Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tommy's Take on Caladon Falls
Caladon Falls is available as a 148 page PDF, costing $19.95 at RPGnow and, like the previous Suzerain products, is full color and gorgeous. The PDF is fully bookmarked and searchable.
Much like many Savage Worlds products, Caladon Falls is split into two sections, one for the players and one for the GMs.
THE REALM OF RELIC
We start off with a brief history of the world, and I have to say I'm thrilled that it's only about a page long. I've just read a lot of fantasy world histories lately is all.
A discussion of languages is given, and directions are fairly annoyingly given as "Riseward, Setward, Steppeward and Seaward" instead of typical compass directions. It's not a HUGE thing, but I don't think it really adds anthing to the setting.
THE POWERS THAT BE
This is a rundown of the political structure of the realm, from the High King to the Noble Houses, which can play an important role in Caladon. There are four "rings" in each house, with political games being played among the circles.
There are seven houses, each with their own schtick. House Killian is rumored to be filled with shapeshifters, while House Laneer is focused on crafting steel and stone. House Marron are horse breeders, and House Sumner is wealthy and a little decadent. House Thrace are woodsmen and House Vesper are scholars, while House Wallend are tied very closely to nature. The text advises that there is a free supplement at the Savage Mojo website that details the houses further.
The Church of Trinity is the major religion of Caladon, and resembles Christianity more than a bit.
The Wizards Guild is the governing body of the wizards, and is specialized into five different branches depending on your wizard's focus.
LAY OF THE LAND
Here we get a nice map of Caladon, and detail of the important areas and landmarks, such as Caladon Falls, the capital city of Caladon. Every location is given at least a paragraph, and usually more, though the description never gets bogged down.
Character creation is functionally identical to standard Suzerain generation, except for two things: 1) You are assumed to have some loyalty to either Caladon or doing good in general...and 2) you can take Heroic as an ADDITIONAL Hindrance above and beyond your normal ones, and in doing so, take an non-Legendary or Demigod Edge and ignore the rank requirements.
There are a number of new Hindrances, like Renegade Wizard and Homesick, as well as "recessive" Hindrances, which mean you are only able to use one of our racial abilities.
The Noble Edge is heavily modified, given the heavily political nature of the Noble Houses, and is now ranked in three levels.
New Edges include racial edges like Banshee (which aren't undead, but do have sonic powers), Dragon Kin and Dryads. There are a number of military Edges as well, which makes sense with the included campaign. Nobles can take House Gift, which bestows a special perk depending on the House the PC is a member of. "Nobody" is a nice Edge as well: You can essentially fade into the background in most situations, because the PC is just has nothing "noticeable" about them.
Three new Pulse Paths (Druid, Enchanter and Protector) are given, as well as some new powers (Druids can literally summon a refreshing rain that follows them around).
There are new Telesma Edges as well, like Weapon of Destiny that lets PCs summon a melee weapon from the Telesma, Weapon of Power which makes your exisitng weapon more lethal and Weapon of Spirit that can allow your weapon to strike spirits.
Caladon Falls has some unique quirks in the construction of some of the weapons and armor, and this section details those, as well as providing pricing for the new gear that's available.
And now we get important setting information.
WHY WE FIGHT
There's a war on, and Caladon Falls is under assault The Warlocks, who wield Wild Magic and are trying to do Very Bad Things to the world.
There's a nice system given for Wild Taint, which can be used to take any monster, animal or person and tweak them, showing the corrupting effects of Wild Magic, using a card draw and checking the suit and value of the card for the effects.
YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW
This is all about the organization and operations of the Caladon Army, which the PCs are very likely to wind up being a part of, especially if you use the campaign given in the book.
I do love me some random tables, and an interesting Random Patrol Table is also given, which can generate dangerous or beneficial encounters depending on suit readings.
There is also a sidebar on generating ruins that's interesting: You can let the players create the ruins for you...and you collect Karma while this is going on. Then you can spend the Karma to make their assumptions false as you play.
The Plot Point Campaign is divided into three acts, meant to be started at Novice (but not necessarily using the first adventure as the PCs' first adventure).
I'm gonna go pretty light on description here so I don't spoil it for anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled...or so that players can't find this review and get info the GM doesn't want them to have.
Act I begins with the PCs as regular fantasy adventurers who hear rumors of things that aren't quite man or beast doing Very Bad Things...and getting to find out that those rumors are very much true, even if they have no proof at first. Pretty quickly the campaign shifts well out of standard fantasy territory, with the PCs being conscripted into the militia (and now you know why that whole "loyalty" prerequisite is there).
Act II should see them as Seasoned characters, and the Wild Taint is growing. Additionally, the military theme becomes more pronounced, with opportunities for using the Mass Combat rules presenting themselves. By the end of the Act, the PCs are forced to deal with something far more harrowing than military combat: Politics.
Act III should see the PCs as Veterans, and it begins with both hope and betrayal. The battle finally comes to Caladon Falls, with the PCs hopefully waging war successfully against the Wild Army. I will say this much: The climax isn't the climax, and events happen that take things back out of the Mass Combat scale and back to the more satisfying personal scale. I will also say that I wasn't completely thrilled with the Big Bad, if only because it bore a striking similarity to the Big Bads of a pair of previous Suzerain Plot Points.
At the end, the PCs are just now Heroic (or should be)...meaning that only now should their Telesmae awaken, and the heroes get their first glimpse at a much broader reality. Interestingly, a sequel campaign is already promised, if the PCs wish to stay in Relic and continue the War.
My disappointment in the Big Bad aside, I give them major props for a campaign that has a much different feel than your normal fantasy campaign. It feels a bit like Warhammer with the Wild Army and the spreading corruption, and Savage Worlds is VERY well suited to a game with skirmish level conflicts on up.
Sixteen Savage Tales, spread out among the experience levels. Some are given for very specific points in the Campaign, with virtually all at least tied in with the Wild Taint. In fact, the Savage Tales are presented in a viable order for running them, if you so choose. There's even a jaunt into the Spirit World to shake things up a bit.
Two dozen new monsters, including animals specific to Caladon, probably the scariest looking wraiths I have ever seen, and a unique take on gorgons unlike any previous version I had seen before.
THE CALADON ARMY
The final entry is for stat blocks relevant to the army, most likely used as Extras when the PCs are fighting in large groups.
Another very well done book showcasing how Suzerain can build to the game-changing Heroic rank instead of just being high powered, as well as providing a very nonstandard take on the fantasy campaign while still feeling like a fantasy campaign.
I did catch a few typos that made it past editing, and I would have liked basically any other type of Big Bad more, but this is still some top quality work, and would be a GREAT way to introduce a group to Suzerain.