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

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Review: N5 Under Illefarn

N5 Under Illefarn
 My exploration of the Forgotten Realms continues with the next adventure on my list, N5 Under Illefarn by Steve Perrin.  I actually ran this adventure a while back at the start of my 5e Second Campaign long ago. My first real attempt at getting a Realms game going. While that game would end up in different directions, the adventure is still a solid one. 

N5 Under Illefarn

by Steve Perin. 1987. 50 pages, color covers (Jeff Easley) and maps (Stephen Sullivan), black & white art (Luise Perenne). 

I am reviewing the PDF and Print on Demand versions from DriveThruRPG. 

This is a "Novice Level" adventure and, likely due to timing, became connected to the Forgotten Realms.  It is also the first of the N series to feature the Forgotten Realms banner. Something similar happened to the H series on the other end of the level spectrum.

When I talked about Module N4 Treasure Hunt, I mentioned that it was a great starting adventure that missed a little of what also made B2 Keep on the Borderland so great. This is fine since we already had Keep on the Borderlands. N5 strikes a middle ground. There is a base of operations, plenty of "wild" areas to explore, and a hook. It also works as a direct sequel to N4. You can play it stand-alone (as I did in 2017) or as a follow-up.  Both have advantages.

Like N4, we are given an overview of the AD&D 1st Ed game, in particular the races and classes. Now, back in 2017, I said: "I am going to run it through like an AD&D game. So no tieflings or dragonborn. More gnomes, though, never have enough of those." That was a mistake in retrospect. If anywhere is open to Dragonborn, Tieflings, and all the new post-AD&D 1st-ed races (remember, tieflings are AD&D 2nd-ed), then it will be Faerûn.  There is a bit on how you all get to Daggerford and what happens once you are there. I admit I did not like the idea of the characters needing to be in the Town Militia until I started thinking of this adventure as akin to an episode of "Cops" or, more to the point, the parody "Troops."

The base of operations for the characters is the small frontier town of Daggerford. So, like the Keep. From here the characters can go on quick adventures and then come back. An idea implicit for B2 KotBL, but here it is baked in. 

Forgotten Realms, Starter Sets

The DM's section gives some background on the village of about 300 people and some 1,000 total living in the surrounding area. Sounds like where my wife grew up. The area and the city make are given. This includes many of the shops and building and what surrounds the village. There is even a bit on the "Big City" Chicago,  I mean Waterdeep. 

The main personalities of the town are also detailed. One of the things I had to used to (and get over) was that the Realms is about people. I can choose to use who I want. In 1987 this annoyed me, but in truth I was already switching my point of view then. Now? Now it is great. I mean, do I need to use Duke Pwyll Greatshout Daggerford? No. But why would I not want to? 

This covers about the first half of the book. After this are adventures.

What kind of adventures? Lots! The first page has the AD&D staple, the Random Encounter Tables. One of the outcomes is a Ceratosaur! Imagine this. You are a still a newbie adventurer. You just recently learned which is the pointy end of the spear and which is the end you hold. Now you are on milita duty, and someone finds dinosaur tracks on your very first day on what you were told was going to be dull work making sure kids don't steal apples in the marketplace.

Kudos to Steve Perrin for getting going. And that is just one random encounter. I mean there is also a hermit. Yes, I said he is the same one from the KotBL. Why not. There are also werewolves, which I am using later on. 

Among the detailed adventurers are a raid by Lizard Men (why I grabbed this in 2017 to be honest), basic Caravan duty, a kidnapped daughter of the Duke, and the titular Illefarn in the Laughing Hallow. The adventures range from a couple of pages to several. 

The best thing about this adventure. Well, one of the best things. You can run it in many short adventures to get new players into the game. Need to spend an extra hour explaining rules? No worries, do that and send them on Militia duty to guard a caravan against orc raiders. That's a solid session.

Note About the Pring on Demand Print

The PDF from DriveThruRPG looks great and served me well in 2017. Recently I also grabbed the Print on Demand copy from DriveThru. There is some dithering from lower resolution art being brought up to print quality, but the text looks like it has been redone so it is nice and sharp and easy to read. I should note that it is not all the art. Some look rather crisp and clear as well. They may have had some of the higher resolution versions still on hand.

Under Illefarn text

Under Illfarn, Print on Demand cover

Again, we have a great introductory adventure. Not just good to introduce people to the AD&D 1st Edition game but also a great way to ease into the Forgotten Realms. Waterdeep is too big of a bite for new players (and characters) and many of the "big names" are still too big. This is nice little village with some fun problems to solve. A taste of adventure. An appetizer in small portions OR more akin to Tapas or Dim Sum. Small plates that can add up to a nice full meal.

Sinéad's Perspective

"Just a small-town girl. Livin' in a lonely world..."

At the outset of these reviews, I said I wanted to explore the Realms through the eyes of a native, but one that was just as naïve as me. Sinéad is that character. 

She finally made it to the main land after surviving her own kidnapping and adventures in the Moonshaes and the Korrin Archipelago. And was absolutely broke. Like I said, at first I balked at the idea of forcing the characters into the Daggerford Militia, but in truth it works very well. Sinéad, given she knows how to play an instrument was given the job of trumpeter. She at least gets a spear too. 

This actually works. I went back to look over her Baldur's Gate 3 setup and her background there was Militia as well. This was before I knew I could change it. So, yeah. I guess that is what I am doing.

When my oldest son gets off of work from his bakery job (he is a pastry chef and a damn good one) we work out what these characters are doing and roll some dice. It has been great really.

So. Sinéad is in the Militia. She has a shiny new trumpet, a not-as-shiny new spear, and a blue tabard proclaiming she is part of the militia. If she is going to survive the Realms, she will need some friends.

My Realms Crew

So, who do we have here?

Nothing Like the Sun...

Up first is Rhiannon. Yeah, I am embracing the clichés here. But in my defense, I did start her up with that in mind.  She is a Dragon Magazine #114 witch. There is some evidence that Ed used the Dragon Magazine witches in his own game. She is a member of the "Sisters of the Moon" coven, something that will become important later on. If Sinéad is my Realms exploration character, and Larina is my witch exploration character, then Rhiannon is where they meet. Again. Expect clichés here. This my chance to go all out.  

I already decided that Sinéad honors Sehanine Moonbow as her personal Goddess, even above that of The Earthmother of the Moonshaes. Maybe this is one of the reasons she wanted to leave. Rhiannon knows about Sehanine. She also knows about Selûne and, oddly enough, Shar.  At this point, Sinéad doesn't know enough about Shar to find this odd. 

Rhiannon is not in the militia, but she is the friend of someone who is. 

Bad Moon Rising

The next character is an in-joke with my son and me, but I really liked where the character is going.  Arnell Hallowleaf is a male moon elf cleric of Selûne. He is in the militia as a healer. There are obvious reasons why Sinéad would seek him out. He is a cleric for starters, also he is the first full-blooded moon elf she has met other than her own mother. So, this has given her a chance to find out more about the moon elves.  Players of Baldur's Gate 3 might recognize this name. He is the father of Jenevelle Hallowleaf, aka Shadowheart, in the game. But that is not until DR 1492. Jenevelle is not born until DR 1447 and this is still DR 1358.  Arnell is a young elf. His future human wife, Emmeline, has not even been born yet. So maybe (taking a page from Sarek of Vulcan's book) Rhiannon (a human) is his current girlfriend/wife. Which? I don't know, I have not gotten there yet. 

I do know that at some point in this adventure, he is bitten by a werewolf and becomes one. His devotion to Selûne is what keeps his lycanthropy in check. 

Arnell HallowleafRhiannon

Both characters are here to let me explore some different ideas. Talking it over with my oldest, he suggested that if Johan were from the Realms, he would have been a cleric of Selûne. Arnell is not a Johan stand-in, but he will let me explore playing a cleric in the Realms. Rhiannon is my "don't just embrace the cliché, live it character." I'd love to see how far I can get with her as a "Dragon #114" witch. 

Sinéad and Arnell finish their tour of duty and, along with Rhiannon, venture out into the wide world.

Friday, February 23, 2024

#FollowFriday: Ed Greenwood

Ed Greenwood
In my efforts to expand my knowledge of the Forgotten Realms, I am going to Master Sage himself, Ed Greenwood.

Official YouTube Channel
https://www.youtube.com/@edgreenwoodofficial

Patreon Page
https://www.patreon.com/EdGreenwood

X/Twitter
https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ed.greenwood.142

I am not a subscriber to his Patreon page, but I hear wonderful things about it. It sounds like a great forum for his ideas and of course exclusives.  I'm a fan, but not at the level I need exclusives before everyone else.

The real treasure trove for me in my explorations of the Realms has been his YouTube page.

Now, typically, I really hate videos. I don't have the time to listen or watch, and frankly, most of the people doing video neither have the voice nor the presence to do them. This is not so for Ed. Ed, among everything else, is a natural storyteller. The Realms are his canvas.

He has had a few I have found really interesting too. 

This one because I a. remembered the picture, and b. loved the idea that Ed could use this channel to talk about things he could not before.  Plus he says "Drau" like Cow. Actually one of the best things about his videos is knowing how he pronounces some of the names he comes up with!

This one because I loved the background on this character and was a fan of Symgharyl Maruel, aka The Shadowsil.  But this one is also fun because Ed has such a love for all these characters.  

That was always obvious to me reading his books and Dragon articles. And he extended that love to characters he was borrowing.

And extends to others who treat his characters with the same love.

So give the Father of the Realms a follow. I hope you find him as entertaining and as educational as I find him.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Review: Forgotten Realms Campaign Set

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Set
 I have asked this before, but it bears repeating here and now. How does one review a classic? Better question. How does one review a genre-defining classic?  Because that is what I have sitting in front of me now. A genre-defining classic. Eighteen-year-old me back in 1987, ready for his first year at university, would not have thought so at the time, but that is what much older me thinks now. 

The Forgotten Realms was the foundation of the "new" TSR, the one without Gary Gygax and many of the other founders on which they would build their new home. We can debate the merits of this and financials ad nauseam, but by any stretch of the imagination, the Forgotten Realms were very successful. So successful that the biggest video game of 2023 is set there.

This review will cover the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set, the Boxed set from 1987. Written by Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb and edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. But any insight to this product knows that the genesis was with Ed, and he first brought it all to life in the pages of Dragon magazine. At least that is alive to us. Many other authors have contributed to Realms over the decades, but here is where it begins.  

How do we begin? Let's take Ed's own words, which he scribbled into my Cyclopedia of the Realms as our opening.

Welcome to the Forgotten Realms

"Welcome to the Forgotten Realms!" - Ed Greenwood

Forgotten Realms Campaign Set

by Ed Greenwood, Jeff Grubb and edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. 1987. Boxed set. Full-color covers and maps. Cyclopedia of the Realms 96 pages. DMs Sourcebook of the Realms 96 pages. Maps and clear hex overlays.

Forgotten Realms box contents

For this review, I am considering the physical boxed set from 1987 and the PDFs from DriveThruRPG. There has yet to be a Print on Demand version.

The DriveThruRPG PDF combines all this information into a 230-page book. Maps are broken up and scanned in at letter size.

Cyclopedia of the Realms
Cyclopedia of the Realms

96 pages. Color covers. Sepia-tone pages and art.

"Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start." - Maria von Trapp nee Kuczera, Bard/Cleric

This book is an introduction to the Forgotten Realms, and maybe the most important bit here is the introduction by Ed Greenwood/Elminster and the About this Product.  We start immediately with the "voice" of the Realms, Elminster. He is no ersatz Gandalf, nor is he a more approachable Mordenkainen, and certainly, he is more interesting than Ringlerun. He is our guide, but sometimes I still like to think of him as an unreliable narrator. These are the Realms in his eyes. More (if the not the most) knowledgable, but there are still "small stories" to tell that are beneath his notice. Those are the stories (aka games) I want to know about.

This book covers the timeline (I do love timelines!) and ways of keeping time in the Realms. The date for this set is the end of 1357 DR (that's Dale Reckoning or Dalereckoning). For full context, the Baldur's Gate III video game takes place in 1494 DR, with the current year of the D&D 5e titles at 1496 DR. There is a bit of discussion about holidays and how the "weeks" are grouped as Tendays (3 a month). It feels different and I like it.  The money system is rather AD&D standard, with some proper names to the coins. This is fine because this IS supposed to be an AD&D world, and the authors want people to feel familiar with it all, if not right at home.

Languages and scripts are up. Some of these are still being used in current versions of D&D. 

The Gods are next. These were already familiar to me, not just because this is an old product, but because Ed talked about them in Dragon magazine back in 1985.  See "The Dragon Connection" below. While these gods have "Earthly" sources, it actually works out great and ties into the mythology of the Realms as one being connected to Earth. Something it shares with Greyhawk's Oerth. The connection between Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms is strong. They share almost all the same demi-human gods. By extension of the rule-set they also share all the same demons and devils. This makes moving between worlds a little smoother. The gods and their relationships are detailed well here and there is just enough unknow to keep them interesting.

Next section is about Adventuring Companies. So here is one thing that the Realms does better than Greyhawk (well there are more, but the first thing in this book). Adventurers are baked into the system. The world doesn't just need adventuring parties, it demands them. These parties can be used as models for your own adventuring parties. All these parties have names as well. I'll have to think about how Sinéad and Co would fit this format. Plus, the back cover of this book has a grid for the adventuring party! Room for 10 characters even.

Adventuring Party Roster

We get into the "Cyclopedia" part of the book now. This is an alphabetical listing of major topics within the Realms. These include things like the various character classes, races, countries, towns, areas of interest and other topics. There is a narrative piece describing it, Elminster's Notes for the point of view of the most knowledgeable native (even when he admits to not knowing much), and Game Information.

I rather like it, to be honest. Hit me with facts, and let me build some adventures around it!

DMs Sourcebook of the Realms
DMs Sourcebook of the Realms

96 pages. Color covers. Sepia-tone pages and art.

One of the best things in this book is the Introduction. We get words from Ed (as Ed) talking about the World of the Forgotten Realms and how it is now our world too. Yeah it is trademarked by TSR and now WotC/Hasbro, but this is an open invitation to do what you want with this world now. This is a foreshadowing to all the great Ed Greenwood content we would get over the next almost 4 decades. Honestly reading Ed's own words make me excited for all the exploration ahead of me. This is followed by words from Jeff Grubb, who also had a hand in shaping the AD&D version of the Realms. And more by editor Karen S. Martin who adds her experience and excitement to this world.

So much better than any puff-piece bit of gamer fiction!

We get right into it. Information on how to use this as an AD&D campaign world is started from the word go. Overview again of the boxed set. How to set up campaigns for new players, new campaigns for experienced players, and bringing in characters from other campaigns. Hmm...I should try all of these to be honest. Maybe a character from one of my Greyhawk or Mystara campaigns could come on over. I DO like the idea that Elvish and Dwarvish and some others are mostly the same languages. Would really help bring the worlds closer together. 

A bit of coverage on the maps and how to use them. Nice comparison of the map of Faerûn compared to the continental United States. And a section of various wandering monsters. The Forgotten Realms may be Forgotten, but they are very much alive!

The next 20 pages detail NPCs of note. Any to drop in as background, enemy, or ally. 

Speaking of living. A really nice section on recent news and various rumors starting in DR 1356 to 1357 are presented. With or without your characters, the Relams live on. 

Another plus for this boxed set is the ready-run adventures for low-level characters. The first, The Halls of the Beast Tamers, is a nice dungeon crawl. Next is Lashan's Fall, which appeared in Dragon #95 as "Into the Forgotten Realms," and even the maps are the same! Mind you I think this is a bonus since that is the adventure I always wanted to use as an intro to the Realms. I still can come to think of it. 

Into the Forgotten Realms

The next section is a "Pages from the Mages" style entry.  Lots of spells books to be found with plenty of new spells. I think some of these were in "Pages form the Mages" to be honest. That's fine, they work well here.

Honestly, the ONLY thing missing here are some new monsters, and this would be complete.

Maps & Plastic Hex Overlays

There are four gorgeous maps of the content of Faerûn. While it doesn't quite live up to the artistry of the Darlene World of Greyhawk maps, they are more practical. The plastic hex overlays also make it easier to read the maps and then do your hex crawls in whatever area you like.

The Dragon Connection

One of the great things about doing my This Old Dragon feature and concentrating on the period between 1980 and 1987 is watching the Forgotten Realms develop and grow as an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons world. From Ed's musings on gods in Down to Earth Divinity to magical tomes and spells of the Pages from the Mages and The Wizards Three features to adventure Into the Forgotten Realms, all of which would find homes in an official Forgotten Realms product in some shape or form.

I mentioned already that Dragon #95's Into the Forgotten Realms makes an appearance here as an introductory adventure.

As I mentioned, all we were missing were monsters. Well, Ed penned enough monsters in the pages of Dragon Magazine that were explicitly for the Realms, so collecting them all is worthwhile. In addition to monsters, there are magic items, more spells, blades, shields, and even musical instruments, and I know I am nowhere near collecting it all. I do know I will run out of room in my box for them all.

Realms in Dragon Magazine

My Thoughts

There is a lot packed in this box. It's like a TARDIS really; bigger on the inside. In truth, nothing of what I thought was going to be here was here. Yes, there are NPCs, but they are background, and your characters may never ever run into them. They are the background noise of the Realms until the characters are the big noise. I certainly unfairly judged the Forgotten Realms. 

A lot of this stemmed from me thinking that Gygax had been done wrong. Yes, that was true, but the Realms really had nothing to do with that. The New TSR was working to relgate Gygx to the past and Ed was just the guy in the right place in the right time with the right idea. I was also unfair of me to judge the Realms on that.  If reading Ed's "The Wizard's Three" has taught me anything that Abier-Toril and Oerth have more in common than not.

Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms

This is, of course, just the start. A big start, to be sure, but a start all the same. This is a canvas to paint on. This is a great set, not just for its time but also for now. Minus some of the stat blocks and spells, everything here can be used with any version of D&D or similar game with little or no effort. 

While I am somewhat overwhelmed by the task before me, I am also excited about it.

Honestly, I am going to pull out some dice and roll up some characters now.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Review: Module N4 Treasure Hunt

N4 Treasure Hunt
I knew my exploration of the Forgotten Realms would take me to new and unexpected places. I just didn't think it was going to be this soon.

In my exploration of the Forgotten Realms product Moonshae, I discovered an interesting bit of knowledge. In the back of that book it mentions that Adventure Module N4 Treasure Hunt can be used with the Moonshae Islands. I later discovered that the islands in N4 were moved over to the Forgotten Realms for this purpose.  So I had to switch courses and check out this module. I am really happy I did.

This module is not just an introduction module, but maybe THE introduction to the game module. Where you have an honest-to-Gary Session 0 and start with 0-Level characters in 1986. Given I am new to all things Realms, I might as well start at level 0!

N4 Treasure Hunt

by Aaron Allston, 48 pages (2 full color map pages, 36 pages of adventure, 10 pages of character profiles) black & white interiors. Art by Stephen Fabian. Cartographers: David F. "Diesel" LaForce, Stephen D. Sullivan, Bill Reuter, Stephanie Tabat. Cover art by Jeff Easley/

For this review, I am considering the PDF and Print on Demand version from DriveThruRPG/DMSGuild.

Treasure Hunt is a completely introductory adventure for players of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition game. I say "players" since I feel this adventure still requires a bit of rules savvy from the Dungeon Master, at least in terms of some of the lifts needed to work with the 0-level characters. However, reading this one nearly 40 years later, with honestly tens of thousands of hours spent on this game, there are nice gems here.

Speaking of which. I am not going to attempt to judge this adventure by the same yardstick as new Level-0 or the so-called "Funnel" adventures. That is not fair to the author nor the adventure itself. This has to judged on the merits of its time. But I will tell you this, I'd run this today, as is, with no changes to be honest.

There is a Player's Introduction and Dungeon Master's Introduction. 

This is the most interesting parts for me today since they cover the rules of rolling up and playing Level-0 characters.  For starters, you don't have a class yet. You are a Normal Human (or elf, or half-elf, or whatever), and you have 1d6 hit points and maybe a secondary skill. You don't even have an alignment. The plot revolves around your character, either one you make or use from the starting characters, being kidnapped by pirates, and then your pirate captors are shipwrecked and mostly all killed. Now, you are stuck in the Korinn Archipelago, later added to the north of the Moonshaes.

Korinn Archiipelago

From here the new PCs work out an escape plan and defeat their first enemy, the last pirate.

As the players play through the challenges presented on these islands they can build up what their character does and earn some XP. They are all 500 xp away from level 1. The adventure explains that even 1st level characters have some training. A fighter at level 1 is called a Veteran. A 1st level Cleric is an Acolyte. Even thieves and magic-users have some skills at first level that 0-levels do not.  Want to be a thief? Try picking that lock. Want to be a Cleric? What do you feel when you enter the Temple of the Goddess and how do you react? You won't know till the end (or near that) and you won't get there till you try.

0-level and skills

Frankly, it is great. A fantastic set of mini-mechanics to get the story going and flowing.  

The adventure itself is divided into six "episodes." And episode is a good word here since there is a bit of cinematic feel to this. It feels like Aaron Allston watched a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark, or more to the point, Romancing the Stone. This is a good thing.

Each episode gives the new PCs something tangible to do. Defeat the pirate, stop the orcs and goblins, explore the Temple, explore the Sea King's Manor, and so on. While there is a great feel to all of this, add a bit of the Moonshaes to it, and thus some Celtic and Old Norse culture to it all, and it becomes a fun mix.

Even for the time, the adventure is a bit linear, but not in a terrible way. I mean, let's be honest, the plot is "I've been captured, now I am free, but how do I get out of here?"  At the end of each episode, there is a debrief for the DM on handling anything that went amiss, tracking the character's class and alignment progression, and so on. There are even contingencies if certain NPCs are not encountered or die before they are supposed to do something. So, linear but with enough branches to keep it fresh. 

Experience points are tracked all along the way, so there is a chance the characters will break the 500 XP threshold by the end of episode 5. 

There are appendices on "What if Things Go Wrong" or "What if the Character Dies?" and all are handled pretty well. There are some clever Player's Maps and the map of the islands. 

The character profiles in the back can be used as potential PCs or NPCs. A few are even worded to be male or female. Someone online would have screamed, "Woke!" at it, but it is presented here as just one of many options. I do feel more care was taken here to entice both male and female new players to the game.

This adventure is a good one for new players. The only thing missing here is some more guidance for new DMs. Something that B2 Keep on the Borderlands does rather well. Maybe the perfect starting trilogy is this adventure, then T1 the Village of Hommlet, and ending with B2 Keep on the Borderlands.

N4 Print on Demand

About the Print-on-Demand Scan

This is a print of a scanned image. So there is some fuzziness to some of the letters. It is obviously not as sharp as, say, a direct from digital print. It is still very readable.  Getting the PoD and PDF will give a book you can use and be able to print out the character cards and player maps as needed. 

Treasure Hunt in the Forgotten Realms

I already mentioned that the location of this adventure, the Korinn Archipelago, was dropped as right into the Moonshae Isles, which were already an addition by Douglas Niles to the Forgotten Realms, supplanting Ed Greenwood's own islands that were there. Already the Realms are evolving in front of our eyes and it is not even fully 1987 yet.

As an adventure, it is also a great start for Realms-centric characters. I had already planned to make my start in the Moonshaes, this just sets characters on the path of adventure in a different way. You didn't meet in a tavern or bar. You were captured and met your companions along the way. Something we will see again in Baldur's Gate 3 or even, to a degree, Skyrim. 

The Temple of the Goddess in Episode Three can easily become a Temple to the Earth Mother / Chauntea. Lots of different Goddesses are given as example, but I thought it might be fun if the Earth Mother appears as all of them. Playing into my fascination with "the Goddess is all goddesses" motif.

Sinéad for Treasure Hunt

Sinéad's Perspective

At the outset of these reviews, I said I wanted to explore the Realms through the eyes of a native, but one that was just as naïve as me. Sinéad is that character. She was chosen partially because she has a pseudo-Celtic background (so starting the Moonshaes was great). She was a Forgotten Realms native already, but mostly because she was just so much damn fun in Baldur's Gate 3. 

For Sinéad, I re-did her sheet as a 0-level character.  The DMG suggests using Method I for rolling up characters; 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange as desired. Well. I did that with Sinéad as a first level, so I opted to use a trick I used all the time in Unisystem's point build, I just knocked a few points off. 

Her "1st Level" abilities add up to 92, so I took 10 off and re-distributed the points among her six abilities. Then I added on back. My world. My rules. I also felt that since her main defining feature at this point is that she is a half-elf, I decided that was her class. So I used a Basic-D&D style sheet. The one I have above is from New Big Dragon Games Unlimited's GM screen.

Since my concept of her is a proto-Bard at this point, and she is young, I figure she really doesn't have any secondary skills yet. At best, she can play the lute or flute. If she was captured by pirates, she likely lost whatever she had. This would be a bigger loss to her than however much gold she had. 

At the end of the adventure, she becomes a magic-user with her one spell, Burning Hands. The same spell she accidentally burned down the barn she was in back at home, which was why she was running and how she got caught by pirates. 

After this adventure, how could she possibly go home? There is an entire world out there. 

Besides, she survived pirates. What can be worse than that?

Oh. And since I have had friends do this exact thing, after her adventure here, Sinéad uses the dagger she found to chop off her hair and dye some of it. Seems like a perfectly reasonable trauma reaction to me. 

Sinéad at the end of N4

She is just a kid at this point.

Final Thoughts

If I had been smarter, I would have used this first when re-creating Sinéad on paper, but as it is, this worked out fine. This is also a great new-to-me adventure for a new-to-me world. While I LOVE B2 Keep on the Borderlands, it is too closely tied to Greyhawk and the Known World for me to really adapt it over the Realms. Would it even fit in the Realms? I am sure many online users have found a home for it. Maybe one day I could as well, but for now, this is a great adventure to start with. In fact, I want to go through all the N, aka "Novice," adventures and see how they fit my needs here. But for now, I am pretty happy with this.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Review: FR2 Moonshae

FR2 Moonshae
 Today, I begin my journey into the Forgotten Realm properly. But even a journey as epic as the Realms needs to start out small and, for me, local. I have my guide. Now, grab some guidebooks. But which ones?  Well that part is easy. I will review the Forgotten Realms books I have on hand, literally and figuratively. I will just review the physical books and boxed sets I have here. I might buy more in the future, or I might not. I might seek out some books on purpose, others, well, maybe I found a reasonable price on them.

Up first will be a book I bought years ago (from Castle Perilous!) because I knew if I ever "did the Realms," this is where I would start.

FR2 Moonshae

by Douglas Niles, Print and PDF. 64 pages, full color, dual-sided map. 1987.

For this review, I considering both my original version and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Ok, why am I starting with a supplement and one not even from Ed Greenwood himself? Simple, the Moonshae islands were always that one bit of the Forgotten Realms I was really fascinated by. It was also where I knew I would set my native Realms in. It felt close enough to the Irish and Celtic myths I loved while still being "D&D" enough.  I knew enough of the history of this and the Moonshae novels by Douglas Niles to make this worthwhile to get. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

In the AD&D 1st Edition Players Handbook, Gary Gygax had this to say about Druids:

"Druids can be visualized as medieval cousins of what the ancient Celtic sect of Druids would have become had it survived the Roman conquest." - PHB, p. 21

The Moonshae Isles can be viewed as the British Isles if the Celts, the Britons, and all the rest had thrown Rome out in 55 AD.  We know that Douglas Niles was working on a Celtic-themed set of books and a new campaign setting in the mid-80s. He brought over his collection of islands, and Ed Greenwood tossed out what had been his Moonshae (or whatever was there) and used Niles' for the publication version of the Forgotten Realms. This book acts as an overview and a Gazetteer. 

The book is divided into three major sections, plus an Introduction and Appendices. 

Moonshae book and map

Introduction

This covers a bit of fiction that connects it to the Moonshae novels, particularly Darkwalker on Moonshae. I started the novel a couple of times but never got through it.  You don't need to know anything about it, though, to use this book.

Moonshae Overview

This covers the Moonshae Isles and the sorts of characters and Characters, as well as the folk and Fflok, you will meet there. It makes a very good case for this to be the starting point of the adventures. Since, to my very limited knowledge, this is the western most point on the Forgotten Realms maps at this time. You can travel east and see the entire world. 

The races are AD&D standard, but I already feel some differences here from, say, Greyhawk.  There is a good section on common conflicts. This appeals to me since one on my favorite themes to deal with in games is the waning of Paganism and the rise of Monotheism in Western Europe. The Moonshae has this theme baked in with its Druids vs. Clerics and Ffolk vs. the Northmen.

Humans are divided up into the previously mentioned Fflok (think British pagans) and the Northmen (think Norse/Viking raider pagans). There is an uneasy truce here now. I can't wait to see if this boils over or if they take a page from our world and just settle down. One of the reasons you are reading this in English now. This is illustrated with a map of the political borders, which Elminster tells us are constantly in flux in the book. 

We get another map of trade routes within the islands and to the Sword Coast mainland. Some tables on weather (it's a lot like Chicago to be honest) and lots of great random encounter tables.

The Moonshae book effectively makes the "low level" adventuring interesting where a Giant Stag is big opponent, but you could also see goblins or a faerie dragon. The Celts book for AD&D 2nd Edition would do the same thing very well. Honestly that book could be used with the Moonshae with no problem whatsoever. 

Deities of the Moonshaes

I will give Niles and TSR credit, they didn't stick a narrowly defined idea of what a god might be. The main Goddess of the Moonshaes is The Earthmother. We are told she is an aspect of the Goddess Chauntea who the rest of the Realms sees as an agricultural goddess. The Ffolk, though, do not see her like that. To them she is The Goddess. Embracing a bit of the revisionist views of British Paganism but I like it, and more to the point it works well here. If Gygax can say what he did about Druids above, then this logically follows. The Goddess has three children. The Leviathan, a gargantuan whale, Kamerynn, a large unicorn, and the Pack, a pack of wolves. All have been endowed with special qualities by the Earthmother and are her eyes and ears in these lands. There is also evil here in the form of Kazgoroth, the Beast. Who looks a bit like a wingless dragon. 

Specific Locales of the Moonshaes

This covers a dozen or so locations. Parallels can be drawn from many of these to locales in British and Irish myth and legend. And honestly, that is fine. It made figuring out where to start my grand adventure even easier. I mean I could be wrong but Callidyrr is our stand-in for Camelot, Corwell is Cornwall, Moray is like a smaller Ireland or a larger Ilse of Man, and so on. Now there are some interesting additions. What if the Vikings, when raiding, decided to set up in Scotland or Ulster and kicked everyone else out? Well, you might have had something like Norland.  I imagine the AD&D 2nd Ed Vikings Campaign book would be useful here as the Celts one was for the southern islands. 

Other areas are detailed like Myrloch, the large inland lake/sea in Gwynneth in the south and Synnoria, the land of the Llewyrr Elves. There is even Flamsterd, an island of Magic-users. You know I am heading back there sometime. 

Moonshae book

The Appendices

Appendix A covers some campaign themes for the Moonshaes, not that I need any more at this point! But it does include a note on how to bring in the module N4 Treasure Hunt into the Moonshaes, which is great really. 

Appendix B gives us some unique items of the Moonshaes. 

Elminster's Notes

There are a lot of those here. If you were to take them out, there only be about 32 pages. But they set the tone of the book and the land well. We are new here but not new to D&D so Elminster's eyes are a perfect substitute for our own. 

The maps look great and should be compatible with the clear hex grid from the Forgotten Realms set. 

A much more pleasurable work than when I first read it way back in the early 1990s. The whole "Ffolk" thing with the two "f"s bugged me, but I got over it. You could build an entire campaign and never leave these islands. Which is not what I am going to do since there is so much more out there.

Sinéad's Perspective

So, I am going to look at the people and places of this product through the eyes of my bard Sinéad. Much like Greenwood does with Elminster, she will be the eyes and ears in which I see the Realms. But I am not going to give you long-winded journal entries. That's Ed's and Elminster's thing. 

Choosing the Moonshaes as my first product and choosing the Moonshaes as the home of Sinéad makes a lot of sense together. These lands feel familiar to me. I have read hundreds of tales of Celts and Celtic heroes and monsters. Nearly as many tales of the Norse and Vikings. Tons on the Rise, Fall, and Rise again of the very particular British form of British Paganism.  I have never been here, but I know it well. Much like Sinéad, I am leaving this place. Maybe it is too early, but certainly, I will have to come back here. 

Final Thoughts

I am not sure if it was planned or not, but this does feel like a perfect place to start your adventures in the Forgotten Realms. By today's standards, the book is a bit light on the crunchy game stuff. No new spells really or specialized sub-classes. But that is fine; the fluff more than makes up for it all. 

Character Creation Challenge: Sinéad for the Forgotten Realms (1st Edition AD&D)

Sinéad sheet
 I am switching gears today since I will get some of my reviews on the Forgotten Realms up. I want to start with the character first, though. When reading or playing games, we often view their world as they see, hear, and experience it. For me, that will be Sinéad. Not Sinéad Moonshadow just yet; that is much later down her road. No. This is 1st Edition AD&D Sinéad as I might have rolled her up back in 1987 when the Forgotten Realms were still new. 

Sinéad in 1357 DR

Sinéad in 1357 DR (the year before the Forgotten Realms Boxed set) is a girl living in the Moonshae Isles. I have always known this, but I never really had the details until now.

She grew up on the Island of Gwynneth in the country of Corwell. Her father was a reputable human blacksmith of modest means, and her mother was a Llewyrr (though now mostly moon elf) seer. Growing up Sinéad heard tales of other lands and places and wanted to visit them, but her parents told her the world beyond was full of evil terrors and the only place safe was here, closest to the Earth Mother's heart.  She grew up loving and fearing the Earth Mother and wondering about other places, other peoples, and other gods. It was around the time of 16th birthday when her latent magic began to flare up. She would spontaneously and randomly set things on fire (Rules: Burning Hands spell). This was kept under control until she had turned 19. The local Lord wanted her to marry his son for the prestige of a marriage with a Llewyrr and as compensation for all the damage she had been causing. One night during the early harvest festival, Sinéad accidentally burns down a barn and grain stores, threatening to leave her small village hungry for the winter. Her mother distracts the crowds who have come after "the witch" while her father gives her enough gold to get to a port and out of the Moonshaes to the Sword Coast.

And that is about all I have for at this point. She will meet up with Nida and others when she gets to the Sword Coast, but that is a bit off. She first has to cross her homeland to get to the port. She will encounter fae, a prophetic witch, and more.

For Sinéad, I am starting out with AD&D 1st Ed, the same as the Forgotten Realms boxed set. To make a stronger line between her starting adventure and her later ones, I used just the Player's Handbook, DMG, and Unearthed Arcana for her. I tweaked her abilities a bit to fit better. Also, since I am seeing her as a bard from the word go, I am using the alternate Bard from Dragon #56. I thought it would be a good fit given how Bards are in the Forgotten Realms and Moonshaes in particular.  Plus, I wanted her to be a bard from 1st level. 

Sinéad of the Moonshaes
Sinéad of the Moonshae

Level: 1/1
Class: Magic-user/Bard
Female Half-elf

Abilities
Strength: 13
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 13
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Paralysis Poison: 14
Petrification/Polymorph: 13
Rod, Staff, or Wand: 11
Breath Weapon: 15
Spells: 12

Resistances: 30% to Sleep and Charm
Infravision 60'
Languages: Common, Elvish, Gnome, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Sylvan, and Ffolk (there is no reason why she would know orc or gnoll. Halflings don't or should have their own language, and Goblin and Hobgoblin should really be the same one).

AC: 8
HP: 7
Move: 12"

Charm: 10%
Lore: 0%
Read Language: 0%

Dagger

Magic-user Spells Known (* memorized)
Burning Hands*
Magic Missle

Bard Spells
Speak with Animals

Notes on Sinéad

Originally I saw her more along the lines of a witch, but after playing the character in Baldur's Gate I have come around to thinking that she is actually some sort of Sorcerer with Wild Magic.  No way to really represent that in AD&D 1st, so I have to fudge it a bit. The only spells she has had access to are Burning Hands and Magic Missle, and I am saying she learned them innately. To get more she will need to adventure more. She has Sehanine Moonbow whispering in her ear (a holdover when I briefly wanted to try her as a warlock). 

I wanted the witch she goes and sees to be Larina, just because I can. Larina would have been 34 at the time, so not bad, really; it also corresponds to the time when Larina disappears into the Feywild. 

I did roll to see if she had psionics. She had a 4% chance, I rolled an 8. 

I like the Dragon magazine bard, and it helps make her feel different from my other bards. Looking forward to seeing how it stacks up.

--

Don't forget to stop by the Tardi Captian's Blog to see all his character posts, and all the other participants.

Character Creation Challenge

Monday, January 22, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Keller the Silent for Wasted Lands

 Working on moving to my Forgotten Realms characters for my upcoming deep-dive into all editions of the Forgotten Realms. I decided to try a few more of those this week. I have already done Sinéad, who will be my eyes and ears in the Realms, plus others that are likely to appear in my games, like NidaJassic, Kelek, and Skylla

Today, though, is something a little different. I wanted to do a monk character (or mystic if I was using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia), but I don't really have any I want to try! There was Kurtzen, the monk I made for AD&D 1st Ed way back when, but he isn't really all that interesting. Spoiler: I was trying for a Night Crawler (from X-Men)-like character, but I never got it to where I wanted. So instead today I will take on a character I "adopted" rather than rolled up. Keller the Silent.

Keller the Silent

I detailed Keller's story a bit back. She is a wood-elf monk (I said she was a Siswa from the adventure B7 Rahasia), and she joined my party in Baldur's Gate 3.

Now, I could do her sheets for a post-2000 game (3e, 4e, or 5e) where elves can be monks, but for now, I will stick to Wasted Lands and see what I get.

Keller the Silent
Keller the Silent

Class: Mystic Martial Artist (from NIGHT SHIFT's Night Companion)
Level: 4
Species: Elf
Alignment: Light
Background: Elf (Wood Elf)

Abilities
Strength: 16 (+2) N
Agility: 18 (+3) A
Toughness: 15 (+1) N 
Intelligence: 10 (+0) 
Wits: 10 (+0) 
Persona: 9 (+0) 

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 30
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +3/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) +3 (Agility) +1 (Heroic Touchstone)
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base) +3 (Agility)
Saves: +1 to magic and spells (elf), +2 to Toughness and Agility saves.

Mystic Martial Artist Abilities
Martial Arts, Agile (+3 to Agility), Melee and Ranged Combat, Lightning Fast (+1 to Initiative), Powers: Danger Sense, Supernatural Attacks

Stealth Skills
Climb, Hide, and Move Silent as 1st level Survivor/Renegade

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: +1 to Defence
2nd Level: +1 to bare-handed melee attacks.

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Combat

Gear
Staff, Leather Armor, thieves tools

Wasted Lands Mystic Martial Artists

Now, this is a version of Keller I would have fun playing. The Mystic Martial Artist, while having its origin in Wuxa or Wire-fu cinema, makes for a great addition to my Wasted-Lands-as-D&D game. I admit I wish I could run my upcoming Forgotten Realms games using the Wasted Lands rules. It would be easier than moving through the various editions. 

I really had not considered using Keller in this at all, but this makes me want to. I have to figure out where she is from now and when she joins my little party of explorers. Also, I need to figure out how a character who has taken a vow of silence would work in my games.

On another note, I think I have settled on a Heroic/Divine Touchstone on every other level. It feels really powerful, but it also is a great way to customize characters. Maybe every three levels is also good.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Nida for Wasted Lands

 I want to get some more Forgotten Realms this month, and this has me thinking about my *other* native Forgotten Realms character, Lady Nida. But maybe before she was a "Lady."

When I did stats for Nida a while back for AD&D 2nd Ed, I wanted her to be a combination of the witches that I didn't play back then: a Witch of Hala and a Witch of Rashemen. To be a witch of Hala, though, you have to start out in a non-spell-casting class. Fine! I wanted her to start out as a rogue/thief beforehand anyway, so that works. I also knew that Nida, along with Sinéad, were going to be part of a party of characters.  Playing Sinéad, though, in Baldur's Gate 3 changed some of my ideas about her.  So now some of these ideas that don't work as well for Sinéad are going over to Nida. 

Nida Sheets

I want to focus on her Rogue/Thief/Renegade side for this build in Wasted Lands. She has some magic already, which might be the reason Sinéad joins up with her band of adventurers, and also why Sinéad has part of her hair shaved off and wears a lot of black leather; she is emulating the friend she met when she first left home.  Maybe I'll even use a "Quantum Cat" version of Johan as the party's cleric. It would be a different version of course, but maybe the same as my Baldur's Gate 3 run.  Note: I DO have a Baldur's Gate 3 version of Nida as well, but I want to try out something different for her in another run, maybe.

But for now, her job is to be a bad influence on Sinéad. 

Nida
Nida

Class: Renegade
Level: 4
Species: Human
Alignment: Twilight
Background: Sorcerous (Grew up in Rashemen)

Abilities
Strength: 11 (+0) 
Agility: 16 (+2) A
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 17 (+2) N
Wits: 13 (+1) 
Persona: 18 (+3) N

Fate Points: 1d6
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 23
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +3/+2/+0
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base) +2
Spell Attack: +0
Saves: +3 vs Death effects (Renegade), +2 to Persona saves (Sorcerous background)

Renegade Abilities
Improved Defence, Ranged Combat, Stealth Skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-3), Perception, Vital Strike x3, Read Languages, Stealth Skills

Stealth Skills
Open Locks: 30%
Bypass Traps: 25%
Sleight of Hand: 35%
Sneak: 30%

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: Arcane Power: Detect Thoughts
2nd Level: Luck Benefit 1d6

Sorcerous Background
Bonus Arcane Power: Precognition

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Dagger, Leather Armor, thieves tools

Wasted Lands Renegades as AD&D Thieves

Nida here is not "Lady Nida" yet, but she is a good thief. In fact, the Wasted Lands Renegade stacks up well to the AD&D thief. Now, if I were in a min/maxing mood, I could have given her Sage and used the divine touchstones to improve her thief's skills. But that didn't ring true to who I think this character is. While she grew up in Rashemen, she is not a sage. She doesn't have spells just yet, but she will stop being a thief soon and switch over to being a Sorceress or Witch.

I'll come back to both Nida and Sinéad and whatever other characters I come up with for my Forgotten Realms exploration.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Monday, January 15, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Jassic Winterhaven for Wasted Lands

 It is frigid outside. But we are in the middle of winter, so I guess that is expected. It did get me thinking about a few of my winter-themed characters. So let's start this one off with one of my favorites, Jassic Winterhaven, the gnome bard/warlock.

Wasted Lands has rules for using characters other than the proto-humans of the Dreaming Age. I have done some elves and half-elves, but let see what we can do with a gnome.

Jassic Winterhaven sheets

Jassic here is a bit of fun character. In D&D 4e he was a test run of the hybrid class rules of a Bard and a Warlock.  Later on he became a more traditional Bard/Warlock multiclass in D&D 5e. Both worked remarkably well and loved how well Bard and Warlock work with each other.  I did do this in Baldur's Gate 3, but not as Jassic.

Wasted Lands does not have a proper Warlock class. Night Shift does. Also, neither game has a true bard. But there is the Sage, which so far has played very Bard-like.

So, who is Jassic, and how should I re-build him in Wasted Lands? Taking the Sorcerer and saying he has magic but needs to play an instrument to use it is easily done. No extra rules are needed. Sage would cover his languages and his lore and even grant his some extra spells as well as some Renegade/Rogue abilities. So that is all great. Perform? Well, that is a sort of Persona check. Bardic inspiration? Ah, that one is trickier. But let's see what I can do with some Heroic Touchstones.

Jassic Winterhaven
Jassic Winterhaven

Class: Sorcerer / Sage
Level: 4/2
Species: Gnome
Alignment: Light 
Background: Gnome

Abilities
Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 12 (+0) 
Toughness: 12 (+0) 
Intelligence: 14 (+1) N
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 18 (+3) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 6
Vitality: 23
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +0 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +0 (base)
Spell Attack: +2
Saves: +3 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer), +1 to Wits and Persona saves (Gnome)

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (2): Beguile, Precognition

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Beast Speech, Prestidigitation
Second Level: See Invisible, Unlock

Gnome Abilities
Night Sighted

Sage Abilities
Languages (14), Lore, Suggestion, Mesmerize Others, Renegade skills at level 1

Sage Spells
First Level: Chill Ray

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: Bonus Skill: Performance
2nd Level: Luck benefit
3rd Level: Additional Luck
4th Level: Magical recovery

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Wanderer

Gear
Shortbow, shortsword, leather armor, 

Wasted Lands Bards

For starters, suggestion helps with some Bardic abilities. The Luck Benefit from the Heroic touchstones also gives a good replacement for Bardic Inspiration. I can have him take it again at higher levels for more use in the day.

I'd have to play this character some more to see how he works out. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Kelek for Wasted Lands

 One more magical character. This time, I want to do Skylla's partner in crime, Kelek the Cruel.

Kelek is a fun character. He was the only Dungeons & Dragons action figure I ever purchased when they were new, except for special edition ones that came out later/recently. And I have used him in a few games. In particular, he is the main bad guy in my War of the Witch Queens

Kelek character sheets

Now Kelek, in my games, has a bit of orc somewhere in his bloodline. So he gets better than expected Constitution/Toughness scores and has slightly pointed ears.  In Baldur's Gate 3 I managed this with carefully editing the half-orc facial features. 

In BG3 and D&D 5 he is a Sorcerer. So he gets magic on the fly. I am able to do this in Wasted Lands by having him take the Street Mage or Hedge Mage arcane power. Like Skylla he is a Persona (Charisma) based caster but his sorcery is different than her witchcraft. He is also one level higher at 7.  

Old hands at D&D B/X or BECMI will note that a 6th-level Magic user has the level title of "Warlock," and a 7th-level Magic user has the title of Sorcerer. Works out here as well. 

Kelek the Cruel
Kelek

Class: Sorcerer
Level: 7
Species: Human* (Orc-men)
Alignment: Dark
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 15 (+1) 
Agility: 10 (0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 15 (+1) N
Wits: 13 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 32
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +1 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +1 (base)
Spell Attack: +4
Saves: +3 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer) +1 to Toughness saves (Orc-men).

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (3): Street Mage, Enhanced Senses (magic), Detect Thoughts

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Dart, Command, Read Languages, Sleep
Second Level: Beguile Person, ESP, Unlock
Third Level: Concussive Blast, Fly

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: First Level Spell: Chill Ray
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Robe of Protection, Staff of Sorceries

Wasted Lands Magic-users

Skylla and Kelek

Class-wise, Skylla and Kelek are the same class. At least that is how they are in the Wasted Lands. Consequently, this is also how they were in D&D Basic. Both were Magic-users. It has just been the last few years where they have been different things, warlock and sorcerer respectively.

Just like Basic (and OD&D and AD&D) you make them feel different by how you play them.

Wasted Lands adds an additional level of arcane powers; this is the first split. By given Kelek Streer or Hedge Mage we free him from the need of spell books. Though it also means that his big desire of stealing Ringlerun's spell book is sort of lost. For Skylla I give her the arcane power of innate magic to allow her to use Arcane Darts more, a she would an Eldritch Blast. 

I can further separate them with a few choice Divine Touchstones.  Simplicity is the key to flexibility here. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge