Sunday, October 8, 2017

OSR Commentary On U1 The Sinister Secret Of Salt Marsh Adventure By Dave J. Browne & Don Turnbull For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition

"Desolate and abandoned, the evil alchemist's mansion stands alone on the cliff, looking out towards the sea. Mysterious lights and ghostly hauntings have kept away the people of Saltmarsh, despite rumors of a fabulous forgotten treasure. What is it's sinister secret?" So after last night's TPK & good laugh. I had a few more brews & seriously began to think about running my players through a module that seems eerily familiar & yet can be made totally accessible. Yet its gotta be alien enough to hold their interest. In other words an old favorite module ripe for D&D OSR DYI. So I began to turn to my old standbys & U1 leapt into my hands. The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is familiar & iconic its not even funny.

Saltmarsh is one of those modules that I just want to sort of gut, change up, & yet run as is.
'The first part is set in the town of Saltmarsh and deals with unraveling the secret of the haunted house that lies on the edge of town. The abandoned, dilapidated mansion of an evil alchemist has been the subject of rumors about hauntings and treasure. The second part of the module follows on from the first, expanding on the concept'

Let's get rid of the 'Scooby Doo' aspect by making the evil alchemist a former Deep One whose got deep connections with events surrounding the coming storm of events of the U series. The fact is that this module has been run countless times but with Halloween right around the corner it begs for an H.P. Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith change up. So let's begin by plugging in some Deep One blooded pirates & smugglers into the mix ala The Shadow Over Innsmouth by HP Lovecraft.

I'm thinking that some of items in the haunted house need to be more 'mundane' alchemy items as treasure. This was something I ran into when running U1 with a group of players last year using Dark Albion & Cults of Chaos.The players wanted more 'occult based' treasures & items to help round out their PC's without being full on treasures of D&D with some really interesting benefits. Those source books provide it in spades. In fact Saltmarsh can be fleshed out using many of the resources from Dark Albion to give the place a far more well rounded & Greco Roman style to it. Sure I've written about adapting many other high level classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition adventures but there's nothing like a classic to get things of off the ground. 

Now the 'Sea Witch' has some very sinister overtones that can easily be connected into & plugged into the background of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's The Mystery At Port Greely. The fish monger's guild could well have its claws into the events in Saltmash and the upcoming war. The cults expansion of events in the 'U' series could play a huge part in a multi leveled campaign.

Now over the years I've heard of friends and other dungeon masters taking the town from 'The Secret of Bone Hill' by  Lenard Lakofka   using it as Saltmarsh and its environs. The adventure in and around the fishing port of Restenford which fits squarely into the plot and details of 'Danger At Dunwater'. There's a very nice little thread about combining these two classics together on Dragon's Foot.

All of this plays in quite nicely with both the central themes of Clark Ashton Smith & gob of Lord Dunsany that I've been reading this week. All of this plays quite nicely with sea aspects & rules of the new Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. Could 'The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh' work as bridge gap to get my players into the upper levels of PC experience whist still serving the old school feel? Yeah I think so.

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