Return of the Immortals

Posted on September 30, 2010


I really ought to be working on Resolute, Adventurer & Genius. We’re ready to playtest, and with the addition of some paranormal foes and a GM ideas section the base draft will be finished. I’m feeling a bit burnt out, though, so I’m slowly giving in to an urge that has been building for a while.

It began with a dream. I had found a new group to game with, and to my pleased surprise they were running a game of classic D&D’s Immortals — the godlike beings of the setting. While I was rolling dice for stats and trying to think up a general concept for my new character, they were finishing a combat from the previous session. In the first round of this combat, one of the players wiped out an entire city. I was astonished and delighted — but then I woke up.

I got the gold Immortals box set when it came out in the mid 1980s to complete my set of the Mentzer run. I never really understood it back then — I was 10 when it came out, and I sold it a few years later because I never thought I’d have a chance to play D&D ever again. Big mistake. I’ve been able to reread both the contents of the gold box and the Wrath of the Immortals rewrite that was released for the Rules Cyclopedia, and now I think I understand the concepts. Because of that dream, I’m feeling a desire to jump off the deep end and run an Immortals game.

I’m not very big on running games. I prefer to play; running is simply too much work. I’m better at focusing on a single character’s story. But, while I do also want to play in an Immortals game, I have an idea that I think will be entertaining to take other people through. It would be a simple “recover the stolen artifact” game, a bunch of Initiates nearing the end of their probationary period and ready to move up to Temporal rank. The twist is that while I would be using the classic D&D cosmology, where the Outer Planes are an infinite scattering of finite-sized planes (instead of the old Great Wheel of AD&D and D&D 3.x), the places I would be using in the plot would be adaptations of locations from the Great Wheel cosmology that I always thought were the most interesting. This means things like the bottom layers of Lower Planes — dark, evil, deadly places most PCs would never go. Immortals could do it and survive while still being challenged. So, what the heck, right?

I’d probably begin with an introductory session or two for all of us to get used to the ruleset and the vast capability of Immortal characters. The question that would remain would be: gold box, or Wrath box? The Wrath set simplifies concepts, especially by translating Frank Mentzer’s wild ideas about “Power combat” into simpler “Immortal-level spells” and ditching the concept of “Talent” clusters of ability scores… but the rock-paper-scissors guessing-game inherent in the gold box’s Power combat is somehow delicious. Gold box relies on the Mentzer Basic, Expert, Companion and Master sets for info and basic mechanics; Wrath of the Immortals comes off the Rules Cyclopedia, which is easier to reference. So there are pros and cons on each side. I’m leaning toward RC/Wrath for now, but man would I love to be able to say, “Gold box Immortals? Yeah, I ran that!” I’ve freeform-roleplayed characters of this power level before, so I have plenty of ideas of how it will look and feel. The most daunting thing will be learning to keep track of statistics like temporary Power points and what all can be done with them in the middle of combat.

Now I just need to find players