Monthly Archives: November 2015

SpellJammer

For those who don’t know, Spelljammer is a D&D setting that take the adventure into space via magic. This allowed players a new avenue of play and gave them a chance to explore other settings: Dragonlance, Greyhawk, Realms, and others. The ships were magically propelled through space using Helms and there was a multitude of races, monsters, and ships to experience. In truth, converting the rules isn’t really the issue here. Getting the flavor right is important and everything else is easily swapped over.

Here is my flavoring:

  • No Clerics

Each pantheon works with the sphere of influence of that planet. The old rules state that for a god/goddess to have power they need at least 200 followers in a sphere. Considering this, divine magic seems kind of silly. A cleric without magic become a lack-luster fighter. Not saying a Cleric/Paladin can’t hop a ship to another planet. This is directed for crew-members. Healing would be done via potions or other magical means.

  • Personal Bubble

A ship has a bubble of atmosphere to keep the crew and passengers alive. For my version, each person has a one hour residual bubble if they leave the ship. This is recharged once they are returned to a ship/planet/atmosphere.

  • Charging the Helm

Helms are the way ships are able to fly through space. It requires a spell-caster to do so. To keep the ship in the air, and the atmosphere, the Helm needs to be charged by a magic-user once per 30 days. More if the spell-caster is untrained in the technique or lover than level 5. After charging the Helm the caster cannot use any spells beyond cantrips for the next 24 hours.

  • Helms Guild

Due to the fact that a trained Helms Mage can keep a ship flying indefinitely they are part of a guild. There they are given secrets and techniques to make their jobs easier. Also, any member is considered protected and killing one is an offense even the most dreaded pirates would think twice about.

  • Practically All Playable Races

Your party consists of a Kender, Warforged, Drow, Turian, and a Minotaur? Sweet that works. Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Ebberon, and just about anything you can think of is open to the players. Within the limits that you have set that is. I tossed in a Mass Effect race in that list, does this mean that they have advanced armor and sniper rifles? No, but you can say that they were encountered during an earlier time than scientific space travel.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thoughts, comments, and suggestions would be great.

 

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The Last Guardian By David Gemmell – Book Review

The Last Guardian is the second book with Jon Shannow as the lead character. It’s the fifth in the series, but I’ve never read the first three. The final book in the series Bloodstone is not one I’m going to re-read. It was the weakest of the three and felt tacked on.

In the second book we join the Jerusalem Man on his quest to find the city. The story picks up where Wolf in Shadow left off and he is injured. Batik unfortunately doesn’t make the trip with him. New characters Beth, Nu, and the Dark Lady, are introduced along the way to fill in where the others departed. Beth is a mother and a widow traveling with her two children to find somewhere to settle. Nu, oddly enough, is from Atlantis and is fleeing persecution from the king as he prophesied a coming catastrophe. The Dark Lady is a scientist and scholar Beyond the Wall who is working to find out why people are turning into lions. Yes, you read that correctly.

This book was a delightful surprise. Reading the previous story made me realize that the character of Shannow was a little flat. This book fills him out and makes him more than just the Lone Wanderer archetype. He is tired of the road, he doesn’t want to keep cleaning up after townsfolk, and he is starting to question his quest.

The action is solid, the plot moves along at a nice clip, and this is the strongest of his three book arc. Its ending feels like a good place to leave the series and that’s what I’m going to do. I can’t say more for fear of spoiling the plot.

Verdict: Worth the read.

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Wolf in Shadow by David Gemmell- Book Review

This book is one that I have read many times. It was one of the first books that really had an impact on me. The main character, Jon Shannow, was one that a lot of my stories emulated for a good stretch of my younger years. To be perfectly honest, I was a little nervous to read it again. There had been a few other books that I’ve re-read only to find that my memory of them was much better than the actual story. Wolf in Shadow isn’t a bad book. Reading it again didn’t make me wonder how I could ever enjoy the story and it was interesting to see it again.

Reading it through this time, I found some interesting things. For one, the main character is one of the weaker aspects of the story. Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man, doesn’t have much depth beyond his quest. Even when asked why he seeks the fabled city his answer is fell flat. The setting is a post-apocalyptic world where one of the major books to survive was the bible. Shannow believes the words to be true and therefore thinks he can find Jerusalem as a glittering city with jeweled streets and ever-lasting peace. Another contingent of people think that since the world ended it is now the end times and the devil won so they worship him. These are called the Hellborn and are the main villains of the story. Shannow walks through bad guys like an 80s action movie and there isn’t really a time when you feel that he’s in any real danger.

The character that I found most interesting was Daniel Cade. He’s introduced about half-way through the book and it cuts back to him on occasion. Cade is a former brigand, bandit, who starts taking refugees in and protecting them from the Hellborn. His motivations and character arc was much more satisfying.

Donna, Griffin, and Madden are all part of the same plot line, but that’s handled nicely. Unlike some of the other characters they actually get addressed in the end of the book. Even the character Shannow picks up along the way, Batik, is more interesting than the main character. He’s a former Hellborn now being hunted by a group called Zealots who are able to telepathically control animals. He has a decent arc to his character too and I wish there was more time with him.

There are a couple of side characters that are kind of one note, and even the big bad seems a little hollow. He’s the leader of the Hellborn, he’s the bad guy, ta-da character. Ruth is another one of the characters that isn’t the best. She does have some development, but I found her lacking. The biggest failing of the book would have to be the character of Archer. He’s a scholar that Shannow meets along the way. He could have done for more page-time as the small glimpse we had of him was rich. Then there are a couple more minor characters that are hardly worth mentioning.

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