Midnight Chronicles non-review

Back before Fantasy Flight Games was releasing gigantic door-stopper board games, one of their releases was a d20 FRPG called “Midnight” which presented a dark fantasy world.  I did not really read much of the book, as my brother was running it and I didn’t want to “spoil” anything, but the sense I got was that the setting was basically “What if Sauron won, and the gods abandoned the world, and there is no room left in hell?”

I know it is not, strictly speaking, Middle Earth, and the big baddie is not exactly Sauron, but there was definitely a dark lord (possibly lords), orc minions (maybe not called orcs), etc.  Using magic attracted the baddy’s attention (ICE’s MERP had rules for that too).  Metal arms and armor were mostly unavailable or at least illegal. 

The one memorable change was a splash of zombie horror added in: dead creatures often rose as zombies.  

So the whole thing was extremely dark and at the time we played a few sessions, I remember thinking the major goals seemed to be survival from one session to the next, and possibly helping a few peasants fend off starvation, despite the fact that the PCs were your standard 3e Heroes with a capital H.  It was more than a little off-putting.  I don’t mind dark if there is some humor (Warhammer FRP!) and I don’t mind playing the hero, but this combination felt wrong, for some reason.  The whole game seemed to be about sneaking around and not drawing attention your party while also fighting impossible odds with negligible net effects.  It could be I was just tired of the whole  “save the world” thing that dominated D&D and the RPGs we played in the late 1990s-early 2000s.

Anyway I was pretty surprised to find a DVD called the Midnight chronicles collector’s ed. (IMDB link)

Apparently it was supposed to be a TV series pilot movie, but it was not picked up.  Reviews at IMDB seem to agree the sets and costumes are pretty good and the writing and acting are pretty poor. 

The weird thing is that the DVD also includes PDFs of the script, the Midnight core rule book (2nd ed.) and a D&D 4e adventure “set in the locales of the Midnight chronicles”. (The DVD package notes that to use the 4e module, you need: the 4e PHB, Monster Manual, PHB2, DMG, and Adventurer’s Vault!  So I guess that in 2009, which is when the DVD is copyrighted, those were the FIVE core books.  Sheesh. )   The DVD package has the current D&D logo on the cover, too.

I will probably check the movie out when it is available.  Here’s the summary given by the publisher:

After three ages of scheming and war, the dark god Izrador has finally defeated the heroes and armies of the free races. Now, he rules the world of Aryth with an iron fist. Enslaved under the Shadow, the race of men leads an oppressed existence, and the elves and dwarves have retreated to distant forests and mountains. The infamous Mag Kiln becomes entangled in an old mystery and begins to uncover not only the forbidden legacy of the town, but the malevolent, prophetic force growing within him.

Of course there will be a lot of loose threads, since this is a pilot movie, but I am at least curious about how the thing looks.

The “Official site” for the movie is still online, but it is one of those flash, heavily animated sites I can’t be bothered with.

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Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Had to refresh that site three times to get it to work.

    Absolutely hate Flash. Wasted too many hours trying get web clients away from turning their web site into a movie theater.

    Can’t wait until larger companies drive Flash into the sand.


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