Saturday, September 23, 2023

DA1: Rogues, Regents, and Rascals

Nineteen pages of DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" are devoted to extensive descriptions of 38 NPCs, many of whom originated as PCs in the original Blackmoor campaign (see this thread from the OD&D Discussion boards, for more details):

Alwyn Morland

Arn Yonson (from "Arneson"?)

Barnabas the Wanderer

Bascom Ungulian, Baron of Glendower

Bosero the Drunkard (John Snider)

Bram Tagus, Baron of Bramwald

Brother Richard, the Flying Monk (Richard Snider)

Fletcher William, the Fetch (Ken Fletcher)

Garamond Bolitho, the Bishop of Blackmor

The Great Svenny, Baron of Newgate

see also GS3 "Castle Newgate Gazetteer"



King Uther the Rectifier, Black Uther

Lortz Kharnundrhum, Regent of the Mines (Stephen Lortz)

Marfeldt the Barbarian (Marshall Hoegfeldt)

see the OD&D Discussion boards, here and posts on Dragonsfoot, here

Mello the Halfling (Rick "Mel" Johnson)

Menander Ithamis

Moorkok the Slayer, Prince of the Egg

Miklos Haruska, Old Slyboots

The Peshwan Na Shepro, Baron of Dragonia (Ken Shepro)

Philo Holbytyn, the Sheriff of Ramshead

Piter Rall, Baron of Maus

Rissa Aleford, Baroness of the Lakes

Robert the Bald (Bob Meyer)

Ruda Malefor

Scotty Debelfry (Scott Belfry)

Sildonis, the Wizard of the Wood

Sirk Am Peshwah, the Hand of the People (Dale Nelson)

Skandros the Strangler

Sonia Sholako, Duchess of the Peaks

Taha Marcovic, the Iron Duke

see "Tell me about the Iron Duke" at the Comeback Inn

Tamis Azkanikin, the Green Man

Thorsen One-Thumb, the First Jarl

Timothy Curlytop, Shiremaster of Booh (Tim Kirkpatrick)

Toska Rusa, Mistress of God (Deborah Nafziger)

Uberstar Khazakhum, Regent of the Mines (Walter Oberstar)

Veslo Meridan (David Wesely)

Willem of the Heath, the Blue Rider (Bill Heaton)

see "The Blue Rider"

Wolfer Gannet, Baron of Archlis

Sunday, September 17, 2023

DA1: The Empire of Thonia

DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" includes a section describing "The Empire & The North"

The Great Thonian Empire, as it is known throughout most of the world, is technically a republic (the Third Republic of Thonia).  In theory, it is ruled by a senate that periodically selects an executive body of one to six members, called an “Imperial".  In practice, an Imperial seldom consists of more than two men - and it is usually but one person, who has come to be known as the Emperor of Thonia.

From DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986)

The Thonian Empire is based on The Great Kingdom of the Castle and Crusade Society, which likewise served as the basis for the Great Kingdom of Aerdy in the World of Greyhawk.

"Empire of Thonia: The Eastern Marshes" (2013) by Havard Fanes et al.  Cover illustration by Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Havard Fanes has compiled and edited the first three of a planned series of ten fan gazetteers detailing the ten provinces of the Thonian Empire:

CBI 1 "The Eastern Marshes" (2013)*

*see also "The First Fantasy Campaign: Richard Snider's Additions

CBI 2 "The Thonian Rand: Edge of the Empire" (2019)**

**see also the Fall of the Dwarves (2019) campaign extension

CBI 3 "Province of Bleakwood" (2020)***

***see also "The First Fantasy Campaign: Bleakwood"

The free pdfs are hosted on The Comeback Inn website, and are highly regarded for their incorporation of primary sources (for more on Havard's vision of Thonia, see this thread).

Saturday, September 16, 2023

DA1: Further Adventures

DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" includes ten ideas for additional adventures:

1. A mission to penetrate the Realm of the Egg and rescue the missing Baron of Glendower who disappeared after entering that evil dominion in search of his kidnapped bride.
JG37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977) describes the Egg of Coot as "an evil, telepathic entity, whose physical nature is unknown.  Depopulates any area it captures, replacing the former inhabitants with "a new and very unhuman population".

Bascom Ungulian, the Baron of Glendower, is described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 47).

2. A mission to obtain the help of the Horsemen of Peshwah against the empire.
The Horsemen of Peshwah and the lands south of Blackmoor are described in DA3 "City of the Gods".

The Peshwah are given more comprehensive treatment in the "Riders of Hak" (2007) sourcebook, part of the Zeitgeist Games d20 series of Blackmoor supplements.

"Riders of Hak" (2007) by Dave Brainard and Tad Kilgore.

3. A mission to demoralize the Afridhi by penetrating Starmorgan and stealing the treasure collected by Toska Rusa for the purpose of building a temple to the Afridhi god, Zugzul.
Toska Rusa, the Mistress of God, and her treasure, are described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 62-63). 
The castle of Starmorgan is briefly described in DA4 "The Duchy of Ten".  Its garrison is comprised of 800 heavy foot, 1600 light foot, and 600 heavy horse. 

4. A mission to kill Skandaharian leader Thorsen One-Thumb so as to create a struggle for the office of First Jarl and prevent the Skandaharian Raiders from attacking Blackmoor this year.
Thorsen One-Thumb, the First Jarl, is described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 61-62).
Details for Skandaharian Raiders are included in DA4 "The Duchy of Ten" (pg. 39-40)

5. A mission to destabilize the rule of the Duchess of the Peaks in hopes that her people will overthrow her and that the succeeding turmoil will keep Starport from sending troops to the aid of the Afridhi.
Sonia Sholako, the Duchess of the Peaks, is described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 60).
See also "The Duchy of the Peaks" part I, part II, part III, part IV on Havard's Blackmoor Blog

6. A mission to locate the Green Man, secret head of the Wizards' Cabal, and bring him back to Vestfold for a magical interrogation that will hopefully reveal details of the organization’s membership and operations.

Tamis Azkanikin, the Green Man, is described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 61). 
The Wizards' Cabal is given comprehensive treatment in the "The Wizards Cabal" (2005) sourcebook, part of the Zeitgeist Games d20 series of Blackmoor supplements.

"The Wizards Cabal" (2005).  Cover illustration by Allan Alegado.

7. A mission to enter the stronghold of the Orcs of the Black Hand and rescue the Regent of the Mines as a first step to ending the 6th Dwarf-Orc War that is currently raging in the Crystal Peaks.
Uberstar Khazakhum, the Regent of the Mines, is described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 62-63).

8. A mission to disrupt the operations of the Iron Duke’s spies by identifying and slaying his spy master, Skandros the Strangler.
Taha Markovic, the Iron Duke, and Skandros the Strangler are described in the "Rogues, Regents, and Rascals" section of DA1 (pg 60-61).

9. A mission to map an underground military road between Blackmoor and Vestfold through the monster-infested caverns beneath the heart of Blackmoor.
This would involve a series of expeditions to Blackmoor Dungeons and The Lost Dungeons of Tonisborg beneath Vestfold.

"The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor" (2006)

10. A mission to penetrate Bartertown and learn the identities of Blackmoorians who are working with (and possibly supplying military information to) the Skandaharian Raiders.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

DA1: Blackmoor City and Castle

PCs completing DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" will be able to enter Blackmoor City upon leaving the Comeback Inn.

The Town of Blackmoor map, from JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" is an excellent resource in this regard.

A module in the DA series describing the City of Blackmoor was actually planned, but never released.

Pre-production cover of DA5 "The City of Blackmoor" by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie, which was never published.


From the Acaeum:
DA5 City of Blackmoor was a Mystara module scheduled for production sometime in the late 1980's, but cancelled.  The only references we have to this are in an ad by Esdevium Games in Dragon #131 (page 85), an earmarked TSR stock # (9219), and an advertisement in the 1987 TSR Fall Catalog (depicting this pre-production cover scan, which uses the artwork from the cover of Dragon #97).*  Bruce Heard, in charge of the D&D product line at the time, has said that this module was never even designed, let alone produced and shipped.  However, contributor Dave Keyser has told us that the module was actually nearly completed, and the material is now currently with a company (Zeitgeist Games) who plans on releasing a "Blackmoor d20" module, in collusion with Dave Arneson.  (Thanks to Curt Gould for the pre-production scan, and to Dave Keyser and John Rateliff for help with this info).

*the dragon on the pre-production scan may have been intended to represent Gertie the Dragon

For more on DA5 "The City of Blackmoor", see this post from June 17, 2010 on Havard's Blackmoor Blog.

In December 2020, it was confirmed by Ritchie's half-brother on "The Comeback Inn" that a manuscript for DA5 did in fact exist, a copy of which has been shared with Havard.

Blackmoor Castle:

King Uther holds audiences with the PCs in Blackmoor Castle, which was restored as a residence 18 years previously.

Floorplan for Blackmoor Castle, drafted for Origins 1984, from this post from chirine's workbench.

The castle has a long and storied history, sitting as it does atop Blackmoor Dungeons.

Uther sealed the entrance to the dungeons in 1013, following unsuccessful attempts to clear them, although reasons for an expedition could still arise.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

DA1: The Paleogeography of Blackmoor

DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" strongly implies that Blackmoor was located near the Broken Lands in The Lands and Environs of the D&D Wilderness, on what would later be referred to as the continent of Brun.

It's therefore perplexing that ancient Blackmoor was labeled south of Thonia on the continent of Skothar, on the precataclysmic map of the Outer World in the Hollow World Campaign Set (1990):

Precataclysmic map of Skothar, depicting the location of ancient Blackmoor, from the Hollow World Campaign Set (1990).

This resulted in some head-scratching at the time, particularly given that Blackmoor was supposed to be north of Thonia, but is clearly an error, as a careful reading of the timeline in the Hollow World Campaign Set will establish.

Precataclysmic map of the Outer World, from the Hollow World Campaign Set (1990).

Timeline of the Outer World:

The timeline of history in the Hollow World Dungeon Master's Sourcebook provides several details placing Blackmoor squarely within central Brun:

BC 4,500: Beastmen - reincarnated souls of evil beings - appear in the Borean Valley, a frozen land north of Blackmoor.  These Beastmen arc wild, chaotic creatures which do not breed true; whelps may have some or none of the traits of their parents, may be of different size and appearance.  This is all brought about by the magic of Hel, an immortal of the Sphere of Entropy, who wants to introduce more confusion, dismay and death into the world.

The Borean Valley is the major river valley in northern Brun, stated to be north of Blackmoor.

BC 4,000: The human Blackmoor civilization begins a meteoric rise due to its great success in developing powerful sciences and technologies.  It conquers and assimilates all surrounding human tribes and quickly grows very powerful.

Another human civilization, the Oltecs, begins a more stately rise toward civilization in lands far to the south of Blackmoor.  Protected by deep forests and sheltering hills, they do not have any communication with Blackmoor.

The Oltecs appear on Brun, in lands far to the south of Blackmoor.

BC 3,500: The Blackmoor civilization is flourishing.  It conducts trade and intermittent war with the southern elves, at the other end of the world.  Four clans of elves colonize in the region near Blackmoor.  Both the southern and the colonial elves embrace Blackmoor's technology.  Blackmoor's priests demand the extermination of the "unnatural" beastmen in the Borean Valley, and promote holy wars to hunt down and destroy those creatures.

BC 3,200: The Blackmoor crusades drive the Bcastmcn farther north, into the land called Hyborea; they adapt to the colder climate and survive.

The Hyborean Reaches are labeled on the precataclysmic map of Brun, north of the Beastmen.

Postcataclysmic map of the Outer World, from the Hollow World Campaign Set (1990).  Replica map, from the Atlas of Mystara

BC 3,000: Some Blackmoor devices explode, shifting the axis of the Known World in an event later called the Great Rain of Fire.  Blackmoor becomes the north pole and its civilization disappears.  The elven civilization becomes the south pole; the elves are able to migrate to the area called Grunland (which now begins centuries of volcanic upheaval which lead to its being renamed Vulcania).  These southem-continent elves, though suffering hardship, are not in immediate danger of extinction and so none are taken to the Hollow World.

Survivors of the elven colony near Blackmoor flee to the Broken Lands; they burrow deep into the ground to survive the aftereffects of the Great Rain of Fire.  These are the ancestors of the Shadow Elves,

One of the most dangerous Blackmoor devices is left untouched in the Broken Lands (see module X1).

More evidence for a location of ancient Blackmoor in proximity to the Broken Lands.

BC 2,400: The land that was Hyborea is now warming up; the Beastmen migrate to the area that was once Blackmoor, which is now the northern pole, and thrive there.  They are beginning to breed true, in recognizable species.

A look at the migrations on the postcataclysmic map of the Outer World clearly labels the location of the Beastmen in BC 2,400 within central Brun.

Map from the D&D Companion Set (1984) depicting the actual location of ancient Blackmoor (my addition).

It's therefore clear that ancient Blackmoor was located in central Brun, and that an error was made by the cartographer of the precataclysmic map of the Outer World.

Brun and the Map of the Great Kingdom:

The map of the D&D world was originally based on a paleogeographic map of our own planet, with Brun corresponding to North America.

I think TSR missed a great opportunity to link the D&D Companion Set map to the OD&D map of the Great Kingdom, which is likewise based on a map of North America:

Map of the Great Kingdom, from Domesday Book #9.

In fact, Blackmoor appears in the same general location on the map of the Great Kingdom as its probable location on the map of Brun:

Location of Blackmoor on the map of the Great Kingdom

It would be interesting to link the OD&D and Mystara settings in this way, for those who might be so inclined.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

DA1: A Blackmoor Timeline

DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" provides a great deal of background, although doesn't cover the setting's earliest years, and lacks any dates.

Fortunately, D.H. Boggs has compiled an invaluable chronologic resource (see "A Blackmoor Timeline") which can be used as a handy reference guide.

Below, I've extracted and lightly edited a timeline of the more notable events, for those wishing to run "Adventures in Blackmoor".

*          *          *

995:  The Northern Marches are invaded by the Egg of Coot.  Blackmoor town is burned and the castle is heavily damaged.  The Egg of Coot's forces are ultimately defeated, and Fant of Bramwald is granted the Barony of Blackmoor.

996:  The Great Svenny, Bishop Carr, Willem of the Heath, and Mello the Halfling build Svenson's Freehold to guard Wolf's Head Pass "some five miles to the northeast of the Castle along the only road that leads to the southern confines of the Egg of Coot".

997:  The Second Coot Invasion.  Svenson's Freehold is destroyed.  Blackmoor Castle is attacked and conquered by the Grand Army of King Funk I of the Orcs of the Black Hand.  Elven armies eventually drive back Funk's orcs and retake the castle.

998:  The Third Coot Invasion.  Orcs of the Black Hand under King Funk I with their monstrous allies emerge in mass from Blackmoor dungeon and join the Egg of Coot's offensive.  The Empire sends reinforcements.

999:  King Funk I is driven back into Blackmoor dungeon, retreating to the 10th level, and elven armies retake control of Blackmoor Castle.  The last of the Egg of Coot's forces are defeated, and victory is declared.  The Regency Council is established.

1000:  Toska Rusa, the Afridhi high priestess, receives a grand vision of conquest from Zugzul.  The god promises her a great empire for her people and she promises to build him a temple made entirely of gold in the heart of the Empire.

1003:  The Afridhi invade the Plains of Hak.

1004:  The Afridhi reach the Duchy of Ten and threaten her border.

Uther at the Berne

1005:  Uther Andahar's father is killed in a Skandaharian raid.  Uther becomes the new Baron of Blackmoor.  The forces of Ten attack Blackmoor but are broken and beaten at the Battle of Lake Bern, due in large part to a brilliant heavy cavalry charge led by the young baron.

1006:  The Afridhi attack the Duchy of Ten.  The campaign bogs down into a series of sieges.

1007:  Restoration of Blackmoor Castle as a residence.  The Regency Council realizes that the Duchy of Ten will soon fall to the invading Afridhi.  It sends a petition to the Emperor asking for permission to send an army in relief of their former enemies in Ten.  Their petition is scorned.

1008:  The Fourth Coot Invasion.  The Egg of Coot launches what it hopes will be a swift surprise attack.  Uther Andahar, assembling an army for a strike against the Afridhi, marches his army to intercept the foe.  The Egg of Coot's forces are caught and driven back.

1009:  Events of "Garbage Pits of Despair" published in Different Worlds #42 (May/June, 1986); #43 (July/August, 1986)

1012:  The Duchy of the Peaks allies with the Afridhi, who are completing their conquest of the Duchy of Ten.

1013:  Uther’s efforts to clear Blackmoor dungeon suffer a setback as undead overrun the guards stationed on level 2.  The baron orders the dungeon sealed.  The Duchy of Ten is struck by a devastating plague, temporarily slowing the Afridhi plans for conquest.

1014:  The Afridhi probe Blackmoor's defenses through an attack against Han Aleford's Barony of the Lakes.  The Afridhi are repulsed but Aleford is accused by the Emperor of having compromised a possible truce.  The Emperor sends the Imperial Governor of the North to arrest Han Aleford, but he is stopped and sent back by Uther, who considers Aleford a friend.  The Emperor is incensed and sends an army to teach Uther a lesson.

Uther and the Thin Black Line

1015:  The imperial army occupies Blackmoor Castle after Uther withdraws to spare the town, takes shelter with the dwarves under the leadership of Urberstar Kazakhum and secretly builds up his forces.  Uther routs an imperial force at the Battle of Root River, reoccupies Blackmoor Castle, and is recognized as King of Blackmoor by the Regency Council.  Uther is victorious at the Battle of the Neck.  10,000 Afridhi are slain, losing an entire wing on the banks of Lake Temperance.  Han Aleford is killed.  His daughter Rissa Aleford becomes the new Baroness of the Lakes.

1016:  Skandaharian forces raiding Blackmoor under Jarl Thorsen One Thumb are defeated at the Battle of the Downs.

1018:  Uther intercepts an army sent by the Empire in the Crystal Peaks and defeats them soundly.

1019:  The Great Svenny is promoted to baron; founds house Zvenzen and builds Newgate.  Svenson takes control of Williamsfort and rules from Newgate.  A sharp drop in land values causes Willem of the Heath and Mello heavy losses, ending their rival cartel.  Nicholson’s Merchant Mafia buy them out and form the united Northern Guild of Merchants.

1020:  The Eldritch Underground launches a surprise attack on the Wizard's Cabal headquarters at Vestfold, killing many of the wizards present.  After a two day battle, the Cabal emerges victorious.  The uprisings leader, Tamis Azkanikin ("The Green Mage") escapes and goes into hiding.

1021:  The Fetch leads an expedition to the City of the Gods, but only a third of the party survive.

1023:  Bascom Ungolian, the Baron of Glendower, leads an expedition into the lands of the Egg of Coot to free his kidnapped wife.  The expedition is ambushed and Bascom's fate is uncertain.

1024:  The Sixth Dwarf-Orc war.  Uberstar Khazakhum, Regent of the Mines, is captured by Orcs of the Black Hand in the Crystal Peaks.  Lortz Kharnandrhum, the son of Uberstar, becomes interim Regent of the Mines.  Lord Lortz invades the orc stronghold in a failed rescue attempt.  The dwarves are pushed back to the gates of their own Northern Delving, where they are besieged by the orcs, cutting off communications with Blackmoor.  The war spreads to the Stormkiller Mountains by winter.

1025:  Events of DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor"

Saturday, September 2, 2023

DA1: Adventures in Blackmoor

DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986) by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie is a 64 page supplement, part campaign setting/part D&D adventure for character levels 10-14.

Module DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" (1986) by Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie.  Cover illustration by Jeff Easley.

Creative Team:

"Adventures in Blackmoor" marked Dave Arneson's return to TSR:
I think the next time any work with TSR was 1985.  That was after Gary was able to become president after some sort of stockholders battle which I don't have any details on.  One of the first things he did was approach me about doing a series of modules based on Blackmoor, and that seemed really exciting.  He was president, I think, for three months when new people came in, and they suddenly weren't interested in working with me for various reasons.  Again, I can't go into it, but that was it.
Dave Arneson, from this interview in 2004

Arneson had previously been in discussion with Mayfair Games to publish 12 modules based on his original Blackmoor campaign.

Arneson's co-author, David Ritchie, worked on several projects at TSR from 1982-83 (see this thread from Dragonsfoot in 2008).  He coauthored DA1-3 with Arneson, although garnered sole credit for DA4 "The Duchy of Ten" (1987).

Ritchie's wife, Deborah C. Ritchie, worked at TSR around the same time, serving as editor for B3 "Palace of the Silver Princess" (1981) and X3 "Curse of Xanathon" (1982).  She is credited as editor for the entire DA series, DA1-4.

Interior illustrations are by Jim Holloway, together with a couple of pieces by Clyde Caldwell and Jeff Easley.

The map of "The Northlands" is by Tom Darden, and was based on the First Fantasy Campaign Map from JG 37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" (1977).

Design Origins:

Parts of DA1 are drawn from JG37 "The First Fantasy Campaign" although much of the DM Background relates to subsequent events in the original Blackmoor campaign, dating from the early 1980s

The Adventure:

The PCs discover the infamous Comeback Inn* within the Broken Lands.  They must explore a mysterious gate within its cellars, which leads them into the distant past, and a nefarious plot to kidnap the king.

*see "Making sense of the Comeback Inn maps in DA1" posted on The Comeback Inn forum on April 23, 2021


Map of "The Known World" from the D&D Master Set (1985)

The DM Background mentions several place names from the map of the Known World in the D&D Master Set (1985):
Before there was Thyatis - before there was Hyboria - before there was the land of Norwold - before the cruel Nentsun built their longships or the Four Kingdoms fought their deadly wars - before the dread Alphatians fell from the sky - before all this, there was Thonia.

Not the Thonia of our time.  No.  That barren, frozen Thonia is but a pale shadow of the Thonia that was, and the mind can but weep at the sightless vision of its past glory.  Full 3,000 years agone and 2,000 years before the crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis, whose coronation day marks the beginning of our own age, that elder Thonia was torn apart and half drowned in the vastest cataclysm this world has known.
DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" pg 2

The text suggests that the Broken Lands are where Blackmoor was originally located:
None in our time knows which of the devices of the Blackmoor philosophers set off the chain of disasters that destroyed that land.  Even the names of such machines have been lost.  All that is known is that some accident occurred, and Blackmoor sank beneath the seas, its shattered shores becoming the Broken Lands we know today.
DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" pg 2

A later passage suggests that the Comeback Inn migrated south from its original location over the course of a millennium:
After the sea drowned Blackmoor, the land again rose, only to be swept by glaciers that changed the face of the continent before receding as rapidly as they had come.  In this vast shifting of land masses, all else was destroyed.  But the Comeback Inn, with its powerful enchantments had somehow endured.  Lying hidden beneath the ice for a millenium, it was carried away from its former site by the moving glacier - eventually to surface in the area called the Broken Lands.  Gone was the castle that had once towered above it.  Gone too was the surrounding town.  Only the inn and the enchanted bedrock remained high upon a broken chimney of land, hidden from the world. 
DA1 "Adventures in Blackmoor" pg 6

Further Adventures:

A section detailing the Empire of Thonia and the Kingdom of Blackmoor includes ten ideas for additional adventures, many of which I used when I ran this module, back in the 1980s.

Rogues, Regents, and Rascals:

A 19-page section describes many of the more notable NPCs in Blackmoor.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

In Pursuit of the Slayer

"In Pursuit of the Slayer" is a 12-page BECMI adventure for character levels 6-9 by Carl Sargent, published in Dungeon #15 (January/February, 1989).

"In Pursuit of the Slayer" in Dungeon #15 (Jan/Feb 1989).  Illustration by Bob Giadrosich.

The PCs are in a race against time to track down and identify a mysterious killer, before an army of undead warriors can be raised.

The scenario is playable in a single session.

About the Author:

Carl Sargent has just finished a third fantasy gamebook, for 1989 publication.  He has also published a book on the tarot and is currently working on a 160-page fantasy RPG scenario book, other game products and articles, and one or two other writing projects.  Carl reports he has to repaint the letters E, R, I, O, and H on his word processor keyboard as they have disappeared with use.

Dungeon #15 (Jan/Feb 1989)

Sargent wrote B11 "King's Festival" (Jun 1989) and B12 "Queen's Harvest" (Nov 1989), as well as DDA3 "Eye of Traldar" (1991) set within the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

He also contributed PC2 "Top Ballista" (Nov 1989) and GAZ13 "The Shadow Elves" (1990; with Gary Thomas) to the BECMI/Known World line.

He is perhaps best known for "From the Ashes" (1992) and "Night Below: An Underdark Campaign" (1995) for AD&D 2e.

*          *          *

Sargent vanished from the RPG industry in 1995 (see "The Mysterious Disappearance of Carl Sargent").  He passed away in 2018.


The adventure takes place during summer in a "temperate area of farms, plains, and light forests",

A specific location within the Lands and Environs of the D&D Wilderness is not given.

New Monsters:

Grey Philosopher.  Illustration by Bob Giadrosich.

4 monsters from AC9: Creature Catalogue are used:

Gakarak (from DA3 "City of the Gods"; subsequently appearing in DA4); Grey Philosopher; Possession; Sacrol (from M2 "Maze of the Riddling Minotaur"; subsequently appearing in X9)

Staff of Shrivening:

A highly evil staff +2 which strikes victims for 2-12 +2 hp damage (2-12 +4 hp damage against a Lawful opponent).  On any hit, the victim must Save vs. Spells or be affected by one of the following effects (roll 1d6): paralysis for one turn (1-3), mummy rot (4-5), energy drain (6).  If a natural 20 is rolled, the victim is drained of two experience levels (as if hit by a spectre).

The staff also has powers of summoning and controlling undead, but these are determined in part by how, where, and by whom it is used.