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Savage Coast Supplements and The Grand Campaign

by Tim Beach

And the supplement list:
I couldn't find my proposal -- I almost certainly have it somewhere, but it was 15 years ago -- but I did find two other documents: one has a list of proposed assignments for in-house designers, and another has my handwritten notes in response to that list (that is, what parts I was wanting to grab for myself). The handwritten list has dates that I think were turnover dates, so the actual publication schedule could have been different.

So, here is the list, from January or February of 1995:

Red Steel Campaign (revised) - 256 pages - my assignment
Orc's Head Peninsula - 96 pages - freelance (I would review)
Champions of the Savage Coast - 128 pages (assigned to Jean Rabe, but I wanted it)
Red Steel Monstrous Compendium - 128 pages (assigned to freelance, but I wanted it)
Book of the Inheritors - 128 pages (assigned to me, with some freelance)
Great Hule - probably 128 pages (assigned half to me, half to freelance)
another book (maybe Slagovich) - 96 pages (assigned to me)

I think it was a 2-year schedule, to go through the end of 1996, with 3-4 releases per year, in more of a "prestige" size -- no small releases.
What was inside these probably needs little explanation -- but here goes anyway.
The campaign book, of course, merged the two Red Steel releases, added back in the races and kits and other campaign details I'd had to cut, and included Panache.
Orc's Head would focus on that area, and I think we had talked about starting the Grand Campaign (more in a moment) there.
"Champions" kind of sounds like Champions of Mystara. I don't remember exactly what it was supposed to be, but it may have been the "Savage Baronies" treatment for the rest of the Coast -- expanded bits on the nations, local leaders, plots, etc. Or it may have been a true kick-off for the Grand Campaign. Or both. Any of these could explain why I really wanted to do it myself. (I will try to find the proposal.)
The MC: you have to understand something here. I was, at the time, the in-house monster expert for TSR (and was even called "Dr. Monster" by a handful of co-workers). I had put together the hardcover Monstrous Manual, revised rules for creating monsters and determining XP, finally explained how the mind flayer's attack actually worked, contributed to six other monstrous compendiums, and had the only truly complete set of every 2E monster through that point. To be unable to contribute to the MC for the world that had become mine -- well, I regarded that as bordering on blasphemous. But higher-ups seemed to think that an in-house designers talents were better spent on other things (monsters and adventures were good for freelancers, partly to test them, but sourcebooks and settings tended to be in-house).
The Book of Inheritors would have delved deeper into cinnabryl, Inheritor orders, and might have had a handful of fully developed NPCs. And, if I'd had my way, I'm pretty sure it would have talked about the importance of the Inheritors in the Grand Campaign.
Great Hule was to be a sourcebook for the SC's neighbour, and probably would have talked about an invasion or full-scale war. It would have held numerous kits for natives as well.
Slagovich, if it had come about, would have been a developed city setting and associated adventures.

More in a moment.

BTW, there's a reason why I use the Savage Baronies art for my avatar -- I posed for it. The artist, Alan Pollack, gave me a stronger chin, but otherwise, it looks a lot like me (though I wear my hair in a ponytail most of the time now). If the guy who ran your game/demo looked like that, it was probably me.

And also: I have nothing against the freelancers who eventually did the MC. One was a good friend, and all of them did an excellent job.

The Grand Campaign
This was the quest to get rid of the Red Curse. For me, this would have been the common thread running through all supplements after the revised Campaign Book. I saw it eventually ending on the Arm of the Immortals, but I was torn, because I thought the enduks and ee'aar were cool, and deserved to be brought in sooner. Eventually, the PCs would have had to gain the cooperation of Immortals, and some of them would probably have to ascend themselves.

Further supplements to the line would have touched on the Grand Campaign, and each supplement would have been attractive to "looters" -- those gamers, like me, who would buy an adventure or sourcebook to take the monsters, magic, and other cool stuff for their home campaigns.

Black Steel
I really, really wanted to do an article, or series, for the magazines. Black Steel would have been a Ravenloft "island" pulled from a dark Herath.

Finally ... I feel that I should apologise. In early 1995, TSR was having problems. Designers were leaving, and my own situation wasn't very good there (it had to do with internal politics, fair compensation, and a number of things that affected all employees). I don't know what would have happened had I stayed, but when I left to go to Wizards of the Coast, that seems to have been the nail in the coffin of a full Red Steel line. Without an established champion, a line wouldn't do well at TSR. Sean Reynolds would become the go-to guy for Red Steel, but I think he had just started at the time. Anyway, I really like Red Steel, and I feel bad that I abandoned it.

But: I don't have a problem with fans running with some of this material. Feel free to ask questions. I'm actually thinking of scraping off the serial numbers and publishing a version of Black Steel.

Thanks for reading.

Tim Beach