Tethtoril's Bookshelf

Four from Cormyr

TSR Code:

9531 9531.jpg (25815 bytes)
TSR Series Code: None
Product Type: Adventure Anthology
ISBN Number: 0-7869-0646-4
Author: John Terra
Cover Artist: Ciruelo Cabral
Release Date: February 1997
Format: One perfect-bound book (128 pages).
Level: 6-8 Characters, Levels 9-12
The text below is taken from a description by TSR on the reverse of the actual product:

'The kingdom of Cormyr is a land of law and order, a country populated by citizens who live good lives and treat their neighbours well.   If you think these characteristics make Cormyr and unexciting and uninviting place...think again.
Despite the ever-present Purple Dragon soldiers and War Wizards who are charged with keeping the kingdom safe from treachery and greed, Cormyr is a place where evil lurks in countless nooks and crannie, where opportunities for heroic adventurers to do good for themselves and for all of Cormyr are as abundant as the dents on a dwarf's helmet.

Four From Cormyr is a quartet of adventures that can be played individually or as a series.   By the time they have experienced all that lies within this book, ranging from a grand soiree at the home of a noble to a chilling expedition into the Vast Swamp, player characters will know more about this challenging land than they ever thought they would need to know - and even if they succeed in countering all the threats they will face, they'll find that the conclusion to each adventure opens a new vista of possibilities for continuing danger and intrigue'.

By: Glenn Davis Date: 19-November-2006
Rating: GoodGoodGood Good

One of my favorite Realms products, Four From Cormyr does an excellent job showing DMs how adventure is to be had even in "Lawful Good" nations where law and order rules. It also encourages the role-playing narrative of the DM and PCs rather than the many hack-and-slash games that plague the market. It's downside is that this is true of half the book (ie two of the adventures contained), while the other two are relatively hack-and-slash. If I want a zillion rooms with different monsters in each I can roll on random generation tables, thank you!

The first adventure is a hack-n-slash with an interesting method of getting the players involved (any good DM knows a good "hook" is the hardest part of any adventure; or campaign for that matter). Another adventuring party "kills" its own member (feign death spell) who has a map to treasure on him. After the PCs hack-n-slash their way through a small dungeon the same adventuring party is waiting for them when they leave - why did my characters think of that?

The second adventure is the star of the book. It involves a murder in a palacial noble's estate in Cormyr. A couple dozen adventuring companies are being "sworn in" by Azoun himself in the estate of Partic Thistle, a noble who monitors and manages adventuring parties in Cormyr. Thistle is murdered and all the adventuring parties are implicated as well as a few others (friends and not-so-well wishers of Thistle). The PCs are deputized and must solve the murder. And, naturally, once doing so, must defeat the murderer(s). There is much evidence pointing at many parties and the players need to sort out the mess. Indeed, a party not paying attention (or with devious intentions) could very well finger an innocent! The book does a spectacular job going through each potential suspect, the actions at the swearing-in party, motives, and more. Needless to say, a murder wasn't the only suspicious activity going on that night.

The third adventure involves the PCs hunting down a renegade group of adventurers for the crown (assuming their work in the preceding adventure was successful). The beginning and the middle of the adventure involve some trail-following (not tracking but rather role-playing to discover clues). The end of the adventure is another random creature-per-room hack-n-slash in some old ruins. But the recurring themes of other adventuring parties and recurring NPCs are a nice touch.

The fourth adventure is an interesting touch. The party investigates some murders in Halfhap, a new Cormyte town between Arabel and Tilverton and follow clues to discover an army of ghosts left over from Gondegal's rebellion. But these ghosts actually help the PCs, who must fight bandits in the region, after which the ghosts are freed from a duty owed to Cormyr (long ago they failed to show up for battle to support Azoun). A bit of an odd adventure with perhaps some missing bits of information, but an interesting series of ideas for DMs and PCs alike to play with.

There are also three side-adventures, usually associated with one of the main adventures but optional based on party actions.

There are a number of elements linking the storylines. Adventuring parties from each adventure can be found in others, as well as continuing characters such as Partic Thistle. This is useful as it gives the PCs a sense of world-continuity, allows them to develop relationships with NPCs, and shows them they are in a "real world", as campaigns where each adventure occurs in a totally different place tend to lack meaning (or longevity). It is also interesting to see other adventuring parties so prevalent in the game, as they play a prevalent role in three of the four adventures.

Additionally this book is an excellent tool for DMs simply to teach them that there is more to RPGs than hack-n-slash, including character and world development, narration, mystery-solving, and continuity. And finally, it's just a good read.

Note: Four From Cormyr is a double-entendre. In addition to there being four adventures in this book, it also refers to a four-piece magic item that belongs to the crown. It grows in power when all four pieces are combined (very similar to the Arm of Valor concept from the Ruins of Myth Drannor), a part appears in each adventure, and the combined items are useful in completeing the final adventure.

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