Dragon Issue #279

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Bows and bowers! Swords and songs! Dragon Magazine #279 explores the magical lives of elves! Experience what it's like to be an elf—from joyous birth, through charmed childhood, to final respectful passing hundreds of years later! Speak the Elven language! Experience their mystical awakening by learning of their culture, and understand their role in legend and literature. Inside you’ll also find new fiction from Gregory Keyes, “Vs. Fiends,” “Giants in the Earth”, and “Countdown to the Forgotten Realms.” String your bow, knock your arrow, and set your sights on this issue to get the most from your game!

by Robin D. Laws

At first, it does not even look like a settlement. The visitor sees only a tranquil forest dale, coursed by a meandering stream. He hears the rustle of willow branches caressed by a gentle wind and the piping of songbirds. Then his eye catches movement. He sees a tall figure, slim as the birch trunks she walks among, slip from the woods and down to the stream, carrying a wicker basket heaped with garments of gossamer and moonsilk. The visitor hails her, for he is known here as a friend and can count on a welcome. She turns and waves, and suddenly the place bursts with life, as the visitor’s friends emerge from their well-camouflaged huts to greet him. Laughing elven children bound towards him, and soon he is surrounded by elves both young and old. He feels bathed in their acceptance and love. Yet he keeps a portion of his heart hard to them, understanding all too well that these beautiful creatures could carelessly steal his affections and abandon him on a moment’s whim. He knows more of elves than most, and by resisting the webs of love they so unthinkingly weave around him, he reminds himself of their curious ways. Their every moment, from joyous birth to melancholy decline, marks them as a people apart.

by Monte Cook

In the dark recesses of the Abyss lies the Demonweb. There lives Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders and patron of the drow. Angering her is never wise—she is willing to go to great lengths for vengeance. In fact, she has culled from her most powerful followers a group of foul but deadly enforcers and forged them into a strike team dedicated to one purpose: revenge. These individuals are collectively known as the Hand of Vengeance. They dwell within the Demonweb, each called upon for special missions directly by Lolth herself, although their leader Jaggedra Thul is the only one that actually speaks to Lolth in most cases. Each has gained a special blessing from the goddess to aid them, in the form of magic equipment, ability score increases, or other special powers.

by Stephen Kenson

The equipment lists in the Player’s Handbook describe the sorts of things characters are likely to find in major cities and towns in their world—that is to say, human cities and towns. In the forest strongholds of the elves, the equipment available is somewhat different.

by Kenneth Hite

With their near-omnipresence in fantasy fiction and gaming, the elves are paradoxically in danger. Not from their traditional doom of fading away into nothingness, but from fading into over-familiar, cardboard clichés. Elves have become victims of their own success. They’ve lost much of their connection with the supernatural. As we know them now, elves are just a tall, long-lived, beautiful branch of the “fair folk.” A brief tour through the forests of legend and history can point out any number of different paths for you to explore to keep your elves alive by keeping them real.

by Sean K Reynolds

The elves are an ancient race with a long tradition of magic, poetry, song, and literature. Their many subraces have found homes in most of the natural parts of the world, including their evil cousins, the drow, who survive in the strange environment of the Underdark. Because of this long history and the varied influence on their culture, the elven language is rich with vocabulary, intricate with grammar, and subtle in its expressions. Check out this article to learn the Elven language!

by Cory J. Herndon

The big-screen DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, starring Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Kristen Wilson, Zoe McLellan, Lee Arenberg, and Bruce Payne (to name but a few) is playing in theaters as you read this article—get out there and buy your ticket if you haven’t seen it yet. Bring the magazine—you can read it in line. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS offers not just one but two classy actors from across the pond in the film’s major villainous roles. While Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons’s plotting mage Profion pulls Machiavellian strings from the city of Sumdall, his henchman Damodar mercilessly pursues a plucky band of heroes. Damodar heads the Crimson Guard, the secret police of Sumdall, who have become an extension of Profion’s power. Damodar is brought to nefarious life by actor Bruce Payne. Genre fans might recognize Payne from his recent role as Kell in Highlander: Endgame, Wesley Snipes’ nemesis in the Die Hard-on-a-plane picture Passenger 57, or perhaps from his memorable turn as Jurgen on the television series La Femme Nikita. While filming a “mysterious, high-profile project” in Victoria, British Columbia, Payne was able to speak with us about acting, his work in the Dungeons & Dragons movie, memorable roles from the past, and the finer points of dancing with a steadicam.

by James Wyatt

The Player’s Handbook implies that the monasteries that produce monk characters were a human creation, and therefore that monks are found primarily among humans. This need not be the case in your campaign. Druids represent a way of relating to the divine forces of the universe that is older and more primal—a druid might say, “more direct.” Without intermediary deities, druids are connected to the elemental forces of nature, the basic building-blocks of the universe. Of course, races like elves and gnomes, which have a close connection to the natural world, often become druids. But no race is completely cut off from these primal forces, and druids can be found among any people.

by J. Gregory Keyes

“I crossed the water in my sleep?”
“Yes, on the floating causeway. It took me nearly all night to find you. You were trying to sneak into one of the shrines. You didn’t answer me when I tried talking to you. It was like you were still asleep. I had to drag you as far as I got you when you woke up.” She turned on him, her face shadowed. “You really—you really don’t know any of this?”
“No.” But I know someone who does, he thought. “Chugaachik.”
“What was that?”
Fool Wolf hadn’t realized he had spoken aloud.
“Chugaachik,” he repeated.
“Is that a sneeze?”
“No,” he said, reluctantly deciding it was time to tell her—because something was wrong. He always remembered what he did when Chugaachik took control. It was part of the curse. “It’s the name of a goddess. My totem goddess. She lives in my chest, in my mansion of bone.”

by Ed Greenwood

Volothamp Geddarm at your service, gentles, setting truths of the Realms before you like coins rolling along a tabletop, drawing every eye. I write here of more lost treasures of Cormyr, tales that began as scenes—the memories of the dead—that so enthralled me in that grotto.

by Monte Cook

Most everyone knows that surface elves hate the drow, and that the drow return those feelings. Hatred is a powerful force that can shape an entire way of life. The ancestral avenger is fired in the oven of hatred and cooled in the breeze of eons of experience fighting their racial enemy. The drow might be diabolically depraved and debased, but they still fear the ancestral avenger. This prestige class is limited in scope, but for an anti-drow campaign or an extended trip down into the Underdark, there’s no better character to play. There’s nothing a high-level ancestral avenger would like more than to go to the Demonweb Pits where the queen-goddess of the drow, Lolth, dwells. An opportunity for such an adventure exists in DUNGEON Magazine #84 in the adventure “The Harrowing.”

by Michael Trice

The Persian empire was the greatest of its time, and along the great Mediterranean only the rise of Rome four hundred years later would ever rival it in size or wealth. Yet with all the power and resources of the ancient Persians, their greatest nemeses would prove to be a small group with far more pride and courage than wealth and resources.

by Robin D. Laws

Welcome to the first installment of “The Play’s the Thing,” a new column devoted to making your PCs more fun to play. Although sometimes we’ll look at extra features you can add to your characters when you create them, our main focus here is on tricks and strategies you can employ to enhance your existing PCs. This month’s question, the choosing of a battle cry, is a case in point. A battle cry is a simple phrase that your character exclaims as he unsheathes his weapon and charges into combat. The words you choose say volumes about your character. Unlike a lengthy personal history you write out to show your DM, the battle cry is something that actually comes up in play. Every time you use it, it reminds everyone at the table of an essential fact about your PC.


“The Ecology of the Hobgoblin,” “15 Ways to Speed Up Combat,” and a how-to guide to creating martial arts styles.

Due to licensing restrictions, the PDF Download edition of this issue does not include Phil Foglio's What's New with Phil & Dixie or The Sleeping Tide by J. Gregory Keyes.

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