Sunday, December 11, 2016

Retro Commentary On The Reskinning Of X3 Curse of Xanathon By Douglas Niles For Expert Dungeons and Dragons & Your Old School Campaigns

An evil curse, a city state in crisis, riches for plunder, weird happenings in the city state, rumors of war, & blood waiting to be split  out in the desert, is this really X3 Curse of Xanathon By Douglas Niles? Well, yes and no actually as we'll see in a moment.

I've been going over my notes today from last year when I ran X3 Curse of Xanathon for some friends. I must apologize because I gutted that entire module but kept the basic adventure  locations, backgrounds, some NPC's but changed quite a bit. The basic plot goes something like this "When the grotesque god Cretia casts his ugly shadow over the town, strange things start happening. First, Duke Stephen vanishes. Then bizarre proclamations begin coming out the Ducal Palace - dwarves are outlawed, taxes must be paid in beer, horses must be ridden backwards. Soon the entire town is in an uproar, and a Dwarven army is marching on Rhoona. This is the situation when you and your party of valiant adventurers arrive in the suffering town."
So begins the tag line for the Curse of Xanathon another module that I played through and DMed back in the Eighties
There you find any number of oddities:
  • A ragged beggar who prowls the streets offering cryptic advice;
  • A mysterious black-garbed cleric planning treachery;
  • A trusted soldier plotting his master's overthrow; and
  • A sinister jewel casting its evil emanations over the town.
You and your party are Rhoona's only hope. Only you can unravel the dark mystery that plagues the town and save Rhoona from the Curse of Xanathon.
I ran this using the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea engine. It went down quite nicely.
I've run it in the past straight but you really need a lot of fighters to do this one justice. The reason is simple, you need to protect the one dwarf, one  wizard and an elf , two  thieves or more. Because this is a module that requires certain skill sets to navigate the puzzles and what not. This adventure is a rail roader's dream with a priest who happens to be one of the biggest pains in the ass as a villain. There's a ton of melodrama, political intrigue, & a good plot hook with the ruler of Rhoona going a bit nuts. We get details on details for the Kingdom of Vestland and then some details on  Rockhome the city's Dwarves who play a major part in the plot of X3 all of the way through out the adventure.

Well the first thing to do with X3 is to bump up the random encounters to have a much more sword & sorcery theme so lots of bandits, ghouls, mutants, some berserks, wolves, cultists, and more. What I really want to do is to expand the idea of a trade city along the Russian/Chinese border sometime around an alternative world 1400's or possibly 1500's with The Dwarves of Rockhome have gunpowder & use wheelock guns. I'm keeping this idea of "The Dwarves become a small rock dwelling race of magickally mutated humanoids who serve as masons, craft people and magicians for the city state. They were the creations of the Elder Things in days long past made from the blood & maggots of Ymir. "
Somehow I want to take X3 just a bit further into the weird zone what's actually happening in desert parts of Curse of Xanathon? Well everything is better with a bit of Robert Howard so let's focus on The Fire of Asshurbanipal for a moment.

Written in 1936 it focuses on two of Howard's heroes facing down a tribe of desert raiders as they are on a treasure hunt for the 'The Fire of Asshurbanipal'. Kirby O’Donnell, and his companion, the Afghan Yar Ali are heroes straight out of Indiana Jones & come face to face with the Lovecraft mythos ala Robert Howard's twist. Its well written, it flies across the page, & by Cthulhu there's a ton to mine from here.

Because of X3 clash of faiths the motives are there for a dangerous chaos cult to begin to rise back into power. The motivators are there to get the ball rolling for Adventurer, Conqueror, King and its a perfect opportunity to use Dark Albion's Cults of Chaos to generate background, material, spells, etc. for the Cult of The Forgotten King Asshurbanipal! You can download the

for free from the Internet Archive.

There are at least four or more reasons to take into some of the basic elements of X3 Curse of Xanathon. Religion, politic, magick, and more are at the heart of this adventure but I want a far more pulpy center to it. We'll get into why tomorrow.

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