Friday, 10 January 2020

Master of the Desert Nomads X4 & X5

Master of the Desert Nomads

Classic two part module series and early TSR in other cultures.
You could build a campagn around old desert theme module settings.

Also by now modules are box texts performed to linear events with sometimes illusion of choice. In my look at old modules this pair is not really a guide to improving it. Older modules and lack of setting made being a DM and filling in extra plot was a normative process. As modules move into more strict linea narative cinematic modules there is less flexibility, These two are early ones and pretty good. Id run lots of the random encounters  in this because they are all good. I guess lots of the UK modules did this era of TSR adventure writing to bit even The Serpent's Eye the most linear wilderness hexcral ever still implies choice. By the early 90s TSR modules I looked at this style of detailed adventure was common. Lots of exeptions Im sure. So here Im reflecting on these a bit not trying to add more content.

X4Master of The Desert Nomads for 6-9th Level

This is set on a desert where seasonal nomads brigands have come from forever. But now they are united with humanoids known and unknown in huge armies unified by a priest called The Master. The army just went ahead of you into the desert and stragglers and refugees are moving the other way. You kinda get asked to do something but then you help a cleric who rewards your most knightly looking hero a quest spell. Priest is being attacked by a horrible void with hairy shadow arms with claws grasping from it. You can get a guide for a small fortune but it is a war zone.  This is basically adventurers as special ops in a military infiltration situation. It is very cinematic and episodic. It has colourful fights and fights with swarms of humanoids. It has a few don't do this or die things in it. The war setting has suffering and devastation and confusion.

You get a few encounters in town before setting of with a map when you get an attack by a wizard on a wyvern with hasted trolls on the ground. There is a river raft up a river gorge with possible military archers attacking you from above yay. You go up a river, travel with merchants, fight bandits, fight a Nagpa vulture wizard find a lost tomb of a minor scorpion centaur deity. There is a long horrible desert trek with monsters, infiltrate a army of monsters, several madmen and strange visions and clues and the evil abbey. this whole scene is a great episode that can be roleplayed quite a bit before the revelation of the monks secret. One of better DnD horror moments I wouldnt touch.

SO new monsters in this book OMG. Sadder still these monsters never got used much even though some of Zebs best in bothe these modules.

Bhut - a sort of demon were undead monster that look horrific. These guys should be a regular evil race of demons im adopting them
Napga - evil race of wizard vulture folk a bit dark crystal and I use as one of my main monster king races
Juggernaut - animated clumsy siege battering rams that crush everything in their path with 25-30 HD and damage to kill lots of characters dead. Awesome for all kinds of reasons,come in wood or stone. A steam juggernaut perhaps.
Soul Devourer - A shadowy void with grasping hideous claws coming from it that are known for avenging selves on summoners if it fails, really creepy evil things that eat life
Tabi - creepy cat size bat winged monkey with kabiki mask, surley must have demon blood. That explains why high level wizards summon and bind them. Shame they smell of rotting flesh 30 metres away. Touch causes confusion and they are cunning thieving monkey bastards.

There are lots of mood setters that are downers about the ongoing war and suffering. Thankfully you don't get distracted by rescuing people because the master is just straight up killing people in reality where as people assume he is a slaver not a evil death cult leader.  Also the master takes a interest in you and helps you get to him. Also there is a mysterious benefactor (up to the DM who) in play occasionally. Perhaps party helped a djinn in past lives or something or did some deed.There are colourful fights, harsh wilderness, terrible monsters and lots of rumours.

X5 Temple of Death

You arrive at the pass caves crawling with monsters. Geonids are totally pokemon working for the Master. You find a land called Hule includes notes on the religion of the Master which has diviner  cops out to get a diverse class of criminal and many types of religious specialist. The non humanoids just joining with humans led by the Master who are the most organised and most powerful warlord for now. Locals of Hule like monsters joining army and leaving. There are some encounters in a town before going to the Temple, But a dark forest is in between of course including a ghost and spectral hounds. Another gold new monster very much weird fiction critter. Finally the temple on a lake looks like south asian hindu temple. Including idea the temple has carvings of wheels as it represents a chariot or vehicle. Some rumours in previous modure refer to this. So you get to battle clerics, a cool elephant demon a bit like the Cthulhu mythos elephant god.

Mentioned some monsters which are continued weird vibe, but wow!:
Dusanu - a fungal spore carrying undead type with claws
Geonid - adorable rock men
Malfera - horned elephant demons with crab claws from the nightmare world
Mujina - faceless mimic people
Spectral Hound - frain your link to physical plane making you fade away

The temple map is lovely and climax a bit like a martial arts movie.
Id worry my parties would try and take over the masters religion or something odd.

Id totally run these and wouldn't do much to them. I might milk some encounters more and select the best random encounters to help keep the war background still happening. Id like to run minis with this. Lots of scenes like every round 50 more men join in the fight.

1 comment:

  1. I came here hoping to find custom made handouts for this adventure series (X4, X5, & X10). I read your review and it brought me back to a better time. I'm going to be running this path for my son, his friend and his friend's father.

    Good Stuff


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