Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yet More Commentary On the Free OSR Resource From Dragon's Foot - L5A: The Kroten Campaign Guide By Len Lakofka

Grab It Right Over

You need to download this campaign, now! Serious stop reading this and go grab it. 
I'll wait right over here.
I've been talking with friends, family, etc. some of whom have gotten back from GaryCon(sigh no I didn't go this year. The sewing machine repair business has kept me home, again). I got together with friends the other night who schooled me in Kroten Campaign Guide and it's old school importance.

What's In the Campaign according to Dragon's foot :
This is the Kroten Campaign Guide for the L5 module, providing information on the town of Kroten and the surrounding area. 

This manual is the first in a three book set:
L5A: The Kroten Campaign Guide (this file)
L5B: The Kroten Adventures
L5C: The Kroten Campaign CompanionThis guide concerns the first five adventure's within this world. 
This manual details five adventures set in and around
Kroten:  Crypt Adventure
 Fane of Syrul  Fane of Pyremius  Castle Kroten
 Hell
Note that the Hell adventure is a follow-on to the Castle
Kroten adventure, and takes place in the Nine Hells, as
the name indicates.

You need to see this one hundred and fifty six page tour de force. Seriously this is that good of a campaign that echoes back to the hey day of the hobby. I seriously enjoyed reading this campaign guide of Len's. It contains everything and I do mean everything your going to need to play in his corner of this campaign world. Peoples,locations, cultures, adventure hooks, etc.
 The author fleshes out quite a bit but leaves lots of room for the DM to customize the setting and make it his own. The pdf is well edited, nicely thought out, and balanced.
 The towns, countryside, etc. all make an excellent basis to launch the PC's into adventures. This is an excellent place to call home, if you want 'home' to have some adventure potential right in your back yard.
It's all there and it's all free did I mention that it's old school? Seriously this is a really well done campaign guide. It's got everything you need to drop this right into an existing campaign as an entire region. This campaign guide throws the PC's into the deep end of the campaign setting lock, stock, and two smoking treasure chests.
 There's even an encounters table by district at the end of the campaign guide.
All in all you get a complete world snap shot in one package. Everything you need to start right into the world is given as a free download.
Much of this material is easily incorporated into OSRIC or any other retroclone that uses an Advanced mechanic. There are a number of retroclones that this material can easily be used with. 

Who Is Lenard Lakofka? 
I'm going to rely on Wiki here because I didn't realize who the author  was. I started out as a kid war gamer and one of the games I cut my teeth on was Diplomacy back in the 70's. 
While living in Chicago in the 1960s, Len Lakofka became involved in wargames, including Avalon Hill's Diplomacy.[2] His increasing interest in Diplomacy led him to join the International Federation of Wargamers, and through the IFW met its vice-president, game designer Gary Gygax. In 1968, Gary Gygax convinced the IFW to organize a one-day convention called Gen Con at the Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva WI. Lakofka was by this time president of the IFW,[3] and travelled to Lake Geneva to help set up, run events and clean up. At the end of the day, before taking down his sand table and locking up the Hall, Gygax introduced a new set of miniatures rules to Lakofka and a few others.[2] Those rules would subsequently be published as Chainmail, a precursor to D&D.[4]
Back in Chicago in 1969, Lakofka wrote the first issue[5] of his own "Dippy 'zine"—a fanzine devoted to Diplomacy—titled Liaisons Dangereuses.[2] He would eventually publish 81 issues over the next 8 years.[6] In 1969, he also was the organizer of Gen Con II.[1]
In 1972, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson began to co-develop a new role-playing game, which eventually led to the formation of Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) and the release of the first boxed sets of Dungeons & Dragons. Lakofka was frequently a playtester as the rules were developed,[1] and advised Gygax on rules he felt were unbalanced.[7] Shortly after D&D was published in 1975, articles about D&D began to appear in his Dippy 'zine Liaisons Dangereuses.[8] Although the names of both Lakofka and Gygax appeared in the articles' bylines, all of the articles were written by Lakofka alone—he added Gygax's name in order to preserve Gygax's copyright on D&D.[2]Some of these articles were almost immediately republished in the new magazine The Dragon.[2] Lakofka started playing D&D in Chicago, using a player character named Leomund. He also created a D&D campaign world called Lendore Isle.
Although Lakofka was not a member of the TSR staff, as the rules for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) were being developed, Gygax passed Lakofka copies of the manuscripts for both the Players Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide. Lakofka edited the manuscripts, and also contributed material to both books.[7] After the rule books for AD&D were published, he created additional spells, magic items and monsters, which were subsequently published in Dragon.[1] He also wrote several more articles about AD&D inDragon, and continued to help organize and run Diplomacy and AD&D events at Gen Con, which was now owned by TSR, Inc.
At the first official AD&D tournament, held in January 1979 at Winter Fantasy, Lakofka was the second-place finisher.[9] Later the same year, Brian Blume of TSR approached Lakofka at a convention in Seattle about writing AD&D adventures, and for $10,500, Lakofka agreed to write three modules. Dragon editor Tim Kask also approached Lakofka about becoming a regular columnist, and in October 1979, Lakofka's monthly feature, Leomund's Tiny Hut, appeared in Issue #30.
In 1980, Lakofka submitted three modules to TSR, taken from adventures he had originally created for his home campaign of Lendore Isle: The Secret of Bone HillThe Assassin's Knot and Deep Dwarven Delve. Gary Gygax was simultaneously creating his World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting, and Lakofka asked if "Lendore Isle" could be incorporated into Gygax's new world. Gygax agreed, and Lakofka chose the largest island in the Spindrift Isles archipelago as the location of his Lendore Isle adventures.
On top of his written contributions, Lakofka continued to be a high-profile player in the D&D world: in 1980, he was listed as the 6th-ranked player in national D&D standings;[10] and the same year, as a dungeon master, he placed third in the Invitational Dungeon Master's Tournament at Gen Con. (Frank Mentzer was the winner.)[11]
In 1981, Lakofka's first adventure, L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, was published. Reviews were mixed. In Different Worlds, Anders Swenson complained about the randomness of encounters, and that the monsters and townspeople were unrealistically compressed into too small a geographical area.[12] However, White Dwarf's Jim Bambra gave it an 8 out 10, and liked the roleplaying situations the module afforded.[13] James Maliszewski claimed the module was one of his favorites because it created "a very flexible 'sandbox' framework for a low-level campaign".[7]
In 1983, TSR published Lakofka's second adventure, L2 The Assassin's Knot. Reviews were again mixed. Rick Swan, in The Space Gamer, thought the murder mystery of the plot was "a very pedestrian affair", and the adventure was "just plain dull".[14] Dave Morris inWhite Dwarf disagreed, calling it "an entertaining murder mystery for AD&D characters" and scoring it 7 out of 10.[15] In 2004, Erik Mona and James Jacobs ranked The Assassin's Knot as the 29th greatest AD&D adventure ever written.[16]
The Grey Hawk Connection 

Here's where the Grey Hawk connection comes into play.Most of the following was taken from Wik but it pretty well sums up the Greyhawk connection. This was all new to me until a friend sat me down Thursday and explained what the connection was to the Grey Hawk campaign world.
I used the hell out of the Lendore Isles in my own Grey Hawk campaign.
Lakofka wrote a widely read monthly magazine column about D&D, and his home campaign setting of the Lendore Isles was incorporated into Gary Gygax's World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting. TSR commissioned three D&D adventures from Lakofka, but only published two of them before Lakofka's friend Gygax was ousted from TSR in 1985. The third module was not released until 1999, after TSR was taken over by Wizards of the Coast. Lakofka continued to write sequels to the first three adventures, and a fourth module in the series was released on-line by in 2010, with the fifth module planned for an on-line release in 2011

Lakofka also continued to write more articles in Dragon in addition to his monthly column. When Gygax was creating the World of Greyhawk, Lakofka suggested that based on the migration patterns of various Greyawk races as outlined in the campaign setting, that "his" Lendore Isles would have been mainly settled by Suel. When the twelve gods of the Suel pantheon of gods were simply listed in the 1983 edition of the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting, with no details or powers given, Lakofka took it upon himself to flesh out descriptions of each god.[17] In 1984, Lakofka published this information as a major five-part series in Dragon.
I used the hell out of the Lendore Isles in my own Grey Hawk campaign and you can find out more about them HERE 
A guide to character generation and guidelines for the Lendore Isles reveals some very interesting things in Footprints Issue #5
Available right over HERE 

According to the article : 
"We played this campaign on most Sundays (about 45 a year) from about 1PM to 9PM and many
nights we played till 11PM so we could watch Doctor Who on public TV. You will note there are no 11th  level characters and only one achieved 10th  level.

High fatality rates, good gaming, and lots of interesting developments. Sounds about right for some old school fun.
Thanks for some good times Len and happy gaming.
More coming up soon. 

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