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Dragon – November 2005

November 29, 2005

Continuing the trend of background on Demons and Devils of the D&D world, Zuggtmoy graces the cover of November’s Dragon magazine. The Demon Queen of Fungus and plant monsters is joined by illithids, the Lords of Dust, and the Shadar-Kai.

“Monsters of the Mind” expands on the underground civilizations of the Mind Flayers, offering up a bestiary of some of the depraved critters that the Ilithids have crafted. Covering a wide range of CRs, everything from a tentacled dragon to a swarm of brain-sucking leeches is detailed. The only time I can see this article really being all that useful is if you’re planning a Mind Flayer-centric campaign and want something more than brainwashed slaves to throw at your players. Interesting imagery, though.

Another article from the Demonomicon of Iggwilv details the cover demoness, Zuggtmoy. The Foul Queen of Fungi ramps the creepy factor up several notches, with information on her cultists, their practices, and some of the creatures she has at her beck and call. I don’t know why, but they’ve certainly been liking the subtly disturbing for the last several months in Dragon. They’d better not stop, is what I’m saying. In any case, good stuff here. I really like this series of articles, as it gets under the skin of the world in a way I find very appealing. The cultist details add a sense of continuity to what might otherwise be the random actions of faceless thralls. For example, one sacrifice to Zuggy involves a procedure the cultists call “Zuggtmoy’s Cradle”. A victim is tied up with rope of their own hair and buried in a bog with a breathing tube. Fungal spores and gruel are fed to the buried sacrifice, who screams for days before the spores consume them from within. Tasty details.

More demonology with a Keith Baker penned article on The Lords of Dust, the rakshasa rajahs of the Eberron setting. Like many of the big bads in the world of Eberron, The Lords of Dust are a secret cabal with a specific focus. In this case, less powerful rakshasas are working for the return of the all-powerful Overlords. These deathless demons were shut away by an army of dragons and couatls, and so in Lovecraftian style they slumber hidden away in the depths of Kyhber. While the setting as a whole is geared to show low level adventurers a good time (kings are only like level 10 or so, for example), this article attempts to alleviate the complaints of those who say there are no high level threats looming in Eberron. Even the lieutenant rakshasas are still quite high level, making the Overlords epic-level threats. Once the adventuring party has refought the last war and won, what is there left to do? Oh, that’s right, demon kitties!

The Shadar-Kai were one of the races thunk up for the 3.0 Fiend Folio, and ended up being something of a fan favorite evidently. This Shadow-bound race of fey certainly has a lot of interesting stuff to it. They’re constantly being pulled back to Shadow, and use pain and concentration to keep their evil selves locked onto the Material plane. While normally I’m not a fan of ‘race’ Ecology articles, this one was enlightening and expanded admirably on the Fiend Folio entry. Wormfood this month is a forgettable bit of business on buying magic in the free city. While it’s easily transferrable to any large city, it’s not all that interesting. Bazaar of the Bizarre is similarly underwhelming. Magic Face Paints. Yes, face paints. They’re basically potions, and only work for 24 hours after they’re applied. Eh. I never fail to find something wonderful in the Class Acts section of the magazine, and this month is no different. Substitution levels for Hafling Wizards. They basically get to pick a spell not necessarily on the Wizard spell list at 3rd, 5th, and 12th levels. Interesting.

Overall I felt this was a weaker magazine than some of the most recent issues. While I liked the cast of villains they put forward in this issue, overall the magazine for D&D players felt very much more like a DM’s guide. Can’t win em’ all, I guess.

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