Dragon Issue #281

Dragon 281 Cover

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Clairsentience and psychokinesis? Githzerai and psicrystals? What’s this all about? That’s right .. psionics are back with a vengeance and better than ever before! Find out more as Dragon Magazine 281 reenters the realm of the mind! Learn about the new psionics rules and discover how to combat the psionisists you encounter in your games. Psionic secret societies and mental monks await you within. Discover new psychic powers, four new prestige classes, and more than a hundred mystical locations for adventures! Inside you’ll also find new fiction from J. Gregory Keyes, seven mysterious magic masks, five new underdark monsters, "Countdown to the Forgotten Realms," and instant dungeon tiles for outdoor Dungeons & Dragons adventures! And as always, you’ll find humor and puzzles along with new advice, tools, and tactics to improve your game. Open your mind’s eye, heighten your awareness, and focus your massive mental powers on this issue to get the most from your game!

by Robin D. Laws

You did not choose to become a sorcerer. The talent for magic lay within you even in the cradle. No one taught you how to shape and channel your gift. When it first manifested itself, you were probably terrified. Even if you took it in stride, it is unlikely that those around you did. You were probably taunted by cruel playmates and fearful adults. Perhaps you were attacked. It’s possible that your family cast you out, certain that your powers would bring doom upon them. As you made your way through a hostile world, gradually learning to master your abilities, you learned to trust no one. The above description presents a cumulative impression of the lives of most sorcerers. To find out how much of it actually applies to your sorcerer character, you can use the checklist in this article. You can either choose the answers to each question, roll them randomly, or choose some and roll for others.

by Stephan Kenson

The Talaire are humans from another plane of existence, a world called Talaron. The Talaire were explorers, curious by nature, and their psychic gifts allowed them to plumb the depths of the planes of existence. They traveled far and wide in mind and spirit without ever having to physically leave their strongholds. They also built gates that allowed them to take their bodies to different places. Their explorations eventually drew the attention of others able to travel the planes, and some such beings came to Talaron. They were the illithids, and they possessed psionic powers similar to the Talaire and ruled a great empire that spanned the planes. A terrible war began between the Talaire and the mind flayers. The illithids unleashed a cataclysm on Talaron, causing the sun to dim and flicker like a dying candle. The world became cold, wrapped in a shroud of ice and snow. The people starved and began to die, despite the best efforts to sustain them. In the end, the surviving Talaire had no choice but to leave their world behind and travel to yours . . .

by Bruce R. Cordell

In planes beyond the material world reside creatures wondrous and grotesque, divine and infernal. In a realm where chaos is transcendent live a race of humanoids called the githzerai. Their history is fraught with violence, mighty deeds, and terrible tragedy. Events that would have extinguished a lesser species birthed the githzerai. For it is the githzerai forerunners who put down the plane.spanning illithid empire of prehistoric legend.

Githzerai dwell in the plane of Limbo. Limbo is a plane of pure chaos. Untended sections appear as a roiling soup of unrestrained elements. Balls of fire, pockets of air, chunks of earth, and waves of water battle for ascendancy until they are in turn overcome by yet another chaotic surge. Within this wasteland of chaos, the githzerai refine their spirits, measuring their worth against the ceaseless changes. Although many githzerai congregate in Limbo.tossed cities, many more are secure in the protection of their hidden monasteries.

by Jesse Decker, Will McDermott & Stephen Schubert

The Splintered Mind is a small group of monks, psions, and rogues who work in secret to derail the plots and plans of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Founded by three former members of the Scarlet Brotherhood in 6096 SD, the group has grown to approximately 100 members in the past ten years. The Splintered Mind is organized into fifteen cells across the Flanaess. Each cell works independently and has limited contact with (or knowledge of) the members of the other cells. Each cell consists of only six members, who work in pairs in their assigned region to root out and expose Brotherhood plots, while avoiding retaliation from their former fraternity.
The rest of the members of the Splintered Mind reside in a secret monastery near the city of Scant. Here new recruits are trained in the ways of the Mind. Elder members instruct the neophytes on topics ranging from the history of the Scarlet Brotherhood, to martial arts and weapon training, to burglary and espionage.

by Owen K.C. Stephens

Difficulty naming characters from nonhuman cultures is a common problem in most fantasy roleplaying games. Names from historic lists are of little use, obliging DMs and players to create totally new names. But it is difficult to come up with names that are both appropriate for nonhuman cultures and consistent with one another. This is especially true for a DM who might find himself trying to develop background information for an adventure set primarily in a foreign land. One of the most popular D&D settings is the Underdark, a dim and gloomy subterranean land full of opportunities for adventure. But the Underdark is also a land filled with many nonhuman races, each with its own cities, culture and concerns. Inevitably, some Underdark adventurers are going to hear about or interact with members of those unique races. If the names used for members those races do not seem strange and alien, much of the thrill of the Underdark is lost. Ideally, adventurers should be able to identify the race of a creature simply by hearing its name.
Previous articles have already covered names for drow (Dragon 267), dwarves (Dragon 261), and gnomes (Dragon 262). This article contains some ideas for the remaining common Underdark societies: derro, duergar, illithid, kuo.toa and svirfneblin.


You can never cram too many mythical places into your campaign. A setting that awes your audience is the cornerstone of a good fantasy tale. This compilation should inspire the imagination and allow DMs to dream up adventures based upon these or their own wondrous whereabouts.
The locales in this article have been, to some degree or another, inspired by actual mythology, folklore, or fairy tales. Several are based on real places.

by Robin D. Laws

Anyone who’s been roleplaying for even a short time knows that some sessions go more smoothly than others. Some are simply magical: everybody’s paying attention, the spirit of cooperation is high, and each new development is more entertaining than the last. Unfortunately, that coin has a flip side: sometimes a game can bog down. Concentration drifts, players get irked at one another, and the game comes to a halt. We often assume that the task of avoiding these crashes rests entirely on the DM’s shoulders. Certainly it’s true that a skilled DM crashes less frequently than an inexperienced or uncertain one. But that’s no reason why you, as a player, should meekly surrender to a troubled game session. The DM is only one of the people in the room. Everybody has influence over the conflicts that cause these problems. You can work to stop them from happening, or to get things quickly back on track when they do. Think of yourself as the DM’s ally .. as a member of the Legion of Logjam Busters. Learn how to bust up logjams in this article!

by Monte Cook

Psi.hunters are individuals well.versed in the arcane arts who provide a service for those troubled by beings with psionic powers. These mysterious characters hunt down such beings and neutralize them, either by killing the creatures or capturing them. They are skilled combatants and spellcasters, but all their skills are honed with the destruction of psionic beings in mind.

by J. Gregory Keyes

When the ashes came to life, Fool Wolf knew that the fever from the wound in his shoulder had finally reached his head. Or it might have been the dehydration, or both. Whatever the case, it was a bad sign. He had to admit, however, that the hallucinations improved things in some ways. For two days he had trudged the table.flat plains of the Strictured Land, his feet sinking to the ankles in gray.black dust so fine that even the motion of his feet surrounded him with a cloud of it. Now his nostrils and lips were crusted with soot, he coughed up black mucus, and pebbles of grit gathered in the corners of his eyes. In the day the sun beat him like a blacksmith’s hammer, and at night his breath smoked from the cold. The wound in his shoulder pulsed blood and pus, and his waterskin was almost empty. Still, if nothing else, his new madness broke the monotony. His fever lifted the ash like fog, congealing it into the forms of trees, boulders, rushes, flowers, and grass. A road appeared beneath his feet, hard and level. It formed, like the trees, a stone’s cast ahead of him and dissolved the same distance behind and to each side. Birds clotted into being, flitted to the edge of his insanity, and decayed into plumes of dust. The trees offered some shade from the sun, at least. He would have been happier if the landscape had some color in it, rather than the same uniform charcoal hue as the plain, but Fool Wolf had a long list of rather.nots that took precedence over the quality of his fever dreams. He would rather not be in this forsaken place, for instance, he would rather not be wounded, he would rather he wasn’t being pursued by perhaps the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Interesting, murmured the goddess who made her home within Fool Wolf’s bones. The goddess, of course, was his greatest rather.not of all. Without her, none of the others would exist.
Fool Wolf ignored the comment. Chugaachik’s interests ran toward torture, perversion, and violent murder, all of which she used Fool Wolf’s body to accomplish whenever he was foolish or desperate enough to invoke her power. If she found something “interesting,” it was better not to know what she meant . . .

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