Dragon Issue #285

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Slingstones and shortswords! Fire and ice! Dragon Magazine 285 explores the lives of halflings and the death that you’ll find in the Temple of Elemental Evil. Experience what it’s like to be an halfling in the most extensive “Secret Life” article yet written -- from solemn birth, through the Great Choice and the adventurous life that lies beyond, to the final birthday a year after death. Immerse yourself in halfling culture! Learn about their food, festivals, favored battle tactics, and the activities of halfling adventuring gangs. Find out why their favored class is rogue even though they make the best wizards. There are new halfling feats, halfling alchemical items, halfling traps, and a new halfling prestige class!

Had your fill of halflings? No problem, we’ve got you covered! The Temple of Elemental Evil returns this month and some of its terrors have come to Dragon Magazine! Nine hideous creatures of elemental evil hide within. Are the elementals in the temple not tough enough for your party? Use the new template presented in this issue: the demonically fused elemental. We’ve also got eight new spells for the Temple’s evil priests and mages, and tons of new information on the Princes of Elemental Evil, those terrifying outer planar entities who are behind it all!

And as always, you’ll find new advice, tools, and tactics to improve your game. So draw your dagger, drop a stone in your sling, and set your sights on this issue to get the most from your game!

by James Jacobs

Although halflings are perhaps one of the most sociable races, there are many aspects of halfling society that are overlooked or misunderstood by others. Most halflings live in seminomadic groups known as commonwealths, and they strive for lives of comfort and happiness. Of course, there are always exceptions . . .

by Jesse Decker

Everyone knows that halflings make good rogues, but perhaps because of the influence of earlier editions, few think “tremendous cosmic power” when dreaming up character ideas for D&D’s littlest PC race. It’s often easy to get the jump on people as a halfling wizard, and not just because you’ll be high in the initiative order most of the time.

Although they make great rogues, the halfling racial bonuses to Dexterity and saving throws, along with their size modifier to Armor Class, help compensate for a wizard’s typical lack of hit points. This high AC is doubly important because, although they’re as hardy as humans, halflings move slowly, putting them at risk during running battles or when facing many foes. Your opponents, thinking you’re a rogue, will be worrying about you moving into flanking position and be reluctant to engage if you’re standing next to other party members. Often, they’ll stay out of reach just long enough for you to attack with a powerful spell.

If you decide to play a halfling wizard, this article features a few things you should keep in mind.

by Ben Bova

Evil has many forms and many names. Elemental Evil is just one such type of insidious corruption that spawned long ago in the festering mind of some diabolic fiend. It is a rotten spot at the very core of reality -- those elements that compose the world turned toward death, destruction, and betrayal. Bold warriors against darkness should take note: Despite what you have heard and hoped -- Elemental Evil is not dead.

by James Jacobs

It was a terrible day, raining hard, the ground beneath our horses’ hooves a sea of cloying, slippery mud. Sir Bors wanted to wait until the rain stopped and the field dried, but Arthur feared that the barbarians would escape across the wall by then. So we charged through the rain and mud into the wild, disorganized mass of frenzied barbarians. Soon the mud was churned into an ocean of blood.

I rode behind Arthur. I served as his squire, and my duty was to protect his back. He divided the knights into two divisions, one headed by Bors, the other by himself. We charged from opposite directions, catching the freezing, rain-soaked barbarian warriors between us. They fought bravely at first, but no man on foot can stand up to the charge of knights protected by chainmail, shield, and helmet, driving home an iron-tipped lance with all the power of a mighty steed at full gallop behind it.

The barbarians crumbled after that first charge. The battle became a melee, with enemy warriors scrambling madly up the overgrown old stones of the wall, made slippery by the incessant rain, slicker still by their own blood . . .

by James Jacobs

The Gnarley Forest has had a reputation as a den of monsters and lurking evil for many years, despite the fact that large sections of the woods are regularly patrolled by rangers, elves, gnomes, and other champions of good. Nevertheless, the forest’s sinister reputation has persisted, in no small part thanks to one of the most infamous strongholds of cruelty and villainy throughout the Flanaess: the Temple of Elemental Evil.

The history of the Temple of Elemental Evil is no secret; the massive structure was built by a cult that venerated the dark and evil aspects of the four elements. With the aid of powerful demons and gods like Iuz the Old, Zuggtmoy the Demoness Lady of Fungi, and other sinister powers, these cultists soon commanded much power, and began to ravage the lands in the area. Eventually the Temple’s reign of terror was put down, and Zuggtmoy was imprisoned deep within the dungeons under the Temple.

The cultists had done their damage, though. The presence of the Temple of Elemental Evil tainted the surrounding woodlands. Natural creatures fled the area and all manner of twisted monsters and beasts moved in, drawn by the evil aura of the place. In addition, many of the evil creatures the cultists held bargains with or kept as pets and guardians remained in the area after the Temple itself was overthrown. Over the years, these creatures spread into the surrounding woods and established themselves. This article details five of those beings that still lurk deep within the Gnarley Woods or in the ruined dungeons beneath its roots.

by Kennith Hite

Though the latitude’s rather uncertain,

And the longitude likewise is vague,

Still the people I pity who know not the City,

The beautiful city of Prague.

--William Prowse, The City of Prague

Even 350 years before Franz Kafka wrote his novels of paranoia, Prague was a city of mystery, of ominous atmosphere, of conspiracies and fog. At the end of the sixteenth century, this “city of a hundred spires” was the crowded center of all things magical and mysterious in Europe. Prague has room for a mad emperor, corrupt alchemists, visionary painters, a fearsome Golem, sorcerous dwarves, and some say Satan himself -- surely it can hold your adventurers as well.

by Julia Martin & Eric Haddock

Some of the old specialty priests are poorly translated with just multiclassing and feat choice. Some of them were such a grab bag of capabilities that it is difficult to see their core theme. Want to have some of those eclectic abilities and refocus your cleric on the driving themes of his deity? Then you probably want to enter into a prestige class. Here is one to take the place of Selûne’s specialty priests, the silverstars.

by Ed Greenwood

The eastern side of the High Road south of Neverwinter is lined by many wooded dells. Some of them are sinkholes, some abandoned quarries, and some of unknown origin -- but all are ideal camping places in harsh weather. One that has felt far fewer firewood-seeking axes than most has been made into a wayside shrine to Tempus.

Visitors will see a lone domelike chamber made of used armor and weaponry welded together in the shape of a gigantic gauntlet or armored hand. . . .

by Chris Pramas

Welcome to the Sundered Empire, the setting for Dungeons & Dragons: Chainmail. The lands of the Sundered Empire are in Western Oerik on the world of Oerth. This area has never been explored by the denizens of Greyhawk, so it has remained a mystery for countless generations. Now all can be revealed.

The elven Empire of Ravilla once dominated Western Oerik, but as vigilance waned the empire crumbled. While the region was no stranger to warfare, recent events have all but ensured that the fires of war will burn for decades to come.

Five years ago a company of mortal heroes banded together to kill Stratis, the God of War. They believed that by killing Stratis they could win peace for their peoples. They were tragically mistaken. Though the heroes slew the god, Stratis defied his killers in death. As he ascended to the heavens in a pillar of fire, he scattered his panoply across the world. With his dying breath, Stratis proclaimed that there would be nothing but war until a new god ascended to replace him. Now heroes and tyrants struggle to win Stratis’s artifacts. It is said that whoever reassembles his panoply will take his place as God of War. . . .

Due to licensing restrictions, the PDF Download edition of this issue does not include the Town of Hommlet map, Phil Foglio's What's New with Phil & Dixie, or Enchantment by Ben Bova.

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