Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tommy's Take on Fighting Fire: Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure

Gamers can be an infuriating group of people. Go to the message board of any major RPG and chances are good that you will see someone overreacting, freaking out and generally losing their crap because a game company killed their dog and maybe tinkered with their favorite part of an RPG. On the other hand, I am constantly amazed at the generosity the larger gaming community shows when folks need help, be it during an international crisis...or when the son of the most influential individual in gaming loses his home in a fire.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Fighting Fire!, at the time of this writing, is $7.49 in PDF format and Creative Mountain Games is donating 33% of all proceeds to Ernie Gygax. The adventure is system-neutral, but designed for a fairly traditional fantasy setting...obviously, D&D and its retroclones should handle it well, but there's little reason one couldn't use Savage Worlds, High Valor, Fate or something else in its stead.

The premise is this: In the kingdom of Gamington, a land that did away with war, when it was replaced with tabletop wargaming to settle all conflicts, as the behest of Poppagax the Original. One night, strange fire creatures attack the tower of Ernesto the Magnificent, setting it ablaze. That's where the PCs come into play.

The group has to find their way to the Fire Peaks, and every way is fraught with peril, what with the seismic activity causing landslides and so on, and unique encounters, like one with an abandoned Ettin.

It gets worse when you enter the dwarven mines and find the fate of the folks that tried to liberate the mines, in a creepy encounter punctuated by a twisted sense of humor. The fire motif continues with the PCs encountering the Fire Giants of Fire Peak, in another gruesome twist that's certain to be an interesting and challenging encounter. It actually gets worse from there, as this Dungeon holds a brutal occupant that few wish to face, in the form of a Red Dragon, but the best is saved for last, as the PCs encounter the Fire Mage, the architect of evil in the adventure. The best part is that The Fire Mage actually has some pretty great motivations, especially for a long-term campaign over a one shot.

The NPC section includes a number of in-jokes and references to some of the folks that helped craft gaming in its formative years. Requisite maps are also included, as well as an epic poem that runs throughout the adventure, describing the attempts of a group to stop The Fire Mage.

WHAT WORKS: The Fire Mage turns out to be an interesting adversary with some great plot hooks for an ongoing campaign. The epic poem is a nice touch. A number of the other encounters are standouts, such as the Ettin, the Fire Giants, and crossing the bridge in the dwarven mines. Many of the art pieces are very evocative.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: A few things might be tough to model if your favorite system doesn't have an existing analogue. I get what they were going for with Gamington, but it might be a tad too cheesy for an ongoing campaign, but your mileage may well vary in that regard.

CONCLUSION: A touching tribute for a trying situation, and a pretty good dungeon crawl to boot. The Gamington premise is cute, but an ill-fit for more serious campaigns, but that may also serve as an acceptable break for the rest of the campaign world. Of course, you can run it as a one shot, and those concerns are invalid, but there are a lot of cool little threads that can be picked up from this adventure and used in a larger campaign. Worth buying for the cause, worth playing for the adventure.

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