Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2009

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the 129th issue of The Guild Companion.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs

In between interruptions caused by the start of teaching term in Cambridge and various other responsibilities, I have been wrestling with the final chapter of Something Wicked. This is the chapter of GM advice and guidance that will help folk integrate the new material into their campaigns and worlds. It is a chapter that I have been looking forward to writing for a very long time as a reward for all the number-crunching and rules juggling of the rest of the book.

So I was dismayed when I came to the proposed outline for the chapter and discovered that it did not feel right any longer. I spent several evenings randomly putting in notes and, in some cases, taking them straight back out again. On a hunch, I went rummaging through the other chapters and my still-to-do list and discovered that the problem was not the final chapter but the first chapter. The first chapter, notionally entitled "By The Pricking of My Thumbs", described the various attractions and lures of evil, and then detailed possible sources of supernatural evil (such as demon princes, evil gods, etc.) My still-to-do list indicated that it required a section on "Degrees of Evil". Even with that section, it looked set to be a very short chapter and that is wasteful in the traditional HARP layout in terms of page count and art. And this manuscript is going to need a significant amount of new interior art for all those new Undead, Elementals and Demons. In terms of the material, however, this putative chapter was related in theme to the putative final chapter, and therein lay the resolution of my problem - grab the material from the putative first chapter and bring it into the putative final chapter.

Some vigorous shaking of the chapter outline and rewriting to remeld the assimilated material into its new positions yielded a chapter outline that looks like it will now work. Writing to the revised chapter outline is now well underway. I'm maintaining consistency with College of Magics by relating the power levels of new magic in Something Wicked to the same classifications that I adopted in College of Magics. This should make life easier for GMs for managing the magical power of their campaign. Likewise other chapters in Something Wicked build upon the rules and thematic material of other HARP supplements. The three chapters containing new supernatural beings and monsters utilise the monster creation guidelines of Monsters: a Field Guide, although I have not rounded any numbers in order to make it easier for playtesters to check my math and, in due course, easier for GMs to modify presented monsters to fit their needs. In the chapter, "Night's Black Agents", the treatment of Cults, Cabals and Secret Societies draws upon the descriptors first explored in Martial Law.

For those interested in how Something Wicked is now structured, it looks like this:

  • Introduction (describing what's in the book and designer notes)
  • The Unquiet Dead (a collection of new Undead beings)
  • The Elemental Powers (the Elemental Plane and its subplanes, Elementals, Elemental heritages, Elemental creatures, inter alia)
  • Masters of the Abyss ( the Abyss and some of its subplanes, and a lot more new Demons, inter alia)
  • Night's Black Agents (3 new professions - Demonologist, Warlock/Witch and Wildmage, cults and cabals, etc.)
  • Black Magic (new Cantrips, new High Magic, new Middle Magic spells for Demonologists, Warlocks/Witches and existing professions)
  • The Widdershins Weird ( grand magic, new mana sources, new talents, greater rituals, etc.)
  • Foul Sorcery (bargaining with the demons using the magic of truenames)
  • By The Pricking of My Thumbs, Something Wicked This Way Comes (GM advice for putting it all together)

The Guild Adventurer #4

Two of the three awaited scenarios have arrived in my inbox and both look very good so far. One has a set of maps to arrive, the other has some additional multi-statting to be done. Only one adventure still to arrive and its author will be nagged. He knows who he is.

I can't say if TGA#4 will be published this side of Christmas at this point in time. It may slip into early 2010.

The Apprentices of the Guild

The Apprentices continue to work on the trilogy of convention scenarios. Writing is underway on the first scenario - "The Island of Adventure: Shipwrecked" - and in creating the set of pregenerated characters for use in this and the succeeding scenarios. We will keep you updated on the progress of these.

Farewell for now ...

No editorial ranting this month on the state of Rolemaster or HARP, so I'll return to my writing and leave you to enjoy the rest of the issue. We'll be back in December with issue 130, but until then ...

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