Thursday, December 1, 2016

Retro- Review Take Two - D1-2: Descent into the Depths of the Earth By Gary Gygax For AD&D 1st Edition

"The final confrontation with the giant, King Snurre, and the entry of mighty adventurers into the cavers under his stronghold discovered that Dark Elves, the Drow, had instigated the giant alliance and its warfare upon mankind and its allied races."
 Let me say that this is a high level adventure for PC's levels Nine through Fourteen for AD&D 1st edition. ""Shrine of the Kuo-Toa," the second adventure in this collection, was used as part of the D&D tournament at GenCon XI (1978). "  D1-2 collected the D1: "Descent into the Depths of the Earth" & 'Shrine of the Kuo-Toa'  into a coherent deadly old school  whole.

Let me say that I spend most of my day driving but this evening I was able to get into a conversation with my buddy Steve about D1 Descent Into The Depths of the Earth by Gary Gygax was always meant as a transition adventure to get the PC's into the real action after G1, 2, & 3 respectively. This is a high level adventure that was meant as a bridge to get the PC's onto the path of the Drow. I've already spoken about adapting Descent into Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Steve played in this campaign and lost two PC's to the horrors in Underborea. The Wiki  history of Descent Into The Depths gives some very vital clues into adapting this module into your own campaigns;"
Descent Into the Depths of the Earth[2] is an adventure module for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy roleplaying game coded D1–2. It was written by Gary Gygax, and combines two previously published modules from 1978, the original Descent into the Depths of the Earth and Shrine of the Kuo-Toa. A sequel to the first two modules, Vault of the Drow, was also published in 1978. All of these D-series modules were produced for use with the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules."

For me this module represented 70's AD&D adventure location design at its finest, that is it gives you the location & its inhabitant monsters. You as the DM have to flesh out the details to fit your own campaign world and setting.
 That being said this module introduces 'the Underdark' as a viable but deadly adventure setting. "The term originates later in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986). However, the Survival Guide's description of the "strange world of the Underdark, including drow, kuo-toa, svirfneblin, derro, and many more" makes it clear that it's talking about the world of "Descent." "
Over the years I've come to believe that less is more when it comes to creating worlds of adventure; the players will do it for you as dungeon master.

Oh the whole D1 can be seen as a primer for the world of the Drow & even as an introduction to the subterranean machinations of the various factions of 'Descent Into the Depths of the Earth.' One of my favorite quotes about  Seventies gaming philosphy sums up nicely what seems at first to be mere bridge gap adventure;" The plot was what you did, not what you were supposed to do. The setting was what the DM and players said it was, not what was written in a 10 page introduction. If you approach gaming with this sort of flexibility, a big, rambling underground world full of monsters is cool." Thanks to
Descent Into The Depths of the Earth assumes a large party of players. I've run this adventure as a convention set up;  a large party of 7-9 characters are really need. Otherwise smaller parties should enlist the help of local elves.
Basically D1 is the sign post to adventure in a dangerous & parlous underground world of adventure. Gygax was a master of balancing out the elements of the greater scope with the campaign world of Greyhawk. The players and DM created from whole cloth what was and in some respects is needed. Trust me for better or worse they will!

In terms of plot D1  the adventure is quite weak and linear but that's not the point here. This is a bridge gap to get the PC's deep into the depths of the plot of the next series of adventures. It introduces the Drow & keeps the players up to their necks in problems as well as the deadly factions of the underworld that would later become the Underdark. Tomorrow I'll take a look deeper into D2 but do I think you should get this one? In a word yes its a part of a classic series of modules by one of fathers of the hobby we love so very much.

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