Midnight is coming back

I was thinking about some kind of pun for the title, but couldn’t come up with even a stupid one.

Back in the days of the avalance of d20 books based on the D&D 3rd edition, the Midnight campaign setting stood out well above everything else in quality. Though that didn’t seem to make it any more popular. It actually had a number of books with outstanding high production values. I think the only other thing in the same league was the second edition of the Conan d20 game, but that really was just the d20 system with a complete replacement of all content. Midnight on the other hand was still a D&D campaign setting.

And I remember anytime it was brought up in conversations, there was immediately a couple of people agreeing that it was a really cool that would be great to play in. I’m not quite sure when it became the common catchphrase for the game, but it could practically use “If Sauron had won” as its tag line. Everyone who reads about it seems to get this same impression of it.

It’s a pretty generic fantasy world, but somehow the god of evil was cast out of the realm of the gods, with the unforseen consequence that the worlds of the gods and mortals were forever separated. Leaving the god of evil with no real opposition in leading his armies of orcs to a conquest of the mortal lands. Most of the known world is now under the tyrannical occupation of the orc priests, with only the elven forest and a few other places still holding off the siege. There is no real hope that the dark gods forces could ever be driven back.

And apparently, the setting is now being relaunched. The announcement seems to have been a while back, but I only heard about it now. Talk is not about a 5th edition campaign setting but about a Midnight RPG based on 5th edition. I remember the original setting not having any clerics and paladins, since there are no gods, and a special cleric variant for priests of the dark god. Druids and rangers might also have been restricted, and I remember there being a special new spellcasting class that takes their role with a more limited access to magic. So my uninformed guess would be that the new setting is getting it’s own Rulebook that will likely still be pretty much 5th edition, but with all the setting-specifc changes to classes, magic, and races, and new feats already baked in. With it being sold as a game rather than a setting, I also expect it to stick with the original races and not include for example dragonborn and tieflings. Though warlocks would fit perfectly into it. While I doubt there will be a great market for people who want Midnight but don’t have the D&D rulebooks already, having everything in one tome with all the additions and the unavailable stuff removed seemd very useful. That would be at least what I am expecting.

The sad thing about Midnight was that it didn’t really take of back in the day like a good number of people thought it deserved. I thought it looked really cool, but never had a campaign planned myself either. But I feel like this might actually have a decent chance to get some moderate success. I think the kind of product that was being made back then would be pretty popular now. Something like the success of Adventures in Middle-Earth seems quite achievable to me. I might even want to take this one out for a small scale campaign if it turns out well. Unless the press comes out very poorly for it, I will most likely at least get and read it. While 5th edition turned out not to be a suitable game for my setting, I’m not inherently supposed to using it for a campaign it’s suited for. And Midnight should fit it just fine.

Where is the Love?

Flipping through the old 2nd edition Forgotten Realms book again, I was wondering who the artists were that made some of the illustrations in the books. While they are listed in the credits, there’s no attribution to specific images. I wasn’t able to find anything, and thinking about where you might possibly find someone who could know, I checked Discord, and to my surprise, discovered that there isn’t a single Forgotten Realms centered server. At least no public one. I would have thought that there’s at least one with a couple of thousand 5th edition players, but no such thing.

And now that I am thinking about it, I don’t recall ever seeing any forums or fan sites with a focus on the classic Forgotten Realms of AD&D. Which I find strange, because from what I remember, the setting was really huge in the 90s and the 2000s. The 5th edition “version” of the setting doesn’t even deserve the description of an empty shell. There’s only the Sword Coast and Chult, that’s it. And with the mind-boggling timeline advance of 4th edition, and then the quiet abandonment of the newly introduced replacement content, there really isn’t much left of a world in current products.

But that’s still more than the other AD&D campaign settings have been getting. Dark Sun had a short revival in 4th edition, but that’s it. What is surprising me is that there still seems to be a lot of fond love for Spelljammer, Dragonlance, and Dark Sun, and of course Greyhawk, but the original classic Forgotten Realms setting seems very much forgotten. Maybe it’s because the setting has never actually gone away, but still has its rotten corpse paraded around regularly? Perhaps it’s the fact that there hasn’t been any material for the other setting in some 25 years, that people who have some interest in them are thinking back to the stuff that was around in the 90s. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become The Simpsons.

Help me, WordPress users, how do I get an RSS link list?

I use WordPress because I hate google. That’s literally the only reason I didn’t went with blogspot like most people.

But one feature I really like on blogspot pages is the list of links, that displays the latest post on each site and sorts the pages according to which ones had a new post the most recently.

I want that too, but apparently, inexplicably, wordpress doesn’t have it by default. This is something that should be easy enough to do with a plugin, but all the plugins for RSS feed widgets are way too fancy, cluttering up the whole sidebar with completely unnecessary crap. Does anyone know of a plugin that lets you make a list of RSS feeds in the sidebar as on blogspot pages?

(To comment on this site, you can leave a comment without needing to leave any credentials or having to use a google account. I want to use this opportunity to one again voice my frustration that I would leave three or four times more comments on other peoples sites if I could do so without logging into a google account. Maybe I’m a luddite, marxist weirdo about this, but maybe consider that you could possibly get more comments if you let people comment without google accounts.)

But we have authentic contemporary depictions of it in art?

When it comes the the discussion of how medieval and ancient soldiers were actually equipped and fought in reality, something that comes up all the time is the mention of authentic artwork from the time that shows various weapons and how they are being used.

I admit those as evidence, but I dispute that they are proof.

Art is art. Not documentation. Sometimes art can be helpful in figuring out how certain things needed to be constructed to work, and held to be efficiently used. But in those cases you still have to try and replicate the depicted construction or handling and try them out to see if it actually solves problems people have encountered with modern recreations.

People have build plenty of ball and chain flails and studded leather armor over the recent years, but nobody has ever demonstrated that those can be of any use in a fight.

My favorite example of why authentic contemporary art can not be used as proof that people actually did things that way at the time is the 1987 movie Predator. In Predator, we see American soldiers fighting in a jungle, dual weilding MP5 sub-machine guns and carrying a hand-held minigun.

This artistic depiction of American soldiers was created by American artists in 1987, depicting scenes that take place in 1987. It can’t get more authentic and contemporary than that. There are countless historical records that show American soldiers actually saw action South America at that time, and in the archeological evidence we have thousands of surviving MP5s, and numerous still existing Miniguns that are extremely close to the one shown in the footage.

But should we take Predator as a reliable source for how American soldiers conducted jungle warfare in the 1980s? I’d be cautious about that.

And let’s also not forget that many pieces of medieval art were clearly drawn by people who clearly had never seen the things they were drawing.

Moldvay Basic and Cook Expert – 40 years and still going strong

It’s already two months late, but everyone else seems to have missed it too. The first printings of the Basic and Expert rules by Tom Moldvay and David Cook were done all the way back in January 1981.

And what a game they made!

After I started playing D&D when 3rd edition came out, I went for many years before I ever even heard of something that was occasionally mumbled about in the background called B/X or BECMI. And it completely stayed under my radar until six years ago when I took my first actual look at it, having it filed away as “that D&D light version where elf is a class”.

From the way that I remember it, the oldschool revival seemed to have started very much as an AD&D thing (though Basic Fantasy was actually the first retroclone) and that was a game I had tried getting into but bounced off very hard. But in the later years, when the return to older games morphed more into a forward evolution of those old concepts, B/X really seems to have established itself as the primary focus and reference point for oldschool roleplaying. Hard to say how things will be in another 40 years, but I am quite confident that this game will be staying with us for a long time to come.