What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Immortal Figures: Gods of Olympus

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Published Campaign Settings & The New Aihrde Codex

Published Campaign Settings are the sort of things I typically love but seldom make use of. When I do, I tend to stick to 'just the one'. Of course, there is nothing to stop me from mining others for use in my own game.

When I first started in the hobby, I basically grabbed the Forgotten Realms set... Keep in mind, that we aren't talking about what we all know think of when I mention the Realms now, but rather a setting that was still waiting to be massively exploited. When I started, all I had was the original 1st edition box set and within a year or so, accessories which numbered from FR1 to FR6. And even then, I chose to center my campaign in a small little valley known as Bloodstone Pass which linked the countries of Vassa and Damara. And that was it... I didn't really need much else. But because TSR decided to make a darling of the Forgotten Realms -- especially as it rolled into 2nd edition, novels became plentiful as were future accessories.

I ran a solid campaign in the Realms for a solid 5 years and then retired it. During that time, I easily had a dozen players, though only one session ever had all of them in attendance. As a player, I had a couple of friends that ran different settings ... one preferred Dragonlance and another did his own though influenced by Greyhawk. I suppose those were the 'golden years' and, on average, we did a couple of games per week. Running the Realms in the earlier days was pleasant enough in part because I didn't feel constrained by a setting that was OVERLY detailed. At first the novels were great because it gave the players a better sense and appreciation for the setting they also happened to adventure in. Unfortunately, the more that got published, and the more the mystery of exploring a setting dissipated. I feel I gave it a fair send off as ideas developed in the back of my mind for a setting of my own design.

My own ideas for a setting didn't really materialize for a few years but I didn't or play anything that was D&D related either. The chance to put some of this into action came about with 3rd Edition. Fun but brief would be the best way to describe it. Nothing wrong with the concept or setting I was putting together but 3rd Edition proved to be an interesting beast to manage and working full time has a different effect on what my social life than when I was a student.

Nonetheless, over the years I have bought many a book, supplement, and box set detailing a whole array of settings. This ranged from various incarnations of the Wilderlands... different offerings from TSR... Chaosium's interpretation of Thieves World... to quite a number of d20 iterations. There are many I have favored for one reason or another and some have made for an interesting venue for adventure even if for only a short time.

Eventually, and largely due to exploring their past d20 catalog, I found TLG's "After Winter's Dark" accessory. This was amongst the first material they put out -- right before the big d20 boom. This would have been 5 years before they published C&C. It was an interesting little accessory which was maybe 20 pages in length but it presented some very interesting concepts which were very similar to some of the concepts I had outlined for my idea for a setting. Similar... not the same -- but I loved the direction they seemed to take it. Then again, at 20 pages, it was a very brief look. The setting was called Erde (back then) and they put out a very interesting hardback for it as well. The greatest thing about the setting is that they give a good summary of the history but still leave plenty open for exploration and personal campaigns. The book is positively jam-packed for ideas and inspiration. In my opinion, the setting is very fertile for the imagination.

With TLG focusing on C&C, the "After Winter's Dark" accessory got a hefty refresh and is presented in a nice folio with maps and a couple of saddle stitched books detailing aspects of the setting. This was done 2-3 years back at the same time as they put out Gygax's East-Mark Gazetteer. At that point, they mentioned that the Codex of Erde (the main setting book) would also be getting a refresh. Well, it's taken a few years but a pre-order page has been put up for it HERE.

The final product is for a 250+ hardback coming with two 12"x18" maps which, judging by it's d20 predecessor, will have almost no crunch (less than 10%) making it viable for other systems other than C&C. MSRP is $34.99

Now while the price is pretty good -- the pre-order might be more interesting since they've patterned it off various kickstarter efforts ... different tiers. $15 gets you the PDF when it's ready and $20 gives you a softcover (perfect bound with maps) book along with the PDF. Great value if you ask me. There are other higher tiers where they throw in other interesting offers... I mean if you go for 5$ more than the MSRP, you get the hardback, PDF, and a Campaign Diary (tracker). The point I'm trying to make here is that these are decent values for the money.

But what about the original Codex? For those not caring about the 'C&C treatment', you can probably still find the d20 Codex of Erde for a reasonable price (new *or* second-hand). Noble Knight Games has a copy new in shrink for $9.95 or a NM copy for $9. Actually, just as recent this weekend, I saw a copy in the discount section of the FLGS for $5 (still in shrink). Make no mistake -- it's not crap but it was just one of MANY products that flooded the d20 market at the time. But if you're not going to run it but wouldn't mind mining it for ideas, a sub-$10 purchase for a hardback is not too shabby either.

In any event Erde (or Aihrde as it is now spelled) has been the setting I adopted for use in my own campaign and have for the past 5 years with C&C. It gives me the flexibility I want in a setting and provides a large and clean canvas to further customize my campaigns. Pretty important when time is at a premium these days. :) I'll be picking this up and will continue to use it ... at least till the new setting I'm working on for Ballista is done... or until I get fed up and cast the characters to Carcosa.

Thanks for reading!

M