Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review & Commentary On CBI-2 The Thonian Rand Source book By Havard & Friends For Your Old School Campaigns

Blackmoor the name conjures up images of everything from the First Fantasy Campaign to some of the corner stones of Dungeons & Dragons as we know it. I'm not going to get bogged down in gushing about Dave Arneson  co creator of Dungeons & Dragons. But I quietly keep my hand churning in the Blackmoor fandom. When Havard's Blackmoor blog & the Comeback Inn  announced a new free Blackmoor supplement well I had to get in on the action CBI-2 The Thonian Rand Source book 

"The Comeback Inn is proud to announce the second in the series of Thonian Empire Province Sourcebooks. Written by Havard and friends, this sourcebook details the northwestern border province of the Thonian Empire. "

According to Havard himself, "I tried to include the most important things for running a campaign in that area as well as making the Province feel unique or at least different from other Provinces" The introduction goes deeper into this point; "What follows is the second booklet detailing the provinces of the Thonian Empire, a realm in the world of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor. This is my take on the Province known as the Thonian Rand While much of it is based on published information from the DA modules and the FFC as well as some ZGG material, the final interpretation is my own. I make no claim for it being any official interpretation. Thanks to Rafael, LoZompatore, Aldarron, James Mishler, Agathokles, RobJN, Cthulhdrew, Greg Svenson and many unnamed members of the Mystara Community and the people of the Comeback Inn Forum for research and ideas that was used in this PDF. This booklet details the Thonian Rand in the year 1030, the time of the ZGG Blackmoor product line, 5 years after the DA modules"

This timing distinction makes the placement of this sourcebook incredibly important for its use as an adventure jump off point. Here the player's PC's are going to be in the thick of this twenty two page book. This book has annotations about past products such as 

DA3 City of the Gods.  In fact scattered through out the book are references to other Blackmoor & Dave Arneson writings. 

"The Thonian Empire is a tyrannical realm ruled by an evil and corrupt Emperor and his lieutenants in an oppressive system.", and this book dives right into the hows & whys of it with notes right off the bat for PC's coming from the empire itself. The layout is easy on the eyes & the font works very well for the book. Each province is given over to detail but not overly so that one sometimes find in other Dungeons & Dragons products. There's a coherency that one finds throughout the source book according to Havard this was a labor of love; "I actually started working on this book back in 2014, but only recently got back to it. One reason it took me so long is that I am writing one book for each of the 10 Provinces and trying to make them feel coherent" We see this throughout the twenty two pages details from Blackmoor permeate the book such as the new updated version of the Tarnsmen ala Gor who have been decoupled from their Gorian past. Now their Hawkriders even though the term Tarnsmen is still used;
"Believed related to the Peshwa, Hawkriders is a culture of humans living in the various mountain ranges of the North. Sometimes known as Tarnsmen, this people are best known for those among their numbers who ride gigantic Warhawks. Although the term Hawkrider is used to refer to the group as a whole, only a few of each clan have the gift allowing them to ride these creatures. " I'm glad to see their inclusion in this book & their legacy carried on & throughout we get more details & ideas.
We really get into the factions of the Thonian empire & there's lots of good stuff to get into. Then we dive into the geography, regions, politics, etc. of the Thonian Empire & make no mistake this is a dangerous region. This book can be used for PC's but the Thonian Empire sourcebook in many ways reminds me of the Greyhawk box set & folio. Areas that have interesting factions, ideas, & really dangerous NPC's. The section on Rogues, Rascals and Regents of The Rand has some fantastic NPC's & let's take this gnome mover & shaker for example; 

"Artigan of Foglesby
 Neutral Good 11th level Gnome Inventor,
Str 13, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 17, Wis 11, Cha 15
This Gnome is a colleague of astronomer Galen of Lato. Artigan was working closely with Galen when Artigan built a mechanical sparrow for his daughter around 40 years ago. This resulted in a number of mechanical animals being created in Evedhar. Every noble in Thonia wanted one so Gnomes began working hard to supply those in demand of such a toy. (This character is briefly mentioned in Clock & Steam, by Zeitgeist Games)"

All of Artigan's stats tie deeply back into the regions & other locations described within the  CBI-2 The Thonian Rand Source book  This is something that we see again & again with each & everything covered. This is the mark of a good & solidly useful product in my mind.

So how can the 
 CBI-2 The Thonian Rand source book  be used? Well that's where things get really interesting. The sourcebook can be used to update existing adventures such as 

DA4 The Duchy of Ten by David J. Ritchie to a more updated campaign..

 Or CBI-2 The Thonian Rand Source book  could be used to fill in many of the Blackmoor puzzle pieces that have over the years slipped through the cracks. But in point of fact the book could be used to start a brand new campaign set within the Rand setting itself. The cartography is well done & Blackmoor's evil empire never looked better. Do I think you should download the CBI-2 The Thonian Rand Source book? In a word absolutely! 

Get this sourcebook at the Comeback Inn

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