Previews for January and Beyond
By Mat Smith

Let me explain. No, there's too much.

Let me sum up. January's going to be nearly over by the time this article posts, so I'm just going to rattle through what's probably already hit the shelves, what's on the way next month, and what's on the near horizon. Once that's done, I can get on to February's article. I hope to have PDFs of stuff to show off by then. If only I had a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak, that'd be something. As it is, I have a list of products and a pair of minis -- which isn't so bad. Check it out:

Gargantuan Blue DragonJanuary: Gargantuan Blue Dragon

At last, the much-anticipated addition to the D&D Icons minis line. The Gargantuan Blue Dragon, crouched atop a 4-inch by 4-inch base, takes its place alongside the comparably sized Gargantuan Black Dragon and the disturbingly sized Colossal Red Dragon. I'm sure (at least) one of these bad boys will grace the table of our Wednesday-night game more than enough times in the near future. And as cool as that'll be ('cause blues are my favorite), I've already had one character killed by a blue dragon -- that's enough. I'm really looking forward to having one glaring at me from atop my shelf.

January: Complete Scoundrel

Complete ScoundrelThe good thing about a book titled Complete Scoundrel, particularly now that there's a whole line of preceding titles in the Complete _______ line of books (including Complete Mage and Complete Adventurer) is that you can probably imagine and guess (fairly accurately) what's inside this 160-page hardcover supplement. Players and DMs will discover all sorts of scoundrel-y character-building options, feats, prestige classes, tricks, spells, equipment, magic items, and more material for shifty and devilish characters of all stripes. Back in November, I gave you a look at the back cover text. Last month, we saw a bit of the Introduction along with the chapter-by-chapter rundown of the contents of the book. That's all I can hook you up with. But you should be able to pick up a copy at your FLGS and flip through it.

Dungeon Tiles 3January: D&D Dungeon Tiles III: Hidden Crypts

Dungeon Tiles III: Hidden CryptsAdding to the adventure/combat/dungeon-building options made available with D&D Dungeon Tiles and Dungeon Tiles II: Arcane Corridors, this third installation of nonrandomized terrain provides a number of detailed dungeon features and environmental additions that'll help any DM add flavor and creepiness to any adventure or encounter.

Last month, I passed along the text you'll find on the back, along with three sample tiles. This month, I'm showing you three more.

February: Barrow of the Forgotten King

Barrow of the Forgotten KingI gave you the back cover text for this 64-page adventure last month. Since it's an adventure, I won't go into details about what's inside, but I can tell you that it's the first chapter in a three-part series designed to be dropped into any D&D campaign. Assemble a party of 2nd-level characters, and prepare for adventure.

February: Secrets of Sarlona

Secrets of SarlonaSecrets of Sarlona delves into the mysterious homeland of the Inspired and the kalashtar, providing the first in-depth look at the empire of Riedra, the nation of Adar, and a swath of locations that have yet to be explored. Much like its predecessor, Secrets of Xen'drik, this 160-page hardcover supplement to the Eberron Campaign Setting offers DMs plenty of material for creating memorable, exciting (and harrowing) encounters and adventures while giving players a wealth of new feats, prestige classes, spells, psionic powers, magic items, and other character options to help them survive their visit. You saw back cover text last month, and that's all I have for now. Ideally, there'll be more to show off next month.

February: Dungeonscape

DungeonscapeThis latest addition to the Environment series explores the most iconic location in the game: the dungeon. Within the 160 hardcover pages of this supplement, DMs can find all kinds of material that helps them create and run adventures within the depths of memorable dungeon complexes. Players can create and equip characters with options that assist them in seeing the light of day once more. Last month, you got to see the back cover text. Next month, I'll try to have something -- anything -- to show off.

March: Unhallowed Booster Packs

The latest 60-miniature set offers a number of iconic characters, villains, and monsters (with a noticeable skew toward the not-living). Last month, I showed off the Pseudodragon and Beholder Lich. This month, I have two Large Rares to show off.

Shield GuardianShield Guardian -- Flip to page 223 in your Monster Manual, and you'll see the illustration of this composite construct standing stoically behind its creator, waiting for the command to crack some skulls. Looking at the mini, it's pretty clear that the Shield Guardian is calmly poised to bop someone on the head with a hefty-looking stone fist (which is held about a head higher than an average human mini's noggin). The sculpt and paint really capture the amalgamated construction of the creature, with its heavily armored and helmeted torso and head, wooden thighs and upper arms, and stony lower legs, forearms, fists, and feet. The mini is a pretty faithful representation of the Monster Manual illustration, with additional texture (on the stone and wood) to really add character and definition to the mini. The amulet on its chest is noticeable, but not too distracting, allowing the mini to serve as something other than a shield guardian. My favorite bit of detail is the work done on the knee and elbow joints -- the little pins and swivels needed to make them work are there. (They make me want to try moving the limbs around.)

Stone Giant RunecarverStone Giant Runecarver -- Tall and somewhat lanky, the Stone Giant Runecarver isn't bulging with muscles, but he's clearly strong enough to heft a boulder twice the size of his oblong head -- with just one hand. The gray-skinned giant's bald head brushes the 3-inch mark, placing his hips at human height. (Which makes him the requisite 12 feet tall as prescribed on page 124 of the Monster Manual). That big boulder isn't just any run-of-the-mill projectile -- it's clearly a project crafted by the giant in a professional capacity. Two rings of dotlike circles and a connected set of swirling designs provide a nicely artistic but primitive/simple motif (and probably a bit of magical oompf) to the brown stone missile. The clothing and other trappings of the mini also lend a not entirely sophisticated, but not wholly tribal/primitive look to the creature. Reddish-brown leather pants hang just below his knees, slightly ragged and patched -- and seem to resemble overalls, with leather straps running up from his waist to his shoulders (along his back) and behind his neck. A series of thin, stone plates hang from around his neck -- armor or adornment? Carved from the same stone as the boulder is a primitive style of banded armor slung across his chest and back. Similar stone bangles hang from a leather cord around his right wrist, and more are strapped around each of his thighs. Hanging at his right hip are a small metal mallet and chisel -- clearly the tools of his trade. And clutched in his outstretched left hand, almost as if he's using it to sight-in or gauge the distance to a target, is a "small" warhammer featuring a nicely sculpted, simple knot pattern on both sides of the head. Stark, white eyes glower from beneath a furrowed brow and over a grimacing mouth to give the Stone Giant Runecarver a not-so-friendly appearance. Considering he's in the midst of shot-putting a boulder the size of a small dishwasher, I'd suggest steering clear until he cheers up a bit.

I'm sure you'll want to see more minis from the Unhallowed expansion, so check out the D&D Minis page for Steve Schubert's preview articles. And pore over Dragon magazine for other D&D Minis previews and exclusive coverage.

March: Magic Item Compendium

I can give you a look at the back cover text:

More Magic Items Than You Can Fit in a Bag of Holding

Magic Item CompendiumWithin this tome you'll find over 1,000 of the best magic items created for the Dungeons & Dragons® game, including hundreds of new low-cost items. In addition, this supplement contains rules for augment crystals, which grant new abilities to existing magic items, and item sets, which provide collection benefits when you have all the items in a set. This tome also presents new and improved rules for item creation, an updated treasure generation system, and more!

March: Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave

While I won't go into any more detail about what's inside, I will show you the text from the back cover:

Delve into Darkness, Bring the Truth to Light

Cormyr: The Tearing of the WeaveBeyond the pristine façade of the Temple of Mystra, a sinister conspiracy threatens the future of Cormyr. Profane acts within the temple hearken to a mounting threat in the Vast Swamp. Heroes must cross into the Plane of Shadow to unlock the truth about this growing darkness in time to thwart an attack against Cormyr and the goddess of magic herself.

This Forgotten Realms® campaign adventure is designed for characters of levels 4-7. It can be played as a stand-alone adventure or as the first adventure in a three-part series. Each encounter contains special tactical information for the Dungeon Master and expanded map features for ease of play.

March: Dungeons & Dragons Deluxe Dice

D&D Deluxe DiceBefore stating anything else, I just want to make it clear that these are nice dice -- anyone would be happy to chuck these at the gaming table. For an entrenched gamer, having trouble finding dice might sound kinda funny, but a lot of gamers out there -- especially newbies -- don't know where to find 'em or don't have easy access to a game store that carries 'em. I remember buying my first set of polyhedrals at Waldenbooks. They were soft (light blue) plastic and came with a white crayon to fill in the numbers.

This set of dice makes a quantum leap into the modern world of dice technology, actually being made of high-impact plastic, with a pearlescent, swirling mix of blue, green, and gold (deep, rich colors), and gold-inked numbers. The dice were produced for us by Dice & Games Limited. (I think they're from the "Gold Mist" series.) They really are sweet-looking dice -- I'm going to get a set to replace the dice with which I've been killing my characters. The dice bag is a soft, black suede with black drawstrings (that really work). The line art Dungeons & Dragons logo (the one you see as single-color, without the shield device behind it) is nicely embroidered in a vibrant, but not bright, red. The bag is big enough to fit the dice it comes with, plus you can add four more 4-siders (so you've got five for your magic missile), 16 more 6-siders (to total the 20 you'd need for a maxed out fireball), a couple minis, an eraser, pencil sharpener, and a small pencil (like you'd get at a miniature golf course). Then throw in a few more dice from your collection, if you have more you wanna cram in there. OK, that's it.

Here's the text from the back of the box:

Gather your dice, grab your D&D Player's Handbook core rulebook, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. This accessory for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game will help you decide your fate as you battle fearsome monsters, explore ancient dungeons, and claim magnificent treasure.

This box contains a suede dice bag and a complete set of dice for use in the Dungeons & Dragons game:

  • One 4-sided die
  • Four 6-sided dice
  • One 8-sided die
  • One 10-sided die
  • One percentile die
  • One 12-sided die
  • One 20-sided die

There it is.

About the Author

Mat Smith is a copywriter who's been playing roleplaying games for a disturbing number of years, and now gets to spend an astonishing amount of time thinking about clever ways to get more people to do the same.

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