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Who has time for clever subheads and intros?
By Mat Smith


I know I don't. And I sure can't figure out how those folks downstairs do this stuff all the time. If you're reading this, it's entirely likely that you already know about the open call for fantasy setting proposals we put out there a short while ago. And good money would say that more than a few of you gave it a shot. I know I did. I feverishly tried to encapsulate the wondrously amorphous campaign world that I've been percolating for a fair amount of time so that I could get it turned in by June 21st (a deadline which was screaming ever nearer at the time I was writing this). I think I've got some neat ideas. Maybe even a couple cool ones. I don't know if what I've got is even vaguely close to what the Powers That Be are looking for, but I've got to take a shot -- who knows? That's how I got my current gig here at Wizards of the Coast. Anyway, the point I'm going to make rather quickly (so I can get on to the bits about the cool stuff coming out and then back to my little one-page hell) is that because of this little exercise, I've been given yet one more reason to wonder how the R&D staff does what they do. It can really be hard to get an idea down on paper sometimes, and trying to make sure that every single word you put down on that paper is necessary, efficient, clever, and evocative is just maddening. And that's what they do every day.

So, there it is -- one more reason I sit here in amazement that we come out with so many great things around here. You want more reasons? Check 'em out:

Pipeline-O'-Products

July

August

September

  • City of the Spider Queen
  • City of the Spider Queen Miniatures Boxed Set
  • Dragon Magazine 299
  • Icewind Dale Trilogy Gift Set -- Forgotten Realms boxed set
  • Legends Trilogy Gift Set -- Dragonlance boxed set
  • Masters of Dragonlance Art (softcover)
  • Monster Manual II
  • The Oath of Nerull -- D&D Novel Line Book 3

July: Epic Level Handbook

Okay, there has been Epic Level Handbook stuff here in the Previews feature for a couple of months. And we did that three-month countdown set of articles in Dragon Magazine. Plus we had the epic level adventure "The Razing of Redshore" in Dungeon Magazine issue 92. And then there's this month's Dragon Magazine (297), which features a pile of epic stuff in it. I know I'm laying my hands on the first copy of the Epic Level Handbook I can get hold of. Maybe I'll grab two of 'em.

Epic Tchotchke: Olidammara's Dice

I gave you the complete run-down on these fine six-sided gewgaws last month.

If you're picking up a copy of the Epic Level Handbook at your favorite hobby shop, and it's a Wizards of the Coast Premier Store, make sure to ask if they got Olidammara's Dice to give away with it for free. If your hobby shop isn't a Wizards of the Coast Premier Store, check out this Retail Locator to help you find one.

We had set aside a pile of Olidammara's Dice to give away with autographed copies of the Epic Level Handbook. However, you've a hair too late to get in on that, as they're already sold through. But if you want to play around with an all-digital version of the dice, check out the Virtual Olidammara's Dice web utility, which simulates the results of rolling these nifty minor artifacts.

July: Dragon Magazine 297 (Epic Adventures)

I love Dragon Magazine. Not just 'cause I've got a subscription that comes right to the office where I can read it at my leisure as a part of my job, but because it's always got a pile of cool ideas inside. Even when an article falls outside the realm of something I need right now, it's probably got a few bits and pieces that can rattle around in my head to be saved for later or to percolate into something else. Sometimes all it takes is a few place name changes or the alteration of a few details, but just about everything in there is going to find a place to live in the little D&D world in my head. (The same goes for the adventures in Dungeon Magazine, too.) These magazines are like a set of roleplaying LEGOs. If you like the mechanics, spells, feats, NPCs, adventures, or whatever as they appear in the magazine, they're all ready to go. If you like only parts of 'em, you just pop off that bit and use it. And, even when you look at something and say, "I can't use that in my game!" or "I don't play in that campaign setting!" just remember that each one of those articles is built from little pieces you can pull apart to build something entirely new. Ideas generate new ideas. The magazines are fuel for your roleplaying fires. Rocket fuel, at that.

I won't go into grand detail about issue 297, 'cause it should either be on your bookshelf, in your mailbox, or waiting for you at your favorite hobby shop or bookstore. I will give you a quick run-down of some of what's inside, though.

  • Twenty-eight epic artifacts based on real-world things (if your D&D game doesn't have a place for 'em, remember d20 Modern is coming.)
  • Eight epic prestige classes, including the Arcane Lord, the Master of the Order of the Bow, and the Unholy Ravager
  • Five new epic spells, including a transmutation spell called Dracomorph that I want to get in my wizard's spellbook as soon as I can
  • Seven new epic feats
  • A new short story by Paul Kemp featuring Erevis Cale, the rogue-turned-butler from the first book in the terrific Sembia series, Shadow's Witness.

August: Sadly, you won't see any RPG products coming out in August from Wizards of the Coast. But, hey, when you've got books like the Epic Level Handbook and Silver Marches coming out in July and things like the Monster Manual II and the City of the Spider Queen superadventure coming out in September, you can see why some breathing room was needed in the product release schedule. (Those guys in R&D have gotta see the sun at some point.)

Oh, and then there's GenCon Game Fair on August 8-11. You know.

August: Chainmail Set 4

  • Ahmut's Legion: Zombie Minotaur
  • Drazen's Horde: Ettin Trooper
  • Mordengard: Dwarf Lightning Lancer (x2)
  • Thalos: Half-Elf Cleric
  • Naresh: Werewolf Trooper
  • Ravilla: Spiked Felldrake
  • Mercenary: Werebear Trooper

The Zombie Minotaur is a grisly customer. He's big and imposing, and he totes a huge double-bladed battleaxe. Of course, that's probably what he was like back when he was still alive. In undeath, he seems to have taken some pretty nasty hits that, apparently, didn't slow him down too much. He seems to be missing large chunks of his right forearm and left upper arm, as well as the flesh from a couple of fingers. I think he has some old arrow wounds scattered around on his arms and chest as well. I'm not sure, but it really looks like the missing bits are missing because they were forcibly removed with extreme prejudice, not just because of zombie flesh sloughing action -- very, very neat-o.

The Ettin Trooper is big. Big. If there were two things you'd want to know about the Ettin Trooper, they would be (1) that he's an ettin, and (2) that he's big. This two-headed meany has snatched up a pair of mid-size trees and is swinging them about. One of the clubs is even upraised and ready to smash whatever puny thing it is that the left-hand head is fixed upon way down on the ground.

The Dwarf Lightning Lancer is really, really cool. He's wearing heavy gloves and a heavy, goggled hood (in addition to armor) that seem to suggest that whatever it is that's coming out of the orb at the end of his staff (lightning is a safe guess) is not something you want to mess around with. He's even taken care to work his beard into a pair of braids to further reduce the danger of a backlash. Really, you've got to see this guy; he's quickly and easily my favorite of this set (and I'm liking everything I'm seeing, you know).

The Half-Elf Cleric is stepping into battle with her shield leading the way and her sword held poised in mid swing. She's got her hair pulled back to keep it out of the way during a fight (and to give you a good view of her pointy ears) and is wearing a sash thrown across her chainmail armor. One of the things I've come to really like about the Thalos models is the varied uniformity they display, particularly with the Thalos device on their shields and the bits of clothing that make it very easy to identify them with their faction through color -- they look like a well-disciplined, orderly army.

The Werewolf Trooper is going to feel right at home with his gnollish cousins who make up the bulk of Naresh's forces. He seems to be lunging forward with a clawed hand ready to snatch anything near, and his curved-bladed sword slashes downward to slice through anything that's just out of reach. The snarl that's curling his lips back from his pointy teeth also seems to suggest that he'd be more than happy to gnaw on anything and everything he can sink his canines into.

The Spiked Felldrake is another big customer. You could probably fit a half dozen or so Crested Felldrakes inside of this guy for breakfast, and he'd still have room for lunch. The spikes on his back jut outward and slightly upward to form a very wide "v" shape that would make saddling and riding one of these critters a very involved and unwise chore. The end of his tail sports even more spikes. And, from what I understand, those tail spikes are somewhat aerodynamic.

The Werebear Trooper is also, yes, quite big. He's toting a heavy two-bladed battleaxe (with large notches cut in each blade) that also features a heavy, glaive-like blade at the other end. And the way he's holding it, it's hard to tell whether he's going to stab you in the guts or just cut you right down the middle. This guy's particularly interesting to me because he's more than just a bear on his hind legs with opposable thumbs -- he's actually a really interesting anthropomorphic creature. He's very much a bear, but you can see that there's a large, angry man-for-hire in there. You'll see what I mean when you pick him up.

August: Chainmail Kilsek Faction Box

I described all of these in detail last month, with the exception of the Displacer Beast. Since then, I've been waiting for the finished, painted mini to pop onto Mike McVey's shelf so I can check it out. Well, I was waiting. I got a peek at it earlier this week. The beastie is a very sinister, feline predator ready to pounce on anything that moves. And, yes, when he does that pouncing, it'll be with six legs (with some nasty-looking claws) and/or a pair of wicked-looking tentacles. Here is that list again of what's in the box:

  • Drow Wizard
  • Drow Soldier
  • Drow Ranger
  • Troglodyte Warrior
  • Displacer Beast
  • Kuo-Toa Trooper (x2)

Coming Up Sooner Than You Think: d20 Modern Roleplaying Game

The d20 Modern Roleplaying Game comes out in November. And if you've ever wanted to play any kind of modern-day roleplaying game, this is going to be the d20 System-powered launch pad for it.

From the sections of the manuscript I've already seen, this is going to be an extra-hot game. In fact, there's so much to tell you about d20 Modern Roleplaying Game that they've got me going through it section by section each month until it releases. So, make sure you check out the Countdown to d20 Modern web feature every month, too.

One last, little thing I can add right now is a bit of information about another cool promotion we'll be doing with d20 Modern Roleplaying Game. Just like the Olidammara's Dice we made for Epic Level Handbook, we have made something nifty to give away with copies of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game. So, check out the section about the Knights of the Silver Dragon giveaway and visit your local Wizards of the Coast Premier Store to preorder your copy. (It's neat-o!)

One last extra bit:

Not Every d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook will come with a Knights of the Silver Dragon patch. But yours can.

Hey, we're making another cool doodad to give away. (Remember the Olidammara's Dice we did for the Epic Level Handbook?)

This time, it's for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook. And it's an embroidered patch. Check it out:

Featured on the cover is a trio of iconic heroes. The most prominent of these (standing right there in the center) is Russell Whitfield, the Strong Hero who wields a bastard sword. And on Russell's shoulder is a patch that features a stylized silhouette of a dragon -- the symbol of an organization called the Knights of the Silver Dragon.

The Knights of the Silver Dragon are a crusading force for good that operates in small, independent cells. It's also a group that has been around for a very long time. (This shouldn't come as much of a surprise when you know that at the center of the organization is a very old silver dragon.) I don't have a lot of details right now, mainly because the Urban Arcana campaign section of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game is being edited as I write this. But, next month, I may wrangle some or all of the description that will be featured inside the book.

So, anyway, back to the gewgaw. We're going to be making a limited edition, custom-embroidered patch that's just like the one on Russell's shoulder. It'll be about 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" (which is about the size of a credit card), which makes it perfect for sewing onto the shoulder of a jacket, a backpack, or even a dicebag. It's going to have a dark gray border, light grey background, and a black dragon silhouette. (Robert Raper is working on the art file for the patch -- I'll try to grab that for next month, too.)

And, like with Olidammara's Dice, we're making only so many of them. And, they're available only through Wizards of the Coast Premier Stores. If your hobby shop isn't a Premier Store, check out this Retail Locator to help you find one.

Now, Premier Stores can start preordering copies of d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook in August. And, if you want to make sure your store gets one (with the patch) to set aside for you, tell your store owner. (Seriously, those dice were snatched up in less than 15 days after preorders for the Epic Level Handbook started.) Just to make it easier, we made up a nifty form for you to download, print out, fill out, and take in to your favorite hobby shop.

Anyway, I'll be telling you (and showing you) more about the patches next month, and I'll try to get an excerpt on the Knights of the Silver Dragons, as well. But if you think you'll want one, don't wait on me. And, I'm telling you this, because we're such good friends: Get to your hobby shop and get 'em to preorder a copy of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook as soon as can.

Download the "Hey, Preorder My d20 Modern Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and Get Me a Silver Dragon Patch!" form-thingy here.

Call of Cthulhu -- Chaos of the Thickets Optional Rule

Hey, if you picked up one of the autographed copies of Call of Cthulhu and got the limited-edition Let Sleeping Gods Lie CD by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, you might have gone looking around here for the expanded descriptions mentioned in the inside liner. Even if you didn't get the CD, you might have been interested in the highly official, yet thoroughly optional, Chaos of the Thickets game mechanics. The rules are now available for you and the rest of the world to descend upon, snatch up, and begin incorporating into your most sanity-draining game sessions over at the Call of Cthulhu page.

I think that'll do for a month.

There it is.

About the Author

Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been here long enough to stop keeping up with it on a monthly basis. He has been roleplaying for a disturbing length of time, and now he gets to spend an astonishing amount of time thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same, like this:

Frnxt. Grht. D&D. Gurm.

This month, he's just about completely exhausted from all the great stuff going on around here, and that fantasy setting proposal thing in particular was just too good to ignore. Sure, that's not specifically a part of this whole job at Wizards of the Coast thing. But it's close.

Go to the D&D main news page for more articles and news about the new D&D or check
out the D&D message boards for a lively discussion of all aspects of the D&D game.

 





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