I've written before about the D&D gifts that came my way around Christmas time. There was the glorious Red Box Basic Set appearing under the tree (and a heck of a lot of other trees) in 1984. Then the Fiend Folio the next year. And the Monster Manual 2 the year after that.
My birthday falls in June, which makes for pretty nifty scheduling—getting your birthday and Christmas spaced about 6 months apart is fairly optimal, present-wise. Yet although Christmas often meant D&D, my birthday meant action figures. One year, however, the two collided. The AD&D official line of action figures released in the '80s, and I collected as many of them I could: Warduke, Strongheart, Melf, Kelek . . .
Last month, the R&D team opened a literal treasure trove of items recovered from an old TSR warehouse. Many of the items are destined for a later event, while others (including many duplicate items) were distributed around the building. And while I deeply regret missing out on the AD&D coloring book (greatest coloring book in the history of crayons), I did come away with a few of the old action figures:
Bullywugs of the Bog (the monsters I remember most from the '80s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon).
Stalwart Men-at-Arms (oddly resembling Dirk the Daring, from Dragon's Lair).
And the centerpiece of the collection: Shambling Mound & Treasure Sack! When else could "treasure sack" have become such a valued addition to a kid's action figure collection?
Rise of the Underdark: Step Into Shadow
Sightings of dark elves on the surface have grown steadily—turning from dismissible rumors into disturbing reports. Brave heroes are needed to discover what plot or purpose is driving the children of Lolth to so boldly intrude upon our realm. Drow-laden encounters and challenges await you in stores everywhere—along with an array of products that will help you in your attempt to survive the Rise of the Underdark.
At the Rise of the Underdark hub, we've launched the latest activity concerning the drow. Each week, three clues will be provided in various places—such as on the website, through the D&D Facebook page, and on the D&D Twitter channel. Enter the answers to those clues, and, if you're correct, you'll unlock knowledge about the drow (as well as special preview content).
As the hub explains, if you can't solve the clues (or don't catch them in time), it will still be possible for you to solve the puzzles—with some help from your friends who solved them before you! For example, the week after a puzzle is unlocked, you can take a "second wind" that helps discover the missing clues, and your friends can offer further help in later weeks.
In addition to the preview content that's unlocked, our community team will be keeping an eye out for players who solve each week's clues so that they can give these players special call-outs. Just use the puzzle's shout buttons to post your success on Facebook and Twitter.
In recent weeks, the latest D&D Encounters season has gotten fully underway, with Web of the Spider Queen. Session 3 took place Wednesday (06/06), after a fair amount of tower defense at play in session 2. Ultimately, the adventurers should have defeated the guards on the ground floor of the Twisted Tower of Ashaba, and with the battle done, all had grown quiet for the moment. Then in session 3, the adventurers had to track the treacherous drow into the tower itself!
Coming up in session 4: Khara Sulwood and her elf companion Tharinel, both working with Elminster's guidance, help the adventurers push into the tunnels of the drow!
D&D Lair Assault: Spiderkiller (June 1 – August 31)
The latest D&D Lair Assault has also started up with Spiderkiller. The background to this Lair Assault reveals that Shi'nayne once led House Faerlorbb, a minor house in a small drow settlement thrown into disarray by the Spellplague. The name of her former home is unimportant, but Shi'nayne remains proud despite her reversal of fortune and believes herself destined to become a mighty drow priestess of Lolth.
Some time ago, Shi'nayne learned of a new portal to the Lost Level of Undermountain that was torn open during the Spellplague. With the presumed death of Halaster, who had conducted a campaign to purge all drow from Undermountain, she saw an opportunity to restore drow influence in the very heart of the enemy's fortress. During her explorations, she discovered a ring that can open old portals within that mysterious level. Now she wishes to regain her former status and garner the favor of the Spider Queen by opening a new way to the Demonweb.
Shi'nayne has been seeking knowledge of how to convert an ordinary portal into a permanent gate by using a ring that she found. The Watchful Order of Magists & Protectors in Waterdeep is aware of the fallen matron's arcane research, and it fears that she might have found the means to fulfill her ambition. If she succeeds, nothing will stop the Spider Queen and her armies from overwhelming Skullport, Waterdeep, and the whole of Faerûn.
Best of luck in defeating Matron Shi'nayne, and in collecting the Lair Assault's rewards!
Free RPG Day: Dead in the Eye (June 16)
For those of you interested in free adventures (and who couldn't use more adventures?), this year's Free RPG Day (June 16th at participating locations) brings you Dead in the Eye:
The Keepers of the Celestian Order, valiant defenders dedicated to destroying horrors from the Far Realm, have trapped a beholder in its lair. However, the evil aberration has proven far more dangerous than expected, and the Keepers need the help of adventurers to end the threat of Omaranthax once and for all.
This adventure pits player characters (levels 8–10) against a mutated beholder and its vile underlings. Although set in the Forgotten Realms, the adventure can be adapted easily to any home game. You can find out more at freerpgday.com.
June/July Books and E-Books
Moving on, here's a look at our most recent set of novels, which release in print and simultaneously in e-book format.
By Bruce Cordell
Follow Demascus—deva assassin of the gods—on his next harrowing adventure that will have a devastating impact throughout the Underdark!
By Lisa Smedman
A plague that turns dwarves to stone . . .
A race of people, said to be forged from precious metal, face a devastating disease: stoneplague. Once afflicted, the suffering is agony. Eyes become opaque and glassy, skin flakes off in scales, bones fuse into an immovable skeleton, and blood turns dark and muddy. Death comes when the heart stops beating and hardens into stone. And the plague is spreading.
A dwarven soul in human form . . .
Torrin Ironstar is a delver, an adventurer whose daft quest to find the Soulforge in Faerûn invites ridicule and scorn. But he's used to that. He's an outsider: a human who believes he's really a dwarf, right down to the silver hammers in his beard.
An impossible puzzle . . .
The other citizens in Eartheart shun him, suspicious of his true intentions. Little do they know, Torrin holds the key to the cure, if only he can figure it out in time. But time is running out.
By Rich Baker
After a hundred years, Jack Ravenwild—thief, sorcerer, scoundrel, and accidental hero—is released from a magical confinement, only to fall into the hands of the marquise Dresimil Chûmavh, ruler of an exiled drow clan who sees an opportunity in Jack.
Through guile and subterfuge, the wily Jack escapes the drow to discover a new world waiting in his old stomping grounds, Raven's Bluff, a city equally abounding in fortune and danger. Unfortunately for Jack, he is best at stirring up the latter. His former archenemy the Warlord Myrkyssa Jelan is at large, and she isn't the type to forgive and forget. And worst of all, the drow aren't done with Jack and they mean to get him back.
By Marsheila Rockwell
Created in conjunction with the latest update for the Dungeons & Dragons Online game, this exciting adventure continues the story of Sabira from The Shard Axe, featuring an underground expedition in dark caverns, powerful artifacts, and drow intrigue.
By R.A. Salvatore
Follow the epic adventure of the world’s most famous drow, Drizzt Do’Urden, as he draws his scimitars once more to aid a new friend and an old foe in this action-packed third book of the New York Times best-selling Neverwinter Saga.
Please note the release month—this latest novel from R.A. Salvatore releases in August (as opposed to the October release month of years past)!
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—some of which we showed you last month, and a new set we showed off in the first week of the Drow Puzzle Hunt.
In case you missed that week, we'll at least provide you with the clues:
- Rural community where Elminster the Sage retired?
- Famed water wizard heralded for driving the drow out of Shadowdale?
- The Twisted Tower was constructed as an outpost of which city?
Answer those, and you'll be able to preview further tiles from the set!
Last month, we provided introductory details regarding our latest miniatures game featuring themed factions. How Faction Packs start with the drow (Sting of Lolth) and heroes (Heart of Cormyr) in July, then continue with Tyranny of Goblins in August, and Curse of Undeath in November. And, that each Dungeon Command faction comes in its own box, which contains twelve miniatures (plus the cards, tiles, and rules for the game).
We've even provided the full rulebook for download. And now, in the coming week, Peter Lee will be offering further sneak peeks at the various components and how they're used in the game:
June 11: We'll start by showcasing the tiles used to build the game's battleground.
June 18: Next, we'll take a deeper look at the Creature Cards, which provide stats for the miniatures in your faction. Each card also provides further use for the miniatures in the D&D Adventure System board games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt).
June 25: Now that you've seen the creatures, you'll want to know how you can command them in the game. That's where the Order Cards come into play.
July 2: And finally, we'll showcase the leaders of the factions: the commanders and their Commander Cards. With Sting of Lolth, for example, you could choose to have Kalteros the Sellsword or Aliszandra Malistros lead your troops!
If you're looking to try out Dungeon Command for yourself, the 2012 D&D Game Days spotlights this release. There's nothing you'll need to bring; participating stores will have a full copy of both Heart of Cormyr and Sting of Lolth on hand for you to try. Plus, players will receive an alternate-paint miniature simply for attending this great event (while supplies last)!
Just use the Store & Event Locator to find a Game Days location near you.
At last the re-release of the 1st Edition rulebooks is almost here! We've mentioned in the past that these limited-edition reprints of the original core rulebooks have the original art and content, but feature an attractive new cover design commemorating this re-release. Your purchase of these books also helps support the Gygax Memorial Fund—established to immortalize the "Father of Roleplaying Games" with a memorial statue in Lake Geneva, WI.
James Maliszewski further discussed the core rulebooks in our last D&D Alumni column: The Long Shadow of D&D. As he quotes Gary Gygax in the Player's Handbook, it "was a project which involved varying degrees of my thought, imagination, and actual working time over a period of more than a year and one-half." He goes on to say that this endeavor consisted of "put[ting] into these works what should be the important parts of a superior D&D campaign, cutting out material which actually adds little or nothing to the game, revising the old, and adding and expanding in the essential areas."
Tomorrow, we'll be showing off a short selection from the Dungeon Master's Guide, to illustrate how well the reprints match the layout of the original rulebooks (and, because the wealth of gaming rules, advice, and miscellany simply makes for timeless reading, in my opinion).
And that's today's look at what's coming out in the months ahead!
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.