March 2, 2009

Word of Wizards - Previews for March and Beyond

Preview for March and Beyond

It's that time of the month, the first week is always a previews galore and you won't be disappointed with this months worth of previews. This is the time when the Wizards' releases really kicks off and the cycle of new products is starting to roll. So let's take a long look at what will be installed ahead of us for these coming months until May. It's packed I must say.

March has been the month that I'm sure most of us has been waiting for with the arrival of the Player's Handbook 2 and Wizards is aimed to tease us with a few more excerpts until they release the book on the 17th. Other than the class previews that Insider subscribers have been enjoying for the past months and the big spoilers that were unveiled during the recent D&D XP at Fort Wayne, what better way to start building your expectations on what you will find in the Player's Handbook 2 than the Table of Contents?

Here's a general breakdown of what you will find in the book.
  • There will be 3 chapters plus a rules appendix that will clock over 200+ pages

  • Chapter 1 will introduce 5 races (Deva, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc & Shifter) and also 12 new racial paragon paths. One which we have seen in an earlier excerpt; the Adroit Explorer.
  • Another will be shown in a future excerpt; the Sky Hunter.
  • Chapter 2 will be all about the 8 classes (Avenger, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Invoker, Shaman, Sorcerer & Warden), their powers and 4 paragon paths for each class (one of which is featured in today's excerpt; the Zealous Assassin). There are also 6 new epic destinies where one of them will be showcased in a future excerpt.

  • Chapter 3 features the new Backgrounds, feats, equipments, magic items, rituals and a new variant rule on ritual books.

  • The rules appendix is the one I'm actually most curious about. The two main entries under this section is stated as Reading a Power and New Stealth Rules. I'm not sure if these are just the erratas and rules clarification on the subject or some kind of rules variant, so we'll have to wait and see when it comes out.

March has also something to offer for busy DMs.

With the recent delay of Dungeon Delve to be launched earlier this month, Wizards have kindly slip in another excerpt of another delve. Some gamers have managed to get their copies of the Dungeon Delve early during the initial launch date so this is probably nothing new to them but if you are still on the fence of whether you think 30 dungeon delves are going to be worth your money, you could check out a new sample delve here.

But if you prefer something more coherent and has a better plot than these delves, you could go for P3: Assault in Nightwyrm Fortress. This month's preview includes a sample encounter against a creepy crawly 'god' and his cyclopean servants and a new magic item to be found in the published adventure.

After you have completed P3: Assault in Nightwyrm Fortress, you are ready to take on the first adventure of the Epic series; E1: Death's Reach. Here's the adventure background.
The Shadowfell is a dark echo of the world, but it contains terrible locations unique to it, such as its fabled core, a place called Death's Reach. Death's Reach, once a place of purity, is now the spiritual nadir of the cosmos. Before the rise of the Raven Queen, and before even the founding of Pluton where Nerull once trapped the dead, souls passed simply departed the cosmos, gone to a place beyond all reckoning. One of the doorways they used to "move on" was Death's Reach.

Divine safeguards put in place by ancient victor gods long served to prevent entry into Death's Reach. But the hidden doors the gods themselves left are exploitable. Orcus's minions have found a way into Death's Reach, leaving the passage slightly open to use the place's power for themselves. Now a handful of souls that should go to the Raven Queen instead find their way to Death's Reach.

Although the Raven Queen knows Orcus is behind this evil, she does not know who his followers are, their number, or plan. No god, primordial, demon lord, or exarch can enter Death's Reach in its full power, according to a godly ban that possesses the weight of cosmic law. However, one thing is clear, even at a remove: the intruders are disinterring relics, ancient weapons perhaps, but also the remains of primeval warriors of unknown strength and power. The Raven Queen believes an army is being gathered, an army composed of roused Dawn War soldiers, to be used, no doubt, against her.

What I'm most excited about this adventure is because the Ashen Covenant (from Dragon 364) will be making an appearance in this adventure.

But April is really all about power. Arcane Power. They've kept a tight lid on the content of this one but this month they are ready to spill it out and we can expect to see more from Arcane Power once the Player's Handbook 2 is released. For our first glimpse, we start with something familiar. Yes. I said familiars.

Familiars now cost a feat (Arcane Familiar, prereq; any arcane class)to have and it implies that they will be more familiar feats. They still provide a constant benefit to a particular skill as they do in 3.x. However, they have also allowed familiars to be in passive or active mode. The familiar is able to provide more benefits or perform certain abilities when they are in active mode, such as allowing the wizard to gain temporary hitpoints if they hit a bloodied enemy adjacent to the bound demon (one of the familiars being showcased), but this risks the familiar to be destroyed in combat.

Finally, May. May is all about monsters.

May is the month when Wizards will release their newly revamp line of semi-random monster miniatures; Dangerous Delves. They claim to have shown some of these minis during D&D XP and now they are providing some more photo shoots from the 40 miniatures line. Already we can see a Frost Giant, Rust Monster, a semi-armored troll, and if I'm not mistaken, Splug from H1: Keep on the Shadowfell.

Following closely behind is the Monster Manual 2. There are no stats provided yet of the new monsters but they have provided with some illustrations of the monsters that will be found in that book.

From what I can recognize we will see the return of the Rust Monster, the Xorn, Centaurs, Djinns, some kind of beholder like creature and a range of frost elemental creatures.

So there's a whole bunch of stuff to look forward to in the coming months and there's more in today's Ampersand if you are a subscriber. You can read about that here.

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