Monday, March 2, 2015

Portals of Twilight (1981) From Judges Guild For AD&D First Edition And Your Old School Science Fantasy Campaigns

Portals of Twilight has had a ton of table top time in my campaigns. This is one of my favorite modules from Judge's Guild because its vastly different to many of the other fantasy material out on the market in 1981.
This module was one of my first brushes with a science fantasy setting that allowed a number of alien races, weird backdrop elements, strange monsters and PC's to interact in one solid setting. 
My players over the years have found themselves on 'Half World' over and over again. There are a number of things that can kill you if your not careful. Portals of Twilight has more to deal with the Judge's Guild difference then it has to do with the sum of its parts. 
This book is part setting book, part adventure, and part weird dimensional journey to a strange world on another plane. 

Grab It Right Over
  Portals of Twilight by Rudy Craft is a very interesting module because like others in the Portal series, this Judge's Guild product deals with not simply with a few science fantasy elements but an entire world setting of it for AD&D first edition. Portals of Twilight isn't that well known outside of rpg and D&D  collector circles, the OSR, Judge's Guild fanatics and others of  an old school persuasion.
 This blurb from Wayne's Books sums up the entire portals line - 
"Through a shimmering portal to... where? A new world beckons all would-be adventurers to strange and sometimes sinister encounters ending either in death to the unlucky or great riches to the fortunate. Which will you be?"

 I actually love this adventure and I've run it time and time again over the years for AD&D first edition. It presents a half world and some strong science fantasy elements for its setting. 

According to Drivethrurpg: 
Journeys of wonder and magic will be experienced when the Portals are traveled again in this newest release in the Portals series. Portals of Twilight is set on the planet, Halfworld; it is a world similar to our moon, half light and half shadow, with only a narrow strip of land that is habitable. This twilight region has evolved varied types of creatures which are accustomed to the climate. North Pole City can be visited also, as it is the center of learning and culture on Halfworld. Multiple encounters are given, as well as other major points of interest and new monster types. 48 pages of adventure in the classic Judges Guild style by the great Rudy Kraft. I know what your thinking who the heck is Rudy Craft? And why if your into old school role playing does the name sound so familiar? 

Well Mr.Craft is partially responsible for my other love of my role playing life Chaosium's Rune Quest. His fingerprints are all over that game and a good chunk of my old school hobby.
According to Wiki: 

Steve Perrin and Rudy Kraft designed the RuneQuest (1978) mythical fantasy roleplaying game, set in the world ofGlorantha created by Greg Stafford, and published by Chaosium.[1]:398 Judges Guild's first publication after obtaining the license for RuneQuest was Kraft's Broken Tree Inn (1979), an adventure that featured material cut from Chaosium's own Snake Pipe Hollow (1979), although the Glorantha references were removed in the Judges Guild publication.[1]:68 Kraft and Paul JaquaysAdventures Beyond the Pass, originally intended for Judges Guild, was never published by them; Greg Stafford instead published it through Chaosium as Griffin Mountain (1981).[1]:68 Kraft also contributed to Chaosium's Thieves' World (1981).[1]:85 Kraft was one of the contributors to Flying Buffalo's Citybook II: Port O' Call (1984)

Back to Portals of Twilight, I was running a campaign with several friends down in Manchester Ct,back in 1990 something. The deal was that we were playing mercs going from plane to plane for work. Something akin to The Black Company books,The Thieves World series, and a solid mix of Judge's Guild old school goodness.
There were six adventurers and we needed a place for the party to land. Well at three dollars Portals of Twilight presented a solid world to ground the characters in. There were elements of alie
n and yet some very familiar concepts from science fiction and fantasy. The Half World concept is one straight out of the imagination of Stanley G. Weinbaum but repurposed for the Portals of Twilight adventure.
But is it a good investment today? Well with old school AD&D gonzo goodness like Bloody,Bloody,Arduin's campaign setting by Dave Hargrave. This is a perfect companion piece. The adventure presents an interesting set of challenges for a party and it also has been a base of operations for PC's in the past. With the continuation of adventures like The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence by Venger Satanis, Lamentations of the Flame Princess's Carcosa setting, several of the Mutant Future campaign settings. I can easily see this adventure being adapted over and over again. Judge's Guild's universal system makes adapting this one a snap. Do I recommend it? And is it still relavant to old school gaming? Yes I believe so and there are several really nicely done bits in this adventure that I will be using soon. More on that as it happens! 

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