Previews Archive | 6/5/2009
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June and Beyond
Bart Carroll

All aboard…

…the lightening rail! This month sees the release of the Eberron Player's Guide -- and kicks off our coverage of this fantasy noir setting, our second published setting for 4th Edition following last year's return to the Forgotten Realms. Throughout the month, we'll be providing you with continued excerpts from both the Player's Guide and -- in the second half of the month -- the Eberron Campaign Setting, not to mention new wallpapers, art and map galleries, and an in-depth discussion of the setting with our podcast crew, Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford.

Summer's almost here, and as Dungeons & Dragons turns 35 this year, so do I. In fact, the reason for this article coming out today on Friday instead of Monday is to toot my own horn here a little on today of all days, my actual birthday. Last year, I spent the day playing D&D with friends and colleagues after work -- and truth be told, I couldn't have had a better time (so, many thanks to them). This year, I've decided to take advantage of Wizards of the Coast's "take your birthday off" policy and hang out with my new foster dog. In terms of game mechanics, I'm not quite sure how Sadie would work as either an animal companion or a familiar. Her slow speed should penalize mine, though she is capable of short, uncontrolled bursts . . . but only when spinning in circles. She has no attack powers that I'm aware of, though she does hoard shoes (possible treasure parcel?) and has some mysterious, long-standing feud with squirrels (or rather, with kercpa). She also seems to require not one, but two extended rests each day.

Whatever her game stats, I'm sure she'll be glad to help me eat some birthday cake. On to the previews!


June: DU4 Arcane Towers Dungeon Tiles

To paraphrase Oscar Goldman: We can build them. We have the technology. Well, here they are at last, folks -- round, yes round, tiles for your game! In addition to round tower and other pieces, you'll also find rune-engraved floors, stairs, ladders, pits, and gorgeous library pieces for when your players' characters come knocking at the evil warlock's lair.


June: Eberron Player's Guide

In the wake of a long and terrible war, a world struggles to find its destiny. Will it descend once more into brutal conflict and end in spectacular annihilation, or will the world emerge at last into a new era of peace and prosperity?

At this moment, a handful of heroes -- you and your allies -- might hold the fate of the world in their hands.

This is a world whose destiny is hidden in the mysterious prophecies of dragons, tempered by powerful magic, and forged in bloody warfare.

So begins the first book in our next published 4th Edition campaign setting: Eberron! In addition to providing information on the races, classes, and adventuring within the world of Eberron, the Player's Guide also explores the implications of dragonmarks -- including the Dragonmarked Houses. Because in Eberron, a character's dragonmark (or lack of one) is at least as important as the nation in which he or she dwells.

House Cannith

Cannith Inventor: You can't help thinking up new inventions -- whether they're mechanical, magical, or a strange mix of the two. What's the clever invention or technique that got you noticed within the House? Do you have a rival who claimed credit for one of your ideas? And what great invention is in your head right now, awaiting the right rare materials or powerful magic to make it a reality?

Associated Skill
If you are a Cannith inventor, you can choose Arcana as your associated skill.

Cannith Tinker: You served a stint with Cannith's Tinkers Guild, traveling from town to town and earning coin for House Cannith by fixing countless broken items. What strange communities did you visit? Did you enjoy life on the road, or were you bucking for a different post within the House? And given that the Tinkers Guild is less hierarchical than the rest of the House, did you find the egalitarian nature of the Tinkers liberating or frustrating?

Associated Skills
If you are a Cannith tinker, you can choose Streetwise or Thievery as your associated skill.

Cannith Warforged: You're one of the warforged that House Cannith kept rather than sold to one of the Five Nations. What made you worth keeping -- were you unusually capable, or unlikely to do well in a military environment? How do you feel about your creators selling your fellow warforged as property? And more broadly, how do you reconcile your loyalty to the House with your newfound legal freedom?

Associated Skills
If you are a Cannith warforged, you can choose Diplomacy or Insight as your associated skill.

Unique Warforged Components

A few items -- usually the creations of House Cannith -- exist solely as warforged components.

Final Messenger
Level 6
This warforged communication device is built to resemble a small winged animal, yet it is an intricate assembly of clockwork pieces.
Wondrous Item (embedded component) 1,800 gp
Requirement: You must have the living construct racial trait to use this item.
Property: You have a mechanical messenger within you. The messenger has speed 8 and can function for 8 hours once it leaves you (see below). After 8 hours, the messenger deactivates. A creature can reactivate the messenger by making a DC 20 Arcana check and then spending a healing surge, at which point the messenger continues in its task to deliver a message (see below). A warforged can reactivate the messenger by embedding it.
A creature that is not the recipient of a message can make a DC 25 Arcana check to view the messenger's programmed image and hear its message. A creature that makes a DC 30 Arcana check can learn the messenger's intended destination and recipient.
Power (Daily): Standard Action. You program the messenger with an image of what you currently see, a statement of up to 25 words, and a destination or a message recipient. The messenger retains this information until you use this power again or until you die.
Power (At-Will): Free Action. You activate the messenger, and it leaves for its programmed destination or recipient and delivers its image and statement.
Power (At-Will): No Action. Trigger: You are killed. Effect: You activate the messenger, and it leaves for a destination or a message recipient you choose. The messenger carries an image of the last image that you saw while conscious, and it delivers the message that you have been killed.

June: E2 Kingdom of the Ghouls

Something terrible was stolen from Death's Reach, a graveyard of dead monstrosities and banned weapons hailing from the dawn war between god and primordial. To prevent it from falling into the hands of the Demon Prince of Undeath, heroes must follow its trail, even into the fanged mouth of hunger itself. E2: Kingdom of the Ghouls is an adventure for characters of 24th to 26th level.

Last month we presented hints and rumors of what the player characters would encounter as they emerged within Sigil: City of Doors. Now let's showcase some of the encounters as they continue to adventure within the Kingdom of the Ghouls.


In the center of this stone chamber's floor is a large portal circle lined with green runes that glow brightly enough to light the whole room. A stone chair at the eastern end is delicately carved and scribed with symbols. An ornate square pillar sits in each corner of the room. Near each pillar is a pile of rubble, the shattered remains of some sort of statuary. A faint humming fills the air.

What looks like moonlight shines down through the open roof, bathing the interior of Passion's Rendezvous in a silvery glow. A middle-aged human male in copper-colored robes stands before a raised altar at the far end of the temple, chanting a litany to Sehanine. Devout worshipers sit on plush benches, listening and calling out prayerful responses.

The temple is adorned with the iconography of Sehanine. Moon symbols dot the walls, and a giant, pearlescent crescent moon, undoubtedly made of silver, hangs behind the altar.

A staircase ascends into this chamber, just past two bronze braziers that bathe the room in fiery light. Most of the room is made of bone, as are other structures in the City of the Hungry Dead, but the east wall consists of sheer rock. In the center of the wall, carved bone columns frame a massive, slavering, tooth-filled maw that opens wide enough for an ogre to walk through. A long, dark red tongue split into three tendrils quivers within the mouth. Black ichor drips from the tongue and spills onto the floor of the chamber.

Bones are scattered around the room, including several large piles near the wall with the mouth. Two brass gongs face each other across the room. The floor of this large chamber shudders. It is a sea of ravenous undead, composed entirely of hundreds of standing ghouls jammed shoulder to shoulder. They are wedged so closely together that their upturned, hungry maws and waving, clawed hands seem like a solid surface. A gruesome but alluring song issues from their open mouths.

The chamber is ringed with black square columns. Several of these serve as roosts for floating, fiery skulls.

A great dais three tiers high dominates the chamber. Each tier rises 10 feet above the last.

A ghoul, eyes ablaze with sickly green light, stands on the highest tier. He wears a coat of supple human flesh. A crown of bones rests on his head, and he wields a crystalline staff around which ghostly rings hover and shimmer. Through these rings, scenes of other worlds are visible. Another creature also stands on the upper tier of the dais -- a huge, burning humanoid with bat wings, a lightning sword, and a fiery whip.

Rising up behind and partially obscured by the great dais stands a massive, ram-headed statue whose wingtips scrape the ceiling. It is a visage of Orcus that looks all too real.


June: Star Wars Minis: Jedi Academy

When the Star Wars team asked if we wanted to showcase a few of their forthcoming minis, we jumped at the chance. Not only are they readymade for your D&D table (a unit of stormtroopers can stand in for a set of cultist enemy guards in white platemail, Jedi knights for lightly armored or perhaps monk warriors with magical swords), but it's also just plain fun to have new minis to show off each column!


July: Eberron Campaign Guide

Well, we opened the doors to Eberron this month with a look at dragonmarks and dragonmarked houses. As you might expect, more such information is available for DMs in the Campaign Guide. Even if you don't want to make the Prophecy a central feature of your campaign (What prophecy you ask? Check our 10 Facts About Eberron preview), the dragonmarked houses can play a very important part in a campaign that focuses on political intrigue as these houses struggle for power and influence in a world where the central authority that held them in check for a thousand years no longer exists.

The appearance of dragonmarks among the races of Khorvaire was almost certainly the single most significant event in the history of those races. A dragonmark is something like an intricate birthmark, forming a pattern of raised bluish lines similar to the appearance of Prophecy Marks on the earth. There are twelve recognized dragonmarks, each one associated with a specific bloodline that appears in a single humanoid race. One of those bloodlines, the elven line that carries the Mark of Shadow, split during the Last War into two competing dragonmarked houses.

Dragonmarks that appear outside these bloodlines are called aberrant marks, whether they're recognized marks appearing on people not connected to the mark's normal bloodline, or unusual marks beyond the recognized twelve.

As the names of the marks suggest, each one is connected to certain kinds of magical power. A halfling who has the Mark of Healing is a superior healer: As a player character, she might use cleric or bard healing powers more effectively than other characters of her class do, or as an NPC she might have access to unique healing powers. Obviously, other healers are in the world, but House Jorasco (the house that carries that mark) has a virtual monopoly on the business of healing in Khorvaire.

Dragonmarks and Houses

Dragonmark Race House(s)
Mark of Detection Half-elf House Medani
Mark of Finding Human or half-orc House Tharashk
Mark of Handling Human House Vadalis
Mark of Healing Halfling House Jorasco
Mark of Hospitality Halfling House Ghallanda
Mark of Making Human House Cannith
Mark of Passage Human House Orien
Mark of Scribing Gnome House Sivis
Mark of Sentinel Human House Deneith
Mark of Shadow Elf House Phiarlan and House Thuranni
Mark of Storm Half-elf House Lyrandar
Mark of Warding Dwarf House Kundarak

July: Divine Power

Staunch protector, saver of lives, formidable foe, and worldly representative of the gods -- all of these are roles filled by divine characters. Their special connections with the deities and other forces of the cosmos give them a suite of powers and abilities -- as well as responsibilities -- that make them indispensable in the continual struggle to advance the causes of righteousness and justice. Those who attain the highest levels of accomplishment literally do ascend, becoming entities not unlike the deities they worship and emulate.

Divine Power is a tome that broadens the choices available to those who follow the dictates of a deity. In its pages are new ways to build a divine character, along with new options to fill out your role as an avenger, a cleric, an invoker, or a paladin.

Divine Domains

Each deity holds sway over certain aspects of existence. For example, Erathis is the god of cities and nations. She often represents law, order, authority, and invention. Aspects of existence such as these are summed up in domains, spheres of divine influence. Each deity is associated with two or three divine domains.

More than thirty divine domains are presented in Divine Power, and the domains of the deities from the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide are noted. Erathis, for example, is associated with the civilization, creation, and justice domains.

Using Domains

Your divine character gains access to the domains of his or her deity, which means you gain access to those domains' feats. Each divine domain has a divinity feat and a domain feat associated with it. These feats follow the normal rules for feat selection. If your character worships multiple deities with a common theme (such as the three gods of destiny, Avandra, Ioun, and the Raven Queen), you gain access to all their domains.


July: Seekers of the Ashen Crown

Last time, we offered a cursory overview of this adventure. But what new monsters will your players face within it? Let's introduce a few of these new beasties:

Deathgaunt

Xoriat's insanity lives on through the ages in the bodies of those the daelkyr slew long ago. Such are the deathgaunts.

Deathgaunt Lore

A character knows the following information with a successful Dungeoneering, History, or Religion check.

DC 15: Deathgaunt lashers were the first creatures of their kind encountered, and they were originally called "deathgaunts" for their resemblance to dolgaunts. As more variations of this horror were later discovered, that name was used to refer to all such creatures.

DC 20: On the great battlefields of the Daelkyr War, countless goblins and orcs perished. In some such places, the taint of Xoriat and the shadow of Mabar leached into the blood and bones of the fallen, raising them as creatures of death and madness.

Dreadclaw

Dreadclaw are deadly undead that can seem alive, so they're perfect for missions where hiding their undead nature is an asset. All of them use living seeming to surprise their foes.

Dreadclaw Lore

A character knows the following information with a successful Religion check.

DC 15: Karrnathi traditions and those of the Stillborn of Aerenal have mixed under the purview of the Emerald Claw. Claw necromancers raise dreadclaws by treating living humanoids with a toxin that reacts with a necromantic catalyst. That kills the humanoid and prepares it for a dark ritual.

DC 20: Dreadclaws can be made to retain some of the sentience, but their transformation is maddening. They often use their memories to their advantage against their foes, perhaps as a bluff in combat or to play on an enemy's emotions.

And, just what is the namesake Ashen Crown? A rich and powerful artifact, of that you can be sure!

The Ashen Crown

A gold and mithral diadem etched with purple-black byeshk, the Ashen Crown is a powerful relic of two races.

The Ashen Crown is an ancient relic, created by the Keepers of the Past of the Valaes Tairn, then taken by the Dhakaani during the wars that drove the elves back to Aerenal. As crafted by the elves, the Liryana'tanir ("Crown of Memories" in Elven) was used to return great warriors to life, and to maintain a connection to the ancient heroes of Xen'drik. When claimed by the Dhakaani, goblin mages subtly reshaped the Crown's power to create the Arkantaash. As the Ashen Crown, the artifact reflected the goblins' reverence for ancestors and history.

Though the crown retains a connection to both races, it prefers neither. In fact, its powers can be used by anyone that lives up to its desires. Doing so usually requires daring actions and explorations of historic significance. Thus, the crown is perfect for adventurers in the swashbuckling world of Eberron. Possession of the entire crown is appropriate for characters in the middle of the heroic tier and upward.

Goals of the Ashen Crown:

  • Delve into the legends and lost secrets of the past.
  • Create or be among important people, especially heroes or villains of great destiny.
  • Inspire events that will become historic or legendary.

Pleased (16–20)
"The spirit of the past lives in me, and my strength is the strength of the kings of old."
The Ashen Crown has found its place among heroes whose deeds shall become legend.


August: Adventurer's Vault 2

Equipment and magic items are the lifeblood of every adventurer. As a player equipping your character, or a DM looking to fill a player's wish list, the more choices you have the better. Adventurer's Vault 2 continues from where the Adventurer's Vault, Player's Handbook, and Player's Handbook 2 left off. It expands your equipment options and gives you more ways to personalize each character. As a new addition, this book presents some story items to help you create a richer gaming experience. Each story item has an expanded history and description with ideas for quests and adventures that might allow a PC to acquire such a fabled item.

This expanded material is taken even further with the introduction of item sets to 4th Edition. Each set is a special group of items that has a unique history together and provides additional bonuses to a PC, or multiple PCs in the case of group sets, for each additional item in the set that a PC has acquired.

Crack open Adventurer's Vault 2 to see what hidden treasures await inside . . .

  • Chapter 1: Magic Items: This chapter focuses on superior implements, a new type of masterwork item to give implement users more options, and magic items, the favorite equipment of PCs. New items include ammunition, wondrous tattoos and lairs, and consumable immurements.
  • Chapter 2: Magic Item Sets: Expanding on the idea of story items, this chapter focuses on thematically linked item sets that a PC, or a group of PCs, can acquire, which give added benefits for each item in the set that are together. Each set offers an interesting history to weave into your character's story, whether you're gathering it to vanquish a great evil, or just like the way it looks on your character.
  • Appendix: All the magic items in the book are listed here in tables organized by level, item slot, type, and name with a page number reference.

August: Revenge of the Giants

From our product catalog:

Fee-Fie-Foe-FUN! Evil giants seek to avenge past defeats by ravaging the civilized lands, and the only thing standing in their way is a renowned band of heroes. This D&D super-adventure, designed for paragon-level characters, can be played as a stand-alone adventure or serve as the foundation of an entire D&D campaign.

With the Monster Manual 2 releasing last month, you now have more giants to add to your game -- stone and frost. How will they feature in this super-adventure harkening back to the G-series? Wait for our next round of previews!

Until next month!

About the Author

Bart Carroll is most frequently found underground, although he infrequently will lair in desolate wildernesses. The globular body of the author is supported by levitation, and he floats slowly about as he wills. Atop the sphere are 10 eyestalks, while in his central area are a great eleventh eye and a large mouth filled with pointed teeth. His body is protected by a hard chitinous covering. The author's eyestalks and eyes are also protected, although less well. Because of his particular nature, Bart is able to withstand the loss of his eyestalks which will eventually grow back (1 week per lost member).

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