wonder I can't get caught up!
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doesn't stop. The books, miniatures, magazines, novels, and everything
just keep coming out month after month after month. And it's not like
my involvement on any of them is very large or lasts very long, but it
sure starts to add up. And it starts to stack up. And again I'm dumbfounded
by the magical superpowers of our R&D department -- and our typesetters,
art directors, artists, cartographers, sculptors, and everybody else that
jumps in and does something to make one of our products go from the first
planning stages where someone says "Let's do this . . ." all
the way to where you and I can run out to a hobby shop or bookstore to
snatch up the newest piece of D&D goodness. It's unbelievable
how much work so many people sink into each and every product we come
the next time you pick up a new rulebook. (Or just grab one you've already
got.) Flip to that first printed page -- the one with all the credits
on it. You really just can't imagine how hard all of those folks work
on these things. It's kinda like sitting through the credits at the end
of a movie. I've got a vague idea of what a Key Grip does, but I never
really thought about how hard that Key Grip, or the Gaffer, or Best Boy
works to get that movie on the screen. I've got a much better idea of
what each of our people do, and I've got a really good idea of how hard
they all work to make sure these things keep coming out, keep coming out
on time, and keep coming out so nice. You can get a better idea of what
some of the folks who work on the game we all love do by checking out
the "But What Do
They Do?" feature.
one talks with my map-making pal, Todd Gamble. He's a really nice guy
-- a cool fellah on top of that -- and very talented at what he does.
(Check out the Map-A-Week
and Foldup Paper Models
just a small portion of the überslick stuff Todd works on with the lovely
and talented Rob Lazzaretti.)
I guess what I'm getting at is the fact that no matter what I've got sitting
here on my desk, there's always something else on the way. And as excited
as I am about each really cool thing I see, I'm even more excited about
what's to come. Sometimes the amount of stuff I get to see and can talk
about is almost overwhelming. But, somehow, I muddle through and get these
articles turned over in something that approximates a timely manner. The
goofy bit is that as soon as I turn one over, I'm ready to start working
on the next one.
Book of Challenges
went into about as much of this as I could last
it's a book filled with things for DMs to incorporate into a gaming session,
actual details of the content would be too much. But, it's worth pointing
out that in addition to the pile of ready-to-go encounters and scenarios
in there, the Book of Challenges also provides a lot of suggestions
and advice for creating your own stuff. And those guidelines are a really
valuable part of the book. Once you wrap your head around how to create
a challenging encounter, you've got a built-in filter you can apply to
just about anything. You can modify the encounters in Book of Challenges,
you can adapt encounters from other products or articles, take ideas from
books, TV, and movies, and so on. Soon, your devious Dungeon Mastering
mind will be collecting bits and pieces of ideas from all over, with which
you'll give your players a real run for their money.
what's on the back cover:
Rooms, Puzzles, and Traps
around Every Corner
behind Every Screen
greatest threat to any adventuring party is a devious Dungeon Master.
book is spring-loaded with ideas, both subtle and sinister, that
will ensure every gaming session is fraught with peril, including:
- Over fifty
encounters designed to be dropped into any campaign
scenarios that can be pitted against characters from 1st to 20th
- Advice for
creating your own deceptive and deadly situations
Masters who want to keep their players on their toes will be inspired
by the invaluable material within these pages.
out last month's Previews for
more details, but here's a run-down of some of the articles you'll find
in this month's Dragon Magazine, just in case you haven't
already picked up a copy or had it delivered to your door:
new dragon-related prestige classes
full use of a dragon's senses, three dragon-specific feats, a new
dragon prestige class, two fleshed out dragons to drop into your campaign
new type of dragonkind creature: the wurm
monster cultist prestige classes
- Epic Level
Handbook countdown article 3 of 3: Epic Monsters
haven't clicked on any of those last couple of links yet, then you haven't
discovered one of the newest, niftiest doodads our fine website-maintaining
folks have added: A listing of back issues that includes article highlights.
one for Dragon
Magazine back issues.
Magazine back issues.
- Ahmut's Legion:
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Ice
- Thalos: Ogre Penitent
- Naresh: Gnoll Cleric
- Ravilla: Wood Elf
- Kilsek: Drow Archer
Epic Level Handbook
one month to go, and I can't wait to see the finished book. I already
knew it was going to be a great book from reading through the manuscript.
But I'm even more excited about it now that I've laid my hands on a full-color
galley -- it just makes everything come to life.
start with the cover illustration. It's one of those beautiful, sepia-ish
line drawings by Arnie Swekel like you'll find on the first page of each
chapter in all the hardcover rulebooks. This one depicts the iconic paladin,
Alhandra, at low level and at epic level. She's divided down the center,
with call-outs to her various and sundry pieces of equipment. The low-level
Alhandra sports things like a wooden buckler, a small sack, and a longsword.
Epic-level Alhandra is geared up with a pale green ioun stone, a cloak
of charisma +6, and a +5 holy avenger. I really like the drawing,
partially because I just like Arnie's drawings, but I think it does a
really nice job of demonstrating how different a character is after 20
levels of adventuring -- it's quite dramatic.
character section features images of the epic versions of the familiar
iconics from the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide
, and Psionics Handbook (standard classes and prestige classes).
They're all interesting to look at and to contemplate how they got where
they are from where they started. Of the standard classes, I liked the
epic Devis and Tordek most. But my absolute favorite is the epic blackguard
-- he's just plain tough and evil. A ragged, livid scar tears from his
forehead over one eye, past the corner of his mouth and disappears at
the base of his determined chin. The thing that's most striking about
this fallen paladin is that you can picture what he might have been if
he'd not strayed from the path of good. But he's most definitely a bad
guy now, complete with a sword engraved (in very small rune-like letters)
with the motto "Vengeance be my guide."
to epic versions of the eleven standard Player's Handbook character
classes, the six prestige classes from the Dungeon Master's
Guide, the psion, and the psychic warrior are nine new epic prestige
classes. And if that isn't enough, you're given guidelines and suggestions
for constructing and extrapolating your own epic prestige classes.
feats chapter is astonishing -- twenty pages filled with descriptions
of just over 150 epic feats. And if you checked out the Epic Level Countdown
in Dragon Magazine 294, you've got a good idea of just how
mighty those feats are.
in Dragon Magazine 295 described how open-ended and infinitely
flexible epic spellcasting is. Regardless, you'll find several dozen epic
spells, spanning across a staggering range of power, listed as examples
of what your magic-slinging types are going to have access to.
I play on Wednesday nights just hit 13th level, so he's got a while before
he's tapping in to the awesome might of the Epic Level Handbook.
Of course, that just means I'll have some more time to figure out what
I want to do once I cross over to the 21-and-up club.
117, 118, and 119 feature a huge table listing one hundred epic adventure
ideas to help with getting your epic campaign moving. You'll also find
all kinds of really helpful and insightful advice, hints, guidelines,
and variant rules for making your epic level campaign work for your gaming
I had mentioned above, Dragon Magazine 296 features a look
at just one of the many, many epic monsters that fill pages 155 through
230. There are some really nasty customers in the Epic Monsters chapter.
Certainly more than enough to make any sane adventurer consider retirement
-- the Umbral Blot on page 223 does it for me.
once you get a look at all the cool doodads listed in the Epic Magic Items
chapter, it might be worth a little peril. I'm interested in picking up
a headband of epic intellect +12 as soon as I can scrape together
the 1.5 million gp it'll take to buy one. (The cost listed is just a tad
under that, but I figure there'll be a small mark-up or some sort of tax.)
the whole book is filled with stuff, with each bit better than the last.
It makes me want to pull out all my old, retired characters to see if
they can be rebuilt -- we have the technology. It also gives me something
to shoot for in the realm of prestige classes for my wizard, whose selection
of feats have worked out nicely for him, but don't mesh with anything
yet. I like the idea of being able to continue playing a favorite character
for as long as I want. As long as I have a Dungeon Master who can put
together an epic adventure (and that I do), the game can go on forever
and ever and ever.
imagine the first twenty levels of character advancement as being a high-rise
building (or castle tower, if you will). The Epic Level Handbook
doesn't just add another ten or twenty floors to the structure. It blows
the roof off of the whole thing and then hands out rocket packs.
Tchotchke: Olidammara's Dice -- Coming Soon
I was first flipping through the manuscript for the Epic Level
Handbook (and was passing through the minor artifact section
of the magic items chapter) I came across a nifty little item on
page 152 called Olidammara's Dice. (For those of you keeping
score at home, you already know that Olidammara is one of the deities
from the Player's Handbook. He's the god of rogues, associated
with the Chaos, Luck, and Trickery domains. If you're not keeping
score, you're now at least up to speed.) Anyway, Olidammara's
Dice function much the same way as the Deck of Many Things.
That is, you roll the dice and the resulting total determines which
magical effect is bestowed upon you. The dice are described as being
a pair of yellowed ivory cubes that appear much like any other pair
of (six-sided) dice, but the "one" pip is replaced with
the comedy/tragedy mask symbol of Olidammara. It sounded like a
pretty neat-o doodad, and one that we could actually have made to
give away for free with copies of the Epic Level Handbook.
So, we decided to make 'em.
crafting them for us. Here are some particulars: They're standard,
six-sided, 16 mm, ivory-colored dice with black ink in the pips
and the mask symbol. And the mask is going to be carved into the
die, not just printed on the face -- extra cool.
the tricky bit is that only 5,000 are going to be made, which means
only 2,500 pairs will be available. Plus they're going be available
ONLY through Wizards of the Coast Premiere Stores and our online
store, while they last. But keep in mind, these things aren't available
until the Epic Level Handbook comes out in July.
you want to increase your chances of getting a set of Olidammara's
Dice along with your copy of the Epic Level Handbook,
ask the folks at your favorite hobby shop to pre-order a copy of
the book for you while the dice are still in stock. Though if your
hobby shop isn't a WotC Premiere Store, check out this Retail
help you find one.
you can't get to a Premiere Store, don't fret. Just make sure that
when you order your Epic Level Handbook through the online
store, you do it through the Olidammara's Dice promotion
when it goes live.
really looking forward to putting my new dice alongside the Deck
of Many Things I got in my copy of Dragon Magazine
148 long, long ago. (This
is now downloadable in pdf format, by the way.)
ran through a lot of what you'll find inside this awesomely detailed book.
our Book Publishing department is coming out with a particularly hot novel,
they'll do a print run of Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs). That's basically
a paperback version of the entire story (sometimes not fully edited) that's
sent out to book reviewers, as well as distributors and other entities
that sell our books through some retail channel (like your hobby shop
this because I got hold of an ARC of Dissolution the other day.
I took it home Friday night. I cracked the cover on Saturday evening.
And Sunday afternoon, I finished reading the last word in the book. (That
was on page 344, and ironically, that word was "joy.")
blow through it because of any kind of speed-reading skill, or because
every other page was a line art illustration. I read the whole thing --
all 344 pages -- cover-to-cover without really slowing down because it
was good. Really good.
not to like? It's set in Menzoberranzan and is chock-full of drow -- the
drow you know and love. You know . . . the kind of drow you've met in
R.A. Salvatore's novels. And it's not Drizzt or Jarlaxle, but the scheming,
backstabbing, evil, opportunistic drow that are just far too much fun
to read about. And, if you've torn through one or more of Mr. Salvatore's
novels that dipped into the Underdark, you might have met some of the
characters and visited some of the locations you'll come across in Dissolution.
where the fun begins. This new set of novels -- R.A. Salvatore's War of
the Spider Queen -- is a six-book series written by six of our hottest,
up-and-coming authors. Mr. Salvatore (Bob) is overseeing the project and
is consulting on each title, but he's just laid the elaborate groundwork
for some really talented folks to come in a build an awesome new sextet
of spidery goodness.
I said, if you read Bob's dark elf books (like the Dark Elf trilogy) you'll
feel right at home. You'll recognize some of the characters, just as you'll
recognize various locations, patterns of behavior, and many other aspects
of drow society. It's really a brilliant idea. You already know House
Baenre. You've visited Arach-Tinilith. You've watched Narbondel's glow
creeping upward as the day progresses. You know how things work in Menzoberranzan.
You know how drow interact with each other, whose place is where, and
-- Richard Lee Byers has done a phenomenal job of taking you right back
to the Menzoberranzan you already know and then starts revealing all kinds
of new stuff. And it all meshes so well with everything you've come to
know and expect. He introduces you to new characters and new developments
that will draw you in to the point where you won't be able to put the
book down either.
more proof: I took another copy of the ARC down to James Wyatt (who's
responsible for City of the Spider Queen, the superadventure that
ties in to the War of the Spider Queen novel series) on Monday afternoon.
Tuesday morning, he emailed me asking whether I needed it back, since
he had already read the whole thing.
a good book. And it 's a good drow book. Betrayal, assassination,
all that and more. Everything you'd expect, and a lot that you won't.
telling you what happens in the book, but the title does do a pretty good
job of describing the situation. Look up "dissolution" in your
favorite dictionary or thesaurus and you'll see terms like "death,"
"decay," and "breaking down."
more? Put this in your noggin: Menzoberranzan is a place where waking
up breathing is a pleasant surprise and your friends and family can easily
become your worst enemies (which they often do). When you open the cover
of Dissolution and start reading, you're going to discover that
Life as a Dark Elf Just Got Dangerous.
Shadow of the Drow (Chainmail
Set 4 Guidebook)
been waiting for the nasty drow elves to slip out of the darkness and
into the battle, your wait is nearly over. House Kilsek will feel right
at home on the subterranean turf that's seeing all the Godwarring action
this time around. However, the other factions aren't going below ground
without bringing along a few new recruits capable of duking it out in
the dank caverns.
the other guidebooks (Blood
& Darkness and
Shadow of the Drow continues the ongoing story of the Godwar and introduces
new terrain, scenarios, spells, and abilities (as well as new models).
Here is some cover text:
Godwar Plunges into Forbidding Darkness
beneath the surface of the Sundered Empire, warbands clash upon
magical battlefields. As the exiled House Kilsek enters the fray,
every faction seeks out new allies, abilities, strategies, and spells.
material in this book includes:
- New recruits,
such as the Drow Wizard, Werebear Trooper, Zombie Minotaur, and
- New scenarios,
such as the Cave of Pain, as well as new special abilities and
spells, including Veil of Shadows, Displacement, and hold person.
- Rules for
using the Set 4 models and statistics for all models from Set
you're to survive the day, your warband must bolster its forces
and devise new strategies. This guidebook will give you the tools
you need. Master their use, and you will emerge victorious.
Chainmail Kilsek Faction Box
They're almost here alright. In fact, six of them are sitting downstairs
on that shelf next to Mike McVey's desk. (The Displacer Beast is still
Since I mentioned one of the models in he Kilsek Faction box, I suppose
I shouldn't go further without coughing up the complete list:
get to spend nearly enough time down there staring at them trying really,
really hard to burn them into my head so I could sit down and write this.
But, being a clever fellow, I popped up to Rick Achberger's desk to see
if he had any photos yet. (Rick's the art director that's making all the
Chainmail packaging look so good.) He had some preliminary
sketches of all but the Displacer Beast. (Now I'm tortured -- what does
it look like?)
just run down what I saw and what you'll see when this faction creeps
out of the dark next month. (Though, keep in mind that I'm describing
an amalgam of the actual minis and the sketches, so I might be a tad off
on some stuff.)
Wizard's staff is the bit that stands out most for me. It starts off as
a fairly standard-issue pole, but it is topped by a really wickedly bizarre
sharp-angled-skull-spider thing. He's got a jagged longsword and a look
on his face that easily gives you the idea that you've done something
to upset him.
Soldier is sporting a bladed buckler similar to the ones being toted around
by the Drow Warrior that came out back in January. (By the way, you'll
find a female sculpt of the Drow Warrior in the "Shadow Lurkers"
Mercenaries Combo Box #2 and another alternate sculpt as a Chainmail
League prize model.) The Drow Soldier is carrying a kris-bladed longsword
(wavy-bladed, if you prefer) in her other hand. She, too, is not a happy
camper. (Though, what dark elf is?)
Ranger is particularly interesting. If you're familiar with all things
drow, you might have stumbled across other drow rangers. You might have
even read a book or two about a particular drow ranger who wields a pair
of scimitars just like this fellah. And the resemblance doesn't end with
the weapons-of-choice. The cloak and armor also fall strikingly close
to some artwork I've seen on page 177 in the Forgotten
Realms Campaign Setting.
on the mini I saw is a departure from the standard coiffure I'd expect
on a mini I'd want to paint lavender eyes upon. But that's about all that
sets this tough customer apart from his Icewind Dale-romping cousin. The
concept sketch is very, very dead-on. And I wouldn't be surprised if an
alternate sculpt gave all of us fans of Drizzt a mini to snatch up. (Though,
that's really and truly just a hopeful guess.)
Warrior is a real treat. Fully armored from head-to-toe and using a two-handed
grip on a formidable-looking spiked mace, this stench-ridden lizard-critter
is huge stride beyond what I'd expected when I first heard about him.
I'd never pictured him (her?) as being anything more than your standard
troglodyte with a club or rusty short sword. But here you've got a mean
character who has stopped off at the armorer and the weapon shop
on his way out of the swamp.
Troopers are the more primitive creatures in this set. They're minimally
equipped with a belt that sports a dagger and pouch (possibly more) and
are armed with spears. I can imagine picking up a dozen or so of these
just to use in a cool encounter in a D&D game -- they're really
nicely done. The bit that really struck me when I looked at these guys
was their eyes. They're big, large-pupiled, fish-like orbs that were painted
silver. They looked so real.
I said, I didn't get to see the Displacer Beast model or sketch, but good
Mr. McVey (who stopped what he was doing to point out each of the new
minis so I could write this) did assure me that this was an all-new sculpt
and not the same one that came out with the D&D miniatures
line (not that it was a bad model). Very exciting. I can't wait to see
Chainmail Set 4
- Ahmut's Legion:
Half Orc Assassin
- Drazen's Horde:
- Mordengard: Dwarf
- Thalos: Half-elf
- Naresh: Gnoll Monk
- Ravilla: Wood Elf
- Mercenary: Salamander
Orc Assassin is carrying a couple of skull-pommeled daggers, and he looks
like he woke up on the wrong side of the bed and just needs to find someone
to take it all out on.
Gangfighters are very cool. They're moderately armored (and very interestingly
so) and carrying a couple of different pole arms. These guys strike me
as being particularly useful in any D&D game that involves
running into a half dozen or so members of the local orc army.
People's Guard is a pair of stout, slit-visored dwarves carrying medium
shields and hand axes.
Monk picked up some kung-fu accoutrements from the shop Ember the iconic
monk shops at -- cloth wraps and all that. He's maneuvering up to get
a good crack on someone's skull with the three-section staff he's carrying.
Elf Starstrike Archers are each carrying an interesting longbow -- possibly
composite longbows. They're standing firm, ready to draw and fire a hail
of arrows at a moment's notice.
Sorcerer is a striking fellow with a flowing half-robe thing and a bladed
pole arm (perhaps a naginata).
Troopers are very wicked looking. Very evil faces that look down the length
of their stout longspears at whatever it is that got in their way.
even though he's part of the August Set 4 release, I thought I'd mention
that I saw the concept sketch of the Drider Trooper. He looks like he's
going to be a tad on the large side, and he is very sleek, creepy, and
crawly on the spidery bottom and wickedly ferocious on the drow-top end.
He's got a nasty barbed, curving blade strapped to each forearm that extends
from just behind his elbow out to what would be about a foot and a half
beyond his cruel fingertips. I'm looking forward to seeing this guy scuttling
across the battlefield.
D&D Miniatures Boxed Sets (Round II)
boxed sets of D&D miniatures were quite popular, so they decided
to release another set. Last time, it was a collection of particularly
useful minis from the D&D miniatures line. This time, it's
a collection of particularly useful (and interesting) models from the
Chainmail miniatures game. The great thing is, even if you've
already picked up a couple of the minis for your Chainmail
warband, you probably don't have all of them. (And, even if you do, can
you really have too many minis?)
they chose models that complement that first pair of D&D boxed
sets. There are six heroes and eight monsters, and each model is accompanied
by its Chainmail stat card as well as a D&D Battle
Sheet, so they're all ready to drop in to your Chainmail
warband or D&D game.
Miniatures Heroes II Boxed Set
- Aasimar Cleric
- Dwarf Cleric
- Dwarf Fighter
- Halfling Sneak
- Human Swiftwing
- Human Templar
Miniatures Monsters II Boxed Set
- Crazed Minotaur
- Drow Warrior
- 2 Ghouls
- 2 Goblin Troopers
- 2 Hyenas
Dungeons & Dragons E-Tools:
Character and Monster Generator
desperately trying to get a look at this. Until I do, I suppose the text
that's going on the back of the packaging might suffice:
E-Tools: Character & Monster Generator
to a whole new way to enhance the Dungeons & Dragons®
E-Tools: Character & Monster Generator provides players
and Dungeon Masters alike with a versatile new option for embellishing
the tabletop roleplaying experience. The easy-to-use interface allows
quick roll-up of any type of character, monster, or NPC, and an
expansive database of magic items, spells, feats, and more is accessible
at the click of a button. Users can take advantage of advanced functionality
to organize player and character information, track statistics,
and even create new worlds for their game. Let D&D
E-Tools expand your gameplay like never before!
IBM® compatible Pentium® II 400 Mhz
98 w/DirectX 7.0 or better
40 MB Space
Card 4 MB SVGA
Up Sooner Than You Think: d20 Modern Countdown
One last bit. The d20 Modern roleplaying game comes out in November.
And between now and then, we'll be giving you a lot of information to
get you up-to-speed and excited about this thrilling 320-page core rulebook
for roleplaying in the modern world.
have already gotten a taste of d20 Modern in the Shadow Chasers
mini-game feature in Polyhedron 150 (which is bound along
with Dungeon Magazine 91 -- the March/April issue).
Polyhedron 151 (Dungeon Magazine 92 -- the
May/June issue) gives you a first look at one of the d20 character classes:
the Tough Hero. And Polyhedron 151 (Dungeon Magazine
93) will put you in the driver's seat of the d20 Modern vehicle
combat rules in the Thunderball Rally feature. You can expect Polyhedron
to continue giving you a look at more d20 Modern sneak previews
(along with all the other great, crunchy d20 gaming good stuff) in the
following three issues as well.
in the same way we did the Realmswatch last year, you can get a look at
d20 Modern in a monthly d20 Modern Countdown web feature. I'll be getting
chunks of the manuscript to take a look at, and I will be talking with
the people working on the book. To make the deal even sweeter, we'll grab
bits of the artwork and will wrangle some excerpts to pass along each
month as well. So you'll wanna check that out.
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. Partner, how long has been since you
played a good, long session of D&D? Well, that's too long.
month, he's still excited about getting his first articles in Dragon
Magazine and is really looking forward to getting his hands on
his set of Olidammara's Dice. He's having a blast working on all
the different projects he's got going. It can really get overwhelming
at times, but that's just a part of this whole job at Wizards of the Coast
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