What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekend R&R: Rune Lore (a C&C Supplement)

About seven years ago, I discovered Castles & Crusades and the company behind it, Troll Lord Games.  Suffering something of a gaming burnout, C&C reinvigorated my interest in gaming and I began buying other books to beef up my gaming collection.  I did this because I found it very easy to use older pre-d20 era D&D material as well as the newer 3.x Edition stuff.  Being pleased with their efforts with C&C led me to look up other material that Troll Lord Games had done.  As luck would have it, the company essentially was clearing out a lot of this d20 material and selling them at rock bottom prices.

This is how I came across Erde (to be respelled as 'Aihrde' in later years) as well as some of their excellent early modules and sourcebooks made for a 3rd Edition era.  Out of all these books, the one that held the most fascination for me (even before looking through it) was the Winter Runes book.  The Winter Runes book served a two-fold purpose -- it was a sourcebook detailing an area of the setting and a new form of magic as well as providing a couple of adventures in this area.  The most significant feature of the book was the rune magic and the new class, the Rune Mark.

Time didn't dispel this sort of material from memory and Troll Lord Games announced the production and pre-order for a new Winter Runes book for C&C at the end of 2011.  There were some delays and, during the many months that followed, what started out as a simple conversion project turned out to be a revamping of the project.  As such, the book now carries a new name and it is simple ... Rune Lore.

So how does it stack up?

The original book, as fun as it was, came it at 80 pages or so but this new one comes in at 144.  The primary print run of this book looks to be in softcover -- or at least that was the initial objective.  When Troll Lord Games put this pre-order package together, they modeled it after what we have come to know for Kickstarter.  A higher pledge amount would have gotten me a hardcover copy as well as some other things I personally didn't care for or (in this case) already had.  Kicking it off close to X-Mas also put a budgetary constraint but I didn't think it would be a year and a half before this saw press.  I am assuming that it will be a softcover / perfect bound version that will end up on store shelves.

The book itself is nice and clean and suitably illustrate.  Having read various bits and pieces (though not the entire work as of yet), it looks like it will be a pleasure to read as well.  The updated take on the Rune Mark is certainly one of the coolest aspects about the book as the class truly taps into what the setting is all about though there is nothing preventing an easy transitioning of the class into other campaign settings -- even if you decide to not allow the players to play one.  Frankly, this may very well be the case since some of the Runes are quite powerful and while a Rune Mark is more limited how much they can do in a day, more powerful runes are not restricted to the class.  Simply put, that's the GM's responsibility: If you don't want your players to have it, don't put those powerful Runes into your game!  Besides this, the class seems to be very well balanced and some of the other abilities of the Rune Mark would make one truly interesting to play or even use as an NPC in an upcoming adventure or campaign.  An example of another ability: the ability to transfer their life essence (be it hitpoints, ability scores, and experience) to create a bonded magical item.  A Rune Mark using such an item can become more powerful... until he is parted with said item which could spell disaster for the character.  The Rune Mark class and Rune Magic are covered in the first section of the book which spans almost 30 pages.

The next section is just as long and covers the Gottland ... places, persons, and encounter tables.  This is followed by several adventures.  Actually, half the book are various scenarios ready to be used for the campaign of various lengths but it is through these adventures that one can really help bring the Gottland region to life.

The book closes with a couple of appendices covering new magical items and critters for your game.

Is the book worth it?  Well, that will depend on who you ask.  Personally, I have mostly stopped buying adventure scenarios though I am a big supporter of published adventures.  I simply don't have the kind of time I used to in order to create adventures for my players to experience.  I much prefer taking published work and adapting it to my needs.  The Troll Lord Game modules are about the only ones I buy nowadays.  I know others are just not interested in this sort of material anymore.  However, the book does offer much more than adventures and even the setting material that goes along with it.  I feel that the Rune Mark is an interesting idea and, for some, that alone may be worth the price of the book.  I don't regret ordering the book and, given the time it took for this to come out, I  am happy they took their time with it.

As of this moment, Rune Lore isn't officially released yet.  Those who pre-ordered received a PDF copy but this is also to get many eyes on the book as possible before TLG moves to print which is looking to be very soon.  It looks like those interested in it can still take part of the pre-order initiative which means that a PDF version will cost your $10 but a perfect bound book will cost you a total of $25.  Other packages are available though I expect the one where you get to name something no longer applies to that specific benefit.  I expect that the window on this is VERY limited though.  Those interested can follow the link HERE.

M