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In the Works
Trick-or-treating at
Wizards of the Coast is good.

By Mat Smith





Every now and then I wander over to Marty Durham's cube to ask for a galley of one of our books so I can look through it as I write this article. Okay, it's not really trick-or-treating, but it sure is fun. And it makes me want to try changing costumes to come back for more. Marty is the project manager who's responsible for making sure that everybody gets everything done in time to get every one of our RPG products to the printer and the store for their release dates. (Check out the credits page at the front of your books. Martin Durham, that lucky dog, gets his name in there.)

I usually get a manuscript emailed straight to me from someone down in RPG R&D, along with a quick synopsis of the book. But that's "just" the text file. Galleys have the art, and the words, as they'll appear in the finished book. Sometimes I get black and white, and sometimes I get full color. But every time I get hold of one of those things, it's unbelievably cool. And it gives me a nearly uncontrollable urge to rush out and tell folks about what I've seen.

Good thing I get to tell about this stuff.

October: Book of Vile Darkness

You can check out what I said last month about this product if you want to know a bit more about it!

October: The Thousand Orcs

By now, you should already know The Thousand Orcs is the first book in R.A. Salvatore's new series called The Hunter's Blades trilogy. If you didn't, you do now, and we're moving on.

I got my hands on a real, live copy of it, and I flew through it like I knew I would. I was pretty surprised by some of the stuff that happened in there (there's nothing freaky, don't worry) and can definitely say that I'm more than ready for Book Two.

I don't want to give away anything, but I do want to give you an inkling of what's building up in there.

If you read Sea of Swords, you know the Companions of the Hall have finally been reunited. They're still in and about Ten Towns when the story opens. But soon enough, they're back out on the cold Icewind Dale trails, slowly uncovering and encountering a very dangerous threat to the entire region of the North. And somewhere along the way, some bad things happen that end up putting Drizzt out there behind enemy lines and in a very desperate situation.

One more thing that makes this book awesome: the cover. Todd Lockwood's art is absolutely stunning -- that is Drizzt skewering one orc with a left thrust through the sternum and getting ready to put a diagonal slash across the throat of another. And he's got a whole lot more stabbin' in store for the rest of the horde. And, as you turn the book over, checking out the front, back, spine, and inside flaps, you'll really come to appreciate all the little touches that are there courtesy of art directors extraordinaire, Matt Adelsperger and Ryan Sansaver.

Matt and Todd sat down to come up with the concept for the cover art and figured out how to arrange all those beastly bad guys around the space for the words and logos. Check out how the orc at the bottom of the spine is peering over the Wizards of the Coast logo at you. And how the metal eye-patch-wearing orc is yelling at all the other orcs (and you) to stop lollygagging around back there and get into the fight. Pop open the front, inside flap, and you've got a handful of orcs ready to leap onto the word, "Invasion!" The back, inside flap has got a trio of orcs ready to join the rest of their army in charging that scimitar-wielding drow. (If you like cool art directional masterstrokes like that, check out the cover of Elminster in Hell that Mr. Adelsperger worked on with Matt Stawicki.) Ryan artfully maneuvered the logos and type into place. Check out how Drizzt's raised arm is in front of the "Orcs" part of the title of the book, while the tip of his scimitar is dipping back behind the words "The Hunter's Blades Trilogy." That's just nifty.

I have to say, The Thousand Orcs is really putting a lot of interesting elements into place -- and setting a lot of things in motion -- that promise a lot of excitement and even more danger as the trilogy continues. I can only guess at what the next two books will bring, and I wonder what might be left north of the Spine of the World when that third book is done.

I don't know exactly what day in October The Thousand Orcs is hitting the streets, but when it does, good Mr. Salvatore is going to be out there on a book signing tour. And if you're interested in getting R.A. Salvatore's autograph in the latest book featuring his signature character, you'll want to check out the information on the book tour we've got over in the novels section of the website.

October: Dragons I and Dragons II

The D&D miniatures boxed sets are really popular in bookstores and other places that have customers who don't normally play miniatures games (or games that use miniatures). That's one of the main reasons we make 'em. (And it's also why you can see miniatures in these boxes that you may have seen before.)

Anyway, I talked a little about these guys last month, but just in case you're interested in the list-o'-minis you'll find inside these newest D&D miniatures boxed sets, here you are:

Dragons I

  • Abyssal Skulker (x2)
  • Tiefling Fighter
  • Very Young Red Dragon

Dragons II

  • Crested Felldrake (x2)
  • Half-Dragon Mage
  • Spitting Felldrake
  • Very Young Brass Dragon

October: Foldup Paper Models -- Inn

I really can't talk about the fold-up paper models enough. Every time I go down to Siberia to check out what Rob Lazzaretti, Dennis Kauth, and Todd Gamble have been up to, I am overwhelmed by all the cool stuff. (It's really a three-stage process that involves being first stunned by how cool the stuff is, then fascinated by how detailed it is, and then finished off by wishing it was my job to make such cool things.)

Anyway, this month, they've finally finished putting the last few shingles on the roof the huge inn they've been working on, and they have all but put an "Open for Business" sign in the window. This is easily the largest of the buildings they've designed, but certainly not the most intricate to build. So, you can quickly and easily download, print, cut and paste, and set up a warm and comfortable place for your characters to spend the night and a few hard-earned silver pieces (gold pieces if they want dinner and breakfast).

After last month's special bonus windows and doors, cobbled together by Todd Gamble, you can really go to town on customizing your buildings. If you've got a graphics program, like Photoshop, you can change the buildings before you print 'em. And if you don't, you can just add your finishing touches by carefully gluing the new windows and doors onto the finished buildings.

They've got a lot of really cool things in store for you over the next few months, too. You'll see things like roads, paths, and river sections for you to connect and divide your buildings, along with new towers and other important structures your burgeoning paper village won't want to be without.

If you haven't started construction, check out the foldup paper model archive, which features everything they've posted.

November: d20 Modern Roleplaying Game

If you haven't discovered it yet, you'll want to check out the monthly Countdown to d20 Modern web feature. It's got a good pile of preview material and excerpts from the book.

The d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook hits the streets in November.

And, the first issue of The Gaming Herald will be popping up on counters at local hobby shops around the country in late October. (If you went to Gen Con, you might have picked up the four-page preview issue of this nifty, new FREE gaming newspaper.)

What's one got to do with the other? The inaugural issue of The Gaming Herald is a d20 Modern special edition. And the above-the-fold, front-page article in Issue One, Volume One is all about the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook. (How cool is that?) The article has some basic information about the book, along with a decent-length adventure hook -- you can actually do some online research on some of the stuff you'll find.

Ask the folks behind the counter of your favorite hobby shop if they're getting copies of The Gaming Herald. If they say, "the what?" or "no," tell 'em about it, and then tell 'em that a few different distributors are carrying it, and (best of all) it don't cost nothin'.

And while you're talking to folks behind the counter of your favorite hobby shop, have 'em preorder your copy of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook. If it's a Wizards of the Coast Premier Store, they may still be able to get a Knights of the Silver Dragon patch for you to go along with your lovely new 384-page hardcover of modern roleplaying übergoodness.

If you've not heard about the Knights of the Silver Dragon patch promotion, check out all the information with which I've been bombarding this feature over the past few months, starting in July.

In August, I gave you an excerpt from the book that gives you some background information on the Knights of the Silver Dragon.

Keep in mind that we're making only so many patches, so this definitely falls into the "supplies are limited, offer is good only while supplies last" category. And, the patches are available only through Wizards of the Coast Premier Stores. (If your hobby shop isn't a Wizards of the Coast Premier Store, you'll want to check out the Retail Locator to help you find one.)

So, if you want to make sure you get a patch along with your copy of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game core rulebook, get in there and ask 'em to preorder one for you. In fact, take a copy of this nifty form in with you just to make it clear that you want to make sure you get a copy of the rulebook along with the patch.

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

And, if you can't get to a Premier Store in time, or at all, the promotional items we've been making (Let Sleeping Gods Lie, the CD we made with Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, for Call of Cthulhu, and Olidammara's Dice for the Epic Level Handbook) have been surfacing on eBay. (Though I can't imagine ever wanting to sell mine.)

November: Heroes III and Monsters III

Same deal as the dragons. These will be the next D&D miniatures boxed sets. You've got a box-o'-heroes and a box-o'-monsters. Here's everything you'll find inside the sets:

Heroes III

  • Dwarf Zealot
  • Gray Elf Snakestrike Duelist
  • Half-Orc Fighter
  • Human Glaiver
  • Human Sorcerer
  • Wood Elf Scout

Monsters III

  • Goblin Scout
  • Hill Giant
  • Orc Berserker

(For those of you who've already got a pile Chainmail minis and wanna know what's in the boxes that you have not had a shot at picking up yet, the Human Glaiver is a new, alternate sculpt, and the Hill Giant is entirely new and HUGE.)

November: Sands of the Soul

Sands of the Soul is the next book in the intriguing Sembia series, which I explained a bit of last month.

I just caught up with the last two titles, Black Wolf by Dave Gross and Heirs of Prophesy by Lisa Smedman, and I'm more than ready to dive right into Voronica Whitney-Robinson's contribution to the collective story of the Selgaunt's Uskevren family. (I've been looking forward to this since the short story anthology that started the series, Halls of Stormweather. The novel tells the story focused on Tazi.)

And, if you can read this (and I know you can), you, too, should be reading the Sembia series for either one of two reasons:

  • You already like reading Forgotten Realms novels.
  • You need a good starting point for reading Forgotten Realms novels.

November: Insurrection

First, the facts: Insurrection is the second book in the six-part War of the Spider Queen novel series. It's written by Thomas M. Reid. And it's good.

As soon as I finished Dissolution, I started pestering our book publishing department for a manuscript of the next book. And, if you've picked up that first book, you probably know why. Richard Lee Byers really set the stage for an intriguing and exciting (and very drow) story. And Thomas M. Reid picked up that spider-covered ball of treachery and ran with it. (Remember, each book in the War of the Spider Queen series will be written by a different, hot author.)

If you've not finished Dissolution, and you don't want to know where the story lies at the end of it, you might want to skip over the next bit.

At the end of Dissolution, a small, hand-picked band of dark elves (and a rather large draegloth, which is the larger of the two folks depicted on the cover of Insurrection) has been charged with traveling from Menzoberranzan to Ched Nasad for a variety of reasons. The most important of these reasons is to find out whether Lolth's presence has disappeared from the rival/sister city as well.

So, right from the start, you know you can expect a couple things from Insurrection. First, the characters are going to be traveling through the Underdark (an activity that's deadly enough when your companions aren't also your enemies). And second, you're going to get to see Ched Nasad.

I don't know for certain whether the City of Shimmering Webs has ever been described in detail before, but I've never read or heard anything about it. And, I'm not entirely sure what I thought it would be like, but the Ched Nasad that Mr. Reid shows off is quite different from what I'd pictured in my head. And I mean that in a very good way. I suppose I was imagining another immense cavern filled with giant stalagmites and stalactites, with buildings and a society similar to what I've gotten so used to in Menzoberranzan. But Ched Nasad is not that. I won't ruin your enjoyment of exploring the new drow city, but I did want to point out what a t'riffic job Thomas did of painting a very different, and very interesting, drow city. (I'm now more than ready for a series of books set exclusively in Mr. Reid's Ched Nasad.)

I'm only about halfway through Insurrection, so I don't know where the story goes, but I can tell you that I can't wait to get home tonight to find out. To say the least, the characters are getting into some pretty tight spots. And I can only guess at who's going to get out unscathed. Really, I'd guess that none of 'em will be unscathed. But, hey, for dark elves, particularly those who are outsiders in an increasingly hostile city, just getting out alive would be a pleasant surprise.

Regardless of what happens, or where the story goes, by the time I've finished reading those last few (of the 330+) pages of the book, I know I'm going to be pestering the poor book publishing folk for Rich Baker's manuscript for book three: Condemnation.

Year of the Drow Homepage

Seein' as I was just telling you about a drow book, I though I should give you a little heads-up about a special section of the website that's dedicated to those spider-lovin' minions of Lolth -- the Year of the Drow webpage.

Since we've got so many dark elf-related books, miniatures, and roleplaying game schtuff coming out, we decided to make a special little home for all of 'em on the website. (Though, it's only going to be up and running for about twelve months or so.)

Slash Drow (/drow). That's what you add to the end of if you're typing the URL directly into your web browser. Once you're there, you'll discover all kinds of drow-related articles and write-ups of products with drow in 'em.

I think that'll do for a month.

There it is.

About the Author

Mat Smith is a copywriter who has been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing number of years, and now he gets to spend an astonishing amount of time thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same.

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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