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The Wizard's Amulet

Written by Clark Peterson and Bill Webb

Reviewed by Rob Brott, Copyright© 2000

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

 

Much has been said (some right here in The Guild Companion) about the decline in the number of people playing roleplaying games. Many reasons have been given, but one thing remains clear: more new people need to be introduced to the hobby. Along these lines, Necromancer Games has released a free introductory adventure module called The Wizard's Amulet. This module is designed for the new Dungeons and Dragons© Third Edition, but the module can probably be converted to other systems without too much difficulty.

Clearly, Necromancer Games has aimed this module squarely at novice GMs and players:

This adventure is designed to be used ``out of the box,'' ... The Wizard's Amulet is the perfect adventure for new GMs who want to try their hand at running their first adventure ... and you should be playing your first Third Edition game within fifteen minutes!

The aim is good. This adventure is a nice introductory affair for novice GMs, and perhaps even grizzled veteran GMs. Oh, and fifteen minutes? Maybe, but more time spent in preparation will surely be rewarded.

The plot is centered around a tyro spellcaster named Corian, who is a player character. Corian, it seems, has discovered a letter from a wizard named Eralion, who attempted to become a lich. With the letter Corian also found an oddly-marked amulet. The basic plot-line is simple: Corian must gather a group of adventurers; set out on the road to find Eralion's keep, and uncover what surely will be riches, items of power, and great knowledge. Of course, Corian is not unopposed. Vortigern, an acquaintance of Corian's, also seeks the amulet. The choice of "Vortigern" as the name for the main nemesis is interesting...Is there some historical parallel here, or is the name just cool?

The adventure itself is a tightly scripted affair, written in an act and scene format for about six first-level characters. The plot is very linear, and includes a combat or two, a time for some non-combat roleplaying, a red herring/golden egg (depending on your point-of-view), and a finale that provides for many outcomes. Indeed, this adventure dovetails nicely into a follow-on adventure, The Crucible of Freya, also by Necromancer Games. 

Much attention has been paid, by the authors, to provide assistance to the GM as the adventure unfolds. For example, text and artwork is provided in order to provide ambience and information, and certain helpful information is provided in the margins in "side boxes". The encounters are fully fleshed out, and advice has been given on how to adjust the difficulty level of the encounters, depending on the character party's condition and makeup. Necromancer Games is to be saluted for this, for a good GM needs to develop this as an innate skill. In addition, very little supporting information is needed by the GM which should aid in running a smooth first-time adventure. And it is pleasing to see that a version of the Golden Rule of Game Mastering is here as well:  use what you want, discard or change the rest.

The Wizards's Amulet also provides a nice section on concluding the adventure. Players need to have some feedback from the GM about how the adventure went. Ultimately, the goal is fun for all, but something concrete from the GM is always appreciated. Here, the authors give a detailed breakdown on how to award experience for the adventure. Indeed, this would allow for The Wizard's Amulet to be run in a tournament setting with ease by providing the grading system to compare various groups' performances.

Although The Wizard's Amulet provides a lot of good advice and hand-holding for GMs, it would have been nice if the authors had put the same effort towards the players. True, they do provide pre-generated characters representing lots of classes and races, and in the 3rd Edition Character Generator Format. These pre-generated characters obviate the need for a lot of--what can be for greenhorns--tedious work. However, with the exception of Corian (who is fleshed out with a reasonable and interesting back story), none of the other supplied characters have such information. For example, Galdar, a cleric, is strongly recommended as one of the characters the players should choose. But aside from the fact that it's always nice to have a cleric in the group for healing purposes, little else is provided about Galdar.

In the end, The Wizard's Amulet hits the mark as a fun, well-written, well-organized, introductory adventure that can only help bring new players into the fold of roleplayers.

Editor's Note:

The Wizard's Amulet, is written by Clark Peterson and Bill Webb, and is produced and distributed by Necromancer Games. It is available for free as an eighteen page PDF file from their web-site. Their contact details are as follows:
Necromancer Games
Web: http://www.necromancergames.com

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