Friday, July 7, 2017

Retro OSR Commentary On UK6 All That Glitters By Jim Bambra For First Edition Advance Dungeons & Dragons

'Can you unravel the map's mysteries and find your way to the promised treasure? Or will your dreams end only in death and an unmarked grave far from home!'
"The dark jungle trees loom above you, and the scent of tropical blooms hangs heavy on the windless air. Overhead, brightly coloured birds wheel and dip through the branches. Swarming mosquitos buzz angrily as you raise a waterskin to your lips.

Still you push on, carefully following the riverbank and the fragment of your map. Those scraps of parchment came from this jungle - of that you are sure, for the carving around which they had been carelessly wrapped were the work of the local natives. Now you have left those peaceful craftsmen far behind and the map has led you to the uncharted territory of the murderous Atem.
Ahead, the river breaks into white water. These must be the rapids marked on the map. Reaching into your pouch, you draw out the fragments of the parchment, and once again you mind drifts ahead to your ultimate goal - the treasures promised at the journey's end. Riches! And hopefully an end to this stifling, humid jungle."If character levels five through seven are where things get interesting then U.K. 6 All that Glitters is where adventure events get downright deadly.
"All That Glitters... is an adventure module published in 1984 by TSR for the first edition of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. It is set in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting and is intended for 5-8 player characters of levels 5-7" I love the wiki entry it doesn't tell you that this is as challenging & deadly an adventure as you can get in the U.K. series. It has a bit of everything and even though its set in Greyhawk its easily dropped into your own home campaigns. The reason is how the adventure plot and set up is. Everything in All that Glitters might as well be called wilderness hex crawl a go go. This adventure takes the wilderness trek & turns it up to eleven & then breaks the knob right off the speaker. It takes the environment of the "Wind Walkers' Passages", which are strange tunnels that pass right through a mountain range called the Hadarna Mountains and then doubles down on the modules setting. "A  map to a treasure of gold leads the player characters through a jungle and wilderness inhabited by fierce tribesmen." This is a heavy duty adventure that in some respects out does Indianna Jones Raiders of The Lost Ark for traps & tricks while leaning heavily on the Fiend Folio.
There are  ton of Fiend Folio (1981) monsters here, including several fire drakes, legions of giant striders, a hellcat, some mephits, a few sandmen, a shadow demon, a skeleton warrior, and some vortices. Because of this fact many Greyhawk fans have placed 'All That Glitters'  into the northern Amedio jungle in Greyhawk, amidst the Hellfurnaces and the Sea of Dust. For my buddy Larry's Greyhawk games that's exactly where this adventure occurred.  For Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea this adventure is going to fall into the shadow of some of the most volcanically & geologically active regions of Hyperborea.
Many of the monsters in All that Glitters are going to be one offs or very rare in Hyperborea & rather unique in the regions of Hyperborea where the adventure action happens. Bring more then one PC. This is a deadly adventure.

This is another one of those adventures that has a significant movie memory attached to it in this case 'Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom' came out the same year as 'All That Glitters'. So in my mind there's a definite connection between the adventure film & the jungle module.

The idea of hidden factions, a conventional "follow-the-treasure-map-adventure", and some of the most dangerous adventure elements this side of the U.K. series adds up to a strong DM lead up with 'All that Glitters'.
Instead of an over arching adventure plot that leads into a mini campaign, 'All That Glitters' is perfect to stand on its own two feet. The party of adventurers is going to have to be on the high side of PC level five or six because  some of the challenges are that dangerous in this module. There's going to be a ton of action so don't be surprised at how and why certain events in this adventure come off. That's not to say that 'All that Glitters' is a bad module far from it in fact. This is an adventure module that get's its plot, adventure elements, encounters, traps & tricks right. Even today it stands up and punches all of the right buttons for players.

Ten Ways of Using  U.K. 6  By  Jim Bambra For Your Old School Campaigns 
  1. All that Glitters makes an excellent mid point or campaign ender module because of its pulpy Sword & Sorcery plot. 
  2. Many of the factions in this adventure make excellent follow up vile villains later on in a fully function chain adventure campaign where one event follows another. 
  3. 'All that Glitters is a perfect module to go up a level or two to face many of the challenges ahead. 
  4. All that Glitters uses many of the monsters from the Fiend Folio in dynamic ways central to the plot of the adventure. Pay attention to how the authors and designers are doing this and follow through with the same techniques in your own home adventures and mini campaigns. 
  5. Many of the adventure hooks in All That Glitters can be used to follow up other  adventures on their own. There's enough meat here for a mini campaign or two. 
  6. Other U.K. adventure plots can be dovetailed into U.K. 6 for an almost but not quite adventure anthology campaign. 
  7.  Undercurrents in the plot of 'All That Glitters ' could point to much more dangerous Sword & Sorcery driven plot line within the events surrounding U.K.3 The Gauntlet module's mini campaign. This hooks right into the overarching plot of these adventures. 
  8. Are there several Lovecraftian puppet masters behind the scenes and events of 'All that Glitters'? There certainly pieces of this adventure that up point this sort of a scenario. 
  9. There is an undercurrent of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness about the jungle setting of  'All That Glitters' this sense of depravity and desperation makes great fodder for the treasure map aspect of this module. 
  10. 'All that Glitters' is a module that should be taken & run on its own terms. With the right players this can be one of the best modules written to run in terms of story, pc's, solid game play.

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