Thursday, June 9, 2016

Reworking The Eye of Fear & Flame For The Adventurer, Conqueror, King Role Playing System

A blade dancer and her companion are about to make short work of a wizard on the cover of Adventurer, Conqueror, King.

The Adventurer, Conqueror, King role playing system is something that I've been wanting to get my hands on in a physical copy since 2013 when I read this review. Well, the book been in my hands less then twenty four hours with a smashed spine due to it going missing for a week thanks in part to Fed Ex's mishandling of the package and a piss poor packing job by Noble Knight. After a couple of rather angry phone calls the matter should be resolved soon. Anyhow, back to Adventurer, Conqueror, King basically the system is set up for domain level play or as Gus deftly puts it;"ACKS is clearly a D&D RC or BECMI (BEC, to be precise) tribute game, but not a retro-clone. The system has been optimized and streamlined with viable and exciting domain- and realm-level endgame play in mind. For the experienced DM, it is evident at a glance that these revisions have been grounded in considerable and systematic playtesting. The monsters chapter feels a bit anemic, but the easy cross-compatibility of TSR-era D&D and its simulacra provides an immediate solution. I feel some design choices (Proficiencies, in particular, and the way they’ve been handled) push ACKS into middling territory between TSR-era “old school” D&D, and more modern iterations." Cheers to the reviewer for clearly nailing the essence of Adventurer, Conqueror, King in one swift review note my hat is off to him.This brings me to the classic Fiend Folio which as readers of this blog know has a special place in my heart as one of the most weird, imaginative, and dangerous official monster manuals to come out during the classic AD&D era.  One of the exceptionally dangerous high level monsters was the Eye of Fear and Flame that travels the underworld tempting and plotting the destruction of various parties of adventurers by making them commit evil deeds. 
The classic Russ Nicholson artwork lends the otherworldly pulp horror a nightmarish quality. Rereading the Fiend Folio description of these monsters parties when first encountering the Eye don't see the hooded skeletal aspect until they attack it. They will see a black space in the hood. The Eye will tempt and taunt the party of adventurers into trying to commit evil deeds for its own twisted agendas.

Artwork owned by Wizards of The Coast

Because of the otherworldly nature of the Eye of Fear and Flame I've always associated the monster  with Mathew 6:22-23 from the King James Bible ever since I was a kid:" The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"

The Eye of Fear & Flame is the sort of a monster that might appear at courts of kings, thieves guilds, and lairs of heroes of renowned to mock the fall of kings, heroes, and conquerors by the gods of Chaos. There are only twenty or so of these monsters making them both mythological and sinister at the same time yet there is an unknown quality about them. They're almost a monster that might appear straight out of the Arthurian legends of old. Monsters summoned from the depths of the underworld as advisors to evil cults or as bringers of forbidden knowledge. The Eye of Fear and Flame in original Fiend Folio has the behind the scenes plotting the destruction of the kingdom quality going for it. Could these creations of either the gods of Law or Chaos actually be the power behind the throne of a nation created  only to see a kingdom crumble into dust as they've been doing for centuries?

Because the Eye of Fear and Flame Appeared in the *gasp* Tome of Horrors for 3.0 it should be an OGL available monster. I found this version whist searching around, so it shouldn't be too hard to recast this classic horror from the ancient  days of the Eighties. The Eye of Fear and Flame has lots of potential to be a figure almost akin to the classic Poe's Masque of the Red Death for higher level games.

All in all I think that the Eye of Fear and Flame has always fallen into the category of angels, demons, and other worldly spirits and as an instrument of the gods not simply another dungeon monster to exploit to throw at parties of adventurers but as a much a narrative tool as a horror plotting the downfall of humanity through its rulers.  As always have fun storming the castle.

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