The Rod of Seven Parts
|Media type||Boxed set|
The Rod of Seven Parts details the history of the magical artifact known as the Rod of Seven Parts (including the Queen of Chaos, Miska the Wolf-Spider, and the Wind Dukes of Aaqa), and includes an adventure.
At the Dawn of Time the forces of Law warred with the forces of Chaos for control of the Cosmos. The Battle of Pesh was the climax of this campaign where the armies of Chaos were led by the Wolf-Spider Miska, while the forces of Law were championed by the Vaati or Wind Dukes. Desperately outnumbered, the Wind Dukes fashioned the Rod of Seven Parts - a weapon powerful enough to kill Miska in a single strike. Yet the Battle of Pesh was a draw, as neither Law nor Chaos won the day. The Wind Dukes were decimated, but in the final moments their leader struck Miska with the Rod, but rather than being slain the Wolf-Spider was mortally wounded and imprisoned for eternity within the Abyss. The resulting balance created the multiverse as it now exists, with a tense stand-off between order and anarchy. The fate of the multiverse is in the hands of the wielder of the Rod of Seven Parts, for it can still both slay Miska and free him.
Because the Rod is so potent, it cannot be conventionally protected. Therefore, to keep it safe the Wind Dukes designed the separate sections of the Rod to scatter around the globe whenever its full powers were employed by striking Miska. Each piece of the Rod both leads and urges its bearer in the direction of the next sequential section. Once the first section of the Rod has fallen into the hands of the player characters they are committed to a quest which will take them the length and breadth of their homeworld, and eventually into the heart of the Abyss.
The third segment is held by a Cloud Giant Clan who is currently at war with a local family of dragons. The party can side with the giants against the dragons and hope to earn the segment as a reward, or else side with the dragons against the giants and infiltrate the giant's lair under cover of polymorph.
Trenton Webb reviewed The Rod of Seven Parts for Arcane magazine, rating it a 9 out of 10 overall. He commented that "The power and success of The Rod of Seven Parts campaign stems directly from the artefact itself" and states that the quest is "a big, character-killing task that's probably a bit too long for its own good, but one that's so fascinating it's well worth sticking with". Webb comments: "The success of The Rod of Seven Parts lies in its flexibility. With three starting points and three possible conclusions there's real scope for players to make their own decisions rather than scrabbling to satisfy a designer's conditions. Throughout each set-piece useful trouble-shooting guides crop up and alternative solutions are suggested to the ref. In essence, The Rod of Seven Parts guides the course of events rather than forcing the pace." He continues: "And so this relaxed approach encourages players through the adventures, but these are not the only carrots that this stick has to offer. There are glorious visual cue cards which will help the players to picture the locations and characters they meet perfectly. These are indicative of the extremely high standard of artwork throughout all three manuals and the vast number of maps, which underline the superior quality of the set." Webb adds: "The weaknesses of The Rod are few and far between. There are a few annoying typographical errors [...] which trip up an otherwise highly readable manual. The only real problem, though, is the size - in all honesty, the campaign may just be too big for one party to play through." He continues: "However, The Rod of Seven Parts is a very persuasive adventure because it addresses the fraught issue of heroic power. Potent artefacts have a way of finding themselves powerful guardians, so parties are going to have to tackle some major league nasties if they are to ensure its safe assembly. Yet these aren't just monsters that have been dropped in to crank up the combat, but well-rounded NPCs with an agenda of their own. If players keep their ears open and their brains in gear it should become obvious how to reclaim the next section without the need for a fight, or, if it comes to blows, the best way to tip the balance in their favour. It's this ability to turn no-win scenarios into victories that separates heroes from hardmen, and it's what drives the Rod campaign. Regarding the choice between siding with either the dragons or the giants, Webb said "The chances of even a tough party beating either group in a battle are pretty slim, and their chances of victory over both together are nonexistent. So players are forced to muster up their courage and attempt to survive this vicious intrigue long enough to spot and steal the segment. [...] And stepping into a Cloud Giant Castle which you know could well come under serious Dragon attack at any second is a great gulp moment, regardless of how hard you reckon you are!"
- "A History of the Rod of Seven Parts", Dragon #224
- "The Rod of Seven Parts, World by World", Dragon #233
- Webb, Trenton (November 1996). "Games Reviews". Arcane. Future Publishing (12): 62–63.