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Bit of shameless self-promotion here about the upcoming “Crucible of Dragons” setting/adventure book (or “A Manual of Exploration of the Island of Pherae” as I’m calling it). If I don’t do it no one else will (OQ2 reviews anyone 😉 ) and its a product that I’m damn excited about getting finished and out to the gaming masses.
“Sandbox” gaming is a hip term in Old School Renaissance circles, almost a holy grail in fact. Amongst D100/RQ fans you mention the term and I will guarantee they will shoot back “Griffin Mountain“. This is the classic RuneQuest2 setting were you wandered around a bleak wilderness inhabited by stone age hunters, dinosaurs and chaos monsters and took your rest in one of three citadels riddled with intrigue. I’ve played it briefly in its Games Workshop published hardcover of the watered down Avalon Hill version which was moved to an island called “Griffin Island”, and as a 40+ player freeform at Tentacles 2006 written and run by Simon Bray (one of the Co-authors of HBD). Its on my list of things to run again before I die. Its a classic go check out its Moon Design reprint.
Now Crucible of Dragons, pulls from the creative well that is Griffin Mtn but brings its own take.
The basic concept of the book is “Fantasy Pseudo-Hellenic Greeks on a monster infested island” or if you are more culture hip “Clark Ashton Smith meets Ray Harryhausen” 🙂
Its incredibly detailed and rich setting. It has a full Gazetteer, a complete city guide, details both VIP and everyday NPCs, sixteen new cults, ten organisations/factions. The game’s page on D101games.com gives a run down of all the content.
One of the things that really impressed me when the first draft hit my inbox, its not your typical “Elves n Orcs” fantasy. In fact there isn’t an Elf or Orc on the island. Dwarfs are there , for secret reasons I won’t go into here, but are re-skinned to a large degree to fit in with the culture and habitat of the island.
A race of evil reptilians know as the Dracorians fill the niche of orcs/goblins in a fearsome manner. Simon Bray has done a fine job here creating a truly nasty group of monsters.
Demons are also common in the Ancient and deserted ruins of civilisations prior to the current one. If you are looking for a comprehensive set of rules for demon creation for OpenQuest, Here be Dragons has them.
The humans on the island definitely have a culture that is loosely based on Hellenic Greek, but they are ruled by a great Dragon called “Flames of Purity”. You see the island’s creation myth has it being created from the skull of the Great World Dragon and Flames of Purity is its daughter, and after she defeated the Iron Colossus of the previous rulers of the capital city of Draxa (as depicted on the cover, see below) no one is arguing with her 😉
Its scalable and there’s enough going on to occupy Dirtcrawling starting characters looking for a gold piece or two, intrigue for wannabe movers and shakers and enough BIG challenges such as removing Flames of Purity from her throne to occupy characters who have grown to Epic status. A good 40 pages of the book is dedicated to full set piece adventures, detailed adventure locations and a campaign outline. This is the final piece of the puzzle that introduces new players and Games Masters to the setting and gets you up and running with the island as a Sandbox. Far too many supplements that say they are Sandbox, miss out this bit, and leave you scratching your head looking for an obvious starting point.
Overall its Densely packed book full of MGF (MEGA GAMING FUN!) that will give you years of enjoyment. If I had unlimited time and resources I’d do it as a big boxed game. Instead the authors have done a dam fine job of keeping the book within a manageable 140-150 page limit that I set them.
Its in it final stages of layout and I’m looking year end/beginning of Jan to get this one released.
Here’s Jon Hodgson’s fine cover if your imagination isn’t already flowing on this one:
Crucible of Dragons cover by Jon Hodgson
Finally its all come together and the first draft is done 🙂
Girls, Boys and wild things of all ages I proudly present….
“Under a land shrouded in volcanic ash punctuated by rocky spires that tear at the sky they say the Great Dragon sleeps. Tyanos the Black, Trickster god of the long dead Hu-Pi people stole their blood and bottled it for his insane delight. As drink of the gods it confers immortality to mortal man, but at what terrible price?
The very quest for this elixir is insane. A trip into a harsh and unforgiving land of the Spires, a poor and bandit ridden weird land, inhabited by the likes of Black Joop, Nigus the Headless and the Mother of Hydra. Names that should send a shiver down your spine. So pick up your sword, down the last of your ale to steady any nerves and stride off towards a great adventure amongst the rocks that defy the sky.”
Blood of the Dragon is a short introductory adventure set in the ancient and ruined lands of The Spires.
Off to proof and a small amount of art commission, tentacles xed for a May/June release 🙂
Finally here’s the cover
Treygor, Elda and Morstor trudged over the sands. They were tired, hungry and Treygor ever the canny barbarian feared that his companions were beginning to suffer adversely the effects of the journey thorough the never ending desert. Elda in particular was still shaky after the fight with the blasphemous giant thing that had ambushed them at the oasis a couple of hours ago. This journey had taken the thief well beyond her comfort zone of lifting purses and threatening shop keepers in the nearby city of Arestor. Morstor, the magician, remained cold and unreadable. Certainly the worm hadn’t fazed him. After Treygor and Elda had slain the beast, he had calmly stepped forward and harvested various body parts for his “magical researches”. The stench had been terrible and Treygor hoped that the sorcerer would be more use when they reached their destination.