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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Dragon+ Issue 15


New issue of Dragon Plus! Read it right here.

I'm going to do it. Ready? Dragon+. There. I did it.

The cover of... Dragon+... is the art from the Baldur's Gate board game, no special gimmick. The gimmicky stuff is kind of cool, but I prefer regular digital art, especially if it's new stuff from 5e people. I'd like to see more art from whoever did the githyanki in the Monster Manual, and I'd like it if they let one of their landscape artists go nuts on a cool location like Limbo or the Abyss.

We start off with an interview of the artist who did the cover, Scott M. Fischer. He talks about when he is creating art for Magic: The Gathering, it's hard to make art that is vivid on a tiny card. He actually makes it a much bigger painting - we only see one piece of it. I really like that, there's this secret Magic art that nobody has seen.

Then we get the Tomb of Annihilation preview. There's pdf pages and everything. Here are my notes:

Port Nyanzaru: A colorful, musical, aroma-filled, vibrant city in its own right.

Biggest Attractions: Weekly dinosaur races through the streets, gran bazaars, glorious mansions, temples, circuses and gladiatorial contests.

The jungle teems with ferocious reptiles and murderous undead, pirates prowl the surrounding sea, and the mouth of the bay is home to a greedy dragon turtle.

There are dinosaur mounts named Mountain Thunder and Banana Candy.

The lost city is notoriously hard to find. To get there, you must search miles of trackless jungle inhabited by natural predators, savage goblins, elemental spirits, grungs, and the remnants of an undead army.

The Soulmonger is a necromantic device that is trapping the souls of the dead and using their power for a mysterious purpose.

When Ubtao left, primal spirits arose from the rainforest, disguised themselves as jungle creatures and promised great power in return for devotion. There are 9 deadly shrines tested the devotion to their priests. I will love it if this adventure involves finding these 9 shrines and they're all trappy hellholes that the players have to get through.
We learn about some of the trickster gods. I think there is one to represent each alignment (lawful good, chaotic evil, etc):
  • Kubazan: Most adventurous of the trickster gods.
  • Papazotl: A trickster god whose bones are in a stone sarcophagus placed in an ancient chariot.
  • Shrine of Shagambi: Something about fighting invincible clay warriors.
  • Obo'laka: Has a shrine that is a puzzle.
  • NangNang: Her shrine is a reflection of her greed.
From what I can see so far, Nangnang seems like the standout character of these gods. She has a really cool area in the second Adventurers League module.

Acererak's Tomb of the Nine Gods
: Acererak showed up and killed all nine trickster gods, enslaved the Omuans and forced them to carve out a tomb. Acererak killed them?!

Ras Nsi: is subjected to the death curse. Time is running out. He wants to unleash Dendar, the Night Serpent upon the world He is searching for a black opal crown with the power to unlock the gates to the underworld. Ras thinks the crown is hidden in a tomb beneath the forbidden city of Omu.

Merchant Princes include:
  • Jessamine
  • Jobal the Spider: I think he is in charge of the guides.
Qawasha & Kupalue Part One: This is a short story about a druid and his vegepygmy buddy. It's just a bit of backstory. Adam Lee is like Ed Greenwood in that his writing flows in a way that you can just rocket through the whole story.

There's some stuff about the Baldur's Gate board game. After that is an article about the tomb of annihilation board game.

Retro Dragon: Thee are articles from old issues of Dragon Magazine. We get pdf versions of Dino Wars, a board game. There's also an article on clay-o-rama, which is.. you know.. you make stuff with play doh.

Hey... they completely re-formatted Dino Wars like a 5th edition product. It looks really good. Same thing with Clay-O-Rama. Wow. That adds so much, that's very cool. If they keep doing this, they could eventually combine them into one pdf.

Neverwinter: You can go to Chult in the Neverwinter MMO. It says you will adventure with Celeste and Minsc and Boo. You know, maybe they should start putting people on the shows in these games. Like, Strix from Dice, Camera, Action or Arkhan from Force Grey. I really get a kick out of the idea that these characters are part of the "canon" of D&D in some way. I think some of the Force Grey characters are in that new mobile game that's out soon.


Then there's an article about the travel posters for Tomb. These are really awesome.

Behind the Screen: Sam Weigelt talks about running D&D for a large group. 12 people? Yikes. Interesting stuff, but the idea of rolling dice for the players to speed things up makes me very uncomfortable. For me, that is one step too close to playing D&D by yourself with an audience.

We get a free DM's Guild pdf. It's The Haunt, a horror-themed adventure. Looks cool.

Unearthed Arcana: Variant XP rules. You get XP for not only killing things, but social interaction and exploration.

The social interaction one gives XP for turning NPCs into allies.

I kind of like the idea of tying social XP to each character's story. If one character is looking for a family heirloom, every time they uncover a new clue to its whereabouts, they gain XP.

Exploration involves gaining XP for discovering items, places and hidden treasure caches. It might be cool to run this where you put a lot of "secret areas" into your game, and whenever the group finds one, they get XP.

I like this article, but I don't give out XP anymore. It's easier to just level them when it feels like it is time.


Maps: This is full of maps from Tomb Annihilation. Free! By Mike Schley! There are maps of Port Nyanzaru, a hex map of Chult, and more. If you're going to run Tomb ever at any point in your entire life, you should definitely get these.

Overall

For me, this one is all about the Tomb stuff. I think Tomb is going to be a big deal. They promoted it very heavily in what I think was an effective way. Curse of Strahd is still megapopular. Still! Only in the last three weeks have I seen a shift to Storm King.

I think because the last book was an anthology, people are probably ready for this. I guess we'll see soon enough.
This issue was fine, I think they need 4 things more in every issue:
  1. A list of items/NPCs/whatever.
  2. A walkthrough map by Jason Thompson.
  3. An article by Shannon Appelcline.
  4. Recaps of the shows. Nobody can watch them all, so it would help to be able to come here and keep up. If something sounds really cool, you can go check it out.
I should have Tomb of Annihilation in my soft, creamy hands tomorrow and I will begin work on the guide immediately. Should be awesome!

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