t is extremely saddening to start with the following, but I want to add a further note of condolence in regards to the passing of Mark "wrecan" Monack.
For anyone not familiar with wrecan and the incredible contributions he made within the D&D Community, I'd point to his profile, his blog posts, and his Unearthed Wrecana collection.
Wrecan also contributed to the D&D website, including his tutorial on terrain powers, and more recently his Queen of the Interwebz Pits April Fool's Day article and his Court of Stars feature in Dragon 422.
I was personally fascinated with his exploration of piecework creatures as a means to create more complex 4th Edition solo monsters. As a fan of both Lost and Isle of Dread, I also thoroughly enjoyed his use of that show as a story backdrop for his D&D Next Isle of Dread playtest.
Perhaps most of all, however, I appreciated his Heroes of Blogging (such as March's post). These best represented wrecan's engagement with the D&D community, to me. Not only did he actively participate and contribute, but he also promoted the work and creativity of his fellow community members.
He will be missed, and very much so.
This summer, D&D Encounters takes place in the Dalelands. Well, actually it takes place at a gaming store near you, but the in-game events are set between the cold lands of the Moonsea to the north and the large empires of Sembia and Cormyr to the south.
Here, a dozen tiny realms of farmers and woodsfolk lie scattered in pastoral clearings within the vast forest, including Shadowdale, home to the famous mage Elminster; Mistledale, a pastoral land where the Dales Council meets; and Battledale, a lightly settled region where great battles were fought in years past, but which is peaceful in the present age. Encompassing the Dales is the great forest of Cormanthor, home to the elven realm of Myth Drannor. Cormanthor’s hidden depths hold the ruins of ancient elven kingdoms, many still harboring magical wonders and ancient terrors.
Sounds peaceful enough.
Your adventures in the Dalelands begin in the eastern reaches of Battledale, where the renowned sage Imani makes his home. Imani has spent his life studying the ruins of Cormanthor, searching for the legendary library-vaults of the vanished elven realm of Uvaeren.
Recently, Imani found out that a long-lost Uvaeranni artifact, the Diamond Staff of Chomylla, was hidden in the vaults of a dracolich, and that the Cult of the Dragon was close to obtaining the staff to claim the power for its own evil ends. Thus forewarned, Imani called on a number of groups of adventurers and organized an assault that successfully recovered the Diamond Staff. Now the sage is putting together an expedition to open an Uvaeranni library-vault using the artifact, and he is looking for reliable adventurers to accompany him.
As Imani himself states:
"Your task will be to escort me to the ruins, protect me from bandits and monsters, help me defeat or bypass any old traps that still remain, and guard me while I open the Vault of Song and study its secrets. As your employer, I claim half of any treasures we recover on our journey to the vault. The remaining half will be equally divided among you. As for what is found in the Vault of Song, I alone must be allowed to decide its disposition. Those are the conditions. Are you willing to sign on?"
Fairly straightforward, right? That said, although Imani possesses the diamond staff at the start, the season is probably called the Search for the Diamond Staff for a good reason!
Written by industry veteran and author, Richard Baker, Search for the Diamond Staff is designed for characters of level 4–6. The first session takes place June 12th, and we certainly hope to see you there.
Map of the Dalelands
We've posted the seminars, games, and events taking place at this year's Gen Con on our convention page. In addition, for anyone who may have missed our additional announcement, pre-orders have officially opened for Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle.
This exclusive Gen Con 2013 D&D Next preview will be available only to Gen Con attendees. By pre-ordering, you'll also receive a free collectible D&D miniature. Simply pre-order the book, then stop by Gale Force Nine’s Gen Con booth and collect your book and free mini.
Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle
Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle is a D&D Next preview and mini-campaign comprised of four thrilling adventures designed to advance characters from 1st level to 10th level. The book also contains everything a Dungeon Master needs to run the adventures, including D&D Next game rules developed during the massive public playtest, monster statistics, spell descriptions, magic item descriptions, and background information on the coastal town of Daggerford, where the campaign is based.
Against the backdrop of the Sundering, brave adventurers must protect the town of Daggerford against an insidious foreign threat while forging alliances, exploring dungeons, and battling monsters. The action moves from the Lizard Marsh to the orc-infested hills, finally culminating in a deadly altercation amid the crumbling ruins of the legendary Dragonspear Castle.
Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle includes pre-generated D&D Next characters, as well as rules for advancing these characters up to level 10. The book also includes the winning character sheet from our recent contest.
2. Video Games
Next in our line-up for this month, we have an array of video games that are available now or that are in production.
First, while the Neverwinter MMORPG continues its beta, we're already looking forward to module 1 ("They would seize from the moon...") -- expect detailed news on the module in the very near future!
If you want to learn all you can about the game—including quests, classes, and lore about the world of Faerûn and the Neverwinter environs—take a look at the Neverwinter Wiki. And if you haven’t yet joined the Neverwinter MMORPG, you can read more about the game, consult the FAQ, and get started!
The return of these former arcade hits is right around the corner. Chronicles of Mystara brings together Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara in one definitive digital package for current generation platforms. Release dates for Chronicles of Mystara have now been announced as (North America): PSN & Steam – June 18; XBLA – June 19; WiiU – TBC; (Europe): Steam – June 18; PSN & XBLA – June 19; WiiU – TBC.
Just as in the arcades, up to four players can select their character class before doing battle against mythical beasts with a mix of melee, range, and magic attacks. For a look at the most recent class in action, Capcom recently posted the Thief:
You may have just heard about this announcement: DeNA is currently working on a D&D mobile game. Arena of War is a party-based battle game set within the Forgotten Realms—and it has a heavy emphasis on boss battles! Worldwide release is currently scheduled for late July.
Look for further news and information about this title on their site.
Sneaking this announcement in quickly—while we have a mere "coming soon" page up now that simply lists the first of the Sundering novels, look for more complete information and activities coming next month. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet seen the gorgeous art featuring the characters from the novel, here it is (click for a larger view):
Last time, we offered a partial schedule for R.A. Salvatore/Drizzt books coming out in the months ahead, courtesy of our partners over at Audible.com. Here now is the remainder of that schedule through 2013.
Legend of Drizzt: Dark Elf Trilogy
Homeland: March 26
Exile: April 9
Sojourn: April 23
Legend of Drizzt: Icewind Dale Trilogy
The Crystal Shard: May 7
Stream of Silver: May 21
The Halfling's Gem: June 4
Legend of Drizzt: Legacy of the Drow
Starless Night: August 27
Siege of Darkness: September 10
Passage to Dawn: October 8
Legend of Drizzt: Paths of Darkness
The Silent Blade: October 22
The Spine of the World: November 5
Sea of Swords: November 19
Servant of the Shard: December 3
Promise of the Witch-King: December 17
And, of course, many more titles will follow these throughout the year, including those from R.A. Salvatore and our other authors!
As a reminder for fans of Neverwinter who are perhaps looking to brush up on stories and lore for the MMORPG, we'd point back to two works set in the city and currently available in ebook format.
Cold Steel and Secrets
By Rosemary Jones
Part 1: Sent by the spy master of Neverwinter to investigate a group of rebels, Rucas Sarfael finds a worthy adversary in the beautiful fencing master Elyne. Matching wits and blades with the rebel leader, Rucas strives to prove himself and rise in the rebel ranks in part 1 of this four-part novella set in the renowned city of Neverwinter.
Rosemary Jones is the author of two novels set in the Forgotten Realms setting: City of the Dead and Crypt of the Moaning Diamond. Her short stories have also appeared in Forgotten Realms anthologies including Realms of the Dead. For more on her latest projects, check her websites at rosemaryjones.com.
The Last Threshold
By R.A. Salvatore
In the final book of the #4 New York Times best-selling Neverwinter Saga, Drizzt Do’Urden navigates a winding path littered with secrets and lies. Tangled up in his companion Dahlia’s dark secrets, the ties that once held her close to Drizzt threaten to tear as her bonds to his former foe, Artemis Entreri, continue to grow. Meanwhile, in the caverns of Gauntlgrym, the drow Tiago Baenre enlists the help of Bregan D’aerthe in his quest to destroy Drizzt. While making promises they may not keep, the agents of the elite drow mercenary group hide plans of their own.
Determined to stand for what’s right in the Realms once again, Drizzt forges a new road north—toward Icewind Dale. Will his new companions follow? Can he fight the darkness alone? Either way, he knows now where he’s headed—back to the only place that’s ever felt like home.
The Neverwinter Saga
We've been thrilled to offer PDFs of material from past editions over at dndclassics.com. There you can find everything from the bundled GDQ series of adventures (from giants to spider queen), as well as the B (basic) series, U (underwater) series, and 3.5 Complete books (Complete Adventurer, Arcane, Divine, and Warrior).
There are still plenty more PDFs coming to the store. In May, the most recent additions included the following:
Cleric's Challenge (AD&D)
Code of the Harpers (AD&D FR)
Complete Bard's Handbook (AD&D 2E)
Complete Book of Elves (AD&D 2E)
Complete Book of Gnomes/Halflings (AD&D 2E)
Dungeon Survival Guide (3E)
The Elves of Evermeet (AD&D FR)
The Great Modron March (Planescape)
A Guide to the Ethereal Plane (Planescape)
Monster Mythology (AD&D 2E)
Monstrous Compendium Annual Vol. Four (AD&D 2E)
Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix (AD&D 2E)
Vecna Lives! (AD&D)
WG7, Castle Greyhawk (AD&D)
XL1: Quest for the Heartstone (Expert)
And coming in June:
Complete Book of Humanoids (AD&D 2E)
Creative Campaigning (AD&D 2E)
Player's Option: Skills & Powers (AD&D 2E)
Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium I & II (Ravenloft)
Complete Paladin's Handbook (AD&D 2E)
Complete Ranger's Handbook (AD&D 2E)
Player's Option: Spells & Magic (AD&D 2E)
The Seven Sisters (AD&D FR)
Complete Book of Necromancers (AD&D 2E)
Complete Book of Villains (AD&D 2E)
Complete Druid's Handbook (AD&D 2E)
Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium III (Ravenloft)
Complete Barbarian's Handbook (AD&D 2E)
Complete Ninja's Handbook (AD&D 2E)
Giantcraft (AD&D FR)
Of Ships and the Sea (AD&D 2E)
Sages & Specialists (AD&D 2E)
4. Board Games
Welcome back to Waterdeep, the City of Splendors!
What you first need to know about Scoundrels of Skullport: It's an expansion for the Lords of Waterdeep board game (you'll need the base game to play). And, this expansion actually contains two new game modules: Undermountain and Skullport. You can add a module to the base game to expand and alter the experience—and, when using at least one module, you can play with up to six players at a time!
Each module includes new Lord, Quest, and Intrigue cards, as well as new Buildings, all related to the given module. We'll take a deeper look at these modules in the coming weeks, but for now you can read an overview.
Skullport—also known as the Port of Shadow—is nestled in the heart of Undermountain, deep below the streets of Waterdeep. It is a haven for nefarious crimes, underhanded deals, and back-alley murders. Those who visit Skullport do so at their own peril, for around every corner are new ways to make people disappear.
The Skullport module includes a new resource: Corruption. Unlike Adventurers and Gold, having Corruption in your Tavern penalizes you at the end of the game. However, the Buildings, Quests, and Intrigue cards that produce Corruption also offer more plentiful rewards. Thus you must strike a balance between your greed and the potential harm of Corruption at the end of the game.
Undermountain is a vast and multileveled dungeon beneath Mount Waterdeep that once served the crazed wizard Halaster as a site for magical experiments. Now it is a labyrinthine maze with few refuges for weary adventurers.
The Undermountain module takes Agents of the Lords into the dangerous caverns below Mount Waterdeep. The rumored wealth of Undermountain entices adventurers to brave the mysteries and monsters beneath the City of Splendors. Both the risks and the returns are greater for undertaking Quests that require more Gold and Adventurers.
For now, let's leave with a full look at the expansion's components.
And here we have one of the new Lords in particular. We did say that you would be venturing into Undermountain, didn’t we?
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.