All of these articles serve as a mini source book for "The Ruins of Andril" was written and designed by Ian Melluish, & published in Dragon Magazine #81 (January 1984) as the winner of the Dungeon Design Content (category A-3, a dungeon adventure for 4-8 AD&D PCs of levels 8-11 ) announced in Dragon #65 (September 1982). This is an Egyptian themed & styled dungeon with several interesting features to it.
Not only does the dungeon have a central Egyptian theme but the set up is pure golden age of Dragon magazine all of the way; "At the entrance to a mountain pass, surrounded by tropical forests and tilled fields, is the tiny village of Ruatha. Lying on the end of a local trade road, Ruatha offers little to most adventurers. There are rumors, however, that beyond the mountains lie the ruins of an ancient city, surrounded by desert waste. As with all such ruins, tales circulate of great treasures to be found there. The problem is, according to these tales, that the treasure is only available once every two years for reasons no one knows. Rumor has it that the time is now at hand for the ruins to be entered again. These rumors note that few have ever returned from the ruins, most treasure-seekers instead becoming trapped within them. The adventurers are assumed to have arrived in Ruatha at the start of this scenario. They may have arrived separately or together, and may cooperate as a group or compete in a race to get to the ruins and whatever treasure lies within them. No one knows what dangers are ahead, but the adventurers are among the most powerful there are in this land; if anyone can get into the ruins and out of them again, they can."
Yes "The Ruins of Andril" not only revels in the ancient world theme but also gives the players a base to adventure from in the form of the tiny village of Ruatha; "The village of Ruatha The adult population of Ruatha numbers scarcely more than 100, with four times as many children. Farming is the major occupation. The village has only one inn, of low quality and exorbitant prices. Because Ruatha is a closely knit community, newcomers will be immediately obvious as such to everyone. Villagers will watch everything the party does, spreading gossip about them daily. The first thing all villagers will think (correctly) is that the adventurers are here to find out about the ruins beyond the mountains. Adventurers may find it disconcerting that everyone seems to know so much about their business. Worse still, the villagers will try to make ridiculous profits from talking to the adventurers, as detailed below." Yes the villagers are out to exploit the adventurers for every dime part of the life blood of Ruatha is the ruins of Andril themselves. Not only is the "The Ruins of Andril" was written and designed by Ian Melluish very well done but it could be used as a gate way adventure into I3 Pharaoh By Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman! Everything is there to really stir the pot of Egyptian themed old school adventure.
"The Ruins of Andril" has everything a down & dirty table top level game adventure needs from memorable traps, lots of mid level traps & tricks, plus all of the old world action a party of adventurers can handle. The elements here could converge into an entire mini campaign? Yes I think so the adventure handles its encounters with a deft hand. But why add in I3 Pharaoh By Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman well there are several reasons why including the positive press & review it recieved in Space Gamer; "Harley Bates reviewed the Daystar West edition of the adventure in The Space Gamer No. 54. He commented that "It's a nice break from standard ongoing campaigns, and gives both players and judges attainable goals in shorter steps." Bates added that "The inhabitants of the tomb are far from the ordinary fare and provide the players and the judge with fascinating role-playing. There are many clues and puzzles scattered throughout the adventure. All in all, it's a very tightly-woven adventure which should be enjoyable for all involved." He criticized that "The only real flaw is that there are too many typographical errors. Most of the play supplements available today suffer from this. Couldn't designers and publishers spend just a little more time proofreading?" Bates concluded his review by stating: "Given the overall quality we are presented in this product, the typos can be overlooked [...] It's a great buy, considering the time, effort, and thought evident throughout."
This attention to detail as well as the play through makes the whole affair seem ideal suited to each other.
So could "The Ruins of Andril" written and designed by Ian Melluish, be used with OSR systems & retroclones?! In a wild ride sort of way this isn't any thing new. If we used Venger Satanis's latest effort Cha'alt then we get a very wild ride indeed. The map of Cha'alt reveals something very interesting, the areas of the map support Venger Satanis's opinion that the megadungeon module's setting could be used to house the "The Ruins of Andril".
The S'kbah is the perfect location to house the Sea of Dust & the secrets of the "The Ruins of Andril". The roving gangs, the odd mutant horrors, the weird occasions of the Great Old Ones all point to situation where in the world of Cha'alt could house fantastic treasures & relics beyond imagining.
But that's just it Cha'alt isn't simply a mega dungeon but a highly adaptable source book & mega dungeon setting. I'm going to quietly be weaving & dropping its seeds into my upcoming game adventures as we start heading into the Autumn season. "The Ruins of Andril" feels very Hammer horror to me & makes me think of the Hammer horror classics especially 'Blood From The Mummy's Tomb'.
Cha'alt has this gonzo & Weird Tales vibe going for it & I'm not the only dungeon master noticing this. Vincent Florio The Evil DM has also taken quite the shine to Cha'lt as well.
Cha'alt reminds me of the classic gonzo setting where slipping anything into the module isn't gonna break. He man, Conan, Martians, etc. could all crop up on this world making Cha'lt and not even make a ripple in the weirdness of the adventure. This means that "The Ruins of Andril" is easily gonna fit the bill for a high level but dangerous adventure in the old school style. More on this as the campaign develops!