Previews Archive | 3/4/2010
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March and Beyond
Bart Carroll

You see a dozen goblins harassing an innocent family in a carriage. What do you do? What do you do?

We'll get back to that question in a bit, but let's first showcase what's coming up in the very near future . . . which includes the full set from which the following card originated:

Throne

If you have a lair, keep, or other base of operations, you gain 225,000 gp worth of wondrous lair items (Adventurer's Vault 2, pg 79) of your choosing. These items immediately appear anywhere you desire.

Alternatively, if you do not already have a lair, keep, or base of operations, you can choose for the party to gain the following major quest:

Major Quest–What's Rightfully Yours
The PCs have been rewarded with a keep somewhere in the world to claim as their home. However, the keep is currently in the hands of other creatures. The PCs must go to the keep and claim it as their own, ousting those that currently inhabit it.

Reward: 16,000 XP

March: Player's Handbook 3

Folks, we're already deep in our excerpts, offering a taste of all the book's new classes as well as its epic destinies, feats, backgrounds, and new items. What else can we show off without giving too much away? Perhaps a bit more of the hybrid chapter, which allows you to combine elements of two character classes into a whole -- effectively allowing you to create a brand-new class from portions of two classes.

This time, let's take a look at a hybrid class from one of the Player's Handbook 3's new offerings: the seeker! Plus, while we've shown off the heroic tier feats, let's also go to the top of the scale with the epic tier.

Hybrid Seeker

You have forged a tenuous bond with primal spirits of the hunt. What keeps you from giving yourself fully to the primal spirits? Do you fear loss of control? Do you mistrust their motives? Or are you simply not spiritually strong enough to hold the power they offer?

As a hybrid seeker, you give up some battlefield control ability in exchange for features and powers of a second class.

Class Traits

Role: Controller
Power Source: Primal
Key Abilities: Wisdom, Strength, Dexterity
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth, leather
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple melee, simple ranged, military ranged
Bonus to Defense: +1 Reflex or Will
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6
Hit Points per Level Gained: 2.5
Healing Surges per Day: 3.5
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Endurance (Con), Heal (Wis), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Nature (Wis), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex)
Class Features: Inevitable shot (hybrid), Seeker's Bond (hybrid)
Hybrid Talent Options: True Seeker's Bond

Class Features

Hybrid seekers have the following class features.

Inevitable Shot (Hybrid): You gain the seeker power inevitable shot (pg 118). The power functions as normal, except that it is triggered only by ranged attacks from seeker powers and seeker paragon path powers.

Seeker's Bond (Hybrid): Choose one of the Seeker's Bond options (pg 117). You gain only the power associated with that option, and you can use the power only once per day. You are also considered to have that option for the purpose of meeting prerequisites and using the benefits tailored for it in certain powers.

Hybrid Talent Option

If you take the Hybrid Talent feat, you can select the following option.

True Seeker's Bond: You gain the rest of the benefits of the Seeker's Bond option you chose (except that you can still use the power only once per day).

Epic Tier Feats

Any Class Prerequisites Benefit
Adamantine Githzerai, iron mind +4 defenses instead of +2 when using iron mind
Burden of Vision Wilden, Nature's Aspect Gain blindsight after using racial power
Champion of Nature Wilden, Nature's Aspect Gain additional aspect power after reaching milestone
Clarifying Presence Shardmind, Telepathy Dazed or stunned ally in telepathy range rolls saving throw twice
Cleaving Axe -- Make free melee basic attack after reducing foe to 0 hp with axe
Deft Aim -- Basic attack with bow or crossbow is against Reflex instead of AC
Iron Body Githzerai, iron mind Gain resistance to all damage while using iron mind
Long Step -- Add 1 square to any shift you make
Mythic Senses Minotaur Substitute Perception check for initiative check
Peerless Reaction Githzerai, iron mind Expend iron mind to use second wind after you are hit
Rapid Regeneration -- Add your Con modifier to any regeneration you possess
Rejuvenating Shardswarm Shardmind, shard swarm Also spend healing surge when you use shard swarm
Secret of Enduring Vigor Wilden Spend healing surge when reduced to 0 hp or fewer 1/day
Superior Initiative -- +8 bonus to initiative checks
Telepathic Sustenance Shardmind, Telepathy Allies in telepathy range don't need to breathe
Uncanny Scent Minotaur, trained in Perception Ignore all concealment of creatures within 2 squares, detect invisible creatures without Perception check
Vicious Stomp Minotaur, goring charge Free melee basic attack against foe knocked prone by goring charge

April: Hammerfast

Using This Book

Hammerfast can be the glue that holds your campaign together, a town that you can use as a base of operations between heroic tier expeditions or as a ready source of urban adventures. Hammerfast provides a framework designed to accommodate a broad range of adventures and serves as a jumping-off point for your imagination. It also includes resources you can use to fill in details as you need them during a game session.

A Safety Net: Most of this book focuses on giving you a range of options rather than in-depth details. When you run adventures in Hammerfast, use this book to fill in the blanks that come up in play, allowing you to focus on plot and story. Lay out the map of Hammerfast when the adventurers enter the town, and allow them to explore the place as they like between excursions. If you have designed a dungeon or otherwise have an adventure location they need to visit, place it on the outdoor map in whatever place fits best.

A Campaign Arc: The stories this book sets in place can serve as the framework of a campaign that takes the adventurers from 1st to 10th level. The three villain groups presented at the end of this book provide plenty of opportunities for adventure, such as thwarting the renegade priests of the Circle of Stone or slaying the legendary dragon Calastryx.

An Idea Mine: Many of the descriptions of the nonplayer characters (NPCs) in this book include backgrounds and motivations that make them good sources of adventures. Use these NPCs to build your campaign or to tempt the adventurers into action.

Ghosts of the Past

The ghosts of Hammerfast serve as a sobering reminder of its past. Although the ghosts are by no means numerous enough to crowd the streets, a resident of Hammerfast is likely to see a ghost at least once during the course of a week.

Most of the ghosts keep to themselves, avoiding contact with other creatures and content to simply reenact the last few moments before they died or the daily routines they followed in life. Other ghosts linger on for specific reasons. Telg and Kralick are examples of the latter type of ghost.

Ghosts sometimes have a task or another responsibility that they seek to complete. An orc might batter at the door of a sealed tomb, howling as the door remains standing. A dwarf might stand atop the walls, determined to maintain her position in the face of an endless wave of attackers.

A few ghosts, such as Grolin Surespike (see below), take an active role in Hammerfast's governance. Here and there, a ghost follows a mundane trade, usually one that it can pursue despite its ghostly nature. The spirit of a smith might instruct young apprentices, or the ghost of a warrior might keep watch over the gate at night while the rest of the garrison sleeps.

Grolin Surespike, a dwarf ghost who died in the Trade Spire back when it served as living quarters for Hammerfast's priests, appears elderly and frail. He is a rabidly conservative ghost who gladly voices opinions on the inferiority of nondwarves and the goods they produce. A staunch believer in dwarven superiority, he serves as a spy during trade negotiations. If anyone were to discover his role, they would possess useful information to use as blackmail against the guild.

Quest for Wyrmspike (Level 8)

Soon after the near-riot in town, Hammerfast is again cast into panic when a massive gout of flame and smoke erupts from Forgepeak. The dragon Calastryx has begun to awaken. With help from the sages in town, the adventurers must find the resting place of wyrmspike.

This part of the campaign requires the adventurers to complete skill challenges to convince the priests of Gruumsh and Moradin to work together, and then to defeat the traps and undead guardians found in the Black Tomb. The succubus Pythrana also shows up with several devils and attempts to grab wyrmspike from the adventurers.

Campaign Hooks: At this point, you can complete Grond's story with a chance for redemption. He is horrified to discover that a succubus tricked him, and further devastated to learn that he nearly diverted the folk of Hammerfast from the true threat of the dragon. He repents, causing the collapse of the Circle of Stone, and gives the adventurers a map that reveals a secret route into the dungeon atop Forgepeak where Calastryx dwells.

Major Quest: The characters receive 350 XP each for finding wyrmspike.

Wyrmspike
Level 13
This wooden staff is twisted and gnarled. It is blackened as if it was once cast into a great fire. If it didn't glow with a light-blue aura, it would appear to be a worthless piece of debris.
Lvl 13 +3 17,000 gp
Implement (Staff)
Enhancement: Attack rolls and damage rolls
Critical: +1d6 damage per plus, +1d12 per plus against dragons
Property: You gain resist 5 against all close and area attacks.
Property: You gain an additional +2 bonus to attack rolls against the dragon Calastryx.
Power (Daily): Immediate Interrupt. Trigger: You are the target of an area or a close attack. Effect: You and your allies gain resist 20 against the triggering attack.

April: Dragon and Dungeon Magazine

What can you look forward to next month in Dragon? Plenty of material for a multitude of classes, including barbarians, clerics, druids, and wardens; races, including changelings, goliaths, and half-orcs; plus, familiar powers -- and bazaar of the bizarre items featuring magic items from the Drizzt saga . . . ever want to wield Taulmaril the Heartseeker, Aegis Fang, or even Twinkle? Here's your chance!

Over in Dungeon, we offer a new Deities & Demigods on Torog, the king that crawls. Plus, look for new Chaos Scars ("Eyes in the Forest" and "Glowstone"), Eyes on the Realms, a backdrop on Chessenta -- and a little artifact we like to call the Deck of Many Things (as if you couldn't guess that from our sample above). That's right! Your players have a chance to test their fortune, drawing cards from this famed item!


April: The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea

What secrets have learned of the plane above? Last month, we revealed something of the airships and creatures; this time, we explore a chapter of this book that covers the divine dominions. This chapter includes basic information about the gods and their servants, as well as the astral dominions and their border islands, and the challenges of adventuring there:

  • The World of the Gods: Basic background information on the gods, angels, exalted, and outsiders of the dominions and border islands.

  • Arvandor, Realm of Moon and Stars: The convoluted mythic history of Corellon and Sehanine, and the present "heaven" of Arvandor, a beautiful land in which the Glorious Hunt is a religious duty and a practical necessity.

  • The Green Isles: Arvandor's Archipelago: A mix of semiurban grace, semiwild magic, and rugged wilderness.

  • Celestia, Isle of Seven Peaks: Details of the current purposes of each of Celestia's three gods and the Game of Mountains, which brings their followers together for war games that keep the dominion prepared for battle.

  • The Foothills, Celestia's Border Islands: Strange communities and hardscrabble lives in the stormy shadows of the Seven Mountains.

  • Chernoggar, Kingdom of War: A dominion rocked by war between Bane and Gruumsh with multiple battlefields. It includes a skill challenge for characters wishing to cross those battlefields.

  • The Shrapnels, Chernoggar's Border Islands: The whirling cloud of shardlike border islands radiating out from the plateau of Chernoggar.

  • Hestavar, the Bright City: Erathis's great mission to reconstruct heaven, the Game of Making's role in that mission, and the complementary agendas of Pelor and Ioun.

  • The Daybreaks, Hestavar's Archipelago: The wealthiest of the border archipelagoes is the best target for raiders and pirates.

  • The Nine Hells: Extensive information on the realm of the damned, including Avernus and the River Styx, as well as an examination of devils' motives as plot hooks, including an eight-page adventure on the surface of Avernus.

  • The Outer Torments, Hell's Border Islands: A place where petty tyrants play out deadly melodramas that Asmodeus might not tolerate within the Nine Hells.

  • Tytherion: Separate treatment of the nightmarish realms of Tiamat's Azharul and Zehir's Samaragd.

  • The Scales, Tytherion's Archipelago: A dark and desperate place to die.

From there, let's look at one of these dominion's foulest foes: the chain princess!

Baelzra, Chain Princess of Jangling Hiter
An exiled archdevil clad only in blood-soaked chains slick with poison, Baelzra is the product of an affair between the corpulent archdevil Sagirsa, queen of Jangling Hiter, and Mammon, the disgusting lord of the Third Hell, Minauros. In contrast to her parents, the raven-haired Baelzra is almost too beautiful -- in body, anyway. All her ugliness is within, and there she surpasses either of her horrendous parents; her voice hints at this, being broken and ugly and belonging to a withered crone rather than a devilishly alluring young woman.

Setup

  • Baelzra, Chain Princess of Jangling Hiter
  • 1 Yuan-ti Malison Incanter
  • 2 Warder Devils

If the PCs sneak up on the camp, they might have had time to take an extended rest. Additionally, if they attack Baelzra and her yuan-ti incanter with surprise, they have 3 rounds before the warder devils arrive. Soul captives, however, surround the area, but they won't take any willing part in the fight.

If the PCs are prisoners, Baelzra has her full retinue present. Additionally, the characters can take only a short rest, not an extended one, during the march to the camp.

Baelzra has grown bored without a proper fight, so if the PCs are brought to her as prisoners, she sees an opportunity to relieve her tedium, as well as to sweeten their souls with despair by seemingly offering them a fighting chance before crushing them. She commands the warder devils to "soften them up" (each PC loses one healing surge from a severe beating), and then release them and return their equipment for a full battle with Baelzra and her entourage.

When the characters see Baelzra, read:

A line of cowering souls in chains leads to a large sacrificial circle around a central altar of black stone. Standing before the altar is a beautiful human woman bound in a series of chains that slither around her like living serpents. A second look, however, reveals her clearly devilish appearance: horns, maddened eyes, and a long, forked tongue. At her side is a snake-headed man with a staff that crackles with magical energy.

"You are the ones!" the devilish woman cries in a voice more fit for a withered crone than a young beauty. "Baelzra shall enjoy punishing you for daring to oppose her."

Her chains rustle and snake toward you as she cackles a battle cry.

Baelzra, Chain Princess
Level 16 Elite Controller
Medium immortal humanoid (devil)
XP 2,800
Initiative +17 Senses Perception +8; darkvision
Aura of Clutching Chains aura 2; any enemy that starts its turn within the aura takes 10 damage and is slowed until the end of its turn.
HP 320; Bloodied 160
AC 30; Fortitude 27, Reflex 30, Will 21
Resist 20 fire
Speed 7; see also dance of battle
Action Points 1
Melee Spiked Chain (standard; at-will) Weapon
Reach 2; +21 vs. AC, 2d4+7 damage, and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
Melee Double Attack (standard; at-will) Weapon
Baelzra makes two spiked chain attacks.
Melee Binding Chains (free; when Baelzra hits with a spiked chain attack; at-will) Weapon
+20 vs. Reflex; the target is restrained (save ends). Baelzra can use her chains to restrain only two creatures at a time.
Close Burst Rage Spiral (standard, only while bloodied; encounter) Weapon
Close burst 2; +20 vs. Fortitude; 2d4 + 7 damage, and the target falls prone and takes ongoing 10 poison damage (save ends).
Interpose Captive (immediate interrupt; when Baelzra is targeted by a ranged attack; at will)
Baelzra redirects the attack to a restrained captive.
Dance of Battle (minor; at-will)
Baelzra shifts 2 squares.
Alignment Evil
Languages Common, Supernal
Skills Insight +12, Intimidate +16
Str 20 (+13)
Dex 26 (+16)
Wis 15 (+8)
Con 24 (+15)
Int 16 (+12)
Cha 17 (+11)
Equipment spiked chain

May: HS1: The Slaying Stone

The city of Kiris Dahn, built by human hands, stood strong against invaders for decades. They had magical stones -- created by tiefling artisans -- that could kill anyone who attacked the city. The number of stones dwindled until all were spent.

Eight years ago, the citizens of Kiris Dahn abandoned the city when faced with invading goblin hordes. The city had endured a long decline under the rule of the Kiris family, and the citizens scattered rather than follow their ruler, Kiris Alkirk. Along with his advisor and seer Treona, Alkirk found a place to live in obscurity.

The goblins overran the city and renamed it Gorizbadd. The city quickly fell into ruin, since goblins were far more interested in vandalism than proper maintenance. A faction of kobolds took over the slums, since the goblins mostly live in what were once residences for the wealthier people of Kiris Dahn.

Recently, Treona discovered old records that indicate one slaying stone still remains. She now looks for powerful individuals to recover it.

And the heroes in your campaign might be just the individuals powerful enough to try. Of course, they'll have some obstacles -- and competitors -- to face in their search, including the following:

Kobolds

At the bottom of the pecking order, the kobolds of Gorizbadd try to keep a low profile. Otherwise, they're subject to bullying from the slightly stronger goblins.

Territory: The kobolds have taken over an old slum, setting up a web of traps throughout the narrow alleyways. This keeps the stronger factions from moving in on the kobolds' homes. Still, kobolds have to leave the safety of those areas to gather food and supplies. Catching a kobold and ordering it around is a special treat for a goblin.

Goals: The kobolds have a secret agenda: They're collecting the magic weapons of Kiris Dahn and tinkering with them. They've started some of the constructs working again, as seen in Encounter 3.

About the Slaying Stone: The kobolds have heard of the slaying stones through vague rumors, but they don't believe any still exist. Their leaders (such as Triflik in Encounter 6) do know the locations of the treasure vaults of Kiris Dahn (beneath the mansion) and can be "persuaded" to give up this information.

The Severed Eyes

The members of this small band of orc mercenaries search for the slaying stone. The orc interlopers intimidate the goblins - and even their hobgoblin leader -- to get any clues they can. When they get done bullying someone, they heat up a symbol that looks like a slit eye and brand it across the poor victim's face, with the slit crossing the eye socket. Because of the brand, characters can identify people the orcs have talked to.

Goals: The Severed Eyes were hired to return the slaying stone to Dreus Matrand. It's unlikely they'll use it because it works only in the vicinity of the city, and they don't think anyone here is worth losing their pay over. They've talked about ransacking Gorizbadd when they're done, taking the small amounts of treasure they can find and burning the city to the ground.

About the Stone: The orcs begin in the same position as the characters, searching for the slaying stone without concrete information about where it might be. They browbeat anyone they think might know the location.

Krayd the Butcher

In the first orc fight of the adventure, the adventurers face Krayd, a bloodthirsty orc berserker. She laughs maniacally but doesn't actually say much other than "Die!" and "Eat steel!" and "Murrrderrr!"

As for the slaying stones themselves, what else can we hint? Perhaps the following . . .

Slaying Stone of Kiris Dahn

When the city of Kiris Dahn sat at the pinnacle of its power, its wealth and prosperity made it a target for nearby settlements and thieves. To guard against any invasion by powerful forces, the then-ruler of Kiris Dahn sought out tiefling weaponsmiths known as the Architects of Victory, who were experts at deadly magic passed down from the last days of Bael Turath. For a hefty price, they created a set of magic weapons capable of slaying Kiris Dahn's enemies. They placed a limit on the weapons, though, to ensure that they would be used for their stated purpose and couldn't be used against the tieflings. The items worked only in and near the city of Kiris Dahn.


May: Player Strategy Guide

We haven't had a chance yet to introduce this book; let's start by having the book introduce itself:

Every person who plays the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game has his or her own reasons and rewards for playing the game. Some players revel in working alongside their friends to achieve goals. Others enjoy exploring the stories crafted by the Dungeon Master and players as the campaign unfolds. Still others appreciate the opportunity to transport themselves beyond their everyday lives to a world of fantasy and adventure.

If you're reading this book, it's likely that you enjoy playing effectively at the table -- building an interesting and powerful character, using your powers efficiently and wisely, creating compelling storylines, and working well as part of a team. If that's true, congratulations! You've come to the right place.

On the other hand, you might be struggling with the weight of options available to your character. If you have difficulty deciding between one feat and another, or if your party can't seem to overcome the challenges placed in front of you by the DM, just relax. We're here to help.

In this book, you'll find tips, tactics, anecdotes, and explanations, all designed to help make your games better. This book helps you optimize your characters, provides tips for managing character resources, advises you on solving age-old gaming challenges, and assists you in creating and managing effective adventuring parties.

Some of those assists also include a few handy quizzes, to determine the kind of player you are, and the type of character with whom you might best identify; for example, consider the following question on alignment:

You see a dozen goblins harassing an innocent family in a carriage. What do you do?

A. No matter how many goblins are there, I do whatever I must to protect the family.
B. I try to lure the goblins away so the family can escape.
C. That's a lot of goblins. I go find the city guard so that they can help the family.
D. I wait for the goblins to finish, and then search the carriage for leftover loot. Unless I think I can take the goblins afterward and get all the treasure for myself, of course.
E. I offer the goblins my torch to light the carriage on fire.

If you feel more inclined to answer "A" consider yourself good-aligned. Side with "E," and the forces of chaotic-evil might be more your style. We'll have more to show off from the strategy guide in the weeks ahead, but for now we'll leave you with samples of its glorious artwork.


And that's this month's sneak peek! As always, be sure to check our excerpts for individual previews from our books, and Bill Slavicsek's Ampersand for the earliest insights and announcements about the game!

About the Author

The body of the author appears quite shapely and human. He typically wears human clothing. However, his face is of horrid visage, and his snaky hair writhes, so at a close distance (20') this gives the author away. The glaring red-rimmed eyes of Bart Carroll are visible clearly at 30'.

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