Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jakandor: A Forgotten Setting

I have to admit that I really have a raging nerd boner for an old little setting called Jakandor. Well, half of it at least. This was a second edition setting (weren't they all?) that focuses on the class of two cultures: the magical Charonti and the stupidly named generic Vikings/Indians called the Knorr. It wouldn't be so bad if that weren't a soup product.

Anyway, the Knorr stuff is just ok. Warrior culture, animal totems. Meh. The magical Charonti is where its at.

 Though there is a rather non-favorable review out there, I think Jakandor is worth a bit more of a look for the Charonti. I'm also disappointed that they played the Charonti up as a necromancer culture and then downplayed most of the cool necromancer stuff, but they're really described as a magic-focused philosopher culture. Not only that, but they've lost their history, and are desperately trying to recover their lost knowledge.

So one thing they do is force all wizards (probably half the PCs) to be specialist mages, which I actually think are done fairly well instead of most specialist mages (i.e. pathfinder, post-core rules 3.5). These specialist mages have a more limited set of shared spells called elder spells which is a whittled down PhB list of spells, but half the PhB spells are restricted to the specialty schools. That means Abjurers have some spells that only abjurers can cast, just like illusionists have some illusionist-only spells, and so on for all eight types.

There is a little wonkiness where invokers focus on electrical magic, transmuters focus on teleportation and transportation spells (teleportation/dimension spells were moved to conjuration in third edition), and enchanters are really artificers (another relic of the old AD&D school descriptions). But the powers of the distinct kits are actually pretty good.

My favorite part is that many of the adventures in the game would be focused on searching lost ruins and reclaiming old spells and treasures before the Knorrman barbarians can destroy everything. Its a high magic setting but much of that magic is lost. The second edition rules were maybe a little clunky with it, but the D&D Next rules might be really good. Cantrips would have to be modified a little, if you could take all the old AD&D Unearthed Arcana cantrips, every character could learn a number of them based on their intelligence modifiers and make intelligence actually useful for anyone who isn't a wizard or a trap-finding thief.

The background and specialty system in the current packet would work well with the class build features to make the setting work. Wizard traditions can fill in the specializations. A guardian specialty could handle controlling undead (and animated objects, realistically). Clerics could have renamed "deities" for philosopher, jurist, pantheist, thanhotepic, and cultist. There might be a little heavy handed limiting of some classes (druids and rangers disallowed or only allowed as cultists or pantheists maybe?) but I think it could work fine.

The most exciting part, for me though is still that wizards are searching out new spells to master. That was one of the biggest losses I felt in 4e as a player: you just chose your powers and there was really no reason to seek out some forgotten tomb or master across the seas to learn what you needed to know. Here the mechanics support this. I said this would be one of the main reasons I'd go back from 4e to play/run another edition and I'm excited that D&D Next might support this type of game.

The setting details could be fleshed out a bit and I'd probably consider merging Jakandor with the Ruined Kingdoms of Al-Qadim (another favorite of mine)... But there are some solid ideas in the campaign and I'd love to use them sometime soon.

1 comment:

  1. Jakandor is very underated.

    After trying to find fans of Jakandor for a few years, I got it in a contest where it could have "won" it's own bespoke forum, back in 2015:

    Sadly, Jakandor only got 2 percent of the vote. :-(

    (Four of the other campaign settings that were up against Jakandor have "won" their own bespoke forums now, so I'm hoping that Jakandor might do better if I can get authorisation for another contest.)