Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Tempest's Gate

Caution: Spoilers

Today I delve into a bit of Greyhawkiana that is often overlooked; comic book tie-ins. In the early 2000's, Kenzer Co. put out several comic book series set in the World of Greyhawk. I'm going to start with Tempest's Gate, published December 2001 - March 2002:
  • Book One: Born of Fire
  • Book Two: Forged in Tears
  • Book Three: Tempered in Fellowship
  • Book Four: Sheathed in Justice
The story takes place in and around Bissel. No date is given, but the capital of Bissel is seated in Castle Overlook (which is given as Castle Oversight in the LGG and other official WotC material-- a bit of a conundrum in and of itself; are there two different castles with near-identical names?). That places the story sometime after CY 590, when Pellak became the capital of Bissel: probably CY 591, given the publication dates and references to Lord Evard, who is also mentioned in the LGG around 589.

The story begins in the border town of Tempest's Gate, right on the edge of the Barrier Peaks near the Realstream River, but the action takes place in the capital and under the Barrier Peaks as well. There's a lot of good interplay between the characters, although the "the two magic-users who used to be lovers but are now bitter enemies" thing was a trifle forced.

The plot revolves around a scheme to replace the current Margrave with one of the petty nobles of Bissel, apparently a continuation of Lord Evard's failed coup in 589 (according to the LGG). The action begins with a raid on the eponymous town of Tempest's Gate, moves on to a duel of honor and attempted assassinations in the capital, and finally a revisit to the site of an adventuring party's greatest triumph, although the remaining members of that party are now split between those fighting against the coup, and those who are plotting to overthrow the Margrave.

The writer, Sean Smith, isn't afraid to kill off characters, which is good, but the ending seemed very rushed; the big climactic battle between Mistress Flame and her former companions only takes four pages (which, in comic book format, is really short). The writing is okay; some of the plot twists are clever, some are... baffling. Everything seems rather rushed, but I will admit that I'm not a big comic book reader any more, so perhaps it's more the genre than this specific series.

There are a lot of useful bits in these comics that can be utilized in a game, mainly in the form of NPCs to be found in the area of Bissel; Aidus and Vail are given stats (in 3.5 format). Book 1 actually gives game statistics for the humanoid oghs (who are a special type of orc found in the Barrier Peaks), which is a nice touch. On the whole, some useful stuff for your game and a not-awful story.

I give it three wizards out of five.

1 comment:

alzrius said...

The humanoids are "oghs" as I recall.

Also, didn't this series say something to the effect that Evard was a black dragon (which is wildly wrong)?