Archive for category G

Game Review #45 – Ruins of UnderMountain (S)

Hello Readers and welcome to another game review. Now then using my standards some might wonder why I am designating this as a Supplement instead of a Module. I will get into that in a little bit.

SO while the wiki page for UnderMountain is a little underwhelming it does have a few links to other TSR related information that can help you get a little more info about the author and how this ties into the Forgotten Realms setting, especially the city of Skull Port.

From my personal perspective UnderMountain was the first true mega dungeon. Sure the box set only had three levels. But those three levels were mapped out on four poster maps. The guide book only had information on about 25% of the rooms that were shown on the maps. And there were rules and suggestions for how to add, well, anything you wanted into the unwritten areas to specifically enhance any campaign you were running.

This thing is freaking huge… I mean just look…

undermountain-maps

…and if that wasn’t enough (and for some it was never close to enough) TSR also came up with additional materials to support UnderMountain later… Ruins of UnderMountain II : The Deep Levels (not as good but it really kept up the theme), Dungeon Crawl UnderMountain the lost level (this was actually pretty good if you tied it into other things, on its own… meh) And of course there have been reprintings, updates to later editions of  D&D and knock offs by the score that have tried to out do UnderMountain like AEG’s Worlds Largest Dungeon.

The funny thing is that most of the other mega dungeons that are out there exist only to be adventured in. They dont have any real connection to their environment or world. That means you can drop them any place you like and play the crud out of them. However UnderMountain was tied to the Forgotten Realms in some rather interesting ways. Its primary entrance was in a specific city. It had interesting new magic items and spells that were tied into either the Forgotten Realms as a whole, Skull Port the city it resided under, or some of the background characters that TSR authors and creators had been using for a while. Now then this is not to say that you cannot take UnderMountain and just drop it anywhere you want. You can. You just have to ignore or modify the background and characters a bit so the story elements fit, that is if you want to use them. Considering that the publication only has about 25% of the rooms filled at best, it is really easy to mod it out to whatever setting or location you want to use. My personal favorite of all time is putting UnderMountain under the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Giving me a huge and detailed city with a massive underground complex underneath.

One of the things that comes in the box set that I think is very under valued are the DM assistant cards. Not their real names I know. But these handy little cards have information on treasures, traps, and some of the odd magics that are in the dungeon. TSR put similar cards into other products but most of the time they made them 8 1/2 x 11 page sized, and these cards are just a little over the 3×5 note card size. Much easier to use and keep out of the line of sight of your players.

And of course if I am going to be totally honest… without the maps this thing would not be worth it to me. I am all for added information, new monsters and toys, but… mmmmmmmmmmm maps. These things are very detailed, well presented and… sigh… beautiful. One of the reasons I do not like the follow up products as much is because the maps seem more like a cheap imitation and not trying to keep the feel and build on what they already created.

Ok so I have ranted and rambled a bit, how do I call the numbers…

Overall Fluff 3/5 – There is good background material, and some interesting story. However this product is one of the weaker ones that TSR put out in regards to art. And while a part of me wants to call the maps art, I am actually putting them under Crunch.

Overall Crunch 5/5 – The new spells and monsters really do well in AD&D as a whole. The new trap rules and details also build things out in ways that enhance the setting, and the game. MAPS!!!!!!!!! I would almost like to give them a separate score but that would really skew the review.

Overall Mod 5/5 – It is old school AD&D, so you can mod the crud out of it. And I have. And you need to. The fact that you need to in many ways almost made me give this a 4/5 instead of the 5/5 score. Almost. The fact that you know from the ground up that you will need to mod it, and they make no bones about it, saves it from the lower score.

Overall Fun 5/5 – MAPS!!!!!! no not just the maps… heh. Overall this is one of those rare gaming products that encourages you to think. To add the flavor to make it your own, while giving you a solid framework that you can run with to your hearts content even if you never tweak a thing. It is a ton of fun and I cannot be positive enough about it.

Total Score 18/20 – Yeah I think this is a great supplement for gaming. I think it is worth the collectors price if you can find it in the physical world, and I think it is not bad at all if you can get it in a digital format and come up with some way to scale up the maps so you can use them effectively. While this is not something that will change your life it really can change your game.

Ok so thats it for this week. Stay tuned because next week will have another blog entry and I have no idea what I am going to do with it.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many random dungeon levels I can roll up before I need to actually use them for something.

 

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Tales from the Game Table – One in a Million Shots

Ages and ages ago it seems I was playing in a regular Call of Cthulhu game group. We all came up with some very interesting characters. My character was a soldier who had been a sniper in Word War 1. I even worked out a history for him that had him in places that could have suggested that he might have been responsible for things like a specific shot at a specific Arch Duke. He was one of those characters that was not really socially comfortable and only really felt at home in a conflict.

He was brought into the campaign by a newspaper add that was looking for someone who could handle challenging work with combat experience. His interview for the job was an interesting bit that ended up with him and his interviewer in a private shooting range. If my character could back up his talk about how good he could shoot the job was his. So at range he looks at the constructed target. A few silver dollars can be easily seen. Focusing a bit he could also see nickles that were a little covered up. But my character was a pro and had a knack for spotting weak points. Critical success on the spot roll and he has the spot noted that would bring down the who target structure. Now then in Call you need to roll low on percentiles. So I line up the shot. 03 on the roll. DM says he needs a back up roll if I really do want to destroy the structure. 01. Needless to say he got the job and was made part of the team. DM kept a close eye on my rolls from then on because that was just too good to be true. But no… I didnt fake it. In fact my luck with that character tanked for several months. Nothing I could not get out of in the end, but… yeah…

So a few months after that incident the group of investigators is in with a band of primitives in a region that was… not quite Earth. Anyway our investigators had teamed up with a tribe. My character had been going over defensive measures with them and helping them fortify. Things had been getting hostile and so we were expecting an invasion from at least one other tribe. Invasion comes. Our cult busting mystic is setting up spells but needs time. Out other team members are getting ready to help with the wounded. My character goes to the ramparts of the hastily constructed defenses and yells down to see what the invaders want. Trying to buy time. The invaders leader steps forward and demands certain things and people from us in order to leave peacefully. Everyone on the team shakes their heads no at me and so I have my character ask if there is anything else he wants to negotiate for. Leader yells back it is not a negotiation and that we will submit.

So my character shot him. 01 right in front of the DM. He sighed and asked me to roll again because my character was using a high caliber hand gun and it might have had more kick to take things off a bit. 01 again. DM takes a look at his own specially prepared critical hit tables and it appears that with that handgun and my characters skill level that I also took out two people standing behind the leader.

And so what do I do next…. “Anyone else want to ‘Negotiate’?!”

We had been prepped for all out war. Heavy losses and likely losses of sanity on all parts as spells that we should not be playing with get cast to help the tribe we were allies with.

Fight ends in one shot. My character became a hero/demigod to the tribes. Not wanting to play outside my role, when the NPCs came to my character to lead, he told them that he was just a messenger and negotiator. The Mystic and the Business man were the ones who could lead them.

To be perfectly honest I have forgotten if the movie Fifth Element had come out before or after we did that last session. I think it came out before the session and I was just pulling a favorite line and putting it in a new place. But as long as I remain confused I dont have to admit to having stolen the line for my own fun in the game. 🙂

Sure I have had other critical hits in my life of gaming and even done a few more spectacular things in my games as well. But those two shots in that one game series just… mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. tasty 😉 heh

That campaign continued for a good while after that and I really had a lot of fun delving ever deeper into the character and really setting some interesting goals for him that fit his personal… mindset… yeah mindset, lets not call him a psychopath or anything, cause noooo… mindset it is… in a way I dont get to do very often in a game group.

Ok so gimme the dice, I need to see if I can get a critical hit on breakfast.

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New series topic – Character Creation

Hey there readers

Now then anyone with a way back machine or a love of slightly older desktop computer RPGs might recognize the image above, or most of it, from Ultima 6. One of the best in the Ultima series of games. It had one of the most unique character creation elements I had ever encountered to date… well save for the other Ultima games… ok so lets just say I liked the way you created a character in most of the Ultima series.

Having done several series about world building, I thought it would be an interesting time to go more in depth into characters. Both the ones we play and the NPCs that GMs torment us with on a regular basis.

Even though I have talked in the past a bit about differences in Point Based game engines and level based character evolution, I have not touched on character personality and background and all the stuff that gives you the ‘character’ and not just the collection of stats you are going to use.

I plan on pulling up examples for the mechanics from several different game engines, and even a few computer or console examples because a creative table top group can incorporate them into the mix or use them directly.

Not sure when this series will be starting up but it will kick off with Character Creation 101 and be touching on… well I am not quite sure what it will be touching on yet. There are a lot of potential elements to talk about. If anyone has any ideas on things you think should be covered in regards to character creation leave me a reply in the comments and I will be happy to consider driving that point home.

Keep playing out there and having fun in the mean time folks.

Now gimme the dice, I gotta see what goes great with level one new players… 😉 heh

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Game Review #44 – Module X1 Isle of Dread (Expert D&D-1981) (M)

Hello Readers

So this post is going to be a little different. I have created links in most of my review posts to Wikipedia so that relevant topics can be examined more in depth. I have also noted that with those reviews, the more links I post the more spam comments I get that I need to delete from my in box, so I am going to use a game module to try and do one up with no links. Lets see how it goes.

In any event… on with the review.

Dungeon Module (already a misnomer because this ain’t no dungeon) X1 – The Isle of Dread is originally a module that introduced me to a few things that… well it sort of changed the way I looked at game modules. Admittedly it was early in my gaming career, and the module came in the original D&D Expert Rules boxed set…

ddexpertset1st01

… and totally set up to take advantage of the new rules added in that set. Ohhh look at those old hard edged dice that you needed to use a crayon to fill in… or some of your moms candles…. yeahhh

Ahem…

This module introduced me to a few things. Pages you could cut out and use as character props for the players. I mean seriously you can just cut the pages out and hand them to the players and say “Oh yeah you found this…”. The island itself is fairly big, and so there are a lot of supplementary maps inside the module. Most surprising though in the maps is that the cover interior is not the major map of the island, it is the map for one of the potential story lines that you can participate in while on the island.

And yeah you read that right… this little thirty page module has a main plot, and several encounters just like any good module. However this module also has notes that give you methods to keep things going on the island.

Now then the other thing that this module introduced me to is the idea that using dinosaurs in a fantasy setting was perfectly fine. I mean when I looked into the Monster Manual I could see dinosaurs, but this gave me examples of how I can use them in games by setting up several encounters that sorta feel like King Kong in a fantasy setting and I am not the only person who has said that.

The new creatures introduced work really well in the setting, and to a certain degree can be  moved into the rest of the game realm, well that is assuming that you are using the published D&D realms.

phanaton

One of my favorite added creatures is the Phanaton, sort of like a mix between a raccoon, a flying squirrel and a halfling, who lives in a jungle.

The main adventure can take you all over the island, or you can get really targeted. On the map below you can see over twenty encounter areas called out. Getting through the core story takes hitting four of them. The rest is all optional.

dread map

I have used this module for a number of things in the past. Being that it is set up for Expert D&D it is really easy to covert over into AD&D or to 3.0/3.5 D&D/Pathfinder. I have had one group of players decide that after clearing out the main story, they wanted to make the island their secret HQ and so they had to clear out the rest of the main encounters, like the pirates, make friends with the natives and try to tame the dinos. In another case I make this a step in the path for a larger series of modules that I had tied together to make one big story. I have also used it as a training ground location for Rangers. I took out most of the encounters for that last one

All in all I really enjoy the location and the balance of information in the module. And apparently I am not the only one as I hear that it is being reprinted by a third party to be updated into 5th ed D&D.

Ok so lets see how I number it up…

Overall Fluff 4/5 – The art is good ( I mean just look at those little Phanaton welcoming that poor confused human who soooooo needs them). Props are good, maps are great. The only thing it is light on is details about the island history. But that is sort of how modules at the time.

Overall Crunch 3/5 – The only real rules added were for new creatures. And they work. However some of the creature mechanics are not balanced.

Overall Mod 5/5 – It is old school D&D, so you can mod the crud out of it.

Overall Fun 4/5 – If you did not guess, I think this is a lot of fun. The only reason I cant give it a five is because the colelctor in me wants to keep the module fully in tact, the passionate GM in me wants to rip out the appropriate pages and hand them to players….

Total Score 16/20 – Not a bad score in the end. Overall I really enjoy this product and when I flashback to the fun modules in the 80’s this is one of the ones that is always at the top of my memory

Well I hope you all enjoyed my first linkless review.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many brontosaurs it takes to fill in a volcano…

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Game Review #42 – GURPS Humanx (S)

Did you know there is not a decent RPG that has been created specifically for Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? SIGH… Ok so for review #42 we will stick with SCIFI and hit something a little unexpected.

You may remember a while back I did a review for GURPS. I was not a happy camper in regards to the system, but did mention more than once that when GURPS does a game supplement they go all out. They treat it with respect and do a great job of it. This is one of those examples.

The Humanx setting is from the works of Alan Dean Foster. I got into the setting back in the late 70’s with the book Orphan Star, with Flinx and his minidrag Pip. And I could never get enough. Foster did frustrate the crud out of me more than once when he would write a new book (and I have to say his writing has never stopped improving over the years) and it would come in-between things he had already established as cannon for the setting and it changed two or three things and so now you have to reread to ensure you have everything right in your own head… but that is between me and Mr Foster.

Published in 1987 GURPS Humanx takes into account not only the series of books that is my favorites (Flinx and Pip) but also takes into account the whole freaking setting. And that is not something that is easy to do given the number of books that Foster had published in the setting by that time. In the books 96 pages you got the whole history of the Humanx Commonwealth and even a look at some of the major players. I was really surprised at how much information they were able to cram into such a small space. The weakest part of the whole thing was the art in my mind, considering that they go permission to use the Michael Whelan cover from one of the books.

To be honest I could rant on for a long time about how much I loved this book. And how it broke my heart that it was in GURPS and not a game system I enjoyed. But on the up side there is so much information here that if a GM cannot take this book and put it into their own preferred game system… well I would be looking for a new GM.

Lets take a look at the numbers….

Overall Fluff 4/5 – The only reason I put this at a 4 and not a 5 is the interior art. The details and snippets from the books are just freaking awesome.

Overall Crunch 4/5 – There are a couple of new rules added for the Humanx setting in this book and while I am not a fan of GURPS they fill in for things that would otherwise feel like big holes in the setting. Like I said I may not like GURPS overall, but when they do a source book or licensed item they do not short change you.

Overall Mod 1/5 – This is in the tank because in my case, you have to mod it, into a whole other system. But the level of detail that is present makes it pretty easy overall. I have in the past put it into Star Frontiers (the Thranx and the Vrusk trade up pretty easy) and into Mekton (yeah I was in a ship to ship combat stage at the time)

Overall Fun 5/5 – Ok so I am totally biased and I admit it. I love the setting and I love the way they treated the material. Even though it takes time to mod it to something I can use in a game engine I enjoy, I still think the book itself is a lot of fun for fans.

Total Score 14/20 – I tried to be as even handed as I could given that I dont like the game engine but love the books this is based on. Not an easy task. For a fan of the setting who games I think the book is essential. For a fan of the books it might be a nice to have just so you can see how other people treat the property. For fans of scifi gaming it could be a very nice alternate setting. For fans of GURPS… … … … … sorry, got nothin’ but snark.

All right so fairly short review this week. Oh and yes this is the official post for the week. Seattle’s Snowmageddon 2019 has brought you everything else published this week. Remember this is all my opinion. Get out there and game for yourself. Make up your own bloody mind and have fun doing it.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see if I can make friends with this minidrag.

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Game Review #41 Classic Organizations for Champions 4th Edition (S)

Welcome readers. Yeah, two posts in under a week. No this is not a sign of the apocalypse, that is already underway and in the hands of other management. 🙂

Having recently found out that Hero Games, the creators of Champions, have been putting a lot of effort into adding PDF versions of the Champions game into online retailers like DriveThruRPG I wanted to pull up one of my favorites from my OVERALL favorite version of Champions. Fourth edition.

Avid readers will remember a while back I did a review for another Champions item. CLOWN. That adventure module, and three others from third edition Champions have been updated, reedited and added to this supplement. What was collected in this book was,

CLOWN, the Criminal Legion Of Wacky Nonconformists.

CLOWN

Neutral Ground, A safe space for heroes and villains to chat, heal, and seek advice or training.

champions ng

PRIMUS and DEMON, A government organization to fight super-crime with an almost military efficiency, and a magical organization bent on world corruption and or domination, either would work.

champions PnD

And Red Doom, a very 80’s look at Russian supers and the teams they had in order to counter evil American heroes who might interfere with the Motherland.

champions red doom

The first thing most folks would think about in a supplement like this is, “Well if you are just reprinting old stuff who cares. I can just use the old books.” And while you definitely could the four original supplements were created in first through third editions of the rules for Champions. Now then while the changes between the four editions are not as subtle as going from AD&D 1st edition to AD&D 2nd edition. They are no where near as extreme as say going from Basic D&D to Third edition. Things like Martial Arts and some of the powers went through major changes. And while you could muddle through quite well, it makes it a little easier to have it all worked out for you.

In addition to the rules updates you also had all four books pulled together to tell a single story. That updated all of the characters from the original four books. And pulled in additional ones from other old supplements. And when they built this new story they also mapped it out completely so that characters could be directly involved and change a number of elements for their own world, or they could deal with the aftermath of what happened. When they did the update of the organizations they made some fairly significant changes in a few of them. Everything from reorganizing teams, to completely changing the origin stories for characters and in two cases of the organizations themselves.

The combined effect of the rules updates and the story that was created, along with the effects on individual characters and the grander implications for the world of Champions gave this supplement something that was close to unique in the evolution of the Champions RPGs. A true sense of continuity. This book told players that yes your old supplements still mattered. And look how you can tie them in with all the new stuff that is being created for the game.

Hero games did one other book for fourth edition that started with Classic in the title. And while it collected characters from a lot of previous supplements, it did not try to build continuity like this one did.

While I did not get to play with much of the material here… finding Champions players can be a pain some times… what I did use balanced well and ran just like I would expect anything from 4th edition Champions to run. Very very well.

In the end this book is one of five books that I would put into a bundle to say this is your core for Champions 4th edition. That though can be the topic of a later post.

So lets take a look at this book by the numbers…

Overall Fluff 4/5 – Using a ton of the original art, and adding several new pieces the art fits well into the whole Champions product line. This however is the fluff flaw as well. The art is not really top of the line when compared to comic books or a lot of the high end art that other games were using at the time or since.What really stands out though is the story and the character narratives. It adds a lot of great material and makes for a very nice bit of ongoing plot and gives a lot of potential for players to run with and build their own stories and for GMs to integrate it into their worlds.

Overall Crunch 4/5 – While there are no new rules in this book, this book has examples of just about everything you can do with the Champions game engine. Using those examples you can really map out how to do a lot of the more complex things in the game engine like vehicle design and base construction with a lot of ease.

Overall Mod 4/5 – Champions as a whole is really easy for me to mod. And plots and character elements are usually very easy to mod too. However the story elements and background are so well integrated that it can be a bit of work to pull out and use only parts of it, or to add a lot of additional items to it.

Overall Fun 5/5 – So I seriously love this book. Even with a few flaws and not great art it is one of the best supplements that came out for Champions 4th edition. At least in my mind. And as noted above, I enjoy it so much I put it as one of the books you would want to consider your core material to play in the Champions universe.

Total Score 17/20 – A high score, but in my mind this is one where if I have a really good game session or three with the material again I would likely bump it even higher. The book is not without flaws, but overall it is a very very useful collection of material that should not be under rated.

Ok so as always, this is my opinion. Get out there, read it, play with it, and decide for yourself if you agree.

Keep gaming and have fun out there folks.

Now gimme the dice, I need to see how many comic-book villains can fit into the CLOWN car for rapid transit.

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Tales from the Game Table – The Negotiation

Ok so this trails back to the days of yore. I think it was 7th grade. Which would have put things in 1984 or 85. I was playing with a D&D 1st edition group in the school library. Other than the fact that the group had two people co DMing the game and I think that Dan the RPG man was there I really do not remember everyone at the table.

We were in our third or fourth session I think. We had already had arguments about whether or not your character actually had clothes if they were not on the character sheet, and a few other things. But in this session we had actually gotten into town and some of the players were trying to figure out how to make a little extra money. Sadly I do not remember a lot of the details. But this one event has stuck with me for years…

One of the party decided to sell something. And instead of just rolling to try and get a deal one of the DM’s decided we had to roleplay it out.

The negotiation actually went on for almost ten minutes. But the final was worth it. It went a little something like this…

DM: No 70gp is my final offer.

Player : I wont go below 90.

DM: 70gp

Player :  95.

DM: You cant go up.

Player : 98.

DM: 65!

Player : 100.

DM: 60!

Player : 90.

DM: 95!

Player : I’ll take it.

Both DM’s: DAMNIT

Players: WOO HOOO!

Librarian: I know I said you can play here but keep it down.

Everyone: Laughter

Now then the values are likely way off, and the build up to get to that part of the afternoon was hectic and some of us at the table had been a little frustrated up to that point because this was taking so long and we were getting no where. The DM negotiating just wanted to ‘win’, and ended up getting tanked. It was a bloody awesome bait and switch. I did not do it, but I saw it done and was there for it. I could be off on the year too, it may have been sixth or eighth grade.

That little group didn’t last too long. Well, I did not last in that group long. Not really sure if it folded or if I just left because the two DMing the game were so strict. And by strict I mean that the character they said had no clothes was not allowed to just drop more coin and have them, they had to role play going into a town naked (because for some reason none of the other characters extra clothes would fit them) and then buy them while setting up that character with a bad reputation for wandering into town without clothes.

So just a little one to start this segment off on. Hope you all got a chuckle.

So gimme the dice… I need to pick pocket some clothes.

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Product review – Murphy’s Rules

Happy holidays readers.

I want to keep posting even over the holiday season, but in giving respect to my family and household it will be a short one this time.

This is the first time I have set something up as a Product review and not a Game review. Depending on how it goes I may do more in the future.

This particular product is a collection of material that Steve Jackson Games published between 1980 and 1998 in various media that they had been producing like the Space Gamer magazine and Pyramid. Quite frankly I have heard rumors that there was a sequel published but I have never been able to find it, in person or in a PDF format online. Steve Jackson Games website does not list it as something they have ever created, so my hopes are low that it exists.

This book is 80 pages of taking pot shots at stupid rules in role playing games, board games, card games and computer games. Each one is given a little bit of art to illustrate the silliness, and the art interpretations are just as funny as the rules themselves. This is one of my favorite examples…

Image result for Murphys rules

The book also contains a few pages of random tables, small art projects, and it closes with a written article that reads like something out of a Readers Digest advice or letters column from the 80’s.

Now then given that this material is from 1980 – 1998 originally you may think it is strange to still be amused by all of this. Personally I think it is a great way to look back and be able to say that games have always had issues. Strange rules, stating the obvious, or just plain weird. And the fact that game designers have had to put things like that in their games means that players have always had issues too. I mean if you feel it is necessary to put a rule in your game that states that a dead character can take no action… how many players during your play test sessions tried to actually have their dead characters do something?!?

It is also for me a great way to look back at games I have played for years and see how far they have come, or not come in some cases. It also reminds me of games that I have not played in years and lets me quietly flashback and go… I wonder what heck I was thinking playing that mess… or … I wonder if I can find a copy of that now… 🙂

If I have to give something like this a review rating by the numbers there is only one category that it really should have…

Overall Fun – 5/5 – Funny, well presented, cute art, and a ton of flashbacks, the good kind, make this little book something that I am determined to always have in my collection.

I hope that everyone out there has a great holiday season, keeps gaming, and thinking for themselves in regards to everything they enjoy.

Ok so gimme the dice, I need to roll on the random pole-arm generator to see what I am getting the neighborhood orcs for the holidays.

 

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Game Review #38 – Dark Sun AD&D 2nd Edition (S)

G’day readers. So you may have noticed that I tagged this review as being a game supplement instead of a game. There will be some who say it is a game all its own, but I say it is a setting, and has supplementary rules but not a game all its own. And you wont convince me otherwise.

Dark Sun is my second favorite setting in D&D of all time. And to be quite frank it disappointed me greatly that it got such a shabby treatment into 3rd edition. I know it was brought into 4th. But 4th was such a disappointment to me overall that I never really investigated it. And I have had no interest really in 5th after 4th so I have not even checked to see if they were bringing it in to the latest edition.

In the history of AD&D there have been a number of settings released. A brief history of some of my favorites will include…

  • Greyhawk 1980 (actually the original setting but not codified as such until later)
  • Forgotten Realms 1987 (there were other settings that were part of this world like Maztica, Oriental Adventures/Kara-Tur, and Al-Qadim)
  • Spelljammer 1989 (magic in space)
  • Dark Sun 1991
  • Council of Wyrms 1994 (Dragons as player characters)
  • Planescape 1994 (Where you can get to everywhere)

There is a much more complete list in Wiki but I can tell you it is not fully complete.

Those who know me know which one of the settings on that little list is my all time favorite, but for the moment I aint talkin.

As to what makes Dark Sun such an awesome thing for me, well let me break down some of the coolness for you.

  1. The setting is so lethal that you have to
    1. Start all characters at 3rd level. Minimum.
    2. Create a character tree with at least four characters in it so you can have replacements handy.
    3. The setting calls for using a different method of stat generation
      1. Original 3d6 per stat. Average roll is 10.5 Low is 3. High is 18.
      2. New version for this setting is 4d4+4 per stat. Average roll is 14 Low is 8. High is 20.
  2. Magic drains life from the world around it
  3. There are no gods, but the worlds elements will act like they are.
  4. The new races added include half giants, half dwarves and the preying mantis like thri kreen.
  5. Variants on old races include nomadic thieving elves and cannibalistic halflings.
  6. Even though the Manual of the Planes and Spelljammer set it up so you could access any setting, this world is blocked off from all the others save in very rare places that are so dangerous to get into that you may as well not try.
  7. Even though I love dragons there is only one in this world, and dragons are not a species but something that very, very, evil people can become.
  8. 90% or so of the planet is desert, caused by the over use of magic. The sun is dark for the same reason, as the sun provides life to the planet. So tap it for power and… yeah.
  9. You can either be one of the rare characters that actually believes that things can get better and you are willing to fight for it. Or you can embrace the fact that your world is doomed and be as big a bastard as you want. Basically this is about as dystopian a fantasy setting as you can get.

To be totally honest I was not sure at first that I would like the setting, but when a man a few of us know as ‘Drunken Tom’ decided that he was going to say screw it and invent a new weapon proficiency for his half giant gladiator called paired elves… yeah I gave in and started to see the potential. When I found out just how nasty the place was… and well we also heard things like players saying “Lets go back to Ravenloft where its safe.” I got hooked.

Looking over a copy of the main boxed set I got hooked even further. The cloth map. The player and DM flip books. All the materials present just ramped it up notch after notch. The added books that came out just thrilled me more and more but we wont be going into the additional setting supplements or the fiction right now. This is all about the original boxed set.

I could ramble on about this a lot longer but lets take a look at the numbers instead.

Overall Fluff 5/5 – The original setting box came with so many goodies that they alone would put this at a five of five. But when you add the content, the art, and the detail in the setting, yeah, if I could I would give this a six or a seven for fluff.

Overall Crunch 5/5 – The additional rules added in this setting are well crafted and well balanced within its own setting. Between the variants on magic and the additional races it is really well crafted.

Overall Mod 2/5 – The one major weakness in this setting is its ability to cross over to other settings. Even dragging the races within to other settings was challenging at the time. When you got into third edition the races themselves were overbalanced making it so that even a basic thri kreen was to be a fourth level character with the racial level adjustments in place. Tweaking these rules is a pain in the ass. But it can be done.

Overall Fun 5/5 – Again, this is one of those places where if I could put a higher score than a five in place I would.

Total Score 17/20 – One of the higher ratings I have given and it is totally worth it. I love this setting and all the things that have come out of it. I really think it should be one of the core settings for any future edition of D&D, but that is my mind.

Ok so that gives us my overview in brief. I love the setting. I want more of it. I want it in every game engine you can imagine.

But thats me. Make up your own bloody mind if it rocks or sucks. 🙂

Game on and have fun folks.

Now gimme the dice… I need to see how a cannibal halfling would have dealt with Smaug.

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Should it blend?

Ok so anyone who remembers the old “Will it Blend?” add campaign online for a certain blender company will likely be asking why I dont have a blender image on here… well it looks like they still have a trademark for the campaign and so I want to avoid it as much as possible…. heh.

So what is this question about?

Well back in the 90’s a writer named Deird’re Brooks (hope I got your name right, I have seen it spelled three ways) wrote a series of articles in White Wolf Magazine under the heading of World of Future Darkness. It spanned issues 36 – 38 of the magazine and it was all about blending Cyberpunk 2020 in to the World of Darkness. Many people that I was gaming with at the time called the setting Cyber-Fang. The rules were fairly easy to mix, and it worked well. But in the end it never really seemed to catch on.

Several years later a few game designers got together and officially put the Hero System (Champions) and the Interlock System (Cyberpunk 2020 and others) into a new game engine they called Fuzion. It is not a bad system revision. It has a nice mix of both systems but is not really as solid as either one is on its own.

I am sure that these are not the only cases where blending of game systems has happened. I am sure that folks do it all the time. And anyone who knows me at all will know that I blend genre’s mercilessly.

But here is the real question… Should game engines be blended?

Each game engine has been made to fit a purpose. Not every engine can do everything well. Most only do two or three things really well.

So I ask should it blend? Or should we be looking to update game engines? Revise and repair them… or is blending the better way to evolve game engines?

Ok so gimme the dice… I need to see if I can mix a d4 and a d12… hmmm

 

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