Catch My Breath.
a lot has going on around here -- tons of work, piles of projects, all
kinds of stuff. The past few Previews articles have been getting longer
and longer and longer. (I hope people really are reading these things.)
This month's article is going to be a tad shorter, but I'm going to try
adding a somewhat comprehensive list of things coming out. Once I get
all of that stuff in line, you'll know when everything is coming out (at
least everything within a few months), and I'll keep you in the loop on
the cool stuff going through here. How'd that be?
Deities and Demigods
last, I've got my hands on a galley. It's got little Post-It note flags
sticking out all over the place, marking pages that have a change to be
made, but they're all minor things that won't make a difference between
the galley and the finished book.
around the multicolored paper fringe, I started flipping through.
familiar with the original Deities & Demigods, you've got a
basic idea of what this one is like -- but only the most basic idea. The
old version gave you stats, a line art drawing, and a basic description
of each of the deities and other affiliated creatures in a number of different
pantheons. The new Deities and Demigods gives you so much more.
only four pantheons. Don't read that to mean that the book is skimping
on content, because it's not. Whereas the original Deities & Demigods
rattled off stats and a descriptive paragraph or two about each deity
in somewhere around a dozen or so pantheons, the new-and-improved Deities
and Demigods scrutinizes four select pantheons (D&D, Olympian,
Pharaonic, and Asgardian). Each deity has an entry that spans close to
two pages in length. Full-color illustrations of each deity (along with
one representative symbol) are accompanied by a complete stat block (with
descriptions of special qualities, divine immunities, domain powers, spell-like
abilities, and more), descriptions of other divine powers, and details
on how its avatar(s) function (including an abbreviated stat block). Most
entries are also accompanied by a description of the dogma, clergy, and
followers of each deity. And some even have maps of archetypal shrines
or temples. Lastly, once you're through looking at pantheons, you can
move on to the chapter that gives examples of other types of fantasy religions:
monotheistic, dualistic, and cultish.
time you finish those five chapters, you should have a fine idea of how
any sort of religion should function in any campaign setting. And that's
pretty much where the comparison to the old Deities & Demigods
this fine, new incarnation also offers is a wealth of information about
how deities and religion function in a D&D game. This content
actually fills the first two chapters of the book, which definitely leads
me to consider Deities and Demigods as being less of a catalog
of supra-powered beings and more of a "how-to" book -- how to
incorporate deities and religion into a D&D game, as well as
how to define and create deities.
with the "If it has a stat block, you can kill it" mentality.
Gruumsh isn't just a big, one-eyed orc. He's a deity. And now, you have
the tools you need to truly make that distinction. It's really a boon
to have suggestions and guidelines for dealing with entities that are
so beyond anything mortal, because it really puts into perspective the
way in which a PC would or could interact with a deity (if it's even possible
in your campaign).
giving your players a mindset in which deities play the roles they should,
it really can open up entirely new realms of possibility for your campaign.
to all that, Deities and Demigods also introduces close to 100
salient abilities (special powers) and 30 new feats that are available
only to deities. Divine spellcasters will be interested in 13 new domains
(along with accompanying new spells). You'll also find some new monsters,
new weapons, and prestige classes.
just in case you have a character with lofty aspirations, there's Appendix
2: Divine Ascension.
- Ahmut's Legion:
Human Shadow Priest
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Human Paladin
- Naresh: Abyssal
- Ravilla: Half Dragon
- Mercenary: Azer
Faiths and Pantheons
on the heels of Deities and Demigods is a similar, but different
book. It's chock-full of information about the deities of Faerûn (major,
minor, and more -- over 115 of 'em), and it also features 20 new prestige
classes, extremely detailed maps and descriptions of three temples, and
more. Whereas Deities and Demigods gave you guidelines for incorporating
deities into your campaign world, Faiths and Pantheons has the
luxury of having a huge head start on that sort of thing. The Forgotten
Realms has always been a place where the deities have been involved
to a large degree. Virtually everyone in the Forgotten Realms acknowledges
at least one deity, if not more.
Faiths and Pantheons can jump right in on information, details,
and descriptions of the deities of Faerûn, it does it with a phenomenal
amount of attention. The 31 major deities are covered in Chapter 1, which
spans 78 pages. If you do the math, that's an average of 2 1/2 pages per
deity. That's a lot of space, and none of it is wasted. The descriptions
are astonishingly thorough, covering virtually every detail you could
want to know about each deity in a manner similar to the entries in Deities
and Demigods, but even more exhaustive -- including a history and
relationships with other deities, dogma, clergy and temples, complete
stat block, descriptions of specific divine powers, and avatars (with
abbreviated stat block).
on the minor deities of Faerûn is a whirlwind of descriptions for dozens
of deities, beginning with more general deities, and then moving on to
compartmentalized pantheons (drow, dwarven, elven, gnome, halfling, Mulhorandi,
completely different places of worship are the focus of Chapter 3. The
Abbey of the Sword (a fortified stronghold dedicated to Tempus) is detailed
with seven maps depicting various levels (both above and below ground),
a sampling of book titles that can be found in the War Library, and three
adventure hooks. The Darkhouse of Saerloon (a temple to Shar cloaked within
the trappings of a lighthouse) includes maps, magic items, a couple interesting
surprises, and four adventure hooks. Lastly, the Wyvernstones of Hullak
is an outdoor place of worship that was once consecrated to Eldath but
has been corrupted by worshipers of Malar and features four adventure
hooks, several NPCs, and more.
prestige classes, each focused upon a particular deity or type of religion,
offer a tantalizing array of reasons to be the party cleric. Here's just
one: The Ocular Adept, follower of the Great Mother (deity of beholders)
is a humanoid who has the central eye of an eyeball beholderkin implanted
in its forehead, which develops various beholder-type ray powers as the
ocular adept advances in level. (Sure, you have to be lawful evil or neutral
evil, but hey -- you get beholder ray attacks. Sign me up.)
feats, salient abilities, and a page full of monster deities take you
to the end of the book, which concludes with a convenient spread that
gives you a quick, alphabetically arranged list of the major deities with
all of the basic information that would be relevant to a cleric. It's
until you see this thing. I think each one of the Forgotten Realms
books has been more beautiful than the last (and that's pretty tough,
considering how awesome the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
is), and Faiths and Pantheons definitely supports this theory.
It starts with the terrific page treatment (with those cool leather strips
in the gutter) that evokes the Forgotten Realms feeling at each
page turn, and then adds phenomenal illustrations of the deities of Faerûn.
Not only are the illustrations beautiful, they're interesting, unexpected,
and rewarding -- it's a real treat to flip through the book just to see
how each deity is depicted. I keep thinking of the specialty priests from
Forgotten Realms Adventures, and I guess I expected the
deities to emulate their archetype priests. Nothing could be further from
the truth. And, really, I'm glad. These illustrations give each deity
a truly unique, individualistic, and appropriate feel. They're really
brilliant. Each one is so interesting, well thought-out, and just right.
Malar, for example, isn't a brutish hulk wearing furs and skins. He's
depicted (in one of his two avatar forms) as a human-sized, cat-like beast
with feral yellow eyes, wicked claws, and black fur that's matted with
blood. He's crouching on a gnarled tree branch, not quite ready to pounce,
but completely aware of his surroundings and ready to act. His pose and
manner is more bestial than humanoid, and that's what Malar's all about.
Stronghold Builder's Guidebook
Wednesday night, my character and his fellow party members were given
a mid-sized stronghold as a reward for our sterling service to the Coalition
during the ongoing war. The Stonethorn Monastery encompasses around 90,000
square feet, boasts a large courtyard, a small inn, a large temple (of
course), barracks, stables, a multitude of offices, chambers and quarters,
a couple of secret rooms, a bell tower, and (my wizard's favorite) a library.
a few obligatory minutes of deciding who gets which room, we started talking
about all the improvements and modifications we would like to make to
the place. Almost immediately, Matt Sernett asked me, "Does Vellus
have Craft Wondrous Item?" That led to a meandering discussion about
the various augmentations and items in the Stronghold Builder's
for us, one of the more useful augmentations would be Magical Warding,
which would provide SR 21 to anyone within 5 feet of the inside of our
exterior walls. Of course, that's 22,500 gp/800 square feet of freestanding
wall -- a tad pricey, even for our band of heroes. Of course, since a
couple of our party members were thinking about taking the Leadership
feat, one of them could attract a cohort who happens to have the Landlord
feat from Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, which provides a set
allowance of gold pieces that can be applied directly to the stronghold.
That way, we'd have a 10th- or 11th-level character who can stay at Stonethorn,
help run the place, defend it while we're away saving the world, and bring
in some extra cash to help improve the stronghold as a whole.
Builder's Guidebook covers everything we need to add rooms, make modifications,
add traps, and more. And that's just working with an existing stronghold.
If we were building one from the ground up, we could seriously consider
a flying citadel or a castle that shifts to the astral or ethereal plane.
And if that cohort was a spellcaster with the Craft Wondrous Item feat,
we could easily start adding magic bulwarks, alarms, guardians, and all
kinds of crazy things to really make our headquarters a place no one would
of course, means someone would.
- Ahmut's Legion:
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Human Templar
- Naresh: Demonic
- Ravilla: Grey Elf
- Mercenary: Hellhound
I think 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 finally taken the Jack-of-All-Trades feat for his Kenku wizard
and gotten Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability for his pseudodragon
familiar. That's not really exactly work-related. But it kinda
is considering this is part of the whole job at Wizards of the Coast thing.
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