Saturday, June 17, 2017

Expanding The Campaign Frontier With B10 Night's Dark Terror by Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, and Phil Gallagher For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Barely one day's march from Kelven, the uncharted tracts of the Dymrak forest conceal horrors enough to freeze the blood of civilized folk. Those who have ventured there tell how death comes quick to the unwary - for the woods at night are far worse than any dungeon.

But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are you afraid of the dark terrors of the night?
Night's Dark Terror is the module for campaign expansion after your traditional Keep on the Borderlands introduction module run through & the next connecting module Horror on the Hill. Night's Dark Terror pulls the PC's into what remains of the ruins of an empire long gone to seed but vital enough to kill them quite easily.
"This campaign adventure is for characters just beginning Expert play (levels 2-4) and hurls them into the exciting outdoor world which awaits in the Expert rulebook.

With a 64-page booklet, 2 double-panel covers, and complete scans of the orioginal double-sided mapsheet, this super-module provides all you need for epic wilderness and dungeon adventuring. Journey across the Grand Duchy of Karameikos in a desperate race against time and the forces of evil."
B10 Night's Dark Terror is one of my all time favorites because it's a true location based adventure & its got the look plus the feel of the classic Conan novels with an over arching Russian look about it. It can be used as a point crawl or hex crawl or as a full up action oriented adventure with a classic siege mentality about it. There are mysteries, weird events, plenty of unresolved adventure elements, & political intrigue. Sure I've written about Night's Dark Terror before. But I'm going to take this in a slightly different direction.

Night's Dark Terror brings several things to the table in terms of what it can do for the PC's:

  • This is also a great module to let those rangers & scouts shine at what they do in their classic elements. This module also has plenty of hooks for a shaman or druid to come into their own for a party of classic 
  • The action is pretty high enabling a DM to keep the encounters dangerous and yet build up their campaign world within the adventure context. 
  •  As a Dungeon master you get an entire mini-campaign in 56 pages, and it's the type of by the seat of your pants action I like, complete with mystery, a siege, and a pulp-style Conan lost valley.

This means that Night's Dark Terror can be used to expand the frontier/wilderness of your own home campaign. This wilderness is the 'dark wood' of so many fairy tales & pulp adventures. The placement of  Night's Dark Terror in campaign world has one very interesting factor about it. The adventure takes place almost but just out of reach of the capital of Mystara. You can see this in Mystara Module and Placement by Andrew Theisen  at the Vaults of Pandius site. This means that all of action takes place just out sight of the campaign world's capital & help isn't coming. It also indicates an empire gone to seed as the wilderness has crept back to get an almost strangle hold around the throat of civilization.
The fact is that throughout the Night's Dark Terror there's a sense of the pulpy Sword & Sorcery  weird that runs throughout it. Things are over the edge of the strange wilderness & the PC's are in way over their heads. This is another of those modules that seems dangerous to many levels of  player characters because of the type of monsters and the danger the at PC's seem to face at every turn. There's a sense of the authentically violence that seems to bubble just under the surface of B10 that gives the adventure gravity implied in Keep On Borderlands a reality during play.

The wilderness surrounding the Keep could mate up with the events of 'Horror on The Hill' & then B10 Night's Dark Terror for a sprawling wilderness campaign with plenty of room for even more ruins & dungeons to be thrown in. I had a sense reading through Night's Dark Terror of Clark Ashton Smith's  Hyperborean cycle whispering in my ear. I felt like there would be shrines to the toad-god Tsathoggua sprinkled near some of the trails that the PC's tread.

This is one of the strengths of the module is how adaptable it is for campaigns & even retroclones. The fact is with  few elements of CAS thrown in Night's Dark Terror could be mated up with events happening around or near the borders of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerer's capital.  The reason for this adaptability of the adventure is because it serves as bridge gap between B/X Basic D&D & Expert. This was done by the team of authors who would later on go on to create the seminal Warhammer Fantasy Rpg.

Thanks to member Mike:
"Here is what I found on the Vaults of Pandius:

Replica map of The Lost Valley of Hutaaka from B10 by Thorfinn Tait, from the Mystara Message Board posted 16 May 2006.
Replica map of Foamfire Valley from B10 by Thorfinn Tait, from the Mystara Message Board posted 14 May 2006."

B10 Night's Dark Terror could be used in conjunction with  Dark Albion to create the beyond the edge of empire feel with both Keep On The Borderland & B5 Horror on The Hill. The events of  the War of the Roses might not have happened.. yet. The PC's however have been dealing with the forces of Cults of Chaos for months before hand lending them a sense of wisdom of the depth & corruption of Chaos.

This is part of the flexibility & the customization factor that allows early modules to remain classics for a reason. In fact with a little work B10 Night's Dark Terrors can be one of the pivot modules in a DM's collection allowing them to set up multiple events helping to build a dangerous wilderness frontier where death is only a knife's blade away.

Ten Ways That B10 Night's Dark Terror Can Work For You
  1. Cults, factions, slavers are all in the module waiting to be expanded and fleshed out as powers of incredible potential for campaign play. 
  2. Lots of room for sticking in your favorite set of ruins or lost super science artifacts in a dungeon. 
  3. The module can even be used as a  Assault on Precinct 13 or edge of the wilderness Western style adventure set in a dark fantasy world. 
  4. Up the fairy tale elements and add in horror for a Ravenloft style Gothic edge of the wilderness horror survival adventure.This works well with Lamentations of The Flame Princess. 
  5. Turn up the volume on the lost world cult for a far more conspiracy style game to weird out the players. 
  6. Set B10 during a post apocalyptic game for a twist on the Gamma World classic adventure. Thundarr & Moks not included and sold separately. 
  7. Change up the Russian elements and add in more Fiend Folio monsters for a completely weird fantasy realm. 
  8. Add in traveling ancient Chinese merchants to form a bridge gap into another Orientialist sword & sorcery realm. New factions can be created for the expanding frontier feel. 
  9. Exploit the native NPC's by the slavers for an almost but not quite quasi historical feel.  
  10. Expand the wilderness for more 'old world' European encounters but add in more Lovcraftian cults to up the weirdness & pulp. 

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