Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2008

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the 112th issue of The Guild Companion.

Project Updates

The Land of Xa-ar, Terry Amthor's brand-new Shadow World regional module for Jaiman, will almost certainly be our first new product this year. Terry has been working on layout, incorporating renderings and new artwork from William Tibaud, indexing and generally getting Xa-ar to a near final state. It will return to me for a residual error hunting pass. It is already 128 pages before player handouts and player-safe maps are accounted for. I think all Shadow World fans will find that it has been well worth the wait.

With regard to Rolemaster Companion I, more pages have arrived from Andrew Ridgway, aka ictus, for approval. We're now past all the spell lists, the singleton spells, and the profession descriptions, so probably halfway through.

Last month, I indicated that owing to the imminent demise of the d20 System Trademark License we would have to amend City of Archendurn. I have decided that we're going to throw out the d20 stats (I'm going to enjoy that evening's work) and replace them with RM2/Classic and HARP stats. Marc Rosen (aka LordMiller), one of the RM Classic team, has already produced the needful RM2/Classic stats, and I have Cormac Doyle on the case for the HARP stats. There will be a coupon issued that will allow purchasers of the first edition to pick up the second edition for a nominal fee of one US dollar.

We've commissioned Rick Hansen (aka Ironmaul) to produce the artwork for Dun Cru, so that is now in progress as well.

The first full adventure, Dust to Dust, by Marc Rosen, has arrived for TGA#3. I'll be chasing down everyone else who has promised content that has yet to arrive.

D&D 4th Edition and the new Game System License will be released in a very few days now, so we'll be able to see what's the best course of action for the erstwhile d20/OGL edition of the Shadow World Master Atlas.

Something Wicked and Monster Musings

I have been working slowly but steadily on Something Wicked, specifically the Elemental Powers chapter, which has morphed into a very sizable body of work. Part of this has involved making the four distinct subplanes of the Elemental Plane more than single environment locations. The Earth subplane is now more than just an endless maze of tunnels, for instance. It still incorporates a labyrinth of tunnels, so I have deliberately not broken consistency with HARPer's Bazaar #5 to avoid anyone having to rewrite their campaign world and/or history. I do have an end-goal of wanting the subplanes to be interesting places where medium to high-level heroes could have adventures and not just be contests to see how long one's elemental and planar survival abilities can last. That also means that the elemental subplanes are populated by more than just Elementals of various Types. So I've added a dozen sample monsters to the Elemental chapter, some inspired by entries in Creatures & Monsters, some from other sources.

In creating the monsters, I realised just how scattered the various monster special abilities are around the HARP rulebooks - HARP, Monsters: A Field Guide, Cyradon, the Bazaars - and so there was a very real risk of duplicating a special ability or failing to find the canonical form. Fortunately a request on the ICE forums located a fan (WoeRie) who had compiled a big list of all the special abilities and errors of duplication were duly avoided this time. (And likewise will hopefully be avoided when I start creating Demons for the Servants of the Abyss chapter).

Looking through the vast list, it was noticeable that designing new abilities is somewhat of an ad-hoc affair, and that the guidelines (loose and strict) on how many abilities monsters and potential PC races should possess has led to power disparities between some of the abilities. Basically some of the abilities are more encompassing in what they provide to the recipient. - for example, there's a Cold Immunity ability (immune to natural cold) and Natural Immunity (immune to natural heat and cold). This becomes particularly true when compared against the Talents/racial abilities available in HARP SF. There a character could have Cold Resistance (minor), Cold Resistance (major), Heat Resistance (minor), or Heat Resistance (major), but none of these make a character immune to real extremes of heat or cold. Of course in a traditional fantasy game, Halflings would use their Natural Immunity to keep themselves alive in arctic or desert conditions - the ability is not meant to keep them alive on the snow fields of Pluto or on the surface of Venus. There is an issue for GMs running crossover campaigns where the mismatch of effects between HARP Fantasy and HARP SF needs to be considered when deciding which Talents and abilities are allowed in the game. It is an issue that I will definitely have to give consideration to when it comes time to write SysOp's Guide, if not before.

My plan for Something Wicked is to take a break from the heavyweight source material chapters and switch gear to the more rules-oriented sections of the book as I need to give the playtesters more time on those portions of the book.

Farewell for now ...

Time for me to disappear to get more writing done. We'll be back in July with issue 113, but until then …

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion