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CC1 Calidar, Beyond the Skies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2016 14:08:11

Bruce Heard, formerly of TSR and of Mystara and "Voyage of the Princess Ark" fame has been working on his new world Calidar for a little bit now. I reviewed the premier product, Calidar in Stranger Skies, a while back and I really loved it. I have used bits and pieces of this world in my own games now for a couple of years; building up to something a little bigger. The great thing about Calidar, and what Bruce is doing with it, is it can be added to any game world or campaign with only a little bit of fuss. OR you can go whole hog with it and have it as your game world.

The newest book out, Calidar, Beyond the Skies, really helps with either plan.

Ethics in Game Reviewing: I received a copy of hard bound book in exchange for a fair review. All links are affiliate sponsored links. Further disclosure: I was planning on reviewing this anyway, I just moved it up a little bit.

Calidar, Beyond the Skies is part campaign book, part cultural reference and part guide to gods. There is only minimal stats in this book. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The obvious disadvantage is of course judging the power levels of the various gods. I am going to say right now that this REALLY is not a disadvantage. Gods are not Monsters. Even in Calidar where the Gods often interfere in the affairs of mortals, those mortals are not going to pick a fight with them. Relative powers are given and that really is enough. The advantage is a true advantage. Playing old school D&D? Great! Playing Pathfinder? Great! D&D5? Equally great! But I am getting WAY ahead of myself.

I am reviewing the hard cover version of the book. It is 248 full color pages on decent weight paper and full color covers. I put the production values at the same level of the best of WotC's D&D or Paizo's Pathfinder.

The book begins with discussing the common abilities given to all divine beings and a discussion on what they are and do. This follows a brief overview of the "planes". This is a section worthy of the best of the TSR-era Manual of the Planes and right next to the 3rd Ed Manual of Planes. I have to admit I love seeing the "energy" planes configured like a d10. Totally using that one.

Since this is system free there is section on how to convert your system to something the book uses. The easiest of course is a percentage system. Depending on your game's chosen system there is a conversion here.

All of that and we are now into the "meat" of the book. The map of the Great Caldera is given again with the countries and cultures highlighted. This is important and a page I found myself coming back to as I read each section. There is a great table on pages 14-15 that has every god, their cultures and their area of interest. I was happy to see some overlap and missing areas. Gods are not supposed to be neat and tidy things. Some interests are over-represented, some have none at all and some gods stretch across more than one culture. Ok at this point if you have ever read any "Gods" or "Pantheon" D&D book you can easily start making sense of things.

After this we cover the different pantheons and cultures. We cover 10 such groupings of gods along with chapters on Rewards, the World Soul of Calidar and various godly trappings.

This is a book that takes full advantage of color. Greater gods are in bold, evil gods are listed (title only not text) in red and benevolent gods are likewise in blue. So a greater evil god is in bold Red.

When each grouping of gods is introduced we get the names and interests (spheres) of all that pantheon. Common attributes for all the gods are given (what they have in common) and an overview of their Genesis story with a timeline. We then get into some really interesting material. A kind of flow chart is given on the relationships between the gods of the grouping. This is best seen in the Gods of Nordheim, which are "imported" from Norse myths by travelers long ago.

After this each god is listed with a stat block of interests, allies, cults, foes, centers of faith and holy days. Lots of details really.

There is so much in this book that I think it is going to take some more readings to digest it all. Each section also contains neat little bits like various temples, the gods' personal symbols, other bits to round out the faiths and make them feel like they real. In some, like for example the Gods of Meryath, weather (and in particular rain) are so important that the seasons are also discussed in relationship to the gods.

The last sections also detail various Elemental Lords, demons and mythological beasts and other near-divine beings.

There is a lot going on in this book. If you are a fan at all of gods, myths and using them in your games then is a great addition. Even if you don't play in the Calidar world this is a well thought out collection of myths. I found this just as enjoyable as reading D&D's "Gods, Demigods and Heroes" the first time. If you need some good, new-to-you-and-your-players gods then this is a must buy.

The art throughout is fantastic (that's Soltan of the Narwan on the cover) and really sets this book above others of it's kind.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CC1 Calidar, Beyond the Skies
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CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Dwayne S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2016 09:43:13

Fantastic illustrations and maps. great start on a new world in the vein of The Princess Ark series in old Dragon magazines. I really look forward to future publications.

I also love the fact it is generally system agnostic.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
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CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2015 19:57:35

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Calidar: In Strange Skies

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product- Calidar: In Strange Skies System- Pathfinder Producer- Calidar Publishing Price- $10 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/133973/Calidar-In-Stranger-Skies TL; DR- How about some Spelljammer in Pathfinder? 90%

Basics- Set sail for the first star on the right! Calidar is a setting for a universe focusing on flying sky ships that sail between planets with most of the focus on the world of Calidar. While the book goes small enough to detail the kingdom of Meryath on Calidar, the book also has enough universe detail to give any game master enough ideas for how to run the universe. Let's break this book down into its parts.

Mechanics or Crunch- This is not a crunch book, but it also doesn't want to be. Any book that starts with 45 pages of story to introduce the world via fiction wants you to get the world feeling first before even considering the mechanics of the system. For the majority of the crunch here, the system uses Pathfinder for its base mechanics. It does build where it needs to by adding some creatures that are specific to the world. The book does have new sky ships as well as maps for the setting as well. It's done reasonably well, but there isn't anything that really builds on Pathfinder's mechanics to make it its own. That's not horrible as building on established mechanics system is ok, but I would have liked a bit more to make Pathfinder its own. 4/5

Theme or Fluff- Hand's down, this is the best part of the book. The book begins with a fun 45 page story and spends most of its pages building a world for the players to play it. The fantasy isn't completely original with elements like orcs are evil and many common tropes, but that doesn't made it bad by any means. If you want Pathfinder Spelljammer, this is the setting for you. 5/5

Execution- This book does something different and uses three columns for its text. The text isn't bad, but the three columns don't really suit my reading and understanding style. The art here is well done as this is the first RPG book I've ever read where the air currents are laid out! That kind of attention to detail is impressive. Honestly, a little more art to break up some text and changing to the use of two columns, and I'd be much happier with the execution of this book. That and maybe a small adventure to help me as a game master get into the world a bit better. 4.25/5

Summary-If you want Spelljammer in Pathfinder, then this is the book for you. You will get the feeling of the old school with his book. This book has lots of details while still giving the writer room to build out into the different planets and still zoom into the micro scale of each city. It's a good book that really does build its own universe. It's got its faults as I would have liked to see some Calidar specific Pathfinder mechanics to really own the rules it runs on, and I would suggest a few changes to the layout to help me as a reader get into your text. That said, if you can get past a few minor faults and you want some planet sailing fun, then the best place is to start with a contributing author to Spelljammer back in the TSR days and this book. 90%



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Jim M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2014 18:09:00

Calidar is a beautifully produced book from both a content and a presentation standpoint. It is truly a unique and original book, which is a rarity among so many products that are really just recycled material. It is well worth the price of admission.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Sverre M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/23/2014 14:19:18

Bruce Heard, one of the minds behind the original D&D world of Mystara is brings us back to the good old days with his brand new fantasy world Calidar. In Dragon Magazine, and a later boxed set for D&D, Bruce wrote about the adventures of the wondrous skyship Princess Ark, and used it to describe new lands rich for adventure. In "In Stranger Skies", the skyship The Star Phoenix picks up the torch, being sucked into Calidar's universe to explore the adventures of this curious world, its inhabited moons and sister planets.

The first part of the book is a work of fiction, describing the first part of the journey of The Star Phoenix and its crew. It is a very compelling introduction to the setting, reading as the first few chapters of a novel I'm aching for the rest of.

The second part of the book is an outline of the Calidar setting, zooming in from an overview of the Solar system called the Soltan Ephemeris, to a closer look at the World of Calidar, an even closer look at the area called The Great Caldera, then to a description of the nation of Meryath in the style of the Gazetteers we know and love from Mystara and going into even more detail on its capital city of Glorathon. Also included are descriptions of gods, people and monsters in the universe as well as descriptions with deck plans of different types of skyships present in the setting.

The RPG setting part of the book is written without referring to a specific game system, although the setting, characters and style are clearly influenced by the D&D family of systems. It would work rather well with any edition of that game line, and should easily be adapted to other generic fantasy systems. Included in the book is an appendix with suggested stats for characters and monsters for Paizo's Pathfinder RPG.

The book is very well written, looks great and gives a very interesting first look into this wondrous new world. I would recommend any fan of the good old days of D&D to rediscover the feeling of exploring a new RPG world for the first time the way this book lets you do it. The layout and artwork, including the beautiful map work of Thorfinn Tait makes shelling out for the premium hard cover version well worth the money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Brian D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2014 21:33:11

Bruce Heard knows what you want, and he gave it to you. Calidar picks up thematically where the Princess Ark story left off and goes in a whole new direction while keeping the spirit of the original series from his former employer. From a game standpoint, this setting is as full and vibrant as a setting could be "right out of the box." It only takes one read through the book to get a sense of where everyone is in relation to each other, and there are enough adventure hooks to keep creative DMs busy for a long time.

With the help of Ed Greenwood, the world is brought alive through a novella and a gazetteer. The setting keeps most races "Familiar" to the average gamer with a few twists here and there to keep things interesting. There are some coy references to his previous work for those who are paying attention, but they aren't intrusive.

While the book is a bit slim, it packs in a lot of detail in the space it does have. If successful, Mr. Heard has promised more, so please buy this so the rest of us can see this world expand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Bruce H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/02/2014 07:22:04

The review below is actually from acclaimed author and game designer Jeff Grubb, originally published on his blog:

http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2014/10/an-abundance-of-riches.html

"Calidar: In Stranger Skies from Bruce Heard gets the lead because it is likely the one you likely haven't heard of, having charted its course into this perfect storm of releases. It is very much the descendant of the D&D Known World/Mystara and Bruce's own stories of the Princess Ark from DRAGON magazine. As a result, it has the wonderful air of adventure of that late 80's/early 90's gaming era. The hardbound leads off with a massive tale of the Star Phoenix and its crew, then drills down from the solar system to the planet of Calidar to the kingdom of Meryath to the city of Glorathon, and concludes with a set of Pathfinder stats and a collection of skyships. An excellent laying of groundwork here, beautifully presented."



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
The correct link is: http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2014/10/an-abundance-of-riches.html
Please ignore the hyphen in \"ri-ches\" http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2014/10/an-abundance-of-riches.html
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/07/2014 15:36:42

Calidar, In Stranger Skies is the latest gaming product from former TSR writer Bruce Heard.

If you have been on the internet or follow any of the news surrounding Kickstarter or Mystara then you should have certainly heard about Bruce and Calidar.

If not here are two brief introductions: http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/p/a-word-about-calidar.html http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/p/where-can-i-get-calidar.html

Calidar is exactly what I expected it to be. Thankfully I expected it to be awesome. It is a real treat reading this. In a sea of "grim dark" settings Calidar brings back magic, fantasy and adventure to "D&D" and any game you care to use it with.

But that is getting ahead myself.

This book is designed for Pathfinder, at least is says so on the cover, but please do not let that stop you from using this with any other "D&D"-like game/system you own or play. In the majority of the book is system neutral. The book is even a fair amount setting neutral, which might sound odd about a setting book, but you could put The Great Caldera on any world's polar region and then drop that world into the Calidar Universe with only a little work. But that would get rid a lot of great stuff...

The first 40 or so pages set the stage of what is possible with this game with some game-related fiction. Now normally I dislike game fiction and tend to ignore it. But this one deserves a read since this is different than what you might be used to doing. A large part of the sense of wonder for this new universe is setup here.

Up next is the Calidar Universe. Oh where was this book 25 years ago! Immediately I am taken back in time to my aborted attempts to bridge Traveller and D&D. This book does it and does it so well. The "Solar" system of this universe is the Soltan Ephemeris. Nice! Mine was Sol Invictus. Not a surprise really. I loved Bruces work back in the day and I am certain we drew on similar sources. But alas that is as far as I got and Bruce kept on going at, well, light speed. Other planets are detailed such as Draconia (wonder who live there?), Lao-Kwei (a Mars-like planet), Canis Major (no relation to the Constellation) home of the Dog Headed people, Felix Major (Cat heads of course) and Ghüle, a Pluto like dungeon planet of alien creatures and gods (ie mostly Orcs). Calidar also has three moons where humans, elves and dwarve comes from respectively. There is also an Asteroid Belt (The Fringe).

In addition to the normal races we have the aforementioned God-folk and Cat-folk and the Starfolk. Starfolk are a catch-all race of aliens from other galaxies. Little is know about them. There are also the Fellfolk, or the natives of Calidar (aka Halflings).

Some Gods are also presented and I am sure there will be more. Gods are manifestations of the souls of the heavenly bodies. Interestingly enough there is an "American Gods"-like version of Odin. Here he is native to Calidar, brought by a group of Vikings stranded here. I like it.

Next Chapter deals with the World of Calidar itself. Various lands and countries around the Great Caldera. Several countries are covered in a familiar Gazetteer style. There is also a great historical timeline that helps set the stage for this world.

One land is covered in detail, the Kingdom of Meryath. I can't help to feel there is a bit of "Glantri" in the roots here. Nothing specific, just a feel. Though I have to smile that name of the main island is the same as my current hometown ("Palatine"). Also detailed are the various NPCs you are likely to encounter; both heroes and villains. I do like that no race in particular is designated as a "heroic" or a "villainous" one. With the exception maybe of the orcs. There is certainly a swashbuckling, high seas feel to these NPCs. Guilds are detailed, and are likely to be more important in future works; books and adventures. Finally we end the chapter with the largest city in the Kingdom, Glorathon.

Creatures of Calidar deal some of the unique creatures we can find here. Mostly this is background text, no stats.

System Conversion covers the Pathfinder rules stats for both the characters and the new creatures.

Skyships of Calidar cover the ships of various sizes more moving about the universe.

The PDF has a few nice features. The Maps are all index via bookmarks as is all the art.

Let's talk about the maps and art. Thorfinn Tait is one of the main people behind the maps and cartography of this book. Thorf has been one of the big names in maps for sometime now. He has done a ton of work of the maps of Mystara, which is certainly how he and Bruce Heard know of each other. The maps are a work of art and I love how planets and other objects are listed in "days of travel" on hexes instead of miles. A nice little change that means a lot really. Great from a DM's perspective and easier to adjudicate from a narrative standpoint.

The art is also fantastic. A nice cross between the style of Planescape, Spelljammer and 7th Sea. Which, if you think about it, also describes this book pretty well too.

Calidar, In Stranger Skies is an awesome product. It grabs you and makes you want to play in this world. I am not sure what the plans are, but certainly I can see an OSR version getting produced or even a D&D 5. But if not you could do it on your own with just a little effort (less if you know Pathfinder really well).

Personally I can't think of a single reason NOT to buy this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by David P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2014 11:39:08

Hier haben wir es mit einem RPG zu tun, dass mit Sicherheit zu den Besten zählt was in den letzten Jahren das Licht der Welt erblickt hat. Uns erwartet eine neue faszinierende Welt mit fliegen Schiffen, unsterblichen Helden (ja auch Spieler Char.), großartige Karten und eine Geschichte die mit viel Liebe ins Leben gerufen wurde. Weiters ist der Author (Bruce Heard) seinem "alten Stil" treu geblieben, den viele Menschen schon aus seiner Zeit bei TSR geliebt haben. Was meine ich damit? Das erste Drittel des Buches besteht aus einem Roman, durch den wir sehr viel über die Welt, Götter, Magie uvm. erfahren. All dies ohne ein bisschen langweilig oder langwierig zu wirken. Praktisch eine Geschichte lesen und man hat den Hintergrund der Welt einfach so nebenbei intus. Der Rest des Buches setzt sich aus Hintergrund der Welt, Rassen, Kulturen, Geschichte, Karten, Deckpläne von fliegenden Schiffen und einen kleinen Teil aus Regeln (Pathfinder) zusammen. Wichtig zu sagen ist, dass wir hier kein Regelwerk haben in dem, bis auf einen kleinen Teil, Regeln zu finden sind. Es ist ein Hintergrund Band für eine faszinierende Welt.

Kurzum: Ein MUSSKAUF für alle "alten Rollenspieler aus TSR Zeiten" und für solche, die eine großartige Welt mit Ihren Heldentaten beleben wollen!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Nurthor L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/28/2014 08:37:51

Excellent supplément pour PF ou D&D. Bien dans l'esprit Old School. De belles histoires et un monde complet qui attend vos aventuriers!! Le tout bien illustré avec des cartes magnifiques!! À avoir chez soi !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Rafael S. M. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/26/2014 13:44:57

Got the PDF, skimmed through the book. Here's my impression - and mind you, that I, as a paying customer, never particularly care if my verdict displeases, really, anyone. To see where I am coming from, I have a preference for TSR-era D&D, with the best publications of the last few years being FFG's Dawnforge, Green Ronin's Black Company Campaign Setting, and the DCC RPG.

The kickstarter for Calidar, I thought could have been more elaborated, and the advanced options didn't appeal to me. From a first glance, I also think the book is rather short compared to many other actual publications; maybe, inserting the supporter bonus content into the actual book would have been a good idea in that regard. About the ship maps, I am pretty divided; they are pretty fugly, quite frankly, with the blue background, and all, but seem to be pretty useful for actual play, which is something most modern rpg publishers notoriously seem to forget.

My overall impression of the book, and that might surprise people who know that I am usually a pretty snarky reviewer, and seldom welcome new stuff, is overwhelmingly positive. This is an altogether well-crafted, well-written first installment of what hopefully will be the first part of a longer series. While the physical book itself is obviously very strongly after TSR-era modules, and the tone of the setting very strongly suggests a, let's-call-it-that-way, "compatibility" to the Mystara universe, the decisive factor is that the text's original and individual ideas are charming. I am not exaggerating when I say that the last rpg book that had such a good impression on me, by itself, as opposed to its compatibility with a bigger universe, might have been the first S&S Ravenloft Gazetteer, back in 2003. - Obviously, while "Stranger Skies", as a small-press book, cannot compare to the baroque publications by Wizbro and Paizo, for us more seasoned gamers in the D&D family, this might well be the book of the year.

...So, this is about as cozy as you will get me, folks. Now, CAL-2, please.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CAL1 Calidar, In Stranger Skies
by Roberto M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2014 11:22:05

Bruce Heard has crafted a fun and interesting campaign world that pays homage to the world he helped define during his tenure in TSR and his famous column in Dragon magazine, while introducing us to his new World of Calidar full of adventure, mysteries and, I say it again because it bears repeating, fun! If you are a fan of the Gazetteer series (which is available here in Drive Trhu RPG as well) and The Voyage of the Princess Ark articles and eventual box set (Champions of Mystara) , there is a lot of what made those fun in this book. Sky ships, exploration, adventure. From the tone to the maps, there is a clear inspiration in the past, but Heard has spread his wings and brought us a new setting with conflicts, adventure possibilities and many new tantalizing secrets that makes Calidar more than a nostalgia trip. This is a new campaign sure to satisfy fans, old and new. The PDF is great, fully bookmarked, with terrific layout and the maps, the maps are just awesome and really useful. I can’t recommend this book enough. As a longtime fan, backer of the crowdfunding project and now owner of the book I heartily recommend it. Get on your Sky ship and travel to Calidar.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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