Saturday, May 27, 2023

B10: Night's Dark Terror

B10 "Night's Dark Terror" (1986) by Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher is a Basic/Expert "transition" adventure for character levels 2-4.

Module B10 "Night's Dark Terror" (1986) by Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher.  Cover illustration by Brian Williams.

Creative Team:

"Night's Dark Terror" represents an all-star collaboration between Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher of the TSR UK Design Team.

Cartography was by Geoff Wingate (who previously used the pseudonym Paul Ruiz), with interior black-and-white illustrations by Helen Bedford.

Pat Whitehead, Matt Connell, Helen Freeman, Stuart Bonham, and Steve Waters were credited as playtesters (as in previous UK modules).

Acknowledgements included Luke Renouf, Don Turnbull, Tom Kirby, and Dawn Buxton, with a special thanks to Harold Johnston for his invaluable assistance.

Design Origins:

Bruce Heard asked, "So Jim, could you tell us how B10 Night's Dark Terror came about?  What was your experience working on this adventure?"

Night's Dark Terror was designed to bridge the transition of the Basic Set to the Expert Set. It's goal was to introduce wilderness adventuring in an easy and fun way that would lead players on a clear quest without forcing them down pre-defined paths. The story would drive the players forward as they followed the clues that eventually leads them to the Lost Valley.

At TSR UK we'd already written adventures for the D&D game. Graeme Morris had designed X8 Drums on Fire Mountain and CM6 Where Chaos Reigns. I'd cut my teeth on O2 Blade of Vengeance. All three games featured wilderness exploration, so we were well versed in what we needed to do. “Design a great adventure that players would love.” Little did I think that gamers would still be playing it almost 30 years later!

Design work was shared between Graeme and myself, with Phil Gallagher involved in many of the brainstorming sessions. I can't exactly remember who did what, but Graeme designed Sukiskyn and the goblin siege; I worked on the Iron Ring and the wilderness encounters, as well as the journey up to Hutaaka and the Lost Valley itself. Having said that it was not that clearly demarcated. Graeme's and my design work is pretty much intermingled throughout. As ideas were shared on this project, the text wasn't always written by the person who had the original idea. Overall, B10 was a collaborative project that was great fun to work on.

We also had the opportunity to add the large-scale map of Sukiskyn and the cardboard counters. I was particularly pleased with this as it matches my style of play of using maps and miniatures to keep track of the players and NPCs.

Jim Bambra, as quoted on Facebook (September 24, 2015)

The Adventure:

The PCs have travelled north along the Volaga river* from Krakatos to the town of Kelven, "a thriving frontier town that has grown up rapidly".

*the Volaga is referred to as the Highreach in "The Fall of the Black Eagle" war machine scenario, in the D&D Companion Set (1984) rulebook

Illustration by Helen Bedford

The adventure is divided into seven parts:

I. Siege at Sukiskyn
The adventurers must defend a homestead from goblin raiders during an overnight siege.  A large fold-out map of the homestead and cardboard counters are provided.

II. South of the River
A short hexcrawl involving three goblin lairs in the Dymrak forest, an island in the Lake of Lost Dreams, an orc lair in the mountains, and three ancient burial mounds.

III. Ruins of Xitaqa
The ruins of an ancient Hutaakan settlement, now inhabited by a goblin clan.  The central tower is occupied by a magic-user with knowledge of the Lost Valley.

IV. Journey to Threshold
The PCs make their way to Threshold, passing the small elven village of Rifflian along the way.  They are harried by members of the Iron Ring slavers.

V. Threshold
A grittier, expanded version of the town created by Frank Mentzer, as originally described in the D&D Expert Set (1983) rulebook.

VI. Towards the Black Peaks
The party travels north from Threshold, along the valley of the Foamfire river, through lands claimed by gnolls.

VII. The Lost Valley of Hutaaka
The adventure concludes in the Lost Valley, where remnants of the ancient race of jackal-headed Hutaakans war against the human Traldar, their former slaves.

Illustration by Helen Bedford.

"Night's Dark Terror" could follow modules B11 "King's Festival"/B12 "Queen's Harvest" or DDA3 "Eye of Traldar"/DDA4 "The Dymrak Dread" using GAZ 1 "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos".

The adventure could alternately be used in a B/X Karameikos campaign, for PCs from Luln, following "The Haunted Keep" and B6 "The Veiled Society".

In the latter case, the adventure could be run as is, or the DM might only want to use the Ruins of Xitaqa and the Lost Valley of Hutaaka, eliminating human settlements for a wilder feel.

Eastern Karameikos:

Map of Eastern Karameikos, from B10 "Night's Dark Terror"


A map of Eastern Karameikos is included (scale: 1 hex = 3 miles), which differs from the map in the D&D Expert Set rulebook in several ways:
  • trails are changed to paths and roads (a main road to Selenica, a minor road to Threshold)
  • the addition of the elven village of Rifflian
  • a change in the road from Kelven to Threshold, with a road from the gnomes ferry to Rifflian (there could still be an "old, unused trail" from Kelven to Rifflian)
  • the addition of the ruins of Xitaqa
  • the addition of the Syereb river and the Lake of Lost Dreams

Modified map of the D&D Expert Set (1983) rulebook depicting Eastern Karameikos with labels from module B10 "Night's Dark Terror"

Note that the suggested locations for modules B2 and B3 in "The Lands and Environs of the D&D Wilderness" are not included on either map.  The suggested location for the Keep on the Borderlands is covered, with no road or trail leading to the location, and the Valley of Haven is not indicated.  Both of these modules were retconned into Karameikos, and while B2 could work (although a better location would be on the Volaga river), the Valley of Haven is much better suited to its original location in northwest Glantri.

Ancient History of Karameikos:

The module introduces the jackal-headed Hutaakans and their deity Pflarr.  Their empire originated in the Lost Valley and eventually spread over northern and eastern Karameikos, dominating the Traldar, a primitive human tribe.

The Iron Ring:

The Iron Ring slavers are based out of the Black Eagle Barony.  Adventurers tracking the organization to its source might uncover an international slave network, leading into the A series (see "Setting modules A1-4/Slave Lords in the Gulf of Hule"

The Calendar:

Karameikan calendar, from B10 "Night's Dark Terror"

The module introduces a 12-month, 360-day calendar, with a 28 day lunar cycle, and 7 days per week (adjusted to a 336-day calendar, with 28-days per month in Gaz 1 "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos").

The DM's section includes a description of the Mediterranean-type climate, with a table covering the effects of weather (with rules for different types of rainfall and wind).

There is also a useful section with game mechanics for bargaining.

D&D Master Set:

Module B10 was published a year after the D&D Master Set, and includes mention of the rules.

It suggests using ability-based saving throw modifiers, as described in the D&D Master Set rulebook, and also incorporates rules for non-human spell-casters (the gnoll shaman) and undead lieges and pawns (the special ghouls in the Lost Valley) from the Master Set.

New Monsters:

Kartoeba "The Thing in the Pit"

Chevall, Hutaakan (Jackal-man); Ice Wolf,* Kartoeba "The Thing in the Pit", Living Statues (Silver, Rock/Ooze, Jade, Steel); Lizard, Giant Foot-pad; Piranha; Rock Rattler; Shroud Spider; Traldar (Humans); Wyrd

*similar to the Hound of Kerenos (White Dwarf #18 Apr/May 1980), inspired by Michael Moorcock's "The Bull and the Spear"

Further Adventures:

Suggestions for additional adventures include:
The Death's Head Gnolls
Sukiskyn Calls
Threshold (The House; Revenge)
The Hutaakans
To the Aid of the Gnomes
Iron Ring


Module B10 "Night's Dark Terror" is a PG-13 version of the sample wilderness and home town introduced in the D&D Expert Set (1983) rulebook, although can be run as darker still.

In theme and tone, the module is much closer to B4 "The Lost City" by Tom Moldvay, than any of the other B-series modules, and would work well in a B/X Karameikos campaign.

Aaron Allston drew heavily upon the module's vision of Karameikos in writing Gaz 1 "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos", published the following year.


  1. It's a module that I keep forgetting to look out for or purchase in PDF. It is also one that I remember seeing badged as B/X1 or X/B1 back in the day. I didn't see it designated as B10 until I returned to the hobby in 2017.

    1. It's a great module - yes, the UK version had a "B/X1" sticker over the B10 code on the cover, according to the Acaeum.