Archive for the ‘Modules’ Category

How I Got Into Gamma World

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks is one of my favorite adventures. For those of us drinking from both the sci-fi and the fantasy font, the visit to the Grand Duchy of Geoff was heady brew indeed. Where else can a happy group of adventurers fight an intellect devourer and a karate android and vegepygmies, get blaster like Han Solo, figure out Mentat-level diagrams, and maybe fly a spaceship? Nowhere, that’s where. Nowhere except the Barrier Peaks.

S3 is also where rural me learned about Gamma World, which I also loved. That game died an early death. I still use pure strain human on not-infrequent occasions. The intro by Gygax names Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World as two of Expedition progeny. I never played Alpha–it much not have had flashy enough covers–but Gamma World was right up my Damnation Alley.

As for what killed us in Barrier Peaks? The blaster-using, grenade-throwing mind flayer at the end of the module. There was a shootout, and we lost. We had never seen a laser before.


White Plume Carnage

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

S2: White Plume Mountain sounds like it was a 1935 western starring Kirk McCassfield and Judie Margogh. In reality, it is an odd little adventure that has three good weapons to find, a wide suggested level range [5 to 10th], and a bunch of weird monsters. For example, kelpies show up, ready to seduce Dirk Squareyard of Borneorth or Twitn De’havle, the land’s most handsome half-elf. Kill them, and a suit of +3 chain mail can be yours. There is an ogre magic user who polymorphs into a tubby halfling to better trick the party. There is a giant crab guarding a magic trident in the middle of a boiling lake.

And just when the players think they have made it out with a magic hammer, trident, and sword, they get to battle a couple efreet, who are there to take the party to an “indoctrination center.” Sorry Nix and Nox, no one tells me what to do, not even me.

And You’re Dead

Friday, October 20th, 2017

S1: Tomb of Horrors has a well-deserved reputation for killing players. However, in the days before the intertubes, it was much more difficult to hear about this reputation. None of us who played in our usual 1983 game knew anything about Tomb of Horrors; it was an AD&D module and I bought it with some sheep-poop-cleaning money. And then we died.

The giant block in encounter two killed a couple of us (if I remember correctly, rolling a 1 was involved), the forsaken prison took another of us too soon, the temple of evil was aptly named, and the three of us who made it through to Acererak the Demi-Lich, let’s just say we gave it a good battle. Yes, we were all 10th-level types, and a 10th-level barbarian is fairly impressive, if I do say so myself. The demi-lich, however, was not impressed. I think I got soul drained and ended up in Acererak’s right eye. A noble death, to be sure, but hardly the way a barbarian lord wants to go out.

The evilest dead.

It’s More of a Hamlet

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

T1: The Village of Hommlet was always confusing to me as a first-level AD&Der. It is obviously a set-up to the Temple of Elemental Evil–the inside cover reads “first of two modules”–but T2 never came around. The later super dungeon The Temple of Elemental Evil had a version of T2 in it, but no stand alone module ever existed. And that, my fellow half-orcs and half-elves, is a shame.

But we are not here to complain about what isn’t in existence, but to celebrate what is. Outside of Keep on the Borderlands, probably no village has sent more parties off than Hommlet. Outside of being a practicing cultist, equipping fighters and selling trinkets to halflings is the major industry. There is always grog to get and rumors to hear. If the party is out for a little rough and tumble, there is plenty of that to be had as well. For an adventure for 1-3rd level characters, there are quite a few dangerous encounters: ghouls, bugbears, green slime, and even an ogre. Worst of all is Lareth the Beautiful, who is the Luke Skywalker of chaotic evil [he is referred to as the new hope]. A fifth-level cleric with 18 strength and 18 wisdom, he also has a staff of striking and plate mail and is ready to cast cause blindness. A party could be a mixture of first and second-level fighters and clerics and run into this guy. It would not go well.

Also, these are rad shields.

Lloth Save the Queen

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits is, fittingly, one of the last modules I remember getting slaughtered in. Our party had hacked-and-slashed their way from A1 to here. I don’t remember dying at any point; granted, there were a couple moments when my barbarian fell to -3 or -4 hit points, but the campaign was back in the Gygax-living days when players needed to get to minus -10 to be dead, dead.

But in Queen, there was a whole lot of -10s being passed around. It does figure that the goddess of a major race would be quite powerful, but whatever, we just murdered a wagonful of fire giants and at least two villages of mind flayers. Bring on 105 more men-fish, what do we care? If we could trip out with the myconids and still drink the blood of a slave lord, then what can a bunch of stopers, spiders, and driders do to us?

It turns out they can do a lot. There are many, many high-powered drow in this adventure, and there aren’t many places to hide from them. Also, demons. And Yochlol, how does a fearful frost barbarian even say that name? And Lloth: that sometimes sexy demon can cast a wide variety of not-so-sexy spells. Also rough about Lloth: she can heal herself fully not once, not twice, but thrice a day, giving her effectively around 190 h.p. Also, psionics. Poor, misunderstood psionics.

In all her glory.