You Should See the Cool Stuff On My Desk
By Mat Smith
was about this time last year that I started working on a project that
entailed getting a section of the (then) still-in-development Forgotten
Realms Campaign Setting.
the project? I wrote a web article each month that told folks all about
the setting! It was lots of fun to work on -- especially since I got to
see all that stuff, interact with the game designers, and take all of
you on little sneak preview trips through bits of Faerûn each month.
the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting is out there in stores
now, you can pick it up and see for yourself how nifty it is -- so, there's
nothing more to do on the Realmswatch.
But a lot of
other Dungeons & Dragons stuff is Previews around here.
And since I work on the advertising for D&D, I get to see most
of it. (I have to know what to say in the ads and stuff like that.) So,
I asked if I could keep on writing a monthly column to show off some of
the things that cross my desk.
month, I get to put together one of these articles to give you a little
glimpse at what's in store in one or more of the D&D products
that's coming down the pike. I think that's pretty nifty.
It Has Been a Busy Summer Here at Wizards of the Coast
It has been a couple months since the new Forgotten Realms setting
came out, and we've put a couple of things out there you may or may not
have taken a look at. Since they're in stores, I won't go into a vast
amount of description, but I'll tell you about some of the things I saw
come across my desk.
you followed the Realmswatch, you've probably snatched up your copy of
Magic of Faerûn. If you haven't, you really should seek it out.
Even if you don't play in the Forgotten Realms setting, it's well
worth considering -- it's wall-to-wall magical goodness. Over 200 new
spells, nearly that many magic items, 11 new prestige classes, and lots
of magic, magic, and magic.
out the harper mage prestige class on page 28. (It's one of those five-level
prestige classes that you get in and get out of. I think those are a pretty
interesting idea -- you can add a new dimension to your character without
completely redefining him or her.) It's a great addition to the harper
scout from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. And you
get some really great special abilities -- one of them is the new metamagic
feat called Eschew Materials. With that handy feat in your back pocket,
as long as the material components of your spell don't cost more than
1 gp, you don't need 'em. And, even better, it doesn't bump the spell
into a higher spell slot. Never again will your fireball-loving
mage need to mess around with little balls of sulfur and bat guano.
is the guidebook to sorcerers and wizards, and has a pile of feats, spells,
prestige classes, magic items and more. (The dragon disciple prestige
class on page 55 is awfully tempting.)
this is already out there. But I've got to show you something I noticed
tonight when I was flipping through it during my Wednesday night game.
One has a section on improved familiars. You'll see on page 17 a listing
for the stirge familiar. It's not the toughest, meanest, baddest familiar
you could take, but look at this: It has a touch attack at +8 that allows
it to latch on and drain up to 4 Con points. (If you've ever taken Con
damage, you know how painful that is.) Now, couple that with the 3rd-level
ability to deliver touch-ranged spells (like Vampiric Touch) through your
familiar, and you've got a flying pal that'll send (at least) 5d6 points
of healing your way while having a light lunch.
of the Planes
hasn't been on the streets for very long, so I'll hit some stuff you might
not have seen yet.
of the Planes is a 221-page (223 if you count the index at the back)
hardback that gives you all the guidelines you need to explore the planes
of existence -- and to make up your own. It does a great job of explaining
(and simplifying) some pretty complex ideas (how the planes interconnect
and such things) by depicting cool mechanical doodads that look like something
from Aughra's workshop in the Dark Crystal.
new prestige classes, spells, monsters, and items? You got 'em, of course.
also expect some basic descriptions of each of the various planes. But
you don't get basic descriptions -- they're really detailed, multiple-page-long
descriptions that include some sort of map, the various traits of the
plane (physics, how magic works, etc.), links to other planes, the indigenous
inhabitants, how movement and combat work, and features (like places of
read my pal Ed
book, Elminster in Hell,
you might want
to take a look at Avernus -- the first layer of the Nine Hells of Baator.
(The Nine Hells span pages 115-123.) Even if you haven't read it, you
might be interested in scoping out a little five-headed dragon named Tiamat.
Page 118 is Tiamat's stat block. The whole page. Her treasure hoard
is described as being equal to the treasuries of a hundred worlds. Gander
at page 118, and you'll understand (1) how she amassed it and (2) why
she's still got it.
If you've been waiting for a small taste of something that hasn't gone
to the printers, here you go:
all I've gotten to see, aside from a product description and the cover
art (which is terrific), is the map. Or at least the state in which the
map was a few months ago when I was talking with Rob Lazzaretti about
the process for making the new Forgotten
The OE map
was really well done. Lazz composited several really nice pieces
of handmade paper to give the map a great texture. The actual artwork
looks like a brush art depiction of that section of the world. I probably
spent five minutes just looking at it. (I'd have stayed longer, but I
had to get on with the interview -- you know!)
played with the old (1st Edition) Oriental Adventures, you know
how cool this one's going to be. If you didn't, you're in for an amazing
fantasy-Asian-flavored treat. Nuts and bolts-wise, the book has got new
classes, races, spells, items, equipment, monsters, and stuff like that.
I can't wait to flip through -- I wanna see the hengeyokai.
you about Lords of Darkness,
but I've gotta
have something left for next month.
is a copywriter who has been here for just barely over a year now, but
who has been playing Dungeons & Dragons and waiting to get
a job with the company that makes it for well over 18 years. Now he gets
to spend most of his days and nights thinking about new ways to tell everyone
in the world to play D&D, which is, without question, the coolest
month, he's just happy to write something for the web to let folks know
about all the cool D&D things he gets to see before they hit
the stores. That's one more small thing that's phenomenally cool about
this whole job at Wizards of the Coast thing.
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