Archive Version


This is an archived index to various recovered parts of Eric Noah's old site.  Back in 1999/2000, before the days of social networking and personal blogs, before Facebook and Google+ and Twitter, Eric Noah's website was THE place to go for news and rumours about the upcoming D&D 3rd Edition game.  The internet was a very different place.  This is inended to be a sort of "museum piece" - a slice of RPG history from an era past.  - Morrus.

EN World | Message Boards 

News Archive #25
August 2001

News from August 2001:

August 23, 2001

Site Closing -- Updates:

Eric Out of Town:
I'm out of town through the end of this weekend. Morrus and Liquide will hang up the "closed" sign here and on the forums if the forum transfer is completed while I'm gone. I'll be sure to stop in at the new forums and say howdy when I get back.

Claudio Pozas Art & Design has arrived at its new home at EN World: Be sure to update your bookmarks.

August 22, 2001

Site Closing -- Updates:

News Coverage Continues:
EN World has posted more D&D News, D20 News, and Community News over the past few days.

RealmsCrafters has arrived at its new home at EN World: Be sure to update your bookmarks.

Asgard: Asgard issue #2 is now available.

Forums: The transition of the forums is now underway and going smoothly.

August 20, 2001

Site Closing -- Updates:

Transition Continues:
EN World has posted many more parts of my site -- the D&D Links page, a history of the site with links to two years' worth of news archives, Product Schedule, all that good stuff.

Jamis Buck's RPG Generators has arrived at its new home at EN World: Be sure to update your bookmarks.

Asgard: Morrus informs me that Asgard issue #2 will be out shortly, but with the move it's not quite the number one priority at the moment.

Forums: The transition of the forums has been held up a smidge by slow response from the vendor of the UBB software. In the meantime, EN World has a poll going about the new version of the forums -- keep my black color scheme, or use EN World's "yellow" scheme? Vote if you have an opinion.

E-mail: My address still works -- for now. If you need to contact me after the site closes, you may do so at my home address:

August 19, 2001

Site Closing -- Updates:

EN World Has the Scoops:
Want to know what's happening with the site closing, moving of my resources, the forums, and so forth? Keep your eyes on EN World. So far, several of my resources are already in place over there -- from my Combat Examples and AoO diagrams to the Conversion Library to the Errata Center. More (nearly all) will follow shortly. And three of the four hosted sites have announced they are moving there as well -- the Creature Catalog has already made the move. Morrus will keep you up-to-date.

EN World has actually posted its first D&D news scoops regarding the Manual of the Planes and official Psionics Handbook Errata -- go check them out. And issue #2 of Asgard will be released shortly.

August 18, 2001

Site Closing -- Updates:

Right on schedule, the forums are screwing up. Looks like General RPG is having major troubles. I've turned off that forum temporarily and created a Temporary General RPG forum for discussion until we can figure out what's wrong.

Important: Morrus has copied all of the threads from the forums for the move to EN World. This means anything posted after he did so won't appear on the new version of the boards. Please hold off posting anything really important until the new version appears at EN World.

Thanks :)
Thanks so much for all the kind e-mails and messages today. A special thank you to the folks on DND-L and -- I read your posts and I appreciate the support and the good wishes.

Whys and Wherefores:
Because the forums are flaking out, I've brought my "Whys and Wherefores" message over here:

Hi all!

First, sorry to leave you high and dry for several hours after dropping the bomb.

I've been hearing some common questions so I thought I'd address the ones I can.

The chief one is why? There's not "an answer." Imagine this -- you're carrying around this really heavy load. Sometimes the load gets a little lighter, but slightly more often the load gets heavier. So you stagger around with it and do the best you can. The weird thing is, because you have some sort of mental problem, you don't want anyone to help you carry the load. You want to do it yourself, because of your mental problem.

The site was like that. Except so much of it *wasn't* a burden -- it was a joy. Over time, it slowly (little by little) became more of a chore than a joy. Not by much. And there were many things that lightened the load along the way.

Ultimately, I'm just tired. I need some rest. I need to figure out what my life is for. For the past two years, my site has
been (for good and ill) my life. That's not balanced, and it's not healthy. And because of my own mental quirks, it's either all or nothing with me. I don't want an army of volunteer helpers, as wonderful as that offer is. And I don't want to be just one cog in someone else's machine, as terrific as that machine may be. That's just the kind of guy I am.

So, to clarify, here are some reasons people have guessed at but are not true:

*a WotC/OGL/D20 conspiracy. If anything the reaction from that side of things has been so wonderful and supportive I couldn't have predicted it.

*a bandwidth/server issue. Yes, we all know that Gamespy's been a little problematic when it came to our forums, but beyond that I've not had troubles in that regard.

*a tragedy or other major life change in my life. Nope, we're all fine. Thanks for the concern!

*no, I'm not getting some big job in the RPG field. I'm still working as a librarian and teacher. In fact, it could be fair to say that the wonderful success of the site over the past two years has left me feeling "less than enthusiastic" about my work. I'm hoping that I'll be able to focus more of my mental/spiritual energies into continuing to be the best librarian and teacher I can be.

Here are answers that are part of a larger "truth":

* time

* time

* how I constantly think about the site day and night

* time

* the feeling recently that I wasn't doing the site for the right reasons. As many of you guessed or knew, I had an arrangement with Gamespy regarding the site, and of late that arrangement is what has kept me going through the bad times (rather than my passion for the site or for D&D etc.).

So what happens now? I'm happy to say that plans are underway for much of the site's content to be moved to a single location. I'm also happy to say that it appears that the forums may (I emphasize *may*) be able to be moved as is over to this same location. So in other words, part of the site will live on, and very likely the forum community can continue on as normal (or as "normal" as you freaks get).

So why not just hand off the site, whole, to someone else and let it stay here at RPG Planet? That's a good question.

A website isn't like a piece of art -- you don't "get done with it" and hang it on a wall. It's constantly growing, changing, and developing. I take tremendous pride in what I have done here. The site is me, and I am the site. It (I hope) oozes my personality and my passion for the game. If I hand it over to someone else, whole, it's like one of those weird "Tom Clancy Presents 'Net Force'" novels that aren't actually written by Tom Clancy.

Another site will rise to fill in where I'm leaving off. Or maybe more than one site. I know this because I know what passion is out there for D&D and D20. There may be a period of adjustment, there may be some battles for supremacy. But I know that there are others waiting to step in and get their time in the sun.

That's the coolest thing about the Internet, the thing I loved right away -- so many sites are labors of love. This one certainly was. But it wasn't meant to last forever.

I am sad, but my heart is also light. I've had tremendous opportunities and experiences over these two years, and I have memories I'll always treasure.

What happens to Eric now? I think for a while I'll try to get my life back. See if I can remember what to do with "free time." But you might see me around, on message boards or in chat rooms, or posting stuff on my own site or on other sites. I look forward to seeing you out there.

This isn't the final good-bye -- there is still stuff to be sorted out. I'm sure I'll run into you again very soon.

Important News -- Unofficial D&D Third Edition News to Close Its Doors: I will be closing down the site within the next few days. Several factors led me to this decision, and it's one that I make with some regret. I have enjoyed the past two years immensely, and I thank you for your patronage and support.


Thanks to all of you who have sent kind words tonight. :)

  • The Creature Catalog, Jamis Buck's RPG Generators and Claudio Pozas Art & Design will be moving to EN World.
  • EN World will be archiving many of my site's resources. I'll post more detailed information as I have it.
  • EN World is looking into the possibility of hosting "my forums" as they currently are, complete with the same userids/passwords and all of the threads. Again, more information as I have it.

August 17, 2001


  • Atlas of Adventure has posted reviews of Akrasia: Thief of Time and Wonders Out of Time (Eden Studios).

Master Tools News: Tidbits from the message boards...
  • Ryan Dancey reiterates that only the initial Master Tools product has gotten the official "go-ahead" for now.

August 16, 2001

Message Board Roundup:

  • WotC's Rich Baker on Lords of Darkness: We're covering 7 major organizations in a fair amount of detail (about 15-25 pages each), including the Zhentarim, the Red Wizards, the Cult of the Dragon, the Church of Cyric, the Shades, and the Night Masks. Each of these includes a mapped site, lair, or stronghold of the group, plus (in some cases) a prestige class appropriate to the group, NPC stats, and other goodies. We also cover 17 minor organizations in less detail (about 2 to 8 pages each), although many of those also feature a stronghold or bolthole, maybe a prestige class, etc. The minor organizations include the Arcane Brotherhood and Twisted Rune, among many others. Overall, the book explores each group's history, goals, and methods in somewhat less detail than Cloak & Dagger did. We chose to concentrate on immediately game-useful material instead, although every organization comes with a pretty thorough discussion of who they are and why they do what they do. I'm real happy with the way it looks, and I think you'll like it a lot. (Official Boards)
  • WotC's Mark Jindra on a New Psionics Feature on the D&D Website: After talking it over with our production team, we have decided that we will soon launch a Psionics feature on the website. The feature does not yet have a title, but we have decided on the content for the feature. Starting sometime in September ... each month we will take a look at something Psionic, you will see things like New psionic powers, new monsters, artifacts and items, as well as some mini adventures, and more... The "And More..." part is where you guys come into the deal, We need people to send us ideas for what they would like to see in this feature.... Send any ideas to
  • Scoopers: Ðãêdãlüš, Kyn.

Corrections & Clarifications:
  • Errata - Tome & Blood - Pale Master's 4th-Level Summon Undead Ability: The reference to Pale Master levels [i.e. the sentence reading "Levels of this prestige class count as caster levels for this purpose."] is an error, just use the character's caster level (which *will* include adjustments from some Pale Master levels). [Skip Williams] (thanks to Jamie for the scoop)
  • Clarification - Magic of Faerun - Magic Armor and Weapon Special Abilities: In MAoF, there are two abilities (Strength for armor, and Jumping for weapons) that do not have their Market Price Modifier listed as a "virtual bonus" (rather, they are listed with a flat gp modifier). Do these abilities have an equivalent "virtual bonus"? No. Can you stack these on a +10 item without a problem? Yes. [Sean Reynolds] (thanks to Edward Pokorski for the scoop)
  • Clarification - Magic of Faerun - Mage Duels:
    • Can more than two mages participate in a duel at the same time? See MoF page 14, last paragraph above "Qualifications."
    • When a duel ends do the participants automatically regain their spells? They do not regain their spells.
    • If a magic item is used by a participant in a duel, thus disqualifying them, does the item take effect on the intended target or is the item "dispelled" when the user is disqualified? The item takes effect as if it were part of the mageduel (because it is), and then the user is disqualified. You could use a wand of fireball on an empty area and it would have no effect on the mageduel's status. If you used it on your opponent, the mageduel would convert it to subdual damage, and then you would be disqualified.
    • Can a mage that has been disqualified from a mage duel re-enter the arena after leaving it? -- as apparently they can remain in the arena even if they are disqualified based on the text. No, once they leave, they can't re-enter without ending the mageduel. As you correctly point out, they can remain in the area (and may be subject to mageduel-spell effects), but if they take actions on participants, it is treated as "Outside Interference."
    • If during the preparation time one of the participating wizards casts as their prepatory spell, say delayed blast fireball, then the participants enter the arena and fight, what happens if the spell is trigered during the contest? The caster is part of the mageduel (it's a spell prepped for use within the mageduel), and so the spell takes effect as if it were part of the mageduel. In other words, subdual damage, half damage, etc.
    • What if it takes effect after the contest (or is said effect dispelled at the conclusion of the duel?) It should be treated as a "lingering effect" from a spell cast during the mageduel (as described in "Ending a Mageduel").
    • If an outside spellcaster casts a fireball at the participants of a mage duel, do they take damage from the spell as the mage duel ends in a draw? "Outside Interference" says that an attack from outside the mageduel automatically fails.
    • Source: Sean Reynolds. Scooper: Chris Staufer.

Community News:
  • New at EN World:
    • New Staff Reviewer: "Alan 'Psion' Kohler has joined Jesse 'Tuerny' Dean as EN World's second staff reviewer. Alan is a well-known reviewer over at RPGNet, and we are very pleased to welcome him aboard."
    • New Adventure: Feast or Famine, a new adventure by Jonathan McAnulty, can be found at Midgard, EN World's online D20 adventure magazine.
  • Nyambe (fantasy Africa setting for the d20 System) has a new home at "We are also pleased to present the African Adventures Player's Lorebook. This is a free 107 page PDF file detailing cultures, races, classes, religions, equipment, kingdoms, and spells appropriate for a fantasy Africa campaign."
  • From the DnD_SciFantasy Team Leader Chris Morvan: "It gives me great pleasure to announce the formation of the newest netbook team at the DnD Community Council, The Netbook of Science Fantasy! The DnD_SciFantasy group is now accepting contributors and submissions. This group is mere hours old, so now is your chance to become part of this very interesting netbook. The Netbook of Science Fantasy will cover a wide range of topics and plans to be more than just “D&D in Space!” (but it will be that too!). Currently we are discussing races and classes (take your dwarven fighter, give him a heavy blaster and you're off!), technology, psionics (an open, OGL version) and magic, cyberware, bioware, and all sort of technological enhancements. And of course, space, space travel and combat. Just point your browser to to sign up! Membership is open to all."
  • Orion Cooper has prepared all of the rules for Malls & Morons as one pdf file.
  • Brian's D&D Site is a Forgotten Realms campaign site.
  • Updates at Black Falcon Aerie (3E lists include magic items and psionic feats from Dragon #287), Aquerra (preview of the Aquerra Player's Guide including the alt.monk, a look at the martial arts rules, three sample specialty priest classes, a sample new spell, etc.), Claudio Pozas Art & Design (new gnome and white dragon art) and PS3E (new submissions).

New in the Conversion Library: Oriental Adventures -- Master Ninja prestige class; plus in Weapons & Armor, significant updates to Weapons & Armor spreadsheets.

Official D&D Site Updates: What's new at WotC?
  • New Miniatures Playhouse
  • New Map-A-Week
  • Sean Reynolds is in the Spotlight and talks about Magic of Faerun
  • Elminster Speaks #21
  • Scoopers: Thyle, Dark Blackshield, Bertman4.

  • DM's Haven has posted reviews of Maiden Voyage (Atlas Games) and Traps and Treachery (Fantasy Flight Games).
  • Gaming Report has posted a review of Legions of Hell (Green Ronin).
  • has posted a review of Creature Collection II (Sword & Sorcery).
  • EN World has posted Jesse Dean's review of Demonology: The Dark Road (Mongoose).

Master Tools "Consumer Poll" Results: Greg Currie has posted the results of his informal Master Tools poll in this thread on my boards.

August 15, 2001

  • EN World's staff reviewer Jesse "Tuerny" Dean has written reviews of Nature's Fury (Fiery Dragon), Shadow of the Exile (Privateer), Nightmares and Dreams and The Pit of Loch-Durnan (Mystic Eye), Legions of Hell (Green Ronin), Slayer's Guide to Centaurs (Mongoose), Coin's End (Kenzer), and Twin Crowns (Living Imagination).
  • The 3rd Edition has posted a review of the Hero Builder's Guidebook (WotC).

D20 System News:
  • Atlas Games announced a new D20 System adventure coming out in November -- The Last Dance. Read the press release.
  • Dark Quest, a new D20 System publisher, will be producing "city guides" for fantasy campaigns and Cyber Style, a line of supplements for Cyber Punk science fiction gaming. Check out their website.
  • Free Stuff at Citizen Games -- download two of the winning adventures from their recent adventure-writing contest. (thanks to Greg for the scoop)
  • Updates to release dates on the Citizen Games entry. (thanks to Greg for the scoop)
  • Toast D20 -- this one you're gonna have to figure out for yourself. (thanks to Babbage for the scoop)
  • Holistic Designs will be releasing a D20 version of their Fading Suns science fiction RPG in November. Read about it in the press release. (thanks to Bobby Hitt for the scoop)
  • Anubium will be publishing Ian Malcomson's World of Aldor materials starting in September. Those of you who've been around a while might recall that Malcomson's work was first slated to see the light of day through Mystical Alchemy Gameworks, a D20 publisher that never did get off the ground. Malcomson has written articles and adventures for Dragon and Dungeon magazines (notably the Sherwood stuff in the first 3E issuse of both mags). Read the press release.

August 14, 2001

Official D&D Site Updates: What's new at WotC?

  • Hindsight, a new Cliffhanger adventure.
  • New PC Portraits.
  • Scoopers: Bob Fitch, Walt Starr.

Community News:
  • O Grimorio is a Brazilian online RPG magazine with exclusive features, interviews and articles in Portuguese.
  • Orion Cooper of Malls & Morons fame would like to invite you to stop by his message boards to critique the work of "SirBob" on a rules add-on called Malls & Magic.
  • Doc's Wild West Town is a fan-run message board devoted to discussion of the d20 RPG Wild West Adventures from Citizen Games.
  • Darkfuries: The Maelstrom Fantasy Campaign Setting is a D&D setting site.
  • Epic Gaming is a Forgotten Realms campaign site.
  • Updates at Hydra (advice on running a high-level campaign).

  • has posted reviews of Slayer's Guide to Hobgoblins and Slayer's Guide to Gnolls (Mongoose Publishing), Traps and Treachery (Fantasy Flight Games), and
    Defenders of the Faith (WotC). (thanks to Oren Douek for the scoop)
  • Jesse "Tuerny" Dean has reviewed Thievery 101: Joining the Watchers (Wyvern's Claw) for EN World.

Master Tools Updates:
  • Ryan Dancey's promises regarding Master Tools: First: If any further changes are made to the product spec, I will make a public announcement within 48 hours, and will do my best to explain why we made the change and what influenced our decision. Second: If, for any reason, I believe the product will not ship on time once we've announced a ship date, I will make a public announcement within 48 hours explaining why there has been a delay, what is being done about it and when a new date will be established. Third, I will not knowlingly make a decision about the product that will sacrifice immediate utility and usability for the potential of future sales if that feature could be delivered on time and within the budget that has been established for the project. Fourth, Once we announce approval on an expansion or update, I will consider the first three promises binding on me regarding that expansion or update as well.
  • Beta testing: If there is a beta test program, it will be run through the RPGA, which is how all D&D products are beta tested.
  • Will the material in the proposed add-on (material from FRCS, PsiHB, Class Books, etc.) be available individually or will we have to buy it all in one chunk? As currently envisioned, the "update" to add those features will add them all at once. There will be some way to differentiate them from the "core" materials from the basic books.
  • How will core material be differentiated from add-on material? What I am currently envisioning is that the update will simply expand the options available in the tool itself. Certain things may be marked with their origins (like a Feat from Defenders of the Faith may be named "DotF: Greater Hacking"). We discussed the idea of having "loadable" modules, but it creates a big headache for database management... [more]
  • DMG NPC classes like Commoner available in the Character Generator? Yes, absolutely.
  • Ex-classes available? Yes. The software supports those kinds of changes at "level up" time.
  • WotC's relationship with Fluid: Fluid has been great, and has more reason to be frustrated than anyone else, since they've been the ones who have had to keep changing the product to meet the constantly shifting objectives of WotC. Nothing I have seen in my review of the progress to date casts the slightest shadow of concern on Fluid's work, methods, intentions or actions. We're very pleased with our partner.

D20 System News:
  • Green Ronin announced that its Freeport setting book is now called Freeport: The City of Adventure and will be a 160-page hardcover. (thanks to BadMojo for the scoop)
  • Karanblade, a long-running AD&D campaign setting presented on the web, will be produced and sold as a D20 System product by Dragon & Dice Studios. Check out the website and read the press release.
  • Viking Games has posted a new version of their Monster Menagerie preview on their site.
  • Grinning Goblin has a new adventure ready right now, The Witchlord of Bargala
    , and one in the hopper, A Touch of Chaos. Read more about their adventure subscription service in this press release.
  • There's been a title change and release date change for the third adventure in Privateer's Witchfire trilogy: "The Legion of Lost Souls (new title) has not gone to press yet and probably wont be out until late September." (thanks to Doug Click for the scoop)
  • You can grab a peek at a cover mock-up for the Ravenloft D20 book at White Wolf's online store. (thanks to Michael for the scoop)

August 13, 2001

Errata -- Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting:

  • Heirophant Prestige Class -- Prerequisites: The hierophant's skills requirement line should read: Skills: Knowledge (nature) 15 ranks or Knowledge (religion) 15 ranks. [Sean Reynolds] (thanks to Jason for the scoop)
  • Great Shout Spell: There's a very weak version of the great shout spell in the FRCS, and a much stronger one (of the same level) in Tome & Blood. Which is correct? You should use the Tome and Blood version of the spell. [WotC Customer Service] (Thanks to Azul Simmons for the scoop)

The correct version, which should appear in the FRCS errata when posted, is as follows:

Great Shout
Evocation [Sonic]
Level: Brd 6, Sorc/Wiz 8
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Close (25 ft +5 ft/2 levels)
Area: Line 5 ft. high and 5 ft. wide, and a cone (see text)
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

You emit a thunderous, devastating yell. The primary effect is a line of intense sonic energy 5 feet high and 5 feet wide and as long as the spell's range. Stone, crystal, and metal objects in the area take 20d6 points of damage. Creatures holding valuable objects can attempt Reflex saves to negate the damage. Objects that survive the spell's primary effect are not subject to the secondary effect.

The spell's secondary effect is a cone of sound centered on the line. Creatures within the cone take 10d6 points of damage, and are stunned for 1 round and deafened for 4d6 rounds. A successful Fortitude save negates the stunning and halves both the damage and the duration of the deafness. Any exposed brittle or crystalline object or crystalline creature takes 1d6 points of damage per caster level (maximum 20d6). Creatures holding fragile objects can negate damage to them with successful Reflex saves.

[Description of what penalties a deafened character suffers.]

The great shout spell cannot penetrate the spell silence.

Arcane Focus: A small metal or ivory horn.

A Big Thank You: I wish to thank the folks at EN World and my forums for the very thoughtful 2nd Anniversary (of the site) gifts! You're all very special people and I value our friendship -- thanks! :)

Poll: By a large majority, the last poll was the Worst Poll Ever. After that, Python Quotes were deemed most disruptive at the game table. Thanks for participating.

The current poll asks about your gaming habits. Are you mostly a D&D player, or do you play other RPGs regularly as well (or instead)?

Community News:
  • Drop by the Dracolich Homepage to read up on a proposed computerized RPG tool. They're looking for programmers to assist with the project.
  • Aereth: The Torn Lands is a D&D campaign setting site.
  • Updates at PS3E (new submissions).

New in the Conversion Library: Mystara -- Races of Mystara: Lupin, Rakasta, Tortle, Cayma, Areana, Shazak.

  • Atlas of Adventure has posted a review of The Bloody Sands of Sicaris (Paradigm).

D20 System News:
  • Thunderhead Games announced that its forthcoming Bluffside sourcebook is being pushed back to February 2002 to allow more time to ensure OGL compliance, and that it will be 144 pages long.
  • Sovereign Press has released errata for the Sovereign Stone Campaign Sourcebook. [Source:]
  • Viking Games has updated their product schedule. [Source:]
  • Fiery Dragon Productions has posted a report on their experiences at GenCon along with about 60 photos.
  • Free Stuff from Fast Forward Entertainment: Maps from Fortress of the Ogre Chieftain. [Source:]
  • Updates to the Fast Forward entry, including new product information. [Source:]
  • Stanton Industries is a new D20 System publisher, with a rulebook product called The Void currently available. (thanks to Jason C. for the scoop)

Master Tools Comments: Ryan Dancey talks about the new vision for Master Tools:

Different managers, at different levels of the company [originally] set different priorties for the product. Not all of those managers shared the same vision. As a result, the product was compromised, and so was the communication with the public.... Some of the WotC managers wanted a tool to help DMs prep for play. Some wanted a tool to help players use all the bells and whistles in 3e that are hard to understand or complex to implement. Some wanted to open the door to on-line D&D play, using MasterTools as "proof of concept" that it could be done. And some people didn't have a strategy at all, and just tried to make the product "cool" by adding features that were technically challenging and interesting problems to overcome.

All of the people involved are gone, and they no longer have a role in setting policy for MasterTools. For better or worse, you're stuck with me, and I'm an old-fashioned roll-the-dice kind of guy who would rather eat pizza and make Monty Python jokes with my wife and friends than sit all alone in a dark room and click a mouse to kill an endless stream of binary monsters.

So, now, there is now one unified vision for MasterTools: Mine. That is, my vision represents a consensus of the strategy as approved by the VP of Publishing and by the CEO of Wizards.

That vision is pretty simple: MasterTools should support the rules of D&D as written and deliver assistance in using those rules, to create characters, adventures and campaigns, with an emphasis on allowing people to focus on being creative.

It starts with characters, because the game is about characters. The second step is adventures, because the point of the game is for characters to go on adventures. The third step is campaigns, because the way you give adventures context and a larger meaning is by connecting them together into a larger storyline and forging a new world as the stage for those stories.

The goal is utility. Make it easier to be a player and a DM. Make it easier to follow the rules as written by letting the computer keep track of some of the complexity. Make it fun to try new things, to experiment, to be creative. MasterTools shouldn't be the gateway to EverQuest - it should be the gateway to the best possible game of D&D you've ever played: At the table, with your friends, rolling dice.

Call that the MasterTools Manifesto. Stick a copy on the wall and call me on it when it looks like I'm not delivering that vision.

As to responding issue by issue to what was said in the past, I have no ability, or intention of doing so. All I'm going to do is tell you what I< intend to do, and what >my< strategy is. And I promise you can hold me to it, so long as I have this responsibility.

August 12, 2001

OGL/D20 and Fan Sites: Ryan Dancey responds to the issue of whether D&D fan sites are going to be required to adhere to the Open Gaming License or the D20 System Trademark License:

We really don't have a plan for "fan" sites. The problem with the old policy was that it was an unfair policy, because people could take stuff from D&D, make new things, post them on their web sites, and then claim some sort of pseudo-copyright to "control" that material so "other people can't get rich off my work". On the other hand, it will be a long time, if ever, before the bulk of the 3e game content is released in the SRD, and people are simply not going to wait before doing interesting things with it in public.

Right now, my plan is pretty simple: If you're charging money for any aspect of D&D, you're going to be required to use the OGL and the d20 STL. If you >say< you're following the OGL or the d20 STL, you're going to be forced to follow them. So, if you've got a fan site that's a collection of characters, and they don't claim to be using the OGL or the d20 STL, and they're not charging money, we're going to ignore them.

What I haven't decided yet is whether or not I'm going to be picky about the d20 logo itself. My leaning is to tell sites that don't want to use the OGL that they can't use the d20 logo either, and to make that the general policy. However, there are so many such sites, and I have so little time available, that enforcement of such a policy would be essentially impossible.

For the time being, all we're worried about is commercial publishers.

Community News:
  • The Sleeping Imperium has posted a set of Open Game Content psionics rules called the d20 Skills-n-Feats Psionics System. "The rules are a free, 44-page PDF download. The system deals with psionics as subtle, non-magical abilities. Anyone, with the proper training, can acquire psionic abilities, regardless of character class. The system boasts 11 basic psionic skills, several advanced psionic skills, and over 40 psionic feats. Some of the more exotic abilities of the system include Non-linear Time Perception (you can think thoughts from the alternate pasts and futures) and The Equation of Man (you can mathematically predict the behavior of thinking creatures)."
  • The Netbook of Planes is looking for ideas, submissions and team members. Those interested in getting involved please email Netbook of Planes Team Leader Ricardo Gladwell.
  • Updates at James Wyatt's Aquela (ninja discussion, GenCon OA notes and photos), and Palaestra (new monster templates).

Master Tools Discussion Galore: Both Ryan Dancey and Byrt Martinez have been busily answering questions and making comments on Master Tools this weekend. Here are links to some active threads on the official boards and my boards:
  • Ryan says to expect most official discussion to take place on the official boards.
  • Byrt talks more about the original plans for the mapper.
  • Ryan comments on why there won't be a Mac version and other matters.
  • Ryan on custom Feats: "I suspect that the Feat Generator will have a package of standard things that it can do that are very simple and are similar to the Feats already programmed into the system. Most of the user added Feats will just add what amounts to a 'special ability' note to the character sheet."
  • Ryan shares his opinions on the "prestige class problem."

So what exactly will the initial release of Master Tools do? Ryan describes:

Master Tools is really four products plus the "Toolbox" itself (the main software that will be expandable with future updates).

The four tools are:

* Racial Template Generator
* Character Generator
* Treasure Generator
* Magic Item Generator

The tool lets you build any legal character using the rules in the PHB, DMG and MM.

"Legal character" means a character of any race in the PHB, and any monster in the Monster Manual, with any class in the PHB or the DMG. It lets you make any creature in the Monster Manual from scratch (though they'll already be done for you and included in the product) or any new monster you can imagine. Using the rules in the MM, you can "add hit dice" to a creature, and it will get bigger and tougher as those rules describe. You can give character class levels to a monster.

You can build a basic racial template, which can specify the type of the creature, the starting size of the creature, its hit-die range, class skills, special abilities and qualifies, skill points, ability score modifiers, encounter type (terrain type, monster type, etc.), and treasure type (double, standard, half, other). You can define a basic racial template as a familiar, note what affect it has on it's master and note how it advances in power over time, define a basic racial template as a mount, note what affect it has on its rider and how it advances in power over time.

You can load the basic racial templates into the character generator and use them to make a character.

You can build any magic item possible with the rules in the DMG. Those items can be intelligent (per the rules in the DMG) and they can be cursed (per the rules in the DMG). The system will calculate the market price of each item you make.

You can change the size of any item (including any magic item) from fine to colossal. That means you can make magic items and basic equipment for Giants and equip them correctly.

You can make any eligible non-magical item a "Masterwork" item.

All that stuff can be added to your character's inventory and equipped. When it is equipped, it's effects are reflected on your character sheet, including the effects of magic items.

You can click on a button and generate random treasure for the character (so if you were creating a monster or NPC for use in an adventure, you could automate the process from the DMG). If the treasure includes a magic item, it will be randomly generated used the tables in the DMG.

You can add items to your inventory for free, or you can use the system to debit and credit your treasure reserves.

For weapons, you can choose to use them one handed, two handed, or use them as double weapons. You can equip two weapons (or more if you have more than two arms). You can pick which hand (main or off) you want to wield each weapon in. You can set up "groups" of attacks (just like the monsters in the Monster Manual have). Attacks can include natural weapons, special attacks, etc. from the basic racial template.

All the class features of all the PHB classes, all the DMG NPC classes and all the DMG prestige classes are supported and fully integrated into the character generator.

You can select raw domains, or a pick a god from the list in the PHB. You can build spell books, and lists of spells prepared for use. You can specialize in a school or be a generalist.

The DM can request a report of how many times you rolled the dice for ability scores, what modifications you made, if you used a point-buy system, which one you used, if you have more skill points or feats than you should, what your class levels, skills, feats and other aspects of your character are, etc.

You can advance a character in level by adding XP, then going through the process of picking a new class or adding a level to an existing class.

The system outputs characters to XML. We are providing three style sheets: a standard character sheet that looks just like the one in the PHB, a "stat block" sheet that looks like a standard D&D Adventure stat block, and a "combat sheet" that just has the values most people need in melee combat. 3rd parties will be able to add additional style sheets.

We're adding a feature called the "Home Rules Generator" that will let you add a feat, a skill, an item, a domain, a god, a spell, and a few other things. The first version will not let you add a character class or prestige class.

I've reviewed all the 3rd party tools available, and none of them do all these things. In fact, all of them together don't do all these things. There are some features (notably custom prestige classes) that some of the 3rd party tools do that Master Tools won't do when it ships. If sales of Master Tools are strong, we'll add features in updates in the future.

The first update will add the material from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Magic of Faerun, the Psionics Handbook, Sword & Fist, Defenders of the Faith, Tome & Blood, Song & Silence and Masters of the Wild. The first update will probably be available before GenCon next year.

Pricing for both Master Tools and the update are not yet determined.

August 11, 2001

Dragon #287: The September 2001 issue of Dragon appeared in my mail today. Here's a look inside:

  • Forgotten Realms poster map -- this is the first of four to appear over the next four issues, and this month's is a close-up on the NW quarter of Faerun.
  • A farewell editorial from Dave Gross.
  • This Month's Theme: The Planes -- This month's issue will has a lot of companion material for the forthcoming Manual of the Planes.
    • Variant "Dream Planes" including new magic items, a new Dream Elemental template, and new gods.
    • Vs. Celestials -- advice for defeating these good guys should you find yourself up against them.
    • Planar Prestige Classes for the Athar, Cipher, Sensate, Sinker (Doomguard), Taker, and Xaositect.
    • The Bestiary looks at Creatures of the Chaos Spire.
    • Fiend Slayer prestige class.
  • New Psionic Feats -- sixteen of 'em, including Upgrade Power, which allows you to swap forget a lower-level power for a related higher-level one when you're eligible for new psionic powers (so for instance, you're ready to pick up Astral Construct III, you can "forget" Astral Construct II if you want and pick up a different 2nd level power). Each time you take the feat it applies to one "power chain" (group of related powers); the article includes lists of power chains. I predict fans will adapt this for sorcerers bigtime. :)
  • Dreadmasters of Bane prestige class for the Realms.
  • Plus all of the other typical good stuff.

Master Tools Poll: You can participate in three polls about Master Tools here. The first poll asks about your plans to purchase the initial Master Tools product; the second asks you to pick the most important unsupported MT feature; and the third (which really could use at least one more option like "None of the Above") asks what will influence your decision to purchase MT. You can also leave comments on each of the polls.

Official D&D Site Updates: What's new at WotC?
  • Web Enhancement for Magic of Faerun, detailing a druid grove.
  • A lamia wizard in the Fight Club.
  • Forgotten Realms bibliography.
  • Scooper: Claude Raines.

D20 System News:
  • Free Stuff at Privateer Press: a map of Corvis.
  • Citizen Games has renamed their wild west D20 game Wild West Adventures. Citizen's Geoff Spakes says in this thread on my boards that this is a "working title (which will change)."
  • Eager to put D20 publisher names to faces? Mark CM has posted several photos of D20 publishers taken at GenCon over in the D20 Publishers Forum.
  • The "Hackerz, d00d" expansion for Malls & Morons has been revised.
  • Warhound Productions is a new D20 System publisher, aiming to release a book of prestige classes in electronic format in a couple of months. Check out their website.
  • Web of the Widow, a digitally enhanced HarnWorld/D20 dual stat product, is now available.
  • Scoopers: Denise,

Community News:
  • Canonfire is "a fan based project years in the making, organized by Living Greyhawk Gazetteer co-author Gary Holian, and involving such Greyhawk luminaries as Erik Mona and Fred Weining. We're hoping to get as many GH fans involved as possible, and transform the Greyhawk online community into a cohesive, productive whole." Click here to read a more detailed announcement.
  • From Dusk: "The first of the Dusk books for 3e will be coming out on August 30th in HTML format. Dusk: Art of Magic has over 200 new spells, yet another shaman take, a set of 5 prestige classes and some new metamagic feats. Current draft is 68 pages."
  • The World of Aiem is a D&D campaign setting site.
  • World of Trainz is a D&D campaign setting site.
  • Updates at (new rant, Line of Sight, DMs Only, review of
    Creature Collection 2), D&D Adventures (new submissions), Project Silverymoon (new Hidden Shrines of Silverymoon section and errata for the netbook), (indexes updated to reflect AEG's Evil, Traps & Treachery and Campaign Magazine #1),
  • Scoopers: Sixfootgnome,, Oren Douek, Dan Hagy.

Master Tools -- Custom Prestige Classes, Monster Templates, Beta Testing: Ryan Dancey explains why Master Tools won't ship with the ability to add custom prestige classes (thanks to Steven for the scoop):

Let me start by making one thing clear: We're working with Fluid to define exactly what will be in the final shipping version of Master Tools. The most up-to-date information we have from them is that there will not be a way to introduce Prestige Classes into the "Home Rules Generators". I have some thoughts on the matter that I'm going to be passing on to Fluid next week in our design discussions. But for right now, the issue is off the table for the first release.

The reason we're not adding Prestige (or base) classes to the Master Tools product is that we don't have the money left in the budget to pay Fluid to build that technology, and we don't have the time left on the calendar to write, test, debug, and document them. We're probably going to begin the manufacturing cycle before the end of the year; even though the product won't be on sale until next year, it will take many months from the time Fluid hands over finished code to the date the first box rolls off the end of the assembly line. In our timeline, we're almost at the end of development. We don't want to delay Master Tools any more than we have to at this point, so we're not going to wait on the Prestige Class customization issue.

What that means in practical terms is that if, for you, the ability to add Prestige Classes to the system determines the buy/don't buy decision, then you're probably not buying, and you'll be waiting for a future update before considering Master Tools for purchase. I'm sorry, I know you're dissapointed, I hear your concerns, and agree with many of them. But that's the way it's got to be.

I'm hopeful that between now and then, I can show you the value in Master Tools as it is currently planned, and make the case that not only is it worth what we're going to be charging, but it's worthwhile in terms of your committment to learn the software and use it regularly. I'm not asking that you unreasonably discard your position or your concerns. I am asking, as a favor, that you greet our discussion with an open mind and a willingness to listen to what we have to say. If, because you feel you've been burned too often over this product you simply can't, I understand that too, and all I can ask is that you not make personally insulting comments about people who are trying to help, not hurt, and that you understand that the people you're angry at are gone and won't hear you anyway.

I'd also like to say for the record that nobody at WotC or Fluid is saying we don't know how to add Prestige Class customization, or that the code couldn't accomodate it, or that Fluid won't do the work, or even that we don't think the feature is important.

The business decision (made by me) is, "We're not going to include them, and we think we'll sell enough copies anyway to justify continued development of the line."

If you're one of those people who simply won't buy it without Prestige Class customization, I can't convince you that you should, and I'm not going to try to do so. All that I ask in return is that you show us the respect of acknowledging that you've been heard and that your concerns have been received, and give us a chance to make a good pitch to those who don't feel so strongly about the issue. Master Tools won't "suck" if it doesn't have this feature, and it's not a "failure" without it. It's just not going to be as good as we all know it could/should be. It will still be software that a whole lot of people find very, very useful and valuable. Hopefully, with future releases are available to give you the ability to add custom classes and prestige classes, you will too.

WotC's Byrt Martinez also adds some interesting information about customizing in general in this same thread:

It distresses me to listen to all of this hyperbole about MT not having ANY customization options at all, when from the beginning it was known that Fluid was taking this approach in order to meet this need of the community. Based on the posts here, it would appear that making such customizations to the DB would be child's play to many of the users here. However, understand that you do so at your own risk and that CS will not help you if you run into trouble. We will assume that anybody who wants to make such changes knows what they're doing and accepts the risk.

Master Tools will ship with the prestige classes from the DMG. Yes, it's only 6, whup-dee-do. But those will, at least, act as a guide for adding your own if you so choose to hack away at it. Really, it isn't that hard, if you're comfortable with it.

As an experiment, I made one today, in fact (Ghostwalker) and it only took about 20-30 minutes to figure out how. No documentation. No help. Just me, Sword & Fist, and reasonably named tables & fields in Access. I only needed to hit 5 tables to do this.

I just wanted to illustrate that you can customize MT to a certain degree and that it was inherently built in order to do so. It's not impossible. It's just not in your face.

Ryan also answered a question about monster templates -- can you apply a monster template to an already-created character?

The answer is yes and no.

You can't apply a template to an existing character. This is actually a place where Fluid is kind of at a loss as to a way to implement this feature effectively. It's really a lot more complex than it first appears, especially when you consider all the possible options that could come up in the process.

What you can do, however, is creat a "Vampire + X" race template. Let's say you wanted to make a Vampiric Aboleth. You would load the Aboleth race template into the Race Generator, and then use the rules in the Monster Manual to apply the modifications necessary to turn it into a Vampire Aboleth. You'd save that as "Vampire Aboleth".

Then you go to the Character Generator, load up a character as a "Vampire Aboleth" and use the Character Generator to pick skills, spells, equipment, etc. End result - a Vampire Aboleth fully statted and compliant with 3e; but you had to do some of the work yourself instead of having it done automatically.

You could do the same thing for "Vampire Human" or "Vampire Elf", and then use your character as a guide to "rebuild" it with the same classes, levels, Feats, skills, etc.; again, the result would be your character with the Vampire Template added, but you'd be doing some of the work by hand.

Here, Ryan addresses the issue of beta testing:

There will be a Beta. It will involve gamers who know what they're looking for. It will probably not be "public" in the sense that we'll be just mailing thousands of CDs to anyone who asks to participate.

Right now, we're using a 3rd party testing company to handle the QA issues. I'd like to seed a couple of hundred people with the product once it's in its near-final form for last minute usability comments and (knock on wood against) last minute bug fixes.

When we figure out when/where/how on the beta, we'll let you all know here on this forum what the details are.

August 10, 2001

Official Updates: What's new at WotC?

  • New Map-A-Week.
  • New Miniatures Playhouse.
  • New Paint Like Pro article.
  • Scooper: Steve.

New in the Conversion Library: Adventures -- Palace of the Silver Princess (module B3); Monsters -- grippli; Mystara -- Legacy and Affliction Rules from Savage Coast; Classes -- Flamespeaker Prestige Class.

  • has posted a review of Shadow of the Exile (Privateer).
  • has posted reviews of Magic of Faerun (WotC), The Longest Night (Privateer), Tome and Blood (WotC), and Adventure Keep module The Last Gods (AEG). (thanks to Yves for the scoop)

D20 System News:
  • You might have noticed that I was getting a lot of my D20 scoops recently from a fellow named Dazza. You might also have noticed that his scoops aren't around much any more. That's because Dazza is the new Research/News Manager at, a D20 news site. Congrats to Dazza!
  • Dazza at has posted a preview of AEG's new D20 book, Evil.
  • The Fiend Games website is back up.
  • Updated the Guildmaster Games entry with info on a forthcoming product called The Fantasy Companion, due in September. (thanks to bertman4 for the scoop)
  • Updated the Green Ronin entry with a forthcoming product called Arcana: Societies of Magic, due in October.
  • Corsair Publishing has posted information on how to subscribe to Campaign Magazine.

Community News:
  • Updates at The Dungeon Dimension (new roleplaying articles), Herocraft (Matrixmagic), Cale Nadere (new monsters chapter for Ledirak Guidebook), Sean Reynolds' site (new Blade of Faerun).

Dancey on Master Tools: Ryan Dancey, the new business manager for Master Tools, posted a lengthy, detailed note about what's up with the program on the WotC boards. I've posted some excerpts below, and have archived the entire post in the MT section of my Electronic Aids page. (thanks to Pat, Steven and bushfire for the scoop):

There was a problem with the original Master Tools strategy - no doubt about it. That problem wasn't Fluid's, and Fluid is not responsible for the results. In fact, Fluid did exactly what Wizards asked them to do, and did it well. It turns out however, that what we asked them to do wasn't really what we think you all want us to include in the product. That mistake was treating Master Tools as the first kernel of an on-line, computerized D&D game. While that's a cool product idea and maybe someday there will be such a beast, at this point, it's not what Master Tools should be focused on, and due to the recent deal between Hasbro and Infogrames, we don't have the rights to make such a product anyway.

That's the horns of our dilemma. We have a "mapper" which won't help you make the kinds of maps you want to make for tabletop play, and without the ability to play on-line in a network environment, the mapper doesn't have any other significant utility. If we included the mapper we do have with Master Tools, it would dissapoint a lot of people, while at the same time requring a lot of work to finish it, document it, provide tech support for it, and do the other things that are necessary and costly that you do when you publish software.

So we're not going to include the mapping system with the Master Tools product.

Let me explain what we are going to do instead. Master Tools is now being viewed as "Toolbox". The first tool, the Character Generator Tool, will come with the Toolbox. In the future, as resources permit, we'll release additional tools for the toolbox.

In the on-deck circle is a project we're calling the "Scenario Generator". The Scenario Generator will use a new mapping system designed for top-down display that will support things the isometric mapper we currently use cannot: Things like curves, irregular shapes, freehand drawings, etc. My vision is to create a tool that would let you make a map that looks just like one of the maps in our Adventure products like "Sunless Citadel" or "Heart of Nighfang Spire". In addition, we're going to provide a set of utilities that link to that map: Encounter generators, treasure generators, trap generators, etc. Plus, we're going to provide a framework to link all that conent together using the skeleton of our Adventure products: You'll use the map to make an area, key that area to a number, and populate that area with encounters, treasure, traps, etc. You'll be able to provide background, boxed text, and all the other stuff you find in our Adventures. You'll be able to write a forward, include appendixes, etc. In short, you'll be able to use the Scenario Generator to essentially create your own version of something like "Sunless Citadel". That product will be sold as a downloadable plug-in for the Master Tools toolbox.

We don't have a release date for the Scenario Generator. We don't know what we'll charge for it. Heck, we don't even have funding to do the project yet. We do, however, realize how important it is, and if we can make the business case to senior management, we'll do it. And we'll do it fast, because we know you want it and want it NOW.


[Master Tools will ship with] a feature tentatively called the "Home Rules Generator". This tool will let you add a spell, skill, Feat, item, domain, and a few other things to the basic databases that will ship with the product. The idea is to allow you to customize the options available within the software itself, adding things from supplements and 3rd party products, and adding things unique to your own home campaign.

We wanted to extend this technology to include the ability to add Prestige Classes and new Basic Classes, but due to the time and resource constraints we're working under, we won't be able to do so. We recognize how important this feature is, and it ranks right up there with the Scenario Generator in terms of things we want to bring to market as fast as we can, provided we can get the green light to do so.


I talked earlier about considering the basic product a Toolbox, and that's a point I'd like to touch on now as it relates to this topic of classes and prestige classes. Before the Scenario Generator, and before a generic tool to add freeform Classes and Prestige Classes, we're going to ask Fluid to create an Upgrade for the basic Character Generator itself.

Again, this project is not yet approved, and we don't have pricing or timing available, but it should be >Fast<. The Upgrade will include the contents of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Magic of Faerun, Sword & Fist, Tome & Blood, Defenders of the Faith, Song & Silence, Masters of the Wild, and the Psionics Handbook. The Upgrade will not be ready until after Masters of the Wild has shipped (for obvious reasons). I am very, very hopeful that we can target a GenCon release of the Upgrade - but no promises at this time.

Happy Birthday ... To Me! Today marks the second anniversary of the opening of Unofficial D&D Third Edition News. Two years ago this week you would have been reading the first scoops on the newly-announced 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which had been announced at GenCon just days before. Examples:

  • 3rd edition characters can "beat the snot" out of 2nd edition characters in terms of power and ability. (Reported on August 19, 1999; source -- Dragon #263)
  • Fighters receive special abilities called "Heroic Feats."  Some of these include Quickness (an initiative bonus), Weapon Focus (an attack bonus with a chosen weapon), and Heroic Fray (doubles the number of attacks for a short while).  (Reported on August 18, 1999)
  • Priestly Healing:  "Clerics can ‘Convert’ spells into healing magic.  They no longer have to memorize cure wounds if a cleric gives up spell they heal a d8 per level of the spell." (reported on August 17, 1999)

Wow, two years! We've agonized over minutae, picked apart sentences and phrases for clues, argued about the virtues of spiked armor, moved to RPG Planet, mourned the passing of Alternity, tried to decode this "D20 System" thing, drooled over Skurge Dwarfsbane's stats, passed around copies of the Char Gen, watched one million hits roll around, and celebrated as the PHB was released in 2000. We've struggled to understand Attacks of Opportunity, waited eagerly for the other two core books to come out, examined the new D20 System products, griped about errata, laughed about Meepo, shook our heads with dismay as WotC took a beating, lured Gary Gygax into our message board community, watched four million more hits roll around, and welcomed the new Realms. We've been through a lot together.

It's been a remarkable two years. I've heard from, met, and made friends with so many special people -- in person, by e-mail and through the message boards. I've had chances to do things I never imagined I'd get to do, and to be a part of the history of my favorite game. I just wanted to thank you all for a wonderful two years -- they've been fantastic.

August 9, 2001

D20 System News:

  • New D20 Publisher: Bard's Productions will be producing adventure series in pdf format. Check out their website and their press release.
  • Thieves' Cant is a D20 System print fanzine, or will be soon. (thanks to Dennis for the scoop)
  • Free Stuff at Bastion Press -- three monsters from their Minions GenCon promo.
  • Pinnacle's website has been updated with errata for Weird Wars. [source:]
  • The products page at Wyvern's Claw Design has been updated with a new forthcoming title -- All the King's Men, an adventure for 7th to 9th level characters. (thanks to Talien for the scoop)
  • Citizen Games has posted some new material for their forthcoming Desperado game -- a character sheet and a "primer." [source: EN World]
  • Sword & Sorcery Studios has posted cover art for their forthcoming Hollowfaust sourcebook on their website.

  • has posted reviews of Pit of Loch Durnan and Nightmares and Dreams (Mystic Eye Games), Dzeebagd: Under Dark and Misty Ground (Troll Lord Games), and Demons and Devils (Necromancer Games).
  • has posted a review of Thievery 101: Joining the Watchers (Wyvern's Claw).

Community News:
  • You can download a small "DM Work Flow Chart" here.
  • Updates at Black Falcon Aerie (feat, spell and magic item lists updated for Magic of Faerun), Herocraft (Dark Aerth setting info and equipment), Wheel of Time RPG Info Page (new info on Multi-classing, Channeling, Bonding, Warders, Feats, Affinities), RealmsCrafters (Medusa Script Tutorial) and RPG United (new address at

August 8, 2001

Martinez on the Limits of Master Tools: WotC's Byrt Martinez posted a few comments in reaction to my Master Tools Report I posted this weekend. The executive summary: the mapper portion of MT is gone, and classes/prestige classes won't be able to be added through manipulation of the databases. (thanks to bushfire for the scoop)

The mapper portions of the program were not mentioned in Eric's post because we didn't show it to him. The reason we didn't show it is because we've decided not include it in the initial release of Master Tools. Why, you ask? Well, the mapper utility, as it was, just wasn't working out for what we want the product to be. Ryan Dancey called it the hybridization of computer tools with table-top play.

Essentially, when the decision was made to use the isometric graphic engine for the mapper, it was in anticipation of moving towards internet play. However, with the advent of the Hasbro/Infogrames deal, we sold off the rights to produce electronic games, hence that direction became null and void. The asset of being able to play online, now became a liability to the remaining direction for Master Tools, which is to aid table-top play solely. This is now the only focus for Master Tools. Though it is disappointing (even to us!), it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the isometric mapper tool is a wonderful editor for a computer game, but lacking as a tool for creating only table-top maps. So, it is back to the drawing board for the mapper. What we have decided to do is to set aside the mapper tools and revisit it at a later date and concentrate on completing the character generator tools as soon as possible and make them the best they can be.

As far as customization goes, we are working on creating the front ends to add items to the Master Tools database, things like weapons, spells, loot, etc. We felt it necessary to include some of these user interfaces because we needed to protect data that users may have added from add-ons that WotC may provide in the future. For instance, if you decided to add your own weapons to the weapons table numbered 100-112 and WotC later comes out with an add-on for Sword and Fist that adds weapons numbered 100-150, then we would be unknowingly overwriting data that you've sweated over. This would be bad. With the user interfaces that we will provide, we can control where in the database user-defined items go to make sure we won't overwrite that data in the future. This also provides the added benefit of providing a front-end to add new items to the database for users who do not own Access, which many people were concerned with.

Although we will be providing a user interface for many of the tables in Master Tools, there are still some areas that will not be able modifiable in this way. These are areas that require special case code that is not in the database. Classes (including Prestige Classes) fall into this category. Though, there may be some adventurous souls who will delve into the database using Access and try to add a class, they may find that all of the features of the class cannot be fully realized. That is just the reality due to the level of sophistication within the Master Tools application.

Volunteers Sought for RPGA Gaming at Conventions: August Hahn ( has been selected to coordinate all RPGA gaming for GenCon, Origins, and Winter Fantasy. He will be taking care of volunteer recruitment, module fulfillment, and accomodation allotment for the "Big 3" cons. If anyone wishes to volunteer to judge or help out with RPGA HQ, please contact him. August adds, "One of the things I can scoop to you is that if a person volunteers to run (or help in HQ for) 3 slots at Winter Fantasy before September 1st, I can provide them with free tickets for any other RPGA event they wish to play in. If they volunteer to run 6 slots, they get free accomodations for the convention as well!"

Rules Corrections and Clarifications:
  • Errata - Magic of Faerun - Dimensional Lock: The spell list says dimensional lock is 5th level, while the spell description says 8th level. Dimensional lock is 8th level. [WotC Customer Service] (thanks to deer.buster for the scoop)
  • Clarification - Damage Resistance from More Than One Source: What happens if you have two different types of damage resistance? Use the best avaiable DR that applies to the attack. Say the 2 DRs are 3/- and 25/+1 -- Use DR 25 if the weapon is +1 or less, otherwise use DR 3. [Skip Williams] (thanks to Arnt Olav Foseide for the scoop)

  • DM's Haven has posted reviews of Demonology (Mongoose Publishing) and Felsentheim: Dogs of War (Troll Lord Games).
  • Atlas of Adventure has posted a review of Deadlands D20 (Pinnacle).

Community News:
  • Updates at Logical Choice (August newsletter includes new short reviews and a new monster), Sean Reynolds' site (contest results, new rant on weapon speeds).

D20 System News:
  • Grinning Goblin Adventures will be selling their adventures in print format as well as electronically. Read the press release for more information.
  • Skeleton Key Games is now taking orders for their Magnetic Adventure Tiles on their website. [source:]
  • I'm told that Dark Tower from Judges Guild is now available.

August 7, 2001

RPGA Changes Posted: WotC has posted a summary of the changes to the RPGA's membership fees and benefits. Oddly, while it mentions the merging of Dragon and LGJ it doesn't say anything about the merging of Dungeon and Polyhedron as discussed by Erik Mona in yesterday's news.

From Ryan Dancey re: OGL/d20STL Compliance: If you're a D20 publisher you should read this message from Ryan Dancey, originally posted on OGF-L. (thanks to Pat for the scoop)

  • has posted reviews of Shadow of the Exile (Privateer Press), Star Wars Roleplaying Game (Wizards of the Coast), The Andwan Legacy (0one Roleplaying Games), and Rappan Athuk (Necromancer Games).

D20 System News:
  • Free Stuff from RPG Source -- a new prestige class. (source:
  • Mongoose Publishing has posted cover art and designer's notes for their forthcoming Necromancy: Beyond the Grave. (source: I'm told that it will include new undead creatures by Scott Greene and Erica Balsley of the Creature Catalog -- congrats to you both!
  • Coming soon from Fantasy Flight Games (spotted at Gameboard Distributors, thanks to Zoltán Déry for the scoop): Seafarer's Handbook, NOV, $24.99. This 176 page hardcover will provide players and DM's with all the information that they will need to adventure above and below the ocean surface. Included will be detailed descriptions and deck plans of all sizes of ships, rules for naval combat and boarding actions, rules for resolving aquatic encounters, new nautical skills, feats, prestige classes, spells, magic items, equipment, and monsters, and guides and resources to seaside towns and ports.
  • Scooper "Flynn" managed to grab some good notes on Fantasy Flight Games' upcoming Dragonstar D20 game. I've posted his notes in this thread on my forums.
  • Darrin Drader of Dark Portal Games has posted a report on what's going on with their company and delays with their initial releases. (spotted at EN World)

Official Updates: What's new at WotC?
  • The current Cliffhanger is concluded.
  • Info on 2002 WotC releases from Virtual GenCon.
  • New PC Portraits.
  • Scoopers: Eric Heppel, Thyle, Eric Heide.

Community News:
  • Scott Metzger has put together "Monster," a program that, in conjunction with Luke Jones' Role Playing Master software, puts together monster stat blocks from RPM's database.
  • Updates at Fantaseum (new question of the week), DM's Haven (NPC contest winners announced), Palaestra (new Noble class, adventure log).

August 6, 2001

All About Magazines: WotC's Erik Mona clarifies some of the issues going on with Dungeon/Polyhedron and Dragon/Living Greyhawk Journal in this thread on my forums:

  • How much LGJ in Dragon? It's actualy going to be 16-20 pages _every_ month, not just every other month. You'll get the same or more LGJ content as you got before, but now you just don't have to jump through hoops to get it.
  • Dungeon/Polyhedron Combined: The way we're currently building this will make it a pretty innocuous change for everybody. The first "combined" issue is 180 pages long, and doesn't poach pages from either publication. There will be two covers, the lines between what's Dungeon and what's Poly will be very clear, etc. I understand that a lot of people think this isn't an ideal situation. . . we'd prefer to have two seperate magazines, too. But the current publishing and budgetary climate out there is frosty, and this seemed like the best solution for a multitude of reasons. I urge you guys to give it a try when it first happens a few months down the line. I think it's going to be pretty cool, and I think you will, too.
  • What if I already am signed up to get both Dungeon & Polyhedron? The current plan is that we'll extend your Dungeon subscription by however much time you have left on your Guild-level membership. There are a few issues like what to do about Lifetime Members of the RPGA that we haven't figured out, yet, but now that Gen Con is over we'll be figuring this stuff out in the next week or two.
  • Is RPGA membership required to get Dungeon or Dragon? No.
  • So what about this d20 Magazine we've been hearing about? The Dragon Annual this year (which I'm editing, by the way) has a d20 focus. Thereafter, Polyhedron _becomes_ WotC's official d20 Magazine. It'll still cover the RPGA Network, but it will add a primary focus of supporting the d20 phenomenon. Each issue will include a stand-alone mini-game, reviews, previews, etc.

GenCon Photos: I've posted a bunch of photos taken at GenCon -- most of them are from the gathering of folks from my forums. Thanks to all of you who have been sending in pictures from that event!

Errata -- Magic of Faerun:
  • Adamantine Enhancement Bonus Doesn't Stack with Magic Enhancement Bonus: In Magic of Faerun on p. 142, the entry for The Fist reads, "+2 spiked gauntlet (+1 enhancement bonus from adamantine, +1 enhancement bonus from magic)." It's an error. It looks like it was changed to +1/+1 in the managing editor stage, as my turnover and the editing turnover have it as +1/+2. The bonuses do not stack because they're the same type of bonus (the effect is that the weapon is +2, but in an antimagic field it's still +1 instead of no plusses at all). [Sean Reynolds] (thanks to Pat and Paladin for the scoop)
  • Adamantine Bonus for Weapons Doing d8 or Higher Damage is +2: In Magic of Faerun on p. 178, the last line of the table for adamantine enhancement bonuses reads, "Weapon damage 1d8 or higher, +1." This contradicts the DMG. The bonus should be +2 for weapons with damage 1d8 or higher. Please follow the adamantine description in the DMG. [WotC Customer Service] (thanks to Paladin for the scoop)

D20 System News:
  • Previously unnanounced D20 products are mentioned in Game Trade Magazine #18. I think I'll wait until the websites of the companies in question post information before updating the D20 System Guide, but we can keep our eyes open for these products:
    • Avalanche Press: Twilight of Atlantis, October 2001
    • Crunchy Frog Enterprises: Cloudholme Chaos in the Sky, September 2001
    • GuildMaster Games: The Fantasy Companion, September 2001
    • Scooper: Daniel
  • You can download an 11-page PDF file called Shattering Lances: D20 System Jousting Rules from the Gamestuff, Inc./Through the Looking Glass Productions website. (thanks to Ace for the scoop)
  • Agatha Blades has a new home on the web at (thanks to Mihn for the scoop)
  • Kyle Charron wants you to know that yes, the Fiend Games website is down, and no, Fiend Games is not going out of business: During an update our webserver / Fiend.NET server went down. It reverted to a backup and then died shortly after. We are attempting to fix this by Wednesday. Fiend Games is not out of business. Products ordered and pre-ordered will be shipped. We hope you enjoyed the preview in Gaming Frontiers Magazine. If any one who attended GenCon has questions about the preview feel free to drop you comments off at or on the Troll Lord Games Message Boards.

Community News:
  • Tome of Mystara is a D&D Mystara setting resource site.
  • Isle of Nordea is a D&D campaign site.
  • Herocraft has a new home at and you'll find an update there (lotus magic).
  • David Paul has put together a GenCon 2001 report with lots of pictures.

August 5, 2001

D20 System News:

  • Tronen Games is a new D20 System publisher. Check out their website for information on their World of Tronen setting and adventures. (thanks to Daniel for the scoop)
  • Read up on these D20 publishers in a series of reports from Virtual GenCon: Mongoose Publishing, Green Ronin Publishing, Eden Studios, and WotC.

Community News:
  • d20 Magazine Rack, a site dedicated to e-zines for d20 games, has officially opened and is now looking for active members to join its staff. You can visit the site or join the d20 Magazine Rack discussion group for more information.
  • The Dungeon Dimension has a new home at
  • Updates at James Wyatt's Aquela (reports from the OA games he ran at GenCon).

GenCon Updates: Check out my GenCon 2001 page for more updates. A scooper provides a look at future Forgotten Realms products coming out next year.

August 4, 2001

Official Updates: What's new at WotC?
  • The Incantatrix prestige class, an excerpt from Magic of Faerun.
  • A thri-kreen monk in the Fight Club.
  • Bonus PC Portraits.

  • has posted a review of Shadow of the Exile (Privateer Press).
  • Star Wars RPG Network has posted a review of The Dark Side sourcebook for Star Wars D20 (WotC).

Community News:
  • The Ranger Project is devoted to developing and collecting Ranger class variants.
  • has posted a new prestige class -- Thri-Kreen Slayer. (thanks to McNick for the scoop)
  • Crystal Truths is a FR D&D campaign site.
  • Updates at Conan D20 (updated setting information), PS3E (news updates), Creature Catalog (new conversions).

D20 System News:
  • Viking Games has posted the third installment of their Axandar Axiom collumn.
  • OtherWorld Creations has posted on their website a 14-page pdf file containing their Forbidden Kingdoms Intro Kit.

More GenCon Coverage:
  • has posted a report that includes information on what various D20 Publishers were up to at GenCon. Note that the report includes some non-D20 publishers as well. Highlights:
    • Series Archer from AEG pushed back to 2002.
    • Holistic Gaming's orcs and undead Fantasy Encounters sets are now available.
    • Rappan Athuk II from Necromancer Games is available.
    • Mithril, City of the Golem from Sword & Sorcery is available.
  • Many updates at WotC's Virtual GenCon site including Welcome to the Realms seminar handouts like the Giant Slayer prestige class and Reinventing the Realms seminar handouts including the Zhentarim Skymage prestige class. (thanks to Gerard for the scoop)
  • Read the transcript of the Chainmail seminar at GenCon.

RPGA and D&D Magazines: As I indicated a couple of days ago, there are some changes in store for the RPGA's magazines, Polyhedron and Living Greyhawk Journal. Erik Mona informs me that Polyhedron's content will shift a bit more toward D20 System material, and will be combined with the bi-monthly Dungeon Magazine to create a 180-page magazine. This will, among other things, allow Polyhedron's content to reach newsstands so that non-members could still opt to purchase if desired. Living Greyhawk Journal, meanwhile, will cease publication within the next couple of issues. Instead, LGJ content will appear as a 16-page supplement in Dragon Magazine. I don't have specifics on how these changes effect customers with already-active subscriptions to one or more of the magazines, but I'll pass that information on when I have it.

Eric's GenCon Notes: I've typed up the notes from the Oriental Adventures and Manual of the Planes sessions plus my notes on my three-hour personal tour of Master Tools. Check out my GenCon 2001 page for all of the details.

I'm Back! I had a blast at GenCon and I have a lot to share. Topics include detailed notes from the Oriental Adventures seminar; slightly less detailed notes from the Manual of the Planes seminar; and (drumroll, please) ... my report on the three hours I spent with Scott Mathews and Byrt Martinez looking at, using, and discussing a little program known as Master Tools.

The thing that just topped this great day was getting together with 30 or so members of my forums. We had a fun gathering -- like old friends but meeting for the first time in some ways. I'll be talking more about that on the forums themselves. I'll leave you with a couple of photos shot by "Dungeon Master."
  • This shot shows me and my wife in our matching D&D News T-shirts. Yeah, my face looks goofy :)
  • This one I include because of the look on my face -- I was having a lot of fun!
  • This one was shot from the 2nd floor. If you're looking at the "target" on the floor, I'm standing next to Nemmerle in green, who's next to Piratecat in the maroon shirt.
  • I'll have more photos to share over the next couple of days, and again will do that through the forums.

August 2, 2001

GenCon Reports: Keep your eyes on my GenCon 2001 page for updates from the convention. I've just posted a tidbit from an attendee of the Epic Level D&D seminar. I'll be back with my own report on Saturday. Ta ta!

Poll: The archiving of the previous poll didn't take for some reason. However, I can tell you that 65% of the voters prefer having NPC/monster stats spread through the module, while 25% prefer to have them collected together (for instance, in an appendix in the back).

There's a new, very important poll in place now -- be sure to vote. :)

The Future of Organized Play and the RPGA: A few days ago, Anonymous sent me a rumor that there were some major changes in store for the RPGA's magazines, particularly Polyhedron. In response posting questions about that rumor in this thread on my forums, RPGA Global Publications Coordinator Erik Mona posted the following:

There is actually a fairly major announcement about Polyhedron and the Living Greyhawk Journal coming at Gen Con. A lot of stuff has changed for the RPGA in terms of strategy and staffing, and it's inevitable that these changes would eventually wash their way over the magazines.

I don't want to jump the gun with any specific announcement prior to Gen Con, but here's a few things to keep in mind:

Polyhedron is not going away. There will be a change in format, but those of you who are used to getting the magazine now will continue to receive it for some time to come.

And then some.

2) I'm certainly still employed by the company, and the company certainly still supports the RPGA. Indeed, the coming changes reveal a renewed interest in Network activities on behalf of the "brass."

3) The cost of joining the RPGA, and the benefits associated with membership, are about to change in an EXTREMELY significant way. I predict that most people will be happy about this.

Sorry to be so cryptic, but the fact that news of any kind leaked here caught me by surprise, and I'm not yet ready to spill the beans on exactly what's happening to the RPGA and to
Poly and the Living Greyhawk Journal.

It's good stuff.

I promise.

Today scooper Christopher Way dropped off some more info, a report from someone attending GenCon, which he found on the LC Talk Yahoo group (he sent a link to the message he quoted but you have to be a member to reach it). I will summarize what has been presented to me:

  • RPGA membership will soon cost only $5 per year. That, however, doesn't include subscriptions to LGJ and Poly.
  • Ryan Dancey is leaving WotC to start a company called Organized Play. Indeed, leads you to Isomedia, a company co-founded by Dancey (see his interview in Campaign Magazine #1). Organized Play will focus on managing organized play for RPGs and other games.
  • Organized Play has apparently bid on and won the rights to run the FR Living City campaign. This means that the RPGA would no longer run it. Among the proposed improvements that Organized Play may bring to the LC campaign is a database of characters and certs.

It bears repeating -- at this stage, today's scoops are mere rumors. However, they do make sense in the context of Erik's comments above. I will certainly keep my ear to the ground for additional information, corrections and clarifications to this news as the day wears on.

Update: This is an excerpt of a note posted on the LC Talk Yahoo group by Keith Hoffman, Living City Director of MetaGaming:

The public announcement on the Licensing agreement of LC to Ryan Dancy's company, Organized Play, Inc. was made to the RPGA members meeting on August 1, at Gencon. Dave Wise, RPGA Worldwide Manager (and also in charge of licensing agreements) announced it and introduced Ryan to the audience. Ryan made a short statement about his vision for LC.

LC is still a RPGA campaign. RPGA has basically "out sourced" the HQ management of it, but at least for now...tournament ordering and distribution will be as normal under RPGA. For now, the volunteer LC campaign staff -- Directors and Coordinators, Administrators, and Representatives are all unchanged and uneffected.

Warcraft III D&D Tie-In Product: As reported by Talon Comics in this thread on my boards, WotC will be releasing a D&D tie-in product for Blizzard's forthcoming Warcraft III computer game. The 160-page Warcraft III Player's Guide is slated for March, though as with the Diablo II tie-ins it will likely shift dates as Warcraft III does.

D20 System News:
  • Necromancer Games has posted a PDF file containing a handout that will be given to folks who play in their Tomb of Abysthor preview at GenCon. (thanks to D for the scoop)

Official Updates: What's new at WotC?
  • Virtual GenCon -- keep up with what's happening this weekend.
  • GenCon Virtual Seminars via Chat -- check out the Epic D&D Seminar today, tomorrow's Oriental Adventures seminar, and Sunday's House Rules seminar.
  • New PC Portraits and Map-A-Week.
  • Chainmail online demo.
  • Part 4 of James Wyatt's Perilous Portals series.
  • Elminster Speaks #20.
  • Scoopers: Yes, several. ;) (And thanks!)

Community News:
  • Luke Jones has prepared a "major update" to his Role Playing Master software. Read what's new in this version, then download it here.
  • Ishka Campaign is a D&D campaign site.
  • WotC's Sean Reynolds will be updating a GenCon report on his site from the convention.
  • You can download a beta/draft version of the Netbook of Witches and Warlocks at the DnDCC.
  • The DnDCC Netbook of NPCs is looking for team members. Visit their Yahoo group site for more information, or contact team leader Paul W. King.
  • Chris Nightwing of Nightwing's Lair has posted Excel spreadsheets with info on the PHB spells including components, ranges, durations, saves and casting times.
  • As always, see the bar to the left for updates to hosted and partner sites.

August 1, 2001

D20 System Guide Updates: I've updated the list of D20 products coming out in the next two months, as well as noting products that had July or earlier release dates but haven't seen daylight yet. As I did my homework, I found some products had date changes based on new information on the publishers' websites and have adjusted dates accordingly.

Note to publishers: I have only one way of knowing the official release date for your products -- your website. When you list a product as "Coming in May 2001" and here it is August, I can only assume the product in question is behind schedule.

  • RPG Action has posted reviews of Dzeebagd: Under Dark and Misty Ground (Troll Lord) and Adventure Keep Modules - Set Four (AEG).

Schedule Change for Green Ronin's Freeport Event at GenCon: Our epic Freeport tournament survived a vicious sabotage attempt by an as yet unidentified devil. The event was listed as a one time event instead of the tournament that it is. This error has been fixed in the onsite computer but is not reflected in the reg book. If you are coming to GenCon and want hot Freeport action, be sure and sign up for "Thieves in Freeport." Here's the info:
  • Event 80204 Thursday, August 3, noon to 4 pm
  • Event 80385 Friday, August 4, noon ot 4 pm
  • The final for this event is Saturday, also noon to 4 pm.

Community News:
  • Project Silverymoon is a D&D FR resource site featuring a 72-page .pdf sourcebook detailing the city of Silverymoon and new game rule info such as new prestige classes and spells.
  • Mark McKellip, Project Manager of the DnD Community Council, has put together the DnDCC Project Manager site which can be used to while the DnDCC main website is down.
  • The DnDCC Netbook of Skills team is looking for new members to join the team and submissions to fill out the Netbook itself. Contact Andrew Mahon if you're interested.
  • You can download a zipped Excel character spreadsheet created by Thomas Arenz right here.
  • If you have a site with prestige classes you might consider joining the 3E Prestige Class Webring.
  • Updates at Herocraft (gem magic revised and clarified), Wheel of Time RPG Info Page (new info), World of Kalam (new creatures), (classes index updated), Chain of Command (new mini pic, product price lists revealed), Palaestra (new feat, new house rules [Wyrd], chart for Jump spell distances), Michael's Imagination (article on Move Silently skill modifiers). Scooper: Dazza.

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D 3E and AD&D are all property of Wizards of the Coast.