Updated on March 32, 2002

Eric Noah's Unofficial Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition News

D&D Product Schedule

March 2002

Call of Cth ... Cth ... Cth ... Really Icky Stuff
Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game
(d20 System Game)

Formerly titled You Break It, You Buy It
Bastion of Broken Souls
(D&D Adventure)

I prophesy ... that this will be the only WoT product released.
The Wheel of Time:
Prophecies of the Dragon

(Wheel of Time adventure)

April 2002

Blatant Attempt to Appeal to First Edition Die-Hards
Deities and Demigods
(D&D Accessory)

May 2002

I bet you can't build a REAL stronghold with this book
Stronghold Builder's Guidebook

(D&D Accessory)

Is that Bane or one of the dancers in the Thriller video?
Faiths & Pantheons

(D&D Forgotten Realms Accessory)

June 2002

Insert witty comment here
The Book of Challenges: Dungeon Rooms, Puzzles & Traps

(D&D Accessory)

July 2002

Completely Pointless Rules Addition
Epic Level Handbook

(D&D Core Rulebook)

August 2002

March 32 to be exact!
Silver Marches

(Forgotten Realms supplement)

No Cover

City of the Spider Queen

(Forgotten Realms Mega-Adventure)

September 2002

Challenge Ratings Randomly Generated, as Usual
Monster Manual II

(D&D Core Rulebook)

October 2002

No Cover

d20 Modern
(d20 System Game)

March 32, 2002

Shameless Wizards of the Coast PimpingWotC Financial Woes Result in D&D Name Change: Wizards of the Coast business manager Antony Valtorro has passed along some stunning and sad news:

It's no secret that WotC has suffered some hard financial times over the past couple of years. Each time circumstances force us to lay off staff, those who remain must do the same amount of work with fewer resources. That puts a strain on everyone. This last round of layoffs cut particularly deeply into Research & Development, so much so that I have been forced to make what I fear will be a most unpopular decision for the future of our company and our game.

From now on, Dungeons & Dragons will be known as Dungeons
or Dragons. You will be allowed to choose between subterranean catacombs and winged, fire-breathing reptilian creatures of legend, but sadly you will not be able to combine the two. We simply cannot afford to support both avenues of the game given our current fiscal situation.

This decision, while difficult, will allow DoD to survive the coming years, permitting players to imagine journeys under the earth in search of monsters to fight (as long as they don't fight dragons), or to battle the most ancient of wyrms (provided that they are located above ground).

Antony adds that referees who choose the Dungeons option may content to refer to themselves as "Dungeon Masters," while "those other losers" must begin calling themselves "Dragon Masters" right away.

I mean, crap on a stick, they don't even pay me!Monte Cook Secret Project Revealed! You may recall that DMG author Monte Cook let slip information on a "secret project" that he has been working on for WotC. Adoring fans managed to learn that this new book is named after a magic item in the DMG, but other than that precious little was known. Well, we're a few steps closer today! After months of using their Gather Information skill (DC 100), agents of the CIA, FBI, and the Hoffmann Institute managed to hack into WotC's central databanks and uncovered five titles -- one of which is known to be the name of the "secret project" to be published later this year. Here they are!
  • Rod of Wonder: The Gnomish Kama Sutra
  • Book of Vile Darkness: Pretty Darned Vile
  • Heward's Handy Haversack: The Handiest Haversack Around
  • Scroll of Nystul's Magical Aura: 101 Uses for Extremely Lame Treasure
  • Frost Sickle and Unholy Sap: Lots of Combinations of PHB Weapons with DMG Special Abilities

Now that we know it's one of these five for sure, perhaps Monte will lower his guard and let more information slip!

Shameless D20 System PimpingNew d20 Skills Series to Debut: We've had class books. We're getting race books. We've had books of feats and books of magic. But one area that's been relatively unexplored in the D20 world is the area of skills -- that is, until now! D20 publishers Fiery Dark Mongoose Lords are set to publish a new line of d20 Skills books. Here's an exclusive "sneak peek" at some artwork from the first in the series, Quintessential Disguise:

Is that a masterwork disguise kit in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?


Aye, Captain Picard!

Pip pip?

I raised a barn on Monday, soon I'll raise an udder!

Pretty cool, eh? Quintessential Disguise has a scheduled release date of June 2002, although as usual the product will be pushed back several times, finally come out in early 2003, and almost live up to the hype. Not to be outdone, WotC is also planning a line of skill-related books, the first of which will be called Jumping Through Hoops.

Regdar the Fighter ... budding poet?More Iconic Layoffs: WotC's game designers aren't the only ones being hurt by WotC's financial troubles. An anonymous scooper from inside the company informs me that Regdar the Human Fighter was given his pink slip today, less than two weeks after dwarven cleric Eberk was laid off from WotC. Human cleric iconic Jozan notes, "Once Eberk was let go, I was pretty sure Regdar would be next. They couldn't let [dwarven fighter iconic] Tordek go due to WotC's demihuman quotas. Plus, think about it -- a human fighter? How much more boring can you get?" Halfling rogue iconic Lidda wasn't surprised at the move, either, adding that the manly fighter had talked for weeks about wanting to take an extended vacation "to work on his poetry." Half-orc barbarian iconic Krusk, though, was visibly moved, grunting, "Me raging on outside, but me crying on inside."

And then when I have to report bad news they hate me!Dragon Magazine ECLs Article Was In Error: Remember that "preview" of Effective Character Levels provided in last month's Dragon Magazine? You know, the one where every Monster Manual critter was assigned an ECL for the purposes of determining how relatively powerful that critter would be if run as a PC in a standard D&D game? Well don't put those pages in your three-ring D&D binder just yet. Here's the author of the article, Red Richman, with a major correction:

The "Monsters with Class" article in Dragon Magazine #293 was missing one vital piece of information -- that ECLs are randomly generated. That's right. The charts provided at the end were just an example of what you could have rolled. See, you roll your other vital stats, right? Strength, Charisma ... heck, even hit points. Same deal with ECLs. Simply roll a d20 and add the monster's CR. Voila, instant ECL. When Tooth & Claw [the rumored forthcoming book on playing monstrous races] comes out, you'll be able to read about some alternate methods of generating ECLs, but the d20+CR method is what we recommend for the average gamer.

I'm very sorry this article caused any confusion. We had no idea that the information on random generation had been left out. Imagine our surprise when we read messages to the effect that we had been "smoking crack" or had suffered "serious brain damage." You clearly didn't know that we had just rolled extremely well on many of the ECLs that particular day.

I dropped Monster Manual author Skippy McWilliams a line to verify this, and he had this to say:

Hmm, I don't know how to break it to you, but the CRs provided in the MM are also randomly generated. I'm not allowed to tell you how we arrived at them, but the calculations were extremely complex and often involved imaginary numbers.

Looks like I'll have to dig a bit deeper. I'll let you know when I find out more!

Why do I do it?  One answer:  Love.Half-Orcs Got the Shaft: A team of U.S. Justice Department investigators, after a two-year study, has concluded that half-orcs did, in fact, get the shaft by the designers of Dungeons & Dragons. Lead investigator Jeremiah Springfield says:

Though D&D fans long suspected that the half-orc race was on the receiving end of the shaft, we now have solid evidence to prove that this "shafting" took place with malice aforethought. We have [D&D co-designer] Jonathan Treet on tape guffawing and chortling with laughter as he describes the misery and anguish he hopes to inflict on D&D fans throughout the world by creating a PC race that is "totally lame."

D&D co-designer Mountie Kook corroborated the story, adding:

The Player's Handbook was pretty much out of my hands. I did try my best to rectify the situation in the Dungeon Master Guide with that whole "optional rule" about giving half-orcs the Scent ability, which would have made them a little more "cool" and added a useful power to boot. But then some editor, clearly on the take, added the part about gnomes also optionally having the Scent ability, and suddenly we were right back to square one.

Jonathan Treet, in a statement released by his lawyers, had this rebuttal:

Look, anyone who purposely chose to play a half-orc knew they were setting themselves up. I mean, do the math! +2 to STR vs. -2 to INT and CHA? It just doesn't add up to "balance." Combine that with the fact that half-orcs will actually be worse at Intimidation than a human due to that Charisma penalty, plus the fact that darkvision is worthless after the party can afford a measly 90 gp for an everburning torch, and you have yourself one unbalanced, boring PC race.

On a personal note, given these findings I wish to formally apologize to anyone I've belittled, badgered, mocked, or chided on the issue of half-orc shafting over the past two years. You "Rangers Got the Shaft" people, though, you're still idiots, each and every one of you. Drizzt is kewl!!!

Special thanks to Russ, Mobius Bard, and my friends in the Black Lodge. Fnord.