Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Retro - Review & Commentary On I2 Tomb of The Lizard King By Mark Acres For Your Old School Advanced Dungeons And Dragons First Edition Game Campaigns


Welcome back kids to another bit of patter about the days of yore and high adventure in other words I'm looking into another module for a bit of OSR sword and sorcery fun. There are modules and then there are modules that can give a play or a dungeon master fits and bouts of madness. For me this would be I2 Tomb of the Lizard King.  This module is devious, devilish, and twisted in its old school style for an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons adventure.

The southlands of Eor are being despoiled. Merchants will no longer run their caravans on the main highway past the quiet village of Waycombe. The peasants are fleeing their lands, and all are demanding protection from the powerful Count of Eor. The goodly count has sent a troop of his trusted fighters to exterminate the brigands believed responsible for these outrages, but weeks have passed, and still there is no word from this force.
Now John Brunis, Count of Eor, has turned to you for aid. After taking counsel with the High Priest of Eor, he believes that a small party of cunning, bold adventurers may succeed where armed might has failed. You find yourselves faced with many mysteries!
Why has robbery suddenly erupted in the peaceful southlands? How could mere brigands be as powerful as the foes described to you by their numerous victims? Is this really mere robbery? Or is there some truth to the rumors, told only in hushed whispers, about the beginnings of a hideous plot being hatched by an ancient, vile, and evil foe of all mankind? So the PC's are employed by the Count of Eor to investigate a monstrous force that has been terrorizing caravans and peasants near the village of Waycombe. This is one of those adventures that fits very well for a larger group of PC's and is easy to use as a convention set adventure. With the levels being set at five through seventh level, this adventure could also be used with smaller groups of adventurers of higher levels and still remain very,very challenging. This is a adventure that has three main parts to it including a trek through the wilderness, a battle against high end brigands and finally a confrontation with the Lizard King in his tomb. I've seen and died numerous times as folks over the years have linked this adventure with Against The Cult of the Reptile God .
Something about this adventure has always made me think that somehow the Lizardmen in this one were somehow connected with the Lovecraft/Howard cycles of the Earth bit from the Cthulhu mythos. Somehow this became lodged in my brain as the PC's were battling their way across adventure. According to Wiki I2 was shunted into Greyhawk but it wasn't meant to be; "While Tomb of the Lizard King could originally be played in any setting, it has since been retroactively placed into the World of Greyhawk campaign setting. In an article by Gary Holian in Living Greyhawk Journal, No. 1, it was revealed that the County of Eor had been absorbed into the Kingdom of Keoland"  
Personally because of its very nature I can see this adventure being retroconned into deep parts of the fens and swamp lands of Russia for Lamentations of the Flame Princess or into the dire deeps of Dark Albion.  Its one of the better adventures to feature the Black Dragon of Monster Manual fame and a very interesting variation of the Lizard Men in the form of a vampiric offshoot. Something that hearkens back to the Conan comics from Marvel. Encounters with things and monsters from another era that intrude onto the normal scheme of mundane reality. This is a module for those players who want to be thoughtful, opportunistic and resourceful, this is a thinking man's module in the sense that players have to think about actions or death could easily follow closely on their heels.

The module is a play on words of the real lizard king of the Doors rock band even if it might have been unintentional. The material here is pure pulp driven adventure with an adventure path that follows closely on itself; "It starts out with a set-piece plot encounter (which was fairly unknown in 1982), continues with a short episodic wilderness trek, and then moves into a village. From there the adventure contains more traditional dungeon delving: into an ancient temple, a brigand's lair, and then a tomb" This doesn't take away from the fact that players have a very challenging time dealing with the driving forces of this adventure and if their not careful could end up very dead.
This is a module with very detailed NPC's with motives and backstory enough to be branched off into other campaign opportunities if the DM wants them. They can also be very dangerous antagonists even in a minor way to PC's reflecting the old school nature of this adventure. One factor here in Tomb of the Lizard King is the idea that the PC's are walking on the graves of a long lost empire some place from the campaign's past. An adventure element that a DM could fully exploit with a long term campaign in spades.


This seems like a standard dungeon crawl with a standard dungeon, it isn't at all. This instead is a tightly packed adventure with several challenging events that once the trigger for these events are pulled the adventure proceeds. A note about I2 is the fact that there is an element of the Lizard men  Lovecraftian taint among the adventure and several times now I've seen this element exploited by several AD&D groups I've been a part of. This makes the Tomb of the Lizard King something of an interesting mix of dungeoneering and some aspects of investigative adventuring all within the confines of a thirty two page adventure.

I2 Tomb of The Lizard King suddenly fleshes out Lizard Kings from the Fiend Folio, it gives these bastards weight and more background. Couple this with N1: "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" (1982), and you've got the makings of a sweet jump off point for a mini campaign or fully flesh out investigative horror adventure in spades. This makes Tomb of the Lizard King one of my go to adventures for a weird Lovecraftian horror fueled sword and sorcery nightmares for a Saturday night.

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