let’s preview some of the art showcased in Elminster's Forgotten Realms!
Also look for a new column by Ed Greenwood: Forging the Realms. It should be coming to the website in the days ahead!
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.