Monday, May 25, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #7 Part 2

HINTS FOR D&D JUDGES PART 1: TOWNS: This articles gives a whole bunch of good advice for designing the home base for your campaign, but it's all pretty basic stuff. It's the sort of article that would have been pretty useful in the old days when everyone outside of Gary and Dave Arneson was still learning the ropes. Nowadays this is the sort of advice that's already in the books and has been drummed into anyone with even a modicum of experience as a DM.

There's a little tidbit about the writer's home dungeon – Castle Blackstar, the first level of which is made up of shops and inns, as well as the home of a high-level wizard with a balrog butler. The question that now comes to me is this: do I try and incorporate all of this stuff into the campaign? If it was from Gary, I'd do it in a heartbeat. The same goes for Rob Kuntz, Dave Arneson, or any of the other guys whose name I recognise. But where do I draw the line, and what makes one piece of campaign lore more 'official' than any other in The Dragon/The Strategic Review? I'm leaning towards tossing everything in, so I think the above stays. The line I'm drawing is with fiction - I'll only stripmine it if it's officially D&D, or it's writeen by a prominent designer of D&D.


Cup and Talisman of Akbar: This cup of gold and mithril (and the talisman commonly found within it) can only be used by Dervishes, Rangers and Paladins. Given that the talisman is engraved with an eight-pointed star and the name of Allah in Kufic script it must originate from Earth – proof of a link between Earth and Oerth grows ever stronger. The relics are worth a cool 75 thousand gp, but it has other powers. If you fill the cup with water, dip the amulet in and say the appropriate prayers, the water will become a potion of some sort. Effects range from a simple cure potion to a cure for level drain to the Universal Antidote, which I am left to assume cures anything and everything. As with all magic items not incorporated into the random tables, I'll have to place this somewhere myself. I'm thinking an Arabic sorcerer of some sort might cross over into the Greyhawk dungeons from Earth, a sort of Abdul Alhazred type, who has it in his possession.

Now, the question remains why can't Clerics use this thing? Holy items would seem to be their thing, yes? I'm thinking that this inability ties to the origins of the item – as it is an item seemingly powered by Allah, those who serve the gods of Oerth would not be able to use it. But that implies Rangers and Paladins DO serve Allah, which has all sorts of interesting connotations best saved for a later date.

Staff of the Priest Kings: This is the Clerical equivalent of the Staff of Wizardry. It can be used as a Snake Staff, and can also cast Sticks to Snakes, Insect Plague, Create/Pollute Food and Water, Cure/Cause Disease, Continual Light, Neutralize Poison and Cure Light and Serious Wounds. This is the basic model, but theres a chance the staff comes with an extra power – Find the Path, Earthquake and Hold Person, Raise Dead, Raise Dead Fully, and Restoration. Alas, no final strike capability. Clerics, as usual, just don't get the cool tricks that Magic-Users do.

Apart from some nifty abilities, this item also implies that there were once Priest Kings in the World of Greyhawk. I don't know where or when, and I can't really piece it together until I review the first World of Greyhawk folio.

Brazen Bottle: This is a brass flask shaped like a Kline's Bottle, whatever that may be. If it is opened in the presence of djinn or efreet, it will imprison the monsters inside. It can also be used on Balrogs, Invisible Stalkers, demons and air or fire elementals. In general the creature inside will be mighty pissed off, and will attack anyone in the vicinity if the bottle is opened. But – if the creature has been imprisoned for a good thousasnd years – it might decide to serve the one who freed it for 1,001 days. Lovely – items with a strong mythological flavour are always winners.

Next time I will probably finish up with the rest of Strategic Review #7


  1. Pretty sure Kline's Bottle = Klein Bottle.

  2. Thanks for the head's up - that's actually a really interesting bottle shape. Much cooler to look at than the average fantasy potion bottle.

    (And holy shit, it's Monte Cook!!!)

  3. Anonymous5:28 PM PST

    My favorite part of the Towns article (once I was old enough to know what it was about) was the description of Castle Blackstar's wizard owning a case of "Gondorian Red" and one of "Mordorian Black".