Monday, September 30, 2013

Quick Commentary On S3 'Expedition To The Barrier Peaks' Adventure

There are few modules that say 'Old School First Edition AD&D' as much as this module. No other module is as popular or polarizes the DM's and players as much as this one.
Why? Because of the science fictional elements in this one and it happens to be one my all time favorite modules almost hands down.
The plot according to wiki: 
"It takes place on a downed spaceship; the ship's crew has died of an unspecified disease, but functioning robots and strange creatures still inhabit the ship. The player characters fight monsters and robots, and gather the futuristic weapons and colored access cards that are necessary for advancing the story" 

Delving further into the back story as it takes place in the world of Greyhawk : 

"In the adventure's introduction, it is explained that the Grand Duchy of Geoff is under constant attack by a succession of monsters that have been emerging from a cave in the mountains. The Grand Duke of Geoff has hired the characters to discover the origin of the creatures, and stop their incursions."
I've had a conversation with friends this evening about this module and I have very fond memories about it. Both playing it as a player and running it as a dungeon master. This module has everything you could want from a science fantasy module. Everything from James Ward Gamma World to Gary Gygax in full fun house mode. 
Did I mention Veggie Pygmies? Androids, robots, power armor, laser pistols, mind flayers and need I go on. 

This module introduces a possible other worldly origin for many of the usual AD&D monster suspects including 'Mind Flayer' but as we've seen in the pages of Dragon this is perhaps one possible explanation for its origins. That wonderful monster goes back all the way to S&T magazine.
Lets not get into the frog mouth and that damn rabitoid on the stump that killed poor 'Gregory The Just' my 8th level paladin. 

Further Thoughts and Notes on Expedition 

 I ran this bad boy a little while back HERE  & tonight talking with players over at my house this evening they want me to run this one again. So I would say a big yes to it being relevant.
There are a few things I've got from tonight's conversation along with comments :
  1. This module was released along with others in the 'S' series - Which according to wiki - 'In 1980, the updated version was published as Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. At the time of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks's release, each Dungeons & Dragons module was marked with an alphanumeric code indicating the series to which it belonged.[10] The 32-page adventure bears the code S3 ("S" for "special").
    When Metamorphosis Alpha was updated and expanded into Gamma World, it seemed the right time for Gygax to reintroduce Expedition to the Barrier Peaks to the public. Said Gygax, "What could be more logical than to make available a scenario which blends the two role playing approaches into a single form?"[5]:2 Gygax updated the scenario to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules, hoping it could serve as a primer on how to integrate science into one's fantasy role playing game
    Basically this module could be run if one were to alter it back to back with say either Gamma World or Metamorphis Alpha First Edition allowing one to use the events prior to the crash and after said crash to do a sort of strange Mayfair Keep adventure. The players playing both roles to give a total history of the Warden. 
  2. Look I loath Wiz Bros with all of my being but they did release a very cool map of the Expediation to the Barrier Peaks map that includes many of the major plot points of the adventure. This allows a DM to have an overview of all the major events of the module. Available right over HERE
  3. Folks are very divided on the module because of the science fantasy elements and artifacts of the adventure but as I pointed out the artifacts will quickly run out of charge. 
  4. The robots don't leave the ship unless the DM wants them too and the invasive species are really nasty allowing the DM to introduce other monsters into their version of Greyhawk. These could keep a party busy for years to come. 

5. Because this is such a polarizing adventure its really easy to get players hyped to play that scoff at the adventure. Of course the science fantasy elements are silly and your PC is cool enough to survive but what if he's not?
6. Players aren't quite as knowledgeable up on the module as they like to pretend they are and boy does that make it easy as a DM to introduce a bit of random or special encounters.

7. As it was pointed out to me this evening, this is a perfect module to get the party into space!

Because after all why wouldn't there be a search effort mission  if the DM wants one to be. Night of the Comet folks? 

8. There could be return missions to gain some insight into the reasons for the ship's crash? Perhaps that mysterious plague isn't simply confined to the ship? Could the PC's become carriers for a mysterious illness and walking disease vectors unknowingly?
Perhaps the 'cure' is only found aboard. 

9. Given the history of the star ship the whole thing might be one toxic waste dump waiting to happen. Perhaps not only could there be the monsters but mutation spilling out into the campaign world meaning another trip into the bowels of the cavernous death trap. 

10. Given the nature of some of the retroclones on the market like Mutant Future, Labyrinth Lord and many others this module suddenly gains a bit more of a venue as the perfect cross over module for moving back and forth from one game system to another!
In closing I'm thinking about running this adventure as one of my possible mid winter mini campaigns with friends once again allowing me to mix and match the science fantasy/D&D goodness!
Game on!
 Much of tonight's entry came from the wiki entry right
 The Pdf of 
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition which will be getting a work out as well is available right over
But I'd wait till it goes on sale.

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