Previews Archive | 10/8/2012
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October: In the Works
Bart Carroll

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons first with the red-boxed D&D Basic Game, and then quickly moved on to AD&D—where the stretch goal for our characters waited for us at the upper levels. Magic armor and weapons were acquired along the normal course of adventuring, but castles and strongholds were something to strive for instead of being merely chanced upon (well, unless you happened to draw the Throne card from a deck of many things, but what are the chances?).

This month, I'm moving from a condo to a house, which means I've gained enough levels that I've now acquired my own stronghold, I suppose. And with the re-release of the 1st Edition core rulebooks (plus one more to be discussed later), I looked back at just what awaited my earlier characters. Let's see if you can name the class that corresponded with the following higher level features:

1. When a (X) attains 9th level, he or she may opt to establish a freehold. This is done by building some type of castle and clearing the area in a radius of 20 to 50 miles around the stronghold, making it free from all sorts of hostile creatures.

What class was it...

2. It is possible for a (X) of 12th level or higher to construct a stronghold and clear the countryside in a 10 or 20 mile radius of all monsters, thus ruling an area much as a noble.

What class was it...

3. (X) cannot build strongholds as some other classes of characters do. They can, however, build a tower or fortified building of the small castle type for their own safety; but this construction must be within, or not more than a mile distant from, a town or city.

What class was it...

4. The headquarters of the (X) can be virtually anywhere and of any form—cavern, castle, monastery, palace, temple, you name it. However, if it is a large and obvious place, the headquarters must be located well away from all communities—such as in the midst of a murky woods, a dismal marsh or fen, a lonely moor, a deserted island, a remote coast, or far into forsaken hills or atop a mountain.

What class was it...

Once these high levels were reached, building one's castle provided its own storylines (especially if your DM happened to enjoy sending armies of invaders against your construction site). Plus, you could finally put that maul and mattock of the titans to good use. And who knew what you might find in the inevitable caverns and lost tunnels underground?

For my own part, my house also came with its own small find. The former residents had left behind a bag of treasure that their kids had hidden out in the garden—coins, toy jewelry, even a napkin ring stolen from the set; kids' treasure, but treasure nonetheless. I was glad the former owners came back for a visit so I could return it to them ("So that's where the napkin ring went.").

Does this sort of thing happen to in-world characters? When a wizard purchases a tower instead of building their own, what kind of inspection needs to take place (and what's the survival rate of the inspectors)? Is there a House Hunters-style process for fighters, considering which of three plots of land to clear?

In any case, let's get on with the previews!


Dragon/Dungeon Compilations and Submissions

If you haven't yet read the news announcement, this month we're trying an experiment with Dragon and Dungeon—rather than posting individual articles throughout the month, we'll be releasing subscription content in two collected issues (one for Dragon earlier in the month, one for Dungeon later in the month).

In addition, the window for submissions has again reopened! From now until November 30th, you can send us your pitches for articles and adventures; please be sure to first read our updated writer's guidelines, which contain new information about what we're looking for.

Best of luck!


D&D Encounters: War of Everlasting Darkness

The latest season of D&D Encounters starts up later this month, with Session 0 (for character creation) taking place October 24th. This season is something new for the D&D Encounters program. War of Everlasting Darkness is an exciting mini-campaign—and an opportunity to playtest elements of the next edition of the Dungeons & Dragons rules.

The most important element of the new rules that we have tried to implement in this season of D&D Encounters is the idea that you should be able to do more in an hour and a half of play than complete a single combat encounter. As a result, this adventure looks significantly different from previous D&D Encounters adventures.

Rather than a string of encounters, one per week, that form a linear adventure, this booklet presents a series of short adventures incorporating elements of exploration, interaction, and combat in roughly equal measure.

All the adventures offer much more flexibility than the linear adventures of the past, and each is designed to be played in a single session. Taken together, the adventures tell the story of the War of Everlasting Darkness—the conclusion to the Rise of the Underdark story that has played out throughout the year.

After character creation, Session 1 of War of Everlasting Darkness takes place on October 31st. For reasons of his or her own, each character has traveled to Quaervarr, a village on the southwestern edge of the Glimmerwood. The adventure begins with the characters in the Whistling Stag Inn in Quaervarr:

Near the end of spring, your travels bring you to Quaervarr, a pleasant logging village just inside the vast Glimmerwood. At the gate of the walled palisade that surrounds the village, a pair of militia guards leaning on spears asked you a few cursory questions about your business, then pointed you to the inn, a luxurious place called the Whistling Stag.

Half hunting lodge and half sumptuous mansion, the Whistling Stag offers heated baths, down pillows, warm blankets, and lovely views of the verdant forest outside. All this is complemented by bearskin carpets, stag heads on the wall, and a lush tapestry depicting elves on a boar hunt.

The common room is busy this evening, with at least a dozen locals crowding around the bar. The conversation concerns a ghostly apparition that has been passing through the village every night of late. The villagers seem spooked, but an older patron with silvered hair and the look of a former adventurer about him is trying to reassure them . . .


October/November/December Books and eBooks

October: Stone of Tymora

By R.A. Salvatore and Geno Salvatore

Is a stone that makes you forever lucky a blessing? Or a curse?

Adventure aboard Captain Deudermont’s Sea Sprite and follow the trail of the demon who is intent on destroying the luckstone inherited by one unlucky orphan. Featuring the sage wisdom of R.A. Salvatore’s best-selling character Drizzt Do’Urden, the Stone of Tymora is packed with action, magic, intrigue, and a heart-stopping twist that Salvatore fans won’t want to miss. Originally published as a trilogy for teens, this single volume, redesigned in a handsome adult package with a brand-new cover, is a must-have for adult Salvatore fans!

November: Spider and Stone

By Jaleigh Johnson

From the opening of the novel:

"Show me your face, Zollgarza."

The request echoed in the dark tunnel and surprised the young drow lurking there. Irritation stabbed him. He’d thought his movements had gone undetected by his prey.

Zollgarza stepped from a niche in the wall behind a wide stalagmite and faced Derzac-Rin, a male not much older than Zollgarza but taller and well built. His chiseled features showed signs of strain.

“How did you know?” Zollgarza asked.

Derzac-Rin drew his rapier and raised it, poised like the sharpest needle. “I knew you’d track me. All Fizzri’s lovers meet the same fate. Pride made me believe I would be different. As soon as she cast me out, I knew she’d send you to finish me. May I ask you a question?”

“Go ahead.”

Derzac-Rin tightened his grip on the rapier hilt, as if to pour all of his pent-up hatred and rage into the weapon, that sheer force of willpower might save him when his skill surely could not.

“Why does she favor you so?” he demanded.

Zollgarza shrugged. “You should have asked her. I am nobody special.”

“Precisely.” Bitterness thickened the drow’s voice, making the word almost unintelligible. “You are less than nothing, a male with neither exceptional skills nor charm enough to make you a novelty. What have you to recommend yourself to the mistress mother?”

“I’m skilled enough to deal with you,” Zollgarza said. “At the moment, that’s all that matters.”

December: Brimstone Angels: Lesser Evils

By Erin Evans

Mere weeks after escaping Neverwinter, Farideh’s dreams are still haunted by Lorcan, the cambion devil whose power fuels her own. One of only four known descendents of the original Brimstone Angel, Farideh has no regrets about the pact she made with the devil. But no one in the Hells knows that she has a twin—an impulsive eager sister, just waiting to be corrupted. At least as long as Lorcan can keep her secret.

Determined to protect her sister, Farideh searches for a ritual that could call Lorcan out of the Hells. But in the midst of her hunt, she’s drawn into an assignment for the secret society the Harpers, an assignment which leads her and a ragtag group of allies to an ancient Netherese library deep underground. While the group combs the site, dodging ghosts and magical traps, Farideh discovers a magical book whose pronouncements throw into question everything she thought she knew about herself and her sister.

The more the Book gives up its macabre secrets, the more one thing becomes clear—a traitor lurks among them.

Lorcan ought to have counted himself lucky. Bound from knees to chest in a chain devil’s restraints, dragged across the hungry nightmare landscape of the Sixth Layer of the Hells—still, the half-devil son of Fallen Invadiah was not dead.

He was not dead, and he would soon be locked away in his sister’s newly claimed domain, far from their vengeful mother’s weakened reach, far from the notice of the archdevils, and farthest of all from those mortals who knew better than to let Lorcan slip the noose, after what had happened in Neverwinter. Lucky, indeed.


October: Dungeon! Board Game

You know what. I lied. My first foray into the world of Dungeons & Dragons wasn't through the red box. It actually was through the Dungeon! board game. I remember sitting on my living room floor and playing it with my entire family; I have my suspicions that thanks to that board game, my parents gained a little better insight into what this "D&D" stuff was that I kept pestering them about, and it led to them purchasing the red box later that year for Christmas.

And now, the classic board game has returned.

If you remember it from years back, the premise has remained the same: Choose a Hero. Run through the dungeon, fighting Monsters and collecting as many Treasures as you can. Be the first to get out alive with enough Treasure!

Here's a look inside the game itself, as well as the rules:


October: Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms

So far, we've been showing off the chapter starts in our previews for Elminster's Forgotten Realms. Let's start this month with a look at the full table of contents.

Table of Contents

And from there, let's take a look at the news from within the Realms. And what better delivery has there been throughout the years than Current Clack?

Current Clack

Most news and rumors are spread across the Realms by caravans, and along coasts, by the crews of ships. In many a wayside settlement, whenever a caravan stops for the night, the populace turns out at local inns and taverns to hear the latest “clack” (what’s being talked about). Travelers can often earn something to eat or a drink or two by relating enough entertaining lore. The freshest news is the most in demand—which, of course, leads to embroidering and outright tall tales, lies and half-truths and rumors building on each other into fanciful creations that bear little resemblance to their plainer and more demure beginnings.

The Harpers, the Zhentarim, the Red Wizards of Thay, and wily manipulators such as Elminster and Vangerdahast—not to mention trading costers and merchants aiming to affect market prices—have long known the value of planting rumors to stir public attitudes in a particular direction. It takes a lot of energy and a glib tongue, and such accounts can often be twisted in undesirable or unintended directions in the retelling—or overwhelmed entirely by more dramatic events happening at the same time. Yet this method of disseminating information works, has worked for centuries, and is going on right now. Innkeepers and tavernmasters are often paid by the Zhentarim or other power groups (even small local cabals) to talk about something, drop particular names, or direct wayfarers to particular businesses.

Wayfarer, be warned. Any bit of clack you hear might be absolutely true. It also might be absolutely not true, or its place along the spectrum of factuality might be anywhere between these extremes. No matter what else it might be, though, the current clack is always . . . current.


November: Dungeon Command: Curse of Undeath

We'll be showing off the Curse of Undeath minis on the Daily D&D page each week, but let's also consider one of the game's more vile undead: the Disciple of Kyuss. As detailed in Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead:

The elder entity Kyuss is known as the Bonemaster, Spawner of Corruption, and Lord Betrayer. Kyuss began as a mortal and attained such power and stature that he has become a legendary being. He leveraged his way to a corrupt apotheosis through powerful rituals and a series of deadly betrayals. Kyuss dwells in a dark corner of the Underdark, plotting to expand his influence into the rest of the world and other planes of existence.

Kyuss is attended by a host of putrescent creatures that he created. Kyuss was among the first of the larva mages, and now, larva creatures know and revere him. These larva creatures often serve him as warriors and assassins. Kyuss’s schemes evoke his affinity for corruption. His operatives subvert organizations and even create false cults to further his schemes. Sometimes societies tear themselves apart under Kyuss’s corrupting influence.

The 1E Fiend Folio's son of Kyuss also appeared in the Monster Manual 2 (with further connections between those books made in D&D Alumni).


2013: What's Happening in the New Year

We're coming to the end of 2012—and we're excited to start showing off what's coming out in 2013 (including things on the digital front, which was mentioned by Mike Mearls in the Gen Con keynote address).

Physical products include the next faction pack for Dungeon Command: Blood of Gruumsh, featuring orcs, ogres, and their monstrous allies. Look for this faction in February 2013.

Also in February—the 1st Edition reprint of Unearthed Arcana! From the book's foreword by Gary Gygax:

As the original volumes of the game system (Monster Manual, Players Handbook, and Dungeon Masters Guide) have altered from their first editions, so the game has changed in form and substance. This new material grew from my own campaign, articles published in DRAGON Magazine, and input from many Dungeon Masters and players also. The book has a single purpose: Unearthed Arcana brings new dimensions to the AD&D game system. The compiled material which lies herein offers fresh new approaches to play without materially affecting any ongoing campaign adversely. This work does not alter former “laws of the multiverse,” but it does open insights and vistas beyond those previously understood and seen. . . .

Every Dungeon Master who has created a campaign milieu out of whole cloth, so to speak, can certainly understand that the more one learns, the more one comes to understand how little he knows. So too the multiverse of this game system. The farther afield one goes in exploration and discovery, the greater the realization of how vast is the realm of unknown knowledge which awaits discovery, as it were. However, such as with our actual world, the expanses of the game multiverse will always have frontiers and unexplored territories. This fact, indeed, is what makes the AD&D game system so wonderful and appealing.

That's all for this month, folks!

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.