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The best of the web – magical, mythical and majestical! Fantasy and Mythic websites and materials/downloads. Roleplaying, Tabletop and Esoteric Games.

First impressions: Dragon Age: Origins





One of the more interesting games we saw at the recent Game Developer's Conference was a large-scale RPG called Dragon Age: Origins, combining well-trod sword-and-sorcery clich├ęs with an inventively twisting plot and an advanced branching dialog engine (where the main character often affects the story by deciding what to say to other characters).



If all that sounds too "hardcore gamer" for you, that's a shame, although understandable considering the dangerously nerdy Dungeons & Dragons vibe of the game's marketing pitch to date.



Despite the elves, dwarves, and renaissance faire outcasts that populate the game, we could see the heart of a mainstream, Hollywood-style action/adventure beating underneath. The developer, BioWare, is responsible for several big crossover hits, including Knights of the Old Republic (a Star Wars RPG), and Mass Effect, a sci-fi (or is that "syfy," now?) game with some of the best intelligent dialog trees we've seen.



Unfortunately, in the segments BioWare demoed behind closed doors for us, all that inventive, involved gameplay is buried under uptight, wooden characterizations of medieval characters that seem to be trying to do Shakespeare in the Park, or at least the dated, stagy delivery of an old fantasy film.



The problem (and it's an industry wide one) is that while movies eventually evolved a more naturalistic acting style during the 1950s (in films such as On the Waterfront), most video games have never been able to make that leap -- instead of Marlon Brando, they're still doing Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn.


That aside, we were impressed with the tight interplay between the four members of your band of adventurers -- tact and diplomacy is required to keep friends from becoming enemies. Strategy types will appreciate the combat system, in which one can let allies figure out how to fight for themselves, or program extensive instructions for what to do in specific situations (for example, order an ally to always attack a certain kind of enemy first, or to never use healing items).



We're looking forward to seeing more of this game over the next several months, and Dragon Age: Origins will be available for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 late in 2009.

Making a campaign setting, part 2




In a recent article I talked about my first tip for creating a rich and engaging campaign setting for your games, which was, in short, to make sure not to rush it. My second tip for creating a campaign setting is to establish a goal or theme for your setting. This may sound difficult (or for some of you, too “artsy”) but it isn’t, really. Think about some of the great settings of Dungeons and Dragons: Darksun is a dark and gritty setting where just surviving in the hostile environment is an adventure in and of itself. Dragonlance is almost Greco-Roman with all the divine spats going on, and is the sort of place where you can never be sure that the dwarf you’re drinking with isn’t secretly Reorx, god of the forge. And of course there’s Planescape, with its mix of Victorian-English culture, fantastic sights, and battles of great philosophical import.



None of these settings would have been half as potent if they hadn’t focused themselves on a specific feeling that they wanted to evoke from their players. It’s something like picking a genre of movie: do you want the pulpy comic-book action of Ebberon, or the dusty, history-filled Forgotten Realms (pre-fourth edition, that is)? Maybe you want a setting that will lend itself to a romantic-comedy feel. Okay…probably not, but you get the idea.





While you’re picking your theme, you should probably also consider another important aspect of your drama. Do you want a space-faring sci-fi epic, or something similar to present day? Most groups will, of course, be most familiar and comfortable with a high-fantasy setting more reminiscent of Tolkien than of the medieval Europe it is theoretically associated with. These two elements can compliment each other well, for example Forgotten Realms wouldn’t work nearly as well in a “modern” setting.





Once you have an idea of what you want your campaign world to do, you can start building it from the ground up to reach that ideal. Once again, this isn’t set in stone, and you may decide after a week or two that your setting would be better as a horror campaign, or that you’d rather have it set in the future than renaissance Italy. That’s fine, and perfectly natural, though you want to avoid getting stuck in an endless limbo of ever-changing campaign ideas.



By Alex Riggs

Dungeons and Dragons Worldwide Game Day 2009 Report


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This weekend I had the opportunity to judge the D&D Worldwide Game Day for the release of the Players Handbook 2. To my knowledge, all the players left that day having some fun, and that is what is important. However, as happy as I am with D&D 4th edition, the World Wide Game Day this go around rated LOW on my happy meter. And here is why:

Materials. I know we are in a bad economy right now and companies are having to cut back. But, Wizards of the Coast is the one that decided to do to three WWGDs per year and not just one. Apparently they decided to to support each game day at 1/3 the cost to make up for it. The game store I ran the game had historically ran about 10 tables / 2 times a day for previous WWGDs. They would average about 15-18 sessions. However, WOTC limited WWGD supplies this go around to 3 sets per store. This means only three judges got materials and those judges had to run both slots (for a total of 6 tables). There ended up being a WHOLE lot of people turned away, even with tables being run with 7 PCs (added difficulty for the DM too). WWGD is a marketing tool is it not? Wouldn’t you want to get as many people to experience your product as possible?

In addition, there was no special prize for the players to remember the experience. WOTC has done thing in the past like giving out a free D&D Dungeon tile or a free mini to the players. This time. NADA. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the players complaining about this. Yes, something that simple does matter. Wouldn’t you want the players to leave with a sort of D&D business card?

On a positive note, they still provided the DM with a print module, a poster map, and all the corresponding miniatures. Content quality aside (discussed below), the materials for the DM are spot on. And Honestly, the DM getting to keep the mini’s and the map is why I pimp myself out as a DM for these things.

Miniatures: Related to materials; but, I wanted to single this out. Maybe they were not ready, but this would have been a great opportunity to showcase some of the new D&D mini’s releasing next month. Instead we got all mini’s from the latest set. Come on guys, leverage your power of having people stare at these things for 4 hours. There were no “ooohs” and “aaaahs”. Just, “Yeah, I got that mini, too”.

Characters. Ok, here is the second problem. This is suppose to celebrate the release of the PHB2. However, the characters only partially accomplished that goal. Here are the five pre-built characters for the WWGD:

  • Dragonborn Paladin
  • Drow Avenger
  • Tiefling Invoker
  • Gnome Bard
  • Warforged Barbarian

The Classes are OK (4 PHB2 classes); but, one person is stuck with a Paladin. WTF WOTC?. You published 8 new classes; so there is no call for having a PHB1 class in there. Did that poor Paladin at least get a new race? No way, only 1 out of the 5 had a PHB2 race. WTF WOTC again? This is atrocious. Why are you not marketing your PHB2 stuff at the PHB2 gameday?

In addition, the character sheets were rife with errors. It is pretty sad, and doesn’t say much for the game when the creators can’t get their own rules correct. They could have used their Character Creator program at least. That also could have been another marketing opportunity.

Story: This was the worst part for me as a DM. The WWGD module (One Dark Night in Weeping Briar) story sucked. It was corny and unbelievable. The creatures obviously had to be pulled from the latest D&D Mini’s run only, so the encounters were unbelievable and ill fitting (minus the last one which I thought was decent). Role-playing? Fugetaboutit.

And the biggest problem, it was billed for 2-3 hours. Did the marketing department bother to talk with the game designer? This module ran at about the 4 hours mark for all of our tables. And that was with me cutting ALL ENEMY HIT POINTS IN HALF. A DM colleague ran them at full HP, but skipped an encounter altogether. Ran as is, this game would have taking 5-6 hours (2-3 times the published length).

So in the end, although the players said they had fun, were not playing the full game and were rushed through the encounters. What VERY LITTLE role-playing was even available in the module had to be cut short due to the 6 hour module having to be fit into a 3 hour window. (thought I had 4, but I had to skip lunch). Don’t you want to put D&D’s best foot forward?

PC Level: 11th level players. Good idea on paper, BAAAAD idea in reality. For the release of the “Monster Manual 2″ or “Dungeon Master’s Guide 2,” it might work. For the release of new classes that players have zero familiarity? Having the players learn the new classes ate up a bunch of time too. And the people who have never played D&D before? Wow, that was a hard table to get through. Let me recommend level 3 or 5 next time for game days with new classes.

So, in the end I survived the PHB2 World Wide Game Day. And, I look forward to judging the next one, but only for the free stuff. However, personal draws to the WWGD aside, I can not recommend these game days to players until WOTC steps it back up a notch and fixes these problems.

Haaldaar

Making a campaign setting, part 1




Today’s article is the beginning of a series of articles with advice on creating your own homebrew campaign setting. That is to say, a homebrew campaign setting that isn’t “Generic Fantasyland”, where everything is sort of medieval, but not really, and if elves have a culture beyond “wearing green and liking plants” it doesn’t really matter, anyway. My advice is designed to help you create rich, engaging worlds that will leave your players entranced. If you’re happy with a setting that doesn’t really affect the game in any substantial way, that’s fine, and I respect that, but this article probably isn’t your cup of tea. In most of my examples I’ll be discussing Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy campaigns in general, because that’s what I know best, but there’s absolutely no reason that these tips can’t be applied to another setting, such as a superheroes campaign or a space odyssey.


The first, and perhaps most important tip when it comes to building a campaign world is this: take your time. I really can’t stress this enough. The number one cause of shoddy campaign settings (and shoddy campaigns) is being rushed in order to get it “on the shelves”, so to speak. As an aside, this is also the reason you should never buy a D&D-based game published by Atari until the gold version at the earliest, unless of course you enjoy bugs.


There are several reasons it’s important to take your time when building a campaign world. For one, if you want to make it a good world, it’s going to take a fair amount of time to fully flesh it out. Even if you have some hazy ideas floating around in your head, a general outline even, you’ll want details. And though I hate to break it to you, your “first draft” is almost certainly in need of revision. In fact, near the beginning of the process you may find your campaign setting looking very different from day to day as continents are added or subtracted and entire pantheons are re-written to suit a new idea. Assuming you eventually settle down, this is a good thing, but it’s definitely a stage you want to be sure you get through before the campaign starts: either your players are lost in a whirlwind of retconning, or else you feel trapped and wish you’d had that great idea about dragon-riders just a couple weeks earlier.


The other reason is that you want to have something to show your players before they start making their characters. By having a handout (or, better yet, a nice shiny website with well organized information in an easy-to-digest format, like you can find on Obsidian Portal) ready to show your players, at or before character creation, they can make characters that are tied in to your campaign setting, and, when the game starts, they’ll know things about your world. The sorts of things their characters should know. Because, ultimately, your goal in creating a campaign setting is to share that world with your players. Now, that isn’t to say that you want to do all that sharing through campaign packet, but that is where you lay out the basics and show your players the ropes, so to speak. Of course, making this packet takes more time (I know some DMs who spend more time on their packets than they do on actually making their setting), all of which you’ll want to do before your players even start rolling dice (or assigning points, as the case may be).


Now, if you have a regular gaming group, this can be a hard tip to follow. Whether DM-ship is passed around in your group, or you’re the only one, often the campaign idea you had barely begun to ferment is suddenly thrust out into the spotlight when the previous campaign spectacularly concludes on the business-end of a few natural 20’s. All of a sudden the pressure’s on you and your fledgling world, and all you know about your world is “it has a lot of factions and intrigue”.


Luckily, there is a trick to help in this situation: start your players off small. You can buy yourself a few weeks of time by having all of your players come from the same small, backwater town. Have the first few adventures stay local and keep them in the area, and in the meantime you can build the world out around them. Ideally this small town isn’t that different from “generic fantasy world”, but even if it is, at least you only have to give the players a campaign “packet” (you could probably even get away with a speech, if the town is small and generic enough, though the packet will let them reference it later) on that town. Later, once they’ve expanded out, to the capital and other nations and the like, it’s to be expected that farm boys (and girls) from a little backwater town wouldn’t really know all there is to know about far off and exotic lands. And once your world is fleshed out, you can have packets ready for players whose characters kick the bucket, and need to come back knowledgeable about the greater world.


By Alex Riggs

10 House Rules to Make Grognards Like 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons


Have you ever wondered why the D&D community was so fragmented?
Have you ever thought "Hey, 4E is the new Old School D&D!"?
Have you ever wanted a grognard at your 4E game table?
Well, I have. Some say its impossible though. Grognards are, by definition, grumpy dwarfs. They don't want to game with 4'Teens. They say it can't be done. It's against thier code of ethics. Plus, it is rumored that they will turn to stone as soon as they use a healing surge.

I disagree. These rumors all all bunk. I think they do want to game with us. I think they just are grouchy, but shy. Well, take any one of these 10 House Rules and help make your 4E game appeal to that grumpy old curmudgeon. Come on, you know we all love'em! Right?
OK.. maybe it will take all 10 of these House Rules, but give it an honest shot. You may surprise yourself...
  1. Limited Healing Surges. Limit the number of healing surges to PC's 1+Con bonus, or just set a fixed number regardless of constitution or class ("everyone gets 3 healing surges, that's it!")
  2. Halve Starting Hit Points. That's right. Start with less. In OD&D most wizards only started the game with 4 hit points, and that's if your DM was being generous.
  3. Limit the Classes to the Fab Four. OK, technically there were three in the original game, but the thief is just too good to pass up. From 4E, play only with the Fighter, Cleric, Wizard, or Rogue.
  4. Limit the Races to Three. All you need are the Human, Elf, and Dwarf races, right?
  5. Award XP for Gold. 1 gold = 1 xp. Also, drop xp bonuses for quest rewards, skill challenges, and traps. Killing things and taking their loot are the only things worth XP.
  6. Make All Encounters Deadly. When making encounters, always pretend the party is 2 or 3 levels higher than they are.
  7. Don't Scale the Campaign Setting. Take a page out of the book of Gygaxian Naturalism and design your campaign world independently of the PCs level. If those woods over there are dangerous, make them so. If that castle is inhabited by demons, make it so. There's nothing more annoying that a town frightened by a tribe of level 1 kobolds... its just laughable.
  8. Make Encounter Powers Daily Powers. This will make their use a bit more like old school one-a-day spells and abilities.
  9. Make Daily Powers Charged Powers. Make the use of a daily power drain XP, use a healing surge, or have some other charged effect.
  10. Put Away the Miniatures. Try playing without miniatures. This may seem antithetical for 4E gameplay, but it IS possible. How? Use your imagination. There's something very cool about playing D&D in a living room instead of at the game table. Try it.
  11. Try What Greywulf Suggests...
    1. Roll 3d6 for stats and then GO!
    2. Play an old school D&D module using 4E rules. Very cool... we like this. And YES.. this is the ELEVENTH house rule.. actually.. its two.. now I'm just confused.
With one or more of these house rules in effect, I think its pretty easy to recreate the deadly, resource management style game that OD&D embodied using 4E rules. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes.

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review




While full of solid ideas, Conquest fails to live up to any of its promise.

By Daniel Acaba, GamingExcellence


Review Summary  

Pros:   Massive battles are always fun; Rise of Sauron campaign is awesome; controlling hero characters is a blast; runs incredibly smoothly.
Cons:   Controls aren’t the smoothest; one shot kills abound; hero characters are vastly underpowered; combat is more frustrating than it is difficult.


March 17, 2009 - The Lord of the Rings is one of the most important pieces of fantasy fiction ever written. Without it much of modern fantasy as we know it would never exist, nor would Dungeons & Dragons. While it was never really as popular as its derivative works the series received many new converts with the coming of the movies. While they may not have been entirely true to the books they did a great job of taking the sometimes wordy works of Tolkien and introduced them to a new generation. One of the best things about the movie is that they brought about an interest in the series as a source of video games. A number of really good games have come out and really made the series a part of modern mainstream culture.

On paper, Lord of the Rings Conquest sounds like it carries a lot of promise. You play as one of four different basic soldiers - warrior, archer, scout (assassin) and mage – and attempt to seize control points on a battlefield. You will battle your way through enemy grunts as well as opposing soldiers on your way to victory. The players that are doing really well in the middle of the stage will get the option to control one of the “Hero” characters; these can range from Gandalf to Legolas to even the Dark Lord Sauron himself. Ride around the battlefield on horses and Wargs or take control of a Troll or Ent to cause serious destruction all over the field. Heck there are even catapults and ballista littering some fields to help you take out those bigger enemies.

This all sounds great but begins to fall apart when you actually control the game. Every aspect of actually controlling the game has some problem that should never have made it past play testing. Character movements are too loose making precise movements difficult thus leading to you falling to your death in some levels. Melee combat is a mess because once you press the buttons for a combo you’re stuck in it without any ability to cancel out of it which leads to cheap hits. Arrows and axes move far too slowly, making ranged combat more of a nuisance than anything. The magic users are ridiculously overpowered, able to excel in melee combat, ranged combat and also able to stop all other ranged attacks from hitting anyone near them.

Essentially the basic gameplay is entirely broken. There’s almost no balance whatsoever. It’s entirely possible for a warrior to lock you in a permanent state of knockdown or juggle you. Archers can one shot kill you if they clip your head and the entire purpose of the scout are their ability to sneak up on people while invisible and instant kill them from behind. That doesn’t even take into account the fact that Trolls and Ents can perform one shot kills by grabbing people to use as projectiles, a straight shot from a catapult to a basic soldier is an instant kill, the Nazgul flying around on the fell beast are an instant kill if they grab you… are you catching the theme here? What makes this all the worse is that these can happen to a hero character. So if you excel in a stage and manage to get the reward of playing as Gandalf all it takes is a random troll grabbing you for a one shot kill.

There are two ways to play Conquest: either through the single player campaigns or instant action maps which can be played over Xbox Live. The single player campaign is a bit more interesting than the instant action but the difficulty can be prohibitive and frustrating. The only thing that the campaign does that’s really cool is the ability to control Saurons forces to wipe out the free peoples of Middle Earth. Controlling Nazgul and trolls to wipe out the heroes is great fun. But the limited lives you’re given to complete these stages can be ridiculously aggravating considering all the one shot kills, juggles and other idiocy that comes your way.

Playing it online isn’t really even worth your time unless you are willing to spend every hour of every day mastering both the stages and the character classes. You need to know how to navigate the stages without dying, headshot people with the archer on the fly and how to actually make the scout perform a backstab to make it even worth dealing with. Things like juggles and non-stop knockdown are so common playing online that it isn’t even fun in the slightest until you’ve invested dozens of hours into it and you could be doing better things during that time.

The game does look pretty good all things considered. Some will say that the graphics are muddy or not as good as they could be but they’re not taking into account playability. More often than not there are dozens of people onscreen at the same time with plenty of background activity and explosions all around. It seems like the graphics were deliberately left good, but not stellar, to prevent frustrations like slowdown and lag when playing online.

Lord of the Rings Conquest had plenty of promise going for it but it seems as if there wasn’t enough attention paid to the problems that it had. Unlike the Star Wars: Battlefront series the single player seems to be the main focus while the multiplayer is a bland afterthought. If you can convince a friend to play with you then there is some fun to be had with co-op campaign gameplay but overall this game seems to suffer from a horrible lack of play testing and balance. It seems that Pandemic should stick to making games with blaster rifles instead of swords and arrows, those are infinitely better than Conquest.

DEATH IN THE CAMPAIGN - D&D CYCLOPEDIA




If you want your campaign to behave more like the fantasy stories you read or see in the movies, you might get rid of spells and magical items that bring people back to life. This includes spells such as raise dead, raise dead fully, reincarnation, and clone. This makes the campaign a lot more dangerous. When a character is dead, he's dead. The player characters will be a bit choosier about the fights they pick, and will run away from fights more often. High level characters will be rarer, as bad luck and player lapses will take a higher toll. This option gives character death more impact. It should be a sad and momentous event when a character dies—not just a delay in the proceedings. At best, it sharpens the players' perceptions of how mortal their characters are. At worst, it leads to general player dissatisfaction. It is not recommended unless the players are mature enough to handle losing a favorite character. 

Keeping Characters Alive
If you decide to get rid of the resurrection spells, you can also adopt another rule to make it a little harder for characters to die. For instance, when a character is reduced to 0 hit points or below in combat (or from death spells), he's not yet dead. He's unconscious and mortally wounded; if left untended, he will die. He must make a saving throw vs. death ray every turn. He makes the first roll on the round he drops to 0 hit point; he makes another every round he takes additional damage, and every 10 minutes (one turn) in addition. If he ever fails a roll, he's dead. If he keeps making his rolls until reached by a healing cleric, someone with the Healing general skill, or someone with a healing potion to get to him, he can be saved. If the healers can heal him up to 1 hit point or more, or the Healing skill roll is made at a penalty of -5 (regardless of whether it heals him up to positive hit point or not), then the character is alive. He's critically wounded—but he'll survive.

Lord of the Green Dragons: The First FRSG




I personally believe 4E is the first Fantasy Role Scripting Game (FRSG). Given this reclassification, it fits into the established product line of Dungeons and Dragons in the same way that movies also belong to it.

Considering how much time went into designing 4E, we should recognize it as a sincere and considerable effort to provide gaming joy. But challenges in 4E substitute dicing for role playing, and 4Ers script encounters that fuse NPCs with timed and action dependent vocalizations, and that is clearly not role playing.

We could consider 4E a hybrid, since actions can still be role played. But additionally, PCs in 4E are highly channeled to act in ways that limit the range of play. The playing field has become so severely limited that the game has lost the openness of a real world and fallen back into an unbelievable similitude. Fantastic worlds are supposed to be more open than real worlds, not less! No one feels the lightening rod of adventure when the open horizons of possibility are being shut down.

I can imagine participating in a 4E game, just as I enjoy Blizzard's World of Warcraft for limited periods of crunchy swords and sorcery fun. But, I don’t log into WoW to role play, even if it is technically possible.

By E N Shook

Player’s Handbook 2: A Look at the Shaman



From the bright towns and darkened wilderness they come: mighty heroes intent on exploring dungeons, slaying monsters and battling evil.

The Player’s Handbook 2 offers Dungeons & Dragons players new options with new Races, Classes and more. This book introduces the primal power source, which draws on the spirits that preserve and sustain the world. Wizards of the Coast has offered up a handful of previews and excerpts on the Dungeons & Dragons website and a few lucky gamers out there have already received their pre-ordered copies of the book (some have even posted spoiler threads if you have the energy to dig through them).

Flames Rising was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the book for review and we are teaming up with a handful of other websites to explore some of the new options being made available to players of Dungeons & Dragons. Specifically we are going to be taking a look at the Shaman Class today. After our Look at the Shaman you will find a series of links to other sites examining other sections of the book.

Read More...

New Stuff - Steal This Hook


Normally, the adventure hooks in this column focus on a concept, such as wilderness fires or wizard dangers. This month, however, our theme is the soon-to-be released Player's Handbook 2. It's full of new goodies for Dungeons & Dragons play, and we hope you can use some of the following ideas to introduce Player's Handbook 2 newness to your game without needing to create new characters.


Stopping the Goblin Hordes

"Who are these?" the captain asks, pointing at you.

"I think they're adventurers, sir. We stopped them as they sought to enter the area."

"Good enough, sergeant." Turning to you, the captain says, "You've been warned about the goblins, right? No? I see from your expressions that you haven't heard. Sergeant, give them the standard warning, and then send them away. And when you're done with that, send Wilk's company to Zaria's grove. We think that the druid's grove can check the progress of the goblin horde and buy us some time. We don't have to hold the grove indefinitely, though that's what Zaria would like. We just have to buy some time."

"But Wilk's company hasn't returned from that . . . other . . . mission you sent them on," replies the sergeant. "And we can't spare anyone else; we're still waiting on reinforcements from the king."

"We've got to act quickly if those reinforcements are going to find anyone to reinforce, Sergeant." Then the captain pauses and turns to look at you again. "Adventurers, eh?" he says.

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. Goblin tribes from the wastes over the mountains are invading the lands of civilized folk. This happens every couple of decades, but usually most die in the mountains on the way. This time, they had an underground passage and they all survived, so the danger is great.

2. Zaria is a druid whose grove is in the path of the goblin invasion. It could provide a good location to hold off the goblins. More importantly, however, Zaria is a personal friend (or lover) of the captain of the army. He has more than a tactical interest in protecting her.

3. Zaria is actually a dryad or other fey creature posing as a human druid so that she can charm and steal men from the nearby towns. Should the PCs succeed in stopping the goblins at her grove, she turns her attention and charms toward the group.

4. Zaria's grove is on top of a site of ancient power and a gate to some far away plane. The captain knows this, though the sergeant doesn't, and the captain is worried that the goblins could gain control of the site. He hopes that a stalling battle there will divert their attention away from looking around too closely.

5. The goblin horde is made up of more than just goblins. It includes some half-orcs and shifters as well, plus hobgoblins and bugbears. The creatures are led by members of their races who have studied magic or the fighting arts.

6. There is no goblin invasion. The PCs have only these soldiers' word for it, after all. The army is really an army of thugs and thieves who are trying to take control of the villages in the region. The captain wants to be a warlord. The whole druid grove angle is a way to get rid of the PCs without letting them tell anyone about the captain before he has cemented his control. The PCs could wait days with no attack at the grove, or the attackers could be other humanoids hired at the last minute by the captain to support the lie.

Is He Lying?

The gnome bard ends a song about an epic quest to free a land from a dragon, then begins a story about a forgotten tomb. One nearby listener asks no one in particular, "Do you think the stuff in that last song happened?"

A woman nearby responds. "Most of what Pock sings about isn't true, and he's not any more reliable off stage. He likes to be important, so he pretends to know things. And we're sure he's involved in every criminal activity in town. He just looks shifty. Parts of this story might be true, but I'd say most of it is a load of . . ."

The woman's words trail off for a moment, then pick back up. "He's entertaining, though. I'll give him that. You almost wish the things he said were true, just so life would be more interesting."

Just then, Pock comes to the climax of his story and stops. "And the adventurers perished, to a man . . . and woman. The forgotten tomb remained forgotten -- except by me. You see, I was one of those adventurers. It's not one of my proudest moments, but I ran in the face of that danger, and I survived. And I am the only one who knows where the forgotten tomb is, and where its vast treasure is. For that's where they made their stand, on the treasure hoard. I'd love to go back and claim that treasure. . . ." He stops speaking and gets a faraway look in his eyes. Then he returns to the present. "One more, and then I have to take a break." With that, he launches into a rowdy drinking song.

Note: If this isn't enough to get the PCs to talk to Pock during his break, he can approach them with vague ideas about going to the tomb with them.

Possible Motivations

1. Pock tells lies to seem important, not out of malicious motivations. It makes him kind of like the boy who cried wolf, though, because now no one really believes him and he wants them to do so.

2. Pock is a malicious criminal whose every lie and truthful statement are designed to create impressions in the minds of his listeners. He is a master at manipulating those around him for his own ends.

3. Pock himself never tells lies, but the events in his songs and stories are so fantastic as to seem impossible, and thus people assume he is exaggerating or lying.

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. Pock really does know the location of a forgotten tomb full of treasure, but it is not where he says in the story, and in fact the story has little similarity with the actual tomb. Why give away the real information? He fills the PCs in on the real situation on the road, or he doesn't and lets them discover as they go that they have the wrong information.

2. The forgotten tomb is the lair of a lich, and that Pock does not know. The lich is active in the tomb, and was responsible (though not directly) for the deaths.

3. The forgotten tomb was forgotten because the person originally interred there was moved long ago, along with his or her treasure. But the tomb has become occupied by something else with a treasure, so Pock's details will be off.

4. There is no tomb at all. Pock is lying to get someone to go with him to the location he claims is the tomb. In reality, the location is a demon prison and Pock cannot free the demon on his own. As soon as someone enters the "tomb," the demon is freed.

5. Rumors are available from other sources about this tomb, and they give different accounts of how much treasure is buried in the tomb.

6. The tomb might have been forgotten, but it has inhabitants that have developed their own societies in the intervening years or centuries. Vampire communities subsisting on goblin and dwarf warrens, animated statue guardians, and descendants of servants that were buried alive are just some of the creatures there. The treasure is the centerpiece of this little civilization, and stealing it would set everyone against the PCs.

As an added bonus, here's a look at two sample musical instruments from the pages of the Player's Handbook 2:

Wondrous Items

The wondrous items in chapter three are musical instruments. Any class can use musical instruments, but the items are particularly appealing to bards. A bard can use certain instruments as implements for bard powers as well as bard paragon path powers. A few instruments also have powers that are enhanced if used by a bard who has the Song of Rest class feature.

Using a Musical Instrument: Like other wondrous items, a musical instrument doesn’t take up an item slot. However, to use an instrument’s properties and powers, you must be holding and playing the instrument as appropriate: strumming a lute, sounding a horn, and so on.

Watcher’s Horn
Level 9
This small black horn produces no noise when sounded, but it awakens your slumbering friends and makes them ready to fight.
Wondrous Item 4,200 gp
Power (Daily): Minor Action. The horn silently awakens each sleeping ally within 10 squares of you. Each ally is not surprised when he or she wakes up.

Ollamh Harp
Level 29
This harp calls down the fury of the storm and grants it to all listeners.
Wondrous Item 2,625,000 gp
Property: Bards can use this item as an implement for bard powers and bard paragon path powers. As an implement, it grants a +6 enhancement bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls, and it deals 6d6 extra damage on a critical hit.
Power (Daily): Standard Action. Use this power during a short rest. At the end of the short rest, you and each ally who remained within 20 squares of you during the rest are affected by this power. Until the end of each affected character’s next short rest or extended rest, his or her attacks deal 5 extra lightning damage.


Wrecking Crew

The wreckage was strewn about the road and the surrounding land. Remains of wagons lay everywhere, along with bodies and the carcasses of horses (not always in one piece). Large and deep footprints in the chaos indicate that whoever did this was at least 7 feet tall and weighed over 300 pounds. A broken big heavy club confirms the size of the attackers. The eighteen people in this caravan clearly never had a chance.

In the middle of the wreckage stands a woman dressed in brown and armed to the teeth. Looking at you as you approach, she says, "Terrible, isn't it? It looks like goliaths did this. Seen any?"

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. The woman is a ranger named Ellia, and she found this wreckage site about 15 minutes ago. She has been looking around, and her prints are mixed in with the rest. She wants to find whoever did this.

2. A group of rogue goliath barbarians came down from their hill settlement and attacked this caravan for the goods. They ruthlessly killed everyone and carried off the goods.

3. The attackers were bugbears, but they are trying to act like goliaths because it is known that a clan of them live in the region. By shifting the blame, they can continue raiding while retaliation goes uselessly against the innocent goliaths.

4. The woman is part of the raiding group, or maybe the leader. She is staying behind to provide false information and lead any pursuers off in the wrong direction because the goliath barbarians are moving slowly with the weight of their loot.

5. The goliaths are responsible, but they are stealing it for a dragon that is threatening their settlement.



About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.

Ten Poisons --




Aah, how a few days can turn into almost two months. Or something. *grins*

But here they are, ten poisons a little less lethal, for your lower level types --


Midnight's Sting – a distillate of crushed vortik snails and lesser belladonna; transparent, with a blue-violet tint. Midnight's Sting causes 1-8 hit points of damage.

Caveblight: Whitish, cream-like, and stays slick, cave ooze combined with the fruiting bodies of albino dungeon lichens. Caveblight causes a loss of 4 points of Strength for four hours.

Tomb Centipede Essence: Exactly as it sounds; reddish and thin, it dries quickly. This essence causes paralysis for five turns.

Seshen: A magical poison of crushed white lotus seeds and the ashes of a spellbook; a thin, milky resin that causes a -2 penalty to all rolls for an hour.

Green Slime Extract: Shellac-like, bright green mixture of green slime heavily diluted into vinegar that inflicts 2-16 hit points of damage.

Enchanter: A magical poison that resembles rusty mercury, created from the remnants of cursed magical items. Enchanter causes a -4 penalty to all rolls for two hours.

Methys: A glittering, iridescent liquid drawn from imperial star jellies. Methys forces the victim to move at half speed and have one action/two rounds for four turns.

Little Death: A thick, violet gel; maceration of wyvern-bone and death thistle. Little Death causes an unbreakable sleep for six hours.

Emperor's Rebuke: Brilliant crimson and cloying, of cinnabar dissolved in dragon's blood. Emperor's Rebuke inflicts 3-12 hit points of damage.

Nex: Thick, syrupy and brownish-black, made from zombie dust and consecrated oils corrupted on an altar to Chaos. Nex causes the loss of one point of Constitution.

The Essence of Small Towns in Dungeons and Dragons



A small town differs from a village not only in size, but also in feel and scope. Whereas a village will have but a few houses and perhaps an inn or one shop or irregular market, a small town will have greater organization.
Some of the houses will at least look permanent. There will probably be at least three or four places of business. Some degree of trade will have been established with both larger and smaller towns, cities and villages in the area.

For the designer this means a couple of things. First it means that there will be more NPC’s. This also means that the players will have more options. There will also be more buildings. This could mean that you have to go through a ton more work than you would in order to design a village, but in truth you don’t have to do that much more work.

In order to avoid going through a lot of work that is never used, plan the approach and exit of the PC’s. Are they going to be doing a lot of clue hunting or adventuring in the town? If not, why not? What is going to motivate them to move on? If they are going to stay, why? Where will the action take place?

If there are three inns or taverns in the town, most likely they will choose only one to deal with. They may make superficial inquiries to all three, but will probably settle on one as the primary base of operations in that town. I suggest making one grid of the inn. Make it complete, but don’t put any names on it. Whatever inn they happen to choose gets to be that inn.

The same principle would hold true for any guilds, major houses or other places of interest. There may be multiple, but the adventure will only happen in one of them.

This simplicity can be assured by providing little of interest in the other options. If there are no NPC’s, no treasures, no clues and so forth the players will tire and move on to the interesting bits. Make sure that the interesting stuff really is interesting and as fully developed as you can make it so that the players enjoy it.
Another part of capturing the essence of a town is giving it a purpose and a feel to it that fit well with your campaign. The predominant race will give clues about what is readily available and what is scarce or entirely unavailable. The age of the town will help determine the types of buildings, the level of influence that different people have in the community, and the sources of income. Capturing this flavor can go a long way towards convincing the players that it is worth their while to stop and explore.

Like any other aspect of campaign building, making a town should be fun!

EXPERIENCING DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 4E




I went up to this year’s D&D Experience in Crystal City/Alexandria, officially as a reporter from Scrye magazine, but I was mainly there to satisfy my geeky fanboy curiosity about the upcoming 4th Edition. I think I was smiling the entire drive from Richmond.

I'm in the press room talking with the lovely Katie Page, who does PR for Wizards, and this tall, physically imposing dude with long gray hair and a large graying beard walks by. My first thought?

Elminster.

His nametag says Ed Greenwood. Yes, Ed Greenwood!!

Before I can get over my fanboy shock to think about saying something to him, he sits down for an interview at the table where one of the Wizards dudes is taping a podcast. I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons since AD&D in the early 80s, and have played in and read many novels set in Greenwood's Forgotten Realms. It was pretty cool to see him in person, I wish I could have stayed longer and tracked him down to exchange a few words with him.

So how was 4th edition? My initial impression was very favorable. My main takeaway is that the new edition has done a lot to address the problem of resource exhaustion that makes longer adventures such a pain in previous editions of D&D, namely when it comes to spell casters. While Fighters and Rogues can do their thing all day long (provided that they get their heal on when needed), spellcasters run out of spells and they pretty much become useless. If the DM throws a particularly tough encounter at the party early in the morning, and the spellcasters use up nearly all their spells to help the party prevail, for the next 21 hours the party can't really do any serious adventuring unless they hand the spellcasters a crossbow and keep on with no spell support.

In 4th edition, spellcasters have minor spells they can cast an unlimited number of times in a day; this is often equivalent to attacking with a melee or missile weapon, but it's a spell so it’s cooler! Then they have more powerful spells they can use once per encounter-- which means they can "recharge" that ability for the next encounter. And lastly they have the big flashy spells they can only cast once a day, much like they use currently.

Other classes have similar "powers" that take the form of martial feats, racial abilities, or laying on hands and such. Here are a few examples of racial and first level class powers:

Second Chance (Halfling Racial Power)
Luck and small size combine to work in your favor as you dodge your enemy's attack.
Once per encounter
Immediate Interrupt, Personal
Effect: When an attack hits you, force an enemy to roll the attack again. The enemy uses the second roll.

Magic Missile (Wizard Attack 1)
You launch a silvery bolt of force at an enemy
At Will
Standard Action, Range 20
Target: One creature
Attack: +5 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d4+5 force damage
Special: This power counts as a ranged basic attack.

Cascade of Light (Cleric Attack 1)
A burst of divine radiance sears your foe.
Daily Power
Standard Action, Range 10
Target: One creature
Attack: +4 vs. Will
Hit: 3d8+4 radiant damage, and target gains vulnerability 5 to all your attacks (save ends).
Miss: Half damage, and the target gains no vulnerability.

Fey Step (Eladrin Racial Power)
With a step, you vanish from one place and appear in another.
Encounter Power
Move Action, Personal
Effect: Teleport up to 5 squares.

Eyebite (Warlock/Fey Attack 1)
You glare at your enemy, and your eyes briefly gleam with brilliant colors. Your foe reels under your mental assault, and you vanish from his sight.
At Will
Standard Action, Ranged 10
Target: One creature
Attack: +4 vs. Will

Divine Challenge (Paladin Attack 1)
You boldly confront a nearby enemy, searing it with divine light if it ignores your challenge.
At Will
Minor Action, Close burst 5
Target: One creature in burst
Effect: You mark the target. The target remains marked until you use this power against another target. If the target makes an attack that doesn't include you as a target, it takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls and takes 8 radiant damage.

Each round you get a Standard action, a Move action, and a Minor action, so if you were playing an Eladrin Paladin you could issue a Divine Challenge (minor), use the Fey Step to teleport (move), and then swing your sword to attack (standard). You could do this in every single encounter of the day! I’m playing in a 3rd edition campaign now, and I run both a high level cleric and a high level wizard, and we regularly face down some really tough encounters that tend to take everything we have to overcome. It’s frustrating to feel totally drained at the end of the encounter and you are torn between the desire to retreat and rest, or to push on with no spell support, especially if it’s early in the day. I’m thrilled that R&D has found a way to address that issue, to keep the adventure rolling with each character able to stay relevant and contribute.

That change alone makes 4th Edition a winner in my book, but there’s a lot more good stuff to be excited about. I’ll be posting some more observations, stay tuned for Part 2!
One of the best things about writing for Scrye is getting to talk with the people who make the games I love to play, so I was pleased when Katie Page arranged some time to talk with Sara Girard, Associate Brand Manager for D&D, and Andy Collins, RPG System Design & Development Manager for R&D.

I started out asking about why they decided to make the change from 3E to 4E; if we were all fans of D&D as it is, why change it? In the back of my mind I was thinking of

the crew I’ve been playing with regularly for over 20 years now, and how long it took them to finally put down our beloved AD&D 2nd Edition and give 3E a try. Andy pointed out that, over D&D’s 30-year history, the flavor and intent of the game has stayed intact—it is still all about a group of friends getting together in an adventuring party to hunt down monsters and find treasure, and 4E does not change that. What each edition has strived for is improving the delivery of the promise, and 4E can be considered “Third Edition Plus.” 3E’s greatest achievement was unifying the task resolution systems; in 4E R&D aimed at divesting the game of the rules that players found frustrating, uninteresting, and flat-out boring. A big part of that was to make sure that all the characters were given plenty of strategic choices and options no matter how many previous encounters they may have had, using the example of the wizard of cleric running out of spells and being useless the rest of the day under 3E (a huge improvement in my mind, as I wrote about in Part 1).

Another significant change was to make monsters more focused on what they’re supposed to be—monsters with monstrous abilities, rather than creatures with character-like stat blocks that can become incredibly cumbersome for Dungeon Masters to wade through. A mind flayer should be a scary alien creature who wants to attack players with its mind blast and eat their brains, rather than creature chock full of wizard-like spells and powers.

The Player’s Handbook sets out the core classes and races – including Humans, Dragonborn, Dwarves, Eladrins, Elves, Halflings, and Tieflings; and Clerics, Fighters, Rogues, Warlocks, and Wizards. I naturally was curious whether and when old favorites might show up. In the upcoming Forgotten Realms Players Guide will be rules on playing a Drow, a Genasi (an elemental-themed race), and a Swordmage (a fully-integrated fighter/mage-type class). Player’s Handbook II, which is just starting the design process, will also feature new (and classic) races and classes to choose from. They also have Draconomicon and Manual of the Planes in the queue, and a high quality, thick-stock DM’s screen to replace those flimsy module covers.

I asked them half-jokingly whether there was going to be a “4.5 Edition,” and of course they’re hoping not. More than 700 people playtested 4E (with special thanks to the RGPA network) and every group gave valuable feedback that improved the game. Plus, with the online tools that are going to be rolled out with 4E, it will be much easier to update the rules database and issue errata whenever it becomes necessary, rather than accumulating a stack of fixes for problems and publishing an updated edition.

I asked what they were personally proud of regarding 4E. Andy said that when he sat down with his team in May, 2005, they set out with the goal to keep an open mind about everything, and wrote out a list of Hopes & Dreams for 4E; looking at the result, he is thrilled with just how many goals they managed to check complete from that list. Sara’s proud of the plan they put in place to communicate 4E to the public, from its announcement on through the D&DXP, and she’s pleased at the positive reaction she’s gotten from D&D players, particularly those who sat down and gave the new edition a try this past weekend.

After posting Part 1, I found that DnDInsider.com had already posted the character sheets from the Dungeon Delve—including all the powers and spells I detailed and more, so this time I figured I’d post the Magic Items sheet I got as a bonus for completing a Dungeon Delve. As far as I know, this isn’t easily available yet, so enjoy!

Ironskin Belt Level 5
This belt is suitable for a character of any class.
Body Slot: Waist
Power (Encounter): Minor action. Gain resist weapon 5 until the end of your next turn.

Gauntlets of Ogre Power Level 5
these gauntlets are good for a fighter, ranger, or paladin.
Body Slot: Hands
Property: Gain a +1 item bonus to Athletics checks and Strength ability checks (but not Strength attacks).
Power (Daily): Free Action. Activate when you hit with a melee attack. Add a +5 power bonus to the damage roll.

+1 Frost Warhammer Level 3
This is a good weapon for a fighter to wield.
Enhancement: Attack rolls and damage rolls with weapon
Critical: +1d6 cold damage
Power (Encounter): Free Action. Activate when you hit with this weapon. The target takes +1d10 cold damage and is slowed until the end of your next turn. (Cold)

+1 Delver’s Leather Armor Level 3
This armor is good for a character in light armor, such as a warlock.
Armor: Any
Enhancement: AC
Power (Encounter): Free action. Gain a +2 power bonus to a saving throw.

+1 Amulet of Health Level 3
This amulet is suitable for a character of any class.
Body Slot: Neck
Enhancement: Fortitude, Reflex, and Will defenses
Property: Gain resist poison 5

+1 Staff of the War Mage Level 3
This is the perfect implement for a wizard.
Implement (Staff)
Enhancement: Attack rolls and damage rolls with implement
Critical: +1d8 damage
Power (Daily): Free Action. Activate when you use a power with a burst or blast effect. Increase the size of the burst or blast by 1.

[Regarding the staff, I believe that Wizards in 4E utilize “implements” to cast their spells (such as wands, staves, and orbs), and so they’re not necessarily running up and cracking someone over the head with a +1 staff, but rather (I think) casting their spells through the staff gives them +1 attack and +1 damage. – Bennie]
While the real action in Dungeons & Dragons takes place in our minds as we role-play, the game has had many products that are nifty to look out, whether it is the cool fantasy art in the books, or the colorful dice, or more recently the full-color miniatures. 4E has all that stuff too, but now we’re going to have yet another dimension to the D&D experience—the online tools of the DnD Insider.

At the D&D Experience, Wizards of the Coast was presenting a demo of these new online tools, and I was very curious what it would be like. I don’t

play Worlds of Warcraft, but I have a good number of friends who are neck deep in that MMORPG so I was half-expecting that DnD Insider would be a similar, competitive product.

As best I can tell, that’s not the case. It really does seem to be more of a supplemental enhancement to the D&D game, rather than a D&D spin on WoW.

DnD Insider comes in three parts: The Dungeon Builder, the Character Visualizer, and the D&D Game Table. The Dungeon Builder is a great tool you can use to construct cool-looking dungeons or outdoor encounters quickly. Toss your graph paper out the window, DMs! The person running the demo whipped together a 10-room dungeon in about 10 minutes, complete with pit traps, treasure, and a Beholder. You can add notes to spots within the dungeon that are visible to all or only the DM, you can import your own images, and either free-hand draw or turn on a “snap to grid” to make straight lines. Once you’re done with the Dungeon you can either print it out for your tabletop game, or import it over to the D&D Game Table so you can play it online.

Similarly, the Character Visualizer gives you the ability to bring your character to life, letting you pick race, class, armor, weapons, equipment, and hair and skin color. You can add any color magical glow and adjust its brightness. You can select the pose for your adventurer and even adjust their grip on what they’re holding. The visualizer provides a race-recommended color palette so that your character fits within the flavor and form that is typical in the world, but you can of course design your look outside of those parameters. Once you are done you can now print out your character or import it over to the D&D Game table.

What I particularly like about these two online tools is that they are also useful for gamers who would much rather just play the kitchen table at home. I know I’m looking forward to creating “snapshots” of the characters I’m currently playing in 3E that I can print out and have with me so that everyone knows at a glance what my character looks like without having to describe everything verbally.

If you don’t have a group to play with in real life, or if all your old D&D friends have graduated and moved away, the D&D Game Table is a fantastic way to get together and still run your campaigns with people anywhere in the world. Game play isn’t like WoW though; it’s really just a virtual representation of tabletop play. Your characters and monsters are represented by “virtual minis” that move around on the board, either across terrain or within a keep or exploring dungeons. You roll virtual dice to hit and deal damage, and you communicate with the DM and other players through online chat or with voice through microphone and speakers.

What’s kinda cool is there are player views and DM views of the playing board, so that things the players can’t see aren’t revealed, while the DM of course can see everything. In a dungeon, you really can’t see past the edge of your torchlight, which makes the dark shadows surrounding you very much more intimidating.

One feature I have mixed feelings about is that the DM doesn’t have access to all the typical monsters the party may encounter. Apparently, you will accumulate a collection of virtual minis much like you would in real life, starting with a base set of monsters you’d get just by signing up, but then additional minis available for purchase (I was told they would be inexpensive). If you don’t have the appropriate virtual mini, you instead use a “token” that represents the monster, which looks like a mini base that’s missing the figure. Thankfully, you can upload an image to stamp the token with, so if it’s a dragon you can at least make the surface of the token look like a picture of a dragon. I can see the justification for charging for virtual minis outside of pure profit motive; Wizards wouldn’t want people to stop buying their irl miniatures because they’d rather just buy them virtually and play online. At the same though, the guy presenting the demo pointed out that they are able to do things with virtual minis in terms of detail and poses that are just not possible in the real world, so it’ll be interesting to see that sort of thing.
By Bennie Smith

REVIEW: “DUNGEON DELVE”




D&D Rules Supplement Dave Noonan, Bill Slavicsek

Dungeon Delve provides the DM with an array of small, easy-to-run dungeons each specifically designed for a night of gaming.
This book is designed for groups looking for an exciting night of monster-slaying without the prep time. It contains dozens of self-contained, easy-to-run mini-dungeons, or "delves", each one crafted for a few hours of game-play.
The book includes delves for 1st- to 30th-level characters, and features dozens of iconic monsters for the heroes to battle. Dungeon Masters can run these delves as one-shot adventures or weave them into the campaign.
#
It’s not often that I review a book without having read it cover to cover- this may be the first, in fact. But Dungeon Delve is a product that doesn’t require much explanation, and should be easy to figure out if this is something you need or not.
The book’s concept is simple. 30 short adventures, one for each level, consisting of 3 encounters per adventure. If you’ve read any of the published 4e adventures, you know how the encounter blocks look.
Each delve goes as following: an explanation of the background of the delve, story-wise. Then there’s some advice about how to expand the delve into a longer affair or tie in other adventure hooks. Every delve can be done with dungeon tiles, and they tell you right at the beginning what dungeon tile set they need: DT-6 are the oldest used, and most adventures use only one set, though some require multiples of the same set (and the level 30 delve uses two different sets). The delves also contain a variety of helpful sidebars- for example, there’s one that gives advice on how to use minions effectively, one that tells how best to move your bugbears, and one that contains goblin taunts.
As expected, most of the encounters are hack and slash fights, with occasional traps. No skill challenges that I could find, though of course dungeon-friendly skills like Perception and Athletics come in handy. If you drop one of these into your game, you should know that you’re adding some fights. I didn’t find the terrain setups particularly inspiring as far as cool places to fight go, but there’s a pretty decent variety between the 30.
The book opens with an introduction of how dungeon delves first started at GenCon 10 years ago, what defines a delve, and who should use delves (if you want to take a break, if you’re new to DMing, etc.) There’s also a page on running delves as very specifically a DM vs. the players type thing that is specifically called like a board game. There is advice on how to adjust delves, either by expanding them, changing the monsters, adjusting for more or less than 5 PCs, adjusting for PC level, and changing the features of an area. There’s some notes about the monsters in the adventure, which include some new ones, and some that have appeared in other sources, but all the information you need to run them is contained in the book. Then the 30 delves begin.
I confirmed with WotC at Comic Con that the delves contained therein have not been duplicated elsewhere (even the game store delve nights), so you won’t open it up to find you’ve already played that particular fight.
That’s the entire book. Either you’ll want it for the reasons they list to run a delve or to get some inspiration for your campaign, or you don’t need the book. Without cutting and pasting exact text, I don’t think there’s anything else I can tell you about Dungeon Delve.
By Dave Chalker

Which classic D&D Character Are You?




D&D Sunday Morning Mega Quiz: Which Classic D&D Character Are You?

Back in June of ’08, Yax helped you channel your inner 4th Edition D&D character. Now we’re bringing you a quiz that gives you an even deeper insight into your inner PC. Do you live for power, money, fame, or pure adventure? Are you more like Drizzt Do’Urden or Raistlin Majere? Answer the questions below to find out which classic D&D character you are.