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AICN TABLETOP: 2010 Year in Preview part 2! DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 2010!

Hola all. Massawyrm here. If you thought GAMES WORKSHOP was the only company pulling out all the stops this year, think again. WIZARDS OF THE COAST have one hell of a killer line up for the New Year, including quite possibly the single best summer lineup they’ve ever had. No Virginia, that’s not Hyperbole. It. Fucking. Rules. But let’s begin at the beginning, shall we? Next month brings us MARTIAL POWERS 2. Shouldn’t be too many surprises in there, just another, most likely essential addition for your martial players – fighters, rangers, rogues and warlords. Then March gets crazy. PLAYERS HANDBOOK 3 finally streets bringing us…PSIONIC POWERS. At long last. Psi powers have a long history of craziness in D&D, and in many cases a long history of suck. More often than not Psi was overpowered or just plain weird. 3rd Edition tried hard not once but twice to rectify that but ultimately ended up with a system that outperformed magic at every level. But the 4th ed ruleset makes it very possible to run Psi completely balanced with every other class and power in the game without so much as a hiccup. All the flavor with none of the cheese. Hopefully. For those of you haters out there still mystifyingly insisting that no one is buying 4th Edition, you might want to pick up a copy of the NEW YORK TIMES that following week. The PHBs usually make the bestseller list. Meanwhile, March also brings us the next Dungeon Tiles set - one that promises to be 3D. Word I’ve heard from inside is that it came out pretty cool, and I’m fairly excited about this. The Dungeon Tiles have been kept at a low price point ($10 each set), are very durable and have proven quite flexible in terms of use. That gets followed up by an interesting April with THE PLANE ABOVE Astral Plane sourcebook, Hamerfast (a complete Dwarven town stated out and explained and ready to adventure in), and a brand new miniatures set. The previous set came to me late, but man am I in love with it. The quality of the recent sets has been steadily improving once again (this always happens when they switch to new painting teams over in China) and the theme STREETS OF SHADOW sure sounds intriguing enough. Might play into this month’s UNDERDARK release. May gives us this year’s DRAGON ANNUAL and something that looks like a fun fluff/reference book titled D&D PLAYERS STRATEGY GUIDE. Then Summer begins. June is MONSTER MANUAL 3, a new tile set and the players race book for TIEFLINGS. July? TOMB. OF. HORRORS. That’s right, the new super adventure is set in the classic dungeon to end all dungeons, the infamous TOMB OF HORRORS.

For those of you unfamiliar with your D&D lore, the ToH is the single most lethal dungeon published in the history of D&D. Written by Gygax back in the day, it sported the kind of traps that killed characters outright and forced players to question EVERYTHING. Long considered the benchmark by which all frustrating dungeon delves are measured by, rebooting it in a multi-tier campaign book sounds really exciting for us nostalgia loving players. Alongside that is DEMONOMICON, the DRAGONOMICON for the creatures of the Abyss. Oh hell yes.

Then the dog days of August bring us the biggest fanboy release of the year. DARK SUN. The meanest, harshest and most brutal of campaign settings in the history of published campaign settings, Dark Sun was notorious for not allowing level 1 characters to be created because they never would survive the sun charred wasteland if the DS world. Rife with hazards, demons and psionic creatures, this post-apocalyptic fantasy world brings together many of the elements that this year’s early releases are designed to support. It is almost as if the bulk of this year was built around the release of one of D&D’s most popular and underrepresented settings. The DRAGON MAGAZINE issue the 3rd edition “update” appeared in (issue 319) sold out almost instantly and was often sought out by collectors.

The big news here is that they’ve changed up their release tactics. Rather than a Players Guide and a campaign setting, the Campaign setting is aimed at both players and DMs, with the second support book being a monster manual titled the DARK SUN CREATURE CATALOG filled with monsters and hazards, making it a book that can be purchased by those not playing Dark Sun – a major change from the previous campaign settings. All this comes together as part of this year’s overall plan. What the company has discovered is that there is a lot of interest in nostalgia. While most of the energy of previous editions (and the bulk of the beginning of this one) have been dedicated towards NEW NEW NEW “not-your-father’s-D&D”, this year puts a big focus on taking 4th edition rules and getting back to the reason many people began playing to begin with. Everyone I’ve spoken with inside the company has been expressing serious childlike glee over this year’s “return to 1st ed” ideal. I’m going to see if I can get my buddy Ari Marmell to take a few days off from his novel writing to run me and a group through his TOMB OF HORRORS. He’s been very tight lipped on the details with me, but I’ll see what I can loosen up over coffee. One way or another, if I have to twist arms or threaten him with suffering through my Karaoke, I will spend this summer in the Tomb of Horrors before ramping up for the sand of Dark Sun. Much like GW, the 4th quarter seems to be a total mystery. But after ToH and Dark Sun, I don’t care what they bring out – they’ll have made me one hell of a happy camper. Okay, so I care. But seriously, how the hell are they going to top that?
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:01 a.m. CST


    by Darth_Scotsman


  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:01 a.m. CST


    by shutupfanboy

    Too many D&D books and in three years, there will be D&D 5th edition. Its a shame that Star Wars which did good business for them is being pushed aside for this.WOTC priced Star Wars so high and gives you less that is pointless to get the new books. It also doesn't help most of the core books stopped printing and hard to find. 4th edition is a better system for newbies and early level characters, but high level is not as cool as its cracked up to be.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:06 a.m. CST


    by Smoke-The-Hog

    Gimme Pathfinder any day of the week. Well, on Sundays really, when we have Cheetos and Mountain Dew in the basement whilst we worship the Great Horned Lord.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:38 a.m. CST

    The column gets better and better

    by Star Hump

    I like the addition of graphics to break up the text. Sometimes this stuff passes you by, but it's still fun to resd about.I'm glad folks are still playing D&D. I couldn't possibly keep up now, but this stuff was a blast when I was a teen.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:40 a.m. CST


    by Sailor Rip

    ...I've been out of D&D for years but I always thought the quintessential dungeon was The Temple of Elemental Evil. No? Is ToH more highly regarded?

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:49 a.m. CST

    Question(s) about Tomb of Horrors

    by V'Shael

    I played RPGs for years, though never D&D actually. And yet I've heard of Tomb of Horrors. The adventure most likely to result in Total Party Kill. Like in War Games, the only winning move is not to play. <p> I always wondered what it was like. Has anyone here played it, and could they answer one or two questions? <p> Is it built like DM: "There are two directions, left and right"<br>Team: "We go left"<br>DM: "The roof collapses and you all die. The end." <p> Or is it more like, you're heavily injured in a battle, and fall into an acid pit. Oh no, the fall and acid knock you unconcious, so you can't actually try to get out. You'll be dead in 4 rounds, if the team doesn't find you" type traps? That is, it gives you the impression you MIGHT have survived?

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:57 a.m. CST

    TOH and 4th ed

    by biglou an old fat guy who played for almost a generation (15-35) from 1st ed-3.5... First and foremost..there will be a 5th cause 4th is terrible. THey call it balance, but they have taken the brains (or out of it.its pure dice and math...with a template over it..if ur a smart guy with a more potential then dumb guy with a fighter.. I stil pay 1st with old fat guy friends now and then... <nostalgia moment begin> The TOH was a party kill,but i have GMed a game and had parties win. But, these were people who were very sr players, and no stupied was fun.. A real party killer was Throne of Bloodstone(H4) for Characters 18-100th level. City of Liches, Fight Orcus in his Palace..i was like god.. 20 lvl monk/44 level Kensai, with ring of growth for 300% size. +22 hit (1-20) x3 (size) + 20 5 attacks a round....too much fun <nostalgia moment over>

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 9:17 a.m. CST

    V'Shael - TOH

    by talonscar

    I've run a group through the original TOH. There are no monsters until the last encounter, a Demi-Lich. The entire thing is trap, after trap, after trap. Teleport traps, acid, spikes, spheres of annihilation. Some of them are 'save or die', others just hurt - badly.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 9:19 a.m. CST

    4th Ed - Not as bad as you think

    by Panticles

    I've been running a couple of D&D4E games over the internet and while it is limiting in some ways on a whole I quite like the changes they've brought into the game. The only major problem I have is with Skill Challenges - I mean how the fuck are they supposed to work? On topic though I'm looking forward to the new PHB3, I've got an idea for some psychic orcs that is going to be kick ass!

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 9:39 a.m. CST


    by The Game Master

    Today, D&D sucks. 3.0 sucked. 3.5 sucked. 4.0 sucks. 5.0 and 6.0 and 6.14 will suck. Because they're being made as toys, and D&D is not a toy. It's like movies these days. The original D&D by Gygax and Arneson was like the original Star Wars trilogy. Today's D&D is like the Star Wars prequels. All style, no substance. Made for 'tards and lazy thinkers who want to be spoon fed. As for Tomb Of Horrors, V'Shael, it is infamous because it was cool. But so were a lot of adventures back then. It's probably more infamous to newer players because, compared to the trite they're getting, it looks even cooler. But Tomb OF Horrors, alongside Ravenloft, Temple Of Elemental Evil, Against The Giants, Castle Amber, and so many others -- Back then, TSR (the original company of D&D) made games and told stories. Today, Wizards just sells product. I invite anyone to go to a used bookstore and dig up some old school D&D and try it. You'll discover treasure, I promise you.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 9:55 a.m. CST

    Idle musing... What made RPG's cool for me...

    by V'Shael

    was that the adventures you and your friends could have, were singular. Even with modules you bought in the shops, one team playing it would be very different to another team playing it. <p> It's weird how, as geeks and nerds we grew up with a vast variety of fictional characters (whether it's Kirk or Skywalker or whatever) who can mean a great deal to us, but the fictional characters from our RPGs are unique to the teams that played with us. <p> Somehow I don't think multiplayer computer games can ever approach that.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Sticking with 3.0/3.5

    by garfunkleblunt

    Sorry, but my group took one look at 4.0 and collectively said "pass." We still have a stack of modules to run as well a prolific and gifted dm who designs his own. We're interested in Pathfinder and might check it out when we finally are scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as 3.5 is concerned.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 10:27 a.m. CST

    @ V'Shael

    by garfunkleblunt

    There's a hole in the wall when you first start. If you stick your head inside of it you discover the it houses a sphere of annihilation and you're character is utterly and completely destroyed with no savings throw. Then the dungeons starts and it gets even more ridiculous.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 10:31 a.m. CST

    Love the Column, and 4th edition

    by OnusBone

    Love the column as always, Wyrm. Nothing better than reading reviews by someone who is talking about a medium they love. I guess that Haters just need to hate. I've played since early 2nd (although I have played OD&D) and I have been a DM for 98% of that time, and I have to say that I have never had this much fun writing and running adventures. I have finally gotten to the other side of the screen with this edition, and I find that the play experience is just as great. In my opinion, every edition has been better than the last. I am looking forward to this year.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Tomb of Horrors

    by SSquirrel

    was ridiculous and stupid in its day and if the new one is in the same vein, I surely won't be buying it. 4E has very little (any?) in the way of save or die tho, so it's doubtful to be anywhere near as brutal. Dark Sun's re-release is a big source of excitement for me, and if you read ENWorld, a lot of folks over there. The main problem with the newest edition of Star Wars is that so much of it felt like very slight changes to the d20 version and reissuing the same material in a new form. Flipping thru several books showed a lot of the same stuff.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 10:41 a.m. CST

    1st edition is the only edition

    by killianx

    2nd ed was palatable about as much as hospital food and 3-4 edition is basically just WOTC milking you for $$$

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 11:03 a.m. CST

    It is not nostalgia

    by malcolm_mccallum

    It is neither nostalgia and sentimentalism that is driving this corporate desire to remake old modules. They, like modern remakes of classic movies, will be reimaginings with more modern sensibilities. In effect, it is not an effort to go back to the past but rather the post-modernist desire to take ownership of the past, mutate it, and reclaim it. It is a subtle desire to destroy the past rather than try to understand it. D&D4E cannot do Tomb of Horrors the way that it was. Endless skill checks? No miniature battles? puzzles? 4E does not do puzzles it does mechanics. In the old days, players would describe how they made their way down the opening passage, perhaps stepping on certain stones. In 4E, it would be all about which square they move their model into.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 11:17 a.m. CST

    1st Edition

    by Frojitsu

    Still have all the 1st edition books that my uncle gave me. I've always used only those rules and included the simplified non weapon proficiencies rules from 2nd ed. Know what? The game works great and people love it! Me, the players... we all enjoy the classic books. When it comes down to it, it's the DM and players forging a great story that makes D&D work. But I'll take my old, antiquated 1st edition any day of the week!

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 11:38 a.m. CST


    by arizonahotrock

    I started on 3.5...have had a cursory glance at AD&D and have played 4e a bit...and you are completely right. It doesn't matter what version you're playing, it's the DM, the players, and the stories that matter. I've always looked at the actual mechanics as means to an end, not what makes or breaks my experience.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 12:23 p.m. CST

    I have not played D&D since 1981.

    by disfigurehead

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 12:36 p.m. CST


    by thethedew

    As I've posted before, a well-thought-out, carefully crafted Spelljammer setting would RAWK. Design a 2D/3D ship combat system, and you've got tons and tons of ready-to-use ship models available to drop into the system with all these 'Pirates' card models. Publish your own 'Spelljammer' expansion to deal with the non-human ships in SJ, at a scale so they could still be used in 'Pirates' games if those players wanted to. Players of both games benefit, cross-sales galore. Step Three: Profit!

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 12:38 p.m. CST

    That dragon cover....

    by Rameses

    makes it's conanesque barbarian , look like a right mincing queen!

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 12:42 p.m. CST

    Tomb of Horrors

    by Dreamfasting

    Tomb of Horrors was the first module I bought after starting to play D&D back in the day and, my only experience to that point having been Keep on the Boarderlands and its clusters of lairs, my first reaction was sad "where are the monsters?"<BR> I ran the original module with four different parties, sometimes as serious horror, sometimes as campy Paranoia-style random death. Only one group even made it past the entry hall alive and they eventually had to give up after failing to find a key secret door later on. The trick to running that module was making it clear in advance that the party would fail eventually and everyone just had a riot roleplaying it.<BR> Ironically the best use of the infamy of that module is to just to put a dot on your map that says "Tomb of Horrors" and instantly parties have an ultimate challenge they can dream about, but they will know better than to ever take their prize characters anywhere near it.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 12:54 p.m. CST


    by Gogo Bananas

    How is it I've yet to come across a valid criticism of 4e?

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 1:02 p.m. CST


    by malcolm_mccallum

    Because it comes down to taste? Is there a valid criticism of peanut butter?

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 1:18 p.m. CST


    by Gogo Bananas

    Yeah there is - it sticks to the roof of my mouth. Consider your criticism - 4e can't do puzzles? Yes, it can. I do use puzzles frequently. Puzzles in 4e are no different than puzzles in 1e or any other e. And miniatures are no more a mandatory component of 4e than they were for 1e, and we used miniatures with 1e. But a common criticism of 4e is that it REQUIRES miniatures. Invalid criticisms.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Grimtooth's Dungeon of Doom is way better than Tomb of Horrors

    by Royston Lodge

    However, I am curious how much this new release updates the Tomb to make it deadlier.<p> Still "more deadly" does not necessarily mean "more fun".<p> Grimtooth's dungeon was way fun, as well as way deadly.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 1:32 p.m. CST

    The big problem with ToH is...

    by Royston Lodge

    ...way too much of it is based on luck. Saving throws decide your fate on way too many occasions.<p> Grimtooth's dungeon, on the other hand, is survivable - IF you take your time and use your noggin a bit.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Always was more of a Runequest fan ...

    by ReportAbuse

    Is that thing still around? "Back in the day" I hung out w/a little group at a local comic shop on Friday nights, we'd play 1st ed D&D, Runequest, Call of Cthulhu occasionally. I always admired the detail and accuracy of Chivalry & Sorcery but it seemed the rules were way too complicated so we owned the books but never actually played the game, lol.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 2:33 p.m. CST

    People who prefer more recent editions to 1st edition...

    by MJohnson

    ...are like the kinds of people who think Empire Strikes Back is the boring Star Wars movie.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 3:15 p.m. CST


    by Frojitsu

    Thanks, guys, for backing me up on 1st Ed. I've played all the other versions, and they all work. But it comes down to story and character. That said, there are all kinds of modifications to the rules that I and my friends have made when necessary to Ist Ed. And some things are ridiculous because they get in the way of play. Like disease tables? Or weather charts from the Wilderness Survival Guide? But the classic system is still damn fun. But I will never put beloved characters through Tomb of Horrors, only those specifically generated for that. But man.. it's fun!

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Wow, another dungeons and dragons movie

    by AsimovLives


  • Jan. 21, 2010, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Tomb of Horrors

    by Ironmuskrat

    You guys are taking that module a little to serious. I always saw it as a tongue in cheek, over the top adventure. Get drunk, sit down with your friends and have a good laugh at the mayhem. If you try to DM ToH seriously you will pretty much piss everyone off in the first room. Just do what I did and have a guy standing outside the tomb with a Rod of Resurrection(or more than one) and have some fun.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 6:17 p.m. CST

    Classic D & D modules

    by rogueleader66

    I played D & D back in the day to the point of total addiction, and played almost all of the 1st ed/Gygax modules. ToH was a killer, I played through it and DM'ed it, it's tough but can be won. The newer adventures are good, although I have not played that many, did more DM created stuff, but there are so many classics in 1st ed.<P>White Plume Mountain, the Giant series, Vault Of The Drow, Expedition To The Barrier Peaks, Shrine Of The Kua Toa, Queen Of The Demonweb Pits, Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth. Oh how I long for the days of classic D & D.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 6:49 p.m. CST

    Hamerfast and Tomb of Horrors =

    by Jaka

    Hell yes!! Very excited for quite a few of those releases, actually. Been loving playing lately, too. Seems like we're cycling back to more role-playing and less card games (at least in my circles it does). Only thing I have to say (power that be who are listening!) is PLEASE do a re-boot/expansion of Hollow World.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 6:51 p.m. CST

    My thoughts on editions

    by Jaka

    Learn how to play and then modify the rule sets you like into one game. Take out the stuff you hate, add in the things you love. It's really not that hard to do.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 6:53 p.m. CST

    I'm geek, but....

    by ZodNotGod

    I'm a geek, but I never sunk that low to play D &D. All that fairy and dragon shit talk never appealed to me.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 7:57 p.m. CST

    If you think it's "sinking low"...

    by Jaka use your imagination in a creative intelligent way then I don't really care what you classify yourself as. If yo think D&D is "all fairy and dragon shit talk" then you're sadly uninformed. Sorry, but we don't all like to sit around staring at a TV with our mouths open mashing buttons.

  • Jan. 21, 2010, 8:16 p.m. CST

    lol biglou, 4E is no brains?

    by Warcraft

    "THey call it balance, but they have taken the brains (or out of it.its pure dice and math." I like how math is considered "no brains". 4E combat is so tactical focused that the smart guy with the wizard wouldn't completely smoke the dumb guy with the fighter. I swear 99 percent of the people who bash 4E haven't even played the damn thing. 4E classes have such a broad range of powers and builds now, it makes fighting as and/or against them much more dynamic and unpredictable. There's plenty brains involved, and you will notice a huge difference in performance between someone who's good, and someone who sucks.

  • Jan. 22, 2010, 2:12 a.m. CST

    Adopted 2nd edition gladly when it came along,

    by Dingbatty

    and still used the best bits of 1st. 3rd and up are unnecessary, min/maxing, computer rpg-esque, over-powered, cartoonish bastardized hackery.

  • Jan. 22, 2010, 7:25 a.m. CST

    Ugh, I meant WOULD.

    by Warcraft

    The smart guy with the wizard WOULD completely smoke the dumb guy with the fighter. God I wish there was an edit button.

  • Jan. 22, 2010, 10:37 a.m. CST

    2nd Edition forever

    by Suskis

    I have been playing D&D for almost 25 years with a group of friends and even if we bought manuals of almost every edition, 2.0 is ok for us. And we didn't even buy 4.0 because it is an utter failure in every aspect as a roleplaying game.

  • Jan. 23, 2010, 6:59 p.m. CST

    Version 4 sounds like shit

    by Stabby

    They already nearly turned D&D into a miniature war game with 3 and 3.5. Now the transformation is complete.

  • Feb. 12, 2010, 12:19 p.m. CST

    How did Orcus miss this thread?

    by orcus