Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Retro Review & Commentary On Shield Maidens of Sea Rune By Judge's Guild For AD&D First Edition & Your Old School Campaigns

"Warrior Women plot to regain their home lost to the barbarous Skandiks, fearsome sea reavers all.  Torn between their Gods of the North and the Druidic worship of nature, the Skandiks grow weak.  Beware the cruel and evil Anti-Paladin who stalks this area looking for blood; he may be the death of you yet!  Can you thread the perilous path to fame and riches in this saga of unforgettable Adventure?"

I went looking for a decent review of Shield Maidens of Sea Rune for some research into integrating some of the older JG's products into my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign. I did find a decent review of the adventure on Amazon by aka Vine Voice from 2011 which he gives it high praise;"
"Shield Maidens of Sea Rune" is an older "Wilderness Book" by Judges Guild -- and it's a most excellent example of Old-School inspired gaming -- due to the rich aspects built into this super-module that are very creative and allow easily for further creativty of gaming guides and players. My overall impression is of very good balance of this whole "Wilderness Book" -- including concise and precise technical presentation to match the creative artistry. So it's a super-module due to the variety of local world angles and aspects as well as possible factions and factors -- allowing for long ongoing gaming.

This super-module is cleverly set to work well with Calandia [City-State of the Invincible Overlord and Wilderlands] as closely or loosely as needed or wanted. It's also easy to work with various versions of gaming -- even if fairly directly set for AD&D-like gamimg. There is even a distinct sci-fi aspect implied by both the general history and local history. Semi-Celtic and semi-Nordic cultural aspects are presented -- but, as usual, neither over-done nor under-done -- like the good gaming gender balance -- even via the lurid-and-lush cover art -- afterall she's got a reclining male lion behind her +++"

The review really hits some of the highlights & high notes of Shield Maidens of Sea Rune but after reading through Tegel Manor & dovetailing it into Hyperborea. There are several things that I've really noticed about Shield Maidens. The semi Nordic & Celtic aspects of this module thread their way very cleverly through other Judge's Guild products. James Mishler has started a new blog speaking about JG's Wilderlands of Fantasy & it just so happens to speak about the religions of the Wilderlands. This happens to meet up with the worship of Thor straight into the back end of both Tegel Manor & part of the central plot of the Shield Maiden's adventure. The maps of Shield Maidens of Sea Rune are beautiful and lovely old school relics of a bygone age as well. Described as
'The third book in the "Wilderness Series" with 22 wilderness hexes for Campaign Map 1 are detailed in this book along with description and maps of the major points of interest.'
Everything is laid out in a set of stereo instructions sort of way making Shield Maidens of Sea Run a D&D DYI tool kit as much as an adventure. The factions, tribes, NPC's, locations all fit into the old school weirdness of the Higherlands but can easily be adapted for your own campaigns. Well get to AS&SH in a moment.

So why is Shield Maidens of Sea Rune a perfect fit for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or another similar retroclone? Well,first of all many of the Judge's Guild modules were set up for Advance Dungeons & Dragons First Edition.
Even though the setting of Sea Maidens is the Wilderlands its a self enclosed module setting so that it can easily be dropped into an existing campaign. Now given the proto Norse & Celtic roots of the module it fits in with far future setting of AS&SH where the old gods have passed away but there are pockets of worship here and perhaps there. This has echoes of Jack Kirby's passing of his classic Marvel Norse material run & the pick up of the classic Fourth World work for DC.

This also ties in with the Clark's Law of magic items & technologies in AS&SH which also has its own roots in modules like Shield Maidens of Sea Rune. This epic battle warfare rattle plot line weaves its way through out Sea Maidens even in the mini dungeons. Give me more of this sort of Dungeons & Dragons action instead of the usual watered down tripe I've seen over the years. Far more Sword & Sorcery & less later TSR era Dragonlance cookie cutter material. I have a real love of this module, no its not perfect by a long chalk but it has all of the right parts & pieces for a DM to customize it to their own old school campaigns.

Ten Ways To Use Shield Maidens of Sea Rune For Your Old School Campaigns 
  1. Because of the science fantasy elements of Shield Maidens this module could be adapted for a post apocalyptic retroclone or old school gaming system such as Mutant Future or Gamma World. Its easily adapted to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. 
  2. The Amazonian aspects make this also a great module to pull from as a source book and to fill in gaps. 
  3. The factions of Shield Maidens can be expanded upon and used as powerblocks within a home campaign easily. 
  4. This adventure fits into the Judge's Guild product line of adventures making for a unified City State old school campaign play ground for AD&D 1st edition games 
  5. Others have used this module to introduce a shield maiden class into their own games & given the info in this module its an easy thing to create. 
  6. There's this over all epic operatic or comic book feel that makes this such a relic of a bygone era that it fits in with the third tier OSR products on the market. 
  7. This module also fits into the line of the Hargrave school of Arduin products because of its power begets power feel. 
  8. The proto Celtic & Norse flavor isn't as over the top as in other adventures from this time. There's plenty of room for customization. 
  9. None of the artifacts or relics will unbalance a campaign they cool super science one offs but could tie in with Expedition to the Barrier Peaks style of campaign. 
  10. Its a damn fun module that doesn't get half of the love at the table and needs to get more of a workout then it does!

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