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    Dungeons & Dragons News

    • Where are the spell cards? Gale Force 9's announced spell cards were originally slated for a later August release. They have now Click for more about D&Dslipped to late September. "Gale Force Nine’s Spellbook Cards are an invaluable resource for any magic-user. The first three sets of cards will be in stores by late September. Wizards, Warlocks and Sorcerers will have access to the comprehensive Arcane set, while Paladins and Rangers will each have their own specialized decks of cards. Each deck is made from thick laminated card so they will stand the test of time. Late October will see the release of Spellbook Cards for Clerics, Druids and Bards." No mention of the character token sets, which were also due in August.
    • Basic Rules Updates? WotC's Mike Mearls says Depends on work flow for DMG, but expect DM material to launch with DMG."
    • Over at Save Versus is are some Critical Fumble Charts for 5E.
    • Dungeon Crawler's Radio interviewed WotC's Jeremy Crawford in a three-part video.
    • The Escapist reviewed the Monster Manual, calling it "one bad-ass bestiary". The Monster Manual hits store shelves in two weeks (or at the end of this week for stores participating in WotC prefered retailer scheme thingy - ask your local retailer). The review also includes a graph of monser Challenge ratings, which shows the distribution as follows (click on the image to go to the review). (Critical Hits' review also featured Challenge ratings with this useful list of Monsters ordered by CR).






    Some More Mearlsian Q&As

    WotC's Mike Mearls has answered a few more rules questions (for the last long list, see here).

    • Will the DMG have suplementary material on how to handle Inspiration and how to better tie BIFTS between PCs and to a setting? it does go into more depth on inspiration, believe it does talk about BIFTS and how to use them
    • Question does is there any details on Ability damage and recovering from it we should know for stuff like the Int Devourer. Greater restoration restores it.
    • 10% of profits from the mine...any kind of rough estimate of what that turns into, gold wise? It's up to the DM, depending on the campaign, but I'd place it at 500 gp per month or so. Remember, it's profits rather than income.
    • Will you guys be doing DMG previews like you have been doing MM previews? yes
    • Hoard had little to no 4e-specific FR stuff. Does that go for part 2 too? IOW, would using it with 3e FR book require work? no, should work fine. we used FR, but tried to avoid making it something that required outside sources.
    • Clarification:can u use the same hex spell after an encounter at the next encounter with concentration all day? you'd need to find a new target for it between encounters, otherwise it ends.
    • any chance L&L from now on could include a "here's where the DMG table of contents is at" bit? please? good idea - we'll probably do something like that closer to the release date
    • Is the martial arts ability for the monk equivalent to finesse for the purposes of feats like Defensive Duelist? I'd rule yes
    • Do Polearm Master and War Caster combine to allow a magic user to make a spell opportunity attack when they enter reach? No - polearm master applies only if you use the weapons it lists to make the attack
    • Are the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master's Guide releasing early at WPN stores like the Player's Handbook? yes
    • What are thieves tools good for if a rogue is already proficient in Sleight of Hands? thieves tools are used for picking locks and removing traps - sleight of hands applies to palming objects, picking pockets
    • And how does a bard benefit from an instrument's proficiency bonus if he's already proficient with the Performance skill? impressing a crowd = performance. playing a difficult piece = instrument. it is blurry, but the instrumnt covers technical skill
    • Confused. "Trance. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that human does from 8 hours of sleep"? you can gain the benefits of an extended rest without sleeping.
    • Hi... I found THAC0 on the new PHB (GREAT book!) index, but nowhere else! Hidden easter egg or typo? easter egg
    • Does the "you learn that spell" language in the Magic Initiate feat mean you can cast it with existing spell slots? I'd say yes, but featspecifies can't cast it after using it. Official answer might differ, but it doesn't break anything
    • Just wondering, is crossbow expert working on ranged spell attacks rules as intended? yes - feat does not specific crossbow or weapon attacks
    • Any chance to see in DMG a(purer)summoner focused class(w summonings from low lvls)? not in there - summoning is pretty tricky to balance at lower levels
    • how does one access all the insider content for 4th edition? i have a subscription but i keep getting back to the sign-up page. check with customer service - the tools and content should all be up and accessible
    • is the barbarian Rage dmg the same type as weapon(subj to resistance) , or its own thing? same as weapon damage
    • Sentinel feat. when does the reaction attack happen? before the enemy attacks ally, or after? before
    • [Re. Adventurer's League] It's debilitating having to figure scheduling, then deal with space issues because: 'Wednesday'. it's definitely something we've heard feedback on and are talking about
    • hiding has been causing us a lot of grief & arguments. If I'm hidden & have to peek out or step out to shoot do I retain adv? DM judgment - would peeking reveal you or not? Probably not, unless target is looking right where you are
    • Is the downside of primal pathr age (exhaustion level 1) really intended to be *that* nasty? Yes - meant to be a finisher, since ability can tilt a battle way into the party's favor
    • Are there any rules to give NPC's class levels in the MM? (basically can I make a lvl 20 human fighter as a "monster") those will be in the DMG
    • Is Padded armor really meant to give disadvantage to stealth rolls? yes - padded and ring are bad, cheap armors meant for militia, poorly equipped warriors, not really aimed at PCs.
    • Have you had a bunch of feedback about the Circle of the Moon druid & the power levels of the wild shape beasts? We've heard of issues with druids, but we'll be looking at them in our feedback surveys starting in early 2015


    Also:
    • Destructive smite spell in paladin listing should refer to destructive wave in spell descriptions
    • Stealth/Hiding: These rules intentionally rely on DM judgment to adjudicate. DM has to judge situations, whether PC can hide.


    Pathfinder RPG News





    Other News

    • Cyberpunk Soundtracks 2.0 is the fifth Kickstarted audio pack from Strangelette. "More Cyberpunk inspired retrofuturistic soundscapes for gaming with Netrunner, Android, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020, etc."
    • HC SVNT DRACONES is "an exciting new sci-fi tabletop role playing game featuring a fresh and unique system for combat and interaction."

    Monday, 15th September, 2014
    Dungeon Master's Guide Delayed Until December 9th! 
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    The D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide has been delayed by three weeks from November 18th until December 9th. WotC's Mike Mearls says "The new release date for the Dungeon Master's Guide is December 9th. For those stores that take part in our early release program, the book goes on sale November 28th." The delay is due to "an entire additional cycle of design and editing to ensure that the books were as close to perfect as humanly possible". Thanks to Jeremy for the scoop. Click on the image below for more release schedule information. [66 comments]



    WotC has posted a piece of art from the book, though! Modron fans should like this!


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    Dungeons & Dragons News



    Pathfinder RPG News

    • If you're looking for a roundup of recent Paizo news, watch this video from Chaotic Campaign!




    Other News

    Monday, 15th September, 2014
    Monster Manual Art of Christopher Burdett 
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    Artist Christopher Burdett has produced a number of pieces for the D&D 5E Monster Manual. I thought I'd highlight some of his work here. Click on the image below to go to his website, where you'll see his latest preview, the Salamander!


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    Dungeons & Dragons News





    Pathfinder RPG News

    • Click for more about the Pathfinder RPGThrough Gamer Goggles has an audio interview with Paizo's Erik Mona from Gen Con.
    • Paizo Developer Adam Daigle shares some info on Lords of Rust, #86 in Paizo's Adventure Path series. "I'll mention that it takes place in a giant junkyard and the PCs have to navigate all sorts of dangers and complicated relationships between various gangs. It was also written by a maniac. Most people know him by his human name, Nicolas Logue."


    Other News

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    Dungeons & Dragons News

    • If you're on Facebook, you can win yourself a copy of the 5E Player's Handbook. "LIKE EN World's Facebook page and enter the draw for a chance to win a brand new copy of the D&D 5th Edition Player's Handbook! Simply LIKE the page and tell me the name of Click for more about D&Dyour D&D character, and a random winner will be chosen on Tuesday, 16th September. If you've already LIKED the page, you can skip that step! If you win, you will be contacted via Facebook message for your mailing address."
    • The Dungeons & Dragons team at WotC is leading an effort to help children through the Extra Life event. Find out how to participate!
    • Monster Manual? Aside from the excellent Critical Hits Monster Manual review I mentioned yesterday, Rob Donoghue has been working his way through the monsters. He's reached Owlbear, and he's writing a brief paragraph on each. Dread Gazebo also has a preview of the book.
    • Also, Chris Burdett the artist of the Kraken has posted a blog entry on the Kraken in the MM. (thanks to Kobold Avenger for spotting that!)
    • Sly Flourish has an excellent article full of tips on running Lost Mine of Phandelver, the adventure in the D&D Starter Set.
    • Check out this awesome Google-based 5E character sheet from Daniel Rivera. You can copy a version of it over to your own Google docs thing. Click on the image below!





    Other News

    • The Lone Wolf Adventure Game Kickstarter has just a few days left. It's funded and headed towards some great stretch goals.
    • The 13th Age in Glorantha Kickstarter has reached its first stretch goal and is headed for the next, which is a variant barbarian class.
    • I spoke to Kevin Kulp, author of the upcoming TimeWatch RPG from Pelgrane Press, about the game, the Cuban Missile Crisis, dinosaurs, Kickstarters, and much more.



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    Margaret Weis, Tracy and Laura Hickman, and Larry Elmore; 30th Aniversary of Dragonlance

    MerricB
    has authored a detailed review of the classic Dragonlance module, Dragons of Despair, first published in 1984 and written by Tracy Hickman. The Dragonlance saga was a 16-part advanture path long before the term "adventure path" had been coined; it was also a "trans-media" event (an event like WotC's current Tyranny of Dragons which spans comics, books, RPGs, and other things) long before that term had been coined. In short - at the time it was Big Thing. Personally, the associated novels - the Dragonlance Chronicles and the Dragonlance Legends - are probably responsible for my teenaged interest in AD&D and indirectly responsible for my hobbies and career to this day. Here's Merric's review, posted here with his permission (though I recommend you check out his blog for more detailed reviews and articles!):

    With Dragons of Despair, TSR launched the Dragonlance property, and we moved into a new era of D&D.

    It’s really hard to understate how important Dragonlance is to the history of D&D. The story was told through both adventures and novels, and for the first time TSR were concentrating on telling a really big story through their products.

    We’d seen hints of this approach to storytelling through adventures through the work of TSR UK and Tracy Hickman’s previous adventures, but this was on another scale altogether. Paizo’s Adventure Paths and Wizards’ Tyranny of Dragons have their beginnings here. Dragonlance got a lot of things wrong, as is to be expected of any ground-breaking product, but it got a lot of things right as well.

    One of the things it got absolutely right was the trilogy of accompanying novels. Stylistically, they have their flaws, but the story they tell is compelling. (They worked especially well for the teenage me, back almost thirty years ago). However, the release of those books cast a long shadow over the adventure modules. If you’ve read the novels, what can the adventures offer that the novels can’t? And, perhaps more pertinently, does reading the novels spoil the experience of playing the adventures?

    And then there’s the biggest of all problems about presenting a story through both adventures and novels: Are you telling the same story in both? For Dragonlance, the answer was yes (for the most part). The correspondence between the plot of the adventures and the plot of the novels would be the biggest issue in how these adventures were received. When the adventure starts to tell you how a player must act for the story to proceed, then problems can arise. The term we use for this is railroading, and there’s more than a little of this in the series.

    However, it’s quite odd to discover that isn’t actually the problem with Dragons of Despair. Yes, the players have to perform certain actions, but Dragons of Despair tries other tactics rather than just telling the players where to go.

    The basic plot of the adventure is that the player characters have returned to their hometown being apart for five years. They have been seeking proof of the existence of the gods; the gods having abandoned the world hundreds of years ago after an event known as the Cataclysm. Back home, they discover that numerous groups – including a strange group of reptile men – are seeking the Blue Crystal Staff. They meet up with the bearer of the staff and eventually make their way with her to Xak Tsaroth, where they learn that the gods are indeed real and they are returning to the world, with one of the characters becoming the first true cleric since the Cataclysm.

    Oh, and dragons have also returned to the world, and a great army is now conquering their land!

    Yes, it’s a lot to get through. Tracy Hickman is the designer of this adventure and the entire Dragonlance series was his idea (although aided by many other TSR staff along the way). As TSR’s best adventure designer, it’s a good thing he was starting off the series, but it is a bumpy start.

    Dragons of Despair drops the characters into an unfamiliar world and then expects them to work out what to do, with a few hints that there is a lot of interest in a Blue Crystal Staff. Hickman designed a large section of the local countryside for the initial section of the adventure. There are a number of clues pointing the characters towards Xak Tsaroth, from which the Blue Crystal Staff came, but my experience running it is that the players are quite lost at the beginning. The initial encounter doesn’t really drive in the point – there’s a throw-away reference to the staff and then the party is attacked by goblins. The reaction of the characters in the book actually drives this home – they’re concerned by goblins being around their home rather than any mention of a Blue Crystal Staff!

    With thirty more years’ knowledge of adventure-design techniques, we can see the problems with the initial part of Dragons of Despair. It needs the techniques of event-driven play, but those techniques are in their infancy; most adventures of the time were site-based (certainly most D&D ones!) Dragons of Despair takes steps towards this approach by having several Events that take place dependent on time, not location, but their use is still fairly clumsy and limited, the most notable use being the invasion of the Dragonarmies, which cause the countryside and towns to fall to their forces (and probably force the players towards Xak Tsaroth if they’re still unsure of where to go).

    The actual clues to get the characters moving towards Xak Tsaroth can be rather blunt. An old storyteller in the Inn of the Last Home just straight-out tells the group they need to go there. The first time I ran the adventure, with players who had read the books, they listened to his advice and went straight there, completely bypassing the initial stages of the adventure. It was probably a mercy for all concerned, as I was a very inexperienced DM in those days!

    These days, I can see what Tracy Hickman was aiming for – my comprehension aided a lot by reading how the initial stages proceed in the novel – but the first section of the adventure definitely has its problems.

    Once the adventure gets to Xak Tsaroth, however, things get much better. Tracy Hickman had already made a name for himself as a designer of interesting dungeons, and Xak Tsaroth is no exception: it is a ruined city, cast down the side of a cliff so that the buildings are now on many levels, and the players must crawl over treacherous pathways (or use a primitive elevator controlled by the enemy) to negotiate it. The city’s map, drawn in isomorphic fashion by David “Diesel” LaForce, is a masterpiece.

    Part of what makes Dragons of Despair and the entire Dragonlance series so memorable is the sheer amount of invention here. There was a very clear desire to distance the adventure from the influences of Tolkien. Orcs are absent from Krynn and the halflings have been entirely recast as kender, inquisitive kleptomaniacs with no fear – about as far as the hobbits of the Shire as you can imagine! The chief soldiers of the Dragonarmies, Draconians – reptile men of mysterious origins – are introduced in a manner to increase the mystery of their origins. Tracy Hickman’s ability to write inspiring prose and descriptions is also in full view here, as the adventure is filled with evocative descriptions of the things the players find.

    Although I’ve criticised how the adventure doesn’t really give the players enough of an idea of their home lands, it does at least attempt to ground them in the mythic underpinnings of the world: the story of the first great fight against the dragons, which led to their banishing from the realm, and the Cataclysm that occurred when the gods turned their faces from the world. This is done through a magnificent eight-stanza poem, the Canticle of the Dragon, most likely written by Michael Williams (who was working as an editor at TSR at the time, and, indeed, edited this adventure). The module also includes – of all things – a song! Unfortunately, the printing of the song in the book ran into a few technical hitches, so that the notes aren’t properly placed on the staves. (My teenage self was still able to work out where they should have been, and rather enjoyed playing it and the other music that would come in later modules). [Update- Frank Mentzer dropped me a note to say he wrote the sheet music, and Michael wrote most of the words. - Morrus]

    The artwork, by Jeff Easley and Clyde Caldwell, is superb. One thing Dragonlance did was really display what a talented team of artists could do. If I have one complaint with the production values of the adventure, it is in the DM’s wilderness map, which is a blurry black & white reproduction of the players’ map; it is very hard to distinguish features on it. However, Hickman made one great innovation with the map: he divided it up to regions where the encounters would occur whenever the region was entered rather than just a specific hex; this greatly enhanced the play of the adventure.

    This then is Dragons of Despair, the first of the Dragonlance adventures. It’s an ambitious adventure, and one that has a lot of great design in it, along with some parts that don’t quite work as intended. Despite its flaws, it’s one of my favourite adventures ever written for D&D. The real problems with the Dragonlance adventures would appear in later adventures, with the next adventure, Dragons of Flame showing exactly what the perils were with the novels and adventure story going hand-in-hand…

    (Dragons of Despair is available in pdf-format from dndclassics.com. It’s a pretty good scan, although the map of Xak Tsaroth has been split into two pieces that are separated: at the beginning and end of the book.)


    Wednesday, 10th September, 2014
    First Review of the MONSTER MANUAL - plus LORD SOTH! 
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    Critical Hits has posted the very first review of the D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual. And they like it - a lot! In fact, they say "Well, you can sit back and relax. With a fantastic design, writing that inspires the imagination, and mechanics that make monsters fun to run and fun to fight, the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Monster Manual may very well be the best monster book ever written." Click on the Lord Soth, the iconic death knight from Dragonlance below for the review (yep, he's the death knight featured in the MM - no Power Word: Kill, though he has a Hellfire Orb and advantage on saves vs magic, plus he's a 19th level spellcaster with a bunch of paladin spells, and is CR 17).



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    Monster Manual Art of Christopher Burdett

    Artist Christopher Burdett has produced a number of pieces for the D&D 5E Monster Manual. I thought I'd highlight some of his work here. Click on the image below to go to his website, where you'll see his latest preview, the Salamander!

    Read More

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