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Icy Winds of Fortune
by Bill Slavicsek

Happy New Year, everybody! Let’s kick it into high gear with some news, previews, and other fun tidbits tied to our favorite heroic fantasy—the Dungeons & Dragons game!

Coming Soon: A New D&D Movie

We just wrapped up a contest tied to the new Syfy Original Movie Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness. We’ll announce the winner shortly, and that lucky individual will get to play his or her D&D character in the film. Our own Dungeon Master to the Stars, Chris Perkins, has been consulting with screenwriter Brian Rudnick and helping to get the D&D details right. We’ll have more news about this exciting project after filming is completed and we get closer to the movie’s air date. In the meantime, watch for the announcement of the contest winner as well as for other D&D-related contests as they appear.

Frosty Tiles

The weather outside is frightful (at least in some parts of the country!), so what better way to pass the winter doldrums than by exploring the frozen dungeons of the D&D RPG? On sale now, look for the newest set of D&D Dungeon Tiles, Caverns of Icewind Dale. It contains six heavy cardstock sheets portraying icy cavern corridors, snow-packed wilderness, and a variety of special features designed to heat up the coldest adventure—including ice thrones, frozen chasms, patches of slippery ice, huts, fire pits, and fur rugs. Here’s a sample dungeon we put together using pieces from this set.

Fortune Cards

A new accessory for the D&D roleplaying game debuts next month. Dungeons & Dragons Fortune Cards: Shadows over Nentir Vale provide fun new ways to tackle the challenges of any adventure. Each pack of eight random Fortune Cards give your characters in-game benefits and brief power-ups without adding more complexity to the game. Specifically designed for use in D&D RPG home games and the D&D Encounters in-store play program, Fortune Cards are themed so that you can build a deck suited to your character’s style of play.

Here are a couple of examples from the initial set of 80 cards. You don’t have to collect them all to make use of Fortune Cards. They actually work best when you either pop open a booster during play or when you use two or three boosters to build a deck for your character.

Dungeons & Dragons Fortune Cards hit store shelves early next month and are available only in locations participating in the D&D Encounters in-store play program. Try them out in your next adventure!

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New D&D Encounters Season

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There are still a few weeks remaining in the Keep on the Borderlands storyline. Chapter 5 debuts this week, and there’s still time to create a character and jump into the game! Check out your nearest retailer participating in the popular in-store play program. Find a store near you by clicking on this link

And in early February, the next season of D&D Encounters kicks off with March of the Phantom Brigade. The adventure begins with an expedition into the ruins of Castle Inverness. The entire season features more of what players have demanded—more exploration, more opportunities for roleplaying, and a story that puts the adventurers right in the middle of a struggle between the people of the Nentir Vale and a powerful ghost bent on revenge. With encounter locales from across the Nentir Vale and ties to the classic Ghost Tower of Inverness module, each week of adventure features a cast of characters that you can get to know and love (or hate) as the season progresses.

The new season makes use of the optional D&D Fortune Cards, as well as featuring monsters and other threats from Monster Vault: Threats of the Nentir Vale. If you haven’t tried D&D Encounters yet, now’s a great time to jump in!

D&D RPG Product Release Updates

Despite the best laid plans, sometimes we make changes to the D&D product release schedule. Usually this happens well before we’ve communicated our plans, but sometimes we must make changes to schedules that have already been announced. That happens to be the case we have here.

We have made the decision to depart from prepainted plastic miniatures sets. Lords of Madness stands as the final release under that model. We will continue to release special collector’s sets (such as the Beholder Collector’s Set we released last fall), as well as make use of plastic figures in other product offerings. Check out the Wrath of Ashardalon board game next month for the latest example of this. Moving forward, we will continue to explore more options for players to represent characters and monsters on the tabletop, including Monster Vault and other D&D products that feature monster and character tokens.

The Heroes of Shadow product, originally scheduled for March and presented in digest-sized, paperback format, is moving to April to accommodate a change to hardcover format. Additionally, three D&D RPG products have been removed from the 2011 release schedule—Class Compendium: Heroes of Sword and Spell, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium, and Hero Builder’s Handbook. While this means fewer books, we plan to deliver just as much great content for players this year through other formats, including board games, accessories, and digital offerings. I’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest releases each month as we go along.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that we’re making a change to the way we handle D&D Insider content. Subscriber data informs us that the vast majority of you consume our articles individually, when they are posted, as opposed to downloading the monthly compilations. So, starting this month, we’re just providing the articles. There won’t be any more monthly downloadable compilations. This is not a reduction in content, just a clarification of presentation and putting the emphasis where the majority of you are using it. Corrections and updates to articles which used to appear only in the compilations will now be made to the individual articles a few weeks after the original posting.

D&D Experience

This year, D&D Experience happens in Fort Wayne, Indiana from January 27-30. In addition to lots of D&D gaming, members of the D&D R&D Team, including Mike Mearls, Chris Perkins, and Greg Bilsland, will be on hand to run games, present seminars, and otherwise interact with the D&D community. We hope to see you there! Visit the D&D Experience website for more information.

On a Lighter Note

What could be more frightening than the classic Tomb of Horrors adventure? How about if we add bunnies to the mix of deadly tricks and traps? Take a look at our new media hub. It features an animated expedition into the Tomb of Horrors by famed 30-Second Bunnies Theater creator Jennifer Shiman. Amazing!

Next Time …

… more news and surprises from the halls of D&D R&D. In the meantime, look for the debut of two new columns later this month. First, Mike Mearls presents "Legends & Lore," infused with a heavy dose of game theory as Mike explores past editions and influences and how they inform the game today. Then, Chris Perkins delves into the "Dungeon Master’s Experience," where he uses his long-running home campaign to provide awesome ideas, hooks, and staging for everyone else to take advantage of. I’m looking forward to seeing how these develop in the months ahead.

Until then, keep playing!

In Case You Don't Know Him

Bill Slavicsek's gaming life was forever changed when he discovered Dungeons & Dragons in 1976. He became a gaming professional in 1986 when he was hired by West End Games as an editor. He quickly added developer, designer, and creative manager to his resume, and his work helped shape the Paranoia, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Torg roleplaying games. He even found some time during that period to do freelance work for D&D 1st Edition. In 1993, Bill joined the staff of TSR, Inc. as a designer/editor. He worked on a bunch of 2nd Edition material, including products for Core D&D, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, and Planescape. In 1997, he was part of the TSR crowd that moved to Seattle to join Wizards of the Coast, and in that year he was promoted to R&D Director for D&D. In that position, Bill oversaw the creation of both the 3rd Edition and 4th Edition of the D&D Roleplaying Game. He was one of the driving forces behind the D&D Insider project, and he continues to oversee and lead the creative strategy and effort for Dungeons & Dragons.

Bill's enormous list of credits includes Alternity, d20 Star Wars, The Mark of Nerath Dungeons & Dragon novel, Eberron Campaign Setting, the D&D For Dummies books, and his monthly Ampersand (&) column for Dragon Magazine.

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