Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Review: Calidar How to Train Your Wizard

Next up in the Calidar: On the Wings of Darkness series is sourcebook/adventure for novice necromancers.  So you know I am excited!

CA2 How to Train Your Wizard
PDF 70 Pages, full-color covers, color, and black & white interior art.
This book requires Calidar On Wings of Darkness and A Players' Guide to Caldwen, but it can also be played without those to a lesser degree.  That is, it can be adapted to any game or setting, but I think it looses a bit of the original charm.
This adventure and supplement focuses on the College of Necromancy and assumes novice characters of about 12 years old.  There are guidelines for rolling up novice characters as well as six pre-gen characters you can name and drop into the game.
Given the characters are novices this is a PERFECT introduction game for new, younger players. This is "Harry Potter meets Scooby-Doo (but more like Magicians)." You have young adventures, a mystery and the ghosts are real.

For the background, you get a collection of teachers that will interact with the students, and there is already a built-in rivalry in the school; the White vs. Black Necromancers.  Or Law and Chaos for us old-school types.  The characters are also given homework that can earn them "insight" to be used in the game.  Students can also get "brownie points" from their official Brownie Protector, Bronwen!  These are for good roleplaying that would not necessarily result in Experience Points.
I am just mad I didn't think of this first.

The clues the students/characters can find while working through our plot and subplots.  The adventure is designed NOT to be a railroad. In fact, care is given knowing the characters, being young, will likely go all over the place.

The adventure starts in the classroom (! YEAH, no "you meet in a Tavern/Bar/Inn!) and moves out from there.  The College is very detailed with maps and descriptions of the rooms. There are plenty of NPCs to encounter and combat is NOT expected at every turn.  Clever spellcasting is rewarded, as is finishing homework.

I want to point out here that the maps in this product are a work of art.  Really.

The levels are detailed well and clues to the murder of a student, Odel Talron.

This adventure can be run to support the murder investigation, or as a means to test the new young necromancers, or even just to play out the rivalry between the White and Black factions.  Or all the above.

For my money, I would run it first as an introduction to the College, maybe play up the rivalry a bit, and then hit the characters with the murder in the next session.

The bottom line there is a LOT you can do with this and the ideas are not limited to those above.
It comes in softcover, but for my uses, I grabbed the PDF and printed it out one side per page so I have room to write my own notes.

According to Bruce Heard, there will be Labyrinth Lord and OSRIC compatible conversion guides for this coming soon.

I hope we can see other guides like this for the other Colleges.


Martin R. Thomas said...

Sounds interesting. I always liked Bruce's work back on the Voyage of the Princess Ark series in Dragon, so I was intrigued a few years ago when I saw that he was working on a new world.

How would you describe Calidar as a world and compare/contrast it to other campaign worlds? Is it something from which you can easily borrow/steal, or would you recommend it would be better running it "as is"? (I know you said this particular adventure/sourcebook could be divorced from the setting but that it loses something, but I'm talking more about the world in general).


Bruce Heard said...

You can browse through this description. It should help answer your questions. =)

Bruce Heard said...

Part of "How to Train Your Wizard" is for students out of bed to move around the college cautiously during the night so they don't get detention. Dead or alive, proctors do haunt the halls. Detention adds up fast, especially when careless students inflict "collateral damage" to the premises or to resident "creatures." Then again, with brownie points, an apprentice up to no good can trade them in to get "out of jail." Yet, troublemakers do proudly wear their detention tally as a badge of honor among other more restrained students, earning admiration from some and perhaps romance with others. But, shhhh. What happens at the college stays at the college. Usually.

Timothy S. Brannan said...


I have been playing it pretty local for the moment, but I have considered a couple of different ideas on how to move the whole thing to my own campaign world.

I have also been taking bits and pieces and using them in my current "Second Campaign" set in Mystara when I can.

Bruce Heard said...

Tim -- if you can, let me know how you manage to merge Calidar material with Mystara. This may be of interest to hardcore Mystara fans, perhaps as an article. Thanks!