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Previews04/12/2007


Previews for April and Beyond



A is for April. And Adventure.

Man, I tell you, if you're looking for a challenge, you're in luck -- we've got a pile of adventures hitting the shelves these days. All kinds of different challenges for characters of all kinds of different levels. Whether you play in the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, or in your own homebrewed world, there's something on the shelves or on the way for you. Check it out:

April

April: City of Peril

This is the latest addition to the Fantastic Locations series of accessories, so if you've picked up or played through any of the others (such as Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin), you know a bit about what to expect. If you haven't checked these things out, you should take a look -- this one's on sale this month. Essentially, you'll find that it's a 16-page encounter booklet and two double-sided battle maps. It's designed to be useful and challenging for roleplayers as well as minis skirmish gamers. If you're interested in a little bit more information, you should check out the back cover text I showed you in February.

April: Expedition to the Demonweb Pits

Back in February, I showed off the back cover text for this 224-page super-adventure. Since it is an immense, challenging, book of hard-won XPs, I won't go into any detail about what's inside the covers. But, again, I will point out that it's designed to drop into any campaign that's got some 9th-level characters looking for trouble. One of the interesting bits about the design of this adventure is the fact that it can become the main storyline of your existing campaign, be used as a series of side-treks that culminate in a monumental adventure, or even serve as an isolated mini-campaign.

April: Eyes of the Lich Queen

Back in February, I gave you the back cover text from this 128-page super-adventure. The first of its kind for those of you romping around the Eberron Campaign Setting, this super-adventure will test the talents and abilities of a party of 5th-level characters long enough to either send them to the great retired character sheet folder in the sky, or bump them all the way to 10th level.



May

May: Drow of the Underdark

At last, a 224-page supplement focused on the most infamous race of baddies to ever skulk beneath the surface of any Dungeons & Dragons world -- the drow. Whether you're a DM wanting to create a horrifyingly deadly Underdark experience, or a player that's interested in playing a lethal dark elf, this is going to be an invaluable reference. Last month, I showed you the back cover text (and gave you a short list of words that rhyme with "drow" -- just to help settle any discussions about pronunciation).

This month, I get to pass along a chunk from the book's Introduction that gives you the always-handy, chapter-by-chapter run-down of the book's contents.

Using this Book

Drow of the Underdark is the definitive resource for dark elves in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Within these pages, you will find exhaustive detail on their culture and society, rules and options for building drow characters, new equipment including a broad selection of drow-themed magic items, new monsters, and a fully detailed drow city just waiting to be explored.

Just as Draconomicon presented extensive information on dragons and the Fiendish Codex supplements described demons and devils, Drow of the Underdark does the same with the drow, offering Dungeon Masters the tools to create memorable encounters with one of the game's most popular adversaries. But it also gives players the knowledge and tools to effectively fight this menacing race.

The material presented in Drow of the Underdark is spread throughout seven chapters, with their contents summarized here.

Chapter 1: All About the Drow. This chapter presents an unflinching look at the society of dark elves, exploring their history and myths, traditions and culture.

Chapter 2: Drow Options. Moving away from thematic descriptions, this chapter offers several new uses for skills, new feats, alternative class features, and spells to reflect the disturbing techniques employed by the drow.

Chapter 3: Prestige Classes. This chapter presents a selection of eight prestige classes that demonstrate the various interests of these evil elves.

Chapter 4: Equipment. This chapter offers a survey of useful tools: new alchemical items and poisons, new magic weapon and armor properties, and new rods and wondrous items.

Chapter 5: New Monsters. From the spiders they breed, to the brutes they enslave, to the wretched forms of those who have displeased the Spider Queen, this chapter presents a detailed look at the kind of servants the drow employ and the allies they make.

Chapter 6: Campaigns and Adventures. This chapter offers guidance and tools for using drow in adventures, as well as techniques for designing campaigns with a drow focus.

Chapter 7: Erelhei-Cinlu. The final chapter examines one of the most infamous cities of the Underdark: Erelhei-Cinlu, located in the subterranean cavern known as the Vault of the Drow.

Just to give you a little glimpse into the dangerous realm that lies within the book, I'll give you a taste of a trio of feats from Chapter 2: Drow Options.

Clever Opportunist

When an unwary opponent gives you an opportunity, you use it to change positions with your foe.

Prerequisite: Combat Reflexes.

Benefit: If you hit a creature of your size or smaller with an attack of opportunity, you can spend an immediate action to exchange places with that creature.

Both you and the target must be able to move into and legally occupy the new space in order for this feat to function. For example, an incorporeal character inside a solid object couldn't exchange places with a corporeal character, nor could a nonflying creature exchange places with an airborne flying creature.

Special: A fighter can select Clever Opportunist as a fighter bonus feat.

The Knight of Lolth feat makes a spider-rider more than the equal of any surface-dwelling mounted warrior.

Knight of Lolth

You have mastered techniques of waging war when mounted on a monstrous spider (or similar vermin).

Prerequisite: Ride 1 rank, Mounted Combat, Vermin Trainer.

Benefit: When riding monstrous vermin, you do not need to make any rolls or checks to remain mounted if your mount travels across walls or ceilings (though if you take damage when on a wall or ceiling, the DC of the check to remain mounted is 10 rather than 5).

When your monstrous vermin mount makes a charge attack, you can spend a standard action to grant it a bonus on the attack roll and damage roll equal to 1/2 your base attack bonus.

Normal: Riding a creature clinging to a wall or ceiling would require various checks depending on circumstances.

Gloom Strike [Ambush]

Your sneak attacks leave a residue of darkness that clouds your enemy's vision.

Prerequisite: Sneak attack +3d6, darkness as a spell-like ability.

Benefit: Your sneak attack creates an aura of magical darkness that impedes your target's vision for 3 rounds. The target takes a -4 penalty on Spot checks and treats all other creatures as having concealment. Neither darkvision nor low-light vision pierces this effect, though the ability to see through magical darkness does. Any spell with the light descriptor suppresses the effect.

Using this feat reduces your sneak attack damage by 2d6.

May: Ruins of the Wild: Dungeon Tiles IV

You should be able to surmise, from the latter part of this product's title, that it's the fourth in the ongoing (and popular) series of Dungeon Tiles accessories. If you've taken a look at any of the other three (D&D Dungeon Tiles,D&D Dungeon Tiles II: Arcane Corridors, or D&D Dungeon Tiles III: Hidden Crypts), you already know how useful this shrinkwrapped bundle will be. (Inside you'll find six double-sided, laminated sheets of game board, each with a number of highly detailed pop-out pieces of dungeon/terrain features and settings.) Sturdy, portable, and easy-to-use, each additional Dungeon Tiles pack adds more flexibility and excitement to every encounter a DM creates. I gave you a more complete description of what Dungeon Tiles accessories offer you and your game, along with the text from the back of Ruins of the Wild, last month.

May: Complete Champion

You don't have to play a cleric or a paladin to tap into the powers granted by the divine. Not any more, anyway. This latest addition to the Complete ______ series of supplements offers up 160 pages of material, rules, and options that allow players and DMs to create and play characters that struggle for a cause -- including various archetypes, feats, prestige classes, organizations, spells, and magic items. Last month, I made an offering of the book's back cover text. This month, I was hoping to have an excerpt or two to show you, but I've not been able to get hold of a copy of the book to find something. Perhaps, with some prayer, I can wrangle the file I need for next month.

June

June: The Sinister Spire

The full title to this adventure is DD2 The Sinister Spire (sequel to DD1 Barrow of the Forgotten King). I know it's just pure old-school gamer goobishness, but when I noticed the "DD1/DD2" parts of the titles, I waxed all nostalgic for the old 1st-Edition modules, with their similar titling convention/codes. (You know, like G1-2-3 Against the Giants.) This has absolutely nothing to do with this particular adventure, but I just thought I'd make that little observation and move on.

So, even though this 64-page adventure was crafted as the second in a three-part series, it was designed in a way that'd let you run it as a stand-alone adventure for any party of 4th-level characters in any campaign setting. That's really all I can tell you about an adventure, aside from giving you a look at the back cover text:

Delve into the Darkling Depths

The oily waves of a sunless sea roll to a pebble-strewn shore, beyond which opens a wide Underdark vista shimmering with pale cave-light. Titanic columns as big as castles march miles into the misted distance. The wide, steeply sloping base of the nearest colossal column is carved with streets, walls, and elaborate structures, many with gaping, empty windows. A few glimmer with faint illumination. Are you brave enough to explore the spire-city and face the terrors that lurk within?

This Dungeons & Dragons adventure is designed for 5th-level characters. It can be played as a stand-alone adventure or as the second adventure in a three-part series. Each encounter contains special tactical information for the Dungeon Master and expanded map features for ease of play.

June: Expedition to Undermountain

Another homage to the golden age of D&D , Expedition to Undermountain plumbs the depths of that most deadly and expansive of dungeon complexes, the infamous Undermountain. Located far below the city of Waterdeep (in the Forgotten Realms ), this legendary location has been killing -- that is, challenging -- characters ever since the publication of The Ruins of Undermountainlong, long ago. So popular and exhaustive, the dungeon complex has most recently been re-explored by the lovely and talented Matt Sernett, in a series of web features titled Return to Undermountain. But now, you're staring down the dark corridors of a 224-page super-adventure designed to take a party of 1st-level characters and turn them into hardened 10th-level heroes. Even though Undermountain was/is located underneath Waterdeep, you don't have to be running a campaign in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting to make use of this vast labyrinth -- Expedition to Undermountain was designed to be useful to any DM in any campaign setting. I won't go into any more detail or description, but I will pass along the back cover text:

No one knows what lurks
in the depths of the mad archmage's halls . . .
but you're about to find out.

Day, night, I can no longer tell. Gargoyles carried off the wizard while we were roping our way down Belkram's Fall. Evendur the paladin fell beneath the axe of a blood-maddened minotaur two rests later, then Ironhewer stumbled into a magical portal and vanished screaming. We dared not follow him. It is said that these halls hide treasure beyond imagining, but even if we found Halaster's hoard in the next chamber, we are so hopelessly lost that I doubt I would live to spend a copper of it.

This Dungeons & Dragons adventure presents the vastest, deepest, most legendary dungeon of them all -- Undermountain, the domain of the mad archmage Halaster. Below the streets of Waterdeep lie more than twenty levels and sublevels, some miles in extent. Ruined fortresses, secret shrines, subterranean rivers, forgotten crypts, and monsters of every description lurk in the darkness below.

This campaign adventure is designed for characters of levels 1-10 and features an easy-to-use combat encounter format. This book also presents new magic items for player characters and an overview of Waterdeep as a base for any D&D campaign.

June: The Forge of War

At last, a detailed look at the Last War. This is the first time a supplement for the Eberron Campaign Settinghas ever really delved into the immense conflict that shaped the realm of Eberron into the place we know today. Far more than just a historical overview, this 160-page supplement offers an array of material that allows for adventuring during the Last War, as well as information that will help create characters, encounters, and adventures that have a basis in that monumental battle. I'm really not doing this thing justice. Hopefully I'll have some stuff to show you next month. Until then, I can let you get a better idea of what's inside the book by passing along the back cover text:

The Last War Never Ended . . .

The Treaty of Thronehold stopped the massive march of armies across Khorvaire, but it didn't put an end to espionage, unrest, and border skirmishes among the nations of Eberron. And no treaty could ever end the horrors that haunt the dreams of every soldier, spy, and adventurer whose life was shattered by a century of warfare.

This supplement for the Eberron campaign setting presents everything you need to bring the Last War to life in your Eberron game, whether you're playing a character who fought in the war or running adventures that take place during the century of conflict. New character options let you explore battlefield backgrounds, the magic of war, battle scars, and the benefits of working as a team. Campaign seeds help the Dungeon Master introduce the themes and events of the Last War in a current-day campaign or send characters back to their wartime days through flashbacks or actual travel through time. A comprehensive overview of the Last War provides all you need to know about the events, armies, battlefields, and themes of Eberron's greatest clash of nations.



July

July: Night Below Booster Packs

So, the Unhallowedexpansion went on sale last month. That means I get to start showing off minis from the next set -- Night Below. Of course, I kinda need the production minis to look at in order to do that up right. But they're off being photographed. So, in order to make sure I get this article turned over in time, the best I can do is pick the two I want to show, and just list 'em here, and let those photos do all the talking. So, there's a kobold in the set, so that's mini number one for me: the oft-asked-for Kobold Trapmaker (a sweet, little Common) And, with nostalgia filling the air, I have to show off the (large, Rare) Frost Giant Jarl -- the big, bad guy (and namesake) from G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.

Kobold Trapmaker Frost Giant Jarl

I know you'll want to see more minis, so be sure to check out Steve Schubert's Miniatures Previews articles on the D&D Minis page, and flip through Dragon magazine to see their minis content and exclusive coverage.

There it is.

About the Author

Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing number of years, and used to spend an astonishing amount of time thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same. Now, he's back to just playing the game 'cause it's fun.

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This Month



Complete Champion

D&D Dungeon Tiles IV: Ruins of the Wild

Drow of the Underdark
Next Month



The Sinister Spire

The Forge of War

Expedition to Undermountain
Last Month



City of Peril

Expedition to the Demonweb Pits

Eyes of the Lich Queen

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