The Ghostwind Campaign
The Ghostwind Campaign Capsule Review by John Guin on 18/07/02
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 3 (Average)
Would have barely been worth the money if the game was not cancelled.
Product: The Ghostwind Campaign
Company/Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Cost: 14.95 US
Page count: 64
Year published: 2002
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by John Guin on 18/07/02
Genre tags: Fantasy
(I'll try to keep this a review of a product I was looking forward to and leave out the editorial comments I have related to the Chainmail game. I will preface this review by saying that Chainmail has been officially discontinued as a game by WotC, so make any final buying decision for this supplement accordingly. I also assume the reader is familiar with Chainmail.)
Summary: The Ghostwind Campaign is a 64 page, full color, square bound sourcebook for Chainmail. Inside are rules for running a tournament of small skirmishes among four (you can play with two players, but four is recommended) or more players, lasting a minimum of seven skirmishes. 20 different scenarios are defined, and rules are given for allowing your commander model to level up (a la D&D) between scenarios. New spells and magic items are also presented.
Defining campaign here is a little bit tricky. If you ever played the old Star Fleet Battles game, you may remember the "Captain's Campaign," in which you had a small group of starships to control during one random fight after another. This is pretty much the definition of campaign Ghostwind uses - you design a warband with a designated leader and fight other opponents in the campaign until one victor remains.
Chapter 1 gives the story line behind the Ghostwind Plateau. In short, Stratis used a makeshift club to defeat a group of fire giants here, and now the players are each trying to capture the weapon he used for their factions' use. Without giving away the entire flavor text of the three pages, I can say the writing is average for a D&D style module, and adequately sets the stage for the upcoming battles.
Chapter 2 introduces the Warlords who will lead each the troops of each faction. A total of 6 warlords are described with a short story of how the leader rose to prominence and what the motivation for each is. Also included are suggestions for an alternate leader for each faction - for instance, the Thalos warlord is the Paladin of Stratis, "Zadkiel." If two players want to run the Thalos faction, or a player simply does not want a paladin leader, the human sorcerer "Belech" can be substituted. Statistics for each of the recommended leaders are given in D&D 3e terms, but not for the alternate leaders.
Chapter 3 spells out the meat of the campaign rules. Each player in the campaign will choose a faction and it's leader, design a core warband and commence to playing out skirmishes to determine which faction will be able to find the weapon used by Stratis, and now left somewhere on the Ghostwind Plateau. Warbands are created with 50 points, with the exception that the commander model is "free."
From here, the rounds of combat begin. Each player earns points for winning a round, and loses points for losing. After each round is played, presumably when each player has fought at least once, new pairings are generated, with the top two players fighting in the second round, the number three and four players paired to fight in the second round, etc... Alternate round robin rules are presented, and allowanced are made for an odd number of players (basically, the bottom three ranked players play a 3-way fight).
As the rounds go by, certain higher ranked players will accumulate more points. In an effort to balance gameplay over the course of the campaign, a handicap system is given, in which a player with fewer points can add models to his warband or use the points to affect the tactical advantage roll. The added models are only used for the one round. After that, they leave your core warband.
After a round several events happen. First, points are awarded and lost. When the first player reaches a certain number of points (I won't get into the point system in detail), all players increase the size of their warbands to 70 points. Generally, this will be after about four or five rounds, or as short as 2. When another player reaches another points milestone, warbands expand to 100 points, where they stay until the campaign is over.
Second, commander units may rise or fall in level. If you win and your leader was not killed, you gain a level. Similarly, if you lost and your leader was killed, your leader loses a level.
Third, you may swap out any models in your warband for any others, redistribute certain magic items, and swap out spells. Then you fight another round.
Chapter 4 spells out 20 different scenarios, setup rules and rewards for the victor. Each round, a d20 is rolled to determine the fight location. Players set up the terrain and duke it out. Not much to be said here - the scenarios seem pretty well balanced, there are more above ground than below locations, and each scenario includes a small map of the location to guide setting the terrain.
Chapter 5 gives the rules for experience and rewards. This gives a unique 3e feel to the campaign, as rules for multiclassed leaders are given for all classes. A pair of new classes is given: "Aristocrat," pretty much a slightly watered down fighter, and "Adept," a wizard/cleric combination. One complaint: about 30 alternate leaders for the factions are presented in a sidebar. I felt this information should have been presented in chapter 2 with the other leader information. Tables are given for each class to advance in levels with information about health earned at new levels, saving throw additions, attack adjustments, increased command points, spells and special abilities. The druid's Wild Shape ability is defined, as is the monk's Deflect Arrows. All in all, this is a strong section - the D&D rules for leveling up have been simplified and converted to Chainmail in a logical and meaningful way which really captures the feel of D&D's levels.
New spells are presented for all classes. They are all combat oriented (as you would expect), and generally round out the utility of the spell casters.
Magic items are broken out into several classes: armor, melee weapons, ranged weapons, rings, amulets, cloaks, gloves and boots. Tables are given for randomly determining what enchantment is assigned to each magic item, with weapon and armor types being ignored. As an example of the conversion from D&D, a magic weapon in Chainmail with "Flaming" does one extra fire damage point when it hits. Stacking rules are equally simple: each class of magic item does not stack with itself, but does stack with others. Some other sample items are Gauntlets of Ogre Power ( 1 melee damage), potion of Heroism ( 2 on attacks and saves) and Armor of Hiding (gives a Hide DC 13 special ability). As mentioned, you can swap around non-armor and non-weapon magic items between warband members between rounds.
The directions for converting models in Chapter 6 seem out of place and "filler-like." 4 pages are used to show you how to alter models you may have to customize them.
A few blank templates are provided to track your warband leader, your warband itself and the campaign as a whole. Full stats for each of the recommended leaders from chapter 2 are included. Some terrain on surprisingly thick cardstock is glued in at the back of the book.
Summary: Overall, is this book worth $14.95US? For some people who collect games and want to complete their collection, yes. If you have a group of people who still play Chainmail regularly and want some ideas for keeping the game alive, yes. If you liked Chainmail and were wanting a decent quality add on for it, this would have been an average buy if only the game hadn't been cancelled. As it stands now, the average D&D or d20 roleplayer would not be interested in this product. If you want ideas for small skirmishes, there are cheaper supplements from Games Workshop with similar ideas.