Gamers' Corner


The Black Company Campaign Setting

Written by Damien

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Improved and Greater Dodge are better versions of the core feat Dodge.
Mounted Mayhem allows you to make a full attack while riding your mount, as long as you move 10 feet between attacks.

Vicious grants a bonus to confirm critical hits with any weapon with which you enjoy Weapon Focus.

Chapter Seven
This is a brief chapter that describes things like how to use Allegiances (a d20 Modern alternative to Alignments), names, and religion. A good summary of the different ethnicities of the setting is also given, with a complete (if very short) write-up on mode of dress, maybe basic customs or ideals, and physical appearances.

Chapter Eight
The equipment chapter is loaded. After a brief synopsis of the economy (measured in silver pieces in this game, rather than gold), we get right in to new stuff. A couple of new weapons, a bunch of new siege weapons, and some new armour start us off. The weapons and armour didn't impress me overmuch. But the siege equipment is great with everything from a trebuchet to a springdal to the infamous 'dolphin.'

Then we come to my absolute favourite part of the chapter. This setting doesn't have the huge amount of magic items and equipment common to most D&D settings, so rather than stick everyone with all mundane weapons at every level, we have been given rules for 'levels of masterwork quality.' Essentially, items fit into 7 levels of quality: average, fine, excellent, exceptional, superior, masterwork, and masterpiece. Each level allows the creator to add a 'benefit' such as increased damage to a weapon, or a bonus to Diplomacy checks due to the item's beautiful appearance. Each benefit can be applied to an item up to three times. Really great rules, and it's about time quality meant something besides 'can be enhanced magically.'

Sample masterwork items follow, including Raven's daggers, Lady's sword, and Croaker's bow. After that we come to magic items. There's not many, but it seems all the important ones are here; Fireball Projectors, Flying Carpet, Flying Post, The Lances of Passion, One-Eye's Cureall, One-Eye's Spear, Scrying Bowl & Mercury, Shivetya Manna, and Voroshk Attire.

Chapter Nine

Combat! The very core of most gaming systems. d20 Combat gets a complete overhaul here. It's not so different from D&D that you won't recognize it anymore. But there's definitely plenty of new stuff to consider -- and it all works together to make combat grittier, deadlier, and downright meaner. The first thing worth mentioning is that combat is separated into three separate scales. Character scale is your normal D&D combat, Company scale is meant for groups of combatants (like a hundred, or two hundred men), and Army scale is -- well, for entire armies. The different scales are designed to fit seemlessly together. You could, theoretically, be running a huge battle with multiple armies using Army scale, then switch to Character scale to get down and gritty with the players, then back off to Company scale, then go back to Army scale, and so on.

After some testing on my own - Green Ronin did a damn good job. The shift between scales can sometimes be a -bit- jarring, but overall it is almost seamless in most instances. Excellently done.

Besides entirely new rules for two different scales of combat, character scale combat takes a hit. Initiative has changed, the surprise round has been modified to make it much more deadly -- even the way you take damage has been changed (to something far better than standard D&D, in my opinion), so that you take Constitution damage when you run out of Hit Points. 0 Constitution is dead. As I stated, the new rules here are pretty in depth, so reviewing each one would be impossible. Suffice to say that the new combat rules are a triumph for anyone that wants a gritty, mean, deadly combat system for their d20 games.

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