11 February 2015

The Classic D&D Campaign Settings part 2

Moving along with our look at the campaign setting worlds for OD&D and Classic D&D gaming, we come to the "minor" settings, Pelinore and Averoigne.


Back in the 1980s, the UK boasted a robust community of D&D gamers, and Games Workshop (before they shifted their business model to focus solely on their miniatures wargames like Warhammer and Warhammer 40K) served as the official TSR affiliate there, but eventually TSR seemed to realize the vitality of the British (Irish, Scottish, et al, no offense to any UKers I excluded unintentionally) and European market and TSR UK was born.

The UK companion to Dragon and Dungeon magazines was Imagine; a publication that I honestly find superior in many ways to the Dragon issues of the same time frame. Imagine, and Games Workshop's White Dwarf magazine (again before it became the GW house Organ for WH and WH40k minis wargaming) represented UK gaming excellently, and though it's hard to put into words, there is a subtle yet profound difference between the UK and US approaches to the game. Both magazines are highly recommended by this author, if you can track down back issues.

Imagine covered all the TSR games of the time, with the expected focus on D&D and AD&D, and UK D&D players were treated to the unique campaign setting, Pelinore, which was developed through a series of articles and adventures in the magazine, somewhat similar to the support the Known World / Mystara was getting in Dragon with the Princess Ark and Known World Grimoire articles.

Though presented as a complete fantasy world, which is built on the flat earth model, the bulk of Pelinore's development focused on the settings primary metropolis, the City League. One article presented an overview and map of world, and late in the series the lands directly surrounding the City League were explored a bit, but by far, the city itself got the bulk of attention, due in no small part, no doubt, to the untimely death of the magazine as TSR UK was absorbed by the main company.

The beauty of Pelinore, having considered that most of the material was building a fantasy city from scratch, is that the City League can be easily ported into another setting, even with the local lands around it if you have a small region to fill up on your map. Another option is using ideas and material from Pelinore's City League to flesh out existing cities in your setting of choice.

Obviously, the best source of material for the Pelinore setting is back issues of Imagine magazine, but I'm not the first fan to admit that those can be hard to come by, especially on this side of the pond, so I point you to a fan compilation of the articles:

http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2008/12/22/pelinore.php  Phil Gyford's site, the easiest to access the document from. The document is floating around on quite a few websites, and I've seen differing attributions regarding the editor/compiler of it, but since I have no solid information otherwise, I'll accept Mr Gyford's claims, which you'll see on his site.
Although this document is, as I mentioned, well circulated around the web, and has apparently not invoked the wrath of WOTC's legal watchdogs, I cannot vouch for the technical legality of that compilation of copyrighted material from old TSR UK products, just bear that in mind if you download it.

For more information, and to chat with other fans of the Pelinore setting, check out the Pelinore Forum at the Piazza:

http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewforum.php?f=71  The Piazza: Old D&D Worlds Forums - Pelinore Section

Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne

If you've enjoyed adventure module X2: Castle Amber (aka Chateau D'Ambreville), you've dabbled in the fantasy realm of Averoigne, whether you realized it or not! That adventure, in which in the PC heroes explore a strange, seemingly haunted mansion which acts as a sort of planar gateway into the world of Averoigne; a fantasy realm inspired by real world historical France.

I'll be honest here, I've not read a lot of CA Smith's work, and I can't speak authoritatively on his worlds. I include Averoigne in this survey of settings mainly because it is a canonical D&D setting in the same way that a fantasy version of pre-Columbian MesoAmerica is thanks to AD&Ds adventure module C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. Both adventures present a stand alone quest for the PCs that is inspired heavily by the material it is based on, and the authors of both products recommend further research and reading to DMs who want to create further adventures in those worlds.

To learn more about CA Smith and his fantasy writings and worlds, check out the following sites:

http://www.eldritchdark.com/ Eldritch Dark - The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith
http://www.blackgate.com The Averoigne Chronicles at the Black Gate fantasy fiction site.

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