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2010: Outlook Good
Confessions of a Full-Time Wizard
by Shelly Mazzanoble

My mom took me to a psychic fair for my 12th birthday. Yes, a psychic fair is exactly what you might imagine… if you spent any time imagining psychic fairs. Picture a hotel ballroom teeming with card tables covered in shear, silky fabrics, scented candles, and more crystals than an A-list starlet's red carpet gown. It's quite a show!

Did you know psychics have specialties? Some are better at family dramas or finding missing people or helping discover who your soulmate is… which I guess kind of counts as a missing person. I didn't care about finding my soulmate. I already knew he was Wil Wheaton. What I cared about was discovering which soap opera I'd land my first gig on.

Before the psychic fair, Mom took me to The Bon Ton, a local department store, where I proceeded to get blissfully lost in the aesthetics and accoutrements of the cosmetics department. I zeroed in on a pink bottle adorned with a trellis of bulbous roses. Visions of that bottle atop my white, wicker dresser, nestled alongside my friendship bracelets and the mint Nolan Ryan rookie card that I stole from my brother and promptly stuck a thumbtack through danced before me. I was 12 now. Practically a grown-up, and I needed a signature scent to prove it. I grabbed that bottle and sprayed the new me from head to toe. From permed head to duck-boot-encased toes.

It was February, but we drove to the fair with all the windows down.

"What the hell did you do in there?" my mom asked. "You smell like you got caught in the middle of a tussle between a can of air freshener and an Avon lady."

Clearly Mom wasn't used to me smelling like a grown up.

We checked in at the psychic fair, and after Mom handed over $100 we were assigned a table number. The portal to my future was at table #12. Was that a sign or what? My psychic's name was Jeanne and she was perfect -- clashing patterns in cheap silk, blue eye shadow, scarf popping out of her forest of strawberry blonde hair like it was flagging down a rescue helicopter. I shuffled the cards, probably because she couldn't lift them under the weight of all the bangles scaling her wrists. She coughed a few times and took a sip of water.

The cards were laid out in pyramid formation -- the mandala spread she called it.

She flipped the first card. The Ace of Wands. "You are very creative and inventive."

I nodded. "I'm good at memorizing too!"

She continued. "You are interested in pursuing a career in an artistic field like…" Her divinations were interrupted by a series of rib-shattering coughs. Her coughs.

I started looking for my mom to make her to switch psychics with me.

"Like what?" I asked. "Like All My Children? Days of Our Lives?"

"Are you wearing perfume?" she asked.

That must be some kind of ancient psychic trick. Asking a question she should be able to answer if she was really a psychic.

Nope, not falling for it. "Uh… no," I answered.

Cough, cough, cough, gag, cough. "Hawwwwwarrrrrrahhhhh!"

"Are you sure?" she asked again. "Because I'm allergic to perfume."

"Oh, hell no!" I said, this time with conviction. Surely I could lie the scent of tea rose right out of the room. Allergic or not, I was seconds away from finding my destiny! "I'm not wearing perfume!"

"Sorry," she squeaked. "I need my inhaler!

"Don't go!"

But it was no use. She left me in a cloud of rose stink, at a silk-draped card table in a hotel ballroom with no insight into my artistic future. Apparently Jeanne spread the word about the stinky liar at table 12 because I never got a replacement psychic. But Mom got her money back and offered it to me if promised to burn my soiled clothes and never go within 25 feet of a perfume counter ever again.

"I can't believe you lied to a psychic," Mom laughed on our way home. At least I think she was laughing. It was hard to hear with her head out the window.

If you happen to be psychic you'll know why I was blathering on about this. If you're not, I'll tell you. It's almost my birthday! And also because my mom just sent me a beautiful, second hand, crystal ball from a flea market in honor of our one-time tradition. Everyone knows magic items found at flea markets, in attics, or the dirt beneath swimming pools are the real deal. Especially when they come with batteries.

With the New Year comes a deep-seated desire to know what's in store for the next twelve months. So color me clairvoyant as I gaze upon my battery operated crystal ball and make some major predictions for what's in store for D&D in 2010.

From the Depths of the Events Team

It's not just about the treasure. Okay, it is. And lucky us, because 2010 begins on a prosperous note for Dungeon Masters and players alike. If you're a player with a penchant for the cyclic, get ready for your close up… and loads of loot.

D&D players will finally reap rewards for their gallant efforts! The more adventuring you do, the more repute you'll earn. Soon you'll be heralded across the land! Tickertape parades will commence in your honor! Your fluctuating weight will be scrutinized, analyzed, and criticized on the cover of tabloids! Everyone will be asking "Where did you get that amazing…" Forgive me. You'll have to ask again later. But I am getting a sense that "it" is really cool.

But of course, great reward is not without its challenges. And that's fine, because who wants to be rewarded for laying around on a bedroll and eating trail rations all day? (Okay, other than me.) Brave adventurers, get ready for a steady stream of new adversaries and obstacles. Perhaps it might even feel like a weekly stream.

I can only advice you, my fellow D&D soulmages, to round up the party, find a friendly shopkeeper, and accept your mission. You won't be disappointed.

From the Depths of Product Development

The future is random for players and Dungeon Masters. Once at odds, I see characters and monsters co-existing in the same space peacefully in the distant future. Or rather, trapped in the same space. Once they are unleashed, there is no telling what will happen. But wait… there is telling. I'm psychic, remember?

I see huge danger for players! Can any good come from this very rare occurrence? The future says outlook good… if you're a DM.

Speaking of Dungeon Masters, 2010 might as well be dubbed "The Year of the DM." Characters take heed: This is not good. What I am about to tell you is real. And it is traumatizing. And frightening beyond words (which is unfortunate for a writer).

What incomprehensible fiend has risen from the bowels of the Elemental Chaos? A horrific foe! The most dreaded and dastardly villain of all time! I want to turn away, but I'm paralyzed. Scarier than watching several desperate, delusional women duking it out to marry a guy they've known for eleven days on The Bachelor. In hi-def no less! But if I see it, I must report it because that is the code of the psychic. Yes. We have a code.

To be fair, my view of this baddie is partially impeded by a stainless steel thermos and a grease stained Top Pot Doughnut paper bag, but I'm pretty sure I know what, or rather who, I'm looking at. And no doubt that sound I hear in the distance is that of Dungeon Masters all over creation cackling with Machiavellian delight.

From the Misty Halls of R&D

My crystal ball reveals recollections from days of yore. Brady Bunches and bell bottoms. Little blue beings living in mushroom houses and Swatch Watches. How am I supposed to tell the future if I keep seeing the past?

This year the past and the present will intermingle. That's right. Guess whose coming to dinner? Or at least a gaming session in your future. I can't tell you (reply hazy) but I do see this blast from the past eliciting joy and reminiscence in the hearts of millions of gamers. Or at least gamers who can't remember life without a microwave or Madonna.

As I gaze even deeper into the future to the past, I see great unrest and turmoil at game tables. Do my eyes deceive, or is that really a teddy bear-toting rat swarm? Did that hibiscus plant just wink at me?

In the midst of mayhem, I see great fun. What's wrong with you people? War is not fun! Judgment Day is not for joking! And yet, my crystal ball contradicts this. Perhaps the batteries are burning out. Or maybe R&D is feeling a bit nostalgic…

This predicting the future is fun! Seeing as though I've got a little juice left in the old batteries, I take the liberty of gazing upon the futures of my party-mates.

Always praised for his ability to sing health back to the injured and pacify a villain with a lullaby, Anwar becomes drunk with praise and delusional about his talents. He ditches the Wyld Stallyns in search of fame on a popular talent show where he is viciously mocked by the judges. He retreats back to the Wyld Stallyns, ready to beg for forgiveness, but he finds they'd been on an extended rest and didn't realize he was gone.

Holden decides being an assassin isn't as cool as he thought. He decides to become a warden. But that bores him too. So he tries out gnome avenger and a shifter druid and a hybrid of goliath bear shaman/monk. Finally as an act of mercy, Oso eats him. Then spits him out. Then eats him again.

Aaeon's tough-as-nails exterior begins to wane as he consistently gets knocked around, bloodied, and caught up in the friendly fire of his own party's bursts. Perhaps it's his good karma or maybe just simple math that grants him the lucky recipient of a powerful divining rod, allowing him to finally realize his dream to seek great treasures on the white, sandy beaches of Florida. He will continue to suffer from bouts of vertigo.

Sick of being pushed to the sidelines, and begging to see some action, Oso de la Fez ditches the Wyld Stallyns and starts a glam band called The Familiars.

Tabitha figures out a way to use more than one daily at each level each day! R&D concedes D&D is way more fun this way and should have listened to the genius wizard all along. R&D begs her to take a job, offering extreme amounts of treasure and renown, but she politely declines. In her honor, the company renames itself Tabitha of the Coast.

Fed up with the Wyld Stallyns' inability to remember what door they already tried, where they are, if they've rested, which daily has been used, whether they've packed a light source, to pick their darn magic items, already, and to level up before the next game, New DM finally reaches his limit and… Outlook not so good.

About the Author

Shelly Mazzanoble is standing by right now to tell you your future. Empower yourself today!

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