News Archive | 11/24/2009
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Countdown to Turkey
November News and Reviews

Tuesday, November 24

Here we are on the brink of turkey day (good tidings for the animals at our local zoo, apparently). Before we head out on vacation, a few brief notes:

Games and Gifts
Holiday shoppers might consider this lovely stained glass d20 (just be careful rolling it)... or perhaps d20 soap. For those playing games after the big meal, check out At-Will's latest in their series of alternate victory conditions: defend. And, since we've just previewed Wave—originally from White Plume Mountain—here's At-Will's version of that module's Frictionless Room.

Because we love reading about it so, the next dwimmermount session has been blogged over at Grognardia. And when it comes to our own podcasted session, Wil Wheaton posted the following cartoon regarding the death of Aeofel (as in, Aeo fell into a huge pit of acid).

We're just about to publish the calendar for December, but for a preview of what's coming, here's what you can expect in Dungeon Magazine:

The next Scales of War adventure, written by Robert Schwalb, and a new Chaos Scar adventure by Aeryn Rudel. Plus, a second look at the Chaos Scar by R&D's Peter Lee, and a heroic-tier solo adventure by Chris Sims!

Finally before we go, the results of our last poll:

Have anything you'd like to mention or include in the news and reviews? Drop us a line at Or yell things at us directly.

Friday Roundup

Friday, November 20

Ethan Gilsdorf
Latest podcast, up! Author Ethan Gilsdorf wandered through town last week, promoting Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks—and was kind enough to suffer through a podcast interview! That's Ethan sounding loud and clear… and the stand-in host sounding nasally and on the other end of a phone (because he is, both).

We'll also point out Ethan's Great Geek Giveaway, with prizes that include everything from D&D products to 4-day Gen Con passes.

Another podcast we recommend can be found over at Ninja Mountain—Joseph Goodman, Erol Otus, Jeff Easley and Stefan Poag discuss old-school art and stories of days working back in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. And for a glorious 1st Edition Monster Manual video, check out Mixel Pixel (warning: mild language)… which reminds us a bit of Worlds of Adventure.

Because everyone loves both lists and blogs, we'll point out Mad Brew Labs' combining them both: Top 5 D&D blogs. (We'll add one more: RPG Bloggers.) #5 on their list, Spirits of Eden (also a favorite of Producer Matthew Burke) has their own list to share: Top 10 D&D Monsters (warning: language).

This Week's Poll
So, apparently Steve Winter pointed out that AMC's remaking The Prisoner (starring Ian McKellen—actually, Sir Ian McKellen)—while the original was before our time, Chris Youngs is taking in ABC's remake of V. Not to mention that A-Team movie somewhere in the works (and the Clash of the Titans remake already in trailer mode).

Which brings us to this week's poll. What other 80's TV show should be remade? (The following candidates selected for no other criteria than we watched them when we were impressionable enough to think they were cool).

What 80's show should be remade?
The Master
Powers of Matthew Star
Tales of the Gold Monkey
Wizards and Warriors
Misfits of Science

Have anything you'd like to mention or include in the news and reviews? Drop us a line at Or yell things at us directly.

Two Authors Reading

Wednesday, November 18

Our own Bruce Cordell (left) and Jak Koke (right) at last night's reading/signing:

Yesterday, we updated the Character Builder for November—and the folks over at Dungeon' ("The D&D Resource Blog For DMS & Players") had some kind words to share about it (to respond to Ameron's question—we're sorry we didn’t tell you about that secret earlier!). And we have some kind words in return: 10 Reminders for All D&D Players stands out as some excellent advice.

Over at, they've also listed advice for DMs—specifically, for running one-shot games (that's games played once, not games involving rangers played by Chris Perkins).

Release Day

Tuesday, November 17

Announced yesterday, we've launched our latest contest for Into the Wild Nerd Yonder. All you need to do is tell us what you would title your high school autobiography and write the first paragraph.

Also going live today? The Character and Monster Builder updates—as well as the November rules updates, now compiled into one handy reference document (thanks to R&D's Greg Bilsland). Plus, our final set of Savage Encounter cartoons are up. And of course it's also the release day for Star Trek on DVD.

On the subject of authors, Jak Koke and Bruce Cordell will be at Seattle's University Bookstore this evening at 7pm, reading and signing from their latest works. Jak penned The Edge of Chaos (for which we've just published the encounter Gregor's Tangent). Bruce has his second book in the Abolethic Sovereignty: City of Torment!

Finally, since we're a sucker for easter eggs (well, all kinds of eggs, really), we also wanted to point out the following thread over on the Magic boards. (Well, and since we're also a sucker for articles on writing, let's also go back to Doug Beyer's Frakkin' Zounds discussion of swearing in fantasy literature—or in science fiction for that matter.

And the Winner is...

Monday, November 16

Well folks, the results are in from Friday's poll… and winning in a landslide: Samwise, son of Hamfast, Gamgee! You'd think he'd be the tastiest and thus the first to go, but no:

Sam: 53.1%
Pippin: 16.6%
Merry: 15.6%
Frodo: 14.7%

A few short mentions today. We're looking forward to the return of Art Director Jon Schindehette from IlluxCon (though we still think the venue sounds like a cartoon fish named Al Tuna). This past weekend also happened to be ALA-sponsored National Gaming Day. Over at Geek's Dream Girl, you can read the tale of Little Rogue, taking place at one of the libraries (in what's clearly the best-named county ever).

And tomorrow, look for a contest at the end of our latest spotlight interview (provided by player-in-chief Shelly Mazzanoble); Shelly interviews Julie Halpern, author of Into the Wild Nerd Yonder. Name your high school autobiography, and win some books!

A Comic and a Question

Friday, November 13

End of the week, folks—and before we head out for the weekend (as well as tour author Ethan Gilsdorf around our humble quarters here at WotC), we wanted to point out our new favorite xkcd comic for some time. Especially funny if you're a fan of the movie Primer, like we are.

As for the Lord of the Rings component, Chris Perkins posited the following thought experiment to the DDI Team, which we're sharing now with you: If all four hobbits were stuck in Morder and forced to resort to cannibalism to survive—which hobbit would be the last one standing?

Which hobbit would be the last one standing?

Of Roleplaying and Authors

Wednesday, November 11

Since it is a roleplaying game after all, we'd like to point out Geek's Dream Girl's top 5 ways to roleplay with Primal Power—this time, with the druid. (She's covered Bobby the Barbarian in a previous installment.)

R&D's Steve Winter took up roleplaying as well, over on his blog… along with a comparison between a recent The Clone Wars episode and Hitchcock's Notorious. (And man, we're liking The Clone Wars these days—season 2 includes more bounty hunters… and apparently the voice talent of Scott Evil).

A quick announcement, for those of you in the Seattle-area. The Player's Handbook Holiday Bundle has been added to our catalog (along with August 2010's Dark Sun materials, in case you missed them). To help promote the bundle's release, members of R&D will be hosting author signings in early December at two locations:

Barnes & Noble – Downtown Seattle
Saturday, Dec. 5
2:00pm – 3:00pm (author signing)
2:30pm – 5:00pm (game-play)

  • James Wyatt
  • Rob Heinsoo
  • Jeremy Crawford

University Bookstore
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Time: 7:00pm – 8pm (author signing)

  • James Wyatt
  • Andy Collins
  • Jeremy Crawford

Finally, we welcome home to the office R&D's Chris Sims—away this past weekend at Madison SD, having participated in Nanocon. Now get back to developing our conversion guides!

This Time, Of Monsters... and Treasure!

Tuesday, November 10

Did you guess yesterday's preview monsters? They were:

  • Bloodspike Behemoth
  • Bullywug Mud Lord
  • Greenvise Vine
  • Tiefling Necromancer
  • Vampire Guildmaster

We'll have new cartoons each day, leading up to the set's launch on November 17. On the subject of figurines, R&D's SRM posted This Week in Miniatures—with his old friend looking oddly familiar.

Coming soon, where else can you find not one, but two authors named Salvatore? R.A. and Geno will be promoting The Shadowmask, second book in their Stone of Tymora series, at select locations out east.

Finally, the latest Musings of the Chatty DM looks at treasure parcels. How could we not appreciate his opening line: "I love 4e with a passion…", but we disagree with his lackluster view of magic items. (Come on, have you played with a bag of tricks recently? How about an ebony fly combined with winged boots?). Still, he is looking to invest players more in the treasure they're questing after, and presents his ideas for how to better do so.

Of Monsters... and More Monsters

Monday, November 9

A few weeks back, we recommended Nina Hess' interview on Northwest Cable News; now, Nina has a recommendation of her own: don’t single-cover Larry Fitzgerald. Actually she has no idea what that means, but she does recommend Monster Camp—available now on DVD. According to their website quiz, we would make an excellent… NPC. Which is sort of sad (we wanted to be the hero!).

Over at Super Punch, some enterprising soul created their resume as a D&D-styled character sheet. We like that he still included Tumble on his list of skills—which, as everyone knows, comes very handy in office environments. (Unfortunately, he did leave off bo staff skills).

And finally, a quick look at art. Last week, this website switched to a 5-day publication schedule—with some of the art going live shown in full, glorious color on Senior AD Jon Schindehette's ArtOrder blog. Plus, tomorrow we start publishing Jared von Hindman's Savage Encounters cartoons—but let's leave you with another preview:

It's a Trap!

Thursday, November 5

It's a given, DMs love to keep players on their toes. Evoking a nice atmosphere of tension, recapped their last campaign session—where things readily assumed to be traps simply weren't. Now that's a method unlike the original Tomb of Horrors of course, where absolutely everything functioned as trap. Everything. Bill Slavicsek presented this title at his Gen Con seminar; our site's online catalog has now published official information on the 2010 Tomb of Horrors.

In other D&D related news, part of the benefit of staying home sick is the chance to catch midday radio segments on NPR. This one looks to be a rebroadcast, but our local affiliate KUOW played the D&D Ministry yesterday afternoon, with R&D's James Wyatt.

And considering that we are fantasy freaks, the following book feels right up our alley: "Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms." Author Ethan Gilsdorf is currently on his West Coast tour—including a stop in Seattle next Sunday afternoon (with a few WotC staffers in attendance, most likely).

Finally, folks in San Francisco noticed some D&D action on the streets a couple of weeks back. As mentioned by, this is how Jason Thompson and Victor Hao had been promoting their upcoming manga series:
King of RPGs: the drama of "one man's quest to become the Greatest Game Master in the World".

Mad Scientists

Tuesday, November 3

Halloween may be over, but crazed scientists and their fiendish experiments never go out of season—in this case, we're of course referring to R&D's Mike Mearls and his ongoing, ragged dungeon. In case your favorite message boards are simply bookmarked, you may have passed by our community hub and mention of Mike's Ramshackle.

Here's how it works: Mike supplies a randomly generated map (displayed in old school, non-photocopier blue), and anyone can describe areas of the dungeon via his open wiki.

Another dungeon experiment can be seen over at Paths of Adventure (referenced from, an online resource we're woefully behind in mentioning). Follow the 4E conversion of The Sunless Citadel—the adventure that introduced so very many players to 3rd Edition (and yes, there is a Meepo).

Finally, Savage Encounters releases later this month. And while previews are underway, we've just received our next batch of cartoons for them from Jared von Hindman—here's a quick sample, of Graz'zt around his own gaming table, we presume (and our favorite of the bunch… maybe because we love the theme).

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