2002 Isn't Just a Palindrome.
It's Also the Year of the Drow
You know, the next
time you can talk about the year being a palindrome, you'll be able to
make a joke about it also being an album by Rush.
year, it's all about those nasty elves from deep underground.
all about them, but there's sure going to be an uncomfortably large
number of hand-crossbow-wielding types running around -- under and above
ground -- to make it seem that way.
Out Now: You Gotta Watch Out for those Icky Spider Lovers!
some things that you definitely need! And all of them lead toward dark
Mercenary and the Kilsek Faction
last month, the first drow mini (the Kilsek Mercenary Drow Warrior) would
be hitting shelves this month. He's a very cool mini with a buckler that
sports an unfriendly, curving blade, and a hand crossbow extended as if
to put a bolt through anyone who looks at him sideways, frontways, backways
he's a mercenary unit, you can add his wicked deadliness to your warband,
regardless of whether you fight on the side of good or evil. Of course,
later on in the year (say, July-ish), his drow elf buddies are going to
come looking for him.
faction will bring the number of groups battling for the Sundered Empire
up to seven. I can't wait to see the rest of the minis for that group
of spider-loving baddies.
down to the desk of Mike
Art Director for Chainmail Miniatures) just to check out
the new Chainmail miniatures -- again. (You should see the
shelf he's got next to his desk. It's filled with miniatures that are
painted so amazingly well, you nearly break down in tears.) Mike showed
me a couple of extremely interesting things.
was an uncast mini (a "green") of the Kilsek miniature that's
going to be released in April. It's a Drow Sniper, which is kneeling down
with a shortbow in hand. I have to say that if there were two words that
could be used as synonyms for "deadly," it'd be "drow"
and "sniper." You put them together, and you end up with something
that just makes you want to hide.
thing Mike showed me was the female sculpt of the Kilsek Drow Mercenary.
That's an alternate casting of, essentially, the same miniature. More
accurately, it's an alternate casting of the same Chainmail
unit. The abilities will be the same as the male version that just came
out, and her equipment (that buckler and hand crossbow) is the same, but
she's all-new. Place the two side by side, and you see the similarities,
but you also notice the many differences. It's as if the two were issued
the same basic equipment, but they finished getting geared up in two different
Shops of Doom.
the nifty thing about the alternate sculpt: The sculptors working on Chainmail
are going to be doing that a lot. With quite pleasing frequency, you could
pick up a version of a mini that may be in a new pose, have a different
gender, an alteration of gear, or whatever.
often, though not always, you'll find those alternate poses in the combo
month, new minis come out (one, sometimes two, per faction). Every three
months, a combo box for each faction will come out. Those combo boxes
will feature the minis that came out during the previous three months.
(So, the combo boxes that come out in April will have the minis from January,
February, and March.)
Blood and Darkness
guidebook for the Chainmail miniatures game covers all the
rules you need to take your warband underground. That means skirmishes
in tunnels and caves and dungeons and all sorts of fine places to do battle.
It also means there's less clean-up when the battle is over -- your opponent
is already planted in the ground.
rules are also going to be the rules used in the Chainmail
Organized Play (OP) League next season. So, when you pick up Blood
and Darkness, not only are you getting the chance to whip up on your
pals in a new and exciting earthbound venue, you're also getting to hone
your skills for the OP League. As you can imagine, some warbands that
absolutely devastate anyone foolish enough to challenge them above ground
might not fair as well when they head underground. So, you've got three
months to craft a warband for effective subterranean butt-kicking.
The Drow Keep Coming!
skipping ahead to something that will thrill any follower of those drow
Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen Novel Series
there's this guy, R. A. Salvatore -- he knows a thing or two about drow.
Maybe you've heard of him. He's written some books.
there's a whole new series of novels set in the Underdark. Mr. Salvatore
crafted the basic outline of the whole series, and he's going to be consulting
on each of the stories. (And he will be writing the introductions to each
of the six installments.) Each book in the series will be written by a
different author -- our hottest, new writers.
tell you a lot about the plotline (mainly 'cause I'm still a little fuzzy
on exactly what's going on), but the title of the first book, Dissolution,
does a pretty good job of describing the situation. Look it up in your
favorite dictionary or thesaurus. You'll see terms like "death,"
"decay," and "breaking down."
society has always struck me as a phenomenally lawful structure that contains
(read: keeps in check) a nearly infinite amount of chaos. But imagine
what could happen if that organization faltered. What happens if the reason
for many and most of the rules, laws, and all that just sort of went away
-- for no reason, even. Or at least for no reason anyone is aware of.
are going to be bad.
hits shelves in July. The second book, Insurrection, will go on
sale in December.
You Should Watch For
not done yet! Of course not! Here's some more drow goodness that'll come
out this year.
of the Spider Queen
year, we're going to be putting out a super-adventure for the Forgotten
Realms setting (as well as one for D&D in general). And
this year, (August, specifically) the adventure is going to be set in
that nasty, nasty, nasty situation I was just telling you about.
of the Spider Queen is an adventure that runs concurrently with the
story being covered in R. A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen. Not
that you'll be running through an adventure that mirrors the books. Instead,
the adventure is sparked by the same turn of events that sets the novel
series in motion, but your adventuring party will have an entirely different
direction to explore.
in the D&D Worlds meeting, as we went around the table seeing
what everyone was working on, we eventually got to James
first thing James did was to spring out of his chair to perform what was
described as the Dance of Doneness. Not only was it a singularly entertaining
event, but it was also significant in that James is *the* author for City
of the Spider Queen.
the last five and a half months crafting this super-adventure, and he
very literally worked night and day for the past six weeks to get it finished.
all the adventures I get to peek at, I'm not going to tell you a lot about
this one. But like I said, it takes place in the Underdark. As James describes
it, the adventure is tangential to the War of the Spider Queen storyline
-- it starts in the same place, but it goes in its own direction. I also
discovered that, at some point, there's the opportunity to explore an
entirely new drow city. Or at least the ruins of it.
what would reduce a drow city to rubble? What could? I'm not sure
I want to know. I have a hard enough time sleeping.
Hunter's Blades Trilogy
you're a fan of the Dark Elf novels, you might be a little sad at this
point. You saw "R. A. Salvatore" and then found out that he's
not writing that series.
don't be sad, little buckaroo.
off, you can't even pretend to dismiss the War of the Spider Queen
series. It's going to be hot. Wait 'til you find out more about what's
going on. I can't ruin it for you, but you've gotta check it out. Really.
All kinds of drow evil nastiness.
you can't be sad 'cause he's writing a new Drizzt trilogy. And this trilogy
is all Drizzt, all the time.
Drizzt, the scimitar-wielding, purple-eyed, ranger with the magical panther
there's no Bruenor, Regis, Wulfgar, Cattie-brie, Jarlaxle or Artemis Entreri.
This is going to be an intense, exciting trilogy focused solely on the
dark elf hero.
there are going to be other characters. For example, check out the title
of the first book: The Thousand Orcs. Now, I'm not 100% certain
what part those orcs are going to play in the story, but I'm thinking
most of 'em aren't going to have a recurring role if you know what I mean.
orcs. You know, if anyone could take 'em on, it'd be Drizzt.
for this fine, late-summer package of sweet, sweet D&D-ness
is drow. There'll be coverage of all the RPG, novel, and D&D
Chainmail products coming out, along with dark elf-related articles.
It's a little too far away to have anything nailed down specifically,
but you can be sure that if you've got any inkling about lighting a torch
or ten and delving into the Underdark, you'll want to take a look at this
issue of Dragon Magazine.
out of time, but I've gotta make sure each and every one of you has checked
out the Foldup Paper Models. The free Foldup Paper Models.
play the Chainmail miniatures game, the links to the models
are right there on the Chainmail page for you, and they're
ready to be downloaded and used as terrain -- free.
play D&D, these are over on the Chainmail page,
and they're ready to be downloaded and used as models for your game, too
-- for zero dollars and zero cents.
have a use for these.
now, you'll find a set of three cottages, an awesome tower (intact and
ruined), and a covered bridge.
more on the way.
way too little time talking with Rob Lazzaretti and Todd Gamble about
what they've got up their master crafter's sleeves.
already got a curtain wall that nestles nicely up against the tower (and
can be destroyed right alongside it, as well). They did an awesome mausoleum,
complete with graves, headstones, and wall sections lined with wrought-iron
fencing. There's also an unbelievably cool blacksmith's shop (again with
an intact and ruined version) ready to go.
meticulously detailed, masterworks of 3-D miniature structural eye-candy
-- that's what these are.
saw the unfinished model of a huge inn/tavern. Even without the
texture and color, this building (which can be used as two separate structures,
or one hugely big one) is impressive.
got more ideas. Todd started rattling off a list of props and accessories
he wants to do: crates, banners, windows, doors, signs, river sections,
and more. They talked about a stable, docks, and possibly even a ship
or two. I can't wait to see what they're going to do next!
these guys are finished, you'll have access to an entire town's worth
of fold-up models.
once more, just for the people in the nosebleed seats who might have missed
it, these things are free. How can you not like that? These unbelievable
models are labors of love wrought for the enjoyment of all. Tons of work
goes into each one. Tons of fun as well. Make it all worth the time and
effort these guys have put into each and every one of 'em. Download 'em
and use 'em.
is a copywriter who's been here for something like 17 months now, but
who has been playing Dungeons & Dragons and waiting to get
a job with the company that makes it for well over 19 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 discovered that the light at the end of the tunnel was indeed
a freight train filled with more work. And while it sure does make it
tough to get around to straightening up his progressively more cluttered
desk, it doesn't matter 'cause it means he gets to have fun with even
more nifty books and games as a part of this whole job at Wizards of the
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