Monday, August 14, 2017

Further Mediations On B5 Horror on the Hill By Douglas Niles For Your Old School Campaigns

The end of the road. A lonely fort stands on the banks of a mighty river. It is here the hardy bands of adventurers gather to plan their conquests of The Hill, the hulking mass that looms over this tiny settlement.

The Hill is filled with monsters, they say, and an evil witch makes her home there. Still, no visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. The thrill of discovery is too great to pass up, and only the river stands in the way. The adventurers' boat is waiting!

I've been looking into Dark Albion & some of the other Retroclone systems tonight along with B5 Horror on the Hill. Its been a couple months since I've cracked open this wonderful little old school gem by Douglas Niles. ""Horror on the Hill" (1983), by Douglas Niles, was published in 1983. It was the fifth Basic supplement published and the first one that wasn't introductory in nature. Though B5 is intended for characters of levels 1-3"
This adventure has the reputation among my circle of friends as being the straight on the fly beginning adventure right after Keep On The Borderlands. Horror on The Hill is mix of many old school elements from wilderness & outdoor encounters to a bit of dungeon crawling. Infact many of my friends would often pair this adventure with Keep on the Borderlands because of Guido's fort as part of a string of forts along a border wilderness ala Conan's Pictland adventures.

For Dark Albion these adventures would be set along the crumbling borderlands of Dark Europe where the demarcation on the map marks the end of empire & the beginning of horror. This reminds me of the Roman occupation of England & Harridan's wall. The Empire is suffering with the internal War of the Roses and PC's are called back but not before the demands of empire have them go on one last romp of adventure or the PC's are looking into ruins and horror that might give their royal house a bit of a leg up in the war.

The plot is perfectly pulp like according to Wiki with leanings from the pages of Weird Tales more then the usual Tolkien tropes;"The scene of the action is Guido's Fort, located at the end of a road, with only the River Shrill, a mile wide, separating it from "The Hill".[1] At the Fort, hardy bands of adventurers gather to plan their conquests of The Hill, the hulking mass that looms over this tiny settlement. They say the Hill is filled with monsters, and that an evil witch makes her home there. No visitor to The Hill has ever returned to prove the rumors true or false. Only the mighty river Shrill separates the player characters from the mysterious mountain.

A series of caves awaits, full of goblins and hobgoblins. At the lowest layer lies a young red dragon. Set on a volcanic island in the midst of a river."  This module is as much D&D DYI adventure kit as it is adventure just look at the contents,
"This module is designed for use with the D&D Basic Rules. Included in the module are 11 maps, 3 new monsters, and a complete set of prerolled characters."
One reviewer noted something that struck me quite well today, "
As for content, Hunter noted that it gives little detail on the Fort itself, so that it can be easily incorporated into an existing campaign."
The entire module is non world specific meaning that DM's can and should change details to suit their own home game campaign world & settings. There are tons of humanoids and this means they can easily become mutated humans touched by chaos or other worldly influences. This adventure is going to put the PC's center stage and keep them there. That's fine as long as the DM remembers that this a very dangerous module. This one is one of those modules that you bring extra PC's just in case something happens. And believe me it will and this is not a module not to bring your 'A' game to it. Your going to have sharp eye on the rubber NPC's or else they will die.  This is not an adventure that your going into without bringing your 'A' game to the table. This is an adventure that will challenge even the most jaded players if used right.
Horror on the Hill has a bit of everything that places the circumstances of the module firmly into the back yard of the PC's. There is enough here to get an almost complete adventure campaign off the ground. 

There are some reasons for this happening- 
1. Horror on the Hill contains all of the tools that a DM needs to launch this module as an extended adventure / campaign. 
2. There are some design & adventure elements that can make or break this adventure as a whole. 
3. There are enough NPC's here to keep things moving along at a leisurely pace. The action here is not as carefully plotted as some of the  other adventures in this line are. 
4. Dark Albion is a perfect beast to run D5 Horror on the Hill, the extra element of danger adds another set of books to help  circumstances  move along at a brisk case. 
5. There are more NPC's that can help or hinder the part as the same rate of old school goodness. 
6. As I said D5 has some excellent resources to really keep things going and it certainly fits in the Labyrinth Lord's back yard of old school retroclone adventures. But I really feel that Horror on the Hill suits Dark Albion's feel and pressures.

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