Sunday, 12 January 2020
Desert of Desolation Series I3-5
Recently got three seperate modules in good condition to replace my all in one book in poor condition that feels like it should fall apart but was laminated after heavily used. So looking at both I noticed some diferences. Like I might get POD versions of G123 and D12 seperate on nonochrome colour books as they had some extra very good artwork seperate. Actually goodman games doing G123 classic hardback would be good. My S series compilation I realise had stripped back art a bit. So I decided check the desret books and ok they made some extra content.
So you get a brush with a wizard who gives you a bunch of handouts and mentions Eliminster so its definable in the forgotten realms now. Handouts help combine modules better just whole intro is a magic railroad.
As far as complexity goes this series only a year after Bone Hill with boxy TSR logo and toned covers and slicker design and less cramped text. So this series also pioneering for the dominant module style the mega story railroad with lots of exotic mini dungeons and cinematic trend. However here it isn't so obvious in originals and the individual exotic mini dungeons are good and the cinematic moments are good. So many more recent adventures evolved from this is a lot worse. So as a teen I loved these now I'm older a bit less so. Maps and art are great in original. Book version loses lots, adds some and uses photos of desert waste and some clip art.
Book version has enhanced encounters a bit and streamlined stuff like that. added some monuments and detail in crossing deserts. So the teleporting away from trolls meeting a wizard thing is hella awkward and I either have a god do it or get my party to desert and Sunken City of Pazar. Also I would add more encounters and thought the dragon module Lone and Level Sands would fit in here well too. So page of Pharoh ghost for players to read or have a copy if in single module is way better. Book has great iso map of all levels on a spread. Original has done well in classic blue with two card screens with maps and really interesting ones.
I3 Pharoah the single module is nice work. I like pyramid has not tried to be filled in whole thing - it has lots of rock and lvel shapes not worrying about fitting in a huge pyramid. Getting a pyramid or a zigerutt design and filling it in as if it was single brick and had steel structural support is very sill. I still do it sometimes. More content in these maps than some real pyramids. I'm glad I checked because both are good and handy. The trap reference cut aways are great. This whole dungeon feels more 3d than most. I have a huge pdf with hudreds of tomb maps with plan and side views so I f I want fill out this campaign I can. Book is 3 column and not wasting space but more readable than some older modules with space to rest between blocks of text. The module is 2 column and a bit bigger print.
While I do like idea of a middle eastern medieval tomb looting arabian knioghts game I would possibly use this in my Exilon setting.
Creatures in I3 are mostly local human nomads (who worship only ANU and destroy other religion) and dervishers (heretics of who pretect any sacred site). Dustdiggers are like upsideown starfish things which are ok but what we want is sand squid. Efreeti Pash is kinda gross for 2nd ed and could kill some demon lords. Thunderers are herds of 5-10 foot long herd sand worms. I4 adds a Djinn Vizier who can take on the Efreeti and repeats monsters. Cryptknights are cool bt "only" in Martek's tomb and spectral minions which are a great monster and tool for DM story telling. I thought these appeared later but Im glad they are kicking about here. Book has no monster section vs a repetitive section detailing human types we didnt need that much on in 3 books. I5 has a pheonix but no stat block for it in monster section but im not sure on when MM2 out.
So onto I4 Oasis of the white palm and modules make journey a thing but book covered all journeys in begining. We loose temple of set trap side view graphic in book and get portaits for npcs from many sources cropped from scenes. The maps on I4 are great and blule lines on white space and martek's map is cool.
Finally I5 Tomb of Martek has a wilderness chapter with the black glass sea from a wizard apocalypse which is awesome. The book greatly expands city of the Pheonix and grabs a out of context cropped Illo from I3. The book ends abruptly with no apendix or magic items or monsters described. The third part is most different from original which details a stone city that gets a few lines in module and recommends it as a place to expand. Not very much to talk to here possibly sphinxes but a ok extra section. As there are no things and little wealth here I would ad some more and use encounter tables more to populate the place. Its a good opportunity to add lore too.
This is a great and imaginative series with middle eastern fair and ancient Egyptian splendour. I had a friend build a whole campaign around this.
I wouldn't change much but might expand a few ruins and add in Lone and Level sands adventure from Dragon (84?).
Set all these on Carcosa for extra weirdness or on the desert level on the starship Warden in metamorphosis alpha. So I will hang onto my book and module versions but the module is mostly superior. The book has the isometric pyramid interior and the ruined city expanded but I would put more in. A spectral minion tour guide in each room handy. As a 15 year old would have led this to Day of Al Akbar module featuring magic bombing terrorists. The old forgotten realms and mystara cyclopedia had middle eastern settings this could have worked in. Dont know enough about 90s TSR middle eastern setting. I think I would have gone a different way. Perhaps ruins of Hittites or Iraq or Iran might make inspiration for more dungeons buried in sand. Plenty of maps out there and I did 10 3fold adventures in my exilon setting. The Lost City adventure uses Alexander the great type hellenic culture and might fit into all this or even be a prequel. Perhaps Martek sealed Zargon....
I look forward to doing a bunch of Egyptian adventures of my own for 3folds.