Tag Archives: Dragonlance

RPGaDay- 2016 Day 17, Which fictional character would best fit in your group?

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As many of my previous answers have eluded, I like to take my roleplaying quite seriously, and so it’d have to be someone serious. I’d love to say that it would be someone fun or something ridiculous, like Tasslehoff Burrfoot or the great HYPNO TOAD….-

tasslehoff
The Incomparable Tasslehoff Burrfoot

 

Hypnotoad
All Hail Hypnotoad!

But, in reality it’d be someone like Raistlin Majere from Dragonlance. I think Raistlin would enjoy the challenge of a good roleplaying game, I think he’d take it seriously and he wouldn’t accept shenanigans from other players. I also get the overall feeling that he’d probably make quite a good Keeper or Storyteller. The only downside is that he might end up working against the party but I suspect that he’d have a very detailed and interesting story behind why that was the case.

If it wasn’t Raistlin, an established fictional character, it’s be my own NPC, Trebor Minntt. It’s easy to explain why, he’s basically my avatar in Planescape and so I think we’d probably play well together but that seems like the very easy answer.

RPGaDay 2016 Day 7- What aspect of RPGs has had the biggest effect on me?

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I’ve been a roleplayer for most of my life, well over 2 decades and before that I played wargames and before that I watched Dungeons and Dragons the cartoon. Even before I know what roleplaying was I was roleplaying, running around the school yard pretending to be Hank the Ranger, or a Transformer or a Thundercat.

I can’t think of an aspect of my life that hasn’t, in some way, been influenced by roleplaying, whether it’s writing this blog, the books I read, the TV shows and movies I enjoy, hell even the friends I have. Ask my wife and she’d probably say that the part thats had the biggest impact is the sheer amount of stuff released (and that I seem to be compelled to buy). Through it all though, the same aspect of roleplaying has had the biggest impact on me and it is the very thing that drew me to the hobby in the first place, storytelling.

Way back, before I knew RPGs were a thing, I played Heroquest, a GW game produced by MB Games and in that I played a mage and that mage developed into a character as the story of the campaign developed. Later, a friend introduced me to Dragonlance and it was those stories that made me want to create my own.

The storytelling of RPG’s lets me live and and experience in worlds beyond ours, worlds where the impossible is an everyday occurrence and where I feel what it’s like to be someone else. In the same way as actors like to step into the shoes of the character, be they hero or villain, I like to do the same, to explore what it’s like be someone else and do things that I would never normally consider doing, even if they were possible.

Not all of those things are heroic or good, but within a safe space, with my friends, we can explore the stories of the various heroes and villains of a world and collaboratively tell their story. Playing a villain can be a very cathartic experience, taking frustrations harmlessly and helping to build the greater story of the campaign and, more so, an effective, memorable villain makes the story, if you don’t believe me just watch Game of Thrones.

I still read, still watch films and TV, play computer games and more and in all cases my favourite thing is the story, how characters and events evolve and expand to become a cohesive whole within the context of their setting. Everything is about the story for me, from the things I choose to watch to the things I choose to do, above all, it’s the story that matters and that comes from Roleplaying.

RPGaDay 2016- Day 5, Stories others tell about my character

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This one is REALLY hard, mostly because I’m primarily the DM and while I often run DMPCs I do my best to not shine too much so that the players get to be the heroes. Even in the last several years I’ve generally been the DM, aside from playing in a few of my friends various 40k RPG campaigns and, in those, the real highlight points for my characters seem to revolve around improbable dice rolls more than actual actions.

I’ve have to go back a fairly long way to something that really stands out to me and, in a funny twist of fate, none of my current group were actually in the game, in fact I didn’t even know any of them at the time. It was probably the best part of 18 or so years ago and we were playing in a Ravenloft Campaign.

When Black Roses Bloom

We were in Sithicus, playing through the pre-written adventure ‘When Black Roses Bloom’. This adventure holds a special place in my heart because of my love of the Dragonlance and the extended story that Lord Soth received as a result of him being drawn into the Mists. There is a particular part in the last third of the adventure in which you encounter Soth, on his throne, seemingly comatose and exploration brings you to a series of mirrors that seem to be playing images, memories, from parts of the ill-fated Solamnic Knight’s past.

The party enter these mirrors and try to change events with the overall goal of trying to awaken Soth from his slumber in order to protect his domain. One such memory involves trying to stop Soth, while he is still alive, from making a terrible mistake. We spent quite a lot of time discussing what to do, how to distract him or restrain him and time was running out. In a moment of madness I yelled “let’s all dive on Soth” and proceeded to launch myself at him, bodily, wrestling him to the ground.

The next few minutes were spent frantically tussling with the knight, trying to hold him back and, at one point, saw my character sat on his chest, punching him in the face. Most surprisingly the plan worked, we managed to restrain Soth long enough for the course of events to change.

So that’s the one for me, I don’t have anything like many of my friends characters, things like tracking rocks, dying twice in a single minute to the same trap, killing an ancient dragon with a single dragonlance or withstanding hours of torture. My entire claim to fame, the stories the bards sing about my character, is the “let’s all dive on Soth” moment.

Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- Age of Mortals

Name: Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- The Age of Mortals
Type: Accessory
Publisher: Sovereign Press
System: Dungeons and Dragons any edition
Setting: Dragonlance
Pages: N/A
Cover: Softcover
Price: Out of print
Rating: 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Tasslehoff's Map Pouch- Age of Mortals, Cover

There are some things in a collection that are considered prized possessions, items that mean more to you than they would to others because of their rarity, because of their link to a cherished memory or because of who gave them to you. Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- Age of Mortals is one such item for me and it’s for all 3 reasons and more.

Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch- Age of Mortals was released as part of the D&D 3rd ed range of Dragonlance products that Sovereign Press produced. At that time Sovereign Press, owned by Margaret Weis, had licensed Dragonance from Wizards of the Coast and was producing a line of books that covered various periods from the classic ‘War of the Lance’ line all the way into the ‘Age of Mortals’ and ‘War of Souls’. Tas’s Map Pouch was released as part of a series of map based accessories and was the first product in that line.

All the maps were drawn by Sean Macdonald and the cover art for the set was created by Larry Elmore and Ken Whitman. The cover is particularly nice, being a really good up close illustration of the irrepressible Kender behind a table of maps, that may or may not be his but are definitely about to make their way into his possession.

In the set you get 12 maps. Eleven of these are A4 sixed small maps and then there is a single poster sized map. The maps included are-

  • Ansalon in the Age of Mortals- this is the poster sized map.
  • Solace
  • The Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth
  • Citadel of Light
  • City of Teyr
  • City of Solanthus
  • City of Sanction
  • Nalis Aren- The Lake of Death
  • Storm’s Keep
  • Darkling Hall
  • Ansalon in the Age of Mortals as drawn by Tas
  • The Desolation

Tas's Map Pouch- Age of Mortals, Poster Map

I’ll start with the poster map as it’s one of my most treasured possessions. As expected the map covers Ansalon in the Age of Mortals, which means such things as The Desolation and the Great Swamp are depicted since huge swaths of the continent were reshaped by the Great Dragons during this era. Also, because of the era, there are some notable changes to the map from the more well-known earlier periods and the most prominent is the absence of the maelstrom in the Blood Sea of Istar.

While it’s not my favourite era it is a truly stunning map, accurately showing the scale of the continent (which is much smaller than you’d think at around 1300 miles wide and 870 miles long) and defining the individual regions. While I know where places are, seeing them in context helps bring the setting to life in a whole different way and being able to actually point to places during games really helps my players understand where they are and what is close by. I like the fact that the map also references other continents like Taladas and Ithun’carthia and shows their locations in relation to Ansalon as we as showing where notable places like the Isle of Gargeth would be.

The map has hundreds of locations named on it, from major cities like Palanthas and Solace, to holy sites relevant to individual gods (who are no longer relevant in the Age of Mortals) and other places of interest such as the feared Dargaard Keep. I’m sure that some places have been missed, perhaps because they aren’t relevant to the setting in this era or because they were only ever mentioned in passing in a single novel or sourcebook but, to my mind, everything important seems to be on there, everything I’ve looked for anyway, and so it seems to pretty complete.

It’s not really relevant to the review but when it was in production you could buy directly from Sovereign Press and, if you did, you could request it be signed by Margaret Weis. It’s this signature that makes the map so valuable to me, and it reads ‘May Dragons fly Ever in your Dreams, Margaret Weis’.

Of the other maps nearly all are of recognisable locations to fans of the fluff but there is one exception and that’s Darkling Hall-

Tas's Map Pouch, Age of Mortals, Darkling Hall

Darkling Hall doesn’t exist in the fluff for the setting as far as I’m aware and was inserted as a location that GM’s could use to make their own stories around. I like this idea as one of the biggest criticisms of Dragonlance as a setting is that PC’s can never really live up to the legends of the character sin the main fluff and so adding an interesting and exciting new location helps drive a different approach.

Darkling Hall looks to be a temple to all of the dark gods, located somewhere near a place known as the City of Shadows (which I confess to also not knowing so I presume it’s also an invention for this map). It is 8 sided with an alcove for each of the gods surrounding a area, perhaps a reflecting pool, which shows the constellations of the evil gods high as they would be seen in the night sky. This central chamber is known as the Chamber of Trials and each god appears to have a trial associated with them, such as the Trial of Immortality for Chemosh or the Trial of Vengeance for Sargonnas.

The only explanation given relates to the Hall of Warning which looks to be the entrance and this takes the form of a written warning that advises that those of evil intent can pass a single challenge to ‘dwell among their kind’ while good hearted individuals must face all 8 challenges. There is a lot of possibilities that the DM can expand upon in using this room with each element providing more and more story opportunities.

Tas's Map Pouch, Age of Mortals, Solace map

No collection of maps for Krynn would be complete without a map of Solace, the city famous for being the start of the Companion’s quest during the War of the Lance. Solace is about as iconic a place in the Dragonlance setting as it’s possible to have and it’s nice to see a full colour map of it. As it’s set during the Age of Mortals the map legend includes things like the Last Heroes Tomb, commemorating those who dies during the War against Chaos as well as the Academy of Sorcery founded by Palin.

The Inn of the Last Home is, of course features, as is the Trough, the rougher tavern at the opposite end of town that is generally frequented by mercenaries and other lowlifes. As expected the drawing is filled with trees, as befitting Solace, although a great many dwellings now cover the ground as well since the settlement has expanded over the years since the War of the Lance.

Tas's Map Pouch Age of Mortals- tower of Wayreth

Another nice inclusion is the Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth. While the sourcebook Towers of High Sorcery contains significantly more information about the tower, it doesn’t include a map and for a place that may well be visited by just about any Wizard character in the game, having a map is a nice thing, even if you never actually need it to run the Test of High Sorcery.

This map is split, covering an aerial map of the compound and then a floor by floor breakdown of the two towers that make up the Tower itself. The only downside really is that having a map takes little bit of the mystery out of the location, a place that should inspire wonder and dread in equal measures, but you can’t have it both ways.

Of the other maps 3 cover cities, Teyr, Solanthus and Sanction and these are of great use when running the game as I find being able to properly help player orientate in a city helps it feel more real and so bring the setting alive in their minds. Of the 3 only Sanction is what I’d call a tier one city, having been the site of numerous important events, especially in the Age of Mortals and beyond. On a personal note though, I like having Solanthus as my own games invariably end up in middle Solamnia at some point and Solanthus makes a good stopping off place. Personally I would have preferred Palanthas but that may well have appeared in the later War of the Lance or Legends map collections.

Two of the maps cover citadels/fortresses, these being Goldmoon’s Citidel of Light and Storms Keep, headquarters of the Knights of Takhisis and Ariakan’s personal abode. Neither is a must have but as both are of great importance during the period, being the symbolic seats of power for the opposing sides of light and dark, they are a solid inclusion.

Tas's Map Pouch, Age of Mortals, Nalis Aren Map

One map is of a wilderness location, being Nalis Aren, the Lake of Death that was once the great Elven city of Qualinesti. These isn’t much to this one, just a short legend defining where notable features of the city, such as the Tower of the Sun, were and the body of the great green dragon Beryl. To be honest this didn’t need to be in the set, it’s an important feature of the period but the map doesn’t really show anything and fluff in the Age of Mortals book more than suffices to cover this.

The last two maps are area maps. One is Tas’s own map of Ansalon in the Age of Mortals (if the signature is to be believed) and serves to be a solid in game hand out of the world. The other is a similar map of the Desolation, the north eastern area of Ansalon that has been taken over by the great red dragon, Malys and turned into a veritable hellhole. Most notable here is the location of the kender city of Kendermore, destroyed by Malys due to her hatred of that race. This map is apparently the property of the kender Kronn Thistleknot, presumably the descendant of the kender hero Kronin Thistleknot.

On the whole this is a nice collection. At the time of release it wasn’t prohibitively expensive and so it made for a nice addition to the collection. It had neither crunch nor fluff and no source material is included to support anything, something that isn’t really a problem but it would have been nice to perhaps have details of where supporting fluff could be found in within the Dragonlance range.

I’m happy with it, but I know I have rose tinted glasses for the setting and especially because of the signed poster-map. There are certainly weak maps in the set, like Nalis Aren, but those that are good are really good and nice to have. I wouldn’t pay a lot for the set and that makes it hard to find now in the UK if Amazon and Ebay are anything to go by, but if you do see a good quality copy out there for something resembling retail price it’s certainly a worthy addition to your collection.

 

Dragonlance: The Prologue

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The campaign starts in the Autumn, in 343AC, in the village of Digfel in Abanasinia. The would be heroes are all children living in the village and this prologue tells the story of their first adventure together.

At this point in the story Aldorin has only been in town for a few weeks, hit mother staying here as it is one of the few places that the young elf has been able to make friends. Thorin is you but apprenticed to the village blacksmith and is learning his trade there. The group of children are all of like physical and mental age and play together when their chores are done, either in their tree-house of Solace, in an old abandoned water mill or in some nearby caves reported to be haunted.

The day started like many others, with the children meeting on the edge of town, just after midday. However something about that day was a little different, their friend Talimarious didn’t show up and so they went to call on him. When they arrived at his house they were alarmed to find out that Tally (as they affectionately called him) wasn’t there and, more alarmingly, that his mother didn’t remember him and that his bedroom was being used as a pantry. The asked around town to try and understand what was going on and were met with accusations of tall tales regarding their friend, no-one, except for them, could remember him.

Unsure as to what to do the group decided to search their most common play spots, to see if they could find any clues as to what had happened to Tally. They first checked their Tree-House, but found nothing there and so just picked up with wooden swords and shields and made their way to the Abandoned Mill. Here they found tracks of some kind of humanoid leading into the attached house. Closely looking at the tracks they determined that they were recent and look like they were made by some kind of goblinoid.

Taking great care they managed to sneak into the house and up the stairs without alerting the creature and they ambushed it as it was in it’s makeshift lair. Now, being around 10 years old, a single goblin posed quite a challenge for the diminutive heroes and what followed was a frantic 30 seconds of trying to beat the knife wielding goblin around the head with a rusty skillet what the wannabe wizard through handfuls of flour at it hoping that some of the random gibberish would turn out to be the words to a spell.

Eventually the goblin was defeated after the dwarf, Thorin, managed to leap on it’s back, grapping it to the ground while it was blinded from the flour and Remus knocked it out with the skillet, now dubbed the Skillet of Justice. Feeling rather proud of themselves the group wrapped the goblin up in as much rope as they could find and paraded him through the village before receiving a 2 steel piece rewards, spending it on sweetcakes and then running around hyperactive on sugar for the rest of the day. Of their missing friend, Talimarious, there was still no sign.

The last place to search was the haunted caves. No one knew why they were haunted and the group just recall that it was the older children that passed down this secret knowledge to them. REMUSXX did all that he could to perpetuate this myth and had previously put a scarecrow in the caves to provide a suitably ominous presence for anyone sneaking inside. As always the group approached the caves cautiously, entering through the narrower northern entrance. No-one had ever actually seen a ghost hear but that didn’t stop them creeping forward with fear in their hearts. As they approached the first cavern they heard a noise, something scuttling in the darkness before a wolf pounced on Bastion, who was leading the party. The wolf sank it’s teeth deep into the child’s arm and, in that one act, gave Bastion a lifelong distrust on all wild animals. For it’s effort the wolf earned a solid smack to the face with a wooden sword and ran away whimpering.

While Bastion nursed his wounded arm under the care of Aldoran, Thorin and Remus searched the complex of caves and found that a recent cave in had caused a hole to appear in the floor of the second cavern and that the pit seemed to descend into some form of dwarf made complex that was previously unknown. Remus returned to town to acquire rope but, being particularly intrigued by the idea of dwarven ruins Thorin obtained himself a suitable branch to use as a makeshift ladder and descended into the complex below to find that he was in a corridor, blocked at one end by a cave in and with a door in the other. While the complex certainly appeared to be of dwarven craftsmanship it was human sized in all other proportions.

Thorin proceeded to search alone, creeping cautiously forward through the first stone door and into a room containing the plinths of 5 statues, long since damaged beyond recognition. Another door lead to an north/south corridor and wide hallway with a large set of double doors, made of stone and brass and bearing the image of a fiery gate. Feeling that this last door would indeed lead to treasure Thorin put caution and thoughts of his lost friend to one side and approached eagerly, in doing so setting off a trap and falling into a pit.

When Thorin hadn’t returned the rest of the party set out to look for him, now using RemusS’s newly liberated rope. They found him quickly and managed to pull him free of the pit and after he dusted himself off he was a bit worse for wear but able to stumble along behind the rest of the party. At this point Hett, another of their friends who has been stuck doing chores, turned up and advised Bastion that his mum wanted him and it looked like he might be grounded for getting into a fight with a goblin.

The rest of the group, now with Hett appraised of their missing friend, made their way through the corridor heading north and after it turned west found 2 locked doors, one in each of the north and south wall. Hett and Remus worked together and managed to pick the lock on the southern door with their rudimentary equipment, revealing a room that may once have been a bedchamber for a number of human sized occupants, judging by the rotten remains of beds and mattresses. The northern door revealed little more, with just some smashed pottery, glass and a stone alter in the room.

Further around the corridor, that had taken a southern turn, they found 2 more doors, locked but leading to larger rooms. The eastern door appeared to lead to another bedroom, but with just a single bed inside. The western door was more curious after a glance through the door revealed another stone alter, but once it was unlocked (with Remus setting off another trap, which would have poisoned him had the poison not long since dried up) the room was shown to be clean, tidy and sparsely furnished as a bedroom. Aldorin surmised that the room must have a powerful illusion cast upon it but after trying hard to disbelieve concluded that Thorin had simply made a mistake and the group moved on.

The corridor took another turn, this time east and another two doors were found. Aldorin followed the corridor round a further turn to the north to discover that it liked back up with the original corridor to form a square. Of the two new doors, one couldn’t be opened and the other seemed to lead to some form of a library. The walls were covered, floor to ceiling with bookcases containing all manner of books and scrolls that Aldorin surmised must be magical from the runic writing on their spines. Summoning all of his power he cast a mighty spell of Detect Magic and found that all of the books and scrolls were protected by a powerful spell, all except one, a scroll buried beneath some detritus on the floor, a scroll bearing the necromantic spell of Animate Dead.

While Aldorin was “playing with boring books” as Remus put it, Remus and Hett made their way back to the mighty double doors, convincing each other of the magnificent treasures that must be held within. They knew the door was locked but with the open pit could find no reasonable way to reach the door to try and pick it and hit upon the plan of taking the bed from the neat and tidy room and using it as a ladder/stepping stone. Between the two of them they managed to manoeuvre the bed to the door but, try as they might, they couldn’t get it out of the door, either one would slip, or it would get jammed in the door or, in one instance, it simply vanished from sight as it crossed the threshold. This convinced them that magic may indeed be responsible but, again, they were unable to see through whatever illusion may have existed.

It was around this time that the children decided that they may need to go home for supper and vowed to return the next day to discover the secrets of the big room.

On day 2 they completed their chores as normal and discovered Bastion was still not allowed out to play so they went onto the caves without him. Descending down into the dwarven halls once more they approached the pit in front of the double doors. Thorin had hit upon a reasonable idea and had brought along a hammer and nails and went about constructing a platform to bridge the two sides of the pit and allow Remus and Hett to try and pick the lock. Despite REMUS’s reservations as to the sturdiness of a platform built by an apprentice blacksmith he risked using it anyway and consequently fell down the pit when it broke, twisting his ankle.

Aldorin noticed that there were large stone carvings above the door, and hit upon the idea of throwing a rope over them to suspend Hett in front of the door so he could open it. While the plan seemed dubious, it worked and the doors were unlocked causing the party to scurry to safety behind a nearby wall in case some huge creature swooped out and tried to eat them. Using a branch gathered earlier Thorin carefully pushed the door open from a distance so as to avoid any potential traps or protective wards that may have been set to guard the room. No such defensive measures were forthcoming but the group were met with an unholy screaming and flickering prismatic lights as the door edged open.

Hett, the first to enter, found himself in a large room with an arcane looking circle dominating it’s middle. Floating above the circle, surrounded by a bubble of roiling prismatic smoke was the source of the screaming, their missing friend Talimarious. The bubble was being bombarded with bolts of crackling energy emanating from 3 vases set upon ornate marble stands, in 3 of the corners of the room. A 4th vase lay broken on the floor in the north west corner. A quick search found a reset switch for the pit trap which allowed the others easy entry into the room and they instantly set upon throwing stones at the remaining vases to break them, under the belief that this would help their friend.

It was at this time that Bastion, having managed to sneak out of his house joined the group once more just in time to see one of the vases break., Aldorin was the first to strike true, shattering the south east vase with a ray of frost that left him exausted and this set of a chain of events that they would remember for a long long time and that would leave permanent scars on the children.

The room erupted with an almighty explosion, blinding all inside and bolts of light rebounded off the walls, striking both Aldorin and Thorin. Thorin began to run, heading out of the door and back to the entrance as a thick green acid fog began to rapidly fill the room, seeping out of all 4 vases. Of Talimarious there was no sign.

The group tried to run but the smoke got to Remus before he could plant a step, forcing Hett to run back and rescue him, carry his friend on his shoulders. Aldorin, exhausted from his spell, staggered after Hett and Remus, forcing his wearing feet to carry him forward faster than should have been possible. Bastion, struck with the terrible awe of the moment, was the last to leave, barely escaping as the acid fog descended on him, horribly burning the right side of his face.The group escaped with their lives, but without their missing friend. They returned to town changed by their experience, brought closer as a group and, although they didn’t know it, with a destiny mapped out for them.

Also, they were all pretty much grounded for the rest of their childhood and none of them could sit down for a week.

Dragonlance: The Characters

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My Dragonlance party is made up of 5 characters. As this is a War of the Lance era Dragonlance campaign there are several restrictions on what classes and races would be available and several changes to existing classes and races to fit the setting. Several of those changes mean that the classes don’t quite balance the same way as things have been removed without being replaced, such as Ranger spells.

I have allowed the players to make changes to the available proficiencies in their classes and backgrounds to fit the theme of the character that they want to play, based on the story they have developed.

The Characters

Remus Cartwright, Male, Human, Rogue with the Charlatan background. Remus was born and raised in Digfel in Abanasinia and is the owner of the town inn, which is a family business. He is an extremely charismatic and good looking man and he uses this to his advantage when it comes to conning strangers and travellers out of their money, be that at cards, in inflated drinks prices and services or just base thievery.

Hett. Male, Human, Fighter with the Outlander background. Hett was also born and raised in Digfel but left the town at a young age in order to seek his fortune in the city of Haven, which is where he learned his trade as a tracker and bounty hunter. Hett is a moral man, seeking to bring criminals to justice rather than simply working for pay but he is not above underhanded tactics in order to apprehend his target, such as breaking and entering. This profession found him working alongside his childhood friend Bastion much of the time.

Thorin Ironhammer. Male, Hill Dwarf, Fighter with the Folk Hero background. Thorin is a Hill Dwarf whose family originate in Hillhome in Abanasinia. At a young age Thorin was apprenticed to the blacksmith in Digfel as part of a repayment of a life debt that his parents owed to the blacksmith. Thorin is a typical dwarf in many respects, he loves working with his hands and taking part in physical activities and he loves being underground. Due to events that took place during his childhood Thorin appears to age rapidly and has developed the physical and mental capabilities of an adult dwarf by the age of just 18, which causes many other dwarves to view him with distrust.

Aldorin Hytanthas. Male, High Elf, Wizard with the Hermit background. Aldorin is, for all intents and purposes, a dark elf. Born a Qualinesti Elf, Aldorin has spent much of his life outside the forest, in a travelling merchant caravan. When Aldorin was a baby his father and brother, both Wildrunners, were attacked on patrol, resulting in the death of his father. His bother went missing during the attack and the only clue found was a broken bow and a shattered bronze amulet. Crazed with grief, Aldorin’s mother, a White Robed Wizard, began to research forbidden magic looking for answers and when she was found out she, and Aldorin were cast out of Qualinost and labelled Dark Elves.

Aldorin has a deep mistrust of other elves, especially Qualinesti, and finds it hard to make friends. His mothered settled in Digfel for a while as he made friends there but, eventually she moved on and he stayed behind, feeling at least a basic connection to the town and his friends. His goal is to take the Test of High Sorcery and take the Red Robes, hoping to eventually find answers as to what happened to his father and brother. Due to events that took place during his childhood Aldorin appears to age rapidly and has developed the physical and mental capabilities of an adult elf by the age of just 18, which causes many other elves to view him with distrust.

Bastion Winter. Human, Ranger with the Soldier Background. Bastion was born in Solamnia, at least that’s what he was told by his mother, he doesn’t remember it. Bastion’s father, a Solamnic Knight forced Bastion and his mother to flee to Abanasinia when he was just a baby, fearing for their lives as the mobs rose up against Knighthood.

Bastion is a dour man with a face scarred by acid from a childhood event and a particular hatred of wild beasts from the same escapade. His demeanour means he spends much of his time alone, although he has been ardent in learning the craft of war, hiring himself out as a guard and medic on several merchant caravans since his late teens in addition to accompanying Hett on several bounty hunting missions. Bastion’s overall goal is to return to Solamnia and follow in his father’s footsteps, joining the Knighthood and eventually elevating his family name once more.

 

#RPGaDAY 2015 Day 21, Favourite RPG Setting

RPGaDAY2015

This is another tough one, after 20+ years of gaming I’ve gained huge amount of love and respect for a number of settings, for different reasons and what my favourite varies based on my mood and whatever I’m running/planning at the time. I can narrow it down to 3 and that’s where I get stuck-

  • Planescape
  • Shadowrun
  • Dragonlance

Looking at Planescape, that was the first setting I collected to any great degree and remains a firm favourite to this day. I think Sigil is a fascinating place and is literally full of possibilities, absolutely endless possibilities.  I like the fact that you can do anything in Planescape, send PC’s to any setting, use any enemy and we’ve stories on a scale that can’t be managed on the Prime Material Plane. Additionally I love the art work and style of Planescape with it’s almost Victorian London feel and it’s rough, jagged lines.

Shadowrun is different, where Planescape is vast and endless, Shadowrun is immensely detailed on a very small scale. As I’ve mentioned before, Shadowrun is probably the single most detailed setting I’ve ever read or played, with fans of the world being able to follow and debate political careers and campaigns and chart the rise and fall of Megacorporations. Shadowrun presents itself as a living world, evidenced by the way the sourcebooks are written in game, with commentary from Shadowland (and later Jackpoint) members who provide detail, rumours and background. Shadowrun works as a logical progression from the real world and evolves as a result of our own technological advancement and I appreciate that as it always feels futuristic.

However, at the end of it all, I’s probably say my favourite is Dragonlance, but it’s a close call. Dragonlance wins it out because it’s a setting I’ve loved and lived in since I was 9 years old. For the longest time I refused to even consider running it as an rpg setting, fearing that I couldn’t do it justice, but when I finally did run a party on Krynn I found that my love for the world helped me craft a deeper, more involved story. Dragonlance works because it doesn’t run like normal D&D, the lack of magic items, the absence of the cleric (in the War of the Lance era anyway), and the requirement that all mages take the Test means players need to think more about how to approach encounters.

Dragonlance is fantasy at it’s best and the fantasy that people want to play, it’s swords and sorcery, it’s romance and love, tragedy, elation, comradeship and more all rolled into a deep and interesting world.

 

RPGaDay 2015 Day 17, Favourite Fantasy RPG

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I’m trying to remember the different fantasy RPGs i’ve played. I don’t think it’s all that many, especially if you only could the whole of D&D as one. Off the top of my head its-

  • D&D in it’s myriad of forms and settings.
  • Stormbringer
  • WFRP (specifically 3rd ed)
  • Earthdawn
  • Numenera
  • Runequest

The question is an easy one to answer though, it’s D&D, it’s not just my favourite fantasy RPG, it’s my favourite RPG period.

Other fantasy games are fun but nothing quite achieves the same goal as D&D, especially when you take into account the various settings. If I want a horror setting I have Ravenloft, if I want low magic, Dragonlance, high fantasy noir, Eberron and for limitless possibilities I turn to Planescape.

I like other games, I love the setting of WFRP (pre End Times, I’m not sold on Age of Sigmar) with its black comedy and ever-present threat of falling to Chaos. I like Earthdawn for all it’s little nods and links to Shadowrun and I think my feelings about Numenera are pretty apparent but this point.

Runequest I enjoyed, no so much for the system or setting (in fact I could literally tell you nothing about the setting), but because of one particular character, Ralph the Goatherd. Ralph is one of may favourite all time characters, he was stupid, being barely more intelligent than the parties ogre who, in turn was barely more intelligent than his pet/lover bison named Fluffy. He adventured because he’d lost his goats (because the ogre ate them) and saved the world a couple of times by accident.

Unfortunately I think my experiences with Stormbringer (as detailed a little on day 16) soured me on the setting, despite being a fan of Moorcock and Elric of Melnibone.

RPGaDay 2015 Day 12, Favourite RPG Illustration 

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Art is as ingrained in the RPG world as the writing. Art brings to life the visions of writers and authors and shows us worlds that only exist in the shared vision of those that write and play in them. Art makes citadels fly, it lets the dead rise and it lets the gods walk the earth with impunity.

Trying to pick a single illustration from the thousands that I’ve seen over the years is a very hard task. Even narrowing it down to a genre is pretty hard and the only thing I can definitely say with certainty is that I tend to prefer the art in classic products more than the more recent ones. That isn’t to say that the newer books don’t contain excellent art, Numenera (yeah, I know, I won’t shut up about it) has some absolutely stunning pieces of art, but generally I prefer the classic hard drawn style over modern computer generation imagery.

It goes without saying that any of the images i show here are copyrighted, either by the artist or by Wizards of the Coast.

Some of my favourite art comes from Tony DiTerlizzi who illustrated a huge amount of the Planescape products. His style is very raw and made up of sharp line drawings. To me his art exemplifies Planescape in general and Sigil especially, with it’s sharp edged buildings and grimy feel. His Pit Fiend in particular seems to really capture his artistic style-

diterlizzi pit fiend

Another fantasy favourite is Larry Elmore, one of the great mainstays of fantasy artwork. It could easily be argued that Elmore illustrated my childhood, with the iconic images from the covers of the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends all being his work, in addition to the dozens of D&D products he illustrated over the years. His use of vivid colours to capture the horror and majesty of a fantasy world is unrivalled in my opinion.

Larry Elmore, Dragons of Spring Dawning

 

 

In a slight change from the generic fantasy theme, I also like a great amount of the early Shadowrun artwork, especially the cover of books like Sprawl Sites. My favourite of all though is probably the cover of the original core rules, which features the iconic characters of Ghost who Walks Inside, Dodger and Sally Tsung. This piece is also by Larry Elmore-

Shadowrun by Larry Elmore

Along those same lines is Jeff Easley, who also illustrated a great many of the early Dragonlance and D&D products. To me his Raistlin in the Tower of High Sorcery is the definitive image of the great mage and graced my desktop many a time. I like the fact that this shows Raistlin in his natural habitat, with all of the trappings of a powerful archmage and looking strong and powerful. It make you remember his humanity but gives you glimpses of the lengths he is willing to go to in his quest for power.

Jeff Easley, Raistlin in the Tower of High Sorcery

I think my favourite illustration though, is by Keith Parkinson. Before I get to that I’d like to mention another great picture of his, the oil painting ‘The Last Spell of Fistandantilus’, which depicts Raistlin battling his master, the archmage Fistandantilus in the Tower of High Sorcery in Istar, which was originally in the 1987 Dragonlance Calendar and later graced the cover of Time of the Twins. This is a magnificent image and it really captures by mages well and proves Parkinson’s skill at capturing the personality the evil characters. I also particularly like the fact that if you look closely enough you can see a tiny Tardis sat on a shelf in the back of the room.

Keith Parkinson, The Last Spell of Fistandantilus

In the end though, my very favourite image is Lord Soth’s Charge. This is another from the 1987 Dragonlance Calendar and later graced the cover of Test of the Twins, the book in which the charge actually takes place, at the siege of Palanthas. This is a spectacular oil and acrylic painting that fully captures the sheer terror of seeing the Death Knight and his company charging towards you. Soth is an enduring character epitomises the tragedy of great story telling. Lord Soth’s charge is an enduring image for me, one I have framed on the wall of my games room because it always reminds me of the conclusion to one of the greatest series of books I’ve ever read. In the end, that’s what art is for, to evoke memories and emotion, to take you back to something momentous, being is elating or tragic and this painting, more than any other, does it for me.

Keith Parkinson, Lord Soth's Charge

RPGaDay 2015 Day 11, Favourite RPG Writer

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This was always going to come down to two particular writers for me but before I discuss them, and pick a favourite, I think some other folk need an honourable mention. Keith Baker is first, for Eberron, amongst other things. Eberron was developed specifically for D&D 3.5 and I was shocked that it was god enough to stand against the great D&D campaign settings from the past. Eberron is a fantastic world that brought something new to D&D and Keith deserves major credit for that.

Next up is the combined team of Weis and Hickman. Now they get a mention mostly because of the Dragonlance novels, which isn’t specifically RPG related. However both have had significant involvement in other settings such as the original Castle Ravenloft, which kickstarted that setting and the Margaret Weis’s own companies development of such lines as Serenity, Dragonlance, Supernatural and others, including the excellent Cortex system.

But, as I’ve said, it was always going to come down to two people for me, Monte Cook and the late, great, Nigel Findley.

Monte Cook’s list of RPG achievements is huge. The man was instrumental in Planescape, which is one of the most ingenious campaign settings of all time. He wrote Ptolus, which is a holy grail item for me and one I often kcik myself for not picking up many years back. Then there is 3rd ed D&D, a game he co-developed and that set the standard for fantasy RPGs. Finally there is his latest ventures, Numenera, The Strange and the Cypher System. Anyone who has either read this series, or my Numenera reviews knows my love of that game and system and so Monte keeps going from strength to strength.

That brings me to Nigel Findley. Nigel died very young, in his 30’s but he left an indelible mark on two of my favourite campaign settings, Ravenloft and Shadowrun. In the former Nigel is responsible for the creation of Rudolph Van Richten, the famous monster hunter and archetypical hero for that setting. Van Richten’s name graced a long running series of books in Ravenloft, the Van Richten’s Guide to ……. series and these are some of the best in game fluff books in any setting, ever.

In Shadowrun Nigel developed the character of Dirk Montgomery in the novels of 2XS and House of the Sun. I mention these as RPG accessories since they are the books I give to new players to introduce them to the world of Shadowrun, being perfect examples of the tone and flavour of the setting. In terms of actual RPG products he wrote the magnificent source material in the Universal Brotherhood adventure and has heavily involved in the development and writing of the NAN books.

So who is my favourite? Of the two, I think I have to give it to Monte, by virtue of the sheer size of his body of work and how many of those aren’t just products I like, but ones I love. I have no doubt that had Nigel lived longer then he would have undoubtedly gone on to bigger and better things but with such a limited catalogue of work he gets out performed by Monte.