Our ever-inventive Research and Development Team and writers churn out a lot of material, not all of which makes it into a published product. Some gets cut because a manuscript is too long and something's gotta go; some is rejected for thematic, story, or marketing reasons; some represents speculative forays into territory that looks promising, but no one knows for certain how it will pan out until actual prospecting is done; and some is written in spare corners of time for home campaigns or just for fun.
We don't think "it wouldn't fit" is a good enough excuse to deprive our readers of some dynamite ideas. With that in mind, we're reintroducing Unearthed Arcana, a venue where we can present fascinating, off-beat, envelope-stretching Dungeons & Dragons material that might not be seen any other way.
It kicks off this month; tomorrow, in fact. The first installment, by Peter Schaefer, uses a modified disease format to offer up a menu of curses (as in, when the knob-nosed witch lays a curse on you that gold will bring you nothing but misery). In the future, you might see rules for more detailed critical hits, twisted paragon paths or epic destinies, gunpowder weapons, wizards' duels, bizarre campaign outlines ... we won't put limits on the possibilities.
All of this comes with one big caveat: none of what you'll read in Unearthed Arcana has been through our normal development cycle. It's all experimental, optional, and unofficial. You won't find it in the D&D Compendium or Character Builder. Customer Service won't provide official answers to questions about unofficial rules.
Read it, play with it, stress it, twist it to your heart's content. If something here goes over especially well, it could even wind up back on the table of contents for a future product.
Most of all, let us know what you think at email@example.com.