Sunday, June 30, 2013
Codex of Erde is an offering from Troll Lord Games. It was released in 2001 under the D20 license for D&D 3.0. It is a campaign setting that harkens back to the early days of the game in some ways. It has an actual connection in that the book includes a short adventure by none other than Gary Gygax himself. Given the relationship between Gygax and Troll Lord Games I am not surprised by the apparent influence and I wonder how much of it might have actually been directly influenced by Gary himself.
It is a largish book with a total of 256 pages that cover everything from the beginning of the universe, the creation of the world and the role that the gods played in it. It then covers the actual nations of the world as well as providing races, spells and magic items. There are also some changes to the rules of the game as well as new rules.
It has been a good while since I read the book and packed it away in inventory. At the time I recall that I thought it was a worthwhile addition as there was material that could be incorporated into my own blend of a world. The book has since been slated for re-release by Troll Lord Games as the Codex of Aihrde but that was in early 2012 and it still shows as coming soon. It will be specifically for the Castle & Crusades game which is not a bad thing. I just hope it is not on the same length of schedule as the Castle Keepers Guide!
From the back of the book:
"Explore a World of Epic Adventure!
Requires the use of the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook, Third Edition, published by Wizards of the Coast.
This book contains everything needed by players and DMs to weave epic tales of heroism in the World of Erde. A detailed history of the world, descriptions of the lands, maps, heraldry, races, languages, deities, classes, spells, magic items, and monsters are found within, and all are fully compatible with the 3rd Edition of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game.
Also includes a mini-adventure by Gary Gygax!"
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Codex Arcanis was released in 2002 for the then new D&D 3.0 system. It was also then released again for use under the 3.5 system. The book I have is the one that was released in 2002. It is a campaign setting in the world of Onara. I am not certain naming the world Onara was intentional or not but it has driven home the point that I am ever writing something to publish I want to Google the name of important people, places and things to make sure there are not other uses for that term.
The Shattered Empires Await!
Turmoil grips the lands of Onara. It is the end of an era and the dawn of a new age. It is an age of struggle against the end of existence; and age, which shall witness the rise of history’s greatest champions. Will the world of Arcanis pass into Oblivion or will her heroes raise her up to new heights?
The Codex Arcanis is the essential tome for the critically acclaimed Arcanis: the World of the Shattered Empires campaign setting. Within one will find:
The history and geography of Onara’s greatest nations.
Races, feats and prestige classes - all approved for use with Living Arcanis.
A complete pantheon, unlike any fantasy religion in that it is left to mortals to interpret the commandments of faith. Thousands of people world-wide play in the World of the Shattered Empires and now’s your chance to join them.
Mortals stumble in the darkness; Heroes light the way.
Be that Hero and Leave Your Mark Upon the Shattered Empires.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Utatti Asfet is a globe trotting adventure for 1990s Call of Cthulhu. It starts with the investigators being in the Kingdom of Tonga in what may be the worst contrived reason ever for a Call of Cthulhu adventure. They then find themselves in the American city I would most connect with darkness and evil that is not Cthulhu centric. The adventure then brings them to the Sudan where they have an ending they are merely able to watch for some reason once it begins. This is an adventure that is sparse in mythos and not one I would recommend even if it had been set in the 20s.
From the back of the book:
Utatti Asfet - The Eye Of Wicked Sight - a 1990s campaign for Call Of Cthulhu
The Graham Westlake Foundation sponsors the International Symposium on Unexplained Phenomena. This year, the fortieth annual symposium takes place in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga. The investigators are among the attendees. There, they encounter evidence of phenomena they know only too well. They begin an investigation that leads them to cults, confusion, mayhem, delicate inquiries, villains foreign and domestic, new magics, horrors undersea, horrors in swamps, and horrors in the sands of the desert. A wide variety of characters and situations enhance a memorable set of adventures.
Set in the 1990s, Uttati Asfet is a world-spanning campaign. In it, the investigators learn that the Mythos is not their only foe, and that evil can wait a very long time.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Trail of Tsathogghua is a small connected campaign (two adventures) and bonus adventure that was originally published in 1984 (this version) and then released in a compact version without the bonus adventure (but updated otherwise) in 1997. All three are good beginning adventures for either players or the GM. The two two connected adventures take place in Greenland and Canada so it allows the GM to get characters into the idea of being in remote locations. The Greenland potion could have been expanded into something more all on its own and an adventurous GM might take that upon themselves. The bonus adventure is non mythos.
From the back cover:
"Tsathogghua's curse awaits the unwelcomed investigators of the occult and unknown. What grim secret lurks on the sterile Greenland icecap? What living horror grows behind the 'Bigfoot' legend? Trail of Tsathogghua contains a mini-campaign in two scenarios as well as a third, unconnected, scenario - The Haunted House.
This scenario pack is suitable for beginning keepers and investigators. It serves well as an introduction for the game and exposes new players to both the Cthulhu Mythos and the occult."
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
From the back of the book:
"A dramatic chain of unsettling events over the past ten years leads to wholesale madness. A complete campaign in three chapters - detailed background for important characters - extensive, deluxe player handouts."
"The human brain can be divided into two halves. The left side contains our powers of reason. The right side holds our subconscious, and the potential for madness."
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Sometimes with RPG material it will serve better for purposes other than what it was originally published for. Secrets of New York almost accomplishes that. It still works as a sourcebook for the Call of Cthulhu game so it wears multiple hats. This book would be worth owning by anyone who plays any game that might have reason to be in New York during the 1920s.
This book does not portray a version of New York where there are cultist or mythos creatures around every corner. It instead gives a solid representation of what New York City was during that time period. There is information on how the mythos is present but it is a city where they are present not city where the normal people are intruders. It includes two adventures that are average but it shines in letting the GM know what New York was like in the 1920 and that is better than almost any adventure.
From the back of the book:
The City that Never Sleeps
During the day ships, barges, tugs, and pleasure boats ply New York’s bay and rivers, dashing beneath bridges and disgorging thousands of people upon the city's shores. Each brings hope and dreams of a new life. At night the city blazes with myriad lights, diamonds dazzling in buildings that scrape the sky. Music, food, dance, dark rituals, and clandestine cults flourish beneath the mantle of New York City.
Since that first landing of Henry Hudson's ship Half Moon to the Declaration of Independence, dark things have suckled on New York’s underbelly; the city’s boroughs have always hidden secrets countless, sinister, and horrifying. From the savage massacre at Throg's Neck to the things beneath the earth on Barren Island, New York City has always been protective of its mysteries — now all come to light in one book.
SECRETS OF NEW YORK is a compendium of one of the oldest and most popular cities in the new world, and is a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. This volume explores the strange events above and below the streets and avenues that crisscross the world's financial capital during the 1920’s. With a plethora of characters to bring the city to life, and a detailed history to build scenarios upon, Secrets of New York is an indispensable tool for keepers and players setting adventures in the Big Apple. Included are maps and historical documents and photographs of 1920’s New York City, as well as several scenarios that explore the most popular and less savory locales of this grand metropolis.
Monday, June 24, 2013
This offering for Call of Cthulhu was released by a company named TOME (Theater of the Mind Enterprises). It was released in 1983 with the product code T-3 and comes in at 76 pages in length. It is again a module that I have not had a chance to run as it slide under my radar when I was playing Call of Cthulhu actively. In total they have five modules with Glozel Est Authentique being the one I have seen the most.
The review I have been able to find online for Pursuit are frankly non-existent. There was a shorter write up for it in White Dwarf #54 which is what I am using for much of the information I have. A good portion of the module is actually background information on Miskatonic University and being a student there. It even includes things such as class schedules and clubs. It also has rules specific for creating students of the university as investigators. In addition to the the rules and the named adventure it also includes a short bonus adventure.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Lurking Fears is what I would call a relatively new acquisition for me. I have had a chance to read it but not play or run any of the scenarios that are contained within it pages. It was released in 1990 so it is an older book but was still available for a fair period of time after it was released. You can still get it on eBay on a somewhat regular basis and the price fluctuates considerably. The book contains a mix of scenarios, six total, and there are none that I would consider a waste of space. The book is worth picking up if the price is right but I would not fall into the trap of "must have it now at any cost".
From the back cover:
"Contained in this volume are three regular-length scenarios ,one short "one-nighter", and a two-part campaign which will take your band of investigators from the mountains of Carolina to an ancient shrine to the Great Old Ones and a confrontation with a ruthless undead villain.
Included here are:
Rise of the Sleeper - in which an unexpected inheritance leads to a nightmare of undeath in the Florida Everglades.
Caller in the Desert - in which a carefree holiday in Egypt becomes a living nightmare from the nighted mists of prehistory.
The Sundial of Amen-Tet - in which a family crisis leads to a time-traveling madman.
Sorrow's Glen - in which a morbid archaeological site conceals an abysmal horror.
The Star-Shrine - in which a vampire seeks to free the Great Old Ones.
The Devourer - in which a star-spawned horror threatens to consume the world."
Saturday, June 22, 2013
This is another collection of stand alone scenarios for modern day Call of Cthulhu. The adventures are again simple enough for beginning players. Two of the four adventures could be used by a beginning GM easily enough as well. Two of the four though are a little on the thin side and might require a little more fleshing out than a beginning GM might be capable of and also need a little more ad-libbing than a fledgling GM is capable of. Three of the four adventures are ones that I would rate above average but the name sake of the book is average at best.It was released in 1999 and comes in at 64 pages.
From the back cover
Four Call Of Cthulhu scenarios for the present day, suitable for beginning keepers and investigators or as intriguing interludes in ongoing campaigns. Numerous illustrations, detailed handouts, 11 new spells and related maps and plans.
- Last Rites
- Lethal Legacy
- The House On McKinley Boulevard
- The Priestess
Friday, June 21, 2013
When it comes to game books I think there should be designations. The top of these would be Core Books. These are the ones that you absolutely must have in order to play the game. I would allow some flexibility as a Monster Manual is not absolutely needed but I think it is. The next would be Essential Books and these would be ones that without the game in either playability or overall feel would suffer. The next would be Optional Books which add optional rules that may affect the play in minor ways. The last would be Adventures or Accessories. Since this is not an exact science there would be a level of subjectivity to anything but the Core classification. In my world Keeper's Compendium falls into the Essential Category. This version was issued in 1993 is 80 pages in length. It was reprinted in 2000 with additional material.
From the back of the book:
"Things Players Were Not Meant to Know.
Drawing from the tales of H.P. Lovecraft and many other authors, the information contained in this book supplements and expands upon that given in the CALL OF CTHULHU rulesbook, and is divided into four main sections.
FORBIDDEN BOOKS: expands upon the most famous Mythos tomes listed in CALL OF CTHULHU providing lists of suggested spells, study times, descriptions, and the benefits acquired from studying the books. Some of the two dozen books covered include: The Necronomicon, The Book of Dyzan, Cultes des Goules, Massa di Requiem Per Shuggay, The Revelations of Glaaki, and The R'lyeh Text.
SECRET CULTS: stereotypically, the cultist is a cackling madman dressed in hooded robe and armed with a wickedly curved knife. In fact, cultists are of wide description; cults are essentially religious organizations holding certain beliefs and attempting to induce some sort of change. Described here are differing cults drawn from fiction, game scenarios, and history: The Starry Wisdom Sect, Brotherhood of the Beast, The Nestarian Cult of Cthugha, Brothers of the Yellow Sign, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Witch Cults, Order of the Sword of St. Jerome, and the Cult of Cthulhu.
ALIEN RACES: this section defines the aims, values, and goals for various frequently-encountered races including Deep Ones, Fungi From Yuggoth, Ghouls, Insects From Shagghai, Old Ones, Serpent People, and the Voormis.
MYSTERIOUS PLACES: shrouded in legend and obscured by misinformation and disinformation, the following forgotten and exotic places are all referred to in Mythos tomes: Atlantis, G'harne, Hyperborea, Irem, Kaddath in the Cold Waste, K'n-Yan, Lemuria, Lomar, Mu, The Nameless City, R'lyeh, Valusia, Y'ha-Nthlei, and Yuggoth and beyond."
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I am a strong believer in the adage that you should never judge a book by it's cover. I try to live this in the real world and when it comes to gaming. I am afraid that when it comes to this offering I have failed miserably. There is just something about this cover that prevents me from taking the adventure seriously. I think it would have been the same if M:tG had used Amy Weber's Fork as its theme art. I don't know who the artist is and it is not bad but I just don't like it. The adventure is one that when read the reader will find it to be well done if perhaps just a bit to linear for some groups. If I ever were to run it I might find a real cheap copy and tear the cover off. Released in 1997 it comes in at 80 pages.
From the back cover:
"This dangerous investigation is set in Canada, in the 1920s. The investigators meet the powerful Lavoie family of Montreal and learn what imperils them, they glimpse a strange cult that now thrives in Quebec and the ancient nemesis that guides it, they come to understand the significance of the corpse discovered in the foundations of a former seminary, they at last perceive the true motives of Father Philip McBride, and they gather at last the full truth about a Churchly saint who has long fascinated McBride. There are plenty of puzzles to solve and investigation to be done up until the final day of play, an unusually complete blend of action, deduction, and interesting situations. Player Characters have time to get their bearings, making this adventure a good one for beginners, but even old hands are soon challenged by a succession of deadly perils. Horror's Heart is designed to be finished over several evenings. It includes about twenty handouts, many illustrations, several new spells and magical traps, and lots of murders and murderers..."
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
There are books you own because you know you should own them. There are three such books for Cthulhu set in the modern era. These are Delta Green, Delta Green Count Down and this book. The list used to be five long and impossible to complete and then this beauty was released. It combines the three chapbooks that were released by Pagan Publishing into one book and adds two additional scenarios. The three books were of course Machinations of the Mi-Go, The Fate, and Project Rainbow. These were so hard to find copies of that they were almost in the mythical category for me. The whole problem for me of course is that this is all modern setting material. All of them need to be owned by any true fan of the game though and the compilation book made this possible.
From the book:
"Are you cleared for this?
For eighty years your organization has fought to protect humanity by uneearthing evils older than the world itself. You violated every law to save people who'll never know you exist. You took down fanatics who worshipped horror incarnate. You dug up truths that all the powers of government and magic tried to conceal.
You're about to wish you'd left well enough alone.
Delta Green: Eyes Only digs deep into the worm-ridden heart of modern power. Uncover its secrets and you'll see why people kill to keep them hidden.
* Machinations of the Mi-Go explores the history, goals and science of the Fungi from Yuggoth, including the plot that shaped the American government for decades.
* The New York occult underground exlplodes with The Fate, an in-depth look at Stephen Alzis and his servants and enemies, including new Cthulhu Mythos tomes and a guide to playing characters in the Network.
* Project Rainbow brings a staple of conspiracy fiction, the Philadelphia Experiment, seamlessly into the Mythos- stealth technology meets the Tillinghast Resonator with nightmarish results.
Plus: Tradecraft, detailing Green Boxes, communications security, hacking, interrogation and the emotional toll of murder; Policing Millennial NYC, listing federal law enforcement agencies and facilities in the New York area; A Night on Olshead Mountain, an adventure that pits investigators against the deadly after effects of alien activity;Holy War in which Delta Green attempts to unravel New York's most dangerous occult conspiracy in the months after 9/11/01; and Artifact Zero, a mind-blowing time-travel scenario in which the agents must put more than their lives and souls at risk."
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
"Secrets" was released in 1997 and is a smallish book at 48 pages. It contains four single shot adventures that are just that. They are not intended to be linked together to form a larger campaign. It has been suggested that this is something that is lacking in the Call of Cthulhu line of products. These are also scenarios that could be used by beginning GMs or an experienced GM with players that are new to the game or gaming in general. Other than it being for the 1990s era and a cover that is perhaps a little more adult than what is seen on most Cthulhu products this is something I would recommend to everyone....I still do but being a fan of the 1920s era settings this fell just a hairs breadth short of being a must have. The adventures are listed below.
- Closed Casket
- A Love in Need
- The Unsealed Room
- Cult of One
Monday, June 17, 2013
The "Cthulhu Companion" was released in 1983 and came in at 64 pages. This book may have the most amount of material presented in a gaming book in a content to page ratio. It contains a mix of rules, resource material and adventures. Given that it is 26 years old give or take a few months the rules information may not be so relevant unless you are playing a pure first edition game. The rest of the book is still very useful and the adventures are all worth having to use at some point and the book provides no four. Below is the content listing of the book.
- The Cthulhu Mythos in Mesoamerican Religion
- Further Notes on the Necronomicon
- Descriptions of five different prisons
- Two new skills (photography and lock picking)
- A Lovecraftian timeline
- Descriptions of phobias
- Additional deities, races and monsters
- Excerpts from mythos tomes
- Four scenarios: 'Paper Chase' (for one Keeper and one Investigator), 'The Mystery of Loch Feinn', 'The Rescue' and 'The Secret of Castronegro'
- Sanity Quiz
From the back cover:
"The Cthulhu Companion is a collection of new Cthulhu mythos lore, scenarios, and rules additions to the game. From this volume the Investigators gain two new skills and a chance to encounter prehistoric monsters, find a missing uncle, stop cattle mutilations, and solve a kidnapping. The grim prisons of four continents plus new Cthulhu mythos deities, races, and monsters help the Keeper propel the Investigators to madness. Player-characters will reel from new phobias and insanity types."
Sunday, June 16, 2013
"A Resection of Time" is scenario for Call of Cthulhu set in the 1990s. I have gone on record as saying I prefer the 1920s as a setting and if I ever ran this I would go through the effort of making it run through that time period. The adventure has strong elements of "The Whisperer in Darkness" which might be a bit of a spoiler if you have read that tale. The book suggests it can be run in two or three night but I suspect they are selling that time short and it might maybe as much as double that depending on the group. This is not one of my favorite adventures for the game but it is still a solid one. It was released in 1997 and comes in at 64 pages in length.
From the back of the book:
"At first, the death of successful archaeologist Kyle Woodson seemed an accident, an automobile crash turned fatal. When certain medical irregularities become apparent, and then the body was quickly cremated, the case becomes much more sinister to trained eyes."
"In this adventure, the investigators are challenged by the strange case of Kyle Woodson. Inquiries will take them across the United States of the 1990s, from San Francisco, and the Sanbourne Institute of Pacific Antiquities near Los Angeles, to decaying modern Arkham. In the end, all clues lead to ancient Mayan ruins, deep in Central America."
"This 64 page scenario book can be played in two to three nights. It contains twenty-five handouts, many featuring genuine Mayan glyphs and annotated translations. Artwork includes many thumbnails, several drawings of Mayan artifacts, and a number of beautiful grey-scale illustrations. "
Saturday, June 15, 2013
When I picked this book up for some reason I thought it was for the first edition of the game. I was of course wrong and found out that this book, released in 1997, is a reprint that combines two books from the first edition. It apparently contains all of the information in those and also adds some additional information. In this case, as rarely happens, being wrong about something worked out OK for me.
The cover of the book describes itself as "A Core Game Book for Players". I am not sure that this is actually the case. I would call it sourcebook but not a core rule book. The information in the book is for the most part all useful but not essential as the game can be played without it. If you are playing a 1920's based campaign the information in the book will be useful to both player and GM. It contains four sections dealing with the history of the Twenties, player occupations, tools of the trade and finally a section on how to be a Mythos investigator.
An Essential Guide for Players
When faced with the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos, investigators need all the help that they can get. This essential player's aid for Call of Cthulhu provides it.
The 1920s Investigator's Companion is split into four sections. "The Roaring Twenties" details life in the 1920s, from a general historical overview to listing of favorite songs, books, and films of the era. "On Becoming An Investigator" details the trials of becoming an investigator, offers 140 different occupations, and annotates the use of skills in the 1920s. "The Tools of the Trade" lists resources investigators may use for research, describes various forms of transport and transportation, and also catalog other equipment and weapons. "Words of Wisdom" brings the book to a conclusion by offering advice to the intrepid investigator.
Now, for the first time, everything a 1920s investigator needs is gathered in one place.
Friday, June 14, 2013
The second module for the Conan game that I own. I am on the hunt for CN2 but it seems to be a little more rare than CN1 or CN3 for some reason. I also am not willing to pay the price that it goes for with BIN prices on eBay. As I said in the previous post for CN1 I have never played the Conan game and this module is still in the shrink and although I do also own a open copy I have never played it. The module was released in 1985 and comes in at 40 pages in length. The module has a map of the city where the adventure takes place but it is not fully laid out. The module has geomorphic city pieces which is a nice bonus. Given the map parts alone the module is worth owning.
From the back of the module:
"Strange cries I've heard over the walls at the Royal Palace at night. Demons is practiced, mark me. The king's tried everything else. Now he's turning to the powers of the night," whispered the bent and wrinkled old man. "We're all doomed, we are."
The king of Ophir is dying. He refuses to name an heir, believing he will be cured. His nobles are sure no cure will be found and that the country will soon be left without king or heir. The nobles are amassing private armies, plotting for the throne, while the king's army hides. Bandits now raid freely, and the Ophireans are refugees within their own land, fleeing to the safety of the cities.
It is through this land you, Conan and your company of mercenaries, journey. For there are reports of good work for any who can swing a sword or cut a purse. In this troubled land, however, the trick is to avoid having your own throat or purse cut...
Journey through this land of chaos and confusion based on the CONAN THE TRIUMPHANT book by Robert Jordan.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Legacy of Blood will allow the DM a chance to get one of their players a domain to control with a slightly cliched storyline. The adventure allows a character to inherit a domain by being a distant relative to the former ruler who passed away without an heir. As would be expected this does not go smoothly and the old ruler had someone who wants the domain for themselves. The adventurers will have to solve the mystery as to why they want it and defeat the rival. The adventure is solid enough if not a bit cliched.
I sometimes wonder if perhaps it is more me being jaded from gaming all these years and having read more than my fair share of adventures across a number of gaming systems. In the end the module is worth having and works for what it is intended to do. It of course has a great piece of Clyde Caldwell art gracing its cover so that is a plus!
From the back of the book:
"Your cousin Rolph is dead - and while there is cause for sadness, there is also cause for celebration. As his heir, you were willed his dominion: Fenhold.
Of course, the Deep Swamp is threatening to engulf all of your new holding. People are seeing ghosts, disappearing mysteriously...animals die without reason, and crops are suddenly blighted.
The farmers don't like the swamp dwellers, the swamp dwellers don't like the farmers, and no one likes the halflings. The entire civil service of the dominion seems to have either worked for the failure of the dominion or resigned due to actions of the others.
It's going to be a tough task to make all this shipshape once again, but you're 15th level now. Isn't it about time you settled down?"
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Tree of Life was released in 1986 and though a Companion level module is designed for elves and thus was written for 8th level characters. A DM might allow other races to be used but the content and theme is very elf centric and they would want to be careful. The story behind this module is a little more dramatic than some of the other adventures in this product line. It is one that I could see being made into a movie if anyone was so inclines. As a companion module it is a little above average, in my opinion, but as a story and a plot that could be adopted outside for other levels I think it works well above average.
From the back of the book:
"The Feadiel clan's Tree of Life is dying. As the bravest and strongest elves in the clan, you must undertake the challenge of the elders: seek out the source of the disease and destroy it.
If you fail, the Tree of Life will surely perish, and all your family with it. The quest is great and you may die on the journey, never to find the cause of the disease. The journey will take you to the deepest part of ancient Selinar, Elvenhome, to find the guarded grave of the first Treekeeper.
Delay no longer! The Tree of Life grows weaker, day by day..."
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Sabre River was released in 1984 and is the almost standard 32 pages in length. It is a module that has an almost iconic cover. Alas that is about all that I can tell you about it based on my own knowledge. This is a module that has sat on my shelf for years and has never been used. From what I can recall it is a standard adventure trek but it has a few twists built in. I do not even know anyone that has run or played it amazingly enough. Anyone care to share their experiences with it?
From the back of the module:
You are a guest of the count, one of your allies and the strongest man in the region. Your sojourn has been pleasant, a nice change after weeks of battle. Suddenly the courtyard below your window is filled with the noise of galloping
horses. More guests?
You yawn as you look out. But these people arriving look more like tax collectors than guests. You decide to give your attention to something more interesting, like dinner.
Relax while you can, friend, because these new arrivals are about to lead you to a crimson sailor, a cozy Tower of Terror, and a river with an aching heart.
Sabre River includes a complete campaign setting, new NPCs, dungeon and wilderness encounters, and a mysterious story.
Monday, June 10, 2013
I stated a good back when I posted about CM1 that these modules started the group I was running at the time thinking about more than dungeon crawls and running from point A to point B and accomplishing mission X. I also mentioned the inherent pitfall that came with that course of action. It never quite turned into a Game of Thrones level of intrigue and backstabbing but it did make things uncomfortable at times.
The CM modules are often looked down on for some reason. I found them to be no worse than most and better than some by far. Part of the problem I think is that they wanted to keep them adventures and at the levels these are designed for things to fight get tough and coming up with suitable adversaries and non cliched and contrived plots get tough. That being said this adventure fell into both of the latter problems to some small degree but it was still playable. It could even be used at lower levels if the players were scaled back in level and down some. It was released in 1894 and comes in at the somewhat standard 32 pages.
From the back of the adventure:
All communication with the barony of Twolakes Vale has ceased. King Ericall, worried about the security of his border and angered at the loss of tax revenues, has commissioned you, a delegation of powerful characters, to investigate.
This is not a petty problem to be solved by the armies of local nobility. Indeed, the king's forces are desperately needed elsewhere. Twolakes Vale is, after all, only a small barony on the far frontier of Ericall's domain. And yet...
The cloud is there, its nature and cause unknown. None have returned from the barony for weeks. Furthermore, the cloud is spreading, and vague reports of unrest and mysterious disappearances are starting to trickle in from nearby baronies.
Can you discover the secret of Twolakes Vale?
Sunday, June 9, 2013
I really wish I knew more about this. It is one of the AD&D related items that were released by Grenadier. It was released in 1984 and is 48 pages in length. The items all feature monsters that they have miniatures for. It seems like a good idea for them and the GM since they knew they could find miniatures then but as I recall this product was just so-so. I have never had call to use it and it can still be picked up in or under the $10 price range on eBay. Anyone have any stories or information they care to share about this?
About the module:
"You have heard rumors that Cloudland is a huge castle built many decades ago by a powerful mage. The mage is long dead, but creatures still fight for control of the castle's awesome towers. Beneath the walls of Cloudland, in its subterranean expanses, are rumored to be untold riches and strong, arcane magics. Many adventurers have attempted to probe its depths, none have ever returned. Do you have the skill and courage necessary to explore Cloudland?"
Saturday, June 8, 2013
On of my favorite Tolkien quotes is "All that is gold does not glitter". I mention this only because Cloak & Dagger could be perceived as a sourcebook dealing with the entities that are evil or nefarious in nature and though this is true in some cases it is not true in all the groups described within.
The book was released in 2000 for AD&D 2e and it deals with groups that operate in the shadows. The setting as the cover suggests is the Forgotten Realms and if that is the setting you are using then the book requires no work. The content is such that the groups could be used in almost any setting with a little tweaking. I will even put for that this is better perhaps because the Forgotten Realms setting has to be the most fleshed out and detailed setting that the most players will know about. I am certain that on a daily basis some poor fledgling DM gets corrected on some Forgotten Realms detail by a well studied player.
The book lays out a fairly exhaustive number of various groups that would work in the shadows. There are then a number of individual groups that are described under each of those. The deal with the "dark and dangerous" groups such as assassins and thieves. There are also a number of secret societies that are laid out as well as mercantile groups. The book also includes what I treat as the true dark and dangerous in my campaigns the power brokers and spies.
In the end a DM would be hard pressed to not find some group to be the underlying reason why events are happening in their campaign and to be puppet masters controlling the strings of the unsuspecting characters.
From the Back of the Book:
More than just powerful wizards, divine temples, and wise kings comprise the Realms. For every beacon of light there exists a shadow, and shadows conceal much. Those who work in secret wield much power in Faerûn: Groups as diverse as the Harpers and the Zhentarim all live and work in the shadows of the Realms.
Here, for the first time, is detailed information on these groups' areas of influence, leaders, chains of command, methods, agents, and their recent activities and plots. Read about:
The schism that tears apart the Harpers
The bizarre details of the "Manshoon Wars"
The rise of Fzoul Chembryl, grand tyrant of Xvim the Baneson
This book also gives information on the Night Masks, the Knights of the Shield, the Iron Throne, the Shadow Thieves, and many more secret societies. Finally, Westgate - the nexus of many power groups' interests on the Sea of Fallen Stars - is detailed as never before.
Learn what goes on in the shadows of the Realms; learn the secrets they don't want you to know!
Friday, June 7, 2013
Everything I said about One-on-One modules still holds true for me having lacked a belief shattering event otherwise overnight. This module does boast one of my favorite images from TSR products. I know Elmore is not well reviewed in portions of the industry today but he is one of my favorites. This module is also has a plot that makes it easier to adapt into a campaign. It was released in 1993 and comes in at 32 pages and again I will say one sports serious nice art on the cover!
From the back of the module:
Pommeville is a sleepy little town that seems like a good place to stay for the night. That is, until the town's dead rise from their graves and begin terrorizing the village! Ancient evil threatens to overwhelm the good folk of Pommeville unless someone can find a way to comfort the restless dead. A lone, player character cleric will have to be clever, courageous, and more than a little lucky to solve the mystery and save Pommeville from the mindless zombies that threaten it!
Cleric's Challenge is a special ONE-ON-ONE ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS adventure designed for a DUNGEON MASTER and one player - perfect for very small playing groups, or for the player who wants his or her character to earn some extra experience.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
This module is for AD&D 2e though it could be used for 1e if the DM really needed it to be. It might take minor modification but I can't recall for certain if there was anything so edition specific to make that impossible. With that being said I am not sure why you would bother. I have never fully seen a need for the One-on-One adventures from their very inception. I understand the premise but I have always seen roleplaying as a group event and though technically two is a group I think sizes smaller than four make it hard to work as an adventure.The premise for this module is a little contrived but it can be made to work if all the conditions are right. In the end I would take this module and tweak it and then beef it up and turn it into a cleric focused rather than soloe adventure.
From the back of the module:
Something evil is stalking the parish of Barlox.
Ten years ago, the village's temple burned to the ground and the parish priest disappeared. The temple has since been rebuilt, but life has not returned to normal. A current of fear and discontent now ripples beneath the surface of this once sleepy wine-making community. Old rivalries have turned bitter, and unwittingly unleashed a force of ancient corruption.
Cleric's Challenge II is a special ONE-ON-ONE ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS adventure designed for a Dungeon Master and one player character cleric of 4th to 6th level. It is the eighth in a series of independant adventures focusing on an individual character of a specific class.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
The most non standard offering in the Citybook line is most likely one of the better offerings. It won't work for every fantasy setting to every fantasy city but it offers great material to those that it will work in. I only have this one and the one from yesterday in my inventory (scanned) and I know I have the first one as well. Adding these to the blog has reminded me I need to make a point of finishing out the collection of these.
From the cover:
19 decidedly nonhuman establishments and over 50 fully-developed non-player personalities, with scenario suggestions for use with any role-playing system.
If your adventures are gridlocked into the usual, lead them down the streets of Sideshow, the City's decidedly different exotics quarter - a haven for some of the strangest places of business that any world has to offer.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Flying Buffalo has given us two series of books that I would consider almost required DM material to own. The first of these is Grimtooth's Traps and then the Citybook series. I think that the Citybooks may be the more useful set. They are something that every DM has to use while traps are sometimes used sparingly or not at all by many DMs.
Citybook II focuses on locations, NPCs and adventures with a nautical theme. This is not a huge limitation as they could be converted to be based on lakes or major rivers possibly. If the setting is something akin to Dark Sun then this might require some serious modification to be used but it could still be done. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is either a DM or is interested in designing city settings pick any of the Citybooks that they can.
From the front cover:
A game-master's aid for all role-playing systems...22 seaside businesses, over 70 fully developed non-player personalities, and more than 60 scenarios for use with any role-playing system.
Monday, June 3, 2013
City of the Spider Queen is rated among the top thirty adventures of all time by Dungeon. It came in at the #24 spot and was one of two adventures for the 3.x version of the game included though the magazine was released in 2004 so there has not been a vast array of modules for the new version at that time. I wonder how the same list might look today (hopefully close to the same)?
I have not had a chance to play this one or run it but in looking through it I see an adventure that can go bad for the party quickly. This will turn into a meat grinder for a party that is ill prepared or under equipped or under powered. It will also punish those who act before they think and who want to attack everything on site and not look for alternative solutions. When presented with level ranges and suggestion more often than not a party can use the low end as the starting point without fear and can sometimes even start a level or two lower. This suggests 10th level as a start but I might start no lower than 12th.
From the Back of the Book:
Daggerdale is reeling from a sudden series of murderous drow raids. As a grave threat to the entire surface world develops in the war-torn dark elf city of Maerimydra, intrepid heroes must discover its source and destroy it, if they can. Designed to take 10th level characters as far as 18th level, City of the Spider Queen draws the heroes into the deepest reaches of the Underdark and plunges them into an epic adventure with dire consequences.
- 13 new monsters
- 13 new magic items
- 16 page full-color map booklet
Sunday, June 2, 2013
I have never hidden the fact that I am not a huge fan of version 3.x or later of Dungeons & Dragons. That has not stopped me from accumulating a fair bit of material created for or based on the system. These are all items I will most likely never use as they were intended. The material that Wizards pumped out for the game was for the most part extremely well done. I know that in many cases it was a retread of the material released for earlier editions but it was still well done.
I am now going to go off on a tangent....
The trend that started with the fourth edition of reprinting the exact same books with the exact same names for the newer editions really was the last straw in my distaste for Wizards. I always saw it as an affect of the owner card game printing background. With cards they reprinted things over and over adding slight changes to cards or adding new features to the game. In the pen and pencil RPG world this was done by changing systems and then reprinting the same books. It was fully foul in my mind.
Now the OSR movement has given them a new pocket to stick their hands in by creating a class of gamers who have seen the joy of the older system. I bought into the premium first edition reprints under the guise that it was being done for Gygax Memorial Fund. What has become the geyser of reprints and sudden release of PDF files is my opinion them showing that they underlying game they have created is flawed and dying. They are becoming Hollywood in the only thing they create now are remakes but in this case even worse they are making exact repackaged duplicates.
The books and modules they are making re-releases for are in most cases still available in the secondary market (and before anyone claims I am crying foul because it is hurting a market I sell in ...I never sell and am a collector) and in some cases cheaper than the new products. For the 1e books all I have seen is that it has raised the cost of the originals being sold. So now not only are they not having to produce new items but they are selling the repackage items for more than the originals can be bought for...and do we really need a premium 3e reprint with about a billion copies of the original still in play? I am just afraid that they will in the end come to destroy the OSR movement by souring the market with a glut of product killing those who are trying to keep the old school alive but with fresh new product.
end of rant and tangent!
In the end I pick up books like this to mine for material I use in creating my own adventures and setting material. The book is full of great stuff and anyone looking to design a city should add this to their library to draw from. You can buy it now of course or wait for the limited edition foil embossed secret collectors reprint that they will charge you full price for next year....or the fourth edition version that was most likely released or the all but already printed D&D Next version. Yes the grapes I am selling might be sour today but they are real, new and my own creation. I sorta fibbed about being the end of the rant didn't I!
From the Back of the Book:
Waterdeep beckons! For centuries, this grand city has stood at the edge of the Sea of Swords, tempting heroes with its bustling port, thriving markets, hidden perils, and half-forgotten dungeons. Adventure waits on every street corner, behind every locked door, and below every cellar!
This supplement for the D&D game offers an in-depth examination of Waterdeep. It includes a rich history of the city, detailed city maps, descriptions of key locations, statics for important NPCs, information on local laws, and rules for running and playing in Waterdhavian adventures.
4 Prestige Classes
38 Magic Items
11 City Maps
Saturday, June 1, 2013
There are items that end up in a collection over time that really don't fit in with the overall theme of the collection. Even one that is as random and eclectic as mine is has a few items that stand out as being outside the lines as it were. This is one of those items though it may not be the most dramatic example of this. One the positive I do know where this came from and it was in a huge bulk purchase made online. To clarify why I am saying this:
1) I don't play Warhammer40k...never have and never will.
2) Miniatures are not my thing. I have some but have never really used them.
I really know nothing more about this than what the cover tells us. I am not sure I even looked inside the book before I scanned it. If I was not a pseudo hoarder I would have most likely thrown it away but in today's society where plastic toys from McDonalds can be worth hundreds of dollars why would I. I do love the tag line "In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war" and I am guessing that is something from Warhammer.
Does anyone know anything more about this?
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