Friday, January 22, 2016

Retro Review & Commentary On The OD&D Adventure CM3 Sabre River By Douglas Niles and Bruce Nesmith For Your Old School Campaigns

Imagine that your PC's are relaxing at court and suddenly their pulled into the back end of an adventure head first without warning and you've got the beginnings of CM3 Sabre River by Doug Niles and Bruce Nesmith. CM3 involves an expedition to the Tower of Terror and an adventure romp through an active volcano!

This is a Mystara adventure and not one of the ones that get's much press these days and that's too bad because its a well done adventure that works on the companion level of OD&D style of play and does it very well. The Crones of Crystykk who appeared in Test of the Warlords are back and just as bat %@% cryptic and weird as ever. Every thing about this adventure screams high level and very dangerous, have a few extra character sheets standing by for your players. Lots of treasure but also lots of classic OD&D death to go around.

"You are a guest of the count, one of your allies and the strongest man in the region. Your sojourn has been pleasant, a nice change after weeks of battle. Suddenly the courtyard below your window is filled with the noise of galloping horses. More guests?

You yawn as you look out. But these people arriving look more like tax collectors than guests. You decide to give your attention to something more interesting, like dinner.

Relax while you can, friend, because these new arrivals are about to lead you to a crimson sailor, a cozy Tower of Terror, and a river with an aching heart"
There is literally a ton to mine from CM3 including a good solid dungeon romp and even though this is a part of the domain level of high end play this is one of those adventures that actually lives up to the great cover art. This adventure features an  a dungeon inside an active volcano, an underground river trip, and a new monster called the sabreclaw how cool is that. There's plenty to mine from this module but the actual adventure is quite good, there's plenty going on and enough high level material for at least two mini campaigns within Sabre River. The plot involves;" The waters of the Sabre River have been tainted, bringing death or evilness to all who drink from them." and it does live up to the premise in spades.

There's plenty of action in Sabre River and also plenty of death awaiting PC's around every turn. The action keeps moving and the PC's are joined by Cutter whose a lot more then he seems and pretty damn pivtol to the plot CM3. The cartography is well done, the writing pretty solid, but Sabre River is pretty much tied into the bed rock of Mystara or is it?

Much of Sabre River revolves around the plot elements being present in the kingdom of Norwold, but really because of the very nature of CM3, the events could be moved right into the back part of your own world or even an alternative world or Earth. The Empire of Alphatia might be reconned out of the adventure entirely and the events of CM3 moved onto Hyperborea or some latter day stand in of the late Roman Empire. 

There are plenty of pulpy elements to go around in Sabre River and because this is a higher level OD&D module its quite easy to adapt and twist this adventure to suit your own retroclone adventures. Both Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Dark Albion sprang to mind whist reading this one. The DM is going to have to be careful to balance certain adventure elements and expect some PC deaths while moving though the adventure with his players and also even though this is a companion adventure, Sabre River takes full advantage of some of the Expert D&D rules.  All in all Sabre River might be right up your alley if your looking for a high level but differently woven adventure in the old school tradition that mixes high level play and dark pulpy adventure in one package. 

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