Showing posts with label Forgotten Realms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Forgotten Realms. Show all posts

Thursday, October 19, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #54

Again today is a bit of cheat. I had been going through all my October issues and this is the next one on the pile.  It's October 1981.  I am in the earliest days of my gaming life, having played Basic D&D pretty much exclusively but adding the bits from AD&D where we wanted. This would place me in 7th grade and my life was full of D&D and learning to program on a TRS-80 Model III.
Radio and the movies have been dominated by "Endless Love" and "Arthur" since August and on the shelves is Issue #54 of This Old Dragon!

Ok let's get to that cover.  I HATED it!  Not because it is bad or anything, but when I was little I had gotten really scared of the trees in the Wizard of Oz movie.  I also was scared of the Tree Monster from the terrible movie "From Hell it Came".  Poltergeist didn't help either. Ever since then Tree Monsters freak me out. Not today of course...that would be silly...(looks behind).
But all kidding aside it is actually a really fun cover.

We start of the issue with a letter from J.D. Webster concerning the fate of the comic Fineous Fingers.  FF was also that bit of D&D history that "predated" me. While I was playing and had been now for two years (little less) I was not reading Dragon yet and I had not even heard of White Dwarf.  I used things like FF to judge how long people had been playing.  If they talked about it I knew they had been more involved than me.  Plus one of the groups in town had a player (I forgot who) whose character was Fineous Fingers.   Oh, the letter.  Yeah, this is the last issue for FF.

There are some letters, mostly about a recent adventure competition.

Up first in real articles we have something from Ed Greenwood.  So this year (2017) I have been spending some time expanding my knowledge of the Forgotten Realms.   This article is one of the earliest articles on the Realms I know of.  Down-to-earth Divinity discusses how Ed has put together his Pantheon of Gods.   You can easily see how this evolved into the gods of the Realms.  I found it interesting that he includes the elemental gods from the Melnibonéan mythos. There are a lot of "reskinned" Deities and Demigods gods here too (which is the point of the article).  I liked that Ed specifically mentions that witches worship Selûne.  The article is long and seriously good.

A feature I loved in the past is present in this issue, The Dragon's Bestiary. We get a different version of the Boggart here, closer to it's Brownie origins. The Stroan, which looks like a giant water bug, and the Incubus.

Beware the Jabberwock is next by Mark Nuiver.  Background and stats for the creature and the poem that gave us the vorpal sword.

The centerpiece of this issue is the competition adventure for AD&D, Cavern Quest by Bill Fawcett.  It's a long one and has one of the most complex scoring systems I have seen. It might be fun to try with the right group.

Abomination is the fiction bit. Seems related to the cover.

Cash & Carry for Cowboys by Glenn Rahman is one of the very few Boot Hill articles I can recall reading in the pages of Dragon.  Odd that Boot Hill has not been remade in the wave of nostalgia hitting both WotC and the OSR.   It is a very useful price list of items for sale in the Old West.

Simulation Corner by John Prados looks like it was a semi-regular feature on Game Design.  This one, Practicing Game Design III Rules of Realism covers how to get realism into your game.  It might be interesting, in a purely academic sense, to compare this five-part series to what later would be said about GMS game theory or the work at The Forge.  My philosophy of game design is a simple one.  Do what is fun and serves the game the best.  Derive everything else from that.

Another favorite feature from the past, Bazaar of the Bizarre is next. This time we get More feather tokens by Edward J. Greenwood.   To go with a loose Halloween theme there is the Skull Mace, Mace of Pain and Jug of Undead.

Hmm...there is a continuation of an article on Ruins that I don't seem to have the first part of.

There is a silly little technology quiz on page 74.  At 11 I would have loved it. Today...it's like seeing an ad for polyester kung-fu pants.

We get a What's New. A Dragonmirth.  Both Wormy and Fineos Fingers in color.

Ads for both the D&D Basic set (A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure!)


Loved these ads. But you never got to fight a Purple Worm in Basic!

And and ad for the D&D Folders.


Always wanted one of these!

Great issue. Not very Halloween-filled, but still a lot of fun.

Here is what I said about White Dwarf #27 from the same month.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #123

Welcome back to This Old Dragon!  Today's issue, #123, is in such terrible shape with missing pages and mildew I am going to need to resort to the PDF more than once.  Let's go back to July 1987. I am working two jobs to make money for college and saving some time for my first "World Ending" campaign. A campaign that will see plot points and characters many, many years later in "The Dragon and the Phoenix" and "The Dragon Slayer's" games.  Let's get to it!

I grabbed this cover from the web, my copy does not have a cover anymore.  It is cool, but it doesn't rank in my favorite covers by any means. 
The first page I have is an ad for Gen Con 20 which is next month (August 20-23, 1987).  At this time Gen Con (they are using a space there) is in Milwaukee.

The special feature of this issue is "The Arcane Arts", so a lot on magic.  I do remember this section quite well.  I am sure I incorporated some of this into my 2nd Edition game, but I'll remember once I get back into it. 

On to the Letters. More calls for reprints of covers. A letter asking for more coverage of the D&D game, as opposed to the AD&D game.  The Rule Cyclopedia is still a couple of years away.  Another letter voices the first concerns about the Forgotten Realms taking over from Oerth and Krynn.  Sorry kid, but you haven't seen the worse of it yet! Thankfully things even out a few years later.

Ad for the Science Fiction Book Club. I had joined it by this point and I see many books I owned or would later own. A few I still own in fact!  Funny looking at them now through the haze of time and nostalgia I can't recall if they were all good books and I forgot OR were they great books and I can't remember OR were they bad books and my wistfulness for 1987 colors my memories. 


Ed Greenwood is up for the first article of the issue. Music of the Forgotten Realms. I am not sure how far off we are from the publication of the "Grey Box" campaign rules, but it can't be that far off.  I have been following the tone of these articles with interest since I have started to re-review this Dragons.  The tone of this one is the Realms are a thing now. Earlier articles the Realms seemed to be a long lost, dare I say it, forgotten place and time and the articles are Ed/Elminster's rememberings.  I know the actual verbs used in the articles do not support this claim but it is a feel. This one reads like something going on right now in this country you could visit right now. IF that is you choose to.

Ah, the main attraction. The Arcane Arts.

David Yates is up first with The Mystic College. Or in the modern parlance, Hogwarts for AD&D.  Drawing a lot on Dragonlance and not enough on Glantri this article covers how an AD&D Magic-user can create a school of wizardry.  There are some good ideas here too. Magic-users can start a school at 9th level.  Some rules are given on experience bonuses and some improved chances on learning new spells. The article itself is a long one, 10 pages of text, a covers a lot of ground. I read this article just when I was heading to college. Now I have spent nearly all my adult life in academics, reading this now has more excited that before. Though now I am interested in different details.  I have often felt that the "adventuring" wizard was one that not just sought out new or lost forms of magic, but needed to adventure to pay the high costs of wizard school!

Fire for Effect! is from Richard W. Emerich and details magical fires.  The Fred Saberhagen "Swords" books were very popular at this time, so I think I detect a note from those. At least in terms of what magical fire might be.  The various melting points of metals are also given. The article is kinda worth it just for these alone. 

Arcane Lore is a new column to feature new spells sent in by the readers.  First up is a bunch of spells from Avissar Fire-Eye, or known in this world as Harold Dolan.  I always like articles like these and spell names like this.  "Magic Missle" is fine as far as spell names go, but really it should be named after the mage that created or made it famous/infamous.  So "Bargle's Missle of Magic" is a better name.  We get some of that here.  Truthfully it is something I have gotten away from but really should go back to it.  There are some decent spells here too.  All are fire based.

Another new column is Lords & Legends which covers some NPCs for use in the any of the TSR worlds. Up first is Matt Iden with Yoshitsune, 13th level kensai/6th level monk, Benkei an 8th level shohei, and Hsu Hsun, an 23rd-level wu jen, 9th-level shukenja.  The "star" though is Miyamoto Musashi who is depicted as a 15th-level kensai.  I have no problem admitting that this is where I first heard of Musashi and A Book of Five Rings.  I picked up a copy from the SF/F Book Club and I still have it. 

Heather Gemmen is up next with Gamers Around the World: Putting the World Gamers Guide to use. Yes this is how we connected back then.  Well. One of the ways. In five years the usenet group rec.games.frp.dnd will form. 

The Ecology of the Giant Leech is next.  Sadly pages 51 and 52 are stuck to pages 53 and 54 so bad the reading them is difficult.  

Page 54 does have a an article about keeping time from Lisa Cabala called Time Flies. Helpful when you forget how long an AD&D turn, round and segment are.   Lots of nice time keeping charts.

Roger E.  Moore throws these careful charts out the window with his Just Making Time. In this he talks about making calendars for your own worlds.  Forgotten Realms took this to heart, and it is mentioned here. 

Moving past the part where the short story was, we come up to a Star Frontiers article. The Whole-Earth Ecology by Danny Kretzer discusses how to create the flora and fauna of a world.

The Marvel-Phile had other heralds of Galactus, but they are gone from this magazine. 

The Role of Books covers the then new books. Of note is a review for Mercedes Lackey's Arrow of the Queen. A book that will inspire a generation of gamers and some of those will go one to make Blue Rose.

Operation:Zondraker for Top Secret continues the "Moon for various RPGs" feature of Dragon/Ares.

Another ad. I know I spend a lot of time on these but they are much more of a time-capsule of what was happening in hobby even more so than reviews.  Case in point this one.


Obviously not the boxed set we all remember. It isn't even the ad I remember. The ad I recall was a semi-shadowed man (a game designer presumably) that looked nothing at all like Ed Greenwood, relaxing with his hands behind his head.  In truth, I can't even find that ad now.  Mandela Effect anyone?  I remember the ads being very pretentious.  This one does not seem that way. I do remember this picture and my thoughts were of Glorfindel riding to Rivendell with the Ringwraiths on his heels. I might have even asked people in my gaming group that the time if this was related to Tolkien.  Interesting really.

The Forgotten Realms feature prominently in the Previews section as well.  There are other reminders that for reasons best left undiscussed TSR was producing items for the Lazer Tag license.

We end with the comics.

The arcane stuff in this issue was great and worthy of a third look from me again.  The Realms material has got me thinking more and more about a Realms campaign.  We are after all hitting the 30 year publication anniversary.

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf magazine during the same month? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #91.

Monday, March 13, 2017

More Weekend Gaming in the Second Campaign

It was my youngest son's birthday last week so we spent the weekend having kids over and gaming.
I decided to run another session of my so-called "Second Campaign".
We had a variety of kids playing including some that have played before and some who never had played.  I stuck with Under Illefarn since there other adventures in the book that would work.

Also, I had 7 kids between the ages of 13-14 so I needed something to keep them all busy.
So I ran the "Rescue Mission" mini-adventure.  The conceit of having all the characters be part of the city guard is great and it worked out well for this group of mixed new and old characters. Plus we had three paladins, so that worked out well.


It took us three hours to play that adventure.

Overly caffeinated and sugar-dosed kids (birthday cake, ice cream) makes for some difficult times in focusing.  Plus I was tired, having worked on my son's computer all week and weekend to get it running (I failed, but that is a different tale for a different day).

I will give the kids credit, they caught up with the Baron that had kidnapped the Duke's sister and instead of fighting him made a VERY convincing plea to the Baron that why kidnapping is not a good way to profess your undying love to someone.  They managed to do such a good job that the Baron agreed to go back with them to the Duke and plead his case for the hand of Bronwyn (the Sister) to the Duke himself.  By the end of the adventure, they Baron and Duke were already discussing wedding plans in front of an aghast Bronwyn.  I know, not very forward thinking of me, but it was a time when people were married off for political alliances all the time.

Of course on the way they managed to fight some ghouls and rescue a band of pixies.  One of the pixies is now part of the city guard.   We had about an hour left so my oldest joined us and I had them take out a nest of ghouls.  The nest of ghouls was added by me, it was something that I have used in the past to great effect.

I have decided that I am going to spend more time on the personalities populating the Realms than my usual games.  I am still fairly sure that many of the "Big Names" won't be making an appearance, but it would be a shame if I didn't at least name-drop them.

One thing I am thinking of doing is have Demogorgon make an appearance or be a "thing" in this game.  Orcus has what, 30,000 adventures out there, Lolth has at least as many. But no one ever does anything with the Prince of Demons.

It will be this campaign that I introduce the multi-verse to the players and characters.

One character, in fact, is coming over from our Come Endless Darkness game.  Cynder is the daughter of one of the wizards of my 3rd Edition game. She made a brief appearance in the Come Endless Darkness game during one of the flashback adventures. The other characters had forgotten about her but when the flashback was done they remembered and began to wonder what happened to her.

She is going to wake up in the Realms and it will soon be discovered that she can wield Spellfire.  Why not. It is an homage to first ever Realms novel I ever read and I love that cover art from Clyde Caldwell.  How she got there is not as important as to why she got there.  Spellfire could have changed the tide of the war brewing in Come Endless Darkness.



This is going to be a great time.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Silverfall, Stories of the Seven Sisters

Syluné: Hail Witch-Queen of Aglarond!
The Simbul: Hail yourself Witch of Shadowdale. 
...
Syluné: Others of (our) sisters have vigor, and low contacts across Faerûn, and a love for danger. I have something rarer: patience.
The Simbul: While I have a hunger to kill Red Wizards.

I picked up this book based on recommendations by others.  I asked if there were any books that dealt with the Seven Sisters and The Simbul in particular.  This book was mentioned, but with a caveat that many people didn't like it.
I went into the book with an open mind.  I think I had it better than many becuase I have not really read a lot of Forgotten Realms books yet so I really had nothing to compare it too.  I really enjoyed the idea of the basic structure; seven short stories featuring each sister in an over-arching plot.   It is certainly a good idea, but how was it executed? Well...I'll get to that in a bit.

First up though, who are the Seven Sisters?  Well to people like me who are new to the Realms even I have heard of these women.  They are sisters (in the biological and mystical senses of the word) and daughters of the Goddess of Magic Mystra.  They had a human father and mother as well, but they are Mystra's.  "Chosen" in the book (though there are other Chosen).  They all share some basic traits, they are immortal, immune to some magics, unearthly beautiful (natch) and all have long silver hair.
They are (in order of their stories in the book):

Dove Falconhand, a renowned Knight of Myth Drannor.
Qilué Veladorn, a drow (her parent were human) and high priestess of he good drow goddess Eilistraee.
Laeral Silverhand, the Lady Mage of Waterdeep.
Alustriel, Lady of Silverymoon.
Syluné, Witch of Shadowdale and a ghost.
The Simbul, the Witch-Queen of Aglarond and maybe the most powerful.
Storm Silverhand, Harper, sorceress and Bard of Shadowdale.

One thing is obvious from the start. Greenwood loves these characters. They are very well defined in his mind and each has a unique voice. He makes you want to love them as well.  Sadly that makes some of the issues with the book more pronounced.
The overall story is an interesting one. There is a conspiracy of drow masquerading as humans, slavers, the involvement of various sell-swords, Red Wizards and Priestesses of Shar.  How are all of these various factions related? Why are they working together? What is their aim?
Each story follows a formula. The Sisters discovers the activity of some group with nefarious ends. The Sister goes in magics a-blazin' (more or less) and takes out all the mooks, some other big-badder guy comes in and beats the sister to a bloody pulp (sometimes magically, sometimes physically), she has to tag in the next sister.  Again there is nothing wrong with a formula, and if it is done well it can be a satisfying build up to a conclusion.
Sadly that is not what we get really.  The conclusion never lives up to the build up.  The troubles the sisters have never really justify the eventual revealed plot.

I had some other issues as well.  Each sister has some reason to take off her clothes and move around naked.  Even the ghost.  Granted for some, like Qilué, this is needed.  She is a High Priestess of Eilistraee so it is part of her religion.  Also there is an awful lot of the sisters kissing others "passionately" even people they just met or people they by no logical means should be kissing.  I guess this is all "fan service" really.
There is a bigger issue though.  The Sisters go in to each conflict over-confident and underestimating their enemy.  I get they are super-powerful and there needs be conflict worthy of their skills.  But sometimes they make really dumb choices to get to that point.  Not ones that powerful, intelligent, immortal magic wielding women should make.   Compare their actions to those of another powerful witch Rachel Morgan.  Rachel makes mistakes, but Rachel is in her mid-20s for most of her series and still learning.  The mistakes she make makes in her first books would not be repeated in later books.
They need to act a little more intelligent and a little less "Chaotic Bimbo".

To be fair, everyone told me this was a problem with this book.  I did enjoy it.
I was just hoping for more.


2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 8
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Certainly The Simbul and Syluné. Maybe even Qilué.  Myra the Dark is described as a cleric, but is very much a witch of Shar.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Mostly good, Myra is obviously evil.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Again, any edition of D&D would work, but this one is 3rd Edition. It does allow for better multiclassing. Most of the material though is based on the 2nd Edition versions I think.
Use in WotWQ: Hell yes! Like with Spellfire, this book is filled with ideas. I will certainly use these characters in my games. Now that I am playing in the Realms maybe the "Witch Queen" that is killed to start the War of the Witch Queens is The Simbul? I would hate to do that, but it would be a seismic shift in the game.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Second Campaign has Begun: Enter the Forgotten Realms

Another huge weekend of gaming this past weekend.  My son ran a game Saturday night with his group and on Sunday we started our new Forgotten Realms game.

We were having some old friends over on Sunday, people my wife went to high school with.  These are the people that traded high-tech jobs here in the suburbs to go out to the country and start a sustainable farm.  Not my life, I love my city-born conveniences too much, but they have turned it into something really cool.  Anyway, two of their three kids were coming over plus a friend and playing video games all day was not going to keep their attention.  All the kids expressed an interest in playing so I had about 12 hours to figure out what to do.

Of course the answer was right in front of me.  I pulled out my adventures for the Second Campaign and looked over some of the material I have been reading about the Forgotten Realms.  I had been thinking for a bit now that the best way to learn about the Realms is to jump in feet first. Sure I can read books, but what I really need to play in it using the books people used then.   After that everything clicked into place.  I was going to start the Second Campaign in the Forgotten Realms!  I know a lot of the adventures in my Second Campaign are very Greyhawk focused, but that is not a big deal really.  Not like I have not swapped out worlds before.  

A quick run to DriveThruRPG for a copy of N5 Under Illefarn and then print it out and I had my ready to go adventure.  I liked the module because A.) it had a bunch of mini-adventures for 1st level characters. B.) It gave them a base of operations in Daggerford. and C.) it was the first published Forgotten Realms labeled adventure so many people got their start right here.


Originally the Second Campaign was going to stick with AD&D1 rules, but since I had three new players I wanted to run something that might know and can easily pick up if they want to play themselves.   So after some debate with my oldest we settled on 5th Edition D&D.


I am going to run it though like an AD&D game. So no tieflings or dragonborn. More gnomes though, never have enough of those.

We ran through the "lizard man" portion of the adventure and it went over great. I have created a new gamers.

The charters will be a revolving cast by necessity; I need to make it flexible for people to be able to come in and out of the game whenever. Or if my kids have friends over and they want me to run something.  Starting in Daggerford gives me a nice locale and is still small enough scale that I don't need to worry about the world at large just yet.


I am going to follow the same basic plot/outline of the Second Campaign and add Realms lore in as it comes up.  Not sure yet how many of the famous characters of the Realms will show up, but that is a decision for a later day.

There are some things I need figure out.
1. What year, by Dale Reckoning, is it?  I started with Under Illefarn which is the beginning of the Realms in 1st Ed AD&D.  I am also using the Sword Coast book above for 5th Ed.  If I remember right there are a few hundred years between the two.  Now this may or may not matter.  But I at least want to get my NPC stories straight.

2. I need some good Spellfire 5th edition stats.  Cynder, who was lost in the Come Endless Darkness game, will show up here.  She is, more so than anyone, a perfect candidate for Spellfire.

3. Is this a different world in the same universe (evidence of that), a different universe OR even jsut the same world in the same universe, just another part of it.  The fact that it is 5th edition leads me to want to make it the same universe at least.

None of these questions need to be figure out today.  But I am going to want a direction to run here soon. That is where my reading will take me.

Here I am. In the Realms.  Just 30 years later than everyone else.
I gotta say, I really enjoying it so far.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Spellfire

"If it's Lady Spellfire they want then it is Lady Spellfire they shall have!" - Shandril Shessair

Shandril is just small town girl, living in a lonely world...a wait. Well, she is lonely and living in a small town. She is an orphan girl working for ex-adventurer Gorstag in his inn.  She dreams of going on an adventure of her own.  So seeing a potential group who are short a thief, she steals their weapons and lets them know that if they want them back they need to take her on.
Soon she is swept up in the glory of adventure...which mean eating bad food being cold and afraid most of the time.
But Shan is special, and she finds herself in the ruins of Myth Dranor, pursued by an evil sorceress and devils. Rescued by the infamous Knights of Myth Dranor and none other than Elminster himself.  It seems Shandril has a power she is only now learning about. She is a spellfire wielder. She can absorb magic and turn it into blasts of flame so hot that with out training she destroys first one, then two and finally three draco-liches (great undead dragons of terrible power).  Keeping mind that most people never even meet one, let alone survive it!
Now she is being chased by the Cult of the Dragon, another group of evil Mages and who knows all else and they all want her secret. or her dead.

This is the first Forgotten Realms novel I have ever read.  There is a vast library of knowledge in and around the Realms and I have been pretty much blind to it for various reasons.  I picked this book a local library book sale.  I was always a fan of the Clyde Caldwell cover art and even have it hanging in my game room.
The book is enjoyable. It is clearly gamer fiction, but it has it's moments.  The author has a lot of affection for these characters, that is obvious, and you can tell there is much more goign on in his head than what is down on paper.  My issues as a newbie here was there were too many characters to keep track of.  Shandril and Narm are likable enough and Gorstag was the most relatable to me.
It did however, make me want to read some more Realms books.  Rather looking forward to it.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 7
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Certainly The Simbul, The Shadowsil and maybe, just maybe, Shandril too.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: All the above
Best RPG to Emulate it: This book screams 2nd edition AD&D even if was published at the end of 1st edition AD&D.  Either would work out well.
Use in WotWQ: Hell yes! I have started on a quest of my own to read about the Seven Sisters (which The Simbul is part of) and use them in my games.


The Witches of the Realms

Let's have look at Symgharyl Maruel also known as the Shadowsil.  She certainly "feels" like a witch. An evil witch to be sure, but recognizable.

According to the Forgotten Realms Villian's Lorebook, The Shadowsil is:

The Shadowsil (Symgharyl Maruel)
human female 18th-level mage
AC 6; MV 12; hp 36; THAC0 15; #AT 1; Dmg by spell; MR Nil; SZ M; ML 18; AL NE; XP 12,000.
S 9, D 16, C 14, I 18, W 15, Ch 15.
Spells: 5/5/5/5/5/3/3/2/1.

Special Equipment: Ring of dragons, ring of protection +2, rope of entanglement, wand of fire.
Description: Tall, slim, and cruel, The Shadowsil was likely a Cult enforcer or high-level operative of some kind. She wore purple robes and was a former apprentice and paramour of Elminster before she turned to cruelty and evil. She died in his arms, proclaiming her love for him and her regret over their lost love.

If I were to turn her into a witch I'd use my Basic Witch rules with the Advanced options and make her 18th level. She would loose a 9th level spell, but gain powers.

This is also a good time to try out a Draconic Tradition.  My son and I have talked about Dragon Witches before, what they might be and how they work.  There are also the Dragon Witches from the Tarot comic and some others.

Symgharyl Maruel, The Shadowsil
18th level Witch (Draconic Tradition)
Female, Chaotic

Strength 9
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 15
Dexterity 16
Constitution 14
Charisma 18

Saving Throws
Death Ray/Poison 7
Magic Wands 8
Paralysis, Polymorph 7
Dragon Breath 10
Rods, Staffs, Spells 9

Hit Points: 63
AC: 1
(leather armor +2, Ring of Protection +2, Dex 16 -2)

THAC0: 14
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers*  (have not worked these all out yet)
Familiar: pseudo dragon
Lesser: Access Draconic Bloodline (allows the witch to cast MU spells as Ritual Spells)
Minor: Draconic resistence (avoid fear effects and add Cha bonus to saves)

Spells
Cantrips (6): Alarm Ward, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Spark
1st (6+2): Black Fire, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Endure Elements, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Light/Darkness, Minor Fighting Prowess
2nd (5+2): Discord, Enthrall, Ghost Touch, Hold Person, Invisibility, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile
3rd (5+2):  Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Feral Spirit, Lifeblood, Toad Mind, Witch Wail, Fireball (bloodline spell)
4th (4+1): Analyze Magic, Elemental Armor (Fire), Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations, Withering Touch
5th (3): Blade Dance, Dreadful Bloodletting, Waves of Fatigue
6th (3): Death Blade, Mass Agony, True Seeing
7th (3): Death Aura, Greater Arcane Eye, Wave of Mutilation
8th (2): Destroy Life, Mystic Barrier,


Thursday, February 23, 2017

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Forgotten Realms

This is an update of sorts to a post I made all the way back in 2012, which itself was an update to a post I made in 2010.

Since then my 4e game died and I moved on to 5e and sticking with more of a Greyhawk-based world.  During all this time I have also been picking up Forgotten Realms books from various places; half-price books, the local library sale for novels, and of course +Games Plus auctions.  I have built up a small, but I think nice collection.


I have always been a Greyhawk fan. Some of my very first games were looking for ancient Suel mysteries or exploring the dirty streets of the Free City of Greyhawk.   While I ran my adventures in the Known World of Mystara, I played in Oerth and Greyhawk.

For years I even combined the two into one world, and that worked out pretty well.

I remember reading about the Realms in Dragon Mag and I was never impressed.  The increased fetishization of the Drow and Drizzt worship turned me off as well. I can't tell you how much I despised "Lloth", it's LOLTH goddamn it. Any way. I was never a fan of the Realms.  I considered it to be a pretender to Greyhawk and not a very worthy one at that.  To me, Realms fans were snotty little kids with delusions of adequacy.

My opinions have softened since then. I picked up the 3.0 Realms Guide when it came out and I liked it.  I felt it was a good book and all it really was missing was monsters.   I enjoyed the 4th edition books and thought for a while that the Realms would be my 4e world.

I bought the recent Sword Coast Adventure's Guide for 5e. I rather like it.


I have also been reading some of the Forgotten Realms novels.  They are not great literature by any stretch, but they are fun bits of gamer fiction and they give me some insight to the world.



So what's my plan then?  I don't think I am going to run any games yet in the Forgotten Realms.  I don't know the world well enough to do that.  So there are no plans to move my "Second Campaign" or "War of the Witch Queens" over to the Realms.  I am planning to move some ideas and characters certainly from the Realms to my War of the Witch Queens games.

There is a thought lurking in the back of my head about taking the Sword Coast and trying to find some place for it in my current Mystoerth world.  THAT has appeal to me.  I know that the World of the Forgotten Realms is different, with it's own history, but I would not be taking all of it. I would not need too. Just the bits that fit.

Anyone else merge the Realms with other worlds? How did that work out?

Also, there is something I have wanted to explore more; the Mystra and Mystara connection.  "Mystara" is the name of the game world I have been using since Basic.  "Mystra" is the name of the Goddess of Magic in the Forgotten Realms world.  Is there a connection? Should there be one? I don't know.  Maybe this is something the characters could discover and me along with them!

Chances are good I am going to go through these books I have and post about them here.  I'll go in publication order.  If I run into something from "This Old Dragon" I'll add those as well. I know already there is an adventure called "Into the Forgotten Realms" that I will check out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nothing Like The Sun...

Chanel Divinity: The Triple Moon Goddess Heresy

NOTE:  This is something I had submitted to WotC during their open submission window for Dragon.  They took a pass on it.  But that is cool, because it means I can expand it and pass it on now to you for free.

From the Ancient Dragon Scrolls, #54:
Selûne was created from the primordial essence of the universe, along with her twin sister, Shar. Together, they created Chauntea (the embodiment of the world of Abeir-Toril) and some other heavenly bodies and infused these areas with life. The two goddesses then fought over the fate of their creations. From these struggles emerged the original deities of magic, war, disease, murder, death, and others. Selûne reached out of the universe and from a plane of fire, brought forth a flame and ignited a heavenly body in order to give warmth to Chauntea. This greatly enraged Shar, and she began to erase all light and warmth in the universe. Desperate and weakened because of Shar's actions, Selûne hurled some of her divine essence at her sister. Selûne's essence tore through Shar, bringing some of Shar's essence with it. This magical energy combined to form the goddess Mystryl, the original goddess of magic.
"So says the legends of the Realms. Selûne and Shar, sisters locked in eternal battle, eternal struggle. But this is not the observations of a few; the chosen to know the truth. It is true that siblings fight, they argue, yet do they also not love each other still? Are they not more alike than different?

These were the first questions asked by the first of our order, the truths they lead to though would make us shunned by both the Light and the Dark. Shunned, because deep down they know their own teachings are only half-truths their litanies incomplete. Shunned because we know the terrible, wonderful truth that the Goddesses of the moon, Sehanine, Selûne and Shar, are in truth aspects of the One Triple Goddess."


Followers of the Triple Goddess, known amongst themselves as the Sisterhood of the Triple Goddess (aka Sisters) believe that the Goddess always has been, it is mortals that have artificially split Her into component Goddesses because they can not comprehend Her in Her true form.  She is Sehanine, Selûne and Shar individually and all at once.  There is no contradiction.  Followers of the individual Goddesses fight among themselves because their doctrines are so close to each other, yet they only have a small piece of the truer picture.

Each Aspect is much as the Goddess she represents; Sehanine is the ever youthful Maiden, Selûne the powerful Mother and Shar, the most misunderstood but still shrouded in shadow, decay and death.

The Maiden.  In Her guise as Sehanine Moonbow, the Maiden is ever young. She is represents new beginnings, youth and re-birth.  It is the Maiden that represents the freedom of youth but also growth.  She is most often seen in lush green vegetation, the eternal Spring, the Waxing Crescent Moon.  For this reason she is also most often associated with the elves and the Feywild.  She is young, capricious and fickle as befits Her nature. She dallies with Gods (and sometimes Goddesses) to sow the next generations. When she does she becomes the Mother.

The Mother. In Her Aspect as the Mother, She is most often worshiped under the name Selûne.  Here She is the Goddess of the Summer, the Full Moon. She is associated with the Prime Material and the practical.  She is the Mother. Strong, proud, and stern if needed, but loving and understanding.  Since the Spellplauge She is depicted as being full with child.  Some say she is pregnant with the reborn Mystra and it is through the Mother that Magic enters the world.

The Crone. The most misunderstood of all the Aspects of the Goddess.  Though to be evil She is demonized as Shar, the Dark Moon. The Crone is far, far more than that.  True, She is responsible for death, darkness and decay, but these are natural processes of Life, Death and Rebirth.  She is the Crone of Winter and all souls pass by Her.  Forgive her if She seems bitter or cold, She only knows of Death.  For this She is most often associated with the Shadowfell.  She honors the followers of Shar, but does not understand their fascination with death.  Death is needed so that others may live and grow.  The harvest must be sown, the fields must be cleared, sometimes burned, so that new seeds and growth can occur.  The Crone knows much, but the price of Her wisdom is high.



The Worshippers of The Triple Goddess

The lay worshipper of the Triple Goddess is typically female (thus the name Sisterhood), as the Goddess waxes and wanes in course with the moon, so does a woman as she progresses in life as Maiden, Mother and Crone and through only monthly cycle.

Tenets of Faith
The Triple Goddess is worshiped by anyone that worships one of her Aspects, but Her faithful know the truth.
• She is the Moon, waxing and wanning as the Moon does
• She brings Light, Life and Darkness to the World.
• She is the Goddess of Rebirth, Life and Death.  Therefore her true believers can never use, or have used on them, any Raise Dead Spell; only Reincarnation.

• Share the word of the Triple Goddess, but do not attempt to convert others.  They will come into the fold when they are ready.
• Do what you can to help followers of the Goddess' Aspects.
• Destroy undead. They are an abomination to the Rebirth, Life, Death cycle and therefore an affront to the Goddess.

Relations between the Worshipers.

The Sister of the Triple Goddess share many of the same practices of faith as do the followers of Sehanine, Selûne and Shar.  In fact it is not uncommon that a follower of the Triple Goddess will be part of one of the other members' sects.  She (and the followers are most often a she rather than a he) will quietly perform her duties next to her unsuspecting sisters, all the while knowing that only she knows the whole truth.
If discovered the follower is usually asked to renounce their heretical beliefs, other service or punishments may be required depending on the sect she belongs too.

Sehanine
The followers of Sehanine view the Triple Goddess as an interesting curiosity.  They are more than willing to assume that Sehanine and Selûne could be the same and of course there are still many among the elves that believe that Sehanine is part of a Trinity with Hanali Celanil and Aerdrie Faenya, so this is not a stretch for them.  Sisters are usually only asked to maintain pleasant relations with the rest of Sehanine's followers.
The Sisters see the followers of Sehanine as sweet, but hopelessly naïve.  This they see as a consequence of only following the Maiden Aspect of the Goddess.  They lack the experiences and wisdom that would come to them from learning from the Mother and Crone.

Angharradh
There is much similarity between the Elven Goddess Angharradh and the Triple Goddess.  Cheif among these are Sehanine and their similar symbols.  Sisters see Angharradh as a separate Elven Goddess more representative of the deep-seated desire in the elves to reunite their race.  Unlike Angharradh, who is both the same as and seperate from her aspects, the Sisters believe that The Triple Goddess is One and Three as the same time.  There is no separating Sehanine from the Goddess.

Selûne
The Selûnites see the Sisters as also being naïve, but not about the true nature of their Goddess, but instead underestimating the evil and influence of Shar.  Some of the more Orthodox members even see the Sisters as a threat set up by Shar Herself to undermine them from within; something they refer to as the Heresy of the Dark Moon (in which they completely ignore Sehanine).  It is not the Triunity or even Trinity they have the issues with, it is the fact they include Shar in it.
Though it is speculated that there are Sisters in some of the highest ranks of the Selûnite church.
The Sisters see the Selûnites as being blinded by their hatred of "Shar" to see the full reality; there is no "Shar" as a separate Goddess.  Shar, The Crone is necessary for life to continue and grow.

The Orders
Swords of the Lady: The "Lunatics" appreciate The Sister's stance on undead, but feel their belief that Shar is  part of their Goddess to heresy in the extreme.   The Sister's see the Swords as dangerous fanatics.

Oracles of the Moon: The Oracles and the Sisters actually get along quite well. The Oracles tend to see more than the other followers and the Sisters find the Oracles very knowledgeble, but removed from worldly concerns.

Silverstars: Silverstars are wary of the Sisters, feeling like the Swords, that cleave a little too closely to Shar for their liking.  However individually they do tend to get along since Sisters value life above all else.  The Sisters admire the Silverstars and feel their cause is worthy and just.  They just wished they could find the way to seeing the full Goddess.

Shar
The Followers of Shar tend to be a dark, evil lot.  They view the Sisters as cowards for not embracing true evil and watering down their belief with the likes of Sehanine and Selûne. They have nothing but contempt for them.  Punishments can include forced re-conversion by torture.  When the Sisters were first discovered within the ranks of the Sharites they were captured and infected with Werewolf Lycanthropy.  What shocked and surprised both sides were that the Sisters so infected retained their own minds when transformed; something even the Selûnites could not do.
The Sisters see the Sharites as perverters of the Goddesses true form.  Yes, the Crone is shadowy and surrounded by death, but it is the ultimate destination for us all.  To focus on that aspect alone is perverse.  The Sisters run the greatest personal risk from the Sharites, but they are also the ones the Sisters feel the need to reach out to the most.

The Orders
Dark Justicars: The Justicars consider the Sisters to be dangerous heretics and usually kill them on sight. The Sisters avoid the Justicars at all costs.  Some souls can't be saved.

Order of the Dark Moon: More accepting of the Sisters since their own tappings into the Dark Weave has lead them to believe that is of the same nature as the Weave.  If this is true, then the teachings of the Sisters, as radical as they are, could also be true.  The Sisters find the Order to be very austere in their thinking and are not surprised that their single minded dedication to the Shadow Weave also blinds them to the greater being of the Triple Goddess. They are not to be taken lightly, but represent the best inroad into Shar's cult they have.

Nightcloaks/Nightbringers: The Orthodoxy of the Church of Shar see the Sisters as a threat and one that must be destroyed.  The Sisters view the Nightcloaks as the true poison in Shar's worship.  If this dangerous element can be removed the Sisters feel the rest of the followers of Shar will become followers of the Triple Goddess.

Others
As an unaligned deity the Tripple Goddess is misunderstood by the clergy and lay member of most of the other faiths.  The followers of Chantea in her form of the Great Mother have much in common with the Sisters.  While the dogman and tenets of faith are very, very similar, there are enough differences to keep them from being close.

Centers of Worship
The Sisters are found everywhere that the worshipers of Sehanine, Selûne and Shar.  In particular they are located in the Moonshae Isles. There are centers of worship in Waterdeep as well.


Fourth Edition

The Triple Goddess is the Unaligned Goddess of the Moon, Magic and Change.

Type: Greater God
Alignment: Unaligned
Gender: Female
Sphere: Moon
Symbol: Three interlocking circles
Domain: Arcana, Change, Moon

Special: Worshipers may take any feat or Paragon Path that is limited to Sehanine, Selûne and Shar, with alignment considerations.

The Triple Goddess find worshipers among all sorts of peoples. She is predominantly worshiped by Witches, Celestial Sorcerers, Fey and Dark Pact Warlocks, Moon Elves and Half-Elves.  She is also worshipped by good or unaligned Half-Orcs.  Regardless of race or class Her faithful are mostly women. Those that devote themselves to destroying Undead will also pay Her homage, especially if they hunt at night.

The worship of The Triple Goddess is strongest anywhere where the Prime Material, Shadowfell and the Feywild overlap.  There is known activity in Winterhaven.

Third Edition D&D

The Triple Goddess
Goddess of the Moon, Change, Magic and Mysteries
Greater Deity
Symbol: Three interlocking circles
Home Plane: The Moon
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Portfolio: Moon, Magic, Night, Mysteries
Worshipers: Women, witches, Astrologers,
Cleric Alignment: Any
Domains: Arcana, Change, Moon
Favored Weapon: None (magic)

Dogma
The world is more complex than you know and there are still great mysteries.  The Triple Goddess is the keeper of these mysteries, but to understand them you must first understand Her.



References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Forgotten_Realms_deities 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sehanine_Moonbow
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sel%C3%BBne
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shar_(Forgotten_Realms)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystra_(Forgotten_Realms)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Goddess_(Neopaganism)

http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Sehanine_Moonbow
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Church_of_Shar
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Shar
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Silverstars
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Sel%C3%BBne
http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Angharradh

http://www.sorcerers.net/Worlds/FR/45.php
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/02/gods-demigods-and-heroes.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/06/new-game-new-world.html
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/07/gods-of-new-game.html 





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