it already been a month?
how it seems like you never have enough time to do everything you want
to do? And how deadlines sneak up on you? And how time flies when you're
having fun? Well, all of those things seem to have converged (again) all
over my desk, 'cause it sure doesn't seem like it has been a month since
I sat down to write the last Previews. I suppose I got shorted a couple
days by that sneaky 28-day February, but really, we've just got so much
going on around here, I don't think it makes a difference one way or another.
that still boggles my mind is how the folks in R&D keep up with the
pace at which things are moving through down there. They stay on top of
all kinds of projects in various stages. While they're polishing Deities
and Demigods for its release next month, they're also working on other
projects that are scheduled for release in April -- of 2003. (Some are
scheduled even further out -- if you can imagine that.)
about it. That means when Skip Williams was taking one last look at the
Monster Manual before it went off to the printer, it's entirely
likely that he was already working on the Forgotten Realms Campaign
Setting, Tome and Blood, Deep Horizon, and maybe even Monster
you probably want to know what's coming out in April of 2003. "Hey,
if it's on your schedule, you know it is coming. Spill it," you say.
would if I could. But I can't, so I won't," says I. The schedule
changes around too much -- or at least, it has the potential to -- and
nobody wants to get hopes or anticipation built up before those release
dates are firmed up.
I've been privileged to sit in on the R&D team meetings (there are
three teams, by the way) and the RPG scheduling meetings, I have seen
how projects move through here and how they can shift around on the release
schedule. A lot of factors can affect each and every product we make.
actually why there's not always a definite release date for the stuff
that's out there on the horizon, and why we can't tell you about what
Skip (or any of the fine folks in R&D) are working on for release
in 2003. It's not because we don't want to -- you won't find a more excited
group of people when it comes to wanting to talk about this stuff -- it's
'cause nobody wants to be disappointed.
if you want find out about all the things that are coming up (the things
we can talk about, that is), this is place to find out about 'em. By the
time our products are to the stage where I have anything to do with them,
they're firmed up enough on the schedule to start talking about 'em. And,
I'm going to try to start giving you an even more comprehensive update
on everything I know about. I won't always have a lot to say about everything,
but you'll at least know about it.
Dungeon Master's Screen
is already out there. Back
in December, I
told you how beautiful the art is. And I'd mentioned the charts and tables
on the inside as being something you'd expect on a DM screen. Which is
true. What I didn't know was how great the information in there is. It's
uber-useful stuff you actually need as a quick reference, such as circumstantial
modifiers to attack rolls, cover and concealment bonuses and modifiers,
and more. You can find a horde of information about actions in combat
-- whether you can move normally, take a 5-foot step, or not move at all,
and whether they provoke an attack of opportunity. It has multiple examples
to demonstrate what's a free action, move-equivalent action, partial action,
or full-round action. Weapon and armor hardness and hit points are available
for those impromptu Sunder attempts. The same information is there for
various objects and substances. And light sources are detailed, providing
the radius and duration of ten different modes of illumination. And that's
only about half the information you'll find in there.
with the screen, you get a 32-page booklet titled Encounters in Faerûn.
This thing gives you encounter tables for dungeon levels 1-20, as well
as wilderness encounters for over 30 different combinations of climate
and terrain. And the really cool thing about these tables is that they're
not just Forgotten Realms-specific, but they're specific to regions.
Check out pages 12 and 13 and look at Table 26: Northern Low Mountains.
It starts out telling you that adventuring there is EL 6-12, so you know
how daunting travel there is, right off the bat. The results of your percentile
roll differ, depending on whether it's day or night. And, if you roll
an encounter with a local creature, you move down to Table 26B, which
breaks down the encounter by which Northern Low Mountains you're
in. (It could be the Anauroch, Dragonspire Mountains, Giantspire Mountains,
Greypeak Mountains, Nether Mountains, or Rauvin Mountains, if you're curious.)
lastly, the gutter -- I had no idea. All of the Forgotten Realms
materials have the same look: a collection of weathered pages inside a
leather-bound, canvaslike cover. They're all beautiful books. (Robert
Raper is the guy who makes 'em look so good.) And when I opened the screen
(and Encounters in Faerûn), I noticed what I thought was a new
touch -- the gutter shows the leather thongs that hold the pages in place.
It's not new. It's been there from the beginning. If you carefully press
the pages down in your Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting book,
you'll see those little strips of leather in there. (Don't press too hard,
or you'll end up with something that'll remind you of an old copy of Unearthed
Arcana.) I don't think I would've ever noticed that bit of detail
if it weren't for this terrific screen. I love that. Robert put that in
there, even though the binding on the hardcover and perfect-bound books
would hide it, because it should be there. Wow.
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game
I gave you a
basic introduction to the Call of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game
and had started telling you about some cool stuff. But I got cut short,
'cause I had to turn the galleys back over to R&D so they could finalize
it to send off to the printers. (See, even the contents of this little
article can be altered by the schedule.)
month, I've got the galleys in my hands again, and I can point out some
more cool things inside.
jump in on one of the touchstone elements of the Call of Cthulhu
d20 Roleplaying Game: Sanity. The entirety of Chapter Four of the
book is dedicated to the subject, and it deals with it in a way that really
typifies the rest of the book -- it's extremely thorough. The chapter
begins with a description of Sanity and how you lose it, how Sanity points
work (including a table of examples of Sanity Loss-provoking events. Then
comes the section on Insanity. You've got a couple tables that cover the
effects of short-term and long-term temporary insanity, another that deals
with indefinite insanity (that can go away after an amount of time), and
the brick wall that all Call of Cthulhu characters race
toward: Permanent Insanity. So, now, your character is Insane (to some
degree), what do you do? Move on to recovering sanity through mental therapy,
psychiatric medication, level gain, and private or institutional treatment.
Mental disorders are covered next. Included here is an impressively relevant
list of phobias, along with a brief definition of each (my favorite is
maniaphobia -- the fear of going insane), a psychiatric glossary of terms,
symptoms of substance abuse, and an array of medications and treatments.
you wanna see a great illustration of a one-guy-with-an-axe-against-three-zombies
battle in a bayou, check out page 79. The investigator got in a pretty
good first shot. And he'll probably get in a few more, but it's not looking
good for him. The illustration really starts off as a heroic, action-packed,
"Yeah! Take that, you undead swamp scum!" kinda moment. But
when you spend another few seconds taking in the rest of the information
there, you know that Captain Lumberjack isn't going to last very long.
Unless he can make it to that rowboat.
what? A croquet mallet does 1d4 points of damage. A stiletto that would
run you two bucks in the 20s goes for the low-low price of $24.99 today.
And the Lee-Enfield Mark I Rifle (manufactured in the UK in 1896) is a
standard-firing, bolt-action firearm that uses .303-caliber British ammunition
and takes a 6-round magazine. It deals 2d10 points of damage (x3 on a
crit) at a range increment of 175 feet.
section of the Equipment chapter is very robust. (You'll find five more
paragraphs about the Lee-Enfield, for example.) There's a terrific range
of melee weapons (covering just about anything you'd be likely to want)
and a staggering arsenal of firearms. Pistols, rifles, automatic rifles,
submachine guns, and shotguns are all available, with many different flavors
of each to choose from. There are illustrations and expanded descriptions
of particularly notable firearms (those with historical or criminal importance,
and even those commonly depicted in movies and historical documentaries),
which are unbelievably detailed. You can also find information on how
hollow-point and armor-piercing ammunition works, what kinds of modifiers
are associated with using a silencer, and some other mechanics (and pricing)
related to various firearm accessories. Gun control laws and explosives
finish off that section and lead in to the one on investigative gear.
a Union suit or spandex bicycle shorts to a worsted wool dress suit or
leather motorcycle jacket, you've got prices on a shopping district's
worth of clothing. Communications equipment includes everything from telegraph
service and a Cray supercomputer to laptops and fountain pens. Entertainment
prices range from 95 cents for a Ouija boards in the 1920s to about $360
for a digital camera. Medical equipment, outdoor and travel gear, spy
tech, tools and more -- it's all here and all have prices for the 20s
and today. I was stunned by how complete this section was. (If you look
through medical supplies to make sure they didn't forget the straitjackets,
you won't find them. But take a look over in miscellaneous gear, and you'll
find that one will run you 350 bucks.)
285 is my favorite drawing. It focuses on a gigantic, powerfully built,
winged, octopus-headed creature fending off an elf mage, half-orc barbarian,
and dwarf fighter. (You'll see a human fighter in the picture, too, but
it seems like poor Regdar didn't fare too well in round one against Cthulhu.)
drawing is on the second of five pages in an appendix that gives you the
guidelines for incorporating Call of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying
Game material in your D&D game (and vice-versa). What a
terrific new twist to add to your campaign! Even if you don't want your
party of seasoned adventurers to run into a Shoggoth, you could incorporate
the Sanity rule, or a few new spells to keep things fresh (and a tad frightening).
Book and the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets CD
have to be insane to pass up an autographed copy of the Call
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game -- especially when a limited-edition
CD comes with it!
knowledge and dark secrets await any who are brave enough to delve
into the depths of the Call of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying
Game -- that and the autographs of the authors of the book.
exciting and much anticipated d20 System adaptation of the popular
horror roleplaying game based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, this
320-page hardback contains everything you need to start investigating
things humankind was not meant to know.
the first 200 people who order will not only receive a copy of the
Call of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game signed by Monte
Cook and John Tynes (using a special ink developed by Miskatonic
University that wards off Deep Ones), but they'll also get a free
copy of Let Sleeping Gods Lie -- the limited-edition compilation
of songs by the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets that features an
official, optional rule that alters game play.
slightly less frightening than running into a Shoggoth in a dark
tunnel is the prospect of missing out on the chance to pick up an
autographed copy of the Call
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying
Game along with a copy of Let Sleeping Gods Lie.
your autographed copy of the Call of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying
Game online now, and get the limited-edition CD by the Darkest
of the Hillside Thickets for free.
you still don't know the Darkest
of the Hillside Thickets, you've got to check them out. It's
a moral imperative. And, you can listen to a few of their songs
over at mp3.com.
music on the CD features twelve of their songs (sampled from all
three of their albums) with H.P. Lovecraft-inspired lyrics:
A Thousand Fists
2. Colour Me Green
3. Goin' Down to Dunwich
4. Shoggoths Away
5. Yig Snake Daddy
6. Please God No
as if there needed to be any more reason to pick up a copy of the Call
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game, there's the online sales promotion
I told you a little about last
here's the official, optional rule (minus
the effects on game play) that was developed with the more than capable
talents of Call of Cthulhu co-Developer Brian "Chainsaw"
Campbell and co-Creative Director, Christopher Perkins:
of the Thickets (Optional Rule for the Call of Cthulhu
d20 Roleplaying Game)
track has its own minor effect on game play that lasts only as long
as the song is playing. To invoke the Chaos of the Thickets, set
your CD player on shuffle/random, and then play. (If you don't have
that feature, roll a d12 and start play on that track.)
wait to sit down with my Lee Enfield-toting dilettante to play with the
Thickets rocking in the background.
more information about Call
of Cthulhu and roleplaying in a world of Lovecraftian horror,
visit the Chaosium
home of the original Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game.
Things to Come
The Wheel of Time: Prophecies of
is the mega adventure for The Wheel of Time Roleplaying
Game that'll take your characters from 1st to 6th level in style.
I went into detail on this last
can't add a lot more without starting to ruin the surprise for the players.
Bastion of Broken Souls
adventure, written by Bruce Cordell, may get you all the way to 20th level!
If you've been playing through the adventures we've been putting out,
you'll be as prepared as you can be after you survive Lord of the Iron
Fortress. If you're thinking about dropping this adventure into an
existing campaign, keep in mind that it's designed for 18th-level characters.
so as not to ruin the game for anyone, I'll limit the rest of my description
to a bit of text from the back cover:
Blood of Ancient Battles Rises
eternal demonic war draws dangerously close to an end, threatening
the balance of all existence. At the crux of this chaotic feud resides
a legendary terror fixated upon immortality at any cost. Only the
most powerful heroes can hope to defeat a force that lies beyond
the influence of the gods.
Fold-Up Paper Models
I can't get enough of these. This month, Lazz and Todd put together a
covered bridge with river sections for all your running water-crossing
still working on that tavern/inn, along with a set of signs you can attach
to the buildings that are already available to make 'em into a blacksmith's,
weapon shop, and such things. They're also working on a new idea: a long
catacomb wall that is textured and detailed so that you can score and
fold it however you like. You'll even be able to cut doorways and niches
into the walls to allow access to other rooms or to house the remains
of your favorite undead surprise.
doesn't get much better that this. These things are free, and there's
already enough stuff available for you to build a small town. And there
doesn't seem to be any end in sight.
is really exciting. All the terrain cards from Set 1 are going to be available
for download. So, if you didn't pick up the Ahmut's Legion faction box,
but you still want to duke it out over the top of a row of headstones,
you're in luck.
for those of you out there with a decent amount of wargaming experience
under your belt, the Chainmail Technical Rules will also be available
to download. This is the uber-complete set of rules that addresses a huge
swath of complex, strategic, and tactical questions you might have, but
didn't find the answers to in the Official Rules from the Starter Set.
Now, if you're just getting in the swing of miniatures gaming, keep this
in mind -- the Technical Rules are definitely for the hardcore minis gamer.
No diagrams, no pictures. Just pure rules. But, if you're used to waging
war across tabletops and really want to get into the detailed rules for
whipping up against your opponent's puny warband, you'll want to take
a look at this.
Dragon Magazine #294
it's the April issue. You know it's going to have some good, funny stuff
right up front. But, you probably didn't know that once you're past the
humorous material, there'll be a huge article on vehicle combat written
by Dave Noonan. When I say huge, I mean H U G E. This feature covers tons
of craft: land vehicles, water vehicles, air vehicles -- you name it,
it's there. You'll find carts, chariots, catamarans, sleds, submersibles,
zeppelins, ornithopters, and more -- much, much, much more. It's got rules
for movement, attacking, collisions, weather conditions, additional armaments,
vehicle augmentations, a horde of new magic items, and more. There are
even five fully statted "ships" (with maps) that are ready to
rumble right off the page.
as if that wasn't enough, you'll also get a quick look at what's coming
in the Epic Level Handbook. (There'll be other Countdown articles
in the next two issues of Dragon Magazine as well.)
Deities & Demigods
seen anything more on this since I passed the back cover copy along to
you last month.
I keep hearing that the art is some of the best we've ever had. I can't
wait to get a look at it.
Fire & Ice
is the guidebook you need to play with the Set 3 models for Chainmail
miniatures. (And wait 'til you see these things.) Like I said last month,
you'll be battling upon an expansive plain strewn with the ancient bones
Power Lies Amid the Bones of Dragons
ago, great legions of dragons battled in the skies above the Plain
of Edora. Their skeletal remains cover the ground now known as Scalebane.
Brave warbands have converged on the draconic graveyard, seeking
powerful magic and formidable allies.
material in this book includes:
- New recruits,
such as the Gallowsgaunt, Ice Paraelemental, and Half-Dragon Mage.
- Two new
terrain cards -- the dragon claw and the dragon skull.
- Rules for
using the Set 3 models and statistics for all the ones from Set
Chainmail Set 3
for Chainmail are getting cooler. We have a really good collection
of sculptors crafting these masterpieces, and they're really getting in
the swing of things. I don't know anyone who isn't going to like this:
The latest models have fewer pieces and better pins and sockets.
There'll still be some assembly on the more elaborate miniatures, but
you're going to have an even easier time putting them together. A lot
of the models I saw were single-piece sculpts, and a couple had only a
shield to attach. The game is really streamlining so you can pick up the
models you need to tweak your warband, then get 'em on their bases and
- Ahmut's Legion:
Human Shadow Priest
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Human Paladin
- Naresh: Abyssal
- Ravilla: Half Dragon
- Mercenary: Azer
Shadow Priest is mighty and the Half Dragon Mage is really, really cool.
(I think it's the first half dragon I've ever seen.)
I could be more descriptive on what these things look like (and I'll try
to get some images added into this), but looking at that shelf filled
with the fully painted models is kinda like looking into the sun. It's
unbelievable and nearly impossible to describe. You know you were looking
at something phenomenally bright, and it's burned into your head, but
words can't really capture it. Maybe next month, I'll take a laptop down
there and do a more thorough job of burning my retinas with the dreamy
images of those minis.
Faiths & Pantheons
to flip through a full-color galley of this beautiful thing for just a
minute or two. That's better than nothing, but I could've looked it over
for hours. Maybe I'll get my hands on it again by next month. Until then,
ponder the divine greatness that is Faiths &Pantheons by taking
a look at the description from the back cover:
in the Realms
cleric or commoner, wizard or warrior, nearly everyone in Faerûn
pays homage to at least one patron deity. Some of those divine powers
inspire respect, while others elicit fear. Good or evil, all of
them coexist within these pages. Complete information for key gods,
along with the powers and abilities granted to their most dedicated
followers, and descriptions of supporting deities combine to provide
this look at all the gods of the Forgotten Realms Campaign
- Over 115
- 20 specialty
priest prestige classes
- Maps of
Chainmail Set 3
Boar is big. Very big. Take that Dire Badger from Mordengard and add a
hundred pounds or so. (And boy, are those dire critters mean.)
The Grey Elf Imperial Noble carries a huge battle standard -- it's very
cool, and I'd consider adding him to my warband even if I weren't already
working up a little group from Ravilla.
- Ahmut's Legion:
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Human Templar
- Naresh: Demonic
- Ravilla: Grey Elf
- Mercenary: Hellhound
Stronghold Builder's Guidebook
with this sudden trend of giving you the back cover copy in lieu of a
more elaborate write-up, here ya go:
Wrought of Mortar and Magic
need impregnable fortresses to assault, wondrous towers to explore,
and majestic castles to protect. This book is stocked with everything
needed to design any fortified structure imaginable, including:
- Over 150
new magic items.
- More than
two dozen magical augmentations for stronghold walls.
- Rules for
magic portals, mobile strongholds, and trap creation.
- Five complete
strongholds, including maps, ready for immediate use.
and Dungeon Masters who want to create customized strongholds will
find all the construction materials they need within these pages.
Dragon Magazine #295
a timely place to mention this! The May issue of Dragon Magazine
features some tie-ins to the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook.
Book of Challenges
is a blue-cover book (like the Dungeon Master's Guide),
so I'm not going to tell you too much about it. But I can pass on the
notion that this is a resource designed to allow all of you insidious
Dungeon Masters out there to drop particularly interesting or dangerous
(often both) encounters into your campaign with a minimum of work. Each
challenge is somewhat modular, so you just need to figure out where you
want it and do a little tailoring around the edges to make it fit perfectly
into whatever your devious mind is hatching. I got to help out playtesting
Chainmail Set 3
Paraelemental is very craggy and faceted (not gemlike, more like what
might walk away after a couple of icebergs collide). The Ogre Penitent
is extra cool; he's a huge, monstrous good guy. And, a couple of huge
bells hanging from heavy chains are slung across his chest (you've got
to see it). He's a really nice, big, simply adorned ogre. He'll be a lot
of fun to paint. As nice as the Ogre Penitent is, the Gnoll Cleric is
not. His banded armor and huge shield are daunting and the two-headed
flail isn't terribly friendly. Kilsek. What more need I say? This second
drow miniature is a really nice, dangerously elegant, shortbow-wielding
archer. Golly, I like drow.
- Ahmut's Legion:
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Ice
- Thalos: Ogre Penitent
- Naresh: Gnoll Cleric
- Ravilla: Wood Elf
- Kilsek: Drow Archer
Epic Level Handbook
May, and June issues of Dragon Magazine will feature countdown
articles that give you tantalizing samples of what's inside the hardbound
cover of this Book of Infinite Gaming. I know I can't wait for one of
my characters to have the Chuck Yeagerian experience of hitting 21st level.
I'll go into more detail on this awesome new book in a month or two. But
in the meantime, start hoarding as many XPs as you can.
is the first region-specific accessory for the Forgotten Realms
Campaign Setting, and it's going to be quite cool. It has hordes of
orcs, much snow and ice, trackless wastes, impassable mountains and small
pockets of civilization. Alustriel, the High Lady of Silverymoon, is the
leader and figurehead of this new alliance of cities and settlements.
See how the alliance is struggling to provide a safe haven of peace and
civility in an untamed land filled with creatures that are as chaotic
and dangerous as any you'll find in Faerûn.
Chainmail Set 4
I skipped a month. I was going to stop with July, but I found out about
a really, really sweet miniature that'll be scuttling onto the Chainmail
battlefield at the end of the Set 4 release.
the really intriguing bit: It won't be fighting for the faction you might
that'll do for a month.
is a copywriter who's been here long enough to stop keeping up with it
on a monthly basis. He's 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 thing ever. Hey, play D&D, won't ya!?
month, he's not sure, but he thinks he may have time to work on his campaign
world, get some Chainmail miniatures painted, and start writing
up some more stuff for Dragon Magazine. It's hard to find
time, what with the gaming and checking out all the RPGs floating around
here, but it's a part of this whole job at Wizards of the Coast thing.
of Cthulhu is a registered trademark of Chaosium. The Call
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game is produced under license from
Chaosium. Wheel of Time is a trademark of Robert Jordan.
to the D&D
main news page for more articles and
news about the new D&D or check
out the D&D
boards for a lively discussion of all aspects of the D&D