room on your shelves --
the Cool Book Truck is now unloading.
keep coming out with stuff, and it just keeps getting better. With D&D
and Chainmail and Dragon Magazine and Dungeon/Polyhedron
Magazine, plus our novels, there sure seems to be an unending
torrent of nifty stuff to take a look at, pick up, and play. I know I'm
running out of shelf space here at the office. I've got pounds of Chainmail
minis waiting to be painted and a short stack of books and magazines to
read through. And if you've been keeping up with all the wicked-good things
we've been shipping out of here, you're probably in the same, blissful
boat. It's a great time to be a gamer.
you didn't read last month's Previews, you should check
it out. I went into a fair amount of detail about what you'll find
inside this most impressive, latest addition to the growing library of
beautiful books for the Forgotten Realms setting.
since our fine Production Manager, Chas DeLong, was so good as to let
me wander off with a full-color and still-warm off-the-press copy, I had
to flip through to see how awesome the illustrations (which were mightily
impressive in black and white) turned out.
before how diverse the illustrations were. (Twenty-five artists provided
the interior illustrations.) The addition of color made that diversity
even richer. Just about every time you turn the page, you're not only
looking at a new god, but you're most likely looking at art done by a
different artist. It really makes flipping through the book a worthwhile
effort. (Not that this will come as a surprise to any of you; the art
in all of the books we've been making has really been stunning.)
thing I looked for was the illustration of Gond. I've always wanted to
do stuff with Gondites in my home campaign, and I wanted to find out if
the Wonderbringer actually wears one of those big sunhats. Nope. At least,
not when he's working at his forge he doesn't. If you flip to page 27,
you'll see a burly man wearing a tool-laden leather apron who's in the
middle of crafting a hefty-looking spear. He looks right. He looks like
the Lord of All Smiths -- equipped with tools, wearing functional clothing,
and focused on the task at hand.
a pile of these illustrations really caught my eye. A lot of what interested
me was how different many of these gods looked from how I pictured them
in my mind. In some cases, it's just slight differences I can't even put
my finger on (such as Mielikki on page 49), or large shifts that are surprising
and pleasing all at once (such as Oghma on page 53 or Tempus on page 72).
bit. On page 126, you'll see a picture that depicts the moment in which
Corellon Larethian takes out one of Gruumsh's eyes. Take a look at it,
and pay particular attention to Gruumsh's armor and longspear. When you
flip to page 149, you'll see him wearing that same armor and toting that
same longspear. Okay, both illustrations were done by the same artist
(Michael Dubisch), so it's not surprising that they're consistent. But
what's really, really cool is how they're different. Gruumsh lost that
eye "back in the day," so the action scene with Corellon shows
a relatively young Gruumsh who is in the middle of screaming in pain over
the longsword-induced eyeball-ectomy. The illustration of Gruumsh as he
is today shows an older, more grizzled orc, complete with graying beard
and an eye socket that's scarred over quite nicely. Attention to detail.
That's what you've got right there, mister.
that's what you'll find throughout the whole 224 deified pages of Faiths
and Pantheons -- much attention (to each god) and lots of detail.
Stronghold Builder's Guidebook has stuff for Dungeon Masters. It's
got stuff for players. It's got just about everything anyone with polyhedral
dice could ask for when it comes to strongholds. And don't let the title
lead you to think the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook is only about
building strongholds. It's also about designing strongholds, equipping
strongholds, staffing strongholds, running strongholds, commandeering
strongholds, protecting strongholds, assaulting strongholds, destroying
strongholds, and more.
guidelines help you determine things such as where to build, how big to
build, and what to build. Designing a stronghold is greatly streamlined
by the introduction of the idea of "stronghold components."
The components include various rooms or features you'd want in a stronghold,
such as guardhouses, libraries, servant's quarters, training areas, magic
laboratories, and so on. Each component takes up a certain number of "stronghold
spaces" and has a set cost. Several of the components have basic,
fancy, and luxury versions that allow you to make each space as nice as
you'd like -- for an incremental cost. Regardless of how frugal or flashy,
each component is appropriately furnished, decked out, or equipped with
most of the appropriate goods. So, when you decide to add a barracks to
house your guards, it comes with ten straw-mattress beds and footlockers.
speed things up, you can choose to build your stronghold using clusters
of stronghold components. Say you want to build a military outpost. You
could easily use the Army Base cluster, which houses 100 infantry soldiers.
You've got ten barracks components, five training areas, two guard posts,
five basic armories, two basic kitchens, and servants' quarters. It comes
with four cooks and 100 soldiers ready to go, costs 24,000 gp to build,
and costs 612 gp per month to maintain.
really just the beginning. You've also got a laundry list of building
materials to choose from and a swath of magical augmentations to add to
your walls (not to mention doors, windows, and locks). You can decide
to make a stronghold that can fly, burrow through the earth, sail across
the sea, sink beneath the waves, shift to various planes of existence,
and more. There's a list of magic items from the Dungeon Master's
Guide that are particularly useful, and a pile of Player's Handbook
spells that will come in handy, as well.
that over 150 new wondrous architecture magic items that span from the
Bed of Regeneration (which can reattach severed limbs and heal
injured characters) to the Tornado's Eye (which maintains tornado-force
winds around the outside of your stronghold at all times) to the Chamber
of Seeing (which maintains a constant invisibility purge).
once you've built a stronghold, someone's got to attack it. So, you've
got advice on coordinating a successful strike team and various ways to
lay siege, including descriptions of how to effectively employ certain
spells that are ideally suited for anti-stronghold activity.
you've got five example strongholds that take you from a bare-bones keep
to an underwater castle to a subterranean dwarven redoubt to a floating
tower to a plane-spanning citadel -- more than enough bricks and mortar
to give any campaign plenty of stronghold-exploring fuel for months and
thing about the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook is that it offers
way more than just the information conveyed in the printed words and diagrams.
It provides you with an endless supply of ideas for buildings, dungeons,
taverns -- any place you'd explore in a Dungeons & Dragons
game. And, best of all, those places will make sense. They'll actually
"work." And it's a truly impressive thing to explore a structure,
no matter how humble or grand, in which nothing that should be there is
missing. And with the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, you can do
Dragon Magazine #295
That's what this month's Dragon Magazine focuses on. And,
not coincidentally, it has a ton of material that fits quite nicely upon
the foundation laid by the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook.
off, you'll find a "short" eight-page history of castles (by
Dean Poisso) that provides a really insightful and detailed run-down of
the development of fortified structures.
there's a poster map that features the eight-level Stone Tower, ready
for you to pull out of the magazine, slap down on your gaming table, grab
your miniatures, and start playing. (And since it's "snot glued"
in, it won't hurt the book when you take it out. Plus, you can use that
nifty adhesive to craft a custom-made miniature for your favorite slime
isn't enough exploration fodder for you, the "New Rooms and Castle
Layouts" article (by Darrin Drader) that starts on page 36 offers
up 18 new rooms that complement and expand upon the pile of them from
the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook. Then, just to give you a fine
idea of how to use those rooms, the article provides four more complete
strongholds (with super-great full-color maps) to explore.
more magical augmentations for your castle? Need to do some repairs or
install a customized moat? Swell. The next article, which is called "Mortar
& Stone," is just what you're after. It starts off with three
pages that feature nine new magical augmentations that may just suit your
special castle wall needs. (I'm particularly fond of this article since
I spent my Christmas break writing it.) The following three pages, crafted
by Dragon Magazine's Associate Editor, Matt Sernett, provide
guidelines for making repairs (both magical and mundane) to your castle
walls, as well as cover an array of different types of moats (and things
you can do with them.).
in case the moat and magic walls don't keep your attackers out of your
stronghold, you might want to take a look at the five pages of traps crafted
by Penny Williams.
if you're more interested in being one of the folks who are doing the
attacking, check out the fine array of magic siege weapons and ammunition
featured in the Bazaar of the Bizarre article by Eric Cagle.
to all the other regular features, you can also find the second installment
of the three-part Epic Level Countdown, which highlights spells and magic
items from the upcoming Epic Level Handbook.
- Ahmut's Legion:
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Human Templar
- Naresh: Demonic
- Ravilla: Grey Elf
- Mercenary: Hellhound
this is a blue book (like the Dungeon Master's Guide), which
means I can't spout terribly much about what is inside without ruining
the surprise for players.
I can point out a few things.
off, take note that the book is titled Book of Challenges -- not
Book of Traps. Traps are included inside, of course, but you'll
also find puzzles and particularly challenging dungeon rooms and encounters.
That means that the book is more than a recreational tool for rogues to
exercise their Find Traps and Disable Device skill points. This book is
full of all sorts of problem-solving encounters that can offer every character
a chance to save the day. Also, in most cases, the players themselves
are going to have to step up to figure out what's going on and how to
deal with it.
the 50+ encounters inside the Book of Challenges fit into virtually
any campaign. When you find a particular encounter you want to incorporate
into your adventure, you usually need to do only superficial work to make
it fit completely seamlessly.
range from CR 1 all the way to CR 22, and many of them have guidelines
for scaling them up and down to accommodate your party's skill level.
most invaluable of all is the advice and guidelines for DMs scattered
throughout the book. Many suggestions and directions help you create your
own challenging encounters and situations.
to playtest a couple of the low- to mid-level encounters, and I had a
lot of fun. Of course, we all knew that we were walking into a room in
which something wasn't right. Regardless, none of the iconic characters
we were playing breezed through a session unscathed. I can imagine how
much nastier any one of these things can be when set in the middle of
an actual dungeon crawl AND I know how satisfying each one would be when
it's defeated by a clever party of characters.
of the book says: "The greatest threat to any adventuring party is
a devious Dungeon Master." That's so true.
Dragon Magazine #296
here's a quick overview of some of the stuff I've seen that's going into
this fine issue of Dragon Magazine. Oddly enough, it's a
bunch of dragon-related articles.
thing I've got is four new prestige classes designed for characters crazy
enough to actually want to meet up with a dragon. The dragonscribe is
an arcane spellcaster who is particularly interested in all-things-dragon.
The knight of the scale is a warrior wearing dragonhide armor who bravely
seeks to bear sword and shield in battle against his or her scaly nemeses.
The heartseekers are a special caste of spellcasting archers with talents
and skills focused on bringing their draconic quarry to ground -- permanently.
Lastly, the frenzied and devout vengeance sworn hurl themselves into battle
sure seems like a lot of good guys going after those poor, defenseless
dragons. Good thing one feature highlights the phenomenal array of finely
honed senses all dragons possess, as well as three dragon-specific feats,
a new dragon prestige class, and two fierce exploiters of these new dragon
toys (a young adult black dragon and an adult green -- not friendly characters,
nor are they character-friendly).
draconic article is a frighteningly useful Bestiary of Wurms -- a new
family of draconic creatures that resemble serpentine, wingless dragons.
These fearsome creatures were created long, long ago by powerful druids
in an attempt to protect the wilderness from the encroaching blight of
civilization. They typically range in size from Small to Huge, have powerful
bite attacks, potent breath weapons, and druidic spellcasting ability.
The various sorts of wurm (there are twelve) differ by terrain type. That
is, they range from forest wurms and tundra wurms to sand wurms and lava
wurms. In case your characters don't stumble upon a wurm fast enough to
suit you, look at the three new summoning spells for enlisting the aid
of increasingly larger wurms. The article also provides additional information
and advice for incorporating these critters into your game with character-centric
information (such as how to play a wurm as a character) as well as DM-focused
information (such as alternate origins and motivations).
this last article I'm covering doesn't feature dragon-type stuff, it's
far too cool not to mention. It's a collection of prestige classes for
monster cultists. These demented characters have been drawn to the immense
power and allure of creatures such as beholders, illithids, medusae, and
the tarrasque. As these crazed minions persist in their worship, they
slowly gain powers and abilities that emulate those of their terrible
patrons, eventually turning into hideous monsters that take on certain
aspects of their chosen cult icon. For example, a sphere minion (beholder
cultist) begins growing eyestalks, gains the ability to levitate, and
so on. I can imagine this article is going to spawn some really nasty
encounters and even more horrifying campaign storylines.
- Ahmut's Legion:
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Ice
- Thalos: Ogre Penitent
- Naresh: Gnoll Cleric
- Ravilla: Wood Elf
- Kilsek: Drow Archer
Epic Level Handbook
Only two months left to get your characters up to 20th level.
month's issue (#294) of Dragon Magazine featured an Epic-Level
Countdown article that highlighted epic skills and epic feats. Next month's
issue (#296) will highlight epic monsters. This month's issue (#295) highlights
epic spells and epic magic items. So, here's a little something that ties
very neatly into that subject.
important thing an aspiring epic-level spellcaster needs to know is this:
Max out skill points in Spellcraft and your appropriate area of Knowledge
(arcana, divine, or nature). It's entirely likely that you're already
doing that (I can't imagine not wanting those to be topped out), but just
in case you haven't kept up that level-plus-3 maximum, here's reason enough
to start sinking those skill points into your key skills: The Knowledge
skill is important because it determines the number of epic spell slots
you have. For every 10 skill points you've got, you have one open epic
spell slot. That means your 21st-level wizard, who has been maxing out
her Knowledge (arcana) for a total of 24 skill points has two open epic
Spellcraft score is what you need to fill those slots with new spells.
To use an epic-level spell, you have to develop it first, which means
making a Spellcraft check. The power of the spell determines the DC and
could range all the way up into the hundreds.
there is more to developing an epic spell than a simple three-digit skill
check. Epic spells can be developed only through intense research and
development. It costs time, money, and experience points -- and plenty
of all of them.
your winter wolf pelt cloaks and ready your weapons and spells for a long,
hard trek into one of the fiercest regions in the Forgotten Realms.
Vast Frontier Fraught with Endless Peril
by malicious dragons, hordes of orcs, and other ferocious creatures, the
relentless cold and unforgiving terrain of the Silver Marches promise
undiscovered riches and unspeakable danger to those bold enough to venture
there. Complete information on the towns and settlements of the burgeoning
Silver Marches alliance and the many hazards that threaten it highlight
this detailed survey of one of the most exciting regions in the Forgotten
Realms game setting.
- 6 new prestige
- Indigenous monsters
- Poster map of the
page after page after page of descriptions, Silver Marches takes
you on a breathtakingly detailed tour of virtually every location of note
-- from campsites to citadels -- within the boundaries of the newly formed
throughout the book are profiles, stats, and illustrations of various
NPCs of note, including familiar faces from the Forgotten Realms
Campaign Setting (such as Alustriel, Bruenor Battlehammer, and King
Obould Many-Arrows), as well as all new enemies and allies (such as Turlang,
an advanced treant druid, and Cirre, a drow spy).
details the various cities that make up the Silver Marches alliance, including
the recent history, articles of confederation, the council's bylaws, and
current membership. In addition to the politics, you also get a hearty
serving of the people -- their life and society, economy, laws, defense,
and more. You also get introduced to six new regionalized prestige classes.
section of the book provides four nicely fleshed out adventures to give
you all the more reason to gain a foothold in this wild expanse of the
things about the book, though, have got to be Chapter Two and Chapter
Seven. Chapter Seven provides a look at new monsters that are indigenous
to the region. Chapter Two runs you through the native trees, shrubs,
herbs, and ground plants, as well as a zoo full of local critters, with
a list of beasts (deer, rabbits, berrygobblers, and more), birds (vultures,
hawks, tereeps, and others), insects (which, apart from giant beetles
and wasps, go mostly unnoticed), and various snakes (poisonous and nonpoisonous).
A listing of nine dragons (including short descriptions) gives you a brief
introduction to just a few of the most prominent wyrms of the region.
You've got your requisite wilderness encounter tables, which include things
such as forest fires and avalanches in addition to all sorts of creatures
(some are potentially friendly, but not many).
there's the weather. You'll find just over six and a half pages of descriptions
and details on how various weather conditions and hazards can affect a
party. That's everything from getting lost in the fog-shrouded valleys
and being swept away by an icy flash flood to being struck by lightning,
pelted by hail, and even scoured by a violent sandstorm blown from the
neighboring Anauroch. You'll also see seasonal tables for generating random
weather conditions (which includes temperature, winds, and precipitation).
What an unbelievable amount of information, and what a great way to really
add realism and new challenges to your campaign.
Forgotten Realms be any cooler?
- Ahmut's Legion:
Half Orc Assassin
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Half-elf
- Naresh: Gnoll Monk
- Ravilla: Wood Elf
- Mercenary: Salamander
if you didn't get to pick up your copy of The Darkest of the Hillside
Thickets' Let Sleeping Gods Lie CD, along with Call of Cthulhu
through our online promotion, you
still have a chance.
band jumped on the chance to snatch up the small number of extra "overrun"
copies that were made. If you hit their
couple of clicks is all it'll take to get the information you need to
have a CD sent your way. (And, they're only $10 U.S., $15 CAN, plus shipping.)
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 reeling from the speed at which that Call of Cthulhu
CD disappeared from our warehouse, and he is ecstatic over getting his
first real article in Dragon Magazine. Of course, he's already
moving on to other cool promotions and more articles, 'cause that's what
this whole job at Wizards of the Coast thing is about.
to the D&D
main news page for more articles and
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