Wednesday? The 4th of July fell on a Wednesday this year? Former Player-in-Chief Shelly Mazzanoble told me a story a few weeks back about how, as a kid, she distinctly remembered how disappointed she was when the 4th of July fell mid-week. She wanted to stay up and watch the fireworks, but knew it'd be ruined by having to get up early for school the next day.
She was pretty young at the time. You might have spotted the flaw in her logic.
She also remembers how elated she felt when she finally realized that it was the 4th of July—she didn't have to worry about school in the summer!
No such luck for her as an adult. That said, I imagine there's no small number of people taking a few days off work either leading up to the holiday or after it. So maybe a Wednesday 4th of July isn't such a bad thing after all?
So whether you're still off celebrating U.S. Independence Day or not, we're here to bring you the latest round of news, previews, and sneak peeks at what's coming up in the months ahead. It's a fairly packed article, so let's get to it!
Just posted this week to our Facebook page—as a part of the D&D Next undertaking, legions of fans around the world have been invited to participate in an massive, public playtest—the first of its kind for D&D—and to make gaming history as they help shape the future of Dungeons & Dragons. The "D&D Next" public playtest began in May and there's still the opportunity for even more people to get involved.
And that's where you come in.
Create a video (60 seconds or less) that will get D&D fans excited about being a part of the D&D Next Playtest. How you do that is entirely up to you. You could show us an epic film of classic heroism or a claymation reenactment of critical failures. Maybe it's a recruitment video for your group or a Top Ten list of things you've learned from the playtest. Whether it's a classic D&D truism (like why you never split the party ) or just an awesome/hilarious/cool episode taken straight from your imagination, show the world what they're missing.
Most importantly, have fun.
You can find out more at D&D Facebook.
Last month, we mentioned the puzzle hunt well underway on the hub. Each week, three clues are provided in various places: the website (in one of the Daily D&D spotlight boxes), through the D&D Facebook page, and on the D&D Twitter channel. Enter the answers to those clues, and—assuming you've answered them correctly—you'll unlock knowledge about the drow and their nefarious schemes, as well as special preview content.
For those of you who might have missed the first weeks, here's what we've previewed so far:
May 23: Urban Underdark Dungeon Tiles preview
May 30: Lair Assault: Spiderkiller maps
June 3: Spinner of Lies: Sword of the Gods wallpaper
June 13: Prince of Ravens sample chapter and cover art
June 20: Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue maps and art
June 27: D&D Championship (Trial by Shadow) background content and map
July 4: Gen Con adventure (The Dawn of Night) background and pregenerated characters
There's still plenty more clues to solve and content to unlock in the weeks ahead. And, 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 you discover the missing clues, and your friends can offer further help in later weeks.
In addition to the preview content that's unlocked, we have our community team 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.
The current season of D&D Encounters, Web of the Spider Queen, is well under way. This past week, the drow strike force came after the heroes, dropping hints that they have captured Khara Sulwood and Tharinel:
"The little girl with her sword, ranting about Elminster and her so-called legacy. That pretty little elf of hers. . . . We left them at the Demonspur. The guards will take them below. How fitting that the descendant of a lord of Shadowdale will be our slave when we retake that realm!"
This upcoming week, after following the tunnel until it gives way to a cavern—one so deep that its floor cannot be seen—you'll find a rope bridge leading out across the darkness, with three more similar bridges extending from the cavern's side walls . . .
All the bridges converge at the top of a titanic stalactite. This natural inverted tower appears to have chambers hollowed out inside it, hellish lantern-light shining from their windows. Partially obscured in the darkness, glistening strands of spidersilk span the cavern beneath the stalactite, forming a web of incredible size.
A small band of drow is moving along one of the closer bridges, leading a group of goblin slaves bound by chains into the hollowed stalactite.
Best of luck facing these drow templars at the Demonspur!
We'll be showing off a few more components to Dungeon Command a little later on (in addition to the ongoing preview articles that Peter Lee has been writing). If you'd like to try out this tactical miniatures game for yourself, you'll just need to find a local gaming store near you that is participating in the 2012 D&D Game Day!
Participating stores will have both the Heart of Cormyr and Sting of Lolth faction packs on hand. Plus, you'll receive an alternate-paint miniature simply for attending this great event (while supplies last)!
Just use the newly updated Store & Event Locator to find a Game Day location near you.
Gen Con (August 16-19)
Full information on events and seminars can be found in the Events section of the D&D website. Just to highlight a bit of what's taking place at this year's show:
Keynote Address: The Future of Dungeons & Dragons
Calling all heroes, your presence is required! Join us for an unprecedented look into the future of Dungeons & Dragons, including the evolution of the game, the re-birth of a fantasy setting and the next generation of art. Wizards of the Coast is proud to host the first-ever Gen Con keynote address on Thursday, August 16th to share with the legions of D&D fans what's in store for the game that has changed gaming forever.
Speakers include President and CEO of Wizards Greg Leeds, Senior Manager for D&D Research and Design Mike Mearls and some of the greatest creative minds in the industry.
The keynote begins at 7:00 PM in the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom of the Indianapolis Convention Center and will also be live-streamed at DungeonsandDragons.com/events.
The Gen Con 2012 D&D Experience
Awaken the darkness and become a drow as you delve into the D&D Experience at Gen Con. Visit eight unique locations in the Gen Con Convention Center that are thematically tied to Dungeons & Dragons and the drow city of Menzoberranzan to collect treasure and participate in a variety of D&D activities.
Visit D&D locations throughout the convention to collect exclusive Gen Con 2012 dice and complete the entire set of six.
Room Seminars and Performances (Room 139)
Part of the Academy, Tier Breche is where drow are trained for the priesthood. Come here to learn about the exciting future of Dungeons & Dragons and to participate in events such as the D&D Next Celebrity Game, Spin a Yarn with Ed Greenwood, and D&D Improv: Whose Roll Is It Anyway?
Wizards of the Coast Booth (Booth 1401)
The center of trade in Menzoberranzan, the Bazaar is the hub of information and commerce. Here, attendees can purchase D&D product, see D&D digital offerings, get an inside glimpse at the drow plot to seize the Forgotten Realms, and take a photo with Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders, or the most famous drow of all time, Drizzt Do'Urden.
Die available: d4
Ed Greenwood: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
R.A. Salvatore: 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
R.A. Salvatore: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Paul Kemp: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Richard Lee Byers: 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Troy Denning: 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Ed Greenwood: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Erin Evans: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
D&D Activities (Room 138)
The natural pillar that serves as Menzoberranzan's clock, the Narbondel is located at the heart of the city, surrounded by a district of manor houses and fashionable shops. It is visible from everywhere in the city, making it a natural meeting and gathering place. Visit this lounge to relax in beanbags, watch the D&D cartoon, or participate in other activities, such as quizzes, crafts, signings, and much more. Some events are listed below, and a schedule will be posted outside the room at the convention.
Die available: d6
(9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Thursday–Saturday)
Character Sketches by David Esbri Molinas
(10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Thursday – Saturday)
(10 a.m. – 1 p.m., Sunday)
Ed Greenwood: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Erin Evans: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Paul Kemp: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
R.A. Salvatore: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Richard Lee Byers: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Troy Denning: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
D&D Next Introduction/Character Creation (Room 137)
This branch of the Academy is dedicated to the arcane arts, and here drow train to become wizards and sorcerers. Visit this location to learn more about D&D Next and to create a character you can take to the Clawrift to play a D&D Next adventure.
Die available: d12
D&D Next Adventure (Room 136)
A deep chasm in the shape of a claw located near the Bazaar, the depths of this chasm hold a safe house for the mercenaries of Bregan D'aerthe. Stop in for the opportunity to join in an adventure playtesting the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons.
Die available: d20
Dungeon Command Miniatures Skirmish Game (Room 135)
The third branch of the Academy trains drow warriors in the martial arts. As a visitor to Melee-Magthere, you can come here to learn and play the new D&D miniatures skirmish game, Dungeon Command, featuring the Drow Faction Pack: Sting of Lolth.
Die available: d8
4th Edition Adventure (Room 134)
The West Wall district is home to many of the old, established families of Menzoberranzan, including noble houses and wealthy families alike. This location features an exclusive adventure, in which attendees play drow characters as they lead the assault on a Temple of Lathander in Dagger Falls. For attendees who played The Sun Never Rises earlier in 2012, this adventure presents a different spin on that adventure's events.
Die available: d10
Organized Play Events (Marriott Ballroom in the Marriott Hotel)
A network of treacherous Underdark tunnels surrounding Menzoberranzan, the Mantle holds many dangers but also serves as chambers for clandestine meetings. Visit this location to participate in Living Forgotten Realms, Ashes of Athas, the 2012 D&D Championship, and other organized play events. A schedule will be posted outside the room.
2012 D&D Championship: Trial by Shadow: Test your mettle against this year's D&D Championship! A challenge for experienced D&D players, this adventure by Logan Bonner features five 22nd-level pregenerated characters in a race against the clock. Nurymm Zek, the archmage of the drow city Undrek'Thoz, wants to merge with Lolth in a bid for more power. To do so, he believes he must free the Masters of Absolute Accord, four powerful spellcasters long ago merged into one being and imprisoned near Undrek'Thoz. If he's successful, it could destroy the balance of power across the Realms. This event consists of an open entry round, with top scoring tables participating in a final round on Sunday. Details on the D&D Championship, including characters, will be posted at wizards.com/dnd approximately two weeks before the event (RPGA1235294 - RPGA1235300).
As always, let's start our look at forthcoming products with our most recent novels.
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.
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.
July: Skein of Shadows
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 conclusion to 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)!
As you might well know by now, Dungeon Command is our latest miniatures game featuring themed factions, with faction packs that include the drow (Sting of Lolth), heroes (Heart of Cormyr), and goblins as well (Tyranny of Goblins, which is out next month).
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?
Peter Lee has contributed several articles explaining the components of the game in depth (the most recent of which covered Commander Cards), and for a general overview of the gameplay, we also have the full rulebook to peruse as well:
And, of course, if you're interested in trying out the game for yourself, there's D&D Game Day, which takes place on July 21!
For now, let's leave with a closer look at one of the game's minis, including its card, which works for the Dungeon Command game as well as in the Adventure System board games!
As described in the product catalog, this pack contains 3 full-color, double-sided, 21-inch by 30-inch battle maps with 1-inch scale grids. One map features two never-before-seen encounter locations: a mushroom-filled cavern and a dwarven fortress along an underground river. The other two battle maps are picked up from out-of-print products. You can even combine the maps in this map pack to create huge encounter areas.
Let's showcase one of the new maps, the dwarven fortress:
A seething powerhouse of malevolent drow, each striving tirelessly for supremacy in the eyes of their fell goddess, Menzoberranzan is the pinnacle of conceited depravity. Nevertheless, peer deep through the strata of selfishness, debauchery, and vice, and one can behold a grand civilization rich in history, culture, and artistry. It's this tantalizing dichotomy between the beautiful and the profane that draws great interest toward drow society. Presented in this book is the fabled Underdark city of Menzoberranzan, birthplace of famed drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden. But this isn't his story—it's many stories, yours chief among them.
Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue is designed for maximum utility. Whether you're using the current edition of the rules, or a past or future version, you'll find almost all the material in this book usable in your game. You can use this book to run a campaign set during the years before the birth of Drizzt, in the midst of the War of the Spider Queen, or during the current era of the Forgotten Realms. You can even transplant the city of Menzoberranzan into a different area or a different world, adapting it as you see fit. Menzoberranzan is a whole setting waiting for you and your players to explore, in whatever way you want to use it.
How to Use This Book
For the Dungeon Master: Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue is designed primarily with the Dungeon Master in mind. This book will help you craft an exciting and memorable campaign centered on strong drow themes.
To run a Dungeons & Dragons game in the Menzoberranzan setting, you need only this book and whichever edition of D&D that matches your preference. If you have chosen the 4th Edition D&D rule set, a few additional books might enhance your enjoyment of this product. Both Underdark and Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook make excellent references for subterranean campaigns. Dungeon Masters might also find value in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, which covers the setting beyond Menzoberranzan in greater detail.
For Players: The drow might be an evil race—and one that is forever at odds with its neighbors—but many players are nonetheless attracted to playing drow characters.
Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue discusses the underpinnings of drow society and beliefs, including their Lolth-dominated religion—all of which is vital information to players of drow characters.
In addition, this book includes guidelines for selecting a drow house with which to ally, as well as character backgrounds to aid a player in fleshing out a character's backstory and motivations. The appendix of the book is particularly focused on playing a drow character, but players will find much inspiring and useful information in the rest of the book.
Station in Drow Society
Your station as a drow determines your place in the society of Menzoberranzan. In later excerpts, we'll delve into the concept of station in more depth (which also connects with Fortune Cards: Drow Treachery, below). But as a precursor, station is divided into two types: house rank and personal esteem.
House rank determines a house's station in relation to other houses within the city. While even the noblest drow cannot directly command drow of other houses, members of a lower-ranked house must give deference to members of a higher-ranked house or face the consequences of angering powerful rivals.
Personal esteem, represented by an individual's Worth score, determines a drow's station within her house. Each drow character starts with a Worth score of 0, modified by the circumstances of his or her birth. A drow can gain and lose Worth in a wide variety of ways. The Worth Modifiers table provides some criteria that raise and lower a drow's Worth during his or her lifetime. Your DM can rule that other events raise and lower your Worth as well.
A drow's Worth is affected only by publicly known events. If a drow slays enemies of her house but no one knows about it, then that character's Worth is not affected. Drow usually choose to spread rumors about their deeds rather than openly talking about them, since they prefer not to appear desperate to climb the social ladder.
The only exception to this is that gains and losses of worth due to the respect or disrespect of Lolth do not require public acknowledgement. Lolth and her yochlol handmaids spy on her followers constantly, and they spread word of their deeds and misdeeds to priestesses of Lolth.
Fitting in with Menzoberranzan and the concept of playing as a drow, the latest set of Fortune Cards allow you to bring their machinations to the game. Drow Treachery cards are slight variants on the mechanics that Fortune Cards typically offer, and they bring you small instances of fortune, but in this case, at any cost!
In the cutthroat world of drow politics, you have to look out for Number One. You are competing with fellow drow for the favor of the powerful priestesses of Lolth to improve your station—preferably at the expense of others. Dungeons & Dragons Drow Treachery cards represent your efforts to benefit from your allies' misfortune.
These cards are an optional addition to a Dungeons & Dragons game, intended for use in a campaign set in a drow city. They use the optional rules on station in drow society as presented in the Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue supplement.
How to Play
You can use all the cards from one or more Drow Treachery boosters as your deck. Each player brings his or her own deck to the game.
At the start of each encounter, shuffle your deck and draw a card. Keep this card hidden from the other players—you don't want them to know what you're up to!
You can play one card per round. It requires no action to play. The rules on each card state when you can play it and what effect it has. A card takes effect just once unless it states otherwise, and you discard the card when its effect ends.
You can have only one Fortune Card in your hand at a time. At the start of each of your turns, you can do one of the following:
- Discard the card in your hand and draw a new one.
- Draw a new card if you don't have one in your hand.
- Keep the card that's in your hand if you haven't played it.
Treachery cards are a new kind of Fortune Card. Each card has a value in Worth; when that card takes effect, you gain the stated Worth. A few cards have a negative Worth, which reduces your Worth when they take effect. You can play as many Treachery cards in an encounter as you want, but you cannot gain more Worth than the highest-value card you played during an encounter.
Treachery Without Station
If you are not using the rules on station in drow society, you can still play Treachery cards. When any effect would grant you Worth, you instead gain a bonus to AC equal to the Worth value until the end of your next turn. Negative Worth reduces your AC in the same way. If an effect would reduce an ally's Worth, that ally instead takes a penalty to AC equal to the Worth value until the end of your next turn. (If a Treachery card's effect would increase or decrease your AC, use the greater of the card's effect or the Worth value to determine the modifier.)
To illustrate, let's showcase a few of these cards:
And finally, let's close out this month of previews with an early look at the next Dungeon Command faction pack, Tyranny of Goblins. Although goblin-themed, this faction has also enlisted powerful allies, including bugbears, trolls, and the following hobgoblin sorcerer:
That's it for this month, folks—a packed month of previews to continue our summer coverage!
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).