First up: here’s the full, finished cover of Scrye 8.5 (dated August, but on sale this week). Pardon me for geeking out about having the Dork crew on the cover. Grin.

Secondly, while the Dork Tower comic strip takes a few days to look at the D20 phenomenon (the series starts HERE if you’re just joining us), I thought I should just clear a few things up.

If you don’t follow pen-and-paper roleplaying games, the D20 glut may be new to you. But if you HAVE been inside a Friendly Local Games Store recently, you’ll have noticed a LOT of really bad D20 modules out there. I mean, some real stinkers.

But I’m not anti-D20.

There’s a lot of good stuff out there. There’s even some fantastic stuff. Whether the good eventually outweighs the bad has yet to be seen, and whether D20 is beneficial for the health of the gaming industry is something I don’t think we’ll be able to judge honestly for at least a year or two.

I think Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition is a remarkable achievement, however, and if you’ve been away from roleplaying for a while, or indeed if you’ve never sat down with a roleplaying game and a group of friends, now’s a great time to start.

Some of the best D20 releases are:

1) Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition Introductory Set ($9.95, Wizard of the Coast). This is a great intro to roleplaying in general, and you can’t beat the value for money. A $10 Star Wars D20 roleplaying intro set is also available.

2) The Core Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition books ($19.95 each, WoTC). Again, a great value. Lush books bursting with tons of gaming potential. You’ll need the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide to really play any of the third-party D20 releases.

3) Thieves in the Forest (Atlas Games, $10). This is one of the best D20 modules out there, and is a good, challenging introductory adventure with great production values. Highly recommended, along with the rest of Atlas’ Penumbra D20 line.

4) The Crucible of Freya (Necromancer Games, $8.95). Another low-level module (i.e., for starting characters), with enough twists to keep it interesting for seasoned players. Tough but fair, and again, with superb production values at a super price. The entire Necromancer line’s been pretty impressive, and their sourcebooks have been great, as well.

5) The Freeport Series (Green Ronin Publishing, $7.95) While not quite on par with the Atlas and Necromancer offerings (these are more prone to typos), these are still fun adventures that are a cut above the average. The best to my mind is Death in Freeport, the first in the series.

As you can guess, low-level adventures are my favorites. I think a good Game Master can make an encounter with Kobolds every bit as exciting as a meeting with demigods on an unknown plane. But also, these are a great way to start new players out. So what are you waiting for? Get gaming!

Or as Igor would say, “Roll the dice! I want to see if I eat your spleen!”

John

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