Monday, May 24, 2010

[LFC] Skelfer Ard is the Ran of Ah Foo!

In the Last Fantasy Campaign, the game Rafael is running for us over at the Comeback Inn, a frightening revelation has just dawned on the heroes: Legendary wizard Skelfer Ard and Ran the Lich-King are one and the same!

Who are these guys again? Let's backtrack a little. Centuries ago, the magic users of the north were fighting over the Wild Magic that is so potent in the lands surrounding Blackmoor. Noone knows its true source, but many suspect it is tied to the very magical rock that Blackmoor Castle is built on. As these so-called mage wars raged on, Skelfer worked in his laboratory and came up with a way to control the wild magic, through the use of crystals. With his newly gained powers, he brought an end to the mage wars and set up an organization to keep magic under control in the future. This organization was called the Wizards Cabal. Once his work was done, Skelfer simply disappeared. Noone knows where he went off to, though the speculations have seemed without limit.

Lord Ran, or the Ran of Ah' Foo is another equally mysterious entity. He was believed to have started out as the puppet of the Egg of Coot, who then turned upon his master, seeking refuge in the west. For a while, he ran the Duchy of Ten, but this must have ended before the Afridhi invaded those lands.How could a good mage like Skelfer have been turned into a creature like Ran? Did he witness such dark things during the mage wars, that he could never go back to being truly good? Or did he fall under the spell of the Egg of Coot, just like Moorkok the Slayer?


Friday, May 14, 2010

Earthshakers of Blackmoor!

In 1985, TSR published a D&D module by David "Zeb" Cook bearing the title CM4 Earthshaker! It featured a gigantic humanoid steel construct, which had been revived by Gnomes who had discovered it. Considered one of the great wonders of the world, the Earthshaker was believed to be unstoppable, causing endless havoc in his wake.
Interestingly, this was not the last (or first?) appearance of the Earthshaker. In CM4, David Cook provides only a few clues to the origins of the Earthshaker

"Milos doesn't know who built the Eartshaker, but he knows that it was built at least 3000 years ago, probably by a race of evil gods with skill similar to that of gnomes or dwarves" -CM4 page 10.

3000 years ago? Well, that does place us firmly in the classic Age of Blackmoor. Another clue appeared three years later in the module DA3 City of the Gods:

Notice that humanoid figure to the right of the panel? Could it be the same figure? Granted it does look smaller than the Eartshaker, which is said to be taller than the Empire State building. However the design certainly looks similar. Giant Metallic Automatons as part of the Blackmoor mythos seem to be well established. They also appear to have been instrumental in the design of the Age of the Wolf setting, featuring such unique gigantic constructs as the Herald of Thanatos.

Recently the topic of the Earthshaker reappeared in a discussion over at the Piazza, where a project led by Chimpman has been initiated to develop a historical version of the legendary City of Urzud.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

RIP John Eric Holmes (1930-2010)

I just found out from Allan Grohe, by the way of Dragonsfoot that D&D editor John Eric Holmes passed away on 20 March this year, due to a stroke. It is sad to see yet another of the great names from the early days of D&D leave us so soon.

A complete bibliography of mr Holmes can be found here.

A 5-page download of the sample dungeon also known as  Cellars of Zenopus from the Holmes rulebook can be found on WotC's website, in this article.


Friday, May 7, 2010

D@D in the mail!

Real life has been keeping me away from my blog for a while, but I promise to make up for it! Just a quick note to let you all know that I finally got my copy of Dan Bogg's Dragons at Dawn, which I have mentioned earlier in this blog. It was so cool to finally read through a physical copy of this game. I will write more on it later.

Also, in the same package from Lulu, I got a copy of the hard cover version of Labyrinth Lord. As some of you will know, I am a big fan of Frank Mentzer's BECMI, which I consider to be as close to D&D perfection as you can get. From what I understand Labyinth Lord is based on Moldvay/Cook, but its close enough to BECMI to give me that warm and fuzzy feeling. I know what you're going to say, "what took you so long?" I know, I know.

Well, those are two sweet games from Lulu, which should keep me busy in between the two parties I have planned this weekend.