RPG Talk: Wizards Landscape

Image Copyright: Wizards of the Coast

At Wizards of the Coast, publishers of the oldest role-playing game around, the open window for submissions to their online magazines Dragon and Dungeon has just closed. But for aspiring writers, another opportunity is about to get fully underway in the shadow of the veteran gaming company. This chance lies with a small satellite group overseen by the business and tasked with running a community based organization that utilizes the Fourth Edition rule-set on a global scale.

Even in the twilight of the Fourth Edition system, Wizards is still okaying developments for release. Such developments include gaming adventures that are being released even as its much harangued DND:Next system is still in Alpha testing. One of these opportunities lies with their long-running, now largely independently organized, Living Forgotten Realms Campaign.

The Living Forgotten Realms Campaign is a shared world setting. Shared worlds are groups of adventures published and played anywhere in the real-world by random or not-so-random players who get together with characters that can be ported between each of these separate but unified scenarios. The once thriving but now fading LFR puts these characters in the high-fantasy world of the Forgotten Realms, one of the oldest and most famous role-playing settings. Since 2011 the campaign organizers of this world, known as Global Admins, independent folks outside the payroll of Wizards, have issued a call for aspiring writers to show their stuff in creating new and exciting adventures.

The program, known as Excursions, seeks to bring budding writers into the Wizards fold and showcase the company’s apparent desire to include players in the creation process. It’s an effort that looks to be run entirely by the Global Admins and one that offers new entrants into the authorship role, and is an awesome chance for enthusiasts to become a part of the gaming Canon for one of the worlds most famous Campaign Settings.

This years opportunity begins on June 17, and for details, just head over to the Wizards website and browse their online forums built specifically for LFR. The rules for the Excursion program are fairly straight-forward, and they’re looking for new authors and ideas, and from my own experience, they don’t bite..

Image Copyright: Wizards of the Coast

Aside from this chance to publish in their periphery, Wizards’ has also recently green-lit another independent foray into their trademarks, the release of a popular and well-known Campaign that uses one of their proprietary fantasy worlds similar to the way that LFR takes place in the Forgotten Realms. Previously only offered at conventions by its indie creators, Baldman Games, the Ashes of Athas Campaign, another smaller, and more narrowly focused shared-world setting is being piecemeal published and distributed by some of the Global Admins involved with organizing LFR.

The campaign, a series of 20 role-playing adventure sessions takes place on the fantasy world of Athas. A non-traditional fantasy-scape, Athas is a desert planet ravaged by the over-use of magic. In the setting, seemingly immortal rulers hold sway over cult-like armies inside walled cities where legions of slaves and fearful citizens toil beneath a harsh and unforgiving sun. It’s a world devoid of the verdant, European foliage and fauna and one where more prehistoric elements and dangers lurk beneath sand-dunes. It’s also a setting rich with motifs of the ancient Near East, reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian and a homage to the Dying Earth genre. As a viable Campaign world, it premiered way back in 1991 by Wizards’ D&D forefather and antecedent company TSR, under the Dark Sun banner.

Baldman Games ran the campaign adventures at select conventions over the past few years and with its conclusion, Wizards has apparently given the go-ahead for the LFR admins to start handing out the modules to the requesting public. For long-standing 4E gamers the world of Dark Sun is notorious for its difficulty and the Campaign document that comes with the published adventures in the Ashes of Athas packet speaks to this. In Ashes for example, players start their characters out at level three, rather than the norm of first level like most settings, a testament to the difficultly inherent to the world.  A quick glance through the first adventure also reveals the deadly consequences of taking on challenges in the gaming module that awaits careless players who make the wrong, however noble, decisions throughout their play.

To request these adventures along with sample characters suitable for the campaign or for any home-brew Dark Sun adventure, click on over to Wizards and request a copy of them from one of the writers and game-aholic Admins who is personally emailing out the packets on the Wizards forums here. And if you’re feeling generous, why not tell him a coyotl sent you..

And if you’re really interested in being a part of the Gaming community, why not sign up for the Wizards D&D Next Playtest..

Game Forth!

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