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Old Screeds

Review 1: Wemic Camp, The Shining South Web Enhancement [28 Jan 05]

In Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons, wemics are found mostly in a region of the south of the Faerun campaign world called the Shaar. This module details a pride of wemics in that area, and offers ideas on how to insert the pride into a campaign.

Written by Penny Williams, Wemic Camp is available as a free PDF download that you can obtain from Wizards of the Coast directly. This half of the review comments on the module’s overall utility; next week I’ll be more mean-spirited as I pick some nits!

The module is professionally written, edited, and designed -- the rules design is solid, and the graphic design is stunning, especially Rob Lazaretti’s map. It prints out well on a home inkjet printer (and is easier to read that way, as the text itself suggests). Art-wise, the only thing missing is a drawing of a wemic or two! (And with the last page three-quarters empty, there would have been plenty of room for art.)

The module spends a lot of space detailing four leaders of the pride -- a barbarian, a ranger/barbarian, a druid, and a sorcerer/rogue. These NPCs are described in excellent detail, in terms of motivation, personality, and rules mechanics. There are another ten “generic” wemics in the pride, and five non-fighting cubs, but these are not described at all, which is a shame (and a little cheap), since it forces you to turn to other sources -- like the Races of Faerun sourcebook -- for wemic stats to complete the module.

Wemic Camp is really more a mini-setting than an “adventure,” per se. Presented purely as a combat encounter, it would be a decent challenge for a powerful group of PCs who are willing to attack a pride of wemics for no good reason ... but I for one would certainly kill off such a party were I the dungeon master, or switch sides and help the wemics against the party were I running a character in such a group of evil players!

But since the vast majority of gamers would certainly never think of attacking a pride of wemics without reason, what can you do with this well-developed mini-setting?

The module addresses this very question with a section called Adventure Options. Of the four ideas offered as inspiration, only two are very interesting. The first two -- wander into camp, and meet a ranger wemic while she is hunting -- are pretty lame. Idea three -- the party team up with the wemics to attack renegade thri-keen -- has potential. And idea four -- stumbling into camp just as the rogue/sorcerer is challenging the barbarian to a leadership fight -- could lead in several directions.

But let me offer a few more ideas that occurred to me.

Checkered Past: The rogue/sorcerer's evil adventuring history has caught up to him. The party is hired to track the wemic down to recover an item he stole. Not to mention the price on the rogue's head! This might be interesting to combine with the leadership struggle idea in the module -- support for the new leader might be weak if the party finds out and reveals that he used poison and magic to take down the barbarian.

Rescue: Rather than simply meet the ranger on the savannah, maybe the party stumbles into a fight and saves her from a foe (those renegade thri-keen, maybe). Or maybe the ranger rescues the party. Either way, this offers a better lead in to the thri-keen idea in the module.

Treasure Map: Unbeknownst to the wemics, before they got to the camp, a desert nomad buried a treasure under a tree there. The party arrives, following a map to the treasure, and are surprised to find the wemics, who don't know it is there. Will the party spill the beans? How will they get at the treasure? Can they trick the wemics? Make a deal?

I do very much recommend Wemic Camp. It provides the kernal for a range of interesting adventures, and is a great way to slip a pride of wemics into your game. Its strengths are the detailed NPCs, the map, and the setting info. Recommended.

This is part one of a two-part review. Here is part two.

Review and Update: [30 Sept 07] Looking over my old reviews, I see that I never gave this product an actual rating. Probably because it predates my rating system! Anyway, despite its shortcomings, and given its price, this has still got to merit four paws, with a pounce. If you like wemics even a little bit, download it!

Explanation of ratings:

  • One Paw: Broken, badly flawed, may damage your game. Discard.
  • Two Paws: Flawed but not dangerous. May have a good idea or two. Not worth buying or downloading.
  • Three Paws: Excellent ideas despite slight flaws. Good value.
  • Four Paws: Essential and recommended. Seek this out. Use it!
  • With a Lick: Slight or inconsequential feline/wemic content.
  • With a Pounce: Significant feline/wemic content.

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