D&D Previews - August and Beyond

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D&D Previews
August and Beyond

by Bart Carroll

What's happening at Gen Con, PAX Prime, and the city of Neverwinter... plus, cursed items!

Talk about this preview here.

I'm glad you showed the craptastic red wizard theme.
Nice info on "Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium", gave me more reasons to want to buy it, although a reference to and some more info on the special distribution deal would be much appreciated and advisable even.

Regarding "Madness at Gardmore Abbey", its a product im passing on, but this article adds even more confusion: i have seen it being labeled as a super-adventure for 6th-10th and 6th-9th, now its 6th-8th?! Starting to look less and less like a super-adventure of the likes of the "Tomb of Horrors"and "Revenge of the Giants", and more like the latest adventures from the DM Kit and the Monster Vault.
Cursed items.
This makes me want to DM again!
Wow, okay:

Benefit: Once per day at the end of a short rest,
you can exchange one prepared power for another
from your spellbook. The new power you prepare
must be from the school you chose for your Apprentice
Mage feature at 1st level.

Wow WotC, just wow.  Same type and level?  No?  Aren't you done making this mistake?  You've been dealing with the Spellbook mechanic for three years now, I would think you would learn how to write for it by now.

Seriously guys, just toss the drafts my way, I'll proof them for free.
Cursed items.
This makes me want to DM again!

I have only ever seen cursed items used by antagonistic jerk DMs as a cheap way to screw their players. It will be interesting to see if WotC can reintroduce them to the game without encouraging that sort of asshattery. My guess is they can't, but I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised.

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

Cursed items.
This makes me want to DM again!

I have only ever seen cursed items used by antagonistic jerk DMs as a cheap way to screw their players. It will be interesting to see if WotC can reintroduce them to the game without encouraging that sort of asshattery. My guess is they can't, but I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised.

You need better DM's. There are lots of ways that cursed items can bring a lot of fun to the game. I hope the new book includes advice on how best to use them.

Wow I've been seeing this a ton lately from players- expressing that they feel cheated whenever a cursed item comes into play.  I've decided to address it once and for all!

Cursed items
represents everything a well-designed Dungeons and Dragons campaign stands for: unpredictability, challenge, and risk and reward.  I will state, it takes a rather well experienced DM to implement them well, so players don't view them as "asshattery".  A complete campaign should never be a straight linear graph to greatness to level 30, characters should be able to endure frequent set-backs.  You'll have players will express relief and satisfaction much more when they find actual uncursed magical items when there is the possibility of selecting the "bad eggs".

Here's some tips you might find useful using them in your campaign.

  • Never, NEVER, NEVA! force items upon players (this is even a good rule for regular items).  You can express their existence, or make it seem as though the item is another that the party needs for a quest.  Ultimately, it should be the player's curiosity that makes them equip the item.

  • Balance: Try if at all possible to implement some time of benefit the item grants the player.  They will feel less betrayed when the cursed item actually starts behaving like one.

  • Give the item some "character": Describe how the item looks and feels when the character investigates it.  The best cursed items are ones that players can instantly visualize and fear the item's description

  • Avoid annoying status effects: No one likes to be stunned for an entire encounter.  If you're going to have cursed item event make it powerful! threatening! and dangerous!  (make sure to do your research here...it shouldn't cause a TPK on a bunch of kobolds.)

  • Provide an Escape Ladder: Cursed items should never become permanently bound to the player.  Sure, it's fun to provide the illusion that the item is permanent- but it never actually should be.  A good rule of thumb I use in my campaigns is never introduce a cursed item before you have devised a method for the character to remove the item.

  • Progression:  Ideally, a cursed item should not actually bestow a negative benefit right away.  Have the adventurer travel with the item for a few sessions.  Have random NPCs the players run into react to the presence of the item. ("Ohhhhhhh that's really quite a strange mask you have there").  The NPCs may even know certain bits of information about the item.  Perhaps the one wearing the item- is not the first to recognize that something wrong may be occurring.  In one of my campaigns I had a follow companion roll perception to see that one of the characters was bleeding from the eyes.

  • Memorable:  This is probably the most important.  Bottom-line, if you can describe the cursed item well enough - players will be more adapt at accepting losses. The easiest way to accomplish this is suddenly have the cursed item produce effects in the middle of an seemingly easy encounter.

"The wooden moss covered mask the rogue had unearthed in the Bertask's crypt seemed to be nothing but a god-sent gift from Avandra. Before the cautious paladin could intervene he curiously pressed it to his face.  "Ripcoil no! You have no idea wha..." But before the paladin could finish Ripcoil pulled the last leather strap over his head- securing the mask in place.  "Woahhhhhhh, this is incredible!" the rogue instantly expressed in excitement. The rest of the party huddled underneath the paladin's torch watched as the rogue pranced about in the absolute darkness.  A faint green glow emitted from his eyes.  "I can see everything!" he further exclaimed as he proceeded to sprint between the columns of the crypt, expertly dodging each in the pitch black darkness.  Boris the paladin face-palmed in frustration.

A few days later the party found themselves traveling along the old gate road in the dead of night.  A full overcast blotted out the moonlight.  Ahead the party perceived to hear the rumbling and shuffling of a small troop- the clanking of iron and feet not far up the road..  As they further approached, it began very clear -goblins.  There were four enfeebled goblins led by a single skinny hobogoblin commander.  "Well this will be simple..." Ripcoil proclaimed as he was already making a move to the bushes.


Boris turned his eyesight from the goblin troop to Ripcoil, who had not yet made it to the edge of the foliage.  Ripcoil held both his hands to the back of the newly acquired mask attempting to yank it off as he screamed in pain.  In aura of green mist emitted from the old wooden mask as intense bursts of green light arched from the mask as the rogue attempted to free himself.
"My minddd Arrghhhhhhhh!! Helllllpp!"  The screams gurgled to a halt as the rogue fell unconscious. "

White Wolfac

Hasn´t 4th Ed. got girdle of gender change?

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)


Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"


"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 


great advice.  thanks for sharing it.
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