Previews Archive | 5/7/2012
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May: In the Works
Bart Carroll

T hose of you attending PAX East last month had the opportunity to play the first round against the drow in the convention adventure, The Sun Never Rises. Later this month, the campaign continues with the next D&D Encounters season, Web of the Spider Queen:

Long past are the days when drow ruled over Shadowdale from the Twisted Tower—or are they? Beneath the sleepy farming community, an old evil stirs. The drow and their foul Underdark minions have set eyes on the Dalelands, but to what end is anyone's guess. Now, it's up to an unlikely band of adventurers to defend Shadowdale from the drow threat and learn what Lolth and her villainous followers are up to. Success means a respite from danger. Failure could doom the surface world.

Web of the Spider Queen begins May 16th. Soon after, you'll find a related hunt to intercept the drow's wartime intelligence and learn more of their plans—so keep a watch for it on the Rise of the Underdark hub!

This hub collects the products and events taking place surrounding the drow. For an in-depth look at these (and other products) in the near future, let's move on to the previews!

Books and E-Books

We start our look at forthcoming products with our most recent set of novels, which release in print and simultaneously in e-book format. (We do have a few e-book exclusives, though, so be sure to look for those.) So, let's take a look at what's coming out!

May: The Rose of the Sarifal

By Paulina Claiborne

Cloaked in mist and layered in magic, the denizens of Moonshae Isles move in secret circles as capricious rulers vie for power. High Lady Ordalf wanted her niece, the princess known as the Rose of Sarifal, dead. Instead, the young regent was secreted away by opponents of the fey queen of Gwynneth Isle. For years the eladrin queen has searched for confirmation of her niece's death, and word has finally come in the form of a castaway. The princess lives on the island of Moray—a mad beauty that holds a nation of lycanthropes in her sway. As long as her niece is alive, Lady Ordalf cannot rest secure in her claim to the throne. Enlisting a band of adventurers to seek out the princess is the first step toward stemming the Rose of Sarifal and her tide of wolves. Will they see the same threat the queen sees in the beautiful young maiden?

May: R.A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen, Volume II

By Richard Lee Byers, Thomas M. Reid, and Richard Baker

The War of the Spider Queen—the epic, six-book series from the fertile imaginations of R.A. Salvatore and a select group of the Forgotten Realms best-selling authors—continues here. Ten years after its initial publication, we are proud to present this groundbreaking series in two attractive collector's editions. This second volume contains the following books:

Pharaun, Quenthel, Jeggered, Danifae, and Valas search for a way into the burning infinity of the Abyss. In an effort to survive, will they lose everything it means to be a dark elf? Simply asking that question could bring the entire drow race to the brink of extinction.

At the end of a journey through the unforgiving expanse of the Abyss, a ragged band of dark elves hopes to find Lolth. They've survived thus far, but the Underdark is child's play compared to the chaotic latticework of the Demonweb Pits. Truth is what they seek, but they may well only find annihilation.

Vying to be Lolth's chosen vessel, Quenthal and Danifae search for the Spider Queen in the depths of her hellish domain. Another seeks the Queen of the Demonweb Pits with the intent to kill—but only if she finds Lolth before the goddess completes her mysterious resurrection.

June: Sword of the Gods: Spinner of Lies

By Bruce Cordell

Welcome to Faerûn, a land of magic and intrigue, brutal violence and divine compassion, where gods have ascended and died, and mighty heroes have risen to fight terrifying monsters. Here, millennia of warfare and conquest have shaped dozens of unique cultures, raised and leveled shining kingdoms and tyrannical empires alike, and left long forgotten, horror-infested ruins in their wake.

Here, we follow Demascus -- deva assassin of the gods -- on his next harrowing adventure that will have a devastating impact throughout the Underdark! From the opening chapter:

A woman stood in a hallway, her features soft in trembling candlelight. Her shoulders were bare and her eyes smoldered like distant storm clouds. Her name was Madri, and Demascus loved her.

He stood a few paces from her, and he wore only loose trousers, baring his elaborate ash-gray designs. The marks ran down his arms and across his back like the ghosts of tattoos. His bone-white hair was wet and his pale skin tingled from the bath.

"Coming to bed?" she asked, winding a curl of hair around one finger in languid circles.

His blood surged higher. It pounded in his temples like a drum. I can't go through with this, he thought. I can't . . .

"What's wrong? You've been quiet all night. It's not like you, Demascus." Madri's impish expression wavered.

"I took a new commission," he said, his voice dull as a worn blade. "One I wish for all my lives I hadn't accepted. If only I'd known who . . ."

"You accept commissions without knowing the target?"

"Sometimes." Because whomever the gods choose always deserved death. And when had he ever refused? Never. Even . . .

Oh, Madri! What secrets do you keep? How awful they must be.

"You're not frightened, surely," she said, misreading his reticence. "If I'm to believe a quarter of your stories, even demigods fear your name, if they're unlucky enough to learn it." She laughed and came to him. Her scent, a sort of orange-peach fragrance with undertones of cedar, was solace. He breathed it in for the last time. Then he took her supple shoulders in his hands.

"It's not that I'm afraid, Madri. I'm paralyzed by . . . grief. And I regret that it's come to this." Her arms went around his waist to draw him close. He slid his hands up from her shoulders, tracing the line of her neck until he cupped her head. "I'm sorry," he said. Even as she gazed at him with incomprehension, he gave a savage twist.

May: Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook

Words from the Master

Assume that you have assembled a group of players. Each has created a character, determined his or her race and profession, and spent some time carefully equipping these neophyte adventurers with everything that the limited funds available could purchase. Your participants are now eagerly awaiting instructions from you as to how to find the place they are to seek their fortunes in. You inform them that there is a rumor in the village that something strange and terrible lurks in the abandoned monastery not far from the place. In fact, one of the braver villagers will serve as guide if they wish to explore the ruins! (This seemingly innocent guide might be nothing more than he seems, or possibly an agent of some good or evil power, or a thief in disguise, or just about anything else. . . .) The party readily agrees, and so the adventure begins.

You inform them that after about a two mile trek along a seldom-used road, they come to the edge of a fen. A narrow causeway leads out to a low mound upon which stand the walls and buildings of the deserted monastery. One of the players inquires if the mound appears to be travelled, and you inform the party that only a very faint path is discernible—as if any traffic is light and infrequent. Somewhat reassured, another player asks if anything else is apparent. You describe the general bleakness of the bog, with little to relieve the view save a few clumps of brush and tamarack sprouting here and there (probably on bits of higher ground) and a fairly dense cluster of the same type of growth approximately a half mile beyond the abandoned place. Thus, the party has only one place to go—along the causeway—if they wish to adventure. The leading member of the group (whether appointed or self-elected, it makes no difference) orders that the party should proceed along the raised pathway to the monastery, and the real adventure begins.

—Gary Gygax, "The First Dungeon Adventure,"
AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979

Last month, we showcased one of the new character themes (the trapsmith) as well as a bit of the svirfneblin race—useful options for players exploring the dark recesses of the game's many dungeons! This time, we take a look at the Deep Delver theme

Deep Delver

"Only here, with the weight of the world above my head, am I home."

Beneath the tramping of nations and the roots of forests is a world that surface dwellers can barely imagine. Countless tunnels and caverns, rivers and oceans form a fantastic, globe-spanning environment. To the unprepared, though, the underground wilderness is as ruthless as it is wondrous. Those who survive these wilds are among the greatest explorers in the world. For these deep delvers, an expedition to the Underdark is no more threatening than a stroll through the woods.

Deep delvers are driven by an unquenchable desire to pit themselves against the challenges of the subterranean world. Some seek to map out the spiraling highway-tunnels of the Underdark. Others are naturally drawn to the seclusion of caves, preferring to abandon life on the surface. Yet others are born to the Underdark and still call it home.

Born Above

If you belong to a race native to the surface, something uncanny must have inspired you to favor a life below ground—and to enable you to survive there. The Underdark's scope and geography are unlike anything aboveground. Think about why you decided to live below the earth, and thus how you approach its many challenges.

Are you constantly in search of new sights and experiences? Is the physical challenge of getting there half the fun? You might revel in the rush of descending a miles-deep chasm or swimming through a flooded cave. The thrill of being the first to see such a sight is its own reward.

You might instead be a deep delver out of necessity. Perhaps you live in a community located near an entrance to the Underdark that must contend with raids by monsters or savage humanoids, so that patrolling the tunnel and the area around it is essential to your home's survival. Alternatively, your livelihood might depend on searching the Underdark for precious resources, such as rare minerals and magical components, or simply for food. In either case you must become a master of underground tracking and observation to succeed.

The most well-known deep delvers have patrons who pay them to explore the Underdark. You might be the employee of a wealthy monarch, hired to map an extensive series of passages discovered in one of the realm's mines. Does your patron plan to open up trade with Underdark civilizations, or hope to use the tunnels to launch secret attacks against rivals? The results of your exploration could trigger far-reaching events in the campaign.

Consider also what you're leaving behind as you delve. Your connection to family and friends on the surface is cut off during your ventures, but maybe that is the point. Did you become a deep delver to escape something? If so, what better place to hide than the limitless depths of the Underdark?

Born Below

For deep delvers who hail from the Underdark, the subterranean realm isn't a mystery—it's home. What topsiders see as a place of legendary dangers, mythic locales, and otherworldly beasts is just what you deal with every day. If your character is a member of an Underdark race, you probably have little patience with the blundering surface dwellers waving torches in your backyard.

Consider how your character's home and culture fits into the campaign. Dwarves, renowned for their tremendous underground cities, live in the upper reaches of the realm and regularly deal with surface communities. The same goes for savage humanoids such as goblins or kobolds, though their behavior is far less civil. These races live close enough to the surface that their domains have the feel of a nearby wilderness, much as a human or elf hunter would see a forest or swamp close to home—a place to be taken seriously but lacking mystery.

Races that dwell deeper, such as the svirfneblin, are one with the Underdark, which provides them with shelter and sustenance. Deep delvers of these races see the world above as a place of wonder and legend, and they view explorers from the surface as sightseeing nuisances.

Sample Deep Delver: Karl Deepwalker

"Don't worry. I'll get us back to the surface . . . somehow."

Nothing tests an explorer's mettle like a journey in the Underdark, as Karl Deepwalker has learned. Cut off from the support of his fellow delvers, the young human must rely on his untested wits to survive in the deepest of wildernesses as he seeks to discover who is behind the deaths of his former companions.

Deep Delver powers:

June: Dungeon Tiles: The Urban Underdark

This next set of Dungeon Tiles ventures below ground as we continue with the Rise of the Underdark, and you'll be able to use these subterranean tiles to help build your encounters. This pack includes six double-sided sheets, a sample of which includes the following:

  • Cave Entry. This tile transitions your party from the outdoor wilderness style into the caverns.
  • Underground Outpost. Of course, entry into the Underdark is not unguarded. Here, thin walls have arrow slits to defend the heroes from walking unchallenged into any drow (or kobold, deep gnome, or other denizen's) city.

    Pit. As if excavated by a purple worm or an umber hulk.
    Lava Pool. Simple pool of lava. Mind your step.
    Large Nest. Could be a dragon nest—or perhaps even that of the dreaded owlbear!
    Stacked Barrels. Perhaps stolen goods of a bandit gang, or supplies headed deeper for the Underdark.
    Corner Entry. This large tile provides another transition, from rough cavern to formal dungeon. A small set of steps leads between the two.

June: Dungeons & Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark

On June 25th, Turbine releases their next major expansion for DDO: Menace of the Underdark. From the official DDO website:

The shadow of Lolth has cast darkness over the kingdom of Cormyr where heroes struggle to stem the unrelenting tide of the drow forces. The hopes of the Realms lie with champions from Eberron, whose world has become entangled in Lolth's schemes, bringing them to Faerûn where they will make the final stand against the Queen of the Demonweb!

July: Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth

July: Dungeon Command: Heart of Cormyr

What is Dungeon Command? Just our latest miniatures game featuring themed factions! These Faction Packs start with the drow (Sting of Lolth) and heroes (Heart of Cormyr) in July, then continue with the Tyranny of Goblins in August, and Curse of Undeath in November.

Each Dungeon Command faction comes in its own box, which contains twelve miniatures (plus the cards, tiles, and rules for the game). In addition to their use in Dungeon Command, these miniatures and tiles can also be used in the D&D RPG, with their cards further usable with D&D Adventure System board games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, Legend of Drizzt).

As further explained in the rulebook:

In the Dungeon Command game, you take on the role of a commander, sending a warband to battle the forces arrayed against you. You recruit troops and deploy them on the battlefield. You issue orders to those creatures, outfit them with spells and equipment, and direct their tactics to break the morale of your enemies and drive them from the field. Will your command ability carry the day against your opponent?

When you play, here's what you'll bring to the table:

Your Warband

Miniatures: You can't fight a battle without troops. Your warband must contain at least 12 miniatures (you can have more than one of the same kind; the rulebook provides instruction for building your warband). Each Faction Pack contains a ready-built warband of 12 miniatures, along with Creature cards for each.

Creature Cards: Each miniature has an associated Creature card, which lets you keep track of your creatures on the battlefield and lists their game statistics and abilities. You'll shuffle your Creature cards to
form your Creature deck.

Order Cards: You use Order cards to give commands to your troops in battle. You'll shuffle your Order cards to form your Order deck. It must contain at least 30 Order cards and can have more than one of the same card. The Sting of Lolth Faction Pack, for example, contains 36 Order cards, enough to command your warband.

Commander Card: These large cards represent your role as commander in the battle. You choose which Commander card to use.

Battlefield Tiles

Before you can start the battle, you need to create the battlefield. Each player will bring 2 large battlefield tiles and 2 small battlefield tiles (included in the Faction Packs). Each tile is gridded with 1-inch squares and has two sides: One shows a dungeon environment, while the other is an outdoor setting.

Other Items

You'll need to have various tokens (included in the Faction Packs) to keep track of things during the battle. For example, enough Treasure Chest markers to cover all the Treasure squares on the battlefield tiles you're bringing, as well as enough Treasure tokens for all those markers. You'll also need Damage tokens (to keep track of injuries to your creatures) and markers to record your warband's Morale and Leadership, as well as any other tokens to keep track of your creatures during play.

In the days ahead, we'll be introducing the complete rulebook, as well as showcasing the game's components, including (of course!) its miniatures, Creature cards, and Commander cards.

October: Dungeon!

Aren't we jumping ahead? Yes, but just a bit to October—in case you missed this recent addition to our online product catalog. This is the return of the classic board game of dungeon exploration (I played this myself some years ago, before moving on to the "red box" Basic Set!).

We'll certainly have more to show off about the return of this game in the days ahead—for now, that's today's look at what's coming out in the months ahead!

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
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