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The Turakian Age is Seriously Underrated

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4 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

See, if this had been the back cover copy I might have bought the thing.  

 

Is this really what TA is?

 

48 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

All drawn from what's in the book, yes. With Lucius's distinctive style added, of course. ;)

 

Thank you. Maybe I should be in the business of writing back cover blurbs.

 

3 hours ago, zslane said:

Is it a good idea to crib so obviously from Tolkien though? (The Desolation of Skarm? Really?)

 

Given that, 1) the relatively small number who will see a phrase like "The Desolation of Skarm" and automatically think of Tolkein's line "They were come to the Desolation of the Dragon, and they were come at the waning of the year," and given that 2) of those who DO think of it, most will respond approvingly and only a vanishingly small portion (perhaps  a single individual) will sneer and say "really?", I will venture to suggest that yes, even if it we regard it as a crib, it's still a good idea.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary looms up to say that overuse of the word "looming" is not necessarily such a good idea. Everyone's a critic.

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16 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Well, if anyone had the right to, it's Steve Long. He wrote extensively for Decipher's LOTR game line, including their core book.

 

Okay, sure, if he had used that phrase in a LOTR game, I could see the logic in that. But TA isn't a licensed Middle-Earth product, so I don't see any "rights"--be they legal or creative--that might be applicable here.

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Sorry, I meant "right" as in "justification in principle and precedent," rather than legal or intellectual right. I probably should have chosen a more precise word.

 

Given Steve's great familiarity with the subject, I'm sure the name choice was deliberate and calculated. One can disagree with the calculation, of course. (i reacted to it similarly to you, to be honest.)

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Our long-absent forum colleague and Hero Games author, Bob Greenwade, once posted a thread requesting plot ideas for a story line he was considering set in Ambrethel, involving assembling a mighty magic weapon against Kal-Turak. I only remember it because I ended up blathering out a bunch of suggestions. :P  Those were based on details found in TA, and most could also form the basis of scenarios apart from an overall quest. I think they'd be relevant to this topic.

 

 

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Good for you! I hope you enjoy it. :)

 

If practical for you, I recommend also investing in Nobles, Knights, And Necromancers. Plenty of NPCs drawn from the Turakian Age setting, with plot seeds and other potential spelled out for each of them. You might also considering picking up a few issues of Digital Hero with adventures that fit TA; specifically:

 

YOUR HOROSCOPE FOR: VIRGO: Your Fantasy Hero party must save a maiden from the belly of a terrible wyrm! At least, that might be the quest…. DH 14, PAGE 23

LEFTOVER HERO: This secret map contains the location of a colony of brain-eating Migdalars, that didn’t fit into Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds. DH 21, PAGE 42

THE TREASURE OF THENIN: The journal of Thenin Bookwright holds the secret of a buried treasure, one that is guarded by a most unusual demon… DH 43, PAGE 48

 

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14 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Nobles, Knights, And Necromancers

Alright, good leads thanks.  This ain't my first rodeo, and though I have no idea yet where the campaign will start or center around, I am looking forward to flexing my HERO rules from supplements I have not used in... a while

 

Namely Horror HERO, Pirates, Mythic Greece, Combat Handbook and maybe PA HERO. Not to mention APG Kingdom HERO.

 

So many dials, knobs, levers, switches and  buttons to push. 

 

 

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On 1/18/2019 at 6:59 AM, L. Marcus said:

I'm currently reading through my copy of The Forgotten Realms campaign setting for D&D 3. TA has it beat on all counts -- even Steve's attempt at an olde worlde voice in his writing (which I find hard to stomach at times, especially in Tuala Morn) is better than what the FR authors tried to pull off.

 

I haven't read Turakian Age, but I readily take your word that it's much better than Forgotten Realms. I've read the Forgotten Realms setting guide, and found it very generic in style and content. Yes, it's perfectly designed to support D&D games. But there's no voice or vision. Complete checklist setting design. I would not recommend anyone waste time or money on it.

 

I do hope someday I can find time for Turakian Age.

 

Dean Shomshak

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OTOH The Turakian Age does accommodate many of the classic D&D-esque characters and tropes, so much of D&D's support material, such as adventures, could be adapted to Hero without much difficulty. Often one only needs to swap characters and "monsters" for something comparable from Hero sources.

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I have never played Fantasy HERO where it felt like I was playing D&D.  I run D&D to get a certain vibe (possibly purely nostalgia) but I enjoy that and never get that same feel running Fantasy HERO.

 

That said, if I had a very specific campaign I wanted to run, I would be happier capturing that using HERO than D&D.  I reckon that Al Quadim and Dark Sun would have rocked using HERO but (for me) the D&D ruleset overwhelmed the different character of those campaigns.

 

Doc

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1 hour ago, lensman said:

Is it just me or does TA have a Greyhawk vibe?

 

 

I've noticed a few similarities, e.g. the Nyr Dyv in Oerik and the Sea of Mhorec/Lake Beralka in Ambrethel. Aarn and Tavrosel also seem to play similar roles as Greyhawk and Dyvers in their respective settings. But I'm not sure that was a deliberate act of imitation -- maybe just following a common fantasy RPG zeitgeist.

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8 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

I've noticed a few similarities, e.g. the Nyr Dyv in Oerik and the Sea of Mhorec/Lake Beralka in Ambrethel. Aarn and Tavrosel also seem to play similar roles as Greyhawk and Dyvers in their respective settings. But I'm not sure that was a deliberate act of imitation -- maybe just following a common fantasy RPG zeitgeist.

Yes, given the size of the two works, finding some similarities is inevitable.  I make no assertion as to intention or imitation.  I simply comment on the vibe as I read through.

 

Because as I read, page by page, I grok it through the prism of all my game knowledge.

 

I understand zealous defense of good works. This will be the cloth my campaign will be cut from, just looking at the macro elements. magic seems more common, not item magic, but spell magic. HERO players almost all want to play in that sandbox.

 

Anyone that has observations of the macro or on magic, I'd like to hear them.

 

@LL : Read your post on the location you would start a campaign and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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7 hours ago, lensman said:

Anyone that has observations of the macro or on magic, I'd like to hear them.

 

I wouldn't necessarily say that magic is more common in Ambrethel than many other fantasy locations, as far as when and how the average person interacts with it. However, magic does seem to be integrated into the social fabric of that world to a greater extent than in most other fantasy RPG settings. There are quite a few well-known and respected schools of magic across the known world, often focusing on distinctive styles of spell. There are also at least two mageocratic nations, Arutha and Kurum-Sathiri. Powerful individual wizards also seem to have had an unusually prominent role in shaping the (extensively detailed) history of the Turakian Age.

 

A particularly distinctive element of TA is how religion is handled. While most fantasy RPGs confine themselves to little more than lists of gods in pantheons, with their powers and "spheres of influence," and what abilities they grant to their priests; TA delves more into the theology of the major religions, what their doctrines are, their hierarchies, their politics, and the practices their adherents follow which shape how they live their lives.

 

If the main continent of Arduna adapts many of the familiar conventions of D&D and its imitators, the smaller continent of Mitharia is where those conventions are often subverted. There you can find surface-dwelling Dwarves, demon-worshiping Elves, civilized Orcs, rugged outdoorsy Halflings, a benevolent Lich. The Drakine (dragon-men), a people long in decline on Arduna, rule the most powerful realm of Mitharia. Mitharia also holds civilizations of Men not connected to and predating the oldest legends of the Men of Arduna; civilizations inspired by real ones from Earth which have rarely been adapted to games like these.

 

As the common designation of this setting implies, Kal-Turak is the dominant figure of his era. His intentions are feared by all. The "GM's Vault" info in the TA source book describes his hidden machinations to weaken the world as prelude to his campaign of conquest. Yet it's surprisingly easy to run the setting completely excising Kal-Turak and his realm. Turakia is located far to the north of Arduna, well beyond the territories of any other peoples. It conducts no trade or diplomatic relations with other nations. While the Ravager of Men has covertly meddled in global affairs for centuries, many of his described schemes occurred long before the default start date for a Turakian Age campaign, and have had little to no lasting effect on the "present day" world. For other more recent events where Kal-Turak's involvement isn't suspected, the public frequently have their own explanations for them, which a GM can choose the make the "correct" explanations. The few that don't fall into either category are not hard to rationalize without the Ravager, or to just ignore.

 

Excluding Kal-Turak still leaves a number of major foes which could become the focus of a campaign, from such world-shaking menaces as Vashkoran holy war, the freeing of the gods of Thun, or the imperial expansion of Orumbar; to more regional threats like the Yellow King of Valicia, the Vampire Lord of Dragosani, or the Seven Sorcerers of Vuran.

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17 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

A particularly distinctive element of TA is how religion is handled. While most fantasy RPGs confine themselves to little more than lists of gods in pantheons, with their powers and "spheres of influence," and what abilities they grant to their priests; TA delves more into the theology of the major religions, what their doctrines are, their hierarchies, their politics, and the practices their adherents follow which shape how they live their lives.

 

Ooh. Sold. Steve should pay you a kickback. 😉 Indeed, not many FRPGs (or the fantasies that inspire them) pay much attention to religion, as distinct from gods. It's one reason I like Bujold's "World of the Five Gods" stories so much.

 

Dean Shomshak

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On 6/17/2019 at 1:09 AM, drunkonduty said:

I definitely prefer the Turakian Age without Kal-Turak.

 

But I do like some of the "little villains" that LL has mentioned. And a holy war is always fun. I'd cheerfully steal some of the names and situations.

 

To be fair, some of those villains are only "little" in comparison to TA's resident Dark Lord. But the Thunese gods, in particular, represent as great a threat to the Earth as Kal-Turak himself, if not even greater.

 

Then again, there are potential foes for PCs with a much narrower focus or scope of operations. One outstanding example from Nobles, Knights, And Necromancers is the Red Talon Guild, a network of slavers who kidnap people from parts of Arduna where slavery is illegal, and transport them for sale to places where it is legal. This group is never going to be conquerors, but their operations span thousands of miles, involving a  network of gangs of thieves and smugglers, tribes of barbarians and bands of mercenaries, and manors or castles along their trade routes where they can stash their victims. PCs who aren't ready or interested to save the world, may be highly motivated to track down and recover a kidnapped friend or family member.

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On 6/17/2019 at 11:51 PM, Lord Liaden said:

Then again, there are potential foes for PCs with a much narrower focus or scope of operations. One outstanding example from Nobles, Knights, And Necromancers is the Red Talon Guild, a network of slavers who kidnap people from parts of Arduna where slavery is illegal, and transport them for sale to places where it is legal. This group is never going to be conquerors, but their operations span thousands of miles, involving a  network of gangs of thieves and smugglers, tribes of barbarians and bands of mercenaries, and manors or castles along their trade routes where they can stash their victims. PCs who aren't ready or interested to save the world, may be highly motivated to track down and recover a kidnapped friend or family member.

 

YES!  This is the organization that I threw at my gaming group after a couple of small adventures.  Interrupting a kidnapping or two brought the party to the attention of the local group of the Red Talons.  The party started to investigate some more and was getting an idea that this was a larger group than they thought.  Suddenly DNCPs/contacts/family/friends were threatened/investigated/kidnapped by the Guild to distract them.  Fun for all.

 

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On 6/15/2019 at 8:04 PM, Doc Democracy said:

 

That said, if I had a very specific campaign I wanted to run, I would be happier capturing that using HERO than D&D.  I reckon that Al Quadim and Dark Sun would have rocked using HERO but (for me) the D&D ruleset overwhelmed the different character of those campaigns.

 

I found Dark Sun to be far more suited to Hero than to D&D.  Psionics, unarmored fighters, toxins, and magic were all better defined and balanced in Hero.  The only mechanically difficult part was the herbicidal nature of Preserver/Defiler magic, but we mostly just handwaved it since it had little effect on gameplay.

 

Never read Al-Qadim I'm afraid.

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Given how Defiler magic worked in the books I would model it like a large Aid to whichever magical ability was being used with the side effect that it kills nearby plant life and renders the ground barren for centuries.

 

Combine that with requiring spells in general to take the Full Phase extra time limitation, but having a naked advantage style buy-off for the time requirement when defiling.

 

Defiler magic was stronger and faster in the books at the cost of destroying the local environment.

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On 1/20/2019 at 11:27 AM, zslane said:

I think it might have helped the Turakian Age brand if those books had the connection to TA right in their titles

 

I would love to this would have been the case; but during the lifespan of DOJ as custodians of Hero, any book that didn't say "Champions" on the front generally sold very very poorly. The buying public made it clear: non-superhero Hero stuff was not going to sell.

 

Which is part of why I will never again support a book with the words "Champions" on it. Other failed to support my favorite genre, I won't support theirs.

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Now that more folks here know what The Turakian Age is, and how the setting is supported... it's not too late to invest in it. The books are still in the Hero Games website store, at greatly reduced prices from their initial retail. Buying from this store also means Hero Games gets all your money. ;)

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One thing not included with the TA source book itself is the sort of detailed index one came to expect of all Fifth Edition Hero books. This one provides only a broad subject index. However, Steve Long created a separate, exhaustive combined index and glossary for the setting, the Encyclopaedia Turakiana, as a free downloadable PDF, available on the Hero Games website: https://www.herogames.com/files/file/206-encyclopaedia-turakiana/

 

That file was first hosted on a much earlier version of the Hero website, along with several other free downloads related to the Turakian Age. Among them was a summary/classification of the dominant Turakian Age gods; and a calendar for the Westerlands, a major region of the world of Ambrethel. You'll find links to those at the bottom of this archived webpage: https://web.archive.org/web/20060209130204/http://herogames.com/FreeStuff/freedocs.htm

 

Continuing the parade of freebies ;) , if anyone would like to get an advance look at what Ambrethel, the Turakian Age world, looks like, you can download maps in various sizes, color and B&W, from the first couple of links on yet another archived webpage:  https://web.archive.org/web/20060209130319/http://herogames.com/FreeStuff/wallpapers.htm

 

However, the current website also hosts free collected scans of the detailed maps from inside the TA source book, which you can download from here: https://www.herogames.com/files/category/9-maps/


 

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