Lankhmar Campaign Setting

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Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Big Mac » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:50 pm

I've seen a few people mention Lankhmar, but have not seen a thread about the campaign setting yet.

I know this setting is based on Fritz Leiber's Nehwon stories.

I know that there have been Dungeons & Dragons products for Lankhmar (both 1st and 2nd Editions). (I also just found out that there were RuneQuest products for the setting in 2006.)

How does Lankhmar compare to other D&D worlds? Is there anything about the setting that works a lot better than other D&D settings?

How well would Lankhmar fit in well with a multi-world campaign? Is it a better fit than other non-TSR worlds (like Wilderlands, Kingdoms of Kalamar or World of Warcraft)?

Some of the products published seem to be "reinventing the wheel" a bit. The original 1st Edition products seems to have been reprinted as a 2nd Edition product and then replaced by another 2nd Edition product. The RuneQuest products are almost certainly going to be starting from scratch. So how much of Lankhmar and Nehwon has actually been built? Has everyone retread the same steps or could different products from different editions be combined to create more content for a game?

Are there any non-gaming products out there that could help with a game (like an atlas aimed at fans of the stories or an encyclopedia of the world)?
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Bouv » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:54 am

I have a few of the supplements and the biggest difference between it and other TSR Campaign Settings is Lankhmar is a very "low magic" setting. A high level magic user will be 4th or 5th level.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by timemrick » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:16 am

I've only read a couple of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser novels, but IIRC, one of them includes an encounter with what is essentially an alien astronaut and his bizarre mount. So I don't think including Nehwon in a multi-worlds game would be violating canon much at all.
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Morfie » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:50 am

From what little I know about it, it's pretty much city-state based, so should fit anywhere.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Cthulhudrew » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:25 am

In comparison to other published campaign settings, I'd say it's closest in feel to Greyhawk (perhaps not so suprisingly). It is definitely a low-magic, gritty swords and sorcery setting. From what I recall of some of the later stories (and it's been a while since I read anything beyond the Ill-Met In Lankhmar collection), there is a bit more magic going on than in earlier stories, as well as gods walking the earth.
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by ripvanwormer » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:23 am

Big Mac wrote:How well would Lankhmar fit in with a multi-world campaign?
Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser visited another world in one of Fritz Lieber's stories ("The Wrong Branch"), traveling to ancient Earth via Ningauble's caves. This offers a ready means for planewalking PCs to enter and leave Nehwon. Spelljammers would be less appropriate, as they don't really have a precedent in Lieber's stories, but there are any number of worlds in the Spelljammer universe with no previous history of spelljamming travel so that isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. There's a mountain called Stardock, which given the name might be the best place for a spelljammer port. If any cultures on Nehwon are spelljamming-aware, it's probably distant, exotic lands like Horborixen and Eevamarensee.

In one story, "Bazaar of the Bizarre," Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser have to deal with an invading race of extradimensional merchants who seek to enslave their planet. In this case it might make more sense for PCs to encounter that race on other worlds rather than on Nehwon, though I suppose they might have a go at Nehwon a second time in another city.

Other than the devourers from "Bazaar of the Bizarre," the most likely Nehwonese creature to be encountered on other planes is the astral wolf.

The way gods work on Nehwon is different from most campaigns. Nehwon has not only a north pole and a south pole, but a Life Pole and a Death Pole. The gods, with the exception of the gods of Lankhmar (who are basically liches), live on the Life Pole on the physical planet rather than on other planes of existence. The Death Pole is the domain of Death. In one story, "Treachery of the Gods," gods from another world (Loki and Odin) make trouble on Nehwon.
So how much of Lankhmar and Nehwon has actually been built?
There's a map on page 40 of 1st edition's Lankhmar: City of Adventure of a big chunk of Nehwon's northern hemisphere from the southern deserts to the polar ice cap, with short descriptions of the various continents, regions, mountain ranges, islands, seas, and cities.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Cthulhudrew » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:24 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:In one story, "Bazaar of the Bizarre," Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser have to deal with an invading race of extradimensional merchants who seek to enslave their planet. In this case it might make more sense for PCs to encounter that race on other worlds rather than on Nehwon, though I suppose they might have a go at Nehwon a second time in another city.
Speaking of the Bazaar of the Bizarre, it had a lot of similarities- as I recall- to the Weird Way of Gygax's Greyhawk ("A Weird Occurrence in Odd Alley", one of his Gord the Rogue stories). Perhaps not surprising, given that Gord the Rogue and his friend, Chert the Barbarian, so closely resemble Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (and were probably inspired by them).

So there is precedent for multi-world stories even interconnected with existing TSR worlds.
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Post by Knightfall » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:36 am

Here's a list of the various AD&D Lankhmar products...

TSR D&D Archive: Lankhmar

Note that the "The New Adventures of Fafhrd and Gray Mouser" boxed set is its own game. It had own customized AD&D rules. I can't remember how compatible it was with the older books, but it was a great set. (I really wish I'd hung on to my copy. ;( )

Note, also, that there was a campaign book for both 1st Edition and 2nd Edition. All of the other sourcebooks and most of the adventures were created using AD&D 2E. The 2E version of the main Lankhmar sourcebook is significantly larger (160 pages) than the 1E version (96 pages). I've never had the 2E version, but I keep looking for it. The 1E version is worth getting too, however. It's extra map book is highly useful. And it's easier to find.

The box set, I would think, is tough to find.
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Scrolls of Lankhmar

Post by Knightfall » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:41 am

Big Mac wrote:Are there any non-gaming products out there that could help with a game (like an atlas aimed at fans of the stories or an encyclopedia of the world)?
The best fan-created web site for Lankhmar is The Scrolls of Lankhmar.
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Big Mac » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:17 pm

Wow! Thanks everyone!

Lots of great answers (and not enough time to ask the questions they make pop into my mind). I'll ask a couple of things now and come back to this thread later.
Bouv wrote:I have a few of the supplements and the biggest difference between it and other TSR Campaign Settings is Lankhmar is a very "low magic" setting. A high level magic user will be 4th or 5th level.
Interesting. Is that a background limit for NPCs or a hard limit that applies to PCs?

How does TSR deal with this? Do spellcasters switch to multiclass in a different class (like fighter or thief) or is there a different XP table to slow everything down?
timemrick wrote:I've only read a couple of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser novels, but IIRC, one of them includes an encounter with what is essentially an alien astronaut and his bizarre mount. So I don't think including Nehwon in a multi-worlds game would be violating canon much at all.
Is this "alien astronaut" the same thing as Ripvanwormer's "extradimensional merchants" or is it described as coming from space rather than from the planes?
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Knightfall » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:41 am

Big Mac wrote:Wow! Thanks everyone!

Lots of great answers (and not enough time to ask the questions they make pop into my mind). I'll ask a couple of things now and come back to this thread later.
Bouv wrote:I have a few of the supplements and the biggest difference between it and other TSR Campaign Settings is Lankhmar is a very "low magic" setting. A high level magic user will be 4th or 5th level.
Interesting. Is that a background limit for NPCs or a hard limit that applies to PCs?
I believe its a hard limit for both NPCs and PCs. Don't quote me on that, however.
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:57 am

ripvanwormer wrote:The gods, with the exception of the gods of Lankhmar (who are basically liches),
Those would be the Gods in Lankhmar, as opposed to the Gods of Lankhmar.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:26 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Bouv wrote:I have a few of the supplements and the biggest difference between it and other TSR Campaign Settings is Lankhmar is a very "low magic" setting. A high level magic user will be 4th or 5th level.
Interesting. Is that a background limit for NPCs or a hard limit that applies to PCs?

How does TSR deal with this? Do spellcasters switch to multiclass in a different class (like fighter or thief) or is there a different XP table to slow everything down?
Things are somewhat convoluted.
The assumption is that in Lankhmar both White magic and Black magic exist. In AD&D terms, these are modelled by the cleric spell list (White magic) and magic-user spell list (Black magic.)
Both PCs and NPCs can go beyond the 5th level, but then they start acquiring physical deformities, so for PCs the attractive of being a Black wizard is quite limited. Furthermore, to go beyond 5th level they must be single-classed. A good choice for players who want to be spellcasters is to multiclass as a magic-user which automatically tops at 5th level, so no deformities are acquired. The Grey Mouser is one such character.

Clerics as a class do not exist, as Gods as are known in AD&D settings don't exist (in this respect the 2e Lankhmar book does a worse job at describing the setting than the 1e book, since Gods are statted with Spheres etc.) Any character in Lankhmar can be a "priest" (e.g. Fafhrd becomes such a priest in a short story.)

The Lankhmar boxed set is a game unto itself, built using a sort of "simplified" 2e system.

The best gaming treatment of Lankhmar is IMO the RuneQuest book produced by Mongoose. Note they produced two books; I am referring to the latest one. Brilliant description of the setting, and magic is described and modeled in an appropriate way.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by timemrick » Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:45 pm

Big Mac wrote:Is this "alien astronaut" the same thing as Ripvanwormer's "extradimensional merchants" or is it described as coming from space rather than from the planes?
Different being. Here's the The Swords of Lankmar cover that illustrates the scene. Basically, while crossing the sea, the heroes meet a man in a space suit who rides a sea serpent and curses in German. I don't really remember any more than that, and I no longer own the book, so can't tell you whether his origin is ever explained. IIRC, it's a weird WTF kind of scene, even by Lankmar standards.
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:56 pm

The character in question is Karl Treuherz of Hagenbeck, and he appears to be a space/time traveler of some sort.

Though I don't think there were ever any explicit connections made (indeed, I think Treuherz never shows up again anywhere), the fan in me finds the idea of connecting Karl Treuherz to some of the Germanic aspects of Moorcock's Eternal Warriors to have some appeal. Perhaps he is a distant relative of Count Ulrich von Beck.
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:15 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:
ripvanwormer wrote:The gods, with the exception of the gods of Lankhmar (who are basically liches),
Those would be the Gods in Lankhmar, as opposed to the Gods of Lankhmar.
Nope, it's the other way around. I looked it up before posting.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:20 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote: Though I don't think there were ever any explicit connections made (indeed, I think Treuherz never shows up again anywhere), the fan in me finds the idea of connecting Karl Treuherz to some of the Germanic aspects of Moorcock's Eternal Warriors to have some appeal. Perhaps he is a distant relative of Count Ulrich von Beck.
Maybe he's a variation of Moorcock's Karl Glogauer.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:11 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
rabindranath72 wrote:
ripvanwormer wrote:The gods, with the exception of the gods of Lankhmar (who are basically liches),
Those would be the Gods in Lankhmar, as opposed to the Gods of Lankhmar.
Nope, it's the other way around. I looked it up before posting.
Yes, right, I meant to clarify about the Gods in Lankhmar as those represented in the street of the gods. Sorry for the misquote.

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:01 am

ripvanwormer wrote:Maybe he's a variation of Moorcock's Karl Glogauer.
Huh. I feel remiss as a Moorcock fan in that I've never heard of Glogauer. :shock:

But you're right, he sounds like he might be a good incarnation of the same. And I'm going to have to go and pick up some Moorcock stories that I wasn't aware of. :D
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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Havard » Thu May 09, 2013 11:45 pm

How many RPG versions of Lankhmar are there out there anyway?

I know that TSR had quite a few books for it and then there is the Mongoose Runequest edition for Lankhmar. I assume between those two you have some pretty extensive game material?

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Havard » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:28 pm

I came across Mongoose's old RuneQuest page on the Internet Archive. It includes two Lankhmar Sourcebooks

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Re: Lankhmar Campaign Setting

Post by Havard » Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:42 pm

It seems this is going to be a good year for Lankhmar fans as material for the setting will be available for two different RPG systems this year.

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