Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Retro Review & Commentary On The OD&D Adventure Module- B6 The Veiled Society For Your Old School OD&D Campaigns

The Veiled Society is a basic module with lots of problems right out of the gate, its an unusual beast on many levels. First its an urban crawl with lots of twisted pseudo European factions in the city of the violent city of Specularum. According to the Wiki entry on The Veiled Society, "In his review of B1-9 In Search of Adventure in Dragon magazine No. 128 (December 1987), Ken Rolston calls David "Zeb" Cook's The Veiled Society one of the "two exceptionally fine adventures" in the compilation, and "a rare example of a political and diplomatic adventure in an urban setting for low-level D&D game characters""
Its very rail roadie and feels stuck someplace between a Italian or German city state drama with secret societies and a Gothic horror trying to get out wrapped in a murder mystery. It requires some very hard thought on the player's part and a solid way of weaving itself in and out of its own plot.

The plot outline sounds pretty interesting according to Wiki; "The Veiled Society is set in the city of Specularum, where the players must determine which of three rival factions is responsible for a murder.[1] In the violent city of Specularum, the Veiled Society has spies everywhere.[2] Specularum is the capital of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, and the adventure involves the party in a struggle between the city's three major families (the Vorloi, Radu, and Torenescu)."
The execution leaves a lot to be desired, its sort a bit well bland to be honest. The encounters with the families need to be punched up a bit and perhaps this module might work well as an assassin studded Russian style cold blooded war of murders poisons and duels someplace between Solomon Kane and a Gothic horror novel. The  Vorloi, Radu, and Torenescu all need some dark secrets in their bloodlines and some Lamentations of the Flame Princess style family secrets lurking in the background. I've never been able to figure out what irritates me about the Veiled Society? Perhaps its the useless card stock figures and the tower.
This is one of those modules that I was expecting more and even as I get older and I've run B6, there are aspects of it that I've changed over time. I've taken B6 out of context several times and made the   Vorloi, Radu, and Torenescu families Atlantian royal survival families in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea and played out several assassination plots twisted around these families of infamous kings, rogues and black wizards playing amid the ruins of once great nations.

And what of the Veiled Society itself? Well, over several decades they've been my go to assassination and terrorist assassin's guild prowling the byways of several campaigns even a splinter faction highlighting a recent appearance in a pulp D&D urban adventure. There's always been a bit of a Lovecraftian creepy almost Warhammer feel about The Veiled Society and if that's brought the fore then this module has a ton of potential to inject an unexpected twist into the usual run of the mill dungeon crawl itself.

 If  The Veiled Society is used with a sword & sorcery style game such as Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hypborea suddenly some of the lesser know classes such as the bards, assassins, and other urban style classes can have highlighted roles. This is one of the things that I love to take B6 and highlight some of the lesser known PC classes and make them vital suddenly. Another thing that can be done with B6 is to take and twist this adventure into a fun house mirror for a classic Shakespeare's style Romeo and Juliet situation and allow it to degenerate into a Robert Howard Red Nails action where families are not only feuding but collecting minor bounties on each other.  This situation allows for exploitation on multiple sides with only basic PC's baring the brunt of the action in B6 The Veiled Society. This truly is a diamond in the rough but with the right dungeon Master B6 The Veiled Society has the potential to shine and put the PC's right into the spot light center stage.

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