Previews Archive | 1/10/2011
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January and Beyond
Bart Carroll

Hi folks,

We hope your 2011 has gotten off to a great start! So, what can we look forward to in the coming Year of the Rabbit? According to Wikipedia, Sweden will host the 22nd World Scout Jamboree, a new definition of the kilogram will be announced at the 24th General Conference on Weights and Measures, and the US extradition treaty with El Salvador goes into effect.

Wait, there has to be more exciting announcements than that . . .

Let's try again. This is the year that sees the big screen release of not only the Green Lantern and the Green Hornet (Green Arrow, where are you?), but also Thor, Captain America, and apparently Hong Kong Phooey as well—with two of those last three appearing in 2012's Avengers (sorry, Cap). It's also the year that sees new book releases from Iain M. Banks, Gene Wolfe, China Mieville, and Lev Grossman. And, it's the year for Portal 2, Gears of War 3, and Star Wars: The Old Republic to hit our various PCs and platforms.

OK, that's better. But what about on the D&D front?

As far as our products go, keep an eye on the online product catalog, as well as In the Works and Ampersand to read the latest announcements (which we'll get to in just a moment). We also begin the new season of D&D Encounters, starting the beginning of February. This season, named March of the Phantom Brigade, calls back to the 1st Edition adventure module, Ghost Tower of Iverness. Plus, D&D Experience kicks off January 27th-30th in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

On the website end of things, we wanted to mention a little of what's taking place in the coming year. Although the free side of the website works to help support our products and organized play programs—and will of course continue to do so—we'll also be expanding content on that side of things. Expect new series and columns, both from new authors as well as from some very familiar names, to go beyond what we're already providing. Details to follow, but for now let me just express my own excitement about what's in store for the coming year.

And with that, let's dive into the gaming goodness!


February: Gamma World Legion of Gold

Legion of Gold is the second expansion of the D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game, following the core rules boxed set and the first expansion, Famine in Far-Go. In recent weeks, we've also brought you our holiday encounter as well as the interactive character sheet. Curious about what more the Legion of Gold box brings to your game?

  • 8 new character origins
  • Vocations: Rules for giving feats (new abilities) to D&D Gamma World characters
  • New monsters and monster tokens
  • Information on the Barony of Horn and Moon Zone 9
  • New equipment, terrain, and skill challenges
  • An adventure for 6th-7th level D&D Gamma World characters, with an accompanying battle map
  • 10 new D&D Gamma World cards for the Game Master's deck

Last time we introduced the adventure itself (involving—much like the trailer to Transformers 3, a trip to the moon). Legion of Gold also offers a wealth of material for characters, including the aforementioned new origins. We'll describe two of these below (Photonic, in honor of Tron Legacy, and Vampiric in honor of . . . well, skip down to Heroes of Shadow and you'll understand):

Legion of Gold Origins Table

Roll Origin
1 Antimatter Blaster
2 Demon
3 Octopoid
4 Photonic
5 Reanimator
6 Regenerator
7 Saurian
8 Vampiric

Photonic

You get glowing reviews.

You can add mass and charge to photons, creating objects of solid light—spearlike bolts, glowing shields, or impenetrable ramparts. Need a can opener or a screwdriver? You can make those, too.

Appearance: You have small antennas sprouting from your forehead, and your skin glitters rosy, emerald, or aquamarine. The light-objects you create usually match your own coloration.

(926 Kbs PDF)

Vampiric

Sucking blood isn't your thing.

Instead, you feed on the psychic energy of those around you. It's like whipped cream, only less fattening. That said, you're a conscientious eater—you don't leave a trail of mindless vegetables (the people kind, not the food kind) in your wake. You prefer the company of smart folks, sipping their thoughts the way the Ancients sipped vintage wine. You prefer to save the total mental exsanguinations for the mentally deficient.

Appearance: You're pretty: Ancient vid-star pretty. Your skin is flawless, your hair is impeccably styled no matter what you're doing, and your gaze is startling.

(926 Kbs PDF)

Vocations

Ready for a fun element to add to your D&D Gamma World character? Legion of Gold further introduces a new option for character building: vocation.

A vocation is a career, an aptitude, or an archetype appropriate for characters of any origin mix. Origins and cryptic alliances help identify who your character is in Gamma Terra, and vocations add a third component to refine your story and identity. And, of course, they also provide a power-up; don't worry, we've got you covered.

You might be an antimatter cockroach that hangs with the Brotherhood of Thought, but are you an antimatter cockroach diplomat, an antimatter cockroach mad scientist, or an antimatter cockroach bounty hunter? Whereas your background describes how or where your character grew up or came to exist, a vocation describes what your character does. Vocations also give characters access to feats, which are cool new heroic benefits.

Choosing a Vocation

Technically, you can have more than one vocation, but that can confuse things. To select a vocation, choose one at 4th level. You can choose one earlier, but you don't gain a mechanical benefit until 4th level. You don't have to select a vocation at all if you don't want to.

Here's how vocations work in conjunction with feats:

At 4th level, you gain the grade 1 feat for the vocation of your choice.

At 7th level, you gain the grade 2 feat for any vocation for which you have the grade 1 feat, or you gain the grade 1 feat for any vocation you don't already know.

At 10th level, you gain the grade 3 feat for any vocation for which you have the grade 2 feat, or you gain the grade 2 feat for any vocation for which you have the grade 1 feat, or you gain the grade 1 feat for any vocation you don't already know.

Vocation Description
Animal Hunter You'll show those critters who's boss. And maybe get a trophy!
Beast Rider Get there faster on the back of your podog mount!
Bounty Hunter "Wanted Dead or Alive" is a phrase that's like music to your ears.
Conspiracist Why? Did they tell you to ask that? Who sent you? WHO SENT YOU?!?
Diplomat What my colleague meant to say is that we would prefer tea, please.
Mad Scientist It's beautiful! A 2-bit PDP-8 computer with a 12-bit accumulator!
Marauder Looting is a way of life.
Medic First aid kit? Check. Electro-paddle thingies? Check.
Naturalist Gamma Terra might be terrible, but it's also beautiful.
Soldier of Fortune I don't care what you want, Mack, as long as your coin is good.
Spice Trader You've never tried cinnamon? Time to rock your world, my friend.
Storyteller "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace . . ."
Tribal Scout "Hey, where's the scout?" "Psst, boss. Right here . . . yeah, I'm the bush."
Witch Doctor Who says magic isn't real? I got a curse here that says otherwise.

Bounty Hunter

You can separate the scum of Gamma Terra from the average mutant; that's why you're so good at what you do. Depending on which regions you operate in, you go by different names: punishment enforcement agent, fugitive recovery expert, and sometimes the Grim Reaper.

Show 'Em Who's Boss Grade 1 Bounty Hunter Feat
Prerequisite: None
Benefit: When you score a critical hit against a creature granting combat advantage to you, the creature also falls prone

Wanted Dead or Alive Grade 2 Bounty Hunter Feat
Prerequisite: Show 'Em Who's Boss feat
Benefit: Once per turn as a minor action, you can designate the nearest enemy to you that you can see as your quarry. Once per round, when you hit your quarry with an attack, the attack deals 2 extra physical damage.

Justice Never Sleeps Grade 3 Bounty Hunter Feat
Prerequisite: Show 'Em Who's Boss feat, Wanted Dead or Alive feat
Benefit: When you roll initiative, roll twice and use either result.


February: D&D Fortune Cards: Shadow Over Nentir Vale

An exclusive to game stores, Fortune Cards provide a new, optional dynamic to the game. Here's how they work:

  • At the start of each encounter, shuffle your deck and draw a card.
  • You can play one card per round. It requires no action to play. The rules on each card state when you can play it and what effect it has. A card takes effect just once unless it states otherwise, and you discard the card when its effect ends.
  • You can have only one Fortune Card in your hand at a time. At the start of each of your turns, you can do one of the following:
    • Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.
    • Draw a new card if you don't have one in your hand.
    • Keep the card that's in your hand if you haven't played it.

Easy enough! Now, let's show off a few of these cards and what they can do:


April: Heroes of Shadow

Characters in a Dungeons & Dragons game share common traits, including a thirst for excitement, a need to explore the mysterious places of the world, and a willingness to take on challenges against which the common folk cannot stand. Heroes of shadow are no different, although such characters might have darker motivations and techniques for facing the dangers arrayed against them. We've shown off something of the necromancer in our initial look into the book, but let's elaborate on the classes and races covered.

Heroes of Shadow provides all the information you need to create and play assassins, paladins, and warlocks who invest in shadow power. This book further offers new choices for the cleric, the warlock, and the wizard, focusing on how these classes adapt shadow magic to enhance their capabilities. Also appearing in this book is the vampire class, which enables you to play a creature of the night in all its dark glory.

Shadow magic has an understandably sinister reputation, and none know that reputation more intimately than the races of shadow—creatures for whom shadow magic is an intrinsic part of their souls. Heroes of Shadow introduces three races suitable for players who want to build characters infused with the power of shadow:

Revenant: Everything a character accomplished in life serves as a mere precursor of his or her true purpose—a purpose that becomes apparent only after he or she returns from death as a revenant to inhabit the world once more.

Shade: Shades are human mortals who have willingly embraced the darkness by engaging in secret rituals that infuse their souls with shadow.

Vryloka: The vampirism that infects the ancient human race of the vryloka is a fell curse that taints their ancient bloodline.

Heroes of Shadow also looks at how the legends of shadow play out in the cultures of the dwarves, eladrin, halflings, and other races. But this month, we wanted to focus on one of the new shady races, the shade:

Ambitious, ruthless, and paranoid, shades are humans who trade part of their souls for a sliver of the Shadowfell's dark essence. Even more so than the shadowborn—natives of the Shadowfell descended from the common races—shades are gloom incarnate. No matter what nations or land one was first born into, each shade undergoes a dark rebirth that transforms him or her into a creature of stealth and secrecy who is caught between life and death. In exchange for the twilight powers granted to shades, the Shadowfell taints their souls with dark thoughts and a darker disposition.

A human who chooses to become a shade is reborn into shadow through a transformative ritual that draws on the ambient magic present at shadow crossings—places where the veil between the world and its dark echo is thinnest. Known in scholarly circles as the Trail of Five Darknesses, this arduous ritual is as likely to slay its practitioner outright—obliterating body and soul—as it is to grant the ability to wield shadow magic.

Unbridled ambition and utter desperation are common reasons for a human to undertake the Trail of Five Darknesses, since the taint of the Shadowfell marks a shade as an outcast forever. Shades maintain a determined self-reliance when among their own kind, because they know all too well the greed and duplicity their race is capable of. However, shades also believe in strength in numbers, and as such they congregate in settlements close to shadow crossings, both in the world and the Shadowfell.

A few shades deny the self-serving nature of their kind, striving to ensure that the true nature of their souls overcomes the shadowy nature of their chosen path. Rejecting their own kind, these shades seek the company of the common races. Drawn to the life of an adventurer, such shades try to earn the trust of a close circle of friends, defending those comrades with the ruthlessness for which their kind is known. However, some decry this behavior as just another facet of the shades' characteristic avarice—treating friends as personal possessions that must be kept safe at all costs.

Average Height: 5´ 6˝-6´ 2˝
Average Weight: 100-160 lb.

Ability Scores: +2 Charisma; +2 Dexterity or +2 Intelligence
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Darkvision

Languages: Common, choice of one other
Skill Bonuses: +2 Arcana, +2 Stealth
Fragile Mortality: You have one fewer healing surge than normal.
Master of Shadows: When your class grants you a utility power after 1st level, you can forgo taking that power. Instead, you can take a shade utility power of the same level or lower.
Practiced Sneak: You have training in Stealth.
Shadow Origin: The Shadowfell has left its mark on you, so you are considered a shadow creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin.
One With Shadow: You have the one with shadow power.

One with Shadow Shade
Racial Utility
You fade into the darkness, becoming a part of the shadow that swirls around you.
At-WillShadow
Standard Action Personal
Effect: Until the end of your next turn, you can make Stealth checks to become hidden when you have any cover or concealment. In addition, you can use cover from your allies to become hidden or to remain hidden.

Shade Utility Powers

When your shade character gains a class utility power after 1st level, you can forgo taking a power granted to you by your class. Instead, you gain a shade utility power of the same level or lower. We've shown the first three:

Fleeting Shade: The power of the Shadowfell lets you shroud yourself from your foes, granting you a few precious moments to set up an attack or move to a place of safety. Even as the shadow that cloaks you dissipates, it continues to obscure you from your enemies' sight.

Benefit: You gain the fleeting shade power.

Fleeting Shade
Shade Utility 2
You cloak yourself with strands of shadow that allow you to fight unseen.
EncounterShadow
Minor Action Personal
Effect: You become invisible until the end of your turn. In addition, you gain a +5 power bonus to Stealth checks until the end of your next turn.

Twilight Torch: The soul of a shade holds the essence of the Shadowfell, but it also retains the light that emanated from the Astral Sea when the first mortals were created. This balance between light and darkness allows you to coalesce shadows around yourself at will.

Benefit: You gain the twilight torch power.

Twilight Torch
Shade Utility 6
The light of your soul commingles with the dark shard embedded within it, surrounding you with the concealing power of shadow.
At-WillShadow, Zone
Minor Action Close burst 1
Effect: The burst creates a zone of dim light that lasts until the end of your next turn or until you use this power again.

Shadow Monsters: Your connection to the Shadowfell lets you reach deep within yourself, calling forth monsters composed of the dark essence of that realm. Shapeless shadow congeals around your foes in the form of ravening hounds, soaring shapes on dark wings, twisting black tentacles, or even fouler things.

Benefit: You gain the shadow monsters power.

Shadow Monsters
Shade Utility 10
You call forth nightmare shadow monsters to strike at your foes' bodies and minds.
DailyConjuration, Necrotic, Shadow
Standard Action Close burst 3
Effect: You conjure four shadow monsters in four different unoccupied squares in the burst. The shadow monsters last until the end of the encounter. Once per round as a minor action, you can move the shadow monsters up to 4 squares each.
Enemies take a -2 penalty to attack rolls while adjacent to a shadow monster. Any enemy that ends its turn in the square of or adjacent to one or more shadow monsters takes 10 necrotic damage.

Well, folks -- that's this month's sneak peeks. As always, be sure to check our excerpts for individual previews from our books, and Bill Slavicsek's Ampersand column for the earliest insights and announcements about the game.

Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.