Thursday, December 17, 2015

Retro Review X13 Crown of Ancient Glory By Stephen Bourne For Your Expert Dungeons and Dragons Games & Old School Campaigns

"You must find the long-lost heir to the kingdom and recover the Sonora Crown, the mystical device without which a king cannot be crowned. Standing in your way are traitors and spies from within and invaders from without the kingdom of Vestland. Time is running out! Can you save Vestland from disaster?"

Imagine an adventure that is one part political historical novel, two parts sword & sorcery affair, three parts adventure and all within the confines of mid range adventure that touches on and focuses on a proto Viking style adventure that could take place within a Romania or Russia dominated by these forces which is threatened by a Mongol style horde waiting to invade unless a new king is found!  The PC's must find the heir to the kingdom of Vestland and retrieve the magical Sonora Crown to unite the country before the Ethengar Khanate invades. The adventure is from levels seven through ten and the material here is dark, sweeping and of a deadly dark fantasy turn. This adventure can test players in rather interesting ways. The PC's must  journey from Ruthin Monastery, to the Red Fangs and the lost isles, to Seaforth Tower and Narvendul and more, in a vain, desperate search for the Crown!

So is this a good module? In a word this is an excellent module and one of the best of the X series, its got a little bit of everything including the plans for a Viking Long ship that features itself very deeply into the drama and plot of X13. Can this module be adapted for an Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea style campaign? Absolutely it can because its a slightly higher level adventure affair and contains some cracking ideas within its bounds. This adventure could be used as a gate way into the affairs of the crownheads of Hyperborea where the politics of kingdoms actually have deep ties going all of the way back to the time of the Green Death. There's also the various factions that are operating within the parameters of X13 and they will affect a great deal of the affairs of the PC's.

Much of the flavor of X13 comes from the thumbnail sketches we get of the sword and sorcery events and weirdness of the lands in Crown of Ancient Glory. Many of these very events remind me of the Vikings rule of parts of  Russia during the 9th century and this adventure could be used as fodder for a Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Dark Albion rpg game set during this tempest time period.

This very upsetting and a heavy handed political situation which is the perfect vehicle to move the action along within the  Crown of Ancient Glory. The various situations within Crowns match up quite nicely with the human races and politics of Hyperborea. This enables a DM to sink this material to many of the minor histories we get for the AS&SH human races. Much of the lands, factions, and weirdness of X13 could easily be used as fodders for a campaign involving dark and twisted barbarians as well as Russian influences with the bounds the lands of the D&D adventure Night's Dark Terrors.

Vestland makes an excellent stand in for many of the land bits and pieces of a Russian or Romanian fueled campaign. The higher level means that DM's won't have to pull their punches. But they should expect that things might get hairy within the bounds of the section second of X13. It you find X 13, do yourself a favor and grab this one if you come across it. This is an excellent OSR style D&D module that in many ways was ahead of its time.

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