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LANCE (Player in William John Wheeler's home Islandia campaign; compiled from the Acaeum and MMB forums through Sep 4, 2006)
Lance, being that you were one of the players in the original Islandia campaign, I'm curious:
Q: What PC or PCs did you play?
A: I played a fighter type called Arpin
Q: Did your adventuring party have a name?
A: Yes, a most impressive name, we called ourselves THE PARTY!!!
Q: How large a gaming group was there for the Islandia campaign?
A: The group I was in had between six and eight. Sometimes John had multiple parties adventuring at the same time (and sometimes they would meet up, but only one would know about the presence of the other - a story in itself). All in all I am not sure how many adventured in John's world. (several dozen?)
Q: Were any of your characters incorporated into the official Companions Islandia products?
A: Personally, no. Others, not sure (I would have to go and re-read them).
Q: Did you officially contribute to any of the Companions products?
A: Personally, no. Others, yes (some of the people who are listed in 'Places of Mystery' were from an earlier group).
Q: Have you done any work in the RPG industry?
A: Officially, no.
Q: Were there any adventures that took place in the wider world or planes beyond Islandia?
A: Not that I am aware of.
Q: In the home campaign, was Islandia placed on one of the established RPG settings such as Oerth, or was it pretty much entirely home-brew?
A: It was pretty much home brew.
Q: Did you or the group ever role-play in the Known World of Mystara setting?
Q: Was Islandia really a fantasy analogue of the Appalachian Mountains, but surrounded by water?
A: I am stretching my memory here. I believe the Land of Islandia was based on a topographical map of part of Maine (maybe part of the Appalachian mountains since they run through Maine) raised or lowered by 50 feet (or 100
feet, you get the picture). John had someone who was trained in mapmaking create the maps.
Q: Are there any especially fond events you remember from the campaign?
A: The time THE PARTY was walking down a dirt road in the wilderness and we ran into an Orc coming the other way. We all hemmed and hawed about going to attack the Orc (one never knows how powerful John's NPCs were). The Orc did its best to look menacing. After the Orc had gone we later found out that the Orc was a WIMP and we could of taken it on.
Another one was our parties quest to destroy an evil artifact that we had found. It was a ring (yes, yes, I know what you are thinking). When John said he was going to have the Islandia Campaign published by TSR it was changed into a medallion and bracers. I believe the ring is mentioned in The Brotherhood of the Bolt module. Yes, we had to deal with them and EBFs (Evil Black Floaties). Evil Black Floaties were what an earlier group had named the wraith-like form of undead in John's game (see Brotherhood of the Bolt). John liked the name so that's what he called them..
Really nasty bunch. Could be very deadly.
Hope that helps. Anything else just let me know.
Q: What years were you an active player in the Islandia campaign?
A: That's stretching the envelope of my memory. *Laughing*
Mid to late 80's to early 90's (as best I can remember). Maybe five to seven years in length.
John and Peter Rice (the other creative part of The Companions) had seminars at GenCon when it was in Milwaukee.
I remember going up with John and other players in the campaign and sitting in on his and Peter's seminars.
I just remembered this piece of The Islandia campaign...he had two levels of players, the adventuring party players (like me) and then the strategic players (some of his friends from across the country...or the world (not sure about that)).
The strategic players were playing the higher level characters (the King, Barons, higher muckity-mucks (as I remember someone calling them)). They rarely interacted with the players but if the players made enough 'noise' that the higher ups noticed, the players could be in BIG trouble.
I think (if I remember correctly) it was either the party I was in or another one that deposed the Baron of Wentworth in one of the adventures/plots.
It created a dilemma for John in that according to how the feudal system works (from what I remember) if the Baron had a problem he could go to his higher up noble for help. If need be that noble could go to his 'boss' if he needed help and on and on up the 'food chain' until, if need be, it would get to the King who would send aid down the 'chain of command'.
For some reason John did not want to deal with that level of detail but I cannot remember how, if it was ever, resolved.
Q: Interested as I always am about new critters, does Lance have any recollection of what the "Evil Black Floaties" were like, stats-wise?
A: I have been thinking about this one for the past day (and even went to find my Companions modules).
They were covered in the Brotherhood of the Bolt series (Curse on Hareth, Plague of Terror, and Brotherhood of the Bolt), specifically in the Brotherhood of the Bolt.
First some background to put my answer in perspective.
Some of the character stats in John's game were of his own creation (with similarities to other RPGs (stat range 3 - 18 - referenced from the Brotherhood of the Bolt module)):
Malignancy (MAL) - a measure of how powerful one is, based on experience, expertise, combat skill level, or the like. MAL is an aggressiveness rating similar to the Monstermark (see 'The Monstermark System," by Don Turnbull, White Dwarf, issues 1 to 3). Non-adventurers have a MAL of 1 - 2, beginning adventurers have a MAL of 5 to 8 (depending on armour and weapon), experienced adventurers have a MAL of 10 to 50, dragons and other exceptionally powerful creatures have a MAL of 50+.
Intellect (INT) - The ability to think clearly and logically.
Personal Magnetism (PM) - the strength of one's personality. a measure of the psychic force at one's disposal allowing one to control magic or influence others.
Now to the EBFs (summarised from Brotherhood of the Bolt):
Evil Black Floaties (EBF): a generic non-corporeal monster
Murk and mist have coalesced into a cloak of a creature without substance.
....some RPGs call these examples of the more powerful walking dead wraiths, ghosts, spectres, wights, and so on...
....Most of the floaties of this type are not inimical to the player character, but may give them warnings or send them on a quest to right ancient wrongs....
....The truly vile monsters of this type are the non-corporeal types, created by the addition of a great deal of power to living bodies....
It then goes on to list the stats for this type of creature:
INT = 14 - 18
PM = 12 - 18
MAL = 25 - 70
Thus, there exists among the EBFs a kind of Hierarchy, with their abilities covering a wide range. Common to some is the ability to drain away life force...others sap the strength or the will, and still others may kill by a touch. Some do none of these, merely being able to instil primal terror in those who view them, or spread confusion, distrust, or unrest. Most have the power of limited telekinesis....
I know my answer did not directly answer Geoff's question but this is just to give you an idea of what they really were (in the game and to the parties involved), something not to be trifled with and we never REALLY knew how powerful they really were. It was up to John.
It could of been as lowly in power as a wraith, or as powerful as a super-spectre.
Some were man-sized, others well......we once ran into one that was 100 FEET LONG...yes, I am not kidding here.
How did the party defeat it??? We did not, at least, not directly. The party enlisted the aid of a River Spirit (see Companions module, Places of Mystery IV - Highroad: Volcrax's Toll).
What the party essentially did was instead of giving the Water Spirit just coin, we tossed in some of our magic items to persuade it to fight for us (although, I think this was one of John's ways to drain off some of our excess magic items).
Well, it worked; the Water Spirit rose up and defeated the quite large EBF.