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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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