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Jakandor: Island of War (2e)
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Jakandor: Island of War (2e)

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Welcome to the GM's Day sale! From now through March 14th, this title has been marked down by up to 40%! For more values, visit our GM's Day sale page.

On a rugged island filled wit unnatural dangers, fierce and proud barbarians must fight for their lives. The barbarians who call themselves the Knorr, driven from their homeland, wanted nothing but freedom and an honorable existence when they landed on the shores of Jakandor.

What they found was an island occupied by despicable wielders of vile magic - the Broken People, as the Knorr call them, who rely on legions of animated corpses to do their fighting. These enemies represent everything the Knorr find hateful and dishonorable, and no clansman will rest until the last of the Broken People has tasted Knorrman steel.

A new, self-contained campaign arena conceived by Jeff Grubb, the ODYSSEY setting can be placed within any ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS world. New barbarian character kits, new forms of magic, and the oppurtunity for new styles of role-playing makeJakandor: Island of War a fresh experience for all players, novices and veterans alike.

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Product History

"Jakandor: Island of War" (1998), by Kirk Botula, is the first in a trilogy of Odyssey supplements about Jakandor. It was published in January 1998.

Origins (I): No Really, What's An Odyssey? "Jakandor: Island of War" (1998) was the second book in the Odyssey series, following Tale of the Comet (1997). Except, it wasn't a series per se; instead it consisted of "Unusual one-shot or short-run items following a particular theme, but … not large enough to require their own product line". It was "an attempt to deal with the 'too many worlds that were too deep' problem that others have mentioned when talking about that era." TSR's many product lines in its final days are said to have cannibalized each others' sales, and apparently TSR recognized that just before the end.

Enter Jeff Grubb, who pitched Jakandor before he left TSR in 1994. To resolve the problem of TSR's multitudinous lines, he suggested the setting contain just four products: a trilogy of D&D supplements and a novel. It was meant to be "a campaign that could be run over a summer break". Jeff Grubb wrote the novel while the other books in the series would be produced by divers hands.

Origins (II): Honorable Barbarian & Scary Necromancer. Grubb calls Jakandor his "White Bear & Red Moon", referring to the early Gloranthan wargame (1975) by Greg Stafford that depicted the war between two opposing cultures, the Lunars and the Orlanthi. Like Stafford, Grubb "conceived of two opposing cultures, each convinced they were the heroes".

Except Grubb's "White Bear & Red Moon" was a battle between barbarian warriors and necromancers. In order to ensure that players didn't see either of the sides as the heroes, Grubb hoped that the two peoples' sourcebooks would be released simultaneously. Instead, as was typical, Wizards of the Coast released them one at a time. The barbaric Knorr came first in "Jakandor: Island of War" (1998).

Origins (III): A College Friend. Now enter Kirk Botula. He was introduced to D&D in the late '70s by Jeff Liebman, a friend of Jeff Grubb and Kate Novak. Though still a high school student at the time, he was soon playing in a variety of Purdue University campaigns, including Jeff Liebman's Ooricon … and Jeff Grubb's Toril. Botula would even be one of the judges in the AD&D Open Tournament that Grubb organized, which eventually led to his employment at TSR.

Later, Grubb made the introduction at TSR that allowed Botula to start working as a freelancer there in 1993-1994. This made Botula the ideal person to write the books for Grubb's last TSR campaign.

Origins (IV): About the Knorr. When Grubb presented Botula with the Knorr he only had one requirement: that the Knoff have animated totemic juggernauts that were like primitive mechs. Extensive rules for the "guardian juggernauts" indeed appear in chapter 5 of the main book. Botula would also develop other sorts of magic for the Knorr, in the form of rituals, which were the result of his research into sympathetic magic.

Generally, the Knorr are based on lots of research. That started with their honor code, which Botula envisioned as a way to make warriors interesting. To produce it, he researched everything from the Samurai to the Plains Indians. He intended that the end result would control their strength and inspire creativity through constraints. He also felt that it moved these warriors away from the selfish individuality of most player characters.

The broader background of the Knorr was inspired by readings about Norse settlements in North America, where the Norsemen had been driven off by Native Americans. So, Botula asked, what if the Norsemen had stayed? What if they'd settled and become a part of the society there?

Expanding D&D. Jakandor heavily integrates game mechanics and setting in a way that most of TSR's campaign worlds of the '90s did not. This book is, of course, all about the Knorr. There's an entire chapter on creating Knorr that includes 20(!) character kits. There are also new (optional) rules for things like besting, celebrating, scarring, and luck, plus plenty of equipment and even new proficiencies. New spells also abound, including those sympathetic rituals.

Exploring Jakandor. "Island of War" describes the Knorrman culture of Jakandor.

About the Creators. Kirk Botula write just a handful of D&D books in the mid-'90s. The first three were in 1993-1994, then he returned in 1998 for the first two Jakandor books, which marked his final published contributions to the game.

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. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

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Jonathon C December 06, 2018 8:07 pm UTC
So, both this title and Land of Legend (the DM's book) of the trilogy are here - why is there no copy of Isle of Destiny, the Charonti sourcebook for the setting?
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This title was added to our catalog on May 09, 2017.