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Friday’s 4e Freebie: War of the Burning Sky Part II (Campaign Book)

I have to hand to it to the Fates. This, I did not see coming.” ~ the dying thoughts of Drakus, Emperor of Ragesia

In my last Friday’s 4e Freebie, I began a two part blog about EN World’s War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc. These free campaign arc supplements are available for download from places such as RPGNet and DriveThruRPG, and consists of a Player’s Book and a Campaign Book.
WotBS Camp Cover
Part I of this series focused on the Player’s Book, so this week I want to focus on the Campaign Book, as well as the modules available for D&D 4e. While it is true that the modules are technically not “freebies”, they are available as part of the EN World Community Membership, which is fairly inexpensive only $3 per month.

War of the Burning Sky (Campaign Book)
  • Designer: Ryan Nock, Steve Muchow (editor)
  • Publisher: EN Publishing
  • Year: 2009
  • Media: PDF (26 pages)
  • Price: FREE


War of the Burning Sky (Campaign Book) is the second supplement for the War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc by EN Publishing, and usable with Dungeons & Dragons 4e. The Campaign Book contains the story of the death of the “immortal” Emperor of the Ragesian Empire, as well as an outline of the Campaign that can take Characters from Level 1 to Level 30. There is background intelligence about the various factions, power groups, and NPCs vying for control of the crumbling empire, a timeline for the War, and a synopsis of the adventure modules available to be used during the course of the Adventure Arc. Information is provided to add variations to the War adventures, how to tweak the setting for use in other campaign worlds, and a list of campaign hooks to add additional sideplots and adventures to the War storyline. The Campaign Book also offers additional rules for a Skill Challenge to Change NPC attitudes and a new Feat called Warspeller, which allows enhancing powers to allow them to become devastating battlefield magicks. Finally, the War of Burning Sky (Campaign Book) offers new items, new magic, and a new monster race, the Trillith.

Like the Player’s Guide, the production quality of War of Burning Sky (Campaign Book) is very good, with good presentation of information and some colorful illustrations to enhance the reading experience. There is plenty of background information to work through as well, specifically to give Dungeon Masters the ability to modify the War campaign to suit their needs.

Players who think that their Dungeon Masters are likely to run a War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc are warned at this point to STOP READING. Skip down to the closing notes at the end of the blog, if you must, but be warned that some of what is discussed hereafter is definitely SPOILERS.

~~~~~

As is mentioned in the Player’s Guide, there is a War brewing between the Ragesian Empire and the Shahalesti Kingdom of the Eladrin, which begins shortly after the (rumored) demise of the Ragesian Emperor. The Campaign Book opens with a short story of the fall of the supposedly-immortal Emperor Coaltongue, whose death sets the War into motion:

He [Emperor Coaltongue] was falling asleep. There was no preventing it. The Emperor of Ragesia had gone down without a fight, without even a sword in his hand. In other circumstances, he might have laughed.

As oblivion claimed him, he thought, I have to hand to it to the Fates. This, I did not see coming.

Then there was a sudden pang of regret; disappointment that he would not be there to see the cataclysmic change his death would wreak, the conflict. This, he thought, would’ve been a world worthy of me.

Then, blackness.

But the conflict between the Ragesians and the Shahalesti is but one of the plotlines of the War of the Burning Sky Campaign. In actuality, the course of the War is influenced by four separate factions, each with its own agenda for carving up and controlling the vast lands of the Ragesian Empire. How the War progresses, however, is directly controlled by the actions of the Player-Characters, and there is a lot the Heroes can do over the course of their lives as they are get involved in the conflict. To remind Dungeon Masters of their pivotal role, there is even a specific sidebar discussion about what would happen if the Heroes choose to do nothing as the War grows in scope.

I particularly enjoyed two of the new rules offered in the Campaign Book that will be quite useful even outside of a War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc. In fact, I intend to try and determine how they might be implemented in both of my Forgotten Realms 4e campaigns!

The first rule concept is using a Skill Challenge to change the attitudes of NPCs, in order to achieve a particular outcome, like getting a clue or assistance:

The heroes will encounter many intelligent creatures who can communicate and reason. A given creature will have one of the following attitudes towards the heroes when it first meets them: Hostile, Unfriendly, Wary, Indifferent, Friendly, or Helpful.

To further the goals of an encounter, the heroes may need to change the attitude of one or more creatures. This is accomplished by using a skill challenge based on the degree of the change; changing a creature’s attitude from Hostile to Friendly is far more complex than changing from Friendly to Helpful. The complexity of a skill challenge is the number of steps required to move to the desired end. Thus, changing a Hostile enemy’s attitude so that it is Friendly to the characters is a complexity 4 skill challenge, requiring 10 successes before 3 failures to succeed.

Skill challenges defined in this way are resolved as normal, but allow greater latitude for partial success. As the skill challenge is performed, each time a complexity threshold is crossed, the attitude of the creature changes.

This is a very inventive way to handle what MMORPGs might term as “gaining faction”, and it may take multiple Skill Challenges to effectively sway an NPC to the Characters’ point of view in order to achieve a goal or quest.

The second new rules concept is that of Warspell Magic – using powers ritualistically to create large battlefield effects!

Warspell magic is cooperative in nature and turns daily attack powers into powerful rituals for use on the battlefield. A group of up to six spellcasters performs a ritual to increase the effectiveness of a ranged or area attack power.

By taking the Warspeller Heroic Feat, up to six casters may combine a daily power, that they have all prepared, in order to create a battlefield effect. The spell’s range, damage dice, and radius of effect are all increased by the number of participants in the Warspell casting. Further, should the Warspellers choose to spend a healing surge, they can augment the effects further by altering the ratio of increase between the range, damage dice, and area of effect. This new rule presents some very interesting combat potential for Characters and NPCs alike, and could even be used to augment small packs of controller monsters to present a dangerous challenge to the heroes.

As mentioned previously, there is enough background material in War of the Burning Sky (Campaign Book) to allow some Dungeon Masters to have a go at writing their own adventures, and follow the course of the War’s timeline. However, EN World is in the process of releasing a series of 12 Adventure Supplements which cover the course of the War, taking Characters along for the ride from Level 1 to Level 30. The first 4 supplements have been released, and are available either by purchasing them from sites like RPGNow.com or DriveThruRPG.com, or by signing up for an EN World Community Supporter Subscription, which gives you access to the modules as they are released:

The Scouring of Gate Pass wotbs 4e 1

by Ryan Nock
Level 1–3

The Ragesian army marches upon the neutral city of Gate Pass, and the heroes must retrieve vital war intelligence from a spy and deliver it to the distant wizards’ school of Lyceum. First they have to find a way out of a besieged city before Gate Pass falls and the Inquisitors, Ragesia’s infamous mage-hunting clerics, find them.

The Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdarwotbs 4e 2

by Jacob Driscoll
Level 4–6

The journey between Gate Pass and distant Lyceum is dangerous; along the way the heroes must survive passage through a forest that has burned for decades, where a dream monster known as a trillith holds sway. The trillith, which calls itself Indomitability, is trapped by the last survivors of the forest, a clan of pernicious fey whose magical song holds the key to defeating these strange nightmare beings.

Shelter from the Stormwotbs 4e 3

by Ryan Nock
Level 7–9

Once the heroes reach Lyceum, located in a small seaside village named Seaquen, they have to navigate various political dangers (like spies from Ragesia, power hungry refugees, and a fleet of hostile Shahalesti eladrin), prove themselves loyal to the fight against Ragesia, and rescue the town when a magical hurricane conjured by agents of an unknown villain strikes. They learn that teleportation magic has gone awry and that it has something to do with the missing Torch of the Burning Sky. At the end of the adventure, word comes that Ragesia has taken note of Lyceum, and that an army has been dispatched to destroy the school.

The Mad King’s Banquetwotbs 4e 4

by Shane O’Connor
Level 10–12

Lyceum sends the heroes on a mission to find allies in the nearby nation of Dassen before Ragesia’s army arrives. When they arrive, the heroes discover that a trillith named Madness, another dream monster like the one in the fire forest, is manipulating the king. The heroes help a sympathetic noble named Duke Gallo battle the forces of the mad king. Seaquen’s survival depends on their success.

In the end, the War of the Burning Sky (Campaign Book) is a very nifty D&D 4e “freebie” to enhance any Dungeon Master’s virtual bookshelf. These supplements are intended to provide background material for the War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc, although they are not a campaign setting in their own right, provides enough information, between the Player’s Book and Campaign Book, for Dungeon Masters to have a good start on creating a series of adventures that will be enjoyable and memorable. Utilizing the War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc offers a low-cost way to get an entire 30 Levels of adventure play for a gaming group. With the many more upcoming Adventure Supplement releases, the War of the Burning Sky Adventure Arc makes getting an EN World Community Membership a very appealing proposition.

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!


About The Author

Editor-in-Chief
Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.

Comments

3 Responses to “Friday’s 4e Freebie: War of the Burning Sky Part II (Campaign Book)”

  1. A note of correction – The War of the Burning Sky is actually a campaign adventure arc, as opposed to a campaign setting. I apologize for any inconvenience to my Readers and the Author/Publisher for mis-interpreting the supplements, and have corrected this blog accordingly. ~ The Editor
    .-= Neuroglyph´s last blog ..Friday’s 4e Freebie – War of the Burning Sky – Part II (Campaign Book) =-.

  2. I agree with the review, and I subscribed to the modules, receiving the first four which also look good.

    But I have to give caution about the publisher’s support. I asked when the schedule release dates were, and was told “it depends where you purchased the modules from”. When I responded it went silent. I thought this was very poor service.

    I wanted to know approximate release dates because I do not want to start a 12 part campaign with only four parts and find they are published quarterly or some such – I assumed this would be a concern of others.

    Any way – good product but dodgy support is my summary. Maybe wait until they are all published and then buy them. My concern now is that they will never be published and I have lost my subscription. Let’s hope not.
    .-= Doktor Avalanche´s last blog ..Friday’s 4e Freebie – War of the Burning Sky – Part II (Campaign Book) =-.

  3. Durn says:

    On the contrary, the support at Enworld is great. The authors and publishers respond to all kinds of queries, and the community of DMs is pretty supportive to!
    You can be sure they’ll publish them all because they already did publish them for 3e, and these modules are converted to the new edition. I think they’re trying to publish every other month, but as a more or less hobby press, they are slower then they’d like. Anyways, I’m sure they’ll put out a couple more before you get through 12 levels of a campaign!

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