Thursday, July 6, 2017

Retro OSR Commentary On UK3 The Gauntlet By Graeme Morris For First Edition Advance Dungeons & Dragons

'Indomitable it stood for centuries, a symbol of order in a world of chaos. Bastion of the pass through the Kamph Mountains, the very stones of the Keep of Adlerweg were the stuff of legends. What evil power had strength enough to take it? How were its defenses swept aside?
Fell creatures now attend the battlements that overlook the only pass between Berghof and the sea.
This is not a pretty problem to be solved by the militia of the local villages. These and more may be needed to withstand the mayhem stirred up by the fall of the keep. Indeed, if the Keep is not retaken, and retaken soon, the Hold of the Sea Princes itself may not be secure.

Now is the time for heroic action. Aided by the Sentinel, former protector of the legendary Guardians of Adlerweg, have you the courage and the determination to rid the keep of its sinister occupants?'

There are sword & sorcery modules & then there's UK3 The Guantlet which centers everything it has around the U.K. feel. It is a plot driven adventure that centers around the events of UK2: "The Sentinel" (1983), continuing events of the previous module. UK3: "The Gauntlet" (1984), by Graeme Morris,follow instructions to a magical glove. "UK3 The Gauntlet is a 32-page book with an outer folder that was written by Graeme Morris and published by TSR, Inc. in 1984 for the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules.[2] The adventure is the second of two modules in the "Adlerweg" series, the sequel to UK2 The Sentinel."

U.K.3 is tied in directly into the the same plot & adventure hooks from U.K.2 The Sentinel, this is a down & dirty adventure into the heart of a very different take on the world of Greyhawk. This is the U.K. version of that campaign world & it shows in spades. The adventure is far more encounter driven then U.K.2 & this makes for a very different adventure then its predecessor. This adventure is more aggressive, encounters are oriented to confrontation & melee, and there's more treasure about in this module.

The PC's are going to be up to their necks in the thick of this adventure's battles & warfare, there are hordes of hobgoblins & lots of other Fiend Folio beasties! This is another module that leans heavy on the Fiend Folion but that's not a problem. " Fiend Folio monsters, including blood hawks, ettercaps, a forlarren, an ogrillion, a revenant, skulks, a volt, and finally a giant two-headed troll." This leans the adventure a very Sword & Sorcery feel to the whole affair. Its also the second module to feature an Ogillion in a position of power and strength, this possession of ruler ship & responsibly gives these folks something more then a simple entry in the Fiend Folio first edition. This module gives more background & substance to its monsters making them far more then simple cut out cardboard.

For a retroclone such as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea UK3: "The Gauntlet" (1984), by Graeme Morris, & its prcedessor make up a great set of modules to drag & drop right into the Keltic lands of Hyperborea. There a huge battle as with platoons of hobgoblins & other humanoid troops attacking a castle. This gives these modules a sort of proto Arthurian feel to the whole affair or it could be that I associate U.K. 2 & 3 with the John Barrymore cult film Excalibur. Because these modules are such Eighties artifacts they have been associated with that film in my mind.

Because its the follow up to U.K.2 it plays & DM's better as a part of an over arching mini campaign then as simply another adventure that stands alone. I associate it with the film Excalibur because the PC's are part of a  stealth mission into a castle which then comes under siege.Some of the encounters are a bit overpowered for some parties of adventurers unless they've played through U.K.2. The plot is linear but not so much so that the players are going to feel like they've been lead from one scene to another in the adventure's plot line. PC's are going to have to man up because of the fact that they may not have gone up any levels in U.K. 2. 
 UK3 The Gauntlet By Graeme Morris remains a classic for many reasons its far from a perfect adventure but there's plenty of room for an old school dungeon master to make it their own. Its a perfect module to torture players with and have them come begging for more. As an old school mini campaign it ticks many players buttons and has a cult following even today.

Ten Ways of Using  U.K.3 The Gauntlet By Graeme Morris
For Your Old School Campaigns 
  1. The events of   UK3 The Gauntlet By Graeme Morris can serve as a tent peg for a very large campaign in its own right if used with U.K.2 
  2. Many powerful factions are introduced in the adventure and can be fleshed out for later for domain style play.
  3.   UK3 The Gauntlet is a perfect module to go up a level or two to face many of the challenges ahead. 
  4. Many of the monsters in U.K. 3 are straight out of the Fiend Folio making the U.K. series of adventures essential for learning how to use these monsters in their own home campagins. 
  5. Much of the back history, and background on the castle is pretty extensive and easily moved about for a DM's home campaigns. 
  6. Many of the plot hooks & adventure hooks are perfect to tie into some really dangerous situations in their own campaign settings. 
  7. Events of U.K.2 & three could be simply the set up for something far more sinister. 
  8. Undercurrents in the plot of The Gauntlet could point to much more dangerous Sword & Sorcery driven plot line within the events surrounding this module's mini campaign. 
  9. Lovecraftian elements and cults could easily be added into the U.K. series there by advancing along the deadly agenda of these alien gods & monsters within the confines of the U.K. series mini campaign.
  10.   UK3 The Gauntlet By Graeme Morris is a module from a different time and it clearly has more potent adventure agenda about it. 

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