Saturday, September 24, 2022

X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield

X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985) by Michael S. Dobson is a D&D adventure for character levels 10-14.  The epic finale to the "Desert Nomads" series, the module was released two years after X4 "Master of the Desert Nomads" and X5 "Temple of Death".

Module X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985) by Michael Dobson.  Cover illustration by Jeff Easley, from the 1985 Dragonlance Calendar

The module contains almost no original artwork, (apart from illustrations for the Master* and his second-in-command, Alrethus, by Colton Mac).

*the illustration of the Master is clearly modelled after Ayatollah Khomeini, which even back in 1985 struck me as being in questionable taste

The cover illustration is from "The Epic Quest" by Jeff Easley, originally appearing as the centerfold piece in the 1985 Dragonlance Calendar.*

*also used for the vinyl gatefold in "First Quest – The Music" (1985), the Penguin Books edition of Dragons of Autumn Twilight (1986) by Tracy Hickman & Margaret Weis, and in Chapter 5 "Combat" of the 2e Battlesystem Miniatures Rules (1989)

Interior illustrations include engravings from the Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature, and Art (1851) vol. 1 and vol. 2, or are from XSOLO "Lathan's Gold" (pg. 2), X3 "Curse of Xanathon" (pg. 10), or B4 "The Lost City" (pg. 33).

The Invasion of Akesoli:

The adventure begins in the city of Akesoli, as the characters are finishing breakfast at an inn.

A "Chase Flow Chart" is provided for Akesoli, rather than a traditional city map, although the circles on the chart aren't labeled (I assigned the letters in the Location Chart to the circles on the flow chart from left to right, top to bottom).

Tactical map of the Continent, for War Machine rules, from X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield".  Cartography by Dennis Kauth.

The map of the Continent includes several new cities, including the capitals of Atruaghin, the Five Shires ("Shireton"), Ethengar, Rockhome ("Dengar"), and Alfheim.

The port city of Athenos in Darokin is also new.

The tent city of Sayr Ulan "sprang up virtually overnight, with people pitching tents and building crude, makeshift homes wherever they could find an unoccupied piece of land."

Two villages on the map of "The Lands and Environs of the D&D Wilderness" in the revised Expert rulebook (1983) are named:  "Kobos" in Ierendi, and "Stahl" in Rockhome.

The Realms of The Continent:

"Red Arrow, Black Shield" provides new information on many of the lands in the B/X continental setting, some of which was later used in the Gazetteer line (1987-1991) in various shape or form.

The Principalities of Glantri

Three Glantrian princes serve on the High Council of State:  Prince Jherek (chairman), Prince Jaggar, and Princess Carlotina (described as 18th level magic-users).*

*Prince Jherek is a 27th level magic-user, Prince Jaggar is a 30th level magic-user, and Princess Carlotina is a 10th level elf in GAZ 3 "The Principalities of Glantri" (1987) by Bruce Heard

These three and five others are named on the army unit rosters: Prince Jherek,* Prince Morphail,* Prince Brannart,* Prince Volospin, Princess Carlotina, Prince Jaggar, Prince Vanserie, and Princess Carnelia.

*names from "Elric at the End of Time" (1983) by Michael Moorcock

The High Council may be persuaded to ally with Darokin if the PCs perform 1-3 quests for the council, suggesting up to one quest for each council member.

(We used "The Wizard in the Woods", an adventure for character levels 8-11 in AC 10 "Bestiary of Dragons and Giants", as a quest for Princess Carlotina.)

Interestingly, module X2 "Castle Amber" isn't name-checked, in keeping with Stephen Amber's period of self-imposed exile, described in "Mark of Amber".

Atruaghin Clans

The DM is encouraged to "use American Indian customs as a guide to handling relations with the Atruaghin Clans".

Seven different clans are named on the army unit rosters: the Bear,* Horse,* Tiger,* Wolf, Boar, Sea Turtle,* and Elk* clans.

*further described in GAZ 14 "The Atruaghin Clans" (1991) by William W. Connors

The Five Shires

The five sheriffs are named:  Fosco, Saradas, Melilot, Holfast, and Madoc (described as 8th level halflings).*

*different names are given in GAZ 8 "The Five Shires" (1988) by Ed Greenwood

A forgotten, desecrated, ruin of a Grecian-style* temple is described "approximately 10 miles from the halfling capital, in a gnarley wood."

*of possible Milenian origin

Grand Duchy of Karameikos

King Stefan Karameikos the Third (a 15th level fighter), Baron Ludwig "Black Eagle" von Hendriks (a 12th level fighter), and Bargle the Infamous (a 15th level magic-user) are described.*

*the same levels, with similar ability scores, as in GAZ 1 "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" (1987) by Aaron Allston

A military confrontation between Duke Stefan and Baron Ludwig using Battlesystem rules determines whether the Grand Duchy will ally with Darokin or side with the Master.

GAZ 1 describes a similar conflict, under "The Black Eagle Banner", although sets modules X4, X5, and X10 two hundred years in the future, stating:

Though X10 indicates that Duke Stefan III is still on the throne and Ludwig “Black Eagle" von Hendriks still his enemy at this time, this is an error.  In actuality the ruler of the Duchy is now Archduke Stefan Karameikos VI, and the Black Eagle Barony is ruled by Ludwig's linear and temperamentally similar dcscendent Wilhelm von Hendriks.

GAZ 1 "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" (1987)

Allston later explains that module X10 "...was originally written for the current day, but later pushed further ahead in the chronology because of the massive changes that the war described would create."

He goes on to state "If you don’t mind dealing with these changes, then you can run X10 {and its predecessors, X4 and X5) in the current day— but be prepared to allow for massive political alterations as this "First World War" is waged and concluded."

In fact, this is exactly what Allston suggests in "Wrath of the Immortals: The Immortals' Fury" (1992), in which the Master invades five years into the Gazetteer timeline:

This is a good opportunity for the DM to dig out his or her old copy of X10: Red Arrow, Black Shield and play it out.  With some adjustments, the whole module could be run without too much trouble.

Wrath of the Immortals: The Immortals' Fury (1992)

(A war between "Archdule" Stefan Karameikos and Baron Ludwig "Black Eagle" von Hendriks also serves as the basis for sample War Machine scenarios in "The Fall of the Black Eagle" adventure in the D&D Companion Set (1984) edited by Frank Mentzer.)

From left to right: Elkhorn the dwarf, Strongheart the fighter, Mercion the cleric, Peralay the elf, Ringlerun the magic-user, and Figgen the halfling.  Source: AC1 "The Shady Dragon Inn" (1984) by Carl Smith.  Artwork by Timothy Truman, Jeff Easley, and Larry Elmore

Kingdom of Ierendi

Dobson uses characters based on the AD&D Action Figures produced by LJN Toys, as described in AC 1 "The Shady Dragon Inn" (1984) and featured in XL1 "Quest for the Heartstone" (1984):

The current monarchs of Ierendi are the elderly King Strongheart and Queen Mercion, whose quest for the fabled Heartstone is legendary.  Their court consists of other famous adventurers, their companions during many years of questing, including the dwarf Elkhorn, the wizard Ringleron, the elf Peralay, and the halfling Figgen, all of whom are now in retirement.

X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985)

The Council of Lords is presently comprised of Lord Meikros, Lord Karibus, and Lord Seilus.

Minrothad Guilds

Two additional Expert-level modules are mentioned:

Since the PCs are in Minrothad, you can take this opportunity to run X7, War Rafts of Kron or X8, Drums on Fire Mountain, both of which begin in the Minrothad Guilds.  The PCs can impress the Council by successfully completing these adventures.

X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985)

Module X7 "War Rafts of Kron" involves the rescue of the Ierendi Princess Corinna, (presumably the daughter of King Strongheart and Queen Mercion).

Module X8 actually starts in Thyatis City, not the Minrothad Guilds.

Empire of Thyatis

Thincol the Brave (a 36th level fighter) is the current Emperor of Thyatis.*

*Thincol was introduced in module CM1 "Test of the Warlords" (1984) by Douglas Niles (pg. 4) and a link to the module as a sequel to X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield" is suggested

Emirate of Ylarum

The Emir of Ylarum* is Ali Ben Faisal.  His Grand Vizier is Osman Ben Alyoob.

*consistently spelled "Ylarum" as opposed to "Ylaruam"

A single emirate is described, rather than a confederation of six emirates as in GAZ 2 "The Emirates of Ylaruam" (1987) by Ken Rolston.

Kingdom of Vestland, Kingdom of Ostland, and the Soderfjord Jarldoms

The encounters "The Trial of Combat" and "Dueling Flagons" are more in keeping with descriptions of these states in module X1 "The Isle of Dread" (1981) by David Cook and Tom Moldvay, than in module X3 "Curse of Xanathon" (1982) by Douglas Niles.

The king for either Vestland or Ostland is given as Gustav,* while the jarl of Soderfjord is presumably Olaf, since the army unit rosters for the Soderfjord Jarldoms are named "Olaf's Brigade", "Sven's Brigade", "Harald's Brigade", and "Ragnar's Brigade".

*I used King Gustav in "The Trial of Combat" for Ostland, since my PCs had previously completed module X3 "Curse of Xanathon" set in Vestland

Ethengar Khanate

Chanai (a 14th level fighter) is described as "a great warrior who seeks to become Khan of All the Ethengar".


The ruler of Rockhome, also known as High King Under the Mountain, is named Everest.*

*changed to "Everast" in "The Dwarves of Rockhome" (1988) by Aaron Allston

Camp of the Frost Giants.  A Battlesystem game scenario from module X10 "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985) by Michael Dobson.

A Battlesystem* game scenario pitting dwarves against frost giants is described, which my group actually played using Battlesystem rules and counters, when I ran X10.

*Dobson was editor for the Battlesystem (1985) rules, designed by Douglas Niles


The ruler of Alfheim is King Doriath.

The tomb of the legendary King Alevar is described, also containing the vaults of Queen Cerin and Prince Alecerin, the son of King Alevar and Queen Cerin, who "tragically died trying to rescue an elven princess from marauding ores."

Heldann Freeholds

Army unit rosters for the Freeholders of Heldann are included, although without an accompanying section in the text.


Although it's stated on page 2 that "An assortment of pre-generated characters is provided in this adventure." none are included.

The Generic City Chase Flow Chart on page 5 isn't labelled.

Army Unit Rosters for the Freeholders of Heldann are included on page 48, without an accompanying section in the text.

Number of Units is given as 11 on the Order of Battle for the Allied Expeditionary Force on the inside cover, but only 9 are listed (units for Minrothad and Ostland are missing).

No comments:

Post a Comment