I've been gone for a few weeks on summer vacation, but it's good to be back to the gray, gloomy, overcast skies of Seattle . . . well, hmm, perhaps I didn't exactly miss the Seattle climate, but it is nice to be back here in the office, refreshed and actually slightly tanned for once. My body still thinks it's 8 hours ahead, but someday soon I hope to be back to a normal sleeping pattern and no longer waking up at the crack of dawn.
In any case, here are your previews for the products due to release these coming months. Some of them, such as the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide and Adventurer's Vault (formerly known as the Tome of Treasures), have extensive previews releasing in mid-August, much the same way we've been showing off the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide.
And for a firsthand look at many of these releases, I'll point out our Gen Con 2008 page, which lists not only what products will be there, but also the seminars, activities, author signings -- you name, it's all listed in one handy location. As part of the best four days in gaming, Chris Youngs, Chris Perkins, and I will also be part of the D&D Insider seminar on Friday at 6 PM to 8 PM. So if you're there in Indy, please come say hello (or come debate the merits of Brett Favre joining the Chicago Bears for one great, glorious season -- EDIT: apparently, that dream is now over).
"Learn ye well the lesson of the pebble that begets a landslide. Likewise a single betrayal unleashed the Spellplague, whose consequences yet dance and stagger across Toril, and beyond."
-- Elminster of Shadowdale
Year of the Ageless One (1479 DR)
Over the past several weeks, we've offered previews from the Campaign Guide on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today being Thursday, we wanted to add one more to the schedule in addition to our look at Luruar (that is, the Silver Marches).
Previously, we've introduced you to the Warlock Knights of Vaasa, and the Eminence of Araunt -- two threats your PCs might face from around Faerûn. Here now is one more: the Church of Shar (including the Dark Moon Monks):
In the depths of the Winterbole Forest, the Pyramid of Shadows waits. This extradimensional prison catches and holds creatures from all planes of existence. Within the pyramid, factions rise and fall, carving out territories and surviving without hope of escape . . . all except for one longtime prisoner, who needs the unwitting aid of some adventurers to free himself from the pyramid.
To start off the adventure, here are a couple of hooks that can provide the PCs with possible motivation for seeking out the pyramid. Using these hooks gives the PCs opportunities to gain experience by completing the associated quests.
Hook: The Mysterious Map
If the PCs experienced the events of H2: Thunderspire Labyrinth, then they discovered a map among Paldemar's possessions. The map shows a glowing pyramid within a lush forest, about a week's travel north of Nentir Vale. Notes scribbled on the side of the page read: "Place of power." "Vast magic for the taking." And "Seek Karavakos."
This discovery alone might be enough to send the adventurers in search of the Pyramid of Shadows. If not, see the "Alternative" below for additional motivations.
Alternative: The Mages of Saruun, impressed by the actions of the adventurers and worried about the implications of the notes on the map, provide one more incentive if the adventurers agree to take on this quest. "Find this place of power and seek out Karavakos," the mage tells them. "Return with information that reveals the secrets of this place, and we will reward you with a powerful magic item (a level 12 item) and 2,500 gp."
Quest XP: 1,500 XP (major quest).
Hook: The Head of Gharash
As the adventurers travel toward the Winterbole Forest, a local authority (probably someone from Fallcrest or Winterhaven) offers a reward of 850 gp for the head of Gharash Vren, a dragonborn who leads a gang of dangerous criminals. Vren's gang has terrorized the region for years, and Vren just escaped from his recent captivity, fleeing into the Winterbole Forest.
Use this hook as an extra incentive, or this could be the impetus that drives the adventurers into the forest where they eventually discover the Pyramid of Shadows. Gharash and a portion of his gang have been trapped inside the Pyramid of Shadows. The adventurers will encounter the dragonborn criminal while exploring the pyramid's interior chambers.
Quest XP: 1,500 XP (major quest).
Points of Interest
As we did with Thunderspire Mountain, here are some of the locations your players might encounter on the foray within the pyramid:
P1: Entrance Pit
A stench of death and blood assails you as you appear suddenly atop a pile of bodies. Humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, and others, all apparently recently killed but all wearing clothing and armor of an earlier age. The pile of bodies seems to shift, as though something might be moving beneath it. Above you, at the top of the pit, you see a hideous, two-headed giant -- he's rubbing two blades together with an eager gleam in the eyes of both its horrifying heads.
S1: The Ice Chamber
"Ah, I remember this place. I believe that a number of powerful magic weapons are stored in the chamber beyond. Look to the door covered in frost. Beyond are several items that might prove useful to you. Beware the icy guardians that await you."
A blast of cold air hits explodes from within as you open the door. Beyond, you see a room covered in ice. It coats the floor, walls, and ceiling. Four large ice pillars run from floor to ceiling. To the south, you see a metal door covered in frost.
G2: Maze of Lost Souls
A narrow passage leads to the north and south. The walls of this place are black stone with hideous, tormented forms seeming to writhe within them. A horrifying, soul-wrenching shriek emanates from the trapped souls. They point at you and bang on the walls, desperate to escape.
As we are with the Campaign Guide, we’ll also be previewing material from the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide, along the following schedule:
08/12: The Warlock’s Dark Pact
08/14: Amn (from the player’s perspective, covering regional benefits, common knowledge, and people of the region)
08/19: Rituals (including 3 new examples)
08/26: The Swordmage (including sample powers)
08/28: The Great Dale
09/02: Feats (including the Heroic Tier table)
To start things off, we wanted to offer a pre-preview of the warlock’s dark pact, with the following description and power:
You have forged a pact with the dark beings that lurk in the shadows of the drow civilization. Spells of darkness, poison, madness, and spite fill your mind. You might turn your powers to noble ends, but you always face the temptation to enhance your spells by hurting your friends—just a little.
Level 29 Daily Spells
One Final Sacrifice
Warlock (Dark) Attack 29
You siphon life force from your allies to add pain and suffering to the attack you make against your common foe.
Standard Action Ranged
Charisma vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d8 + Charisma modifier damage.
Miss: Half damage.
Effect: Each ally within 5 squares of you takes 10 damage. For each ally damaged, the target takes 1d8 damage.
Dark Pact: For each ally damaged, the target instead takes 1d12 damage.
Also, why don't we take a quick peek at two of the definitive Forgotten Realms races: the drow and the genasi.
And yes, we’ll also be releasing ongoing excerpts from Adventurer’s Vault. For now, let’s start with a few sample goodies:
||Brutal 2, high crit
Execution Axe: This broad-bladed axe is heavily weighted for greater hewing power.
Brutal: A brutal weapon’s minimum damage is higher than that of a normal weapon. When rolling the weapon’s damage, reroll any die that displays a value equal to or lower than the brutal value given for the weapon. Reroll the die until the value shown exceeds the weapon’s brutal value, and then use the new value.
For example, the execution axe has a property of brutal 2. If a fighter wielding this weapon hits with steel serpent strike (a 2[W] power), the player rolls 2d12 for the weapon damage, rerolling a die result of 1 or 2 until the die shows 3 or higher.
Bag of Tricks
These small leather bags come in a variety of colors, gray being the most common. You can use a bag of tricks to conjure an obedient beast. You must spend a healing surge to activate the bag’s power, and you gain no other benefit for spending the healing surge.
When you use a bag of tricks to conjure a creature, it appears in an unoccupied space within 5 squares of you; the space must be large enough to contain the creature without squeezing. The creature obeys only you, responding to commands spoken in any language. The creature remains until the end of the encounter or for 5 minutes. The conjured creature acts on the same initiative count as you. Every action it takes costs you a minor action (which you use to issue commands), and a conjured creature cannot exceed its normal allotment of actions (a standard, a move, and a minor action) during its turn. If you spend no minor actions on your turn to command the creature, it remains where it is without taking any actions on its turn.
A conjured creature is a minion (MM 282). It has no healing surges and cannot be healed, and it cannot gain temporary hit points. When reduced to 0 hit points or fewer, the conjured creature disappears. If an object is placed in the bag of tricks, the bag ceases to function until the object is removed. A bag of tricks used for simple storage holds up to 3 pounds.
||Bag of tricks, gray
||Bag of tricks, rust
||Bag of tricks, vermilion
Bag of Tricks, Gray
This simple, leather bag produces feral critters that you can send against your enemies.
Wondrous Item 3,400 gp
): Standard Action. Use this bag to conjure a Tiny minion (see below for statistics).
Roll a d8 to determine which beast is produced and modify its statistics accordingly:
1: Bat; this creature also has a fly speed of 6.
2: Rat; this creature also has darkvision.
3: Cat; this creature also knocks the target prone on a hit.
4: Weasel; this creature does not provoke opportunity attacks for moving.
5: Snake; this creature also deals 2 poison damage on a hit.
6: Badger; this creature gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls.
7: Spider; this creature also has a climb speed of 6.
8: Scorpion; this creature deals ongoing 1 poison damage (save ends) on a hit.
Conjured Critter (Gray Bag)
Level 8 Minion
Initiative as conjurer Senses Perception +8; low-light vision
HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion.
AC 18; Fortitude 17, Reflex 18, Will 16
Str 6 (+2)
Dex 12 (+5)
Wis 9 (+3)
Con 11 (+4)
Int 2 (+0)
Cha 6 (+2)