31 Days Closer to Everything on the List
between December's edition
of Previews, and the one that posted last
touched on just about everything that is coming out from now until July.
I may not have gone into as much detail on some of the stuff as I did
for others, but you've got a good heads-up for what's going to be hitting
the shelves for the next half a year.
The downside to
rattling off everything I've laid my eyes on in one fell swoop is that
when it comes time to write the next Previews, I don't always have
anything new or different to add about everything on the list. Of course,
I could just copy/paste the same stuff over and over, but that'd get old
real quick, so I'll just give you links. And, since an article filled
with nothing but "read what I wrote last month" would make for
some awfully boring reading, I'll do all I can to squeeze a little more
of a peek at what's coming whenever possible.
there are some restrictions on what I can talk about, and when I talk
about it, I do get to be one of the official "leaks" of information
about all the cool stuff we've got going on around here, which is pretty
cool. And I sure don't want the fun of that to wear out. So, let's see
what else I can let you in on.
& Light -- Dragonlance Preludes, Volume One (paperback)
of the Drow -- Forgotten Realms Starlight & Shadows
trilogy, Book One (awesome new cover art)
- The Players
of Gilean -- Dragonlance (paperback)
Species: Playing Monstrous Characters -- D&D rulebook
and Equipment Guide -- D&D rulebook (hardcover)
of a Vanished Moon -- Dragonlance The War of Souls
trilogy, Volume III (paperback)
of Stormweather -- Forgotten Realms Sembia series,
Book 7 (paperback)
of Faerûn -- D&D (Forgotten Realms) rulebook
Webs -- Forgotten Realms Starlight & Shadows trilogy,
Book Two (awesome new cover art)
Wake -- Dungeons & Dragons Novel Line, Book 6 (paperback)
Folio -- D&D rulebook (hardcover)
-- Forgotten Realms Starlight & Shadows trilogy, Book
-- Dragonlance Preludes, Volume Two (paperback)
Thane -- Dragonlance Age of Mortals, Volume Three (paperback)
-- Forgotten Realms War of the Spider Queen series,
Book Three (hardcover)
of Ice -- Dungeons & Dragons Novel Line,
Book 7 (paperback)
-- Forgotten Realms Avatar Series, Book One (paperback
-- all-new cover art)
East -- D&D (Forgotten Realms) rulebook
Arcana -- d20 Modern roleplaying game campaign setting
- A Warrior's
Journey -- Dragonlance Ergoth Trilogy, Volume One (paperback)
Check it out:
Species: Playing Monstrous Characters
I talked about this back in December.
is a 224-page hardcover, which is pretty hefty -- check your current copy
of the Monster Manual to get an idea of how big that is. (Really,
the single-sided printout I got of the manuscript is about an inch and
a half thick and needs two big bulldog clips to hold it all together.)
That's a whole lotta "How to Play a Monster as a Character."
Not only do you get a huge pile of creatures that're set up and ready
to go adventuring, but you get all the tools you need to work up the necessary
rules for playing anything that's not specifically featured in the book.
That means that you can take virtually any monster, from any sourcebook,
and adapt it for play as a PC or NPC. Keep that NPC part in mind, 'cause
DMs are going to have some really interesting options to throw at the
party. Between the monster classes (in which creatures develop their characteristics
and abilities) and the rules for transforming into a monster (check out
Chapter 11), the potential for creating truly memorable enemies and foils
Savage Species comes out this month. So, enough of that, and on
with a couple things you can read when it hits the shelves. You can read
the copy you'll see on the back cover in the November
2002 Previews article.
And, just for
fun, here's a little about one of the prestige classes, and a little more
about a spell:
The illithid savant
prestige class allows mind flayer characters (PCs or NPCs, remember) to
gain new skills, feats, and other knowledge from their victims/lunch.
A new 1st-level
spell called spell flower allows a spellcaster to "hold"
touch spells -- that is, they keep 'em charged and ready to go -- one
per forelimb. (So, a human could charge up a chill touch in his
right hand and then ready a shocking grasp for the left.) That's
pretty cool. Even more so when you think about playing a marilith, drider,
or something else with plenty of arms to spare, particularly if you toss
in the Quicken Spell metamagic feat.
will be many things in issue #97. But, my biggest reason for saying "you
should pick this thing up" is an adventure, titled "Life's
Bazaar," which was crafted by grandmaster adventuresmith, Christopher
you all that I know about it in last
month's Previews, but
suffice to say that it's the first installation of a new "adventure
path" series. Characters will start playing Life's Bazaar at
1st level, and end up -- if they survive -- somewhere around 3rd by the
end of it. It also comes with a poster map of Cauldron, the city in which
the adventure is set, which was built in the caldera of a dormant volcano.
(Note the use of the term "dormant" and not "extinct"
-- just taking up residence might be worth some XP.)
In addition to being the starting point of an amazingly
challenging and complex series of intertwined adventures, Life's Bazaar
is also the first published adventure that'll be entirely compatible with
the revised core rulebooks. (Don't worry -- you can run it with your current
there be any more reasons to pick up Dungeon #97? Sure,
all the other adventures (and the content of a full issue of Polyhedron)
now, I dunno anything (specific) about what's going into this issue, but
I do know that Ed Stark's second
article about the upcoming revised core rulebooks will be in there.
And, just so's
you know, issue #305 (which'll say "March" on the spine) will
be hitting shelves somewhere around the end of February. (Subscribers
already have theirs -- they get 'em right around the first week of each
month, which is about 2-3 weeks before they hit the newsstand.)
and Equipment Guide
check out the Previews column from December for
a basic rundown of what you're going to see, chapter-by chapter. Here's
what you'll see on the back cover:
to be prepared for anything, which means having the right weapons
and gear on hand at all times. The well-stocked pages of this book
hold an impressive inventory of merchandise to get you into and
out of all manner of trouble, including:
- A caravan load of
equipment, trade goods, alchemical items, poisons, mounts, and
- Over 230 magic weapons
and armors, such as the flameshroud axe, lance of the endless
charge, and vampire hunter armor
- Over 125 magic items,
including new artifacts, such as elixir armor, rings of the
hive mind, the ghost rod, and bag of endless caltrops
- Rules for vehicle
combat on land, sea, and air
The Arms and
Equipment Guide is a 160-page hardcover (same as your Psionics
Handbook), and it is jam-packed with material. As I was reading it
through, it reminded me a bit of the old Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog
-- it's just wall-to-wall nifty stuff. Don't misunderstand me in that
comparison: Aurora's was as much a novelty as it was a gaming resource;
the Arms and Equipment Guide is a very crunchy sourcebook filled
with page after page after page of all kinds of stuff for which you can
easily imagine having need. Like this:
Ghostoil is an alchemical substance you apply to a weapon, which allows
it to affect incorporeal creatures. (This is just one of over two dozen
new alchemical items.)
The useful buckler is a +1 buckler that has the additional
property of transforming into an assortment of specialized tools (like
a grappling hook or shovel). It's a little like a robe of useful items,
but it's reusable *and* doesn't eat up a slot -- bonus.
You'll also find
one table that gives you a guide for determining how wealthy and how well-guarded
any particular merchant caravan is, and another that provides a great
list of possible trade commodities that a wagonload of goods might contain.
There's a great table of sample mercenary equipment that outfits everything
from six types of 1st-level skirmishing troops to three different groups
of heavy mounted troops (which span 10th to 12th level). It has rules
for using rust monsters as mounted creatures. It has rules for when your
party's bard insists on downing tankard after tankard of dwarven ale.
It has rules for flying a masterwork dirigible into battle against a wyvern
(carrying an armored rider), in a rainstorm, along with rules for what
happens when one runs into the other.
It has a lot of
again, was when
I spilled the beans on this one.
Races of Faerûn
is a 192-page hardcover that provides tons of information about all the
various folk running around the Forgotten Realms setting. Here's
just a small part of the nearly three pages (in the all-text, nonformatted
manuscript) of information about a subrace of dwarves who come from the
land of ice and snow.
and Racial Features
dwarves have all the dwarven racial traits listed in the Player's
Handbook, except as follows:
- +4 Strength,
-2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma. Arctic dwarves are
incredibly strong, but shorter and more stout than other dwarven
- Small: As
Small creatures, arctic dwarves gain a +1 size bonus to Armor
Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on
Hide checks, but they must use smaller weapons than humans use,
and their lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those
of Medium-size characters.
- Arctic dwarf
base speed is 20 feet.
- Immune to
Languages: Dwarven, Common, home region. Bonus Languages: By region.
- Level Adjustment:
+2. Arctic dwarves are significantly stronger on average than
most Stout Folk, and they possess an immunity to cold. They are
slightly more powerful and gain levels more slowly than the common
races of Faerûn. See Table 01: Level Adjustments and Experience
Requirements for more information.
- Favored Class:
One thing you'll
notice, in addition to how tough these guys are, is how easily you could
drop arctic dwarves (and just about everything else you find in this book)
into your campaign or adventuring party, regardless of where your game
is set. Like most of the Forgotten Realms stuff, you don't have
to play in Faerûn to make use of the materials produced for the setting.
And Races of Faerûn certainly falls into that category of wholesale
usefulness -- regardless of where your campaign calls home -- you can
adopt and adjust the races, subraces, and ethnicities to fit your game.
When I was reading
through the book, each one of those entries evoked some sort of idea of
how I could incorporate those particular gnomes, or halflings, or whatever
into my game. And, the whole time, I was looking forward to reading through
the appendices -- to discover all the equipment, weapons, spells, and
more that were tucked away for safekeeping.
This is just one
of the cool specialized arrows you'll find in the equipment section:
| Arrow, Signal:
This masterwork arrow is specially designed to emulate a bird's
call when fired. Wood elf fletchers craft the arrows to make calls
that will be recognized as signals by the elves of the community.
For example, a hawk's cry might be used to signal an attack, and an
owl's cry might be used to signal a stealthy advance. A successful
Wilderness Lore check (DC 20) determines whether the birdcall comes
from a bird or another source. The intricate carving of the arrows
makes them clumsy in flight, resulting in a -2 penalty on attack rolls.
it doesn't matter where you grow up: If you're a gnome or halfling rogue,
you'll appreciate the advantage afforded by this new feat (one of 83 in
can get underfoot and attack creatures larger than you.
Dodge, Mobility, base attack bonus +4 or higher.
As a full-round action, you can enter an area occupied by an opponent
who is at least one size category larger than you. You can then
make a single melee attack at your highest attack modifier against
this creature, who is considered flat-footed against the attack.
After your attack, you return to the 5-foot square from which you
entered the opponent's 5-foot square. Using this feat provokes attacks
feat first appeared in Dragon Magazine #285.
Whether you wander
around Waterdeep, delve under the Dalelands, or traipse around Thay, you'll
want to know all about the Races of Faerûn. Even if you adventure
in Ansalon, roam around Rokugan, or explore a world that's entirely your
own, the Races of Faerûn will feel right at home.
D&D Core Rulebooks
Okay, I talked
a little about these last month, but I really didn't have anything crunchy
to pass along. And that's still essentially the same -- I'm still waiting
to get my hands on a copy of any one of the manuscripts, but they're still
feverishly banging away on them down in R&D.
If you're tuning
in late, or just want a little more of an idea of why those folks are
banging away on D&D 3.5, think about this:
Since Third Edition
released, back in August of 2000, we've all been slowly finding bits and
pieces of the rules that can be tweaked, clarified, improved, and/or toned
down. And by "we," I don't mean Wizards of the Coast, I mean
all of us -- everyone who plays D&D -- we've all been playtesting
That's not to
suggest that the game wasn't thoroughly playtested before its release,
because it was exhaustively run through its paces before going to the
printers. It's just that the efforts of hundreds of "real" playtesters
gaming for thousands of hours simply can't compete against the acid test
of millions of rabid gamers banging away at a rules system over the course
of two full years.
Think about it.
No two games are alike, and no two gamers are alike. Characters and campaigns
around the world are all totally unique (even if they're set in an established
campaign setting, like Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms).
And that adds up to an effectively infinite number of playtesting situations
that are bound to discover things that even the most well-intentioned,
meticulous, and professional minds in the gaming industry didn't think
of while they were busy creating a completely new rules system.
And, between all
the gaming (and talking about gaming) we do around here and all the feedback
we've gotten from all of you on the message boards and through our Customer
Service department, we've got a pretty good idea of what we need to do
to steer the rules closer to the game we're all playing.
I mentioned before, starting with last month's issue (#304), Dragon
be running articles by Ed Stark, who will introduce you to different aspects
of what's going on with the revised books.
of Winter Fantasy got
a sneak preview of some of the stuff that'll be going into the new brown,
red, and blue books. In addition to the seminar(s), those folks also got
a nifty t-shirt we made, specifically for the con, which featured a glimpse
at the new and improved stat block for the pit fiend, which includes more
than simple adjustments to statistics (that is, the naughty baatezu got
even nastier) but demonstrates how the new stat block format will include
a lot of information (like the touch AC and base attack bonus) that'll
make it much easier to run monsters.
Even better is
the inclusion of what I think is the coolest new thing in the revised
Monster Manual -- round-by-round tactics. If you want a good idea
of how a pit fiend prepares for a fight and what he might want to do every
time his number comes up in the initiative order, you've got it -- blow-by-brutal-blow.
Of course, that's just an example, and you can have your pit fiends (or
other critters) do whatever you want 'em to, but it sure will make it
a lot easier to wrap your head around those particularly complicated creatures
(dragons, beholders, and so on) so you ran run 'em as effectively as players
run their PCs.
And that's just
the beginning. I should be stumbling across some real-live new rules soon
enough (they've got to stop writing the books and start printing them
Stuff: d20 Modern
Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
is a really interesting thread I found on the d20 Modern message
boards. It's (currently) twelve pages of "Groups and Organizations"
you can use in a game -- all created by you folks. It's a really interesting
and thought-provoking thread that involves one person posting a name for
an entity, and the next person writing up a description for it (and offering
up the next organization's name). Even if you don't port these things
directly into your d20 Modern game, you'll most certainly come
across something that sparks a thought or idea that'll set you off. Check
Some More Stuff:
Foldup Paper Models --
the end-of-the-year rush, and the beginning-of-the-year rush, I haven't
been down to check on what Rob Lazzaretti, Dennis Kauth, and Todd Gamble
have been up to. But, a little exploration of the website uncovered their
latest downloadable masterpiece of papery architectural gold -- a rural
church. It's a great addition to any burgeoning cardstock village just
as it is. Opt to not put on the steeple, and you've got another fine,
very sturdy-looking building that can be whatever it wants to be.
A Whole LOT of
Stuff: Chainmail Freebies
I also stumbled
across a pile of stuff I'd not seen posted for the Chainmail
miniatures game. Even though no new materials are being produced for the
game, a lot of people are still skirmishing across tabletops.
Chainmail Terrain: Whether
you play Chainmail, or just want some cool terrain to use
with your minis in a D&D game, you can fill acres and acres
of battlefield with all of the terrain from the Chainmail Starter
Set, Faction Boxes, and the GenCon Chainmail 2002 Championship
Here's what you'll find: Briars, hedgerow, high wall, hill,
hut, low wall, mausoleum, quagmire, row of headstones, row of trees, stake
barrier, woods, magma pool, boulder piles, chasm, sinkhole, row of stalagmites,
and subterranean pool.
Set 4 and Set
The product line was canceled before models, or even artwork, were made
for the last set of Chainmail models, but the game designers
had already statted 'em up. So, if you wanna add more contenders to your
battlefield, you can download their vital information, pick an appropriate
model from your own collection, load up your warbands, and go at it with
some new meat. We also have Set 4 stat cards available for download!
- Gith Revenant
- Orc Rager
- Drider Trooper
- Drow Ranger
- Drow Soldier
- Drow Wizard
- Gray Elf
Lajatang Duelist Ravilla
- Thalish Clay
- Armored Skeletal
Ogre Ahmut's Legion
- Death Knight
Ghost Ahmut's Legion
- Harpy Drazen's
- Hill Giant
Tribal Protector Drazen's Horde
- Drow Cleric
- Mind Flayer
- Dwarven Defender
- Fire Elemental
- Thoqqua Mordengard
- Gnoll Champion
- Jovoc Naresh
- Very Young
Red Dragon Naresh
- Centaur Sharpshooter
- Gray Elf
War Wizard Ravilla
- Very Young
Brass Dragon Ravilla
- Human Solar
- Hound Archon
- Annis Hag
- Medusa No
don't stop now, I won't have anything for March.
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.
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