I5: The Tomb of Martek is far more cosmic than I remembered. There are several opportunites to voyage off to other planes of existence such as the Black Abyss [their title, not mine], where time, space, and magic are all distorted. I never made it this far in the adventure, but this segment how some tricks up its pages. There is a 1d12 chance to fight 1-3 umber hulk; much like xorns, the umber hulk doesn’t show up frequently enough, what with their kooky eyes and and chaotic evilness. Also, and here is when a party knows it is up against a full manual full of monsters, a neo-otyung is lurking out there on the roll of a six.
And K8 has a pretty rough, or lucky, depending on the party, phrase: “Anyone falling into this storm before the minaret is removed or more than one turn after it is removed will be cast into the 666 planes of the Abyss.” PS: this is not the last part of the module; there are still three other obstacles the party must face until the Citadel of Martek [their name, not mine].
I am four books deep in the War of the Spider Queen series, and I am seeing drow everywhere. While I am typing this, I quarter expect a poisoned crossbow bolt to fly by me, or a powerfully built drow cleric to be intimidating me with a mace. That said, I was not expecting a dusty elf to show up in the middle of the desert, but I4:Oasis of the White Palm‘s random night encounter table gives a DM a 1d8 chance of having 1-4 males show up.
If I were to give Fryzzl, Danefrith, and Argoen a backstory, I would say part of a slave ring that was running human and orc merchandise through the underdark. The Oasis is close to an opening into the tunnel system and the freewheeling nature of the Oasis and its blind eye turning habits make it a perfect place to peddle flesh. The trio sold their wares and wanted to go out on the town, looking to spend a little coin and maybe sample local harlots. In general, drow aren’t into the cross-species action, but the Oasis is the Las Vegas of Greyhawk’s desert. It isn’t often that a drow can kiss a half-elf without the House Mothers coming down with their rules and whips and browbeatings.
Too bad they weren’t paying attention when we appeared from the shadows, ambushing them. Poor guys, didn’t even have a chance to use faerie fire.
I2: Tomb of the Lizard King is not that great. Much like I1, it is a bit too much outdoor swamp stomping for my likes. That said, when the party finally gets out of the mud and mire and finds the actual tomb of the self-same lizard king, things pick up.
Nearly 20 wights, former slaves of the lizard king, are in one of the rooms. There is arguably a top-ten- worst picture in an AD&D module in the carnivorous ape encounter.The actual lizard king is vampiric. But I do think that a major opportunity was missed with not working Doors lore into the lizard king room or backstory. Mark Acres could have thrown in a line or two from “Celebration of the Lizard,” “Shaman’s Blues,” or, to get obscure, “L’America.” 12 year-old me wouldn’t have gotten it, 18 year old me would have, and present-day me would have doffed my hat at the con.
I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden Series was a bit too outdoor adventure for me. Call me a savage, but I am pretty much all dungeon crawl, all the time. I don’t care about how many hexes I am moving in a 4-hour period. I want to care about prodding ahead with a 10′ pole and murdering a few humanoids. However, there are highlights.
Yuan Ti: who doesn’t want to add another half-lizard/snake mix into the AD&D pool? Lizard men, check; nagas, check; yuan ti, check plus. Like nagas, there are multiple versions of yuan ti [pureblood, halfbreed, abominations]. Like lizard men, some of them walk upright. One of the first times I played this adventure, several of us got killed by these snaky figures.
One word: Mongrelmen. Perverse Osmosis loves mongrelmen so much that we wrote a song about them. And really, what’s the difference between an half-elf and a mongrelman? Marketing.
First appearance of the aboleth is in this module. Any time a creature that has major influence in the underdark shows up, things are going to go badly for a while. We played with psionics, so cue trombones.
A non-highlight: the blasted tasloi. Spear-throwing primitives that are both sly and malicious. They use nets and eat dead characters. Seriously, they guys are jerks.
S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojocanth is one of my favorite modules, and I have already written about why. In addition to the vampiric queen, there is an entire gnome lair, and frankly, there aren’t many chances to wipe out an entire gnome layer. It is hard to have much animosity against gnomes; granted, they are a bunch of trickster always looking for a practical joke or two, but that is hardly a reason to hate them. That said, it can be fun to play in a neutral evil party, and those gnomes are likely to have gems, gems, gems.
Berserk clay golem did a whole bunch of damage to our party. I didn’t think that a clay golem would be much of a match, but wow, take a couple hasted punches to the face and that is a potential 60 points of damage. Do that a couple times, and a halfling and a magic-user might be in trouble. Also brutal: two formorian giants who can dole out 30 hp a swing. Everybody’s favorite, the giant snapping turtle also makes an appearance, skulking around to bite off a finger or a hand. Also, also, the dao, waiting around to cast rock to mud on unsuspecting people.