Monday, 27 October 2008

The Rod of Seven Parts and Quintessential Campaigns

A while ago on, there was a thread about something.

Amazing, I know.

Anyway, whenever it was and whatever the thread was about, at some point somebody (who I think may have been Brian, of Trollsmyth fame), brought up the idea of a Quintessential Campaign for each edition of D&D. It would contain all that was best and all that was special about that particular iteration of the most popular rpg, and would span all the experience levels available.

Since the best thing about 2e was the settings, it was decided, the Quintessential 2e Campaign would involve an attempt to find and assemble each piece of the Rod of Seven Parts, with every segment found in a different campaign world. Thus the first might be found somewhere in Greyhawk, the second in Waterdeep, the third in Zakhara, the fourth in Oerth, the fifth in Krynn (shudder) and so on. Once the rod had been assembled there would be some kind of final mission, preferably involving spelljammer ships and the outer planes.

I thought that was a capital idea, even if I disagree that the best thing about 2e was the settings. (They were one of the great things about it, but not the best thing.) It quickly became one of those Campaigns That Must Be Run in my mind, but the sheer epic scale of the thing is pretty galling and eventually I put it to the back of my mind and forgot about it.

Well, it resurfaced yesterday while I was flipping through a pdf of an Al Qadim sourcebook. God, 2e had some great settings. As a general rule I'm the type of person who wants to create their own worlds than play in somebody else's sandbox, but who can resist the magic and mystery of an Al Qadim, a Dark Sun, or a Spelljammer? (Let's forget about Dragonlance for a moment.) The sheer force and potency of creativity in those settings is heady stuff, and the creators are never given enough credit.

I doubt I'll ever have time to run the Grand Rod of Seven Parts Campaign, much less the interested players. It's another one for the grimoire, I suppose. But that doesn't stop me thinking about it.

I'd start with Al Qadim, and Zakhari characters. The contrariness of that, rather than going for Greyhawk, or Forgotten Realms, or Dragonlance, has a certain appeal. The campaign would have to encompass Dark Sun, of course, preferably when the PCs were at a lower level - seeing how they dealt with the sheer meanness of the place would be an interesting adventure in and of itself. Then the action could swing through Oerth and Ravenloft, before progressing to Greyhawk and then, to the phlogiston, and the Abyss... Ah, the possibilities, unable to be realised. Life is so unfair sometimes.


  1. I thought I was the only person on the planet who actually liked Al-Qadim! That's another sadly neglected setting I'd love to revisit sometime.

    You know TSR did something vaguely like this idea as the 'finale' to 2nd edition (or something along those lines) with the 'Die Vecna Die' adventure. I don't recall it going to that many campaign worlds though. I think it just did Greyhawk, Ravenloft, and Planescape.

  2. Er... actually, I guess it would've been Wizards and not TSR by that point. I still think of the company being TSR up until 3rd edition reared its head.

  3. Arcona: I never heard of that. It was probably during my "D&D? I never used to play D&D" phase while I was at uni. I'll have to track it down.

  4. I loved Al Qadim. One of my favorite campaigns that I ever ran was a "Voyage of Sinbad" style island hop. Lots of neat material in that book.

  5. Bigfella: Yeah, I love the Sinbad style adventure series too. Have to run another of those someday.

  6. Here I am posting on an ancient blog to say... I'm in. I will play my way through 7, 8, 9 settings to put that rod together and smite something with it!