13 October 2023

Adapting the Court of Ardor to Ukrasia: The Court of Urdor

For my forthcoming Against the Darkmaster (VsD) campaign, to be set in my world of ‘Ukrasia’ (still a work-in-progress), I’ve decided to adapt an old ICE setting: The Court of Ardor by Terry Amthor. 

As I’ve noted before here, I've been a fan of Ardor since I first purchased it almost forty years ago (yikes!). Alas, I’ve never actually used it for any fantasy role-playing campaign, even though it’s greatly inspired me over the years (as has Amthor’s work in general). It was originally designed as a region in southern Middle-earth, an early installment in ICE's line of Middle-earth campaign modules. But it always was a poor fit for Middle-earth. It seemed more inspired by the works of authors like Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny than J.R.R. Tolkien. 

However, Ardor was a super-cool setting nonetheless. (And it’s clear that it had a great influence on Amthor’s later Shadow World setting.) The map – by Peter Fenlon, who did most of the Middle-earth maps for ICE – is beautiful (like all of Fenlon’s maps). Since I thought that the setting – albeit with some significant changes – would fit well within Ukrasia, and I've wanted to use it for decades, I decided that I may as well go with it for my upcoming VsD campaign. (Also, because of my workload this term, I didn’t think that I could get my homebrew island “Amarrah” in shape in time.)

I've changed the name of the Court and the region named after it from “Ardor” to “Urdor.” Other significant changes will have to be made – the regions of Dûshera and Mûmakan will be altered completely (the former is now a sparsely populated realm of halflings, the latter an unruly land of orcish tribes). The timeline and other details will have to be wholly reworked to fit with Ukrasia. Once I finish up my descriptions of the regions, I’ll post them here.  

Also, the overarching aim of the deadly Court of Urdor will differ significantly from that described in Amthor’s module. (Since my players sometimes read this blog, I don’t want to say anything more than that for now.) However, the structure and the organization of the Court itself will closely resemble the original version.

I don’t plan to expose the player characters directly to any part of the deadly Court until they are at least level 7, so there will be a number of other adventures beforehand. (Among them, I’ll be adapting the “Shadows of the Northern Woods” mini-campaign from the core VsD book to the setting.) But the Court will be lurking in the background – and it should be thrilling when the heroes finally do cross swords with the dark Elvish cabal.

I’m excited to get this campaign going! 

12 October 2023

Gaming Update: Mythras, Against the Darkmaster, and farewell forever to 5e D&D

I’ve been quite busy at work lately, hence the lack of posting here over the past month. But thankfully, I’ve managed to keep up with my gaming (more or less). 

1. It looks like the Mythras campaign I’m in, Beyond the Mountains of Madness, will soon be reaching its climactic conclusion – and my character, the palaeontologist Dr. Klaas Klassen, is running dangerously low on tenacity (only 5 out of 14 points left)!

2. The Greyhawk campaign I’ve been running for the past couple of years has concluded. I’m very happy with how this campaign went. It was a lot of fun! But that fun was due to the colourful player characters, non-player characters, adventures (mainly T1 and surrounding areas), and ‘Gygaxian’ Greyhawk setting. The system itself – 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons – is one that I plan to never use again* (despite drawing heavily upon its superior ‘old school’ variant, Into the Unknown). It’s hard for me to put into words how much I came to dislike this system while running it (although I would still take it any day over the horror that was 3e D&D). But I still had a blast with the campaign, which just goes to show how important it is to game with fun people. I plan to finish up the log posts for the campaign over the next month or so. 

3. My sporadic Against the Darkmaster (VsD) campaign set in Third Age Eriador (Middle-earth) is still going. (It’s the “alternative” game for my Mythras group.) Hopefully we will have our second session tonight.

4. I’m still working on my Ukrasia setting for my forthcoming VsD campaign. I should have some additional posts about this setting in the very near future.

Game on!

* Note: Despite my dislike for the “standard” D&D 5e system, I remain quite fond of the Adventures in Middle-earth system based upon it (and ran a great campaign using it). The updated version, Lord of the Rings RPG, looks even better. I would be happy to run a campaign using the LotR system in the future. So, I will not be unloading my 5e rulebooks quite yet…

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).