May 29, 2008

What If? Dragonlance Live Action Cast

Since even before the first hints of a Dragonlance movie surfaced, many people on the net played along with the popular what if scenario: "Who would you cast in a movie?"

Here's a great video I recently came across where one person attempts to answer just that question. I really like the use of existing Dragonlance art along with several photos of each actor.

May 26, 2008

Did You Know? Minotaurs

The minotaurs of Krynn are very much different from their counterparts in the Dungeons and Dragons rules in general.

For starters, they are a true species that has male and female members and can give birth to offspring. In D&D terms, they are Medium sized creatures and playable as PCs at first level.

One other difference, depending on the source, concerns their feet. The MM version of a minotaur is a cloven hoofed creature, but the minotaurs of Krynn as ofter portrayed as having human like feet, though some art work has shown they with hoofs.

May 24, 2008

Did You Know? Taladas and Adlatum

Most of the books and game materials for the Dragonlance setting take place on the content of Ansalon, but the setting officially (as of this post) has two other contents.

Taladas was first detailed in the 1989 product "Time of the Dragon", a Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition box set that detailed a hitherto unknown continent on the planet of Krynn. In the original box set, it mentioned that the people of Ansalon do not know of this new place, but a later novel seems to indicate that the minotaurs are aware of their Taladian "cousins".

Adlatum is another content on Krynn. No information is known about this location, other than various maps of the Ansalonian continent pointing to the direction of this content as well as pointing to the location of Taladas. No novels or other game products make mention of this place so it's not known how much the Ansalon population knows about this other content.

May 13, 2008

The Test

When the party returned to Flotsam they were surprised find that they were no longer unwelcome (see "A Dungeon and a Dragon (Part 3)"), but were now hailed as heroes for rescuing all the prisoners from Brightstone keep (see "A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 3").

About one week later, while most of the other party members were training, Arterion received a formal summons to take his Test of High Sorcery (commonly refered to as just "the test") at a nearby location.

Arti was well aware that this was to be a rigorous experience meant to test all his skills and abilities, and that failure often meant death. With that in mind, Arti left behind
some of his personal possessions, including recent treasure the party had found in Brightstone Keep. With little fanfare, he set off down the path of his own personal destiny...

Ten days later, Browyn the Red, who had been mentoring Arti in Flotsam, informed the party of his apparent demise. Browyn didn't know the details what happened, but had been informed by the Order that Arti had failed his test.

The Test is one of the few times that I don't mind killing PCs (the other time being combat with a dragon). The "lore" of The Test, from various novels and game products, always emphasizes the deadly nature of this event. To capture feeling in my game, I pull no (or few) punches when it comes to keeping PCs alive.

The Test itself is actually a bunch of smaller tests, some of which are just annoying, others are dangerous if approached the wrong way, and a few of which mean certain death.

Overall I thought Julian did a good job playing the character and trying to solve the mystery (he did very well at the logic puzzles I included) , but ended up missing a few important clues and got involved in a combat that took a bad turn.

May 10, 2008

My Dragonlance - The Four Fs

As I mentioned in passing in the last game session ("A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 4"), in my version of Dragonlance, which I like to think of as Krynn 616, there's more than just the gods of light, darkness, and balance in the celestial makeup.

I've also included lesser beings, such as demons and devils. These lesser beings are very rarely hinted at in the novels; I'm only aware of one book, Lord Toede, which makes mention of devils.

So in adding this new layer to the setting, I came up with a bit of history to explain how these new beings all fit in with the established history, which in this case dates all the way back to the Age of Starbirth.

As part the All Saints War, there were many other beings fighting in this celestial war. At the end of the war, many of the lesser beings were NOT elevated to deities as they had hoped (or been promised). As a result they became the following:

  • The Fallen. These beings comprise the warriors who fought in the war and afterward retained some loyalty to the gods of darkness and continue to follow the ridge order that they had before. These are the devils of D&D.
  • The Forsaken. These warriors were also on the side of darkness, but when they learned they would never be elevated, they completely rebelled against any hierarchy and fought among themselves. They now have no allegiance to any god and actively seek to corrupt human souls as well as garner enough power to war again against all the gods. These are the demons of D&D.
  • The Favored. These are the warriors who fought on the sides of Light and Balance. At the end of the war, they remained loyal to the gods and willingly serve as messengers and servants. These are akin to angels in Christian faith.
  • The Faithful. These are people who were once human and through extraordinary actions and circumstances were touched by a deity at the time of their death. They now function as additional servants of the gods. These beings are akin to saints in Christian faith.
So that's a look at the expanded celestial hierarchy. Are there more groups beyond these four in the heavens? Rumors persist of ancient powers, akin to Chaos, that lie outside the established order, leaving scholars to wonder just who are these "Forgotten" beings?

May 8, 2008

A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 4

After freeing the last of the slave/miners from the Brightstone Keep (see part 3), the party went to explore the mines for more information on the mysterious things going on here, and maybe find more clues regarding Bergan's missing friend, Catriona.

The entrance to the mine was sealed, but the lock was picked with only a little bit of effort. Slowly everyone entered...

* Theo - the kender, handy at unlocking locked locks
* Hunter - the half-elven ranger who's precision with the bow is often fatal to his opponents
* Greybear - the druid, able to access the divine power of nature itself
* Arti - a mage wielding powerful arcane forces
* Jessriel - a former prisoner with hand to hand combat skills as effective as any blade or club.
* Bergin - a minotaur and cleric of Kiri-Jolith

As they entered, the party found a crudely carved path way leading to forked intersection.
Opting to head left, they encounter a pair of zombies milling about. Bergan is able to call upon the power of Kiri-Jolith and keep the zombies at bay. After a few well placed arrows, Hunter destroys these two creatures granting them eternal rest. The rest of the area was empty, except for the unmined stones still in the walls.
Heading forward, they entered a huge open cavern. In one corner was a small pool of fresh water from an underground stream... but more immediately of concern was the zombie rising from the floor to attack the party! And second only to the attacking zombie was the animated skeleton that was also advancing on the group!!

Once again, the divine power of Kiri-Jolith aided this party through his faithful servant Bergan and sent the zombie cowering in a corner. Meanwhile others rushed in to deal with the skeleton.
Afterward, the party moved into the back half of the cavern. As Greybear bent down to retrieve a fresh torch from his pack, an arrow flew past where his head had been a mere moment ago. Down a side hallway, the draconian archer was retreating into the shadows.
The party gave chase down the hallway, and around the corner, only to find the draconian poised for a second shot. With less accuracy than the first arrow, this one flew wide and missed it's intended target. As the party now moved in to melee combat with the draconian, zombie and skeletal warriors blocked their path.

After a few minutes of fighting, the party defeated the undead and knocked the draconian unconscious. That last part was due to a very effective uppercut from the kender!

When the draconian awoke, he found himself bound and surrounded by the party. With complete disdain for his captors, the draconian revealed some information about what had been going on here at the keep, and particularly in the caves. He described a chosen one that was the leader of all the faction in the keep; that this leader was following a dark power and that all the followers had undergone a Ceremony of Blood ritual. The ritual did not sound like the practice of any one particular god, and in fact seemed more like a loyalty pact from one of the "Fallen".
In my version of the Dragonlance setting, the devils and demons of D&D are called the Fallen (devils) and Forsaken (demons) and have a history dating back to before the formation of Krynn. Also, I allow for the concept that some very powerful beings, such as demon lords can grant some small amount of clerical power to a limited number of followers. Luckily, the devils and demons can never gather enough followers to rival the gods in divine power, or can they...
As the draconian revealed more information, it was clear that he was only a low level member in this Cult of the Shrouded Fist. As the party continued to try to get information from the draconian, a pair of goblin guards rounded the corner and immediately armed themselves against the party.

Greybear, thinking fast, spun around and shouted at the goblins, "Do not disrupt the Ceremony of Blood!" The goblins immediately prostrated themselves before what they thought were other members of the cult. With another command from the druid, the goblins were leading the party and the bound draconian (who the goblins were told was a disloyal cultist) through the caves and straight to the Chosen One.
As the party rounded the turn, the saw into a chamber a little smaller than the main area. At the far end of the chamber, behind a alter of black granite was a hobgoblin clad in robes studying over an open book. As the party entered, with the bound draconian in tow, Greybear tried once again to bluff the cult leader, but made a fatal mistake of saying that he was part of the cult in Flotsam, which the cleric knew to be false. In his gutteral voice, the hobgoblin ordered everyone to attack the intruders.

As the fight broke out, the two goblins who had lead the party into this room attacked along with a pair of undead also in the chamber. Bergin and Hunter were busy dealing with the undead, while Jes and Arti dealt with the goblins, including a nasty goblin rogue who had been hiding in one of the rooms off the back of this ceremony chamber. Only Greybear was initially in close combat with the cleric. At first the hobgoblin tried using a death touch ability on the druid, but Greybear resisted the powerful arcane magic. Meanwhile the bound draconian used the fog of battle to make a quick escape out of the mine. Bergin gave quick chase and caught up with the escapee outside and knocked him unconscious.

Back in the caves, Arti tried using his spells to magically transport the hobgoblin into the center of combat (where he would be surrounded by attackers), but the magic was not strong enough to affect the cleric. While the cleric was able to avoid that effect, he had still taken significant damage from other attacks, even after using his wand to heal himself. While trying to flee, Greybear and Theo's final attacks killed the cleric.

As the cleric died... a strange blue light filled the room. The light seemed to be "leaking" out of the black granite alter. After a moment the alter crumbled and embedded within was a mummified claw.

At the same time, Arti's pack split open and it's contents spilled onto the floor. The dragon claw he had been carrying around (since the end of "A Dungeon and a Dragon (Part 3)") also glowed the same eerie light as the one in the rock.

Both pieces flew into the center of the chamber and a square arcane barrier flared up as mist coalesced into the ghostly form of a black dragon. The ghost announced that it was the Black Scourge and once all 9 mummified pieces were returned to this chamber it would be free to once again unleash "waves of blood" on the cities and towns of Krynn.

As the ghost dragon spoke, the same mist vapors that formed it's image were also filling up the room and turning noxious. The party made a quick retreat from the caves out into the fresh air where they were safe... for now.

The trip back to Flotsam was uneventful with the party starting to plan their next moves, including looking for more clues to where Catronia might be and what could possibly be done to defeat or dispel the Black Scourge!

May 5, 2008

Useful DM Links - WotC Generators

Hidden away in the bowels of the WotC website are a great collection of tools and generators for DMs. It's a shame that they haven't been supporting these kinds of products for awhile now, long before the announcement of 4th edition. I think they really dropped the ball on the chance to build great loyalty among DMs with these time saving devices. Now one argument is that DMs only represent 1/6th of the game audience (the other 5/6ths being players), but the amount of financial investment a DM has (DM guide, campaign setting books, splat books, etc) is significantly greater than a player (PHB, PHB2, and maybe a few of the splat books) and therefore they represent a much larger financial share of the audience. Also a DM has the power to influence some players away from one game to another simply by running one game over another.

OK... the rant is over...

Anyway, here's the archive page of the tools WotC has on it's site, including name and background generators as well as one for a tavern (including tavern name, clientele, rumors and even menu), adventure hooks, and one that details the contents of crates, barrels, and sacks -- in short a great collection of tools that can add just a little bit of detail with only a few clicks!

I'm not sure how long these versions will remain on the website. I suspect that when 4e gets fully underway, a lot of the older stuff will be retired. Until then... generate away!