Kalamar too generic?

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Havard
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Kalamar too generic?

Post by Havard » Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:02 am

When the 3E Kalamar Sourcebooks first came out, I remember liking the classic feel to the setting. It seemed to be a kind of fresh start version of Greyhawk, where you had all the classic elements without being bogged down with the quirkiness that comes from having decades of publishing history. The elegant, well structured design of the setting and the way the source material supplied things that were not available for other settings for 3E just made the world really appealing.

These days though, I am wondering if it is not the same thing that makes me less interested in Kalamar. Is the setting too generic? OR, is it just that there are things about the Kingdoms of Kalamar that still makes it cool that I have not thought about in a while?

Does Kalamar need some kind of Times of Troubles / Wrath of the Immortals type shakeup, or does it already have what we need? :)

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Re: Kalamar too generic?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:42 am

The chief selling point of Kalamar has always been its map. The setting detail, though often very good, seems kind of an afterthought. Even their own ad copy emphasizes the map and doesn't have much to say about the rest.

I like that hobgoblins have been promoted to a major race, with their own nation and PC stats. I like their treatment of religion and their freaky immortal black orcs that are spawned from pits. But mainly I think Kalamar's function is to provide you with a decent map to work from and otherwise stay out of your way.

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Re: Kalamar too generic?

Post by night_druid » Sat Oct 24, 2015 3:57 pm

I've played Kalamar and in general, its an OK setting. Not my favorite by any means (well behind SJ & FR in that regards), but serviceable. It works well with many old-school modules such as the B-series, and the A and T series. The ship from Barrier Peaks is lost in the large western desert. With the HM system, I'm not sure it could handle the G series well (giants are just too powerful to take on more than a few at once; the feast-hall in G1 would be a meat-grinder of 20th level PCs). Its a lot like Eberron in that its geared towards lower level PCs (in HM, your level in D&D terms is half what the HM level is; thus a 10th level HM PC is roughly a 5th level D&D character). It does not, however, have much glitz or glamour to it. It is very "gritty", where peasants are dirt poor, kings rule drafty castles, and there are no idealized kingdoms ala Camelot/Cormyr/Evermeet. It shares many elements with Greyhawk, including a mass-migration of European-style people into a continent inhabited by Native American-style people, a brief timeline (ala less than 1,000 years from the sources I've seen), and a crumbling empire that once dominated the continent but fell apart (ala Rome/Great Kingdom).

What it lacks is a novel line and a driving meta-plot. There aren't many "rock-star" NPCs ala Elminister/Raistlin who have personal stories that interest people. It is very must a setting designed around the concept that the PCs are the stars of the show, and you wouldn't have a random 20+ level mage show up to steal the glory. Its meant to be played, not read about in novels/sourcebooks.

At least, that's my take. I'm not an expert by any means, just gamed in the setting for a while.
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Re: Kalamar too generic?

Post by Havard » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:07 pm

Very interesting. I agree that the Hobgoblin realms and their prominence is a distinguishing factor of the setting.

I do think the idea that the PCs won't be overshadowed by NPCs to be refreshing. On the other hand,is there some kind of universal threat in the Kingdoms of Kalamar? Do the published adventures for the setting have any recurring themes?

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Re: Kalamar too generic?

Post by night_druid » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:42 pm

Havard wrote:Very interesting. I agree that the Hobgoblin realms and their prominence is a distinguishing factor of the setting.

I do think the idea that the PCs won't be overshadowed by NPCs to be refreshing. On the other hand,is there some kind of universal threat in the Kingdoms of Kalamar? Do the published adventures for the setting have any recurring themes?
The only major overarching threats I know about are a resurgent Kalamar (the "Rome" of the setting), the hobgoblins on the rise, and Greavens (although I'm not sure how much of that has been imported into Kalamar from Garweeze Wurld, and how much has been dropped).
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Re: Kalamar too generic?

Post by Havard » Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:55 pm

What are the Greavens?

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Re: Kalamar too generic?

Post by night_druid » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:13 pm

Havard wrote:What are the Greavens?
What IS a Grevan...Heh, sore subject for some. It took YEARS to get a proper Grevan writeup out of K&C; they had been hinted at throughout the HM 4e product line, but never given a proper write-up. It had been promised for KoDT 100 or 200 (can't remember which), but that fell through. Eventually, they did get one, for HM 5e.

Basically Grevans are sorta like half-elf/half-ogres with a Mongul/Huns-style culture, sans horses. Racially, they're 9' tall and appear to be a mix of ogre, orc, elf, and human (Norse) bloodlines. Much like the Huns, they displaced tribes, causing them to migrate into civilized regions long before the Grevans showed up. They're driven by fragments of an artifact to constantly wage war, always moving forward. They're truly nomads, with no concept of cities or villages.
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