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Grab Some Mid-Winter Heat
Ampersand
by Bill Slavicsek

It’s been a crazy winter all across the country. Tons of snow. Record cold. Dogs and cats. You get the idea. This month, I’ve got a little bit of heat to inject into the cold days of February. Namely, a bunch of news related to the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, the ultimate expression of dust and fire in the D&D multiverse. And that’s not all! Let’s get started …

And the Winner Is …

The recent "Cast Your Role" promotion, with the chance to earn a role in the upcoming SyFy original Dungeons & Dragons movie, "The Book of Vile Darkness," has ended and a winner has been selected. Congratulations to Stephen P. from Eldersburg, Maryland and his character, Lurk the half-elf mage. From Stephen’s entry:

Lurk was born with no name in a slave pit filled with humans and dwarves. He never knew his family. He wandered the pits at night, earning the name Lurk. He spent his childhood abused, learning to suppress his emotions so he could ignore the pain. A wizard oversaw the slave pit, using the captives to tests his spells. Lurk became the wizard’s favorite, and after time he learned to cast spells of his own. He used this power to destroy the wizard and the slaves, leaving the only home he had known in ashes as he stepped out into the world.

Wow. That’s one hardcore half-elf! More details on Lurk, Stephen P., and the upcoming movie will be revealed in the months ahead.

The March Has Started!

The March of the Phantom Brigade, that is! The new season of D&D Encounters begins tonight, so check out the D&D Encounters web page and the store locator to find a participating location near you. This season, the new D&D Fortune Cards are available to use in play. This optional element adds minor boosts and twists of fate to the game. Twitter buffs, which have been a part of the program, have been modified to work in conjunction with the D&D Fortune Cards, making every adventure even more exciting. So create a character and find a store! Only you can help solve the mystery of the Ghost Tower of Inverness and the Phantom Brigade!

Wrath of Ashardalon

Look for the newest Adventure System Board Game, Wrath of Ashardalon, this month. In the tradition of the Castle Ravenloft Board Game, Wrath of Ashardalon is a cooperative adventure experience that can be played solo or with up to five players. It comes complete with 13 scenarios, a configurable and ever-changing dungeon, and more than 40 plastic playing pieces—including the huge red dragon, Ashardalon. The two games work together if you want to mix and match pieces. Check out the upcoming scenarios that will be available here on the website for adventures that use heroes, monsters, and other components from both boxed sets. Challenge Ashardalon and his minions—if you dare!

This Month in Dragon: Genasi of Athas

Rob Schwalb explores the genasi race and how it fits into the ecology of the world of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting. The article presents a complete racial treatment of these "half-elementals," designed to work with the strong elemental nature of Athas. If you want to turn up the heat and take advantage of the elemental framework of the Dark Sun campaign, take a look at this material when it goes live later this month.

This Month in Dungeon: Beneath the Dust

"Beneath the Dust," an adventure set in the Dark Sun campaign setting, debuts this month. When a living relic from a long-forgotten age is discovered, it could mean salvation or destruction for the world of heat and sand. The relic, a seed from a primordial Tree of Life, can be used to restore vitality to the world. Or, in the hands of a defiler, to increase the power of a dark magic-user. Author Jared Espley is making his first appearance in Dungeon online with this gripping adventure. "Beneath the Dust" can be a great set piece for a Dark Sun campaign, or with a little work it can be modified to use in any campaign setting. Check it out.

Dark Sun Comic

If you haven’t been following the great D&D comics coming from IDW Publishing, this is the ideal time to get in on the action. Issue #2 of Dark Sun goes on sale today. This is the first comics series ever set in the world of Athas, and writer Alex Irvine and artist Peter Bergting are pulling out all the stops for this five-issue miniseries. Ask your comic book retailer how you can get a copy of the rare Module Edition of the issue, or the super-rare black-and-white cover by artist Andy Brase. Check IDW Publishing's website for more details.

Next Month

More news. More product information. And a preview or two of upcoming releases. Until then,

Keep playing!

Until then, keep playing!


In Case You Don't Know Him

Bill Slavicsek's gaming life was forever changed when he discovered Dungeons & Dragons in 1976. He became a gaming professional in 1986 when he was hired by West End Games as an editor. He quickly added developer, designer, and creative manager to his resume, and his work helped shape the Paranoia, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Torg roleplaying games. He even found some time during that period to do freelance work for D&D 1st Edition. In 1993, Bill joined the staff of TSR, Inc. as a designer/editor. He worked on a bunch of 2nd Edition material, including products for Core D&D, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, and Planescape. In 1997, he was part of the TSR crowd that moved to Seattle to join Wizards of the Coast, and in that year he was promoted to R&D Director for D&D. In that position, Bill oversaw the creation of both the 3rd Edition and 4th Edition of the D&D Roleplaying Game. He was one of the driving forces behind the D&D Insider project, and he continues to oversee and lead the creative strategy and effort for Dungeons & Dragons.

Bill's enormous list of credits includes Alternity, d20 Star Wars, The Mark of Nerath Dungeons & Dragon novel, Eberron Campaign Setting, the D&D For Dummies books, and his monthly Ampersand (&) column for Dragon Magazine.