Sunday, 12 June 2022

POD Reviews & Recalcitrance

I have been busy rearranging the house, emptying storage crates, building a to sell pile and rearanging 5 frog aquariums and other non writing stuff. I have made progress on some old projects and having a crack at them now. A new 3fold on my Patreon and a zine soon. 

Will be doing a large review here probably next post.

I have been re reading and looking at what happened to DnD adventure-wise after release of the Companion set. If that box was out earlier I would never have got into Ad&d possibly. One problem I do have with lots of them is how ingrained in the setting they are which is also a strength if you use the setting or can fit into your own world. Some are easier than others. Post BX dnd went very different places and while Ad&d talked about name level and domains they didn't do adventures featuring it while the companion era has lots of domain play, diplomacy with rulers of the world and even continental war you can play battle in. At least this version of DnD had adventures like this to show how domain play can be interesting. Also despite wilderness adventures being more built into expert than basic boxes they tried to slip into the low-level wilderness and of course had to explain basic concepts from the expert set.

So today we have a few adventures that explore these trends. While not exactly pendragon (I have a fat campaign hardback on way finally) these do give me thought for my next high-level game. As I am always playtesting post 10th level needs more trials.


Test of Warlords CM1 
So straight up an adventure where the party get offered new domains if they support a king. Lots of roleplaying, courtly caperings and wargaming are possible. Lots of factions, other nobles to deal with and a slower timescale than most adventures. There are some small mini-dungeons and dramas to play through. Lots of NPC, prophetic hags again and a seasonal invasion of 2000 frost giants. I'm giving it a bit more points for being one of the few published examples of domain play in-game. It would take work for me as I don't use the Companion mass combat rules. A whole dungeon is full of monsters made by the wizard Gargantua who wanders the world making Kaiju threats for reasons. It does tie into other modules well for high-level D&D also. I like with poor decision making local halflings can be crushed by giants. Making friends with demihumans is emphasized for gaining allies to which I have always enjoyed in game.

Puppets WG11 
This does feel a bit like a two dungeon magazine adventure one a series of encounters you can drop in plenty of locations and the other a city investigation. Both are easy to relocate. It has the mid 80s slick design but less flair than some of the early denser adventure modules in the Greyhawk series.  I like the art in this but it feels a bit light for content. The first has dealings in a rural area of a sylvan being cursed to evil and the trouble it causes gathering non human followers. The second adventure is arriving in the city in midst of a crimewave. It has a few streetmaps possibly reusable and look like other TSR city maps of the time of various polygon outines arranged sometimes unconvincingly. Also a tower with only a few floors and thin walls. The whole thing can be played as a journey and arrival in a city for low level encounters and easy to slip in a game, each could be an evening game. Barley Greyhawk really. Levels required not on cover but detailed pregens which Greyhawk stuff does.

Journey to the Rock B8 
So another Basic adventure with wilderness. Also instead of a railroad as the era was full of this gives you several choices and there is a good chance either of the other routes to the rock will not be seen (maybe a different route on way back). It feels poor to design an adventure players wont see most of it. Lots of magical handwavium of NPCs. It does a have a reasonable amount of content and you could use bits missed elsewhere. There are three trails each with random and set encounters after discussing how to hexcrawl not in the box set this was made for. I guess you could possible whichever route players choose you could add in other encounters missed. It has some new monsters that are interesting and a full page illustration of a chained slave princess which most players will be suspicious of. Once you reach the rock to fetch the McGuffin it goes a bit cosmic. There are notes on expanding the adventure too. Chameleon folk, winged folk, rock folk, ghostly horde and crone of chaos. The large map is of course mostly unusable as provided but it isn't very useful anyway.  Oddly my pod doesn't have B8 on cover. Horror on the hill is much better.

The Veiled Society B6 
This adventure has village fold outs that TSR did a bit of and uses them in the adventure. They would print from PDF well and kids might like them. So the adventure is a bit short but is good. It is one of the better city adventures and starts as soon as you enter the gate. You can end up with different factions and regret your choices which is good. Its a mix of investigation, exploration and intrigue. The odds are even if you win you will gain enemies for life. If was longer or more of the book id rate it higher. You could throw the Puppets adventure above in with this fine. You could drop in any city but has a nice city map for the Mystara setting.
Hordes of Dragonspear FRQ2 
A basically laid out 2nd ed adventure featuring a village in need of heroes from a horde of humanoids. Pretty basic genre fair stuff. You get some diplomatic and other actions and its for 10-18th level so the badguys have a pitfiend and some devils. Battlesystem was the order of the day. It has a town map and some diagrams and a maze under the castle but no castle. It didn't do much for me and felt pretty lightweight for a whole module. Honestly, I could improvise this from a napkin doodle. Its the sort of product in 90s that made me stop D&D for 20 years.

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