Thursday, May 30, 2013

Obscure RPG Appreciation Day: Midkemia Press, Part 1

(I must apologize. I thought tomorrow was Obscure RPG Appreciation Day. This post is only half of the books I wanted to review. More will be posted tonight or tomorrow. -- Brett)

(Now I've found out that tomorrow is indeed the correct day. It was changed from May 30th when it changed from Obscure Fantasy RPG Appreciation Day to Obscure RPG Appreciation Day. The creator of this day is also confused, because his logo has today's date on it. So, I'll leave this post up and post another tomorrow. If you want to participate, check out the official blog host: Mesmerized by Sirens -- Brett)

Back in the 1970s, a group of friends played in a D&D campaign the group called, "First Midkemian Campaign". That campaign was set on the world of Midkemia. The members of that game group starting writing up the details of their world, and thus was Midkemia Press created in 1979.

Midkemia Press published a series of books detailing the world of Midkemia. They concentrated on The Duchy of Crydee and an area called the Sunken Lands, a vast wilderness full of monsters and jungle between you and immense wealth. People have become fantastically wealthy venturing into the Sunken Lands. They've also become quite dead.

Midkemia is the world Raymond Feist used as the setting for most of his novels. The events of Magician take place 1500 years before the time period presented in these publications.

Throughout their books, they keep mentioning The Tome of Midkemia, the rules of their game, and their imminent publication, but they never saw the light of day.

Most of the Midkemia line supports urban roleplaying. Their first supplement, Cities, is a sourcebook for running city-based adventures. Thus the home town or city is not just a place to resupply after dungeon-delving, but an adventure in itself.

I have most of their products, only missing The City of Carse, and a hardcopy of The Black Tower. Three of the books are available in PDF format.

Tulan of the Isles

This book details a fully populated town in the Duchy of Crydee. It includes maps depicting every building in the town with a key showing most of the population of the town. Some things are left empty with the expressed purpose of giving GMs a place to customize Tulan from their own imagination. Even without customization, Tulan is fully realized and could be played without modification. The book includes an 11"x17" player's map showing all the buildings. The maps inside the book are for the GM, giving closeups of the neighborhoods. Then the numbered key lists the stores and occupants.

The details are rich enough to give GMs lots to hang urban interactions. For instance, S32 is listed as "FISHMONGER, Ulan's Fresh Catch. Ulan Hurelga, a short, modest man, owns this large establishment, selling most of the catch made by the river fishers of Fishtown. His wares run to channel catifsh, fresh water bass, river trout, salmon (in season), and other denizens of the river. Occasionally, he will have some salt water fish caught by Olson Gardel at the Sign of the Red Crab (M75)."

A list of major personalities is listed, along with some details of Old Tulan, the original city 3 miles downstream, that was abandoned 100 years ago after the Nights of Terror, a mysterious incident that convinced the residents to leave and never come back. The citadel of the city, The Black Tower, stands watch over the ruins. Some say it's haunted and some who layover on the shore never return.

The Black Tower is a separate dungeon module. This book only give you the environs of Old Tulan.

The Black Tower

This module details The Black Tower, the keep of Old Tulan. A hundred years ago, the Nights of Terror forced the residents to flee the city. The Black Tower is described as follows: "Ancient and ill-fated, Castle Tulan stands as a spectral edifice surrounded by a reed-choked moat in the old town of Tulan. At night, fearful sailors on passing ships have reported strange lights flashing from the windows of the northernmost castle tower. Rumors have it a host of unholy creatures have taken up residence in the vast halls and galleries. The locals tend to be close mouthed on the subject, and when queried, turn hastily away, muttering about dangerous questions. The townspeople do not interfere with anyone foolhardy enough to visit the castle but simply shake their heads in disbelief over those so obviously bereft of their senses, and never speak of those who have tried before."

The module gives the history of the Nights of Terror and details the current situation in The Black Tower. The tower has five stories and a basement, and the book provides maps and a room key for all 143 rooms.

Here is a sample room:

"(6) Barracks: Formerly used as a reserve barracks by the baron's men and as a staging area for raids against besiegers, this room is now used by the Kobold Chief, Blazedok, as his Great Hall. There are three long tables with benches here containing casks of ale and platters. There is a stone throne between the doors to the armory. Crouched on either side of the throne is a pair of Black Trackers, obedient to Blazedok. Blazedok's personal bodyguard consists of 22 1st level Kobolds and Snori Allnose, a troll hired to keep the boys in line. There will be 3d12 ordinary Kobolds in the room as well. Blazedok (Kobold/ 2+/ 11/ S/ Attacks by weapon type) wears chainmail, and has a +2 mace, a Ring of Fire Resistance, and a Ring of Human Control. Snori Allnose (Troll/ 4/ 24/ N/ 2 Claw, 1 Bite or by weapon type/ 1-4; 1-8/ No Claw, No Bite) uses a spiked club (2d8 damage, blood loss on 20/ d20). (Black Trackers/ 5/ 56-61/ L/ 1 Bite/ 2d8/ *). The Kobolds all have leather armor and short swords. 40% will have a bow or one nearby. (Kobolds/ 2+/ 22 at 1d4/ S/ Attacks by weapon type)."

The folks at Midkemia are still around, and they've kindly republished the original in PDF format for free.

Towns of the Outlands

Towns of the Outlands presents six smaller locations in the world of Midkemia. These are all generic
enough to be placed in any campaign, while still retaining depth and color. They fit specific places on Midkemia. They include a desert village built around the only spring for days, a pirate cove, a mining town, a northern trading fort, a crossroads inn, and a hill fort. Each has one or more maps, NPCs, and can easily be used in other campaign worlds.

The folks at Midkemia are still around, and they've kindly republished the original in PDF format for free.

I will be using these books in my upcoming The Fantasy Trip campaign that I'm working on.

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