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The Rod of Seven Parts (2e)
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The Rod of Seven Parts (2e)

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Stirrings of an ageless war between Law and Chaos are drawing you into an epic adventure! A Struggle More Savage than Good vs. Evil Imagine a time before the words Good and Evil had meaning, a day when the world was young. Discover an ancient conflict that predates the stars. It was in these days that Law and Chaos forged worlds out of nothingness; their war began while the cosmos was yet unfinished. The Rod of Seven Parts defines epic role-playing.

The reappearance of the Rod has awakened the powers of Chaos, and their queen seeks to turn the whole world into a battleground. Bold heroes must undertake the enormous task of seeking out and assembling the pieces of the Rod, but even its power cannot stand alone. Ages ago, primal forces of Law stood fast against Chaos; now their champions must once more confront the Queen of Chaos and her foul spyder-fiends, lest the flame of civilization be extinguished.

Product History

The Rod of Seven Parts (1996), by Skip Williams, is the first adventures in the Tomes series. It was published in August 1996.

Introducing the Tomes. In 1996, TSR was looking for new, prestige-format series for their schedule. One of the results was the "Monstrous Arcana" — a yearly series of four books, all about classic monsters. Another was the "Tomes" series.

Williams introduced the Tomes by saying that they would "update classic ideas from the AD&D game’s rich past and reintroduces them to new generations". Marketing copy said that Tomes would allow you to "Unlock the Legendary Mysteries!" It appears that the original publishing plan called for a dense boxed Tomes set and a related hardcover book each year.

The series led off with The Rod of Seven Parts novel by Douglas Niles, which appeared in February; it was then followed by Williams' boxed it in August. The Tomes series was to continue the next year with a novel called "A Thief in the Tomb of Horrors", scheduled for April 1997, and then a "Return to the Tomb of Horrors" boxed set in July 1997. Unfortunately, TSR almost went out of business in 1997. The second Tomes adventure was delayed until 1998 and the novel never appeared — presumably because hardcover books were one of the (many) elements causing TSR's financial problems.

Adventuring Tropes. The Rod of Seven Parts is a full-length campaign. Most of the adventures that comprise the campaign are pretty classic, involving searching caverns, castles, wastes, and even pocket dimensions. There are a few events, but lots of crawling. However, The Rod of Seven Parts also contains a few elements that give GMs (and players) some variety: three different adventures are offered to get players into the campaign, while Side Treks can offer breathers over the course of the campaign.

A History of The Rod of Seven Parts. Author Skip Williams wrote his own "History of the Rod of Seven Parts” in Dragon #224 (December 1995). There he said:

"I don’t know who first dreamed up an adventure featuring a multi-part item whose individual pieces could lead the bearer to the other pieces, but one of my early dungeons featured a four-piece staff hidden inside a labyrinthine tangle of twisting passages, deathtraps, and teleporters. Players in my campaign never managed to collect more than three segments of the staff. In any case, I shared the idea with the gaming crowd in Lake Geneva, and the actual Rod appeared shortly thereafter. For all I know, I invented the basic concept."

Whatever the Rod's origins, it first appeared in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry (1976). That first publication only described how the Rod worked; it didn't have any history. If you wanted that, you had to read the Dungeon Master Guide (1979), which first described how it was created by the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, then shattered during the battle of Pesh, where Chaos and Law fought.

The first mega-adventure featuring the Rod of Seven Parts has unfortunately never been published. It was an RPGA adventure that's now called "The 'Dwarven' Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts", to differentiate it from Williams' own adventure. It was made available to RPGA GMs as four booklets". R7: "The 'Dwarven' Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts" (1982) and R8: "Yog's Desert" (1982) were run as the three rounds of the AD&D Tournament at Gen Con East II (1982); while R9: "Tinker's Canyon" (1982), and R10: "Air Plane!" (1982) contained the three rounds that were run at Gen Con XV (1982). The adventures featured a group of adventurers (most of whom were dwarves) searching after six different segments of the Rod over six individual adventures.

The Rod of Seven Parts reappeared in AD&D 2e (1989) as one of just three artifacts contained in the new Dungeon Master's Guide (1989); this was the book that first suggested that the Rod had originally been lawful — and which added the Queen of Chaos and her consort, Miska the Wolf-Spider, to the mythos. The Rod then reappeared in Zeb Cook's Book of Artifacts (1993).

In the mid '90s, TSR began to ramp up toward their upcoming Tomes adventure. That began with the aforementioned history in Dragon #224 (December 1995). Then, just when The Rod of Seven Parts was released, Skip Williams wrote another article, "The Rod of Seven Parts, World by World" for Dragon #233 (September 1996).

Expanding the Outer Planes. The Rod of Seven Parts is partially set in a pocket dimension and partially in Pandemonium, a Chaotic plane located between Limbo and the Abyss on the Great Wheel. It also provides considerable detail on the Queen of Chaos (said to be a native of Limbo).

Monsters of Note. The Rod of Seven Parts includes a 16-page book of monsters, most of whom are focused on either chaos or law. This includes the Beast of Chaos, the Hound of Law, the Queen of Chaos, her spyder-fiends, and the (lawful) Vaati.

Future History. Return to the Tomb of Horrors (1998) and Axe of the Dwarvish Lords (1999) finished out the Tomes series.

About the Creators. Williams began working as a designer at TSR in 1989. By the mid '90s, he was working on some of the company's most important products, such as Dungeon Master Option and Player's Option books for AD&D 2.5. The Rod of Seven Parts continued that trend; Williams would follow it up with Axe of the Dwarvish Lords a few years later.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. He prefers sending players questing after the Teeth of Dahlver-Nar. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Brandon G May 31, 2016 12:27 am UTC
What levels is this module for?
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Chris C April 11, 2017 8:39 pm UTC
Levels 10-12
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James B June 17, 2014 10:41 pm UTC
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Product Information
Copper seller
Author(s)
Rules Edition(s)
Pages
300
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-7869-0418-6
Publisher Stock #
TSR 1145
File Size:
111.89 MB
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File Last Updated:
May 19, 2014
This title was added to our catalog on May 20, 2014.