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To DM or not to DM
by Bill Slavicsek

For me, there's nothing more fun or fulfilling when it comes to playing D&D than running the game. Right now, I have two active games going on, one on Monday night and one on Thursday night, and I'm the Dungeon Master for both of them. When I look back over my participation in the recreational side of D&D, I see that I'm the DM nine times out of ten. Sure, I've played in games with some great DMs and GMs over the years (Greg Gorden, Ken Rolston, Lester Smith, Monte Cook, Paul Balsamo, to name a few), but there's no denying that I like to be in the DM's chair.

One of the goals I set forth for the new edition of D&D was to make it easier and more fun to be the Dungeon Master. Nothing promotes and strengthens the D&D experience better than having good, solid DMs running good, solid games. I wanted to make the fun and excitement of DMing more accessible to more D&D players. More DMs mean more games, more games mean more D&D players. More D&D players mean more D&D play. How can that not be great for everyone involved?

With the new edition, I hope that more D&D players decide to try their hands at being the Dungeon Master. This is a great time to give it a try, and it's never been easier to pick up the dice and run a game. After all, everyone is learning the new game anyway, so why not take the time to learn how to handle the DM's chair?

Monsters have never been easier to run, and the new encounter design method makes throwing a challenging adventure together a relatively smooth and, yes, fun experience. So try your hand at Dungeon Mastering. If nothing else, you can say you gave it a try. On the other hand, you might just find that you enjoy it and it becomes another way for you to enrich and expand your D&D experience.

To DM or not to DM? There just isn't any question. Give it a shot, and you'll see what I mean.

Bill's Sneak Peek of the Month

I haven't shared something secret for a few columns now, so I figure I'm overdue. This month, I wanted to show you the swordmage, the new class that features prominently in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, on sale in September . . . but the RPGA beat me to it! Check it out here.

So instead, I'll show you a few of the higher-level powers that don't appear in the RPGA's Living Forgotten Realms preview material. As with all of the material appearing in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, you can to use this class in either a Forgotten Realms campaign, or in any D&D campaign you happen to be playing in. So, without any additional verbiage, here are three paragon-tier powers of the swordmage …

Dimensional Slash
Swordmage Attack 13
As you slash your foe, your blade cuts a tear in reality, which drags you and your foe to a new location nearby.
Encounter Arcane, Teleportation, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Intelligence vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Intelligence modifier damage. Teleport yourself and your target a number of squares equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier. You must appear in a square adjacent to the target.

Bolstering Warding
Swordmage Utility 16
The warding around you emits a soothing glow, restoring your vitality.
Daily Arcane, Stance
Minor Action Personal
Effect: At the end of each turn, before making saving throws, remove one effect on yourself that a save can end.

Lightning Rod
Swordmage Attack 19
Thrusting the point of your sword into your enemy, you channel a kernel of deadly power into it. Dark clouds seep from the wound and lightning lashes out, shocking nearby foes.
Daily Arcane, Lightning, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Intelligence vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Intelligence modifier damage, and ongoing 10 lightning damage (save ends). When the target takes ongoing damage from this power, enemies adjacent to the target take 10 lightning damage.
Miss: Half damage, and no ongoing damage.

Want to see more? Check out the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide for more information, and look for Living Forgotten Realms events debuting at Gen Con!

Next time, I'll provide a preview of what the team and I will be doing at Gen Con, as well as share a few other surprises with you.

Until then, keep playing!

--Bill Slavicsek

About the Author

Bill Slavicsek is the R&D Director for Roleplaying Games, Miniatures, and Book Publishing at Wizards of the Coast. All of the game designers, developers, editors, book editors, and D&D Insider content managers working on Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and the WotC Publishing Group report into Bill's R&D team.