Friday, March 1, 2013

Wilderlands of High Fantasy Review-ish Thing

As I've mentioned before, I've had a slight fascination with the Wilderlands of High Fantasy ever since reading some of Al's posts about it.  I found a bargain copy of the Necromancer version, and skimmed it, but overall found it too long and unwieldy and detailed to really make any use of.  But I stumbled across this Grognardia post in praise of the original Wilderlands, and the comments were rather inspiring and mentioned particularly that the original Wilderlands encouraged (nay, required) rolling a lot of your own material.  So I picked up pdfs of of the first Wilderlands book and accompanying five mapsheets from rpgnow as a late birthday present to self.  It's...  interesting.

I like how it goes straight from table of contents to random ruins and relics tables.  I think they're pretty much the same as the ones in the 3.x version, but "Anti-grav air vehicle" jumped out at me this time.  The old sci-fi / fantasy mix is very present here, and I think I can get on board with it.  The following rules for various types of caves are awesomely old-school; they break caves down into multiple categories geologically, and provide varying tables for entrance types and cave structure based on these geologically classifications.  Highlights include a chance of collapsing abandoned mineshafts using fireball and chance of dying of hypothermia if you fall into running water in an ice cave.  The lair types and random dungeon generation both look pretty usable, too; no 45-degree angles here (60-degree angles instead, because I guess they were expecting dungeons to be mapped on a hex-grid like everything else).  The searching rules I could take or leave; they'd require some adaptation in any case.

After the initial rules, we get into lists of towns and ruins.  These vary pretty significantly in quality; everything from "Partially sunken, worm-eaten spent sewage - 1 wight" to "Deep underground in a large cavern lies the fabled dwarven city of Krazandol.  It was once the capitol  of a northern kingdom of dwarves that stretched for many miles.  Krazandol's craftsmen were famed all over the world for their works in iron, silver, gold, and mithril...  But its riches were to be its downfall, because it became so well-known that the Dragons of Banzot heard about it, and in a three-day battle drove the dwarves out.  The Great Wyrms and all of the riches are still in the dwarven city of one Great Keep and 317 houses."  The citadels, towns, and lairs mostly leave me unenthused; I could probably steal names, ruler names, and resources from the towns, but that's about it.  The isle descriptions seem good as a rule, though.

There are some more interesting rules buried further in (the organization of this book is...  basically nonexistent.  Editing is pretty bad too, and no OCR, but it was like $3 and from the '70s).  Hydrographic terrain and prospecting both excite me, though I'm a bit skeptical about mapping down to the 1056-foot hex level.  Having hirelings accidentally anger other NPCs is good fun.  Domain rules are present, but I think I prefer ACKS'.  The population density numbers are not bad, though, and the variant morale table offers finer granularity.

So, from the book itself, I'll probably steal a few things, but am unlikely to get all that much use.  The maps, though...  mmmm maps.  I've already started looking at them and going "hmmm, the City-State would need n 24-mile hexes to support it...  and I think they would make sense here, here, there, here..."  So, promising.  Might have to use this as my next ACKS setting, running just on the maps and some of the tables from the book rather than the settlement descriptions...

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