Friday, January 8, 2016

Retro - Review & Commentary On I7 Baltron's Beacon By Philip Meyers For Your Old School Advanced Dungeons And Dragons First Edition Game Campaigns

A strangely delivered advertisement has led you to a sage named Demetrios. He needs a rare component to complete a desperately needed potion. The journey to retrieve it will take you through a large, unexplored swamp to a ruined keep, the former headquarters of a vile cult that once claimed the lives of many innocent youths.
To solve the mysteries of "Baltron's Beacon," the characters must excel in handling wilderness, building ruins, traps, puzzles, and new monsters. This adventure, originally designed for tournament use, is now available for your own campaign.

    I7 Baltron's Beacon By Philip Meyers is an adventure that you can drop right into the background of an existing campaign and no one will be the wiser. The there are simple reasons for this and are at the heart of why this adventure works so well for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. This module is a throwback to other earlier adventures. It's pure dungeon crawling fun in places for a mid level adventure that wears its adventure over plotline on its sleeve. This adventure is one part DYI dungeon adventure location with a very limited backstory that allows a DM to customize it as they see fit. Its an incredibly dangerous dungeon crawl based adventure with adventure content that consists almost entirely of dungeon-crawling, including having adventures through a gatehouse, a keep, and at its core a dungeon filled with a couple of levels of exploration and danger.
It should be remembered that at its core this was originally a tournament module and the adventure is designed for a large group of players and presents a challenge on a number of levels for PC's.

Over the years I've seen  WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun For AD&D 1st Edition get a ton of respect and love but one of the modules that over the years I've seen used with   I7 Baltron's Beacon By Philip Meyers where the cultists from one module have constructed the Beacon. Over the years I've seen the Cult of the Black Flame and the Crystal of the Ebon Flame  both tied into the background and setting of I7 many times. This makes it perfect as fodder for retroclone systems including Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Dark Albion, and especially Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. According to D&D; "There's a limited backstory for how some of the inhabitants came to reside in the Beacon, but there's not much attempt beyond that to create an ecology for the dungeon." which makes this a perfect candidate to add into the background of your sword and sorcery campaigns.
Another adventure setting piece is the fact that the adventure has people trying to move into the area around the structure and it sort of reminds me of the fact that the Green Plague has swept through and wrecks parts of Hyperborea. This really brings home the fact that the cult of course would idolize the ruins and dungeon as part of myth and legend from the glory days of the cult. For Dark Albion or the pseudo historic setting of Lamentations this makes the cult a prime target for mercenaries working for the Inquisition placing the cult perhaps at the heart of the Black Forrest or some other border area of Germany or even an isolated region of France or Spain.
 I've also seen this module worked up as a part of the environs surrounding the Frank Mentzer adventure I11 because of the ruins of the Beacon and DM's wanting an area of large expanses of ruins and dungeons. Another interesting character is the sage named Demetrios whose a bit of a non entity except at the beginning of the module, I've seen several friends flesh this NPC to become a central core of a campaign where the PC's were running after the scribe at various times for other adventures in the campaign Similar to the plot line of  the classic Sinbad and Eye of The Tiger.

I've also seen several DM's switch out the Black Flame itself for Lin Carter's Aphoom-Zhah (The Cold Flame) for a more Lovecraftian feel to the module itself. The deity is right in line with cult ideas and Cthulhu mythos elements especially when it comes to adapting the module into a far more sword and sorcery mode for OSR style adventures. The bottom line is that I7 Baltron's Beacon By Philip Meyers  is good solid dungeon crawl adventure that can easily be adapted right into your home old school campaigns and easily fit a wide variety of needs for a sword and sorcery campaign
Reaper Fire elemental which could with the right paint job act as a stand in for Aphoom-Zhah (The Cold Flame)with the right paint job. But I digress I7 Baltron's Beacon By Philip Meyers remains a good old fashioned dungeon crawl that can serve a wide variety of needs with the right motivation and group of players!

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