Thursday, October 12, 2017

OSR Commentary - Echoes From The Desert With The Dungeons & Dragons Adventure B4 'The Lost City' By Tom Moldvey

"Lost in the desert! The only hope for survival lies in a ruined city rising out of the sands. Food, water, and wealth await heroic adventures inside and ancient pyramid ruled by a strange race of masked beings"I have used & abused B4 The Lost City adventure & its inhabitants  for years now a venerable pulp  module created by Tom Moldvay.  ""The Lost City" (1982) was the first adventure written entirely for the second edition Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1981). No surprise, then, that it was written by the author of that set, Tom Moldvay. "


Today I've been thinking about specifically adapting this module as perhaps a starter to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition as an introductory module. There are several reasons but specifically because this is  an instantly classic TSR module with an solid base as an introduction & its easily placed within the confines of the Diamond desert.


 

Today I've been thinking about specifically adapting this module as perhaps a starter to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition as an introductory module. There are several reasons but specifically because this is  an instantly classic TSR module with an solid base as an introduction & its easily placed within the confines of the Diamond desert.
As an introduction to the AS&SH setting B4 The Lost City serves several functions within the confines of the TSR classic adventure. First of all the inhabitants, factions, etc. of the underground Cynidiceans and their hungry god, Zargon make perfect stand ins for the Hyperboreans of AS&SH. The whole sale DYI dungeon aspect of B4's dungeons, rooms, etc. & there are a lot of them are perfect places to introduce the newer weird monsters of second edition AS&SH. Because B4 is an introductory adventure it can be used as a stand in for the infamous Hyperborean vaults from the time of the 'Green Death'.


This basically gives the perfect excuse to try out the newer mummy types from the new second edition mummies and undead sections which might make very interesting & challenging priests of Zargon. This adds an interesting twist to many of the factions presented in B4. These factions suddenly go from silly to deadly in a quick flip of the dice. But there are several other things going on here.

Priest of Zargon

B4 done the right way can take six characters from   1st  through 4th level easily setting the PC's up for further adventures. These PC's are going to be exposed to a major boss fight in B4 The Lost City & it could be defining moment in their adventuring careers. I've seen B4 described as a Robert Howard Red Nails style adventure. Although there are aspects of this I think that B4 contains many of the classic elements of pulp magazines. Weird factions, strange ideologies, and the potential for lots of customization. B4 is the perfect module to stick a lich or other high level undead monster as a vile villain.


One of the things that I've done with B4 in the past couple of years is use its environs as the final resting place of 
Ymir’s Serpent from 'The Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes.' This adventure is pretty well set up to deal well with this sort of a situation. This is one of those adventure that can be easily adapted to your own style of play.

"Somewhere in the depths of Diamond Desert lie the skeletal remains of Ymir’s Serpent, a legendary Viking longship. In days of yore, Sigtrygg Forkbeard led his company upriver, piercing the desert’s hostile heart. There the Vikings unearthed a lost mine brimming with green diamonds, but the River ├ćolus desiccated as the Serpent prepared for launch, and the ship was swallowed by the dunes. Forkbeard and his company were never seen again, but tales of a shimmering Viking ghost ship gliding over the dunes persist to this day."


 


Many of the aspects of 'Ghost Ship of the Desert Dunes' fit the adventure triangle trouble of balancing encounters verses real potential for acting like a fulcrum to get the PC's on the ladder for PC advancement. Add in the factional elements & there's the potential for a pulptastic good time. This is a good & solid classic module with the potential to push it over the edge into OSR greatness. The right combination of players & dungeon master can make this happen.



The Diamond Desert is outright strange, brutal, and highly dangerous as described in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. Because this second  edition fills in so many gaps there is still plenty of room for customization on the DM's part. Weird monsters and dangerous circumstances are all a part of the creative DNA of B4 'The Lost City'  add in the Diamond Desert aspect of a nasty and dangerous angle & its perfect material to really bring home the pulpy and dangerous aspects of this classic module.

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