Saturday, February 4, 2023

B8: Journey to the Rock

B8 "Journey to The Rock" (1984) by Michael Malone is a wilderness adventure culminating in a climactic set-piece encounter, for character levels 1-3.

Module B8 "Journey to The Rock" (1984) by Michael Malone.  Cover illustration by Larry Elmore.

The party is hired to discover the secret of The Rock, which includes recovering one piece of a two-part magical talisman.

Eight pregens with mini-bios are provided, also suitable for use as a handy roster of NPCs.

Players' Map to The Rock.  Cartography by David S. LaForce.

The trail to The Rock splits into three different paths, hearkening back to its origins as a tournament scenario.

The adventure is difficult for a group of 1st level characters to complete, and better suited for 2nd or 3rd level characters.

About the Author:

Malone won second place in TSR's second International Dungeon Design Contest (IDDC II) in 1980 with "The Wandering Trees" published in Dragon #57 (January 1982).

He drops off the radar after 1984, coinciding with TSR's mass layoffs around the same time.  I've been unable to track down any subsequent online presence or gaming credits.

The Rock:

Devils Tower in Wyoming.  Photo by Pattys-photos/Flickr

When I saw a photograph of Devils Tower a few years ago, I wondered if Larry Elmore might have drawn inspiration from the national monument for his cover illustration.


There is a section on "Placing the Area on the D&D Expert Maps", which suggests either the Grand Duchy of Karameikos* or the Repubilc of Darokin in the Lands and Environs of the D&D Wilderness Map #2 in the Mentzer Expert rulebook.

*one of the two locations suggested for the Grand Duchy of Karameikos is actually in the Five Shires (in the Cruth Mountains, on the river northwest of Wereskalot)

Of the three suggested locations, my preference is north of Lake Amsorak, in the Republic of Darokin, since the Grand Duchy of Karameikos is already well developed, although the adventure wasn't originally intended for the Mystara setting.

Further Adventures:

Malone's map encapsulates a complete micro-setting, packed within a 19 x 14 mile area.  The level of detail suggests a basis in his own personal campaign world.

The City of Tuma

An ancient city, which disappeared, centuries ago.  Its mysterious buildings, some of them hundreds of feet tall, lack any doors or windows.

Looking for the Ocean

This hook suggests "a series of light-hearted, humorous adventures" as the lead-in to modules X1, X6, X7, or X8 (none of which are light-hearted or humorous).

Adventures with the Chameleon Men

The basis for a subterranean adventure, as a possible introduction to the Underdark.

Using Optional Encounters

Side adventures involving the elves of Sylvanhome, the dwarves of the Krayzen Mountains, or the gnomes of the Barkel Mountains.

The Horror of Lake Neshonan

A "Loch Ness"-type monster is terrorizing the area.

Strangely, the adventure does not provide suggestions for locating the other half of the magical talisman (which I presume is shaped like a capital M).

The Ghostly Horde of Tuma.  Illustration by Doug Watson.

New Monsters:

Chameleon Man, Winged Warrior, Rock Man, Sand Spider, Water Weird,* Ghostly Horde,** Crone of Chaos

*also appearing in RPGA1/B7 "Rahasia"; created by Ernie Gygax, as mentioned in the preface to the AD&D 1e Monster Manual (1977)

**reminiscent of the phantom army of Lothar in "Thuvia, Maid of Mars" (1916; 1920) by Edgar Rice Burroughs, as discussed in this thread on the Piazza in 2017

Mystery Origins:

According to the supermodule "In Search of Adventure" (1987), the module was based on a one-round tournament scenario, with three different trails to the Rock.

Malone might have designed his adventure for a con in San Diego in the early 1980s.  I've noted similarities with an earlier tournament scenario, as posted on Dragonsfoot back in 2015, here.


The module was brilliantly lampooned in Something Awful (July 22, 2010).

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