WotC 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
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.
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
Now that we know it's one of these five for sure,
perhaps Monte will lower his guard and let more information slip!
New 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?
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
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."
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
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
Looks like I'll have to dig a bit deeper. I'll let
you know when I find out more!
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
D&D co-designer Mountie Kook corroborated the
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!!!