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Dragon Issue #303

Dragon 303 Cover

Add Printed Issue: $7.00

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Gladiators!
The smell of sweat and sand made hot by the sun, the energizing tang of fear in your mouth, the roar of a crowd of thousands chanting your name, and the feeling that the hand that wraps around the hilt of your weapon grasps your chance at eternal glory: the life of a gladiator! Get in the gladiatorial pit with rules for fame, new prestige classes, and all the secrets to a great gladiator adventure.
Added to that is how to earn experience points without fighting, martial arts styles tailored to fantasy races and suitable for any campaign, and a primer on the deadly plant life of the Underdark.
Inside you’ll also find new fiction based on the novels of T. H. Lain, “Guild Secrets,” “Silicon Sorcery: Neverwinter Nights,” and more advice, tools, and tactics to improve your game!


Glory and Triumph
Campaign Components: Gladiators
Rife with treachery, cruelty, and death, the gladiatorial arena injects high-adrenaline adventure and conflict into your campaign. Far from merely housing a small group of melee fighters, the arena is home to many character types, both combatants and support personnel. It might even become the central location for a campaign; instead of going out to adventure, the adventure comes to the PCs.
Whether player or DM, you can add as much gladiatorial combat to your campaign as you like. Whether one small arena in a frontier city serves as part of a single character’s background or you build an entire campaign that features multiple combats and adventures centered around the gladiatorial arena, “Campaign Components: Gladiators” gives you the tools to shape gladiatorial combat to your character’s or campaign’s goals. Glorious battle and bitter wounds await the courageous. Ignominy and defeat await those unable to avoid the relentless pressures of the arena.

Saying the Right Things
Optional Rules for Social Skills
As a roleplaying system, the Dungeons & Dragons game can offer some fine moments of play that involve nothing more than interaction between PCs and NPCs. Not every problem can be solved through the use of sword or magic—sometimes a simple turn of phrase can be what’s required to keep the adventure moving.
The social interaction skills in the D&D game are Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive. Although it might seem like an oversimplification to reduce the total number of ways that people interact to a mere four skills, in truth they cover almost every roleplaying situation in which social interaction occurs.
This article examines how these skills can be used in an adventure, how they interact with each other, and how you can flesh out your character’s personality by using them. A few optional rules are also presented, but as usual, it’s up to the DM to decide whether to allow them in her game.

The Iron Path
Martial Arts Styles for Fantasy Cultures
Like a fine weapon or armor handed down over years of history and tradition, so too the secrets of a martial art are passed down from master to student. Some martial arts are a family tradition. Others might be openly taught at military institutions. Still others might be secret, known only to a precious few who guard their fighting style as a heritage of their people.
Although most commonly associated with Asian cultures, martial traditions have evolved in cultures across the globe. India, Indonesia, and Greece are home to martial traditions as old as any found in China, Korea, or Japan. Your D&D campaign should be no different. Martial arts are not confined solely to campaigns set in Oriental Adventures. Whether elves, halflings, or dwarves, each race guards its own secret martial traditions.
Come then and learn some of these secrets. You might decide that your characters have the will and the desire to walk the iron path of the warrior.

The Undergroves
The Natural Dangers of the Underdark
Far beneath the earth’s surface lie the wondrous but alien cavern complexes collectively known as the Underdark. Hidden within this vast expanse of inky darkness, fragile ecosystems struggle to survive under harsh and dangerous conditions. Most adventurers are familiar with the Underdark’s fungus forests and its settlements of strange humanoids, but few have explored the other, far more rare, ecosystems that exist here, which are known to Underdark residents as the undergroves.
A wide variety of flora and fauna struggle for survival in the undergroves. Each creature has its own ecological niche to fill within its particular environment. Some are beneficial and others are deadly, but all are as mysterious as the Underdark itself.

The Lost Horrors of Neverwinter Nights
Just in case you’re one of the few people who isn’t familiar with Neverwinter Nights, the game is a massive, sprawling tale that starts in a plague-ridden Neverwinter and quickly embroils you in a stirring plot of intrigue and mystery, requiring you to defeat many enemies along the way.
The game uses 3rd Edition D&D rules . . . mostly. Character generation utilizes the optional point allocation method, which might be new territory for some, but after that, it’s all the rules you’ve grown used to. Five-foot adjusts, attacks of opportunity, power attacks—they’re all there. And nothing is as cool as walking your fighter into the midst of a swarm of enemies and watching the Cleave feat do its work.
Despite the numerous similarities to the D&D mechanics, Neverwinter Nights has broken with tradition in a few cases, introducing monstrous adversaries previously unseen in the Dungeons & Dragons game. These monsters are presented here for the first time and are ready for you to throw at your players during your next D&D session.

GLADIATORS

CAMPAIGN COMPONENTS: GLADIATORS
Bring the excitement and danger of the arena to your game with character concepts, new equipment, and special rules.
By Dean Poisso

BLOOD AND FAME
Deadly gladiator prestige classes sure to bring fame to any character.
By Kolja Liquette

SAYING THE RIGHT THINGS
Talk your way into some XP. New rules for Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive.
By Eric Cagle

THE IRON PATH
Bring martial arts to any campaign with 15 new fighting styles.
By Dean Poisso

THE UNDERGROVES
Survive the lethal hazards that await you in the Underdark.
By Tim Hitchcock

GUILD SECRETS
Under the tutelage of a lich leader, Academy Necromica is dedicated to death...and revenge.
By Andy Collins

PRYING EYES
An evil ex-priest of Pelor seeks gold and eyeballs to satisfy his demanding new god.
By Johnny L. Wilson

SILICON SORCERY
More monsters from Neverwinter Nights to threaten your PCs.
By Clifford Horowitz

DM’S TOOLBOX
Twice the DM advice! Perk up your plot hooks and learn how to make your NPCs more memorable.
By Johnn Four and Glen Veltum

THE PLAY’S THE THING
Knowing your DM’s style is the first step to good negotiating.
By Robin Laws

Due to licensing restrictions, the PDF Download edition of this issue does not include "What's New With Phil and Dixie" by Phil Foglio.

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TSRDRG303


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